Letters to MIT Community

Letter to the Community on Minority Faculty Issues at MIT

Friday, February 2, 2007

This past Monday, the Provost announced to the faculty our plans to undertake a comprehensive, rigorous, and systematic study of the impact of race on the hiring, advancement, and experience of minority faculty at the Institute. This new initiative, which addresses issues of concern to higher education nationwide, reflects MIT's continuing commitment to removing barriers that may exist for faculty from under-represented groups – a commitment articulated by the Faculty in May 2004 in its important resolutions regarding diversity. Drawing on the successful example offered by the Institute's pioneering analyses of gender equity, this new initiative will support the ongoing work of the committees on minority faculty recruitment and retention that the Provost established a year ago.

We owe it to our students and community to take a position of leadership on this important issue, and the progress we have made so far demonstrates that concerted institutional effort can make a difference. Last year, as many new minority faculty joined MIT as at any point in the last decade, and more Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars are on campus this year than ever before. The Class of 2010 is more racially diverse than any other in the Institute's history, and we have launched important new initiatives in graduate student and staff recruitment. But we know that these accomplishments are not enough. We must accelerate the pace of change.

The new initiative the Provost has announced will provide the critical information we need to develop even more effective efforts to strengthen the representation and career experiences of minority faculty at MIT. We have already begun broad consultation with faculty as we formulate the charge to the study's steering group and its membership.

The Institute's history demonstrates the tremendous power we have to address difficult problems effectively. Our work on gender equity has had lasting national and international impact; we expect that our new study, carried out with equivalent rigor and clarity, will be a comparably powerful example of thoughtful self-assessment.


Susan Hockfield


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