MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


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 History, Linguistics & Philosophy, and Political Science. The faculty within the School received a number of honors and awards, and some important administrative changes within the School have occurred.


There has been much discussion this year of the new Communication Requirement which is being designed and will be implemented Institute-wide. The goal is to cooperate as effectively as possible with other groups responsible for overseeing the requirement, such as the new subcommittee of the CUP, to determine which HASS subjects will be "communication intensive" and how they will be configured. The "HASS Overview Committee" has a new name and a broader charge to reflect its involvement in this effort.

We continue to monitor the change in the HASS-D Requirement -- implemented in order to include Category 3, Visual and Performing Arts, in the requirement -- to see what, if any, impact it has had on enrollments in Categories 1 and 2, the Humanities. A thoroughgoing review of the HASS system, planned for 1998-99, will include this and other aspects of the HASS-D Requirement.


Various new initiatives within the School are underway, some of which were launched in the previous few years. The Writing Initiative, which is a collaborative project between the School of Humanities and Social Science and the School of Engineering, has been a major contributor of ideas and experiments to the MIT faculty's ongoing effort to design a new Communications Requirement. After considerable discussion across the MIT campus, the MIT faculty has called for a number of curricular experiments in preparation for the implementation of such a requirement, to begin (pending a positive vote of the faculty) in the year 2000.

The Media Studies Committee, chaired by Associate Professor Henry Jenkins of the Literature Faculty, continued to develop a proposal for a new graduate program in Media Studies which would be focused on the Humanities. It is possible that a final proposal will be voted on by the MIT faculty in fall or spring 1998. Several film and media studies scholars from around the country came to campus to present their scholarship as part of a broad effort to recruit new faculty in media studies to the School. A half million dollar grant from the Markle Foundation which focuses in large part on the new media and communications will help to enrich media studies in the School.

MIT has made important contributions to knowledge over the past half-century in a variety of areas, including the social sciences. In order to help ensure that the social sciences remain strong at the Institute, the Dean appointed a Working Group on the Future of the Social Sciences, chaired by Professor Paul Joskow (Head of Economics). Working Group members include Professor Richard Samuels (Head of Political Science), Professor Joshua Cohen (Philosophy and Political Science), Associate Professor Kenneth Oye (Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies), Associate Professor Stephen Ansolabehere (Political Science), Professor Bengt Holmstrom (Economics), Professor Lawrence Bacow (Urban Studies and Planning and Chair of the MIT Faculty), and Dean Philip S. Khoury (History). The Committee interviewed the deans of Engineering (Professor Robert Brown) and the Sloan School of Management (Professor Glen Urban) and faculty in SHSS, Urban Studies and in Sloan as part of its effort to catalogue MIT's social science resources. The Working Group will complete in Fall 1997 a report on the state of the social sciences which will offer recommendations for how to strengthen them at MIT. The report will then be presented to the President, Provost, the academic deans, and the appropriate academic councils.


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 1996-97 there were 40 women faculty, which represents 28 percent of the total. Of these 22 are tenured (25 percent of the tenured faculty). Over the past five years, the total number of women faculty has steadily increased (32 in 1991-92), and the School is making every effort to continue this trend. We were successful in recruiting three women to the faculty for next year (one in Literature and two in Writing and Humanistic Studies), and a fourth who will join the History Faculty in FY99. In addition, we are hopeful that a fifth (in Anthropology) will get approval next fall. The number of women faculty in 1997-98 will be 41 (42 if we include the Anthropologist).

The School's record with respect to minority faculty is less satisfactory than it is with respect to women, although we continue to be make steady progress. Our efforts toward increasing the minority representation on the faculty has led to the successful recruitment of two minority women (one African-American and one Asian-American) as assistant professors in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies next year. 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 two years as an instructor, while working to complete his Ph.D. He received his doctorate in June and will join the faculty as an assistant professor in 1997-98. The total number of minority faculty in the School this year, including Asian Americans, was 20 (14%); next year (1997-98) the number will increase to 22 (15%).

While the School's efforts to recruit minority administrative staff members appears more successful than our efforts to recruit minority faculty members, there's room for improvement. Currently, we have four minorities (one African-American, one Hispanic, and two Asian-Americans) of a total of 21 (19%). We remain committed to further increasing the number of minority faculty and administrative staff members and will continue to carefully monitor the affirmative action efforts of the Departments and Programs in the School.


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: The Department of Economics' Professor Peter Diamond was named an Institute Professor; Associate Professor Michael Kremer received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship; Professor Abhijit Banerjee became a Fellow of the Econometric Society and received a MacArthur Foundation Grant; and Professor Bengt Holmstrom received the Department of Economics Graduate Teaching Award and the 1997 Economics Prize from the Economics Society of Finland. Professor Cynthia Wolff of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies won both a Guggenheim and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for the next two years. The Department of Linguistics and Philosophy's Institute Professor Noam Chomsky was awarded the Helmboltz Medal by the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie Wissenchaften and an honorary doctorate by the Universidad de Buenos Aires; Ferrari P. Ward Professor Kenneth Hale was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Arizona. Among the History faculty, Professor Harriet Ritvo and Associate Professor Anne McCants won an award from the Class of `51 Fund for Excellence in Education and the Class of `55 Fund for Excellence in Teaching for their project "History at the Bench: Reading and Writing About Modern Europe"; and Dean Philip S. Khoury was elected President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. In the Music and Theater Arts Section, Professor Ellen Harris received the Class of 1949 Professorship, and Professor Lowell Lindgren became a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow and received the Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award from Harvard University. The Department of Political Science's Assistant Professor Melissa Nobles was awarded the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Professorship; and Professor Myron Weiner was appointed chair of the newly formed External Research and Advisory Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva. Foreign Languages and Literatures' Associate Professor of German Studies and Director of the MISTI-MIT Germany Program Bernd Widdig was honored with the Levitan Prize in the Humanities; and Assistant Professor of Japanese Takako Aikawa was awarded the Mitsui Career Development Professorship. Professor Loren Graham of the Program in Science, Technology and Society (STS) received the George Sarton Medal from the History of Science Society "for a lifetime of professional contributions to the history of science." In addition, STS' Professor Evelyn Fox Keller received an honorary doctorate from Lulea University in Sweden; and Professor Merritt Roe Smith received an honorary doctorate from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in recognition of his "outstanding contributions to the history of technology." Among the Literature faculty, Class of 1956 Associate Professor James Buzard was appointed Fellow of the National Humanities Center; and Professor Ruth Perry was elected second vice-president of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.


Fundraising for the School of Humanities and Social Science is beginning to show results from the new systems designed and implemented to connect SHSS inextricably with the Institute's initiatives as well as the interests of our alumni.

SHSS embarked on its first corporate partnership with Booz-Allen & Hamilton. The partnership was announced and launched at a one-day symposium here at MIT. Subsequent interactions have had SHSS faculty participating in BAH conferences around the country. The partnership examines the societal impacts of how "intellectual capital" is quantified, qualified, and applied in this new technological age.

A single donor's significant gift to the Dean's Unrestricted Fund will provide critical seed funding to start-up projects which do not fit neatly in traditional Humanities fundraising or technology fundraising proposals.

The Linguistics Section of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy secured funding from the Research Development Corporation of Japan for its Mind Articulation Project. Work on the Mind Articulation Project, which represents a collaborative effort with the Brain and Cognitive Science Department, began this year and will be enhanced by the addition of an MEG machine, Magnetoencepholography (MEG). MEG imaging techniques are used in this project to investigate how the brain represents and uses linguistic categories.

The Literature Faculty received a major grant from the Markle Foundation to establish "Programs on Media in Transition." The first two-day conference was held at MIT in May 1997. The web project and subsequent seminars, conferences, and lectures, will continue to be presented throughout 1997-98.

This year marked the renovation and dedication of the Music Library. This project was completed through the concerted efforts of the Friends of Music and Theater Arts and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

The Foreign Languages and Literatures Section continues to push the boundaries of technology in language acquisition and also in securing financial support from traditional as well as new foundations and corporations. Professor Shigeru Miyagawa continues to break new ground in corporate and government support for Japanese studies. Senior Lecturer Gilberte Furstenberg and Lecturer Shoggy Waryn received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for Teaching with Technology for their new Multimedia Cross-Cultural Project for CD-ROM and Web, designed to increase understanding of French culture. Associate Professor Bernd Widdig secured funding this year from the German Federal Ministry of Research, Education, and Technology for the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative Internship Program. He also worked to establish the Lufthansa Award for Excellence in German Studies at MIT and the Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professorship/Lecturer in German Studies at MIT.

The MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI), under the leadership of Professor Suzanne Berger of the Department of Political Science, and with the support of the Freeman Foundation, fully established the MISTI China and German Program. Thirty interns were placed in China as of summer 1997 and 21 interns were placed in Germany.

The Department of Economics' World Economy Laboratory (WEL) continues to attract individual and corporate members from around the world. It has also successfully completed funding the Robert Solow endowed graduate fellowships.


The School saw one retirement and seven resignations this year, including four due to the denial of tenure and/or promotion. Four faculty were promoted to tenure, effective July 1, 1997: Glenn Ellison and Jonathan Gruber of the Department of Economics, Mary Fuller of the Literature Section, and Evan Ziporyn of the Music and Theater Arts Section.

The School was successful in recruiting six new members to the faculty (all assistant professors) effective 1997-98. They include one in Economics, one in Linguistics and Philosophy, one in History, one in Literature, and two in Writing and Humanistic Studies. In addition, a seventh assistant professor (History) will join the faculty effective July 1, 1998, and there are several possible senior faculty appointments still pending.

Professor Robert Stalnaker will become the next Head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, replacing Professor Wayne O'Neil. Professor Joshua Cohen replaces Professor Richard Samuels as Head of the Department of Political Science, and Professor James Paradis replaces Professor Alan Lightman as Head of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. We will miss the insights and administrative wisdom of Professors O'Neil, Samuels, and Lightman, and wish them well as they return to professional lives focused on full-time scholarship and teaching.

Sadly, we report the death of a valued colleague on the History Faculty: Emeritus Professor Thomas Mahoney, an expert on the 18th Century British statesman Edmund Burke, on April 21, 1997.

Philip S. Khoury

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97