MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


The School of Humanities and Social Science (SHSS) continues to focus its efforts on affirmative action, fund-raising, and faculty recruitment in departments and sections which are experiencing retirements and resignations, in particular Linguistics & Philosophy, Political Science and Economics. The faculty within the School received a number of honors and awards, and some important administrative changes within the School have occurred.


The three-year experimental change to the HASS-D Requirement, as decribed in last year's Report, has been monitored this year to determine what, if any, impact it has had on the enrollments in HASS-D Categories 1 and 2, roughly the Humanities. Evidence is inconclusive at this point; we will continue to monitor enrollments for the remainder of the three-year period.

The HASS Guide is now available electronically, on the World Wide Web. The electronic version is currently being revised to make information more easily accessible and useful to students. The improvements are based partially on the report and recommendations of students who took the Writing Course, "Communicating in Cyberspace" in Spring 1996 and chose the electronic HASS Guide as their group project.


Various new initiatives within the School are underway, some of which were launched in the previous two years. The Writing Initiative, which is a collaborative project between the School of Humanities and Social Science and the School of Engineering, has received new funding from its main external source, the Barker Foundation. It has attracted the attention of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program, and it may yet become one of the cornerstones of a reinvigorated MIT Writing Requirement; a full discussion of the Requirement will take place in FY97.

The Mind Articulation Project in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy received this year a $1.8 million grant from the Research and Development Corporation of Japan. This project offers new and exciting research opportunities at the intersection of linguistics and neuroscience. It will also help to support graduate students pursuing the NSF Research Training Grant program between Linguistics and Cognitive Science at MIT.

The Media Studies Committee, chaired by Associate Professor Henry Jenkins, submitted its proposal for a new graduate program in Media Studies in the fall. This followed on the heels of a major conference in October, sponsored by the Dean's Office, on "The Future of Media Studies." The conference included presentations by fifteen leading scholars in the area of film and media studies in the United States, and over one-hundred people attended the two day event. Ten of these scholars met independently with faculty in MIT's Film and Media Studies Program to advise on how to design a graduate program for MIT focused on the new media. These scholars concluded that no American university is better suited than MIT to develop graduate studies focused on the new media, owing to MIT's reputation as the pre-eminent university of science and technology and to faculty strength in the Humanities and elsewhere at MIT in the area of cultural criticism.

In spring systematic discussions on the subject of graduate education in the new media continued on a variety of levels. Faculty in the Department of Architecture and in the Media Arts and Sciences Program joined faculty in the Humanities for a series of brown-bag lunch meetings, which focused on the nature and organization of a graduate studies curriculum. The Deans of Humanities and Social Science and Architecture and Planning participated in monthly meetings focused on issues of programmatic coordination and financial support. It is expected that a strategic plan for the implementation of a new graduate program in media studies will be submitted for faculty approval in FY97 or FY98.


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 1995-96 there were 36 women faculty, which represents 24 percent of the total. Of these 23 are tenured (22 percent of the tenured faculty). Over the past five years, the total number of women faculty has steadily increased (30 in 1990-91), and the School is making every effort to continue this trend. We were successful in recruiting four women to the faculty for next year (two in Political Science, one in Linguistics and Philosophy, and one in Economics), and were successful in our efforts to appoint a fifth to a faculty position in Literature. Of the 13 senior faculty in the School who elected to retire, only one is a woman. The number of women faculty in 1996-97 will be 40.

The School's record with respect to minority faculty is less satisfactory than it is with respect to women, although we appear to be making steady progress. Our efforts toward increasing the minority representation on the faculty has led to the successful recruitment of a male Afro-Caribbean (Haitain) linguist currently at the University of Michigan, who will become an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy next year; the appointment of a black male from Uganda as assistant professor in the Music and Theater Arts section; and the appointment of a black woman as assistant professor in the Department of Economics. SHSS also continues to pursue non-traditional methods in the hope that they will lead to faculty appointments, such as the appointment of an African-American male in Music and Theater Arts, hired last year as an instructor, while working to complete his Ph.D. It is expected that he will join the faculty as an assistant professor sometime in 1996-97. The total number of minority faculty in the School this year, including Asian Americans, was 17 (11%); next year (1996-97) the number will increase to 20 (14%).

The School's record with respect to minority administrative staff members is better, with five minorities of a total of 20 (25%). SHSS has reduced the number of administrative staff positions by two in the last three years (from 22 to 20) owing to the transfer of the Integrated Studies Program (ISP), effective July 1, 1995, to the School of Engineering, and the administrative reorganization of the Programs in Anthropology/Archaeology and Science, Technology and Society (STS). The School remains committed to further increasing the number of minority faculty and administrative staff members.


The faculty within the School of Humanities and Social Science garnered an impressive array of honors and awards this year. The most notable among them were the following: Professor George Boolos of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy would have become the third person to hold the Rockefeller Professorship in Philosophy and would also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for the 1996-97 Academic Year, if not for his untimely death due to cancer. The Department of Economics' Professor Paul Joskow received the Edward A. Hewitt Prize by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies and was named as the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor; Professor James Poterba was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named Mitsui Professor of Economics and Management; and Institute Professor Paul Samuelson received the National Medal of Science. Professor Alan Lightman of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies won the 1996 American Institute of Physics Andrew Germant Award for contributions to the public understanding of science and was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among the History faculty, Professor John Dower was named the first holder of the Elting E. Morison Chair in Humanities; Professor Peter Perdue won the Wade Award for Innovation; Assistant Professor Elizabeth Wood won the Levitan Prize; and Associate Professor Anne McCants won the Edgerton Award for outstanding research, teaching, and service to the Institute. Assistant Professor James Buzard of the Literature Section was awarded the Class of 1956 Career Development Profesorship. The Department of Political Science's Professor Richard Samuels was awarded the 1996 John Whitney Hall Prize of the Association for Asian Studies and the 1996 Hiromi Arisawa Prize for the Association of American University Presses, both for his book Rich Nation, Strong Army; and Associate Professor Stephen Ansolabehere was awarded the Goldsmith Book Prize for his book Going Negative, cited as the best book on mass media, politics, and public policy. Professor Martin Diskin of the Program in Anthropology accepted the first Human Rights Award of the Ignacio Martin-Baro Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights. The Program in Science, Technology and Society's Assistant Professor Evelynn Hammonds was awarded the Class of 1947 Career Development Chair. Assistant Professor Janet Sonenberg won the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


1996 Highlights include novel achievements in a number of departments and programs through an incredible technological period of transition which saw an explosion of growth on the Internet reflected in the classroom. SHSS continues to secure money from foundations. Foundation support came in for new technologies, while additional monies came in to honor stellar faculty and scholarship.

This spring, MIT announced the formation of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Professorship in the Study of Women in the Developing World. The professorship, located in the School, was established with a gift from Geneviève McMillan in honor of Mrs. McMillan's friend, the late Reba Stewart. Ms. Stewart was an arts educator and an accomplished painter. Mrs. McMillan is herself a prominent art collector with a long-time interest in Africa and the Middle East.

Emblematic of the continuing developments and new application of technologies in the School of Humanities and Social Science, this past year the Department of Economics received a National Science Foundation grant to purchase new computer systems. This enhancing and enabling technology will insure the Department's ability to maintain its superior position without being hindered by insufficient or obsolete computer equipment.

The Program with the most varied use of new technologies requiring support from foundations and corporations alike is the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section (FL&L). This past year in FL&L, six faculty members received funding from the Language Consortium for their work in utilizing interactive multimedia technology in language acquisition. Professor Shigeru Miyagawa received funding from the Department of Education for the JP-Net Project "Networking Secondary School Teachers of Japanese." Chinese language studies received a $500,000 pledge this year from a friend of the School and Institute in Indonesia. This same donor completed in December payments on a previous pledge of $500,000.

Continuing the School's development in pioneering new applications of technology in the Humanities, Professor Peter Donaldson and Senior Research Scientist Janet Murray received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the Shakespeare Electronic Archive project. This grant will make it possible to digitize the entire collection of quarto editions of Shakespeare plays at the Henry E. Huntington Library and, in addition, extend the work of the Shakespeare Electronic Archive group to the World Wide Web. Associate Professor Henry Jenkins and Senior Research Scientist Murray are the recipients of the new NEH Teaching with Technology program. Their project, The Virtual Screening Room: A Multimedia Textbook for Film Analysis, is designed to produce a fully interactive digital "textbook" (i.e., a hypermedia learning environment) for use for teaching film analysis.

The Department of Political Science secured contributions in excess of a half million dollars from individual supporters. These contributions come in large part from the Department's aggressive outreach in reconnecting with its alumni/ae. Portions of these funds help to support the new Washington Internship Program which has yet to be fully endowed.

The Department of Linguistics and Philosophy this year established the Morris Halle Fellowship Fund and the George Boolos Memorial Fellowship Fund, both of which are in the early stages of contributions towards full endowment. Finally, in keeping with the School's direction in exploiting technology, the Department received funding for the MIT Linguistics-Tokyo University Mind Articulation Project, funded by JRDC (Research and Development Corporation of Japan).


This has been a year of transition for the faculty in SHSS, resulting in thirteen retirements (due, primarily, to the early retirement incentive), one death, three resignations, one returning senior faculty member after a two-year absence, and twelve new faculty appointments within the School. Retirements in SHSS have resulted in the loss of Institute Professor Morris Halle and Professor James Harris of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy; Professors Willard Johnson, George Rathjens, Eugene Skolnikoff, and Myron Weiner of the Department of Political Science; Professor Richard Eckaus of the Department of Economics; Professors Arthur Kaledin and David Ralston of the History Section; Professor and Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Travis Merritt, Professor Albert Gurney, and Professor Irene Tayler of the Literature Section; and Professor Charles Weiner of the Program in Science, Technology and Society. Several will remain with part-time appointments; we wish them all great success in all their future endeavors as emeriti professors of MIT. The School saw three resignations this year, including one due to the denial of tenure and two senior faculty members. Two faculty were promoted to tenure, effective July 1, 1996: Stephen Ansolabehere of the Department of Political Science and Richard Locke, who holds a joint appointment in the Sloan School of Management and the Department of Political Science.

The School was successful in recruiting twelve new members to the faculty effective 1996-97. They include three new hires (two assistant professors and one associate professor with tenure) and one returning professor in the Department of Economics, three (assistant professors) in the Department of Political Science, three (two assistant professors and one professor) in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, one (associate professor without tenure) in the Literature Section, one (assistant professor) in the Music and Theater Arts Section, and one (assistant professor) in the Program in Science, Technology and Society.

Next year the History Section will have Professor Pauline Maier return as Acting Head for the Fall term, while the current Head (Professor Peter Perdue) is on Sabbatical; he will return as Head for the Spring term. Professor Peter Child will become the next Head of Music and Theater Arts, replacing Institute Professor John Harbison, who stepped in as Acting Head this Spring term when Professor Alan Brody was appointed as Associate Provost for the Arts; the former Associate Provost for the Arts, Professor Ellen Harris, will return full-time to the Section after a leave. Professor Suzanne Flynn replaces Professor Isabelle de Courtivron as Head of the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section, and Professor Michael Fischer replaces Professor Merritt Roe Smith as Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Society. We will miss the insights and administrative wisdom of Professors Harbison, de Courtivron, and Smith, and wish them well as they return to professional lives focused on full-time scholarship and teaching.

Sadly, we report the loss of two valued colleagues in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy: Professor George Boolos, an internationally renowned logician, on May 27, 1996, and Emeritus Professor Thomas Kuhn, the pre-eminent philosopher of science of his generation, on June 17, 1996.

Philip S. Khoury

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96