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More than 300 academic, administrative and student leaders gathered for the Diversity Leadership Congress on November 18, 2008. The day was designed to give participants practical tools and strategies to help lead diversity efforts in their local areas to foster a culture of inclusion at MIT.

President Hockfield opened the congress by acknowledging the important ongoing efforts to address diversity challenges at the Institute and encouraged participants to further raise the bar to accelerate progress diversifying the MIT student, faculty and staff communities. Former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, the first African-American to lead the U.S. Department of Labor, delivered the keynote address. MIT's Thomas Kochan, the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management, then moderated a panel discussion focused on successful diversity leadership stories. Panelists included Phil Harlow, chief diversity officer at Xerox: Shirley Malcolm, head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Michael Summers, an HHMI biologist at the University of Maryland who has been honored for his contributions in mentoring students from underrepresented groups. Participants then broke into small groups to discuss how MIT's leaders could apply the day's information to amplify their efforts at MIT. In addition to the 320 attendees, other members of the community participated via remote viewing locations on campus that included facilitator-led debriefings.

The proceedings of the Congress, including a collection of best practices and ideas from the discussion groups, will be made available in the new year. The Congress site will be updated to include resources and websites from around the Institute related to diversity. If you have suggestions or feedback on any of these topics, please email

Congress Background

At the 2008 Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Hockfield challenged MIT to make a serious and meaningful change on diversity. The Institute has a spectacular tradition of solving daunting real-world problems with little patience for conventional limitations. She called on the community to channel that same passion and creativity into accelerating our progress toward increased diversity and inclusion.

President Hockfield announced that, for the first time, MIT would bring together 300 of its academic, administrative, and student leaders at a Diversity Leadership Congress. Leaders were selected based on either their position of responsibility at MIT, or their work within a campus group/organization to promote a culture of diversity. The Congress, held on November 18, 2008, was an opportunity to support and inspire these leaders in their local efforts.