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Alec Marantz, head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, and Evan Ziporyn of the music and theater arts section have been named the first holders of Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professorships in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.
The professorships were established by a gift from alumnus and MIT corporation member Kenan Sahin (S.B. 1963, Ph.D.). In 1999, Sahin pledged $100 million to MIT, $75 million of which was later committed to the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (SHASS). These funds are being used in part to endow the SHASS deanship, to create a graduate fellowship fund and to establish several professorships.
"It's extremely gratifying to inaugurate the Sahin Professorships with these two excellent appointments," said SHASS Dean Philip Khoury. "Alec Marantz and Evan Ziporyn are internationally recognized leaders in their respective fields, representing the high level of scholarly and artistic accomplishment the Sahin Distinguished Professorships are intended to recognize and support."
Marantz received the B.A. in psycholinguistics at Oberlin College and the Ph.D. in linguistics at MIT. He was a member of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University from 1981-84 and assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before coming to MIT in 1990. Credited with pioneering the subfield of morphosyntax, Marantz also specializes in the cognitive neuroscience of language.
Ziporyn received the B.A. in music from Yale University and the M.A. and Ph.D. in music composition from the University of California at Berkeley. An MIT faculty member since 1990, Ziporyn has also served as adjunct associate professor and visiting professor at the Yale School of Music. An active composer and performer, he regularly records and performs with Bang On a Can and Steve Reich; he is also director of MIT's Balinese Gamelan Galak Tika. His principal areas of interest are composition and world music.
While they hold the professorships, Marantz and Ziporyn will be members of the Kenan Sahin Society of Fellows at MIT, which will convene on a regular basis to discuss themes and issues central to the humanities, arts and social sciences.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 30, 2002.