Agustín Rayo named new Dean of SHASS, effective Feb. 1

Rayo was associate dean for four years and served as interim dean beginning summer 2021

Effective Feb. 1, Agustín Rayo PhD ’01, professor of philosophy, will be the next Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) according to a Jan. 25 email from Provost Martin Schmidt PhD ’88.

Rayo served as interim dean of SHASS beginning June 2021 after the previous dean, Melissa Nobles, became Chancellor of MIT. Nobles was dean from 2015 to 2021.

Prior to being interim dean, Rayo served as associate dean of SHASS from 2016 to 2019, during which he was chair of the Digital Humanities Steering Committee, the SHASS Faculty Diversity Committee, and the SHASS Educational Advisory Committee.

Rayo told MIT News that he hopes to “continue the work of past SHASS deans, to make sure that the fields we study remain at the heart of the MIT experience.”

Rayo also serves on the Computing Council of the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing and as co-chair of MIT’s Committee on Departmental Life. 

Additionally, Rayo was Senior House housemaster from 2010 to 2014 and in the 2013–14 academic year, Rayo was on the Task Force on the Future of MIT Education. 

President L. Rafael Reif also told MIT News that Rayo “brings to the deanship a wonderful record of leadership to SHASS and of service to all of MIT, from faculty governance to student life.”

According to Schmidt’s email, Rayo grew up in Mexico City and earned his undergraduate degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1996 and his doctorate in philosophy from MIT in 2001.

Rayo completed postdoctoral research at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and was assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California at San Diego before becoming a professor at MIT in 2005.

Rayo’s research interests include metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, language, and logic. Rayo has also taught 24.118 (Paradox and Infinity) almost every Spring term since 2012.

Rayo is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and his textbook On the Brink of Paradox: Highlights from the Intersection of Philosophy and Mathematics earned the 2020 Association of American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) Award for the best textbook in humanities.

The Advisory Committee on the Selection of the Dean of SHASS, chaired by philosophy professor Caspar Hare, advised Schmidt on the selection of Rayo as dean.