The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

“Keepers of the Culture”

That’s what Freeman Hrabowski of UMBC called CUPA-HR’s audience of more than 1,000 HR professionals. Keepers of institutional values and priorities. Keepers of relationships and the way we interact with one another. The voice of emotional intelligence.

What an awesome responsibility!

Relationship was a theme that ran throughout Dr. Hrabowski’s remarks. His relationship with his parents, when he told them at 12 that he wanted to march with Dr. Martin Luther King in Birmingham. His relationship with his mother, who instilled in him a love of learning and poetry. And his relationship with students, staff, faculty and the HR people he relies on at his own campus.

After the primacy of the academic program, he said, what’s most critical at institutions is the way we treat people. Celebrate everything that deserves celebrating, because when people feel good, they’re more open to relationships and more willing to tackle challenges.

He also spoke of opportunity and first-generation college attendees. And then  he asked first-generation college graduates in the audience to stand. Nearly a fourth of the room stood – to an enthusiastic round of applause.

After inspiring and encouraging the group, he left us with these questions …

If you were no longer at your institution, what difference would your leaving make?

Since you’ve come to the institution, what difference have you made?

And, finally … where would you be if you hadn’t had the chance to go to college?