Hazel Sive steps down as assoc. dean of science

Addressed education, diversity, community

Hazel L. Sive stepped down as the associate dean of the School of Science on Dec. 16. Sive, who has served in the position since its inception in 2007, has returned to her post as a professor of biology.

“[Professor Sive] has taken the lead in the School’s efforts to increase diversity, and she has represented the School well in all Institute-wide educational activities, especially MITx,” said Marc A. Kastner, who stepped down in December as dean of the School of Science, in a statement. “I have greatly enjoyed working with her and I am deeply grateful for her partnership during my years as dean.”

A biology professor and a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research since 1991, Sive will be working on an MITx course for next year tentatively entitled “Frontiers and Fundamentals of Development Biology.” She will also continue co-chairing and serving on several committees and task forces, such as the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education.

Sive began her tenure as associate dean of science focusing on educational issues and initiatives, but went on to address issues of diversity and fair treatment, as well as develop the postdoctoral and junior faculty communities.

“My goals as associate dean were two-fold,” said Sive. “I wanted to be accessible, and I wanted to be innovative.” To that end, she “met with hundreds of students, postdocs, and faculty who needed some input outside of their departmental unit.”

“One of the student projects I liked best was to answer the question, ‘Which life sciences major should I go into?’” said Sive. “There wasn’t any organized material, so we put together a useful new website including all life sciences-based majors and graduate programs,”

Sive also worked to improve the postdoctoral researcher community, co-chairing the faculty advisory committee to the Postdoctoral Association founded in 2011. “I’m very pleased that we implemented an annual review system for our postdocs, both in the School of Science and throughout the Institute,” said Sive. Every other group at MIT had a feedback system: “The undergraduates get grades, graduate students have thesis committees, and faculty have annual reviews. Postdocs had nothing.”

Instrumental in compiling the 2011 “Report on the Status of Women Faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering” that shed light on a need to improve junior faculty mentoring, Sive found the junior faculty at MIT to be of “great interest.” In addition to overseeing faculty searches, she organized a program that allowed junior faculty to learn about teaching students, mentoring, writing recommendations, and other aspects of becoming part of the MIT faculty. Just as there is adjustment time for students, “it requires some time for a junior faculty member to come here and become part of the Institute,” she said.

Sive’s successor is yet to be determined, as the associate dean is appointed by the dean of the School of Science. Currently, the mathematics department’s Michael Sipser is serving as the interim dean, following the nomination of his predecessor Marc A. Kastner to lead the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.