MIT Reports to the President 1998-998


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


Approximately twenty pilot HASS (Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) Communication Intensive (CI) subjects–including both HASS-Distribution and HASS-Elective courses–were offered in 1998—99. Roundtable discussions were held during both fall and spring semesters for the instructors of these courses, and evaluative questionnaires were distributed to both faculty and students. Indications are that HASS CI courses are fulfilling their goal of improving students' written and oral communication skills, but they are time-consuming for instructors.

In addition to its regular task of reviewing HASS-D proposals in the fall, the HASS Overview Committee (HOC) conducted a HASS Review this spring, at the request of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP). Although the HOC covered all eight points in the charge from the CUP in its report, it focussed on two important issues: (1) What should be the form of the grouping of categories within the HASS-D requirement? and (2) What will be the role of the HASS and HASS-D requirements with respect to the proposed Communication Requirement? Professor Peter Child, HOC Chair, presented the report to the CUP at its May 26 meeting. The discussion regarding the role of HASS in the new Communication Requirement will continue in 1999—2000. The Committee's recommendation regarding HASS-D categories was to retain the current five categories, but to simplify the requirement to state that students must take three HASS-D's from any three categories. (Currently, they must take at least one from Categories 1, 2, or 3, one from Categories 4 or 5, and the third from a remaining category.)


The Comparative Media Studies (CMS) Program, under the able direction of Professor Henry Jenkins and with the support of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Literature, and Writing and Humanistic Studies, spent the year building up the CMS infrastructure and designing its curriculum in preparation for its first class of S.M. students. The five graduate students offered admission for Fall 1999 will matriculate. Fund raising for the new graduate program is progressing nicely, with an initial $200,000 gift provided by an MIT alumnus in January. A number of smaller gifts have also been pledged. Alex Chisholm, an Institute development officer with strong experience on the west coast, joined CMS as Development and Communications Officer in June.

A new Center for Bilingual and Bicultural Studies (CBBS) has been established in Foreign Languages and Literatures under the directorship of Professor Isabelle de Courtivron. Its first activity was a major lecture series that will continue. CBBS plans to host a visiting professor annually and organize conferences. It has already established ties to Comparative Media Studies, Women's Studies, and Linguistics.

The Linguistics and Philosophy Department has successfully proposed a new undergraduate major (S.B. in Linguistics and Philosophy) that integrates knowledge from linguistics and philosophy.

The Political Science Department, in collaboration with the Economics Department and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, successfully proposed a new HASS Minor in Public Policy.


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 1998—99 there were 45 women faculty, which represents 30 percent of the total faculty. Of these, 28 are tenured (28 percent of the tenured faculty). Over the past five years, the total number of women faculty has steadily increased (34 in 1993—94), and the School is making every effort to continue this trend. We were successful in recruiting four women to the faculty for next year — all at the assistant professor level, in Anthropology, Economics, History, and Writing. In addition, we successfully recruited an Asian woman as assistant professor in Political Science, whose appointment will not begin until July 1, 2000, because she has been appointed Academy Fellow at Harvard's Center for International Affairs during AY2000. The number of women faculty in 1999—2000 will be 49. Of the three faculty promoted internally and approved for tenure in AY99 (to be effective July 1, 1999), two were women.

The School has not been quite as successful in its efforts to recruit minority faculty. Nonetheless, our efforts toward increasing the minority representation on the faculty led to the successful recruitment of two minority candidates at the assistant professor level (one Native American woman in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, and one Asian woman in Political Science who will join us in AY2000). Unfortunately, we also lost an Asian-American woman as assistant professor in Foreign Languages and Literatures, and, therefore, our minority counts have increased by only one. 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 at 22 (14 percent).

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 29 (10 percent). We continue to strengthen our Affirmative Action efforts by working closely with the Departments and Programs in the School and with the Personnel Office.


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: Associate Professor of Economics Dora L. Costa was honored by TIAA-CREF with the 1998 Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security and won a Sloan Fellowship. Joshua Cohen, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Professor of Philosophy, was selected as the Carlyle Professor at Oxford University and presented the first Carlyle classes in the history of political theory in January 1999. Institute Professor Noam Chomsky was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science and honorary degrees from Universitat Rovirai Virgili (Tarragone), Guelph University of Ontario, University of Connecticut, and Columbia University. Professor of Economics James Poterba received the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Reviewing. The Literature Faculty's Professor Henry Jenkins was appointed Ann Fetter Friedlaender Professor of Humanities; Professor Stephen Tapscott was appointed Fulbright Distinguished Professor in American Studies at the University of Lodz, Poland; Professor Ruth Perry was awarded a Bellagio Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation; and Assistant Professor Shankar Raman was appointed Class of 1956 Career Development Professor. Associate Professor of History Anne McCants was honored by Mount Holyoke College with the Mary Lyon Award. Professor of Economics Peter Temin was elected Vice President of the Eastern Economic Association. Assistant Professor David Mindell of the Program in Science, Technology and Society won the 1998 Abbott Payson Usher Prize awarded by the Society for the History of Technology. Professor Alan Lightman of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies received the 1998 Gyorgy Kepes prize from the MIT Council of the Arts. Assistant Professor Nicolas Wey-Gomez was awarded the Class of 1954 Career Development Professorship. The Department of Economics' Professor Joshua Angrist and Professor Ricardo Caballero were elected Fellows of the Econometric Society; Assistant Professor Susan Athey was elected Faculty Research Fellow of the National Bureau of Econometric Society; Professor Rudiger Dornbusch received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lima, Peru, and the Concord Prize in Krefeld, Germany; and Professor Olivier Blanchard was awarded the Department Teaching Award by the Graduate Economic Association. Assistant Professor David Woodruff of the Political Science Department received a Fulbright Scholarship and was the Fulbright Scholarship Lecturer at European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. Composer Peter Child, professor of music and head of the Music and Theater Arts Section, received a 1998 commission from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University. Professor Nancy Rose of the Economics Department was elected to the American Economic Association Executive Committee. Professor Merritt Roe Smith of the Program in Science, Technology and Society received the Outstanding Liberal Arts Alumni Award from Pennsylvania State University. Professor David Pesetsky was awarded the Ferrari P. Ward Professorship in Linguistics, succeeding Professor Kenneth Hale, who retired effective June 1999.


FY99 has been an important year for SHSS in fundraising. We began the year with a commitment to fund the Comparative Media Studies program (CMS), with initial money to match the Provost and Dean's Funds and a structure to carry the program forward. The response to the program from individual and corporate donors has been highly receptive, both providing early requisite funds and laying a base for expanded donor support. $250,000 gift from two individual donors provides matching funds for our first two years of operation 2000 and 2001. Verbal approval from DaimlerChrysler for an initial $50K research grant for CMS represents important financial support and also provides a model for research partnerships between the humanities and corporations. A national advisory board has been established for CMS, with its first meeting in Palo Alto in June 1999. External response comfirms our initial belief that CMS is filling a real need in applying a humanities perspective to the management of communication technologies.

Important groundwork for the Campaign has resulted in identification of Comparative Media Studies, Economics, and International initiatives, particularly the MISTI program, as specific funding opportunities for the School. In addition, a Dean's Initiative Fund is proposed for general research support for faculty initiatives developed across the School.

New gifts and pledges in FY99 total $4.6M. These, in combination with gifts to date in the quiet phase of the campaign and pending support, should put SHSS at $20M by the campaign kick-off in November 1999 toward a projected minimum goal of $100M for the School during the Campaign.

As MIT enters the most ambitious campaign in its history, the School for Humanities and Social Science is shaping a case and an agenda of need, which brings strength to the School and breadth to the opportunities presented to donors in this campaign. Toward this end, the School has hired a new development officer, Josey Twombly. She comes to us from the Harvard Medical School where she was Director of Major Gifts and will assume her new appointment as Assistant Dean for Resource Development in September 1999.


This year has seen two retirements, four resignations, and eleven new faculty appointments within the School. Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics Kenneth L. Hale and Professor of the History of Science Loren Graham retired, effective June 1999. We wish them great success in all their future endeavors as emeriti professors at MIT. The School saw four resignations this year, including one in the Department of Economics, two in History, and one in Foreign Languages and Literatures. A total of three faculty members were promoted to tenure this year, effective July 1, 1999: Daron Acemoglu of the Department of Economics, Diana Henderson of the Literature faculty, and Janet Sonenberg of the Music and Theater Arts faculty.

The School was successful in recruiting 11 new members to the faculty during 1998—99. Nine of these appointments will be effective 1999—2000 and two will begin their appointments in AY2001. All but one (hired as Professor in the Writing and Humanistic Studies Program) were hired as assistant professor in the following departments: three in Economics, two in Political Science, two in Linguistics and Philosophy, one in Anthropology, one in History, and two in Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Professor of Linguistics Alec Marantz will become the next Head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, replacing Laurence Rockefeller Professor Robert Stalnaker, who will become the Philosophy Section Head. Arthur J. Conner Professor Harriet Ritvo will become the next Head of the History faculty, replacing Professor Peter Perdue. Robert P. Taylor Professor of Music Marcus Thompson will be Acting Head of Music and Theater Arts during the Fall term, and Institute Professor John Harbison will serve during the Spring term, replacing Professor Peter Child. We will miss the insights and administrative wisdom of Professors Child, Perdue, and Stalnaker, and wish them well as they return to a professional life focused principally on scholarship and teaching.

Sadly, we report the deaths of two valued colleagues in the Department of Political Science: Professor Myron Weiner, one of America's most distinguished political scientists and an expert on Indian politics and society, child labor, and international migration, passed away on June 3, 1999; and Professor Emeritus William Griffith, a leading expert on communist systems and international politics, passed away on September 28, 1998.

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

Philip S. Khoury


As a result of integrating the HASS-D Lottery into electronic pre-registration, the Lottery must be run before freshmen arrive at MIT for orientation in the fall. In Fall 1998 for the first time, freshmen chose their HASS-D subjects in the summer before arriving at MIT. In order to accomplish this, since pre-freshmen cannot register electronically, a new publication, The Freshman HASS Guide, including a form for freshmen to list HASS-D choices, was produced by this office and mailed to all freshmen. These 847 forms were then manually entered by this office into the Lottery. The process ran very smoothly, particularly in light of the fact that it was the first time it had been done this way. One result was that more freshmen took HASS-D subjects their first semester–a desirable outcome!

The HASS Overview Committee, on which the Coordinator, Dr. Bette Davis, serves as ex officio, had a very busy year. In addition to reviewing HASS-D proposals in the fall and taking care of other routine business, the Committee conducted a HASS Review, in response to a charge from the CUP. One of the important issues the Committee has dealt with is overseeing the HASS Communication Intensive (CI) courses being offered now, during the pilot phase of the Communication Requirement Initiative. A major part of the HASS Review Report consisted of a report of HASS CI courses to date, as well as a presentation of two different models for HASS participation in the future Communication Requirement.

Total enrollment in all HASS subjects dropped again this year, from 10,253 last year to 10,091 in AY99. At the same time, the number of HASS subjects offered increased from 457 to 476. The number of autonomous sections was up slightly, from 574 to 582. The number of HASS-D subjects offered was exactly the same, 117. The largest overall enrollments were in the same fields as last year, in the same order: 1795 in Economics (down from 1927 last year) and 1324 in Foreign Languages and Literatures (down from 1521 last year). Writing (985) was again third, followed by Literature (948), Music (799*), and History (694). (*Six-unit music performance subjects are not included in these statistics.) Linguistics had the largest increase over last year in terms of percentage (from 93 to 140, or 50 percent), followed by Philosophy (472 to 566) and History (576 to 694), both with a 20 percent increase. Anthropology enrollments increased 17 percent, from 306 to 357.

In 1998—99, students submitted 2293 HASS Concentration proposals and 1274 completion forms, compared to 2351 proposals and 1281 completion forms last year. Once again, Economics and Foreign Languages led in the number of completed HASS Concentrations: in 1998—99, 357 (compared to 356 last year) students completed concentrations in Economics, and exactly the same number (220) completed concentrations in Foreign Languages & Literatures. (For a breakdown by languages, see Table II.) The next two most popular HASS Concentration fields are Music, with 104 completed concentrations, and Psychology, with 100, followed by Literature (67), Writing (58), and Political Science (54).

1998—99 showed a slight decrease in the total number of HASS Minor applications from all graduating classes, but an increase in the number of HASS Minors received by the Class of 1999. There were 475 applications, compared to 483 last year and 440 in 1996—97. 223 members of the Class of ‘99 received minors in twenty-three fields in HASS, up from 194 last year. The two most popular fields in terms of applications filed were the same as last year: Economics (133) and Music (67). There were 64 minors in Foreign Languages (23 in French, 21 in German, and 20 in Spanish). Other popular HASS Minors, in order, were Political Science (31), Psychology (29), Writing (28), and Literature (20).

More MIT undergraduates cross-registered for courses at Harvard in 1998—99. 233 students took 253 subjects at Harvard, compared to 186 students enrolled in 196 subjects in 1997—98. Last year there was a sizable decrease in these enrollments; they seem to fluctuate for no obvious reason. As usual, foreign languages were by far the most popular field of study. 113 of the 253 subjects were in 23 different foreign languages. The two most popular languages were Chinese (18) and Urdu-Hindi (16), followed by 10 in Russian and 9 in Korean; enrollments in other languages were spread fairly evenly. The most popular fields outside foreign languages were Economics and Government, with 22 each.

101 students received the S.B. in SHSS this year, up from 95 last year. Of these, 54 degrees were in Economics, Course 14, and 11 were in Political Science, Course 17. During the same time period, September 1998 through June 1999, a total of 33 students completed the S.B. Degree in Humanities, Course 21. Twelve of these received joint degrees, 8 in 21-E and 4 in 21-S. Another 16 received degrees in a specified field within Course 21. Five undesignated Humanities degrees (two in German and three "Major Departures") were granted. Three students received the S.B. in Philosophy.

The four departments in SHSS had 170 undergraduate majors this year; this figure includes only first degrees. Ninety-one of these are majoring in Economics, and the Political Science Department has 18 majors. Fifty-five students had a Humanities major as their first degree in 1998—99; of these, 21 were joint majors (11 in 21-E and 10 in 21-S.) Of the specified majors within Humanities, Literature had the most majors (11), followed by Music, (6). (These figures include joint degrees and full degrees in those fields.) Six undergraduates have declared a major in Philosophy.

Among the more notable honors achieved by SHSS majors this year were:

Boit Manuscript Prize First Place: Viengvilay Oudonesom, '99;

Second Place: Jennifer Zhou, '99;

Honorable Mention: Mark Meier, '99

Robert A. Boit Writing Prize: First Place in Poetry: Anna Dirks, '99;

Third Place in Poetry: Perkin Shiu, '99;

Honorable Mention: Joaquin Terrones, '99.

First Place in Short Story: Anna Dirks, '99;

Second Place: Brett Winton, '01;

Honorable Mention: Michael McComas, '99.

Burchard Scholars: Jonna Anderson, ‘00; Jasper Chen, '00;

Jason Krug, '00;

David Matsa, '00;

Jonathan Woon, '00

Karl Taylor Compton Prize Van L. Chu, '99

Edward S. Darna Award Andrea Zengion, '99

Brad and Dorothea Endicott Award Candice McElroy, '99

Joseph D. Everingham Award Fernando Paiz, '99;

Damon Suden, '99

Frederick Gardiner Fasset Jr. Award Katherine E. Hardacre, '99

I. Austin Kelly III Prizes First Prize: Laura Mouton, '01;

Second Prize: Andrea Zengion, '99; and Mark Meier, '99

Philip Loew Memorial Award Sandi Choi, '99

Phi Beta Kappa Lucian Breierova, '99;

Alice Chong, '99;

Mark Meier, '99;

Xuanhui Ng, '99;

Ami Vasanawala, '99

Prize for Writing Science Fiction Michael McComas, '99

Gregory Tucker Memorial Prize Jason Krug, '00

Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Award Petra Chong, '99

Bette Davis

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99