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Weekly Wisdom 6/8/21: Transcript of Conversation With Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Weekly Wisdom 6/8/21: Transcript of Conversation With Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Notes:
1) This interview in the
Weekly Wisdom Series originally aired on June 8, 2021 as part of the University Innovation Alliance’s Innovating Together Podcast, appearing live on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
2) This transcript is intended to serve primarily as a guide to the full conversation. We apologize for any inaccuracies and encourage you to listen to the podcast.

Click here to access our summary, along with helpful links and audio from this episode.

Barack Obama [video clip]:
The University Innovation Alliance, which is a group of 11 public research universities from all over the country, is committed to producing 68,000 more college graduates by 2025.

Bridget Burns:
Welcome to Innovating Together, a podcast produced by the University Innovation Alliance. This is the podcast for busy people in higher education who are looking for the best ideas, inspiration, and leaders to help you improve student success. I’m your host, Bridget Burns. 

You’re about to watch another episode of Start the Week with Wisdom, which for those of you who are home, if you have not seen this before, these are our weekly episodes where we conduct an interview with a sitting college president or chancellor. And we want to talk to them about how they’re navigating the challenge of this moment. We’re in a really unique time, and we want to focus on their leadership and unpack how they are making decisions, how they are navigating, and hopefully, it will leave you with a sense of optimism, a bit inspired, and give you a bit of hope.

This is a very special week. We have a special guest, and there’s a special announcement about their joining us today. So, I will turn now to a short video that explains that.

Bridget Burns [video voice over]:
America’s success in an increasingly competitive global economy demands that we find a way to help every student succeed. We know that talent and drive are equally distributed across our population. But high-income students are eight times more likely to get a college degree than low-income students. For the first time in U.S. history, younger adults are less well-educated than their parents. America’s future needs our educational system to change. Leaders at some of America’s most innovative public research universities united around this sense of urgency, knowing they would have more impact together than alone.

In 2014, we formed the University Innovation Alliance, and committed to produce more graduates across the socioeconomic spectrum to innovate together, transparently share our data, and hold down our costs. We set ambitious ten-year goals.

Barack Obama [video clip]:
The University Innovation Alliance, which is a group of 11 public research universities from all over the country, is committed to producing 68,000 more college graduates by 2025.

Bridget Burns [video voice over]:
And we got to work: reimagining collaboration, scaling innovations from place to place, and transforming our institutions around student success. The good news? It’s working. In only six years, UIA campuses have graduated 73,000 additional graduates, exceeding our original ten-year goal. Most importantly, we now graduate 36 percent more low-income students each year, and 73 percent more students of color each year. And we’re just getting started. Now, we’re adding more innovative campuses committed to student success, teaming up to achieve even more ambitious goals, like eliminating disparity in outcomes for all students, and sharing everything we’ve learned. Because we know when universities collaborate, students win.

Bridget Burns:
So that is leading us up to today’s conversation with our newest guest. I will bring him on now, but Doug, if you want to introduce.

Doug Lederman:
Sure. So, it is a great pleasure to introduce Freeman Hrabowski, who is President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for almost 30 yeas. Almost, right Freeman? 

Freeman Hrabowski:
Yeah.

Doug Lederman:
And Bridget just introduced him as one of the new members of UIA and I – she’ll talk about her – she can talk about that a little more, but Freeman is one of the foremost advocates in higher education for equity, for equity in STEM in particular, and he energizes, you know, to the extent this podcast is focused on making people feel inspired and hopeful. Hard to imagine somebody who does that more in higher education than Freeman. So welcome.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Thank you. Delighted to be here.

Bridget Burns:
We’re so excited. This has been a long time coming, that you would be coming and joining us. I’m going to put you center stage. So, you’ve joined us before, but this is obviously a moment to [stay], and Doug, that’s the first time you got to see the video which I prepared, I did the voice work from my phone.

Doug Lederman:
Yeah, you’ve got a new career Bridget. I mean –

Bridget Burns:
[unintelligible]

Doug Lederman:
– commercials, all sorts of things. It’s [unintelligible] –

Bridget Burns:
This is how we’re going fin – this is how we’re going to generate revenue for UIA. This is great. [laughter] But President Hrabowski, welcome and so excited to share that you’re joining the alliance. And I just wanted to start off by asking what – how you think this might be of value and why you’re excited to join.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Sure, Bridget. You know, I’ve been working with you and [my crew] for years and looking at what you were doing. And I always said this to you, you we are doing some of the same things. And whether it’s using analytics, trying to bring in more kids of color, and what I have really been impressed by, when I look at UIA, is the way that synergy builds. That you learn from each other, you’re building the brand, it isn’t – it’s inclusive of different groups, and you could just do much more when you’re connected with other people. And so, we are honored to be a part of this group.

Bridget Burns:
I was going to ask if you were surprised. But I feel like I’ve been hinting to you. This was imminent for a very long time. Apparently, I have like a – I would not be good in a poker game. I would definitely like – my face is a tell, so…

Freeman Hrabowski:
And I will tell you my colleagues will be pleased. Because we’ve been focused a lot on innovation. We are not as large as some of the other research universities, but what we know is we’re producing more and more students, and particularly in STEM areas, but also in the social sciences and humanities. So, we look forward to continuing to work with you. Very much so.

Bridget Burns:
So, Doug, do you want to dive in?

Doug Lederman:
Well yeah, so I’m interested in this set of questions around kind of collaboration, and institutional cooperation. You obviously are part of a public university system in Maryland, and that’s one of – that’s a structure that a lot of states have and there – and good work gets done there. But I’m interested in sort of what you think about leading – why do think [group bringing] institutions together helps you as an individual leader and your institution?

Freeman Hrabowski:
Sure. First of all, you’re absolutely right – working with a system makes a big difference, and during COVID, it’s been really important to be working with other campuses of different types in the University System of Maryland. What I find interesting, and what my colleagues and I talked about as we were discussing it with Bridget, is that we get the opportunity to look at how universities from around the country are addressing different issues, given the politics in our country; given the different demographics in different parts of the states and different parts of the country, and most important are – these institutions in this alliance have been focused heavily on the question of innovation, and ways of using data to help more students succeed.

We’ve been doing that, but what I really like is the fact that we get a chance to compare, to see how we’re doing compared to others, and to see what best practices there are that we might bring but that they can give to us to take it to the next level. One of the challenges we face in our education is that most institutions know about what’s happening on their campuses. And you’ll hear – when I go around the country, people will say, "We’re the best at this and we’re the best at that," and I’ll always say, "How do you know that? How do you know that?" "Well, we haven’t heard of anyone else who’s doing as well." Well, that doesn’t mean you’re the best at that. I mean – so having ways of having a platform that compares best practices and results for example, looking at the large numbers of people you’ve graduated, in addition to the regular ones that you had been graduating, is a big deal when you talk about getting to 70,000 more.

Or when you talk about the increase in the number of low-income students or students of color. And we all need opportunities to compare how we’re doing, to see how we can be even better. Our line at U.M.B.C. is that success is never final. Success is never final.

Bridget Burns:
Everyone is getting a chance of what – like to understand what it would be like to have Freeman Hrabowski as your personal life coach and like in your – I feel like you need to start a podcast next year where it’s just like a hype speech on a Monday morning that’s just like Freeman, you know, setting you straight for the week ahead.

Freeman Hrabowski:
[laughter] You - I will tell you, my students do that for me every day. I get – I’m getting text messages and emails, and people want to talk. And there’s something about the student experience that I think we should also always keep with us. It’s the idea of discovering that which is not been known before. The idea of not knowing where you’re going, but you just have that faith – [you pu]t that leap of faith and it’s that – that emphasis on the student life experience, I think, that can inspire us all. And we need not forget that.

Bridget Burns:
Well, I was going to ask you about – in the last year, I know that there have been, you know, we’ve talked a bit about collaboration and obviously, you know, my sense is that universities really need to team up, especially in light of all the challenges that we’re facing. And I want to segue asking you about what you think is the proudest moment you’ve had as a president at U.M.B.C. this past year. I know that there’s some pretty important role that a U.M.B.C. graduate played in what we’re facing right now.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Yes, I laugh when my students when I say I put my graduate’s name across my forward, and her name is Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, and she is the first Black woman to create a vaccine. She and Dr. Graham, who led the team at N.I.H. to create that technology, that M.R.N.A. And she’s from rural North Carolina, came to U.M.B.C. as a Meyerhoff Scholar, and then went on to her – back to her home state to Chapel Hill, got a Ph.D. and then post-doc at N.I.H. But she has literally invented the vaccine. This is – and she’s being, just all over the world, people are talking about Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. A young woman, in her thirties, African American – it’s something we’ve never thought about. Not just U.M.B.C. but in he world. And so, we think we’ve done something that’s not only created history, but will inspire other little girls and young women to do this kind of thing.

And I want to – I promised my colleagues I would give you this: UMBC.edu/rippleefect; UMBC.edu/rippleeffect. That was [an item] in the New York Times. It’s about the Meyerhoff Scholars program. We now are the largest producer, not only of Blacks who get [MD] Ph.D.s, but we’re the largest producer in the country of African Americans who go on and get a Ph.D. in any of the STEM areas. And so, we’re very proud of that – of producing not just Black students, but students across the races. And that’s – that’s the message of U.M.B.C., that we take in students from all kinds of backgrounds, from all races, from all over the world, and we are producing excellence. Not just in STEM, but in the other disciplines. That’s what I’m proud of.

Doug Lederman:
How much – how are you thinking about sort of the role of equity in higher education these days? We’ve seen, not surprisingly, it happens in every – every time something goes wrong, we see underrepresented populations disproportionally affected, and I’m curious whether you think this sort of push for equity in higher education has been set back by the pandemic, and sort of how you view this sort of landscape for that now, and what you think can drive things forward.

Freeman Hrabowski:
You know, I – my colleagues and I wrote a book right before the pandemic entitled The Empowered University, and we’re writing another right now with Hopkins Press on what’s happened during this period. And this is what we say: that the pandemic has been a part of a larger picture of challenges, and that includes, obviously, COVID-19, but it includes issues involving race and social justice [broadly]; it includes the economy and the difference between the haves and have-nots. And this is a period when the light is shining on disparities. Whether you’re talking about health disparities, the academic achievement gap, the income gap, and it is a time when universities, more than ever, need to be focused on their campuses, not only in the research, but in the teaching and learning about how to prepare the next generation of leaders to begin closing some of these gaps.

And the language I used is from Jim Collins. When he talked about the genius of the “and” versus the tyranny of the “or.” It’s not about one issue or the other; it’s about how do we look at all these issues. It’s not about one group. And so, whether we’re talking about racism and African Americans, or we’re talking about the Latinx population and anti-Asian, or LGBTQ, there’s so many groups that have been discriminated against, we have to find ways of supporting each of those groups. And when talking about first-generation college students, and low-income students. We can’t leave any of those out of the conversation.

Bridget Burns:
You have positioned U.M.B.C. as a – really, a global leader, and I know that Meyerhoff Scholars program is scaled to other institutions. You’ve – you’re frequently tapped as the iconic – one of the most iconic leaders in higher ed, and – but I’m more curious about – when you first get to U.M.B.C., and you – you’re a baby president, what do you think were the most important decisions that really helped set you up to steer this institution this direction. Because I feel like people see the after, and they’re struggling with, you know, the first step, and I’m just wondering was there something you did, or you saw, that you think early on really helped start that trajectory?

Freeman Hrabowski:
Right. So, here’s the most important thing I can say. It’s the first sentence in our – this book that’s out now, The Empowered University, and it says, "It’s not about me, it’s about us." If there’s one thing that I want to say and that my colleagues and I agree on is when I think about leadership, we have to get beyond the one person. We have to think collaboratively; we have to think about what groups can do. And the first thing that we did – first of all, I moved to U.M.B.C. as a vice-provost. I was responsible for the academic undergrad experience, then became executive V.P., and then the president. I had been a provost on another campus, an academic vice president another campus, but here’s the deal: it was Michael Hooker who had [begun] the conversations, the former President of U.M.B.C. And I was able to continue those conversations about what can we do? Who are we? That’s the question that any person or any university has asked – who are we? What do we do well right now? What is our vision for ourselves? What about values?

And so, those first few years were spent with a number of leaders, talking about our aspirations, our challenges, and most important, doing what we say now about being empowered, to look in the mirror and to be honest with ourself. We have a number of challenges, including the fact that large numbers of students of color were not doing well, but a large number of students in general were not doing well, because many were trying to major in science and not making it. And so having those conversations, the hard conversations, the difficult talks, led to our being more honest with ourselves, and then looking at best practices around the country to see, okay, what can we do about these things? And that’s when we began using everything 30 years ago, from more technology in the work that we did in teaching and learning, to looking at ways of connecting the research and the teaching, to finding ways of bringing more undergraduates into the labs and into research experiences.

But also, of finding ways of building our work in the humanities and social sciences with the communities around us, even as we talk also about science and engineering. And it was again genius of the “and” versus the tyranny of the “or.” And that – that collaboration and that use of that focus group approach to working with students and with faculty and staff, with alumni, and with the community there in the Baltimore area, all of that led to our shaping who we have become.

Bridget Burns:
That’s –

Doug Lederman:
Sorry, go ahead, Bridget.

Bridget Burns:
I just [have] one comment that – before you – your question Doug, is that I didn’t realize that you had been at U.M.B.C. I should have noticed that, and I should have known that – you just – I feel like you’re – you are U.M.B.C. But it’s interesting when I think about prolific presidents, as we’re going through the season where a lot of presidential search is happening, and I’m getting a sense that there is a little bit more openness to hiring internal, that otherwise – in the past, I’ve seen a lot of trying to borrow reputation from elsewhere. But it’s interesting that both you and Michael Crow, two iconic presidents, both had longstanding relationships with your institutions prior. That you had the relationships; that you knew all the players.

Mike was a consultant to A.S.U. and the president before starting, and I think that’s just an interesting – that’s something I didn’t recognize that you had in common –

Freeman Hrabowski:
Oh, yeah.

Bridget Burns:
– and think we’re thinking about presidential transitions, like that’s got to be something that, if people want an iconic leader, that perhaps, they need to know the lay of the land before they’re handed all the responsibility of leading it.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Well, I grew up at U.M.B.C. I was – I moved there when I was 36. I’d already been an academic V.P. at a smaller institution in the city – Coppin State. And I moved there to focus on the undergrad experience, and what I learned about students, the undergrad experience, actually helped me in thinking through what we could do at the graduate level. There were the same kinds of issues. And when you look at my TED talk, it says the four things we talk a lot about in science, but it’s across the board. It’s the high expectations, not just of our students, but of ourselves building community. It takes researchers to pull others into that work, and then rigorous evaluation. And that’s what we learned during that period for undergrad and grad students in supporting faculty; in bringing more women into the sciences, for example, through the advance program.

And what it did was to – in the early years – was to teach me more about the culture of the university, but the university got to see me; the faculty got to see me. And so, they – it was the head of the faculty came to me and said, "We think you ought to think about becoming president." Which was very surprising to me. And so, I’ve been at U.M.B.C. now 35 years. I was 36 when I moved there, and so I’ve grown up at U.M.B.C., I really have. And it was five years after moving there that I became president.

Doug Lederman:
It’s funny – Bridget, you – I don’t have the data to back it up yet, but I put together our regular list of new appointments of provosts and presidents, and I have definitely sensed, and I haven’t done the data work, because it would frankly – I’d need like an extra week to do that, but I sus – I think I have seen a lot more promotions, you know, or successions of internal people. I’ll be interested to see if the data actually bear it out. But Freeman, I guess what – essentially when you started that comment just now, you were talking about – not about me, but about we. And I guess one of the – I don’t know if this struck you, but if – of the conversations we’ve done over the last few months, had several presidents talk about the lack – the lack of ego to some extent, or the importance of putting institution ahead of just the job.

And, I mean, Freeman, obviously, I can only imagine how many times you’ve been approached about leaving U.M.B.C., but I am interested in sort of how you balance – obviously a lot of presidents and leaders need a certain amount of confidence to do – to be great. But I’m curious how you think of sort of the balancing act between people with confidence versus sort of putting ego first and how you – how you balance that.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Sure. You know, we’re all products of our childhood experiences, and people who know my story know that I grew up as a little boy of color in Birmingham and went to jail with Dr. King. And he was the one who taught us as children that we could be empowered to believe tomorrow can be better than today. And as I think about the challenges we face in American society right now, and I think about – I mean, the real problems – I also think about the fact that we’ve made some – we’ve made some progress. I could not have even considered the possibility of being president of U.M.B.C. years ago. I mean just – it just wasn’t a possibility, but more important than that, at the same time, I remember something my grandmother said – I am a southerner. We tell stories.

And she told me to stay on my knees, and she said not only for the obvious reason about prayer; she said but because the higher up you go, the further you fall when you make a mistake, she said, but if you’re on your knees, you won’t fall too far. [laughter] I want you to think about that. That’s about humility. That – I mean, for any president, anything can happen at a moment’s notice that – doesn’t have to be that person’s fault, and the person’s out of that job. So, anybody who starts thinking I am the king on the hill or queen on the hill – no. No, we are there to serve. We are there to serve. It is an honor to serve the university. And for me, it’s all about education. Something I was taught all my life, that the only way I could deal with a world that was racist, quite frankly, was to become as educated as possible; to speak the truth; and to fight for what’s right.

And so, that’s what I think most presidents do. We are here to fight for education for our students and to seek the truth. To seek the truth. And that requires confidence we can do this – not I, but we can do this, but it also requires a level of humility that says by the grace of God. Something could happen. I mean I feel very fortunate every day to get up and to be president of U.M.B.C.

Bridget Burns:
I feel like that’s – it’s hard to follow anything up; like that – that’s just – we just drop the mic and walk away at that point.

Freeman Hrabowski:
[laughter]

Bridget Burns:
[unintelligible 00:22:22] of what it’s like I’m sure to work with you on a daily basis, but every time I get to have a conversation with you it just – the inspiration is much needed, and I’m sure it was much needed, especially this past year. Because I found that really, presidents had to call deep on a new skill many of them might not mastered, was really about – like you know, being more vulnerable, especially you know, modeling the struggle of what it was like to experience – right now, burn out and then coaching people, it really takes a bit of – a bit of the pep talk and I feel like you’ve got a corner on the market.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Well, you know what? I’ve got a corner on the market because I have so many colleagues, leaders of the faculty, and the staff, and my student leaders, who were inspiring me all the time. I mean, who were writing notes – "You okay? Are you doing okay?" Right. Or, "Can you do this? Can you call this person? Can you give this person – they really need – just some support." So, it was the building of community, I believe, and this is what we were saying in our book. I think a lot of universities saw this. In tough times, you get the character of the person and the university. And I think for many of us in higher education, we realized, as we did at U.M.B.C., that we could pull together. You know, the line that I use with the - my presidential colleagues in the University System of Maryland, and on my campus, is this: keep hope alive.

Everybody’s waiting for me to say that every time at the end. Keep hope alive. And you especially want to say it when it looks like there is no hope. Because that’s the human – that’s the human condition, that we get to those points where it looks so dark, but we have to remember we can get through this; we can move this. And so, yeah, I got that strength and was blessed to get it as a child from seeing the horrors of growing up in Birmingham, along with the wonderful love of my community. And it taught me that community is everything. And each of us on a campus, we are part – we are part of a community, and the community gives us the strength to keep going.

Bridget Burns:
Wow, that – this is perfect. And the last thing we wanted to do was quick end on rapid fire.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Yeah.

Bridget Burns:
So, these are – I want to ask you about advice that you’ve given and that you’ve received. So, what’s the best advice that you personally have received that you continue to use?

Freeman Hrabowski:
Yes, Walter Sondheim, who lived to be 99, said to me “Freeman, live life seriously, but don’t take it seriously.” You see, because when you take it too seriously, it means you’re taking yourself too seriously. So, be able to laugh, to be able to laugh. There’s something about a positive approach that makes a difference. Nobody wants gloom and doom. No, you got to – you can be realistic, but you can say, "Hey, we can do this." So, live life seriously, but don’t take it seriously.

Bridget Burns:
That’s great. Second is: what is the advice that you – I know that a lot of people who aspire to the presidency, who aspire to leadership, they come to you for advice and counsel – you’re infamous as being the Ace Fellow mentor who made your Ace Fellow do P90X with them, and Doug was just telling a story about how you helped talk to his some, but you made him do some kind of exercise that’s kind of your thing.

Freeman Hrabowski:
[That is]. [laughter]

Bridget Burns:
But when you’re making people work out with you, what is the advice you most consistently give people?

Freeman Hrabowski:
Focus on the substance. People talk about being a president – well, why? Why? I mean, focus on the substance. For me, it’s about the teaching and learning process. It’s about education making such a difference in the lives of people. So, people who really want to be in leadership positions should be people who are excited about learning. I’m studying French every day. We’ve got to keep excitement about learning itself and seeking the truth. Research, more than ever. So, you want to be a president, focus on the substance. That’s teaching and learning and research.

Bridget Burns:
One last one is – is there – beyond the book The Empowered University, are there any books that you recommend to people most consistently who are thinking about leadership?

Freeman Hrabowski:
You know, there are authors who come to my mind that make such a difference, and believe it or not – people are going to laugh when I say this – but I go back to 19th-century British lit sometimes. I go to the [unintelligible 00:26:33] renaissance with British lit, so Thackeray and Vanity Fair, I’m always – I mean, and for years, I have believed that literature, broadly, helps us understand human behavior and the human condition. And for years, I have enjoyed reading Thackeray and Dickens and the Brontë sisters. But also The Invisible Man with Ralph Ellison. I – I don’t say a book, I say read novels. People are always saying why would you want to read novels? Because you learn so much about humans. You learn so much about behavior. Those books teach me much more than the obvious ones on leadership. I mean it’s – I mean, over the years, I think – and right now, I’m reading French literature. I’m reading Simone de Beauvoir, for example, and Victor Hugo, en francais.

Doug Lederman:
I was going to say – in French?

Freeman Hrabowski:
Yeah, yeah in French – en francais. C’est tres dificil. I’m studying French with my students every day. They told me several years ago I was too old to do it, and I said, "Bring it on." That’s – the message today [unintelligible 00:27:39] never stop learning. It is – I am fascinated by studying another language in a serious way. I’ve studied languages before, but never to understand the culture and to understand more about myself.

Bridget Burns:
Wow – I don’t think we’ve had a conversation like this yet, Doug. This is -

Doug Lederman:
I’m not – I am not worthy.

Bridget Burns:
Yeah, I’m like wow, I am so lazy. But I do hope that for folks at home who were struggling to get through these weeks with burnout and everything else, that this has given you a bit of inspiration and it’s also given you an opportunity to learn a bit more about President Hrabowski and U.M.B.C., who we are delighted to welcome into the UIA, and we can’t wait to see what we do together. So, we’ll see everyone on Wednesday when we actually have our other institutional leader, who we are bringing into UIA, Chancellor Harold Martin from North Carolina A&T, and we’re excited to have a conversation with him. So, everyone, we wish you a happy and inspired week, and we think we’ve done a pretty good job of that, so thanks.

Freeman Hrabowski:
Keep hope alive.
 

Bios of Guest and Co-Hosts

Guest: Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, has served as President of U.M.B.C. (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County) since 1992. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the 2011 report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. He was named in 2012 by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dr. Hrabowski serves as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies, and universities and school systems nationally; and on several foundation boards. With philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff, he co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 1988 for advancing underrepresented minorities in science and engineering. Dr. Hrabowski is the author of Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement, and co-author of Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males, Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women, and The Empowered University: Shared Leadership, Culture Change, and Academic Success. As child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement, he was prominently featured in Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary Four Little Girls, on the racially motivated bombing in 1963 of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Co-Host: Bridget Burns, Executive Director, University Innovation Alliance
Dr. Bridget Burns is the founding Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA). For the past decade, she has advised university presidents, system chancellors, and state and federal policy leaders on strategies to expand access to higher education, address costs, and promote completion for students of all backgrounds. The UIA was developed during Bridget’s tenure as an American Council on Education (A.C.E.) Fellowship at Arizona State University. She held multiple roles within the Oregon University System, including serving as Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor, where she won the national award for innovation in higher education government relations. She was a National Associate for the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and has served on several statewide governing boards including ones governing higher education institutions, financial aid policy, and policy areas impacting children and families.

Co-Host: Doug Lederman, Editor and Co-Founder, Inside Higher Ed
Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. With Scott Jaschik, he leads the site's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country. His work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003, after working at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one for a 2009 series of Inside Higher Ed articles on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug and his wife, Kate Scharff, live in Bethesda, MD.

About Weekly Wisdom
Weekly Wisdom is an event series that happens live on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It also becomes a podcast episode. Every week, we join forces with Inside Higher Ed and talk with a sitting college president or chancellor about how they're specifically navigating the challenges of this moment. These conversations will be filled with practicable things you can do right now by unpacking how and why college leaders are making decisions within higher education. Hopefully, these episodes will also leave you with a sense of optimism and a bit of inspiration.

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