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Skidmore College

Skidmore’s In It 7 considers ways to build more inclusive academy, society

October 5, 2022

With wisdom and wit, esteemed educator Freeman A. Hrabowski III shared his experiences in transforming University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) into a national leader of bringing underrepresented undergraduate students into STEM fields and visions for education and society that offer opportunities for all to succeed. 

The respected president emeritus of UMBC participated in a facilitated conversation with Skidmore President Marc C. Conner during In It 7, the latest installment in a series of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs designed to strengthen community and raise cultural fluency at Skidmore. 

Hrabowski also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Skidmore for his work at UMBC, which — under his leadership — grew into a leading undergraduate school in the nation for Black students who later pursue advanced studies in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.  

Joshua Woodfork, vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity and organizer of In It 7, read a degree citation to Hrabowski that stated in part: “You recognized and insisted that if we lift opportunities for students with the least amount of access, it ends up creating more opportunities for everyone.” 

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president emeritus of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, right, addresses the Skidmore community at an event in Gannett Auditorium. Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Orr, left, Joshua Woodfork, vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity, and Skidmore College President Marc C. Conner, next to Hrabowski, were among many community members to participate.

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president emeritus of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, right, addresses the Skidmore community at an event in Gannett Auditorium. Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Orr, left, Joshua Woodfork, vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity, and Skidmore College President Marc C. Conner, next to Hrabowski, were among many community members to participate.

In his wide-ranging conversation with Conner, Hrabowski spoke of the need to avoid divisive language and to encourage broad participation.  

“Representation of underserved populations, underrepresented populations, should be a theme throughout our society,” he said at the Sept. 30 event in Gannett Auditorium. “We need to see more women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians from different groups, LGBTQ (individuals) — we need see people in different roles to believe it can happen.” 

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president emeritus of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, center, stands with Skidmore College President Marc C. Conner, left, and Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Orr after receiving an honorary degree from Skidmore.

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president emeritus of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, center, stands with Skidmore College President Marc C. Conner, left, and Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Orr after receiving an honorary degree from Skidmore.

At the same time, Hrabowski stressed the importance of also incorporating groups that have enjoyed historical privilege into broader inclusion efforts at higher educational institutions.  

“I want my white students interested in becoming a professor to become sensitive to and interested in issues of women and people of color in the classroom,” he said.   

Hrabowski also met with College leaders, DEI leaders, science faculty, Opportunity Program (OP) staff, and OP health professions students during his visit. 

The visit capped three days of In It 7 programming that included a screening of the film “My Name is Pauli Murray”  and workshops on cultivating inclusion in the workplace and addressing microbehaviors.

Faculty, students, and community members watched the short video "Antisemitism in Our Midst: Past and Present" and then shared personal stories and perspectives on ways to address antisemitism. Panelists included Daniel Nathan, Douglas Family Chair in American Culture, History, and Literary and Interdisciplinary Studies in the Department of American Studies; KB Goodkin, director of engagement at the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, and Sydney Kass '23, a political science major.

"The event generated powerful and thought-provoking conversation across generations, and it strengthened a sense of community as we continue to face this persistent and insidious hatred," said Martina Zobel, coordinator of Jewish student life. "There were many ideas for further steps to work together on this as a campus community."

Arthur Zankel Chair Professor of Management and Liberal Arts Pushkala Prasad, standing to the left, delivers a lecture on “Liberal F(R)ictions: Identity Tensions in Liberal Arts Colleges” in Wyckoff Center.

Arthur Zankel Chair Professor of Management and Liberal Arts Pushkala Prasad, standing to the left, delivers a lecture on “Liberal F(R)ictions: Identity Tensions in Liberal Arts Colleges” in Wyckoff Center.

Based on interviews with 165 faculty and administrators, Arthur Zankel Chair Professor of Management and Liberal Arts Pushkala Prasad lectured on faculty encounters with diversity in three liberal arts colleges, recurring tensions around diversity, and the experiences of faculty of color and international faculty. 

The In It 7 series also included a panel on “Disparities in Healthcare,” the idea of Noam Yossefy ’15, a second-year law student at Suffolk University who also has a Master of Arts degree in public health. Yossefy was joined by fellow alumni Natasha Noelfils ’16, a DO candidate at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine; Rebecca Ramirez ’89, chief clinical advisor for the Health Advisory Network in Columbus, Ohio; Nile Nair ’15, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in nutritional and genetic epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Leela Chandrasekar ’12, a pediatric clinical fellow at the Yale School of Medicine; and Jordyn G. Wartts ’14, a Ph.D. candidate in public health sciences at Washington University in St. Louis’s Brown School. Keshana Cody, director of the health disparities program for New York state’s Center for Community Health, also participated.  

The panel was moderated by Associate Professor of Chemistry Kelly Sheppard, director of the College’s Health Professions Advisory Committee, and organized by Shannon Rodriguez, who directs Skidmore’s Career Development Center

Alumni panelists discuss “Disparities in Healthcare” as part of an It It 7 discussion on Thursday, Sept. 29, as part of the In It 7 series.

Alumni panelists discuss “Disparities in Healthcare” as part of an It It 7 discussion on Thursday, Sept. 29, as part of the In It 7 series.

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