Main Conference Plenary Session
Friday, July 13
Gaston Caperton and Freeman Hrabowski
College Board President Gaston Caperton, who has been Governor of West Virginia, began by expressing his honor at being with the conference's attendees, whom he called "the most important educators in America. You are the builders of America's future," Caperton said, "and the builders of its intellectual capital and of its future leaders."
Following his remarks, he introduced the afternoon's plenary speaker, Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Freeman Hrabowski, the president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County and prominent civil rights activist, was the Main Conference's plenary speaker. The scientist and author graduated from college at the age of 19 and received a Ph.D. in higher education administration/statistics at just 24 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was featured in Spike Lee's 1997 documentary Four Little Girls.
Hrabowski's inspirational speech affirmed the audience's commitment to high-quality education while challenging them to continue pushing their students and themselves. "The way we teach our students to think and express themselves will determine not only who we are today, but who we will be in the future," he said.
As a consultant to the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, Hrabowski wants to confront those educated individuals who are reluctant to promote intelligence as a positive identity. "In our society, if someone's a great basketball player [they are eager to showcase their talents], but if they're a great physics student or literature student, there's an ambivalence."
"You are the bearers of the torch," Hrabowski announced to the audience. "People look at you in thinking about excellence. You don't teach an AP course unless you're a very good teacher, unless you grasp the concepts, unless you are, quite frankly, smart."