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University of Iowa News Release


April 11, 2007

Author To Discuss 'Beating The Odds' At Yager Diversity Conference April 23

K-12 classrooms across the state of Iowa are becoming increasingly diverse, whether as a result of ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation.

Freeman A. Hrabowski III (left), president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will discuss how educators and others can create environments where diversity flourishes when he delivers the keynote address at the University of Iowa Yager Diversity Conference, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 23 in the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge.

Hrabowski is the co-author of two books, "Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males" and "Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women." Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and Hrabowski will begin his lecture at 9 a.m. followed by a book signing. Hrabowski's companion books focus on parenting and high-achieving African American males and females in science. Universities, school systems and community groups around the country use both books. Hrabowski is also involved in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, a mentorship initiative that prepares minority students for graduate study in science and engineering.

Although the conference is free and open to the public, registration is required in advance because of limited seating. For more information or to register, visit

Hrabowski has served as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County since May 1992. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He serves as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and universities and school systems nationally. He also sits on several corporate and civic boards. Examples include the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Constellation Energy Group, chair of the France-Merrick Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, McCormick & Company, Inc., Mercantile Safe Deposit & Trust Company and the Urban Institute.

Examples of recent awards or honors include election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Philosophical Society; receiving the prestigious McGraw Prize in Education, the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, and the Columbia University Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service; being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Marylander of the Year by the editors of the Baltimore Sun; and being listed among Fast Company magazine's first "Fast 50 Champions of Innovation" in business and technology. He also holds a number of honorary degrees, most recently from Princeton University, Duke University, the University of Illinois, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Gallaudet University, Goucher College, the Medical University of South Carolina and Binghamton University.

This is a one-day conference designed as an opportunity for conversations between community members, educators and UI staff, faculty and students on topics such as meeting the needs of diverse learners and recruitment and retention of diverse groups.

Susan Lagos Lavenz, conference organizer and a clinical associate professor in the UI College of Education's Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, says she hopes 300 people -- including K-12 school personnel, school leaders, university diversity leaders, community members and students of the College of Education -- will participate in the conference from across the state.

"This is an opportunity to learn more about diversity initiatives that are happening in the school, university and community settings," said Lagos Lavenz. "We're hearing a tremendous amount about the changing demographics in Iowa and what that means to schools in Iowa."

Educators and community leaders will lead a discussion on school, university and community partnership and initiatives from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The conference will culminate with the unveiling of the Yager Diversity Web site, which will feature information on diversity initiatives and resources. The Web site will also contain an application for $1,000 Yager Diversity Seed Grants that educators and members of the community can apply for to launch their own diversity initiatives based on knowledge gained at the conference.

During Hrabowski's visit, he will also meet with faculty and staff from the Iowa Biosciences Advantage Program in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

The Yager Diversity Conference is sponsored by the following: Dr. Robert Yager; the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine, Iowa; the UI College of Education Office of the Dean; the UI College of Education Diversity Committee; and the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

The Yager Diversity Conference was established to honor Phyllis Yager as a friend, colleague and graduate of the UI College of Education. Yager, the wife of UI science education professor Robert Yager, devoted her career to advocating multicultural opportunities and gender-affirming activities in education through her work as a consultant at the Grant Wood Area Education Agency and in the Iowa City schools. When she died in 1991, her family and friends established the Phyllis M. Yager Education Fund through the UI Foundation to encourage the continuation of her diversity initiatives.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this conference, contact Lagos Lavenz at 319-335-5306 or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Program: Susan Lagos Lavenz, at 319-335-5306 or