New MIT leadership on community, diversity, equity, and inclusion

May 31, 2019

To the members of the MIT community:

I write to you today to describe a new approach to leading and organizing MIT’s efforts around community, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Following my April 2018 announcement of our search for a new Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO), I received a great deal of thoughtful advice from many members of our community. What I heard made clear that the Institute would benefit from pausing to reflect more broadly on how we should best organize ourselves to advance the mission of the ICEO.

In particular, several members of our community with deep experience in these areas asked an important question: Does the ICEO need to be a member of the MIT faculty? At the heart of this question was this concern: Because few faculty at MIT have the benefit of extensive experience or professional training in advancing community, diversity, equity, and inclusion, finding an appropriate candidate on our faculty might be challenging, now and in the future.

With the benefit of this early feedback, last year I asked Alyce Johnson — a longstanding, highly regarded member of our human resources staff — to serve as Interim ICEO, both to serve MIT in this important role in the meantime and to help me consider carefully our next steps. Since last fall, Alyce has consulted widely across our community, and she and I have thought through different options.

Our path forward

I am extremely grateful to Alyce for her service as Interim ICEO, and for her thoughtful engagement and guidance. Today, as we prepare for Alyce’s retirement from MIT this summer, I would like to describe our path forward.

  • After concluding that the Institute will be best served if we do not require that the ICEO be a member of the MIT faculty, we will launch a broad search for a new ICEO, likely a senior staffer with professional expertise in the field.
  • To help me advance the important and related work of supporting faculty, supporting departmental leadership, and (with the ICEO) advancing our departments’ efforts to create a more inclusive and diverse academic community, I am creating a new Associate Provost position.

 

Professor Tim Jamison as Associate Provost

I am pleased to announce that Tim Jamison, Chemistry Department Head and Robert R. Taylor Professor of Chemistry, has agreed to accept a three-year appointment as Associate Provost. We have agreed to a three-year term for this position to provide the flexibility to assess how well this new structure works.

I am delighted that Tim has agreed to assume this important role. Since 2015, he has led energetic efforts to enhance the quality of life for all members of the Department of Chemistry, and I have been tremendously impressed with his insight, sensitivity, and ability to inspire positive change.

You can read more about Tim’s background here.

Together with Paula Hammond, Chemical Engineering Department Head and the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, Tim currently co-leads a working group dedicated to implementing recommendations from a recent National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report on sexual harassment.

In his new role as Associate Provost, Tim will work with senior leaders, deans, and others to ensure equitable practices during the faculty hiring, promotion, tenure, and review processes. In addition, he will support the efforts of our departments, the five schools, and the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing to foster diversity, inclusion, equity, a positive climate, and a sense of community. Tim will bring a valuable faculty perspective to these important areas.

Searching for a new ICEO

I am also pleased to announce today that we are launching the search for a new Institute Community and Equity Officer to succeed Alyce. I have retained a search firm and will work with Tim and Alyce to create a committee composed of faculty, staff, and students to help me identify an outstanding candidate. The search will begin immediately.

The ICEO is a member of the senior administration and a thought leader on community, diversity, equity, and inclusion. The successful candidate will possess deep knowledge and experience in these areas, an innovative spirit, and an eagerness to work across MIT to build understanding, capacity, and programming — sharing best practices and unifying existing efforts.

Both the ICEO and the Associate Provost will report to me. Together, they will collaborate with senior leadership to implement a set of achievable strategies, and measures for assessment and accountability.

* * *

At MIT, we strive to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, and are committed to welcoming and supporting faculty, students, and staff of varying backgrounds, viewpoints, experiences, talents, and ideas. It is my hope that the two roles described above will help us to move together toward our goal of One MIT.

Sincerely,
Martin Schmidt