MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


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, Economics, 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.


Discussion continued on the proposed new Communication Requirement. The goal is to cooperate as effectively as possible with the subcommittee of the CUP charged with overseeing the proposed requirement. To this end, the "HASS Overview Committee" solicited recommendations from all academic units in SHSS and will propose approximately 10-12 HASS subjects as pilot Communication Intensive subjects for 1998-99.

The HASS Overview Committee (formerly the HASS-D Overview Committee) oversees the entire HASS component of the General Institute Requirement. It continues 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 review of the HASS system, planned for 1998-99, will include this and other aspects of the HASS-D Requirement.


The Comparative Media Studies Committee's proposal for a new Masters of Science degree in Comparative Media Studies in Course 21 (The Humanities) was approved by the MIT Faculty in May. The program's first class of graduate students will enter in Fall 1999. Meanwhile, a half million-dollar grant from the Markle Foundation, which focuses in large part on the new media and communications, is helping to enrich media studies in the School. New faculty appointments connected to the Comparative Media Studies Program are anticipated in the coming years.

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). The Working Group completed and submitted its report on the state of the MIT social sciences and offered its recommendations for how to strengthen them at MIT. The report was presented this spring to School Council and to the President and Provost.


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 1997-98 there were 42 women faculty, which represents 29 percent of the total faculty. Of these, 24 are tenured (26 percent of the tenured faculty). Over the past five years, the total number of women faculty has steadily increased (35 in 1992-93), and the School is making every effort to continue this trend. We were successful in recruiting five women to the faculty for next year, including one tenured associate professor in Linguistics & Philosophy and four assistant professors in Foreign Languages & Literature, History, Political Science, and Science, Technology and Society. The number of women faculty in 1998-99 will be 46. Of the five faculty promoted internally and tenured in AY98, three are women.

The School's record with respect to minority faculty is less satisfactory. Our efforts toward increasing the minority representation on the faculty led to the successful recruitment of two minority candidates (one Asian-American woman and one Asian-American man) as assistant professors in the Foreign Languages and Literature Section and the Department of Economics next year. However, this gain is offset by the loss of two Asian-American assistant professors (one woman and one man) to the Harvard Business School and Boston College. With the help of the Provost's Initiative, we will continue our efforts to recruit qualified minority candidates. The total number of minority faculty in the School, including Asian Americans, holds steady at 22 (15%).

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 23 (13%). However, we are working closely with the Departments and Programs in the School and with the Personnel Office in order to strengthen our affirmative action recruitment efforts.


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: Pauline Maier, William R. Kenan Professor of History, received the MIT Killian Faculty Achievement Award for outstanding achievements in professional scholarship, teaching, and Institute service. Professor Maier was also awarded membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the Music and Theater Arts Section, Institute Professor John Harbison was awarded one of the five annual Heinz awards by the Heinz Family Foundation; Class of 1949 Professor Ellen Harris was awarded membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and Assistant Professor James Makubuya was awarded the Class of 1948 Career Development Chair. Professor Ruth Perry of the Literature Section was elected President of the American Society for the 18th Century Studies. The Department of Linguistics and Philosophy's Professor Wayne O'Neil was awarded the George Watson Fellowship from the University of Queensland; Institute Professor Noam Chomsky was awarded an honorary degree from McGill University; Professor David Pesetsky was appointed to the Advisory Committee for the Directorate of Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences, at the National Science Foundation, and honored as "Education Partner" of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire School District; Assistant Professor Ralph Wedgwood was awarded the Humanities Center Fellowship sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities and the Andrew Mellow Foundation; and Assistant Professor Michel DeGraff was honored with the Levitan Prize in the Humanities. Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies Kenneth Oye received the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching Award. The Department of Economics' Professor Bengt Holmstrom received an honorary doctorate from the Stockholm School of Economics. In addition, James and Elizabeth Killian Professor of Economics Paul Joskow received the very first MIT Dean's Award for Distinguished Service to the School of Humanities and Social Science; and Professor Michael Piore received an honorary doctorate from the Universite des Science et Technologie de Lille in France. Among the Foreign Languages and Literature faculty, Associate Professor Margery Resnick was elected President of the International Institute in Spain; Assistant Professor Nicolas Wey-Gomez was appointed Senior Fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology and an NEH Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island; and Professor Shigeru Miyagawa was honored with the International Cultural Award from the Foundation for Promotion of Traditional Costumes.


FY98 proved to be one of the most successful fund raising years in the history of SHSS. This was due in large part to the Starr Foundation's gift of $6 million to the School to support student internships in East Asia, including China, under MISTI (the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative) and the MIT Japan Program, which are part of the Center for International Studies (CIS). These funds will be administered by CIS to strengthen and expand the student internship programs.

The Fang Endowment received a new pledge of $1.5 million, bringing the total amount of gifts and pledges to the endowment to $2.5 million. This will enable us to establish the Fang Professorship in Chinese Language and Culture, and a search to fill this new professorship will begin in FY99.

In partnership with the Political Science Department, the Washington Post hosted a reception in Washington, DC at which several presentations were made by Political Science faculty addressing events of current national interest. It is hoped that this reception may become a regular means of showcasing some of the activities of the Political Science Department and strengthening the ties to program donors. The Department has also continued to raise funds toward its ongoing Washington Internship program for MIT undergraduate students.

The World Economy Laboratory of the Department of Economics continues to raise several hundred thousand dollars per year to support student and faculty research in the department.

A variety of new gifts from individuals and sponsored research funding from foundations, the U.S. government, and U.S. and Japanese corporations came into the Foreign Languages and Literature Section, the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, the Music and Theater Arts Program, and the Center for International Studies. These include major funding from the Mellon, MacArthur, Carnegie, Ford and Freeman Foundations, the NSF, NEH, the U.S. Air Force, the Ford Motor Company, and the German Ministry of Education.

The School produced a four-part plan to support a variety of new and ongoing activities in SHSS that we hope will become part of the new Capital Campaign which MIT plans to launch in the coming year or two and which is now in its "silent phase." The School would like to raise $150 million in new gifts and pledges during the campaign. Toward this end, the School has hired a new development officer, Martha Fuller. She comes to us from Radcliffe College where she was Director of Development and will assume her new appointment as Assistant Dean for Resource Development in August 1998.


The School saw one retirement and four resignations this year, including two due to the denial of tenure and/or promotion. A total of five faculty members were promoted to tenure this year. One faculty member (Evelynn Hammonds of the Program in Science, Technology and Society) was promoted effective February 1, 1998. The remaining four members were promoted effective July 1, 1998: Michael Kremer of the Department of Economics, Anne McCants and Elizabeth Wood of the History faculty, and James Buzard of the Literature Section.

The School was successful in recruiting 13 new members to the faculty effective 1998-99. These appointments include nine made at the assistant professor level, three as associate professors with tenure, and one professor jointly appointed in the Sloan School. The assistant professor appointments were made in the following departments: one in Economics, two in Political Science, one in Foreign Languages and Literatures, one in History, one in Literature, one in Music and Theater Arts, and two in Science, Technology and Society. The associate professors with tenure include two members appointed in Linguistics and Philosophy and one in Political Science. The professor was given a primary appointment in the Sloan School, with a joint appointment in the Department of Economics. In addition, an appointment as Professor of Anthropology and first holder of the title "Genevieve McMillan-Reba Stewart Professor of the Study of Women in the Developing World" was made effective January 1, 1998.

Class of 1941 Professor of Economics Olivier Blanchard will become the next Head of the Department of Economics, replacing Professor Paul Joskow. We will miss the insight and administrative wisdom of Professor Joskow and wish him well as he returns to a professional life focused on full-time scholarship and teaching.

Sadly, we report the death of Professor Martin Diskin, a valued colleague in the Anthropology Program. Professor Diskin, an expert on the agrarian economies for Latin America and an advocate for social reform in the region, passed away on August 3, 1997, after a long bout with leukemia.

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

Philip S. Khoury

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98