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Chancellor PhillipÂ L. Clay announced the appointment of Steven R. Lerman, the Class of 1922 Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and current chair of the MIT Faculty, as the Institute's next dean for graduate students, effective July 1.
Writing to graduate students, faculty and staff on Monday, June 11, Clay noted that Lerman would bring to his new role "both exceptional knowledge of MIT and deep understanding of the full range of issues in graduate education. His experience and passion will be critical as we develop new ways to provide a richer and more supportive environment for our graduate student community."
Lerman himself said, "I am truly excited about the prospect of working within the MIT administration on issues of graduate education and research. The work that Ike Colbert has done in creating a strong sense of graduate community has been truly extraordinary, and I hope to build on his great accomplishments." He and his wife, Lori Lerman, have served as housemasters of the graduate residence at 224 Albany Street since its opening in 2000.
Clay praised Lerman for "a remarkable ability to build bridges between people and groups and to develop consensus through consultative processes," noting that he would continue the collaborative approach that has marked initiatives the Graduate Students Office (GSO) has launched under the leadership of retiring Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert.
Lerman has played a leading role in innovative educational uses of technology for more than a quarter-century, having served as first director of MIT's Project Athena during the 1980s. He has been director of the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives since its founding in 1991, and he chairs the Faculty Advisory Committee for MIT OpenCourseWare.
Lerman was formerly deputy director of the Singapore-MIT Alliance, of which he is currently acting MIT co-director. He has also served as director of the Intelligent Systems Lab and head of the transportation systems division in his department.
A member of the Class of 1972, Lerman went on to receive his master's and doctoral degrees from MIT and joined the Institute faculty in 1975. His department and the Graduate Student Council have both honored him for excellence in teaching; his primary teaching is currently in subject 1.00/1.001, an introduction to computational methods that is taken by both undergraduates and graduate students.
In his message, Clay thanked the search advisory committee chaired by Professor Stephen C. Graves of the MIT Sloan School of Management, which also provided significant insight into the operation of the Graduate Students Office and the challenges facing the new dean.
Lerman noted that his work as a graduate housemaster has made him aware of the importance of the work of the GSO in issues that cut across departments, labs and centers: "The office will continue to support MIT's efforts to expand the diversity of the graduate student population and develop programs that make all graduate students' experiences here at MIT as productive and fulfilling as possible."