Dean, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Several developments in 2003–2003 in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) merit mention.

SHASS extended its leadership role in developing the HASS-CI component of the Communications Requirement (CR), MIT's newest addition to the General Institute Requirement (GIR) for undergraduates. The completion of the second year of the HASS-CI component proved to be reasonably smooth, and faculty are generally positive about the prospects for HASS-CI.

The first class of seven students admitted to SHASS's newest graduate program sang its praises. The SM degree program in Science Writing, which is located in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, has as its mission the improvement of the public understanding of science.

In October, the SHASS leadership, including most department, section and program heads and faculty and staff members of the HASS Overview Committee (HOC), went on retreat to discuss the HASS component of the GIR and prospects for launching an Institute-wide initiative on the public understanding of science, which SHASS would steer. We concluded that we shouldn't undertake a major new examination of the HASS component of the GIR unless it is part of an assessment of the entire GIR and that it would be best to do so after the CR has completed its full four-year cycle. Discussion on the public understanding of science was sufficiently positive to encourage SHASS dean Philip S. Khoury to broaden it in December by involving the leadership of nearly all MIT programs focused on the public understanding of science, including the leaders of SHASS's five programs: Science, Technology, and Society (STS), Science Writing, Comparative Media Studies, the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships, and the Washington Summer Internship program. Since then we formed a working group that includes SHASS dean Philip S. Khoury, dean of science Robert Silbey, associate provost Claude Canizares, adjunct professor of writing Alan Lightman, SHASS assistant dean of development Anne Marie Michel, and several others. Presently, the working group is discussing the feasibility of launching an MIT online science magazine, a new public lecture series, and a web site to showcase all dimensions of MIT's contribution to fostering the public understanding of science.

The School continues to build and refine its undergraduate and graduate programs and to focus its efforts on fundraising, 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 the School has undergone some important administrative changes within the School have occurred.

Undergraduate Education

All MIT undergraduates must complete the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement in order to graduate. This requirement, which is overseen by the School, is the principal point of contact between SHASS faculty and undergraduates. Undergraduates who wish a deeper engagement with the disciplines represented by the School may do so by pursuing a major or minor in each department and section, in addition to several interdisciplinary majors and minors. Among graduates in 2002–2003, 98 completed undergraduate degrees in the School and 186 completed minors.

As the interests of students admitted to MIT continue to diversify, the role of the School in the mainstream education of MIT's scientists and engineers becomes even more important. Having faculty members in the fields of humanities, arts, and social sciences of national rank ensures that MIT undergraduates receive the rounded education that they expect when they are admitted. The faculty of the School take this educational mission seriously, which is reflected in the high quality teaching evaluations received by most faculty and the continuing educational innovation that emanates from the various faculties.

Because all MIT undergraduates must take eight HASS subjects, including three HASS-Distribution (HASS-D) subjects, the School devotes considerable resources to overseeing the HASS Requirement, particularly the subjects licensed as HASS-D. The recent addition to the Communication Requirement has added to this oversight task, especially since the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR) has delegated to the School the responsibility for reviewing classes that would meet the CI-H portion of the Communication Requirement.

The HASS Overview Committee (HOC) bears the direct responsibility for reviewing subjects that are proposed to fulfill the HASS-D and CI-H requirements. This past year the HOC was chaired by associate dean Charles Stewart III; its other members were Professors Alex Byrne (Linguistics and Philosophy), Mary Fuller (Literature), Jeffrey Ravel (History), Martin Rein (Urban Studies and Planning), and Janet Sonenberg (Music and Theater Arts); and Ruimin He (EECS '03). Dr. Bette Davis, Director of the HASS Education Office, served ex officio. The HOC reviewed 35 proposals for HASS-D status (8 new subjects and 27 renewals) and 13 for CI-H status. We will have 45 CI-H subjects and 76 HASS-D available for the 2003–2004 academic year.

Faculty members in the School, and around the Institute, have raised concerns about how the CI-H requirement interacts with the HASS-D requirement. The two requirements are similar enough to cause confusion among undergraduates and their advisors. There are also two developments that bear scrutiny. First, faculty members who teach HASS-D subjects are increasingly asking that these subjects also qualify for CI-H status. This further confuses the distinction between the two requirements, as it also drives enrollments away from CI-H subjects that are not also HASS-D. Second, freshmen have reacted to the Communication Requirement by overwhelmingly favoring joint HASS-D/CI-H subjects taught in the fall term. This trend, if it continues, could lead to a significant imbalance in subject offerings by term and strains on the allocation of teaching resources across semesters.

Participants in a School retreat at the beginning of the School Year considered the state of undergraduate education in the School. There was a consensus among those attending that the issue of the CI-H/HASS-D overlap would eventually need to be addressed, but only after the Communication Requirement had reached equilibrium. There was also an awareness that other general developments in undergraduate life and learning at the Institute—such as a new orientation schedule, the opening of Simmons Hall, and concern over the General Institute Requirements—would provide opportunities for academic units in the School to become more fully engaged with MIT undergraduates.

Affirmative Action

The total number of women faculty in SHASS had been steadily increasing for several years—from 35 women in AY1993 to a peak of 49 in AY2000. However, in the last three years, the numbers have been slowly decreasing: 47 in AY2001, 45 in AY2002, down to 41 at the end of AY2003. Fortunately, this number will increase slightly as we go into next year (42 women faculty in AY2004), and we are hopeful that the downward trend has abated. With a current faculty of 144 in AY2003, women represent 28 percent of the total, and of these, 32 are tenured (31 percent of the tenured faculty). While we were successful in recruiting 2 new women to the faculty (both untenured), only 1 will join us next year (AY2004) and the other will join us in AY2005. We also lost 2 senior women faculty (including 1 minority) to retirement during AY2003.

The School has had moderate success in its efforts to recruit minority faculty. Although AY2003 brought us the addition of a Hispanic-American man to our faculty, we will lose a Hispanic-American man who was denied tenure at the end of this year as well. The total number of minority faculty in the School this year was 18. On a more positive note, we successfully recruited an African American woman who will join the faculty as an assistant professor in AY2005, and of the 4 SHASS faculty approved for tenure this year (effective AY2004), 2 were minorities – both men, including one Afro-Caribbean and one Asian American.

With the help of the Provost's Initiative and in keeping with the new Institute standards for faculty searches, we asked the departments/sections/programs within SHASS to identify 5 to 10 leading senior (or tenurable at MIT) women and 5 to 10 leading senior (or tenurable at MIT) minorities in each field/discipline, and we are working with each academic unit to try to persuade those qualified women and minorities to come to MIT. In addition, we hope to establish an up-to-date database of women and minority graduate students across the country, thereby allowing us to develop a comprehensive candidate pool.

The School remains committed to increasing the minority representation of the administrative staff, as well as faculty. We currently have 4 minorities (1 Hispanic and 3 Asian Americans) among the 39 members of administrative staff (Rank List III) in the School (approximately 10 percent), but 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.

Honors and Awards

The faculty within the School garnered an array of honors and awards this year. The most notable among them were the following.

Professor Stephen Ansolabehere was named the Elting E. Morrison professor of political science. Professor Abhijit Banerjee was named the Ford International professor of economics. Professor John W. Dower was named the Ford International professor of history. Professor of comparative media studies and literature Henry Jenkins was named the John E. Burchard professor of humanities. Associate professor Christina Klein was named the Mitsui career development professor. Professor of linguistics Alec Marantz was named Kenan Sahin distinguished professor of linguistics. Associate professor of political science Jonathan Rodden was named the Ford career development professor. Professor of music Evan Ziporyn was named Kenan Sahin distinguished professor of music.

Associate professor of anthropology and science and technology studies Joseph Dumit was awarded the 2003 Levitan Prize in the Humanities. Professor Dumit was also awarded the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching for SHASS. Professor of music Peter Child and professor of french studies Isabelle de Courtivron were appointed Margaret McVicar Faculty Fellows. Professor and associate director of comparative media studies William Uricchio was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Raphael Dorman and Helen Starbuck professor of international studies Suzanne Berger and Ford international professor of political science Richard Samuels were honored with the Dean's Award for Distinguished Service to the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Professor of political science Stephen Ansolabehere along with Arthur and Ruth Sloan professor of political science and economics James M. Snyder, Jr. received the Heinz Eulau award for the best paper in American Political Science Review 2002. Professors Ansolabehere and Snyder along with Professor of political science and associate dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Charles Stewart III received the Jack Walker Award for best paper published in the last two years on political parties from the American Political Association.

Associate provost for the arts and professor of theatre arts Alan Brody received the Kepes Prize. Institute Professor of linguistics Noam Chomsky received the Peace Award from the Turkish Publishers Association. Professor of political science Nazli Choucri was elected to the European Academy of Sciences. Professor of political science Thomas Christensen was awarded a Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to International and National Affairs by the Secretary's Open Forum, US Department of State. Ford career development associate professor of economics Dora Costa received the Investigator Award in Health Policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Class of 1948 associate professor of theatre arts Thomas DeFrantz received the CHOICE Award for outstanding academic publication of 2003 as editor of Dancing Many Drums. Institute Professor of economics Peter Diamond has been named the winner of the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award for 2003–2004. Associate professor Junot Diaz won the 2002 Pen/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story. Castle Krob career development associate professor of economics Esther Duflo received the Elaine Bennett Prize of the American Economic Association. Class of 1949 professor of music Ellen Harris received the Otto Kinkeldey Award.

Professor of science writing Robert Kanigel received the MIT Class of '60 Innovation in Education Award. Adjunct professor of writing Alan Lightman was awarded the 2003 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the California Institute of Technology. Professor of industrial relations and political science Richard M. Locke won an excellence in Teaching Award from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Professor Locke was also named a Bosch Public Policy Fellow by the American Academy of Berlin, Germany. Associate professor of political science Melissa Nobles has been elected president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS).


New gifts and pledges for FY2003 totaled $5,666,844. With the $75 Million from the Kenan Sahin gift, the campaign total for SHASS (July 1, 1997 through June 30, 2003) is $138,877,813.

The top School fundraising priorities continue to be increased support for graduate fellowships (Economics, Political Science, Linguistics/Philosophy, and the Program in Science, Technology and Society) and professorships at all levels. Specific priorities include the Graduate Program in Science Writing, the Comparative Media Studies program, the Center for International Studies (including major initiatives within the center, such as the MIT Science and Technology Initiative Programs (MISTI), the Shakespeare Archive, Linguistics (Endangered Languages Program), Chinese Language and Culture, and the Knight Science Journalism program.

Faculty Promotions, Administrative Changes, Retirements

This year has seen two retirements, five resignations, and nine new faculty appointments within the School. Among the faculty retirements were John E. Burchard professor Anita Desai and Class of 1922 professor Cynthia Wolff, both from the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. Among the resignations were four associate professors (one tenured/three nontenured), and one full professor. A total of four faculty members in the School were promoted to tenure this year. Of those, three were effective July 1, 2003: Michel DeGraff and Edward Hall of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, and Roger Peterson of the Department of Political Science; and the fourth, Sendhil Mullainathan of the Department of Economics, became effective February 1, 2003.

The School was successful in recruiting a total of eight new members to the faculty for AY2004, and one new member (Erica James), who will join the Program in Anthropology as an assistant professor in AY2005. Of the eight, one will join the faculty as a tenured associate professor (Michael Greenstone) in the Department of Economics; and seven will join as assistant professors in Anthropology, Economics, Linguistics and Philosophy, Music and Theater Arts, Political Science, and Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Philip S. Khoury
Kenan Sahin Dean
Professor of History

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


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