Faculty suggest presidential picks
Latest FNL tackles MIT 2030, presidential search process
This week, faculty again took to the pages of their Newsletter to chime in on key Institute developments, including the selection of the next president, MIT 2030, and MITx. The March/April newsletter’s editorial page also featured faculty thoughts on the presidential search process, in addition to 10 suggestions for specific people who could replace President Susan J. Hockfield.
Members of the newsletter’s editorial board were quoted asking for a president “who pays attention to the people at all levels of this campus,” and “who is a scientist or an engineer; not an administrator.” Another asked for “someone who will do something to restore the collegiality that used to distinguish the way MIT did business.”
“We need a President who will speak up against those who would pervert scientific findings or muzzle the scientific community for the sake of corporate contributions,” said yet another. Quotes were not attributed to particular faculty members, only to “editorial board respondents.”
The board suggested 10 people — four from within MIT, six from outside — to succeed Hockfield as president. And though only the joint Corporation-faculty search committee is actually responsible for picking names, this is the first time that specific possibilities have been publicly aired by any interested party.
From within MIT were Tyler E. Jacks, director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research; Eric S. Lander, biology professor and director of the Broad Institute; Susan Lindquist, biology professor and former director of the Whitehead Institute; and L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s provost.
From outside MIT (though all have MIT affiliations) were Joseph Aoun PhD ’82, president of Northeastern University; Lawrence Bacow ’72, former president of Tufts University and former MIT chancellor; Bob Brown, president of Boston University and former MIT provost, dean of engineering, and Course 10 department head; Alice Gast, president of Lehigh University and former MIT vice president for research, Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley and former MIT dean of science and Course 8 head; Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis and former MIT provost and Course 5 department head.
Jacks and Reif told The Tech that they were “flattered” and “honored” to be named among such good company, but did not offer comment on their possible interest in the presidency.
“I am flattered to be on the list but I have already been President/Chancellor of two great universities and that is enough,” Birgeneau said through a spokesperson. Aside from Berkeley, Birgeneau served as president of the University of Toronto from 2000–2004.
The other people suggested by the faculty did not respond to Tech email inquiries as of Thursday evening.
Other editorial board opinions asked for a continuation of key Hockfield administration policies: “Someone who will help broaden MIT’s impact and involvement, particularly in reinvigorating U.S. technological and manufacturing prowess.”
MIT 2030: The response
In the November/December newsletter, faculty issued a coordinated statement to the administration: involve us in the campus planning process. Then, the editorial board had called for the formation of a faculty advisory committee to guide the MIT 2030 process.
Administration officials responded in this issue. “The recent FNL articles may have suggested that MIT’s academic campus and our investment properties are in competition, or that we may losing sight of the primacy of our academic vision,” wrote Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz SM ’01 and Associate Provost for Space Martin A. Schmidt. “But we believe that the two work together to enhance innovation and opportunity.”
Ruiz and Schmidt had noted that development of MIT-owned property — like the spaces involved in the MIT 2030 vision, are all subject to a planning process that flows from the Committee for the Review of Space Planning, to the Building Committee, to the Executive Committee. Ruiz and Schmidt wrote that this process “is followed rigorously to ensure that academic interests are protected.”
However, none of those committees appear to have faculty representation.
“Moving forward, we want to review and expand our commitment to ensuring that engagement occurs around specific charges and questions that are important to the Institute,” they added.
The Working Group on the Future of Teaching and Learning Spaces at MIT, chaired by mechanical engineering professor John G. Brisson II, has been convened to plan for academic needs, according to Ruiz and Schmidt’s column. The administration is also working to engage faculty through regularly scheduled faculty and dean meetings, they said.
“The editorial in the February 10 edition of The Tech urges students to taken an active interest in 2030, and we echo that sentiment,” they wrote, adding that the Chancellor and student deans would help “create opportunities” for students to get involved.
The full March/April faculty newsletter can be accessed online at http://mit.edu/fnl/.