The History of OSP-College Prep

Founder and Former Director Larry Hawkins

OSP-College Prep was founded by the late Larry Hawkins, PhD, a pioneer in educational enrichment and an advocate for disadvantaged urban youth.

An Army veteran, Hawkins earned three graduate degrees, including an EdD from the University of Illinois in 1986. His early experience as a barn-storming basketball player and coach led him to a powerful vision of the role that athletic programs could play in energizing inner-city students, their parents, and their communities by focusing their attention and efforts on education and advancement.

In 1968, the University of Chicago recruited Hawkins, then a standout basketball coach at Carver High School, to create an educational outreach program for talented minority students who come from low-income families.

Building the Program

As director, he founded the Institute for Athletics and Education and forged early relationships with members of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP), resulting in the creation of the Space Explorers Program in 1990, a hands-on learning experience that continues, today, to connect middle- and high-school students with Kavli scientists.

In the subsequent four decades, Hawkins created and led OSP programs that provided generations of young people with encouragement and opportunities to complete their formal educations and move on to rich and productive lives.

His Awards and Honors

In 1984, Hawkins received the George Williams College's Distinguished Alumni Award. Not long before his death, he received the 2009 Diversity Leadership Staff Award from the University's Diversity Leadership Council, a body created to recognizes exemplary leaders in the University's efforts to support diversity on campus and in its relationships with the surrounding neighborhoods.

Honoring His Legacy

Larry Hawkins' extraordinary life and career as an athlete, a coach, a teacher, a mentor, a historian of African-American sport, and an educational innovator, continue to be an inspiration to many whose lives he touched.

There are many distinguished graduates of the outreach programs that Hawkins designed, including Carol Moseley Braun, who was the first African American woman to become a U.S. Senator.

Michelle Terry, the University's Director of Operations and Educational Programs, said of Hawkins: "Larry was living proof of the difference one person dedicated to education outreach can make in the lives of others."

Tributes to Dr. Hawkins

"The world is a brighter place because Dr. Hawkins touched so many lives. There are so many things left unsaid, but I am happy the Lord blessed me with a chance to say thank you! Dr. Hawkins will be missed." -- Alumnus Bryan J. A. Kelly, HP/OSP'98

"I have so many memories of Dr. Hawkins, but one of my most favorable was his ability to command attention from his students. Without raising his voice he was able to get the attention of hundreds of students at one time by simply standing up in front of them until most of them were quiet." -- anonymous

"I love what Dr. Hawkins stood for and the opportunity he provided for my son Royal. I will truly miss Dr. Hawkins, the program, enrichment trips, grand finale and all the many, many functions that he made available to us all." -- Mrs. Donna Robinson

"He taught me about character and principles. He helped to make me who I am today. I pledge to teach and mentor children by the same principles." -- Daris Frencha