Dean, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

The year 2000 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT. Previously known as the School of Humanities and Social Science, on July 1, 2000 we added the Arts to our name in recognition of great progress the Arts have made at MIT in the past fifty years. To recognize our golden anniversary, we organized a series of events that formed an exciting tribute to the School. On September 21, 2000, we opened a significant exhibition in Compton Gallery entitled "A Fifty-Year Reflection: Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT." The exhibition ran through January 2001 in Compton, and in May it was relocated to a permanent site on the ground floor corridor of Building 14. It was curated by Professor Kenneth Manning of the programs in Writing and Humanistic Studies and Science, Technology and Society in cooperation with Director Jane Pickering and the staff of the MIT Museum.

On October 6 and 7, 2000 an extraordinary group of scholars and artists participated in a colloquium entitled "Asking the Right Questions." Featured were Institute Professor Noam Chomsky (Linguistics and Philosophy), Professor Steven Pinker (Brain and Cognitive Sciences), Professor Hilary Putnam (Philosophy Department, Harvard University), Institute Professor John Harbison (Music and Theater Arts), Professor Anita Desai (Writing and Humanistic Studies), Professor Louise Gluck (English Department, Williams College), Professor John Dower (History Faculty), Professor Pauline Maier (History Faculty), Professor Gillian Beer (English Department, University of Cambridge), Institute Professor Robert Solow (Economics), Professor Suzanne Berger (Political Science), and Professor Kenneth Arrow (Economics Department, Stanford University). A publication based on the colloquium presentations will appear in the fall of 2001 under the co-editorship of Professor Manning and Professor Joshua Cohen (Linguistics and Philosophy and Political Science), who organized and chaired the colloquium.

On the evening of October 6, the MIT community was treated to a series of magnificent performances by the MIT Symphony and other MIT musical groups and ensembles, organized by the Music and Theater Arts Section. Our celebration culminated on the evening of October 7 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The evening began with an awards ceremony at which 50th Anniversary Medals were presented to Professors Beer, Putnam, Arrow and Gluck, followed by a gala dinner and dance for over 400 guests including many members of the MIT Corporation, MIT's senior administration, and emeriti faculty in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. At the dinner, we announced the establishment of the Robert A. Muh Alumni Award in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and introduced to the assembled guests its first incumbent, the dancer and choreographer Gus Solomons Jr. President Charles M. Vest concluded the evening by announcing the establishment of the $75 Million Kenan Sahin Fund for the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Dr. Sahin then offered comments on the great importance of the School to the life and success of the Institute.

A 30-minute video that captures the highlights of the entire two-day 50th anniversary celebration is available from the Dean's Office.

In March, Gus Solomons Jr. '61 (Architecture) returned to campus to teach an inspired master class in dance and choreography and to receive the first Robert A. Muh Alumni Award in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at a dinner in his honor attended by Robert and Berit Muh and many members of the MIT arts community.

Meanwhile, the School continues to build and refine its undergraduate and graduate programs and to focus its efforts on fund-raising, affirmative action and faculty recruitment in departments, sections and programs 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.

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Undergraduate Education

From all indications, the simplification of the HASS-D Requirement which took effect fall 2000 seems to have been successful in reducing confusion concerning this requirement. (Students are now simply required to take three HASS-D subjects from three different categories, with the HASS-D Language Option still an option.) There were fewer questions from students and advisors, and most importantly, for the first time in many years, there were no last-minute crises involving graduating seniors who had not completed the HASS-D Requirement.

This was the third year of the pilot phase for HASS Communication Intensive (CI) subjects and the last year before implementation of the new Communication Requirement in fall 2001. Because students ordinarily will take HASS CI (CI-H and CI-HW) classes their first two years, considerable capacity is required in these classes. Thus, much time and effort—both on the part of the HASS Office and the HASS Overview Committee (HOC)—was expended in getting this new system in place. The HOC, chaired by Professor James Buzard, reviewed over 100 proposals and finally recommended 87 for HASS CI status to the Committee on Curricula (COC) for the 2001–2002 academic year. The COC affirmed the work of the HOC by approving the entire list. These classes will be available to freshmen, the Class of 2005, who will be subject to the new Communication Requirement, as well as to upperclassmen who can use them to fulfill Phase I of the Writing Requirement. In addition to reviewing proposals, the HOC spent time discussing various topics related to HASS CIs, including criteria for HASS CI subjects and funding for writing tutors to assist the instructors. The HASS Office maintains the HASS CI database, which includes all pilot HASS CIs as well as those approved for 2001-2002.

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New Initiatives

In spring 2001 the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies received approval from the MIT faculty for the creation of a new masters program in Science Writing, with the educational mission of improving the public understanding of science. This program seems particularly relevant to MIT, where excellence in scientific research is a hallmark. The graduate program will be directed by Professor of Science Writing Robert Kanigel and will draw on the talented teaching staff of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. The Program hopes to hire an additional faculty member to teach and administer the new degree program, and plans to accept its initial group of students in September 2002.

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Affirmative Action

The affirmative action record of SHASS 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. In fact, the total number of women faculty had been steadily increasing for several years—from 35 women in AY1993 to a peak of 49 in AY2000—until this year, when we witnessed a decline of two women faculty. Within the School for 2000-2001 there were 47 women faculty, representing 31 percent of the total faculty; of these, 31 are tenured (30 percent of the tenured faculty). And while we were successful in recruiting three women to the faculty (2 tenured/1 untenured) for next academic year (2001–2002), we will experience a net decrease of two women, bringing the number of women faculty down to 45, due to retirements, spousal/partner relocation, recruitment efforts by competing universities, and the unsuccessful promotions of some of our junior women faculty. Of the two SHASS faculty promoted internally and approved for tenure in AY2001 (to be effective July 1, 2001), one was a woman, but unfortunately, she accepted a position at Stanford to be closer to her partner.

The School has had moderate success in its efforts to recruit minority faculty. Although we successfully recruited two Asian American women (1 tenured/1 untenured) to join our faculty effective AY2002, we will experience a net increase of only one additional minority due to the loss of one Asian American assistant professor in Political Science. The total number of minority faculty in the School this year, including Asian Americans, was 20, and next year (AY2002) we will have a total of 21. With the help of the Provost's Initiative, we hope to step up our efforts to recruit qualified women and minority candidates.

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 32 (approximately 9 percent). We hope to further diversify our administrative staff by working closely with the Departments and Programs in the School and with the Office of Human Resources.

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Honors and Awards

The faculty within the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences garnered an array of honors and awards this year. The most notable among them were the following:

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New gifts and pledges for FY2001 total $7,824,603.59. With the $75 Million from the Kenan Sahin gift, the School total is $82,824,603.59.

Fundraising highlights include:

The top School fundraising priorities continue to be increased support for fellowships, professorships and faculty/program resources. Specific program priorities include the Shakespeare Archive, Bilingual/Bicultural Studies, Writing and Humanistic Studies, especially the new masters level program in Science Writing and the MIT Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI) Programs.

Faculty Promotions, Administrative Changes, Retirements

This year has seen two retirements, seven resignations and ten new faculty appointments within the School. Among the faculty retirements were Jeanne Bamberger (Music and Theater Arts) and Wayne O'Neil (Linguistics and Philosophy). Among the resignations were two associate professors (one whom had just received tenure in Economics and one nontenured in Writing and Humanistic Studies), two full professors (Jed Buchwald of STS and the Dibner, and Alan Lightman of Writing and Humanistic Studies), and three assistant professors, including two in Political Science and one in STS. While Alan Lightman will step down as a tenured faculty member, he has agreed to a part-time appointment as Adjunct Professor. A total of two faculty members in the School were promoted to tenure this year, effective July 1, 2001: Susan Athey of the Department of Economics, although she accepted a position at Stanford University in order to be closer to her partner, and Kai von Fintel of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.

The School was successful in recruiting a total of ten new members to the faculty during 2000–2001. Nine of the new faculty (two tenured/seven nontenured) will join us effective AY2002, while one, Donca Steriade (who will join the Linguistics and Philosophy Department as a full professor) will join us in AY2003. Of the nine, two will join the faculty as full tenured professors (Susan Silbey, Anthropology, and Jing Wang, Foreign Languages and Literatures); one as a non-tenured associate professor (Roger Peterson, Political Science); and six as assistant professors.

Academic Year 2000–2001 brought two additional women to School Council as new department heads Ellen Harris and Susan Slyomovics assumed leadership of Music and Theater Arts and Anthropology respectively.

Philip S. Khoury

More information about the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences can be found online at

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