Campus News

UB junior is Truman Scholarship finalist


Published March 7, 2018

“He is an outstanding leader, thoughtful citizen and a creative innovator who wants to use data and technology to understand urban issues and inform solutions.”
Graham Hammill, vice provost for educational affairs

Michael Brown

Political and computer science major Michael P. Brown is a finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study.

The Truman award is given to college juniors for leadership in public service. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation reviewed more than 750 applications from more than 300 colleges and universities before selecting its finalists.

From that pool, the Truman Foundation chose 194 finalists from 137 institutions. Those students will now compete for about 60 awards.

The foundation will interview finalists in March and April before announcing the 2018 Class of Truman Scholars in late April.

After he graduates from UB, Brown plans to earn an MS in applied urban science and informatics from New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. He is a graduate of Canisius High School, and the son of Michelle and David Brown of Buffalo. Brown has been the student representative to the UB Council since September. He says that given the opportunity, he would love to use his graduate education to serve Buffalo residents.

“He is an outstanding leader, thoughtful citizen and a creative innovator who wants to use data and technology to understand urban issues and inform solutions,” says Graham Hammill, vice provost for educational affairs, who wrote Brown’s nomination letter to the Truman Scholarship Foundation.

Brown’s graduate degree will allow him to “understand and use big data effectively to address urban challenges,” Hammill wrote. “It is impressive to see an accomplished computer science major using his education and skills to address core challenges faced by urban communities.”

Elizabeth Colucci, director of fellowships and scholarships, whose office has significantly increased the number of UB student finalists and winners of national and international scholastic awards, called Brown a “change agent.”

“Michael Brown is committed to making data open and available to communities so that they can address current challenges,” Colucci says. “We are proud that he has advanced to become a finalist for the Truman Scholarship. His work on and off campus is remarkable.

UB’s last Truman Scholarship winner came in 2016 when 20-year-old Madelaine Britt became the first UB student to win what university officials call the most prestigious undergraduate fellowship of all.

Brown told the selection committee he hopes to work with the National League of Cities (NLC) in its Center for City Solutions. The center directly helps leaders across the country by delivering applied research, best practices, technical assistance and leadership education.

“The urban innovation program would allow me to focus on how cities can maximize the positive impact of technology on their operations while also crafting policy that minimizes negative outcomes,” Brown wrote in his application.

“Some of the NLC’s specific work relates to drones, the sharing economy and the smart city internet of things. Working with the NLC would introduce me to the best ways I can help advocate for urban progress on a federal level.”

Criteria for the Truman Scholarship nominations include an extensive record of campus and community service, commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit and advocacy sectors, communication skills and a high probability of becoming a “change agent,” and a strong academic record with likely acceptance to the graduate school of the candidate’s choice.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to President Harry S. Truman.

Scholars receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.