MIT Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee

2002 MLK Leadership Award Recipients

Paul E. Gray '54
Randal Pinkett '98
Cheryl Vossmer
Tamara Williams 'G


Dr. Paul E. Gray '54
Dr. Gray's steadfast and enduring commitment, as a faculty member and senior administrator, to providing equal opportunities in higher education for people of color. As chair of the Task Force on Educational Opportunity, first convened in September 1968, he took on an unprecedented role, developing institutional policies that led to the admission of 42 African American students by the next academic year. Those who witnessed that era can now more fully appreciate how daunting it was for all men and women to lead equitably and responsibly during a time of great change. However, because of a far-reaching vision and ability to stand firmly by his principles, he frequently and effectively advocated for greater inclusion. Through sponsorship of the First National Conference on Issues Facing Black Administrators at Predominantly White Colleges and Universities, held on this campus in 1982, and his appointment of Dean Shirley Mc Bay to the Academic Council, he demonstrated an unrelenting desire to foster a clearer understanding and awareness of racial issues in our community. As a compassionate advisor and mentor, he has tirelessly guided students and professionals to greater levels of achievement. The Martin Luther King Committee It is believed that his 40 years of service on behalf of others embodies the values and ideals of Dr. King.


Dr. Randal Pinkett '98
Dr. Pinkett's extraordinary ability to inspire, encourage and lead others, as well the exceptional ways that he made significant and lasting contributions to the advancement of low-income people in urban neighborhoods. While completing his doctorate in the MIT-Media Lab, Dr. Pinkett and colleague Richard O'Bryant created a highly effective model for bridging the digital divide by implementing a computer network in Camfield Estates of Roxbury. This innovative undertaking quickly enhanced the neighborhood's capacity for community-building and accessing vital technology, and has drawn national recognition. His considerable accomplishments as a Rhodes Scholar, engineer, community leader, researcher and entrepreneur embody so much of what Dr. King desired for all in our society. His willingness to share these talents with others is not only admirable, but an exemplary way of continuing his dream.


Sgt. Cheryl Vossmer
Sgt. Vossmer's long-standing commitment to maintaining the values of Dr. King by enthusiastically serving the students, staff and faculty of MIT, and many residents of greater Cambridge. As Professor Ellen Harris has stated, Cheryl considers the successful attainment of a good and livable community as part of her job and works hard to keep this ideal in the forefront of your mind. Whether she is assisting a troubled student, participating in World Aids Day activities, considering an issue before the Campus Committee on Race Relations or collecting toys for disadvantaged children, she is known as a thoughtful and compassionate professional who takes her responsibilities very seriously. Professor Matsuzaki has noted that Cheryl's philosophy and actions embody Dr. King's forever challenging question: "What are you doing for others?"


Ms. Tamara Williams 'G
Ms. Williams' range of enriching contributions to the MIT community. While undertaking doctoral studies at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, she committed to serving as Co-Chair of the Black Graduate Student Association and Color Creations, her creative leadership of these organizations has motivated and enabled other graduate students to attend the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) National Convention where they shared information about their disciplines and encouraged potential applicants to consider further studies in science and technology. She also reached out to fellow student organizations by coordinating monthly dinners and developing networking opportunities for individuals and groups concerned with issues that affect women of color. As a volunteer in Tutoring Plus, Tamara assisted Cambridge's elementary, middle school and high school students with their mathematics and Language Arts subjects. The MLK Committee believes that she has distinguished herself as a contributor to the quality of life on this campus, and that her efforts honorably represent what Dr. King expected of himself and others.