Arne Duncan is the ninth U.S. secretary of education. He has served in this post since his confirmation by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 20, 2009, following his nomination by President Barack Obama.
Duncan's tenure as secretary has been marked by a number of significant accomplishments on behalf of American students and teachers. He helped to secure congressional support for President Obama's investments in education, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's $100 billion to fund 325,000 teaching jobs, increases in Pell grants, reform efforts such as Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation, and interventions in low-performing schools. Additionally, he has helped secure an additional $10 billion to avoid teacher layoffs; the elimination of student loan subsidies to banks; and a $500 million national competition for early learning programs. Under Duncan's leadership at the Department, the Race to the Top program has the incentives, guidance, and flexibility it needs to support reforms in states. The Department also has focused billions of dollars to transform struggling schools, prompting nearly 1,000 low-performing schools nationwide to recruit new staff, adopt new teaching methods, and add learning time. He has led new efforts to encourage labor and management to work together as never before, and their new collaboration is helping to drive reform, strengthen teaching, create better educational options, and improve learning. During Duncan's tenure, the Department has launched a comprehensive effort to transform the teaching profession.
In support of President Obama's goal for the United States to produce the highest percentage of college graduates by the year 2020, Duncan has helped secure increases in the Pell grant program to boost the number of young Americans attending college and receiving postsecondary degrees. He has begun new efforts to ensure that colleges and universities provide more transparency around graduation, job placement, and student loan default rates. With the income-based repayment program introduced during Duncan's tenure, student loan payments are being reduced for college graduates in low-paying jobs, and loans will be forgiven after 10 years for persons in certain public service occupations, such as teachers, police officers and firefighters.
Before becoming secretary of education, Duncan served as the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), a position he held from June 2001 through December 2008. In that time, he won praise for uniting education reformers, teachers, principals and business stakeholders behind an aggressive education reform agenda that included opening more than 100 new schools, expanding after-school and summer learning programs, closing down underperforming schools, increasing early childhood and college access, dramatically boosting the caliber of teachers, and building public-private partnerships around a variety of education initiatives. Duncan is credited with significantly raising student performance on national and state tests, increasing graduation rates and the numbers of students taking Advanced Placement courses, and boosting the total number of scholarships secured by CPS students to more than $150 million. Also during his leadership of CPS, the district was recognized for its efforts to bring top teaching talent into the city's classrooms, where the number of teachers applying for positions almost tripled.
Prior to joining the Chicago Public Schools, from 1992 to 1998, Duncan ran the nonprofit education foundation Ariel Education Initiative, which helped fund a college education for a class of inner-city children under the I Have A Dream program. He was part of a team that later started a new public elementary school built around a financial literacy curriculum, the Ariel Community Academy, which today ranks among the top elementary schools in Chicago. From 1987 to 1991, Duncan played professional basketball in Australia, where he also worked with children who were wards of the state. Duncan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987, after majoring in sociology. He was co-captain of Harvard's basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American. Duncan is married to Karen Duncan, and they have two children who attend public school in Arlington, Va.
Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, has served as President of UMBC (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 recent report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. He also was recently named by President Obama to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
In 2008, he was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked UMBC the nation’s #1 “Up and Coming” university the past four years (2009-12). During this period, U.S. News also consistently ranked UMBC among the nation’s leading institutions for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” – tied in 2012 with Duke, Cal-Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Notre Dame. TIME magazine named him one of America’s 10 Best College Presidents in 2009, and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2012. In 2011, he received both the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Academic Leadership Award, recognized by many as the nation’s highest awards among higher education leaders. Also in 2011, he was named one of seven Top American Leaders by The Washington Post and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. In 2012, he received the Heinz Award for his contributions to improving the “Human Condition” and was among the inaugural inductees into the U.S. News & World Report STEM Solutions Leadership Hall of Fame.
He serves as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies, and universities and school systems nationally. He also serves on the boards of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation (Chair), T. Rowe Price Group, The Urban Institute, McCormick & Company, and the Baltimore Equitable Society. He served previously on the boards of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Maryland Humanities Council (member and Chair).
Examples of other 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, the Columbia University Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service, the GE African American Forum ICON Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Educational Research Association’s Distinguished Public Service Award, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) William D. Carey Award; being named a Fellow of the AAAS, Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) by the BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference, Educator of the Year by the World Affairs Council of Washington, DC, 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, and receiving the Technology Council of Maryland’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He also holds honorary degrees from more than 20 institutions – from Harvard, Princeton, and Duke to the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, Haverford College, and Harvey Mudd College.
With philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff, he co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 1988. The program is open to all high-achieving students committed to pursuing advanced degrees and research careers in science and engineering, and advancing underrepresented minorities in these fields. The program is recognized as a national model, and based on program outcomes, Hrabowski has authored numerous articles and co-authored two books, Beating the Odds and Overcoming the Odds (Oxford University Press), focusing on parenting and high-achieving African American males and females in science. He and UMBC were recently featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes, attracting national attention for the campus’s achievements involving innovation and inclusive excellence.
A child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Hrabowski 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. Born in 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama, Hrabowski graduated at 19 from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he received his M.A. (mathematics) and four years later his Ph.D. (higher education administration/statistics) at age 24.
The Frank Rhodes Lecture on the Creation of the Future: A Lecture Series for a New American University began in Fall 2011 at the direction of ASU President Crow to help advance his vision for a New American University and the need to redefine the role of higher education in society. Learn more →