Clark Kerr Award

In 1968, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate created the Clark Kerr Award as a tribute to the leadership and legacy of UC President Emeritus Kerr.

The Clark Kerr Award recognizes those who have made extraordinary and distinguished contributions to the advancement of higher education. Past recipients have come from inside and outside the Berkeley community, including former California Governor and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, Lee Bollinger, Yuan T. Lee, and past Chancellors Ira Michael Heyman, Chang-Lin Tien, and Robert Berdahl. 

The 2019 awardees, Dr. Diana Natalicio, president of the University of Texas at El Paso, and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, are recognized for their contributions to higher education and leading transformative change at their respective institutions. 

Diana Natalicio and Freeman Hrabowski are the recipients of the 2019 Clark Kerr Award.

Diana NatalicioDiana Natalicio was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri.  The first in her family to go to college, she earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish at St. Louis University and then studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil.  Having completed a master’s degree in Portuguese and a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, in 1971 she was appointed an assistant professor at the El Paso campus (UTEP).  She later served as chair of the modern languages department, dean of liberal arts, and vice president of academic affairs. 

Dr. Natalicio was named president of UTEP in 1988.  Her sustained commitment to providing all residents of the Paso del Norte region access to outstanding higher education opportunities has helped make UTEP a national success story.  During her tenure as president, the enrollment has grown from 15,000 to over 25,000 students, more than 80% of whom are Mexican American. The university’s annual budget has increased from $65 million to more than $500 million.  Annual research expenditures have grown from $6 million to nearly $95 million per year, and doctoral programs from one to 22 during this same period. 

This progress did not happen by accident.  Early in her service Dr. Natalicio realized that, to offer her students a quality education, UTEP would have to transform itself from being a marginalized UT campus to becoming a serious research university.  She has led this transformation with remarkable skill, all the while making sure that UTEP continues to serve the entire population.  Her story is one of the most admirable in modern U.S. higher education.  She has understood and practiced Berkeley's motto of "Access and Excellence" perhaps better than any other of her contemporaries in American higher education.

Dr. Natalicio has served on numerous educational boards including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), Rockefeller Foundation, Trinity Industries, Sandia Corporation, U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC), American Council on Education, and many more. She was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to membership on the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans and by President Bill Clinton to the National Science Board (NSB), where she served two six-year terms, including three two-year terms as NSB vice-chair.

In 2017, Dr. Natalicio was named one of Fortune magazine’s Top 50 World Leaders.  She has been honored with the Hispanic Heritage Award in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and she was included on the 2016 Time Magazine’s 100 list of most influential people in the world.  In 2015, The Carnegie Corporation of New York honored Dr. Natalicio with its prestigious Academic Leadership Award.  In 2011, the President of Mexico presented her with the Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca, the highest recognition bestowed on foreign nationals.  She was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at The University of Texas at Austin, and awarded honorary doctoral degrees by St. Louis University, Northeastern University, Victoria University (Melbourne, Australia), Georgetown University, Smith College, and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon (Mexico).

Freeman A. Hrabowski III was born in Birmingham, Alabama, where his parents were teachers of mathematics. At the age of 12 he was arrested and incarcerated for several days after joining the Children’s Crusade March for civil rights.  Following his family tradition, he graduated with high honors in mathematics as a student at the Hampton Institute, Virginia.  He received his Ph.D. in higher education administration and statistics from the University of Illinois in 1975.  Since 1992 he has served continuously as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

In this capacity Dr. Hrabowski has designed and implemented extraordinary programs for drawing minority students into the demanding STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  These programs combine innovative pedagogy with academic and social support. His initiative has enabled thousands of minority students to graduate in these fields and, in many cases, to continue their education in graduate school.  During his presidency, Dr. Hrabowski has published three books about these programs.  He has also transformed UMBC into a research institution recognized as one of the most innovative in the country.  The Clark Kerr Award for leadership in higher education is a most fitting tribute to a university president who has had this unique and dramatic impact on the lives of so many underrepresented minority students.

We are far from the first institution to draw this conclusion. President Hrabowski has already received the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, & Engineering Mentoring. In 2011, he was honored with both the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Academic Leadership Award. These accolades are widely recognized as the nation's highest awards among higher education leaders. Hrabowski donated the entire $500,000 Carnegie award to the innovative programs he had established at UMBC.  He was named one of "America's Best Leaders" of 2008 by U.S News & World Report, which also ranked UMBC the Number 1 "Up and Coming" university in the nation in 2009-2014 and one of the "Best Undergraduate Teaching" schools continuously for the past nine years.  Time Magazine designated President Hrabowski one of the "10 Best College Presidents" of 2009 and one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2012.   

In 2012, President Barack Obama named Dr. Hrabowski to chair the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.  He also chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the 2011 report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. Freeman Hrabowski has received over 30 honorary degrees. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.