Michael Sipser to step down as dean of science

February 19, 2020

To the members of the MIT community:

I write to share the news that Michael Sipser will step down as dean of the School of Science on June 30, 2020, assuming that a suitable successor is found by then. Mike, the Donner Professor of Mathematics and a member of the MIT faculty since 1980, has served as dean since 2014, following 10 years as head of the Department of Mathematics.

Mike's accomplishments as dean span the School of Science and have built its strength in both research and education, often by increasing the impact of science on critical areas of collaborative study. For example, he helped launch the Aging Brain Initiative, an interdisciplinary effort centered in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, which aims to understand and develop treatments for age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. He was instrumental in establishing a home for statistics at MIT through the creation of the MIT Statistics and Data Science Center, based in what is now known as the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. And, he helped the Department of Mathematics sustain its MathROOTS program for high-potential high school students from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds.

In 2016, while serving as dean, Mike received the MIT Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellowship in recognition of his long and outstanding commitment to undergraduate education. The same year, he was honored with the Irwin Sizer Award of the MIT Graduate School Council, with faculty colleague Tom Leighton, for the most significant improvement to MIT education—in particular, for their development of the highly successful Course 18C major (Mathematics with Computer Science). In 2015, the University of California at Berkeley presented Mike with its Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mike has contributed more generally to the governance of MIT through his service on Academic Council as dean, and I personally have greatly valued the advice and collegiality that he has provided over the past several years.

I am in the process of appointing a faculty committee to advise me on the selection of the next dean of science. In the meantime, I invite you to submit suggestions regarding the qualities we should seek in the next dean, as well as potential candidates, to science-search@mit.edu. Your input will be kept confidential.

I hope you will join me in expressing the greatest appreciation to Mike for his outstanding service to the School of Science and to MIT, and in wishing him all the best as he concludes his term as dean.


Martin A. Schmidt