Update: Initiative on Faculty Race Issues

April 02, 2007

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of a team of faculty, representing all five of MIT's Schools, who will work to develop the Institute's new initiative on faculty race issues. The members of this new core team are Professors Emery N. Brown (Science), Paula T. Hammond (Engineering), Leslie K. Norford (Architecture and Planning), Christine Ortiz (Engineering), Marcus A. Thompson (Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences), and JoAnne Yates (MIT Sloan). I am grateful to them for taking on this important and challenging assignment.

As announced previously, the initiative will study how race affects the recruitment, retention, professional opportunities, and collegial experiences of under-represented minority faculty members at MIT. The core team will consult closely with the MIT minority faculty, with leaders of the MIT community, and with the faculty broadly to define the process and determine the resources required for a comprehensive, rigorous, and systematic study of these issues. I have asked the core team to review its recommendations with the minority faculty and with the Council on Faculty Diversity before submitting them to me by the end of this academic year.

Following this consultative process, we will launch the Initiative itself, merging into it the committees on minority faculty recruitment and retention established in January 2006. We anticipate that the initiative will be similar in scope and in impact—both at MIT and across the nation—to our earlier studies of gender equity in the faculty, which began with the study of women in the School of Science (1999) and went on to include the other four Schools in reports released almost exactly five years ago. The core faculty team welcomes ideas, perspectives, and suggestions, which you may send to faculty-diversity@mit.edu.

This new initiative will provide the background necessary to allow us to develop effective mechanisms to strengthen the representation and career experiences of under-represented minority faculty at MIT. I expect this initiative to bring about real and measurable change at MIT, and to make the Institute a leader and a model in minority faculty recruitment and retention. This process and these goals have my and President Hockfield’s full support.

L. Rafael Reif