Freeman A. Hrabowski III is one of America's 10 best college presidents, according to the latest issue of Time magazine, adding to the list of national honors received this year by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
In August, UMBC topped a U.S. News & World Report list of up-and-coming national universities and also finished fourth on the magazine's list of universities committed to undergraduate teaching. Hrabowski said Thursday that applications are up 60 percent compared with this time last year and that prospective students often mention the high-profile rankings when they contact UMBC.
"It's great for visibility," Hrabowski said of the Time accolade. "People are talking about UMBC. When the light shines on us, everyone is impressed by the substance of our institution. That's what's important."
Though Hrabowski and UMBC have long received praise for recruiting minority scientists and for pushing undergraduates to work with top researchers, the school seems to have hit a tipping point in national recognition.
"You hear the name University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and you don't think this is going to be one of the great generators of academic achievement in the U.S.," said David Von Drehle, the Time editor who oversaw the rankings. "Yet everything about this guy seems sky-is-the-limit. We were looking for places that really are creating opportunity and making more of an institution than what you might think. And he just jumped out."
Time wanted to go beyond the clever politicians and relentless fundraisers who have long dominated the top ranks of higher education, Von Drehle said.
"It's time for the leaders to step up and innovate, to get more inclusive, to get more effective at creating new opportunities," he said.
Hrabowski said that as he walked the campus Thursday, students complimented him on the new honor.
"I think they're just very excited to see their university in the pages of Time," he said.