MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


Effective July 1, 2000, the name of the school will change to become the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS). The new inclusion of "Arts" in the name is intended to acknowledge the unique and fundamental ways in which the arts curricula contribute to the overall educational mission of the school and the Institute. It is particularly fitting that the school’s name change occurred during the landmark year of 2000–the year the school celebrates its 50th Anniversary as part of MIT. To recognize this milestone occasion, a series of events have been planned that will form an exciting tribute to the School’s fifty-year history at MIT on October 6th and 7th.

In the meantime, the School continues to build and refine its undergraduate and graduate programs and to focus its efforts on affirmative action, fund-raising, and faculty recruitment in departments and sections which are experiencing retirements and resignations. The faculty received a number of honors and awards, and some important administrative changes within the School have occurred.


Approximately twenty-five pilot HASS (Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) Communication Intensive (CI) subjects–including both HASS-Distribution and HASS-Elective courses–were offered in 1999—2000. In this second year of the pilot phase, roundtable discussions were again held for the instructors of these courses. Although experiences varied depending on the type of CI course–single section vs. lecture with recitation sections, for example–the general reaction was positive. Instructors believe that HASS CI courses are fulfilling their goal of improving students’ written and oral communication skills. Those instructors who had taken advantage of the option of hiring a writing tutor for assistance reported satisfaction with that arrangement; they felt that besides easing the burden somewhat for them, their students had benefitted.

The HASS Minors continue to be popular with undergraduates. Two new HASS Minors were added effective Fall 1999 (Ancient and Medieval Studies and Public Policy) bringing the total to twenty-seven.

The HASS Overview Committee (HOC), chaired by Professor Jean Jackson, had another busy year. In addition to its regular task of reviewing HASS-D proposals, the HOC dealt with a number of other issues involving HASS, including HASS CI courses. In the upcoming academic year, the HOC will focus on establishing the criteria and monitoring procedure for HASS CI’s effective Fall 2001, when the new Communication Requirement goes into effect.


The Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies has been exploring the development of a new masters program in Science Writing, with the educational mission of improving the public understanding of science. Such a program seems particularly relevant to MIT, where excellence in scientific research is a hallmark. This new program would build upon existing curricula and faculty in Writing and Humanistic Studies and in Comparative Media Studies, and would also form a natural complement to the MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowships Program, administered in the Program in Science, Technology and Society. We believe there is a strong pool of potential students as well as fundraising opportunity in this area. The new program will take roughly three years to fully develop before admitting its first students.

MIT’s International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) is developing a program with France, to explore new research and educational opportunities in collaboration with French industry and government. The initial program includes funding to support visiting professorships in France which would be open to any fields among those represented at MIT, as well as the support of a program administrator. There is the possibility of this program also supporting a new endowed professorship at MIT devoted to the study of French civilization.


The affirmative action record of SHSS continues to appear strong relative to the rest of the Institute, but this is mainly because the representation of women within the fields of humanities and social science is relatively large. The School's record relative to the pool, however, is about average. Within the School for 1999—2000 there were 49 women faculty, which represents 32 percent of the total faculty. Of these, 30 are tenured (30 percent of the tenured faculty). Throughout the last decade, the total number of women faculty has steadily increased (30 in 1990—91), and the School has been making every effort to continue this trend. Unfortunately, while we were successful in recruiting an Asian woman at the assistant professor level in Political Science (effective AY2001), we will also be losing three women junior faculty members at the end of this year, yielding a net loss of two women to the faculty. The number of women faculty in 2000—2001, therefore, will be 47. Of the two SHSS faculty promoted internally and approved for tenure in AY2000 (to be effective July 1, 2000), one was a woman.

The School has not been quite as successful in its efforts to recruit minority faculty, although we successfully recruited an Asian woman to join the Department of Political as assistant professor effective July 1, 2000. However, we unhappily report the loss of three minority junior faculty (two African-Americans–one man, one woman–and one Native American woman) at the end of this academic year, yielding a net loss of two minorities to the faculty. With the help of the Provost’s Initiative, we hope to step up our efforts to recruit qualified minority candidates. The total number of minority faculty in the School, including Asian Americans, will drop from 22 to 20 next academic year, representing 13% of the total faculty.

We remain committed to increasing the minority representation of the administrative staff. Currently, we have only three minorities (one Hispanic and two Asian-Americans) of a total of 31 (approximately 10%). We hope to further diversify our administrative staff by working closely with the Departments and Programs in the School and with the Personnel Office.


The faculty within the School of Humanities and Social Science garnered an array of honors and awards this year. The most notable among them were the following: Professor of History John Dower’s book, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, received a number of prestigious literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-fiction, National Book Award for Non-fiction, Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History, and the Bancroft Prize for "distinguished works in American history and diplomacy." Associate Professsor of Literature James Buzard was awarded the James Levitan Prize in the Humanities. McMillan-Stewart Professor in the Study of Women in the Developing World Susan Slyomovics won the Chicago Folklore Prize and the Albert Hourani Book Award for her book Object of Memory. Professor of Economics Franklin M. Fisher was named the first holder of the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Chair in Microeconomics. Institute Professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky was awarded honorary degrees from Harvard University, University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, and Scuola Normale, PISA. The Department of Economics’ Professor Ricardo Caballero was awarded the Ford International Professorship of Economics; Associate Professor Jaume Ventura was appointed to the Pentti Kouri Career Development Chair; Professor Abhijit Banerjee received a Guggenheim Fellowship; Institute Professor Peter Diamond received a Fulbright Fellowship; and Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics and Management Paul L. Joskow was appointed to the Bogen Visiting Chair at Hebrew University. Professor of History and Philosophy of Science Evelyn Fox Keller received a Guggenheim Fellowship and honorary degrees from Allegheny College and The New School University. Associate Professor of Theater Arts Brenda Cotto-Escalera received a Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Award. Castle Krob Career Development Associate Professor Susan Athey received a prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award and a Hoover Institution National Fellowship. Professor of the Sociology of Science Sherry Turkle was awarded the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professorship. The Department of Linguistics and Philosophy’s Associate Professor of Philosophy Ralph Wedgwood received the Jean Hampton Prize from the American Philosophical Association; and Assistant Professor Norvin Richards was named the Mitsui Career Development Professor of Linguistics. Assistant Professor of Literature Christina Klein was awarded a Fellowship at the Charles Warren Center for American Studies at Harvard University. Assistant Professor of Economics Sendhil Mullainathan was named the first holder of the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Chair and was appointed Zvi Griliches National Fellow by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Associate Professor of Political Science Melissa Nobles received a Research Fellowship from Boston University’s Institute on Race and Social Division. The Department of Economics’ Assistant Professor David Autor was elected a Faculty Research Fellow for the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Faculty Affiliate of the Joint Center for Poverty Research, University of Chicago/Northwestern University; and Professor Nancy Rose was elected to the American Economic Association Executive Committee. Associate Professor of Writing Susanne Klingenstein received the Certificate of Merit from the Counsel General of Germany for distinguished literary criticism. Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies Emma Teng Chung received the J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship Award.


Fiscal year 2000 has continued the pace of the previous fiscal year and several major gift commitments were made after extended efforts on the part of senior development and school staff and Dean Philip Khoury.

New gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2000 total $10,890,230. Some of the giving highlights include the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professorship in Asian Civilizations, the Leon (1926) and Anne Goldberg Professorship, the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Chair in Microeconomics, and a significant funding increment for the Knight Science Journalism Program.

The central development office (Office of Individual Giving) at MIT was reconfigured to form the Office of Campaign Giving (OCG) and is now almost fully staffed. The Assistant Dean for Development for the School, Josey Twombly, works closely with OCG co-directors David Woodruff and Chris Rinaldi and the major gifts staff to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward prospects and donors. Judith Sager joined the development staff as Director of Gift Planning, and she is expanding that operation and actively collaborating with central and school development staff on planned giving prospects.

The development priorities for the campaign and beyond are to:

The fundraising priorities for SHASS include increased funding for graduate fellowships, professorships and support for young faculty, and research and technology funding, as well as targeted funding for the Shakespeare Archive, Comparative Media Studies, the Washington Internship Program, and MISTI.


This year has seen eight resignations and six new faculty appointments within the School. Among the faculty resignations were two associate professors without tenure (one in Economics and one in Foreign Languages and Literatures), a full professor in Economics, and five assistant professors in Economics, History, Music and Theater Arts, Political Science, and the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. A total of three faculty members in the School were promoted to tenure this year, effective July 1, 2000: Dora Costa of the Department of Economics; Hugh Gusterson of the Programs in Anthropology and Science, Technology and Society; and Edward Gibson, jointly appointed in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.

The School was successful in recruiting six new members to the faculty during 1999—2000. All but one (hired as Professor of Comparative Media Studies and jointly appointed in Literature and Foreign Languages and Literatures) were hired as assistant professor in the following departments: two in Economics, one in Political Science, one in History, and one in the Program in Science, Technology and Society.

Academic Year 1999—2000 saw two former department heads return to service. Cutten Professor of the History of Technology Merritt Roe Smith replaced Professor Michael Fischer as Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Society. Professor of French Studies Isabelle de Courtivron replaced Professor of Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition Suzanne Flynn as Section Head of Foreign Languages and Literatures. We will miss the insights and administrative wisdom of Professors Fischer and Flynn, and wish them well as they return to a professional life focused principally on scholarship and teaching. Class of 1949 Professor of Music Ellen Harris will become the next Head of the Music and Theater Arts Section.

More information about the School of Humanities and Social Science can be found on the World Wide Web at

Philip S. Khoury

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000