Morgan State’s President David K. Wilson Selected for Prestigious Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education

By: Morgan State University

Wilson, the First President of an HBCU to Earn the Honor, Joins Two Other Honorees Chosen for Outstanding Achievement in Pre-K–12, Higher Education, and Lifelong Learning

BALTIMORE — The 2023 winners of the prestigious Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education were announced today by the McGraw Family Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. This year’s recipients, who include Debra Duardo, Barbara Oakley, and David K. Wilson — three leaders in the educational field doing groundbreaking work in pre–K–12 classrooms, in lifelong learning, and on university campuses, respectively — are being recognized for their extraordinary achievements. President Wilson, who is the first president of a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to earn this distinguished honor, was selected for the overall transformation he has led at Morgan, including historic advancement in retention and graduation rates and the University’s engagement with adult learners. He was also recognized for his vigorous national advocacy on behalf of HBCUs and support of degree attainment for Black students.

Each winner will receive an iconic sculpture in honor of their achievement and an award of $50,000. President Wilson has committed to donating the entirety of his monetary award to Morgan State University in the service of students in need. The three honorees will also be acknowledged during a special ceremony held in New York City on Nov. 8.

“It is an extreme honor to be recognized by the McGraw Family Foundation and the esteemed panel of judges for the consequential work we have devoted ourselves to at Morgan. Without the dedicated team that we have in place and the commitment they have for our shared educational goals, this would not be possible, so I humbly accept this award on their behalf and on behalf of the students we serve,” said President Wilson. “Morgan is undergoing an immense period of transformation and growth, and the important work that we’re engaged in has benefited from both. And while I am very appreciative of this acknowledgment for what we have accomplished thus far, there is still more work to be done for our students.”

Under President Wilson’s leadership, Morgan has experienced historic enrollment and consistent student retention, with second-year retention rates exceeding 70% for more than a decade. A transformational president with significant accomplishments to his credit, he has overseen a dramatic increase in graduation rates by revamping the University’s advising model and adopting data-driven initiatives to identify students at risk of dropping out. He also spearheaded the creation and launch of Morgan’s new College of Continuing and Interdisciplinary Studies and its groundbreaking Morgan Completes You program, which serves adult learners who may have some college credit but no degree and assists them in getting across the finish line to college completion, in some cases by granting college credit for their prior learning experiences. 

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education celebrates innovation, inspiration, and impact in education by recognizing outstanding individuals whose accomplishments are making a difference in the lives of students. This year is the first time a McGraw Prize has been awarded for lifelong learning, a recognition of our society’s changing need to help learners of all ages grow in and out of the classroom. 

“The McGraw Prize was established in 1988 to honor my father’s commitment to education and literacy and today continues to shine a spotlight on innovative and outstanding educators who empower our students and enhance our society,” said Harold McGraw III, former chairman, CEO, and president of The McGraw-Hill Companies. “This year’s winners demonstrated exceptional achievement over an extended period of time and in the face of unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID crisis. Their dedication to student success is both exceptional and inspiring.”

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation selected Penn Graduate School of Education (GSE) as the home for the McGraw Prize in 2020. Penn GSE is recognized internationally for its cutting-edge initiatives and distinguished faculty and as a training ground for top educators and leaders. The partnership includes administering the annual prize in November, and ongoing programming with more than 100 past winners, including symposia and a webinar series.

“As we look for ways to transform education, we should look to the work of these three innovators and leaders. They have had a tremendous impact – enabling countless students and lifelong learners to access high-quality education and thrive socio-emotionally and academically,” said Katharine Strunk, dean of Penn GSE and a leading expert on improving student achievement. “So rarely do giants in the field get the recognition they deserve, and the McGraw Prize is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the innovators who are making a difference.”

Through a public nomination process, McGraw Prize nominees were submitted for consideration by their peers, with winners then selected during three rounds of judging, including a final round by an independent panel of esteemed leaders in the field. Past winners have included teachers, professors, superintendents, university presidents, non-profit organization leaders, entrepreneurs, and public officials. Many continue to play major roles across the education landscape. 

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About Morgan
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 140 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit

About the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation
The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, established by Harold W. McGraw, Jr., is a not-for-profit private foundation whose primary mission is focused on education, youth services, community health, and medical research. Harold W. McGraw, Jr. was the Chairman and CEO of McGraw-Hill and dedicated his life to education and literacy. 

About the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, or Penn GSE, is one of the nation’s leading research education schools and is currently ranked #3 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators. It is also home to the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition and centers such as Catalyst @ Penn GSE, a hub for global education innovation.