Actions of MIT’s 15th president have ‘grown to inspire generations,’ Reif says.
Reunion class gifts of nearly $32 million-including a record $10.1 million gift from the 50th reunion Class of 1942-were announced Friday (June 5), at MIT's annual Technology Day alumni/ae luncheon.
The gift from the Class of 1942 was the largest reunion gift in MIT history. Both its gift and the $8.6 million from the 65th reunion of the Class of 1927 topped the $8.1 million reunion gift given by the Class of 1923 at its 50th reunion 19 years ago.
The gifts of major reunion classes comprise all gifts made to MIT by members of the classes during the five-year period preceding the reunion and all pledges to be paid in the five years following the reunion.
The luncheon in the Howard Johnson Athletics Center was part of a day-long program for some 2,500 alumni, spouses and guests highlighted by a symposium that addressed the challenges facing United States industry. Titled "Winds of Change: Achieving Global Business Excellence for America in the 21st Century," it brought together speakers and panelists from MIT and industry in a morning program at Kresge Auditorium and in five parallel panel sessions in the afternoon.
In his opening remarks, Professor Donald R. Lessard of the Sloan School of Management focused on organizational restructuring as a key component in making American companies competitive in the world marketplace. The US must ask itself, for example, he said, whether the Japanese and Germans organize themselves better for educational or business purposes.
On the subject of education, another of the speakers, Corporation Chairman Paul E. Gray, noting that a significant percentage of high school graduates are "functionally illiterate and innumerate," said that American schools are "singularly ineffective" in comparison to those of other developed nations.
As one way of providing greater incentive and accountability, both for students and teachers, he suggested that achievement tests be administered at least in the individual states and preferably on a national level in order to measure the competency of students and their schools. If this can be accomplished, he said, both rewards for performance and higher levels of accountability will become possible at all levels.
Finally, he said that individual citizens, "parents and taxpayers," must be the ones to "encourage higher standards and stronger performance."
At the Technology Day luncheon, the gift chairmen for the three major reunion classes-Floyd A. Lyon for the Class of 1942, Joe F. Moore for the 40th reunion Class of 1952 and Jeffrey M. Wiesen for the 25th reunion Class of 1967-presented their class gifts to MIT President Charles M. Vest.
In addition to the $10.1 million from the Class of 1942, the Class of 1952 announced a gift of $3.3 million, and the Class of 1967 $1.7 million.
Altogether, reunion gifts totalled $31,812,730.
Besides the $8.6 million from the Class of 1927, they included: $1.3 million from the Class of 1922; $2.4 million from the Class of 1932; $563,000 from the Class of1937; $559,000 from the Class of 1947; $433,000 from the Class of 1957; $2.5 million from the Class of 1962; $165,000 from the Class of 1972; $101,700 from the Class of 1977; $47,500 from the Class of 1982; $20,200 from the Class of 1987; and the Senior Class gift and pledge of $23,330 for a program to encourage disadvantaged junior high school students to pursue science and technology education and careers.
It also was announced that the Alumni Fund is expected to exceed its goal of $16.5 million in gifts from 28,000 alumni by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, for a record dollar total.
In his response, President Vest told the audience that such "sustained, generous support" was "essential to the vigor, quality and leadership of MIT."
While MIT has had its share of problems this past year, particularly in regard to indirect cost issues and an antitrust complaint over financial aid practices, he said there also has been good news on several fronts. As a "random sampling," he pointed to the US News & World Report survey giving number one ranking to MIT's engineering school and its department of economics; the 53 Academic All America award-winning athletes from MIT, tops in the nation; and alumnus William Koch's victory in the America's Cup competition, aided by an MIT design team led by Professor Jerome H. Milgram.
As evidence of continuing strength, he noted that 87 percent of the members of next year's freshman class were in the top five percent of their high school classes.
On a broader scale, President Vest said that while the US has lost its leadership in some areas, the research university system continues to be "the best," educating leaders in academia, business and government; contributing to national security; bolstering the national and world economy, especially through spinoffs of companies and even whole industries; increasing our knowledge of the physical, social and natural worlds; and helping to identify and ameliorate critical problems.
The key factor in this success, he added, has been the integration of education and research, through which bright, creative individuals teach the living essence and the future of their subjects, not just their histories.
The luncheon program was conducted by Peter M. Saint Germain `48, the 1991-92 president of the Association of MIT Alumni and Alumni/ae, which has some 90,000 members in 128 countries.
He announced that alumni/ae representing 69 classes were attending the reunion programs and that the most senior among them at the luncheon was Max Seltzer of the Class of 1918, observing the 74th anniversary of his graduation. He also recognized several members of the 70th reunion Class of 1922 attending the luncheon, noting that 21 women graduated with the class at a time when women did not generally attend college.
Also present, he said, were 21 international alumni and alumnae representing 15 countries.
In keeping with the custom of recognizing individuals who, though not alumni/ae, have shown "great dedication, commitment and loyalty to MIT and its alumni/ae," Mr. Saint Germain announced that the Alumni/ae Association was bestowing honorary membership on a member of the faculty-Professor Ronald M. Latanision, director of MIT's Council on Primary and Secondary Education, established to coordinate and expand the Institute's efforts to enhance the teaching of science in those grades.
Mr. Saint Germain noted that Professor Latanision had gone "above and beyond the call of duty" for the Association in the past year, traveling to at least 15 clubs to talk about the new program.
"Though many others have devoted time and energy to travel for this effort," Mr. Saint Germain said, "Professor Latanision has been its moving force, advocating improved math and science literacy in the nation's schools. Not only is he providing yeoman's service for the Association and MIT, but he is also serving as an inspiration and a model to our country in his efforts to bring back excellence to the American K-12 educational system."
He also commended Professor Latanision for his commitment "to involving our alumni and alumnae in this endeavor, which the Institute has identified as an important initiative for this decade."
At the conclusion of the program, Mr. Saint Germain turned over the symbolic gavel of office as alumni/ae president to Robert A. Muh, who becomes the 98th Alumni/ae Association president in 1992-93.
Mr. Muh, an investment banker of San Francisco, Calif., who was Alumni/ae Association vice president in 1987-88, received the SB degree in management from MIT in 1959. He also holds the MBA (1961) and M.Phil (1965) degrees from Columbia University. He takes on the role of ex-officio member of the Corporation by virtue of becoming Alumni/ae Association president. He was elected to a regular five-year term on the Corporation in 1988.
Finally, Mr. Saint Germain introduced the Technology Day chairman, Kenan Sahin `63, who in turn paid tribute to the members of his committee: Henry Barg `73, George Beesley `39, George Clifford `48, Anita Killian `85, Eugene Mallove `69, May Nasrallah `93, Cordelia Price `78, Robert Seamans `42, David Wadleigh `38 and Arthur W. Winston `54.
A version of this article appeared in the June 17, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 34).