Executive Report and Recommendations
Appendix A – Short Biosketches of Race Initiative Participants and Research Team Members (includes Internal Technical Advisory Board)
Appendix B – External Advisory Board and Biosketches
Appendix C – Summary of Academic Dean Discussions for Each School
Appendix D – Summary of Minority Faculty Forums
Race Initiative Members
Paula T. Hammond, Ph.D., Initiative Chair (B.S. ’84, Ph.D., MIT ’93)
Bayer Chair Professor and Executive Officer, Department of Chemical Engineering
Professor Paula T. Hammond is the Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently serves as the executive officer in chemical engineering. Her research program on self-assembling polymeric nanomaterials and directed assembly and patterning includes microbatteries and fuel cells, drug delivery and cellular templates for biomaterials. Hammond was awarded the NSF Career Award, the EPA Early Career Award, the DuPont Young Faculty Award and the Junior Bose Faculty Award at MIT. She serves as an associate editor for the journal ACS Nano. She was a 2003 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University, received the Georgia Tech Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2004, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Biological and Medical Engineers. Hammond chaired a key committee for the redesign of the MIT Summer Research Program in 2005, a summer program that brings underrepresented minority undergraduates to MIT’s campus for research opportunities and preparation for graduate school. She has also contributed to numerous other boards, panels, discussion groups and other mentoring/support groups for underrepresented minorities and women on campus during her time at MIT.
Lotte Bailyn, Ph.D., Head of Initiative Research Team
Professor of Management, Behavioral and Policy Science, MIT Sloan School of Management
Professor Lotte Bailyn’s book, Breaking the Mold: Redesigning Work for Productive and Satisfying Lives, argues that industries will fail in an intensely competitive world unless they take into account the changing nature of the professional workforce. Bailyn was a member of the groundbreaking committee on the Status of Women Faculty in 2002, which summarized data and narratives of women faculty members’ experiences in each of the schools.
Emery N. Brown, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Health Sciences and Technology, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Professor Emery Brown is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health. He received $2.5 million to “develop a systems neuroscience approach to study how anesthetic drugs act in the brain to create the state of general anesthesia.”
Leslie K. Norford, Ph.D.
Professor of Building Technology, School of Architecture and Planning
Professor Leslie Norford studies building energy use in developed and developing countries. His work includes laboratory, numerical and field-based studies of space-conditioning equipment and building ventilation, with a recent emphasis on the interactions of buildings with the urban environment. Norford is a MacVicar Faculty Fellowship recipient, which honors outstanding undergraduate teaching at MIT. As associate head of the Department of Architecture, he has participated in department efforts to recruit minority students and faculty.
Christine Ortiz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Director; MISTI (MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives) MIT-Israel Program
The research of Professor Christine Ortiz focuses on hierarchical macromolecular systems. Her research group ultimately aims to establish the relationship between organized hierarchical structure and mechanical properties, including the investigation of how these studies will be employed to design new biologically inspired materials technologies.
Hazel Sive, Ph.D.
Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research; Professor of Biology; Associate Dean for the School of Science
Professor Hazel Sive studies embryonic development of the craniofacial region and development of brain structure. Her group additionally addresses the function of genes associated with human mental health disorders, including schizophrenia and autism. Sive is the first associate dean for the School of Science, where a major focus of her effort is on increasing diversity.
Marcus Thompson, D.M.A.
Robert R. Taylor Professor of Music, Head Boston Chamber Music Society
Professor Marcus Thompson heads programs in chamber music and performance studies at MIT. A violist, he has appeared as soloist, recitalist and in chamber music series throughout the Americas, Europe and the Far East. Thompson is a member of the viola faculty at New England Conservatory of Music and a violist of the Boston Chamber Music Society.
Ex-Officio Race Initiative Members
Wesley L. Harris, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Faculty Equity; Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics
Professor Wesley Harris is a former NASA associate administrator for aeronautics responsible for all aeronautics programs, facilities and personnel. An MIT faculty member since 1973, he directs the Lean Sustainment Initiative within the MIT Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, in addition to his duties as department head. A member of National Academy of Engineering, Harris has long been involved in diversity efforts and formerly served as the director of MIT’s Office of Minority Education. He is an elected fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Helicopter Society and the National Technical Association, in recognition of his achievements in engineering, engineering education, management and advancing cultural diversity.
Barbara Liskov, Ph.D.
Institute Professor and Associate Provost for Faculty Equity
Professor Barbara Liskov is a member of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and formerly served as associate department head for computer science. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the ACM. She received the ACM Turing Award in 2009, the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Language Achievement Award in 2008, the IEEE Von Neumann medal in 2004, a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Women Engineers in 1996, and in 2003 was named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover magazine. Her research interests include distributed systems, replication algorithms to provide fault-tolerance, programming methodology and programming languages.
Race Initiative Research Team
Mandy Smith Ryan, Ph.D.
Dr. Mandy Smith Ryan, formerly an evaluation specialist in the Institutional Research group in the Office of the Provost at MIT, served as the quantitative analyst on the project. Smith Ryan received her Ph.D. in social and developmental psychology from Brandeis University, as well as a joint master’s in psychology and women’s studies from Brandeis, and a B.A. from New Mexico State University. Her dissertation investigated the concordance in reported condom use among romantic dating couples. Her previous projects include the Task Group on Financing of Graduate Students and the Task Group on Medical Care at MIT, and an evaluation of an alcohol-use intervention among first-year students. She recently relocated to New York City and is now employed by the City of New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as part of the Primary Care Information Project evaluation team.
Carol Wright, Ph.D.
Dr. Carol Wright holds a doctorate degree in educational policy studies, 2006, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a minor in sociology. She completed her dissertation on “The Experiences of Black Middle Class Students at Two Small Liberal Arts Campuses: A Critical Inquiry,” in which she executed an in-depth study involving multiple one-on-one interviews. She was also a postdoctoral fellow at TERC, conducting research and writing in cooperation with senior members of the TERC staff. TERC is a nonprofit education research and development organization dedicated to improving mathematics, science, and technology teaching and learning.
Siomara Valladares, Ph.D.
Dr. Siomara Valladares has a doctorate degree in education, higher education and organizational change from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation explored the tenure experiences of a sample of faculty of color within the University of California system to inform theory, policy, and institutional practice on the recruitment and retention of faculty of color. She was also a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC/ACCORD).
Research Team Consultants
Sharon Fries-Britt, Ph.D.
Dr. Sharon Fries-Britt is an associate professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on high-achieving minority collegians. A research consultant for the National Society of Black and Hispanic Physicists, she studies minorities in science. She was a CO-PI 2004-2006 on a grant to study race, equity and diversity in the 23 southern and border states, funded by the Lumina Foundation. She is an independent consultant on issues of race, equity and diversity.
Clarence Williams, Ph.D.
Dr. Clarence Williams has served MIT in the past as special assistant to the president, ombudsman and adjunct professor of urban studies and planning. His book, Technology and the Dream, documents (through oral histories) the experiences of Blacks at MIT, including students, faculty and staff. He is now an independent consultant residing in North Carolina.
Technical Advisory Board
Joshua Angrist, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Economics
Dr. Joshua Angrist is a professor of economics at MIT and a research associate in the NBER’s programs on Children, Education and Labor Studies. A dual U.S. and Israeli citizen, he taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before coming to MIT. Angrist received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1982 and also spent time as an undergraduate studying at the London School of Economics and as a master’s student at Hebrew University. He completed his Ph.D. in economics at Princeton in 1989. His first academic job was as an assistant professor at Harvard from 1989-91. Angrist’s research interests include the effects of school inputs and school organization on student achievement; the impact of education and social programs on the labor market; the effects of immigration, labor market regulation and institutions; and econometric methods for program and policy evaluation.
John Carroll, Ph.D.
Morris A. Adelman Professor of Management; Professor of Behavioral and Policy Sciences
and Engineering Systems
Professor John S. Carroll received a B.S. in physics from MIT and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard. He taught in the psychology departments of Carnegie Mellon University and Loyola University of Chicago and was a visiting associate professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business prior to joining the MIT Sloan faculty in 1983. Carroll has published four books and numerous articles in several areas of social and organizational psychology. Much of his research has focused on individual and group decision-making; the relationship between cognition and behavior in organizational contexts; and the processes that link individual, group and organizational learning. Carroll is a fellow of the American Psychological Society.
Susan Silbey, Ph.D.
Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities; Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
Dr. Susan Silbey is the Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities and a professor of sociology and anthropology. She is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships (2009) and the Harry Kalven Jr. Prize for advancing the sociology of law (2009). Her current research looks at the roles and conceptions of law in scientific laboratories, comparing the place of law in expert communities and popular culture, with special attention to the ways in which complex technological organizations observe and govern themselves. She is also supervising an experiment in ethnographic fieldwork on the development of new safety regimes in research labs. In addition, she is completing a six-year longitudinal study of engineering education, following a cohort of students through four different engineering schools.
Advisory Board Members
Evelynn M. Hammonds, Ph.D. (S.M., MIT ’80)
Chair, Advisory Board, Initiative on Faculty Race & Diversity
Dean of Harvard College; Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African American Studies
A former MIT faculty member, Dean Hammonds’ current work focuses on the history of the intersection of scientific, medical and socio-political concepts of race in the United States.
Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Ph.D.
University Regents and Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematics and Statistics; Executive Director of Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MBTI) / Institute for Strengthening the Understanding of Mathematics and Science and the Mathematics Science Honors Program (MSHP), Arizona State University
Recognized as one of the most prominent mathematicians in the country, Dr. Castillo-Chavez has dedicated much of his time to enhancing the level of participation and opportunities for U.S. students, particularly underrepresented minorities, in the fields of math and science.
Thomas DeFrantz, Ph.D.
Professor of Theater Arts, MIT; Director, MIT Program in Women’s and Gender Studies; Director, SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology @ MIT
Professor DeFrantz’s area of expertise is the performed African American arts, and he has published widely in the areas of dance and performance studies. He teaches undergraduate courses in theater arts and comparative media studies and has spearheaded the seven-member faculty team that will offer “Centering Africa in Diaspora: Introduction to Black Studies” at MIT. He convenes the MIT Minority Faculty group.
James Gates Jr. (B.S. ’73, Ph.D., MIT ’77)
J. S. Toll Physics Professor & Director of Center for String & Particle Theory, University of Maryland
Dr. Gates’ research has made notable contributions to theoretical high-energy physics. He has published widely and has received national and international recognition for his work on supersymmetric theories. In 1984, after resigning his MIT faculty appointment, Dr. Gates moved to Maryland.
Stephen M. King, Ph.D.
Consultant, Multi-Cultural Engineering Education Systems
Dr. Stephen M. King is an independent consultant operating as Multi-Cultural Engineering Education Systems (MEES) and specializes in developing corporate-academic partnerships for building significantly more diversity in the academic pipeline for engineering and related careers. Currently the director for the Center for Women & Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), King is also on advisory boards for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
Shirley Malcom, Ph.D.
Head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
A zoologist and ecologist by training, Dr. Shirley Malcom received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 2003, the highest award given by the academy. Malcom has authored and co-authored a number of landmark publications, including the 1998 report Losing Ground: Science and Engineering Graduate Education of Black and Hispanic Americans, which pointed to an “unwelcoming environment” for underrepresented minority graduate students as a result of policy changes affecting minority education. Her current work is aimed at improving the quality of science education, increasing participation of underrepresented groups in the sciences, and raising public understanding of science and technology.
Samuel Myers Jr. (Ph.D., MIT ’76)
Chair, Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice, University of Minnesota
Dr. Sam Myers specializes in the impacts of social policies on the poor. He pioneered the use of applied econometric techniques to examine racial disparities and is the co-author of the study “Faculty of Color: Bittersweet Stories of Success,” about faculty at Midwest universities.
Paula Olsiewski (Ph.D., MIT ’79, MIT Corporation Member)
Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Dr. Paula Olsiewski currently directs the bioterrorism program and the indoor environment program for the Sloan Foundation. She was the first alumna to serve as president of the MIT Alumni/ae Association.
Willie Pearson Jr., Ph.D.
Professor, History, Technology and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Willie Pearson is nationally recognized as a leading scholar in the sociology of science. His work has focused on the career experiences and patterns of Ph.D. scientists; human resources issues in science and engineering; and science policy.
Linda Sharpe (MIT ’69, MIT Corporation Member)
Senior Associate for Booz-Allen-Hamilton, Inc.
Linda Sharpe was the first African American woman to serve as president of the MIT Alumni/ae Association.
Abigail Stewart, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies; Director of the ADVANCE Program at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan
Dr. Abigail Stewart’s current research centers on the study of race, gender and generation. Her work with the ADVANCE Program is dedicated to promoting institutional transformation with respect to women faculty in the science and engineering fields.
Richard A. Tapia, Ph.D.
University Professor, Maxfield-Oshman Chair in Engineering, and Director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education, Rice University
Dr. Richard Tapia is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences. He is a national leader in education and outreach programs.
Lydia Villa-Komaroff (Ph.D., MIT ’75)
Chief Executive Officer of Cytonome
Named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics in America” by Hispanic Business Magazine, Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff has held faculty and administrative positions at MIT, including vice president for research at the Whitehead Institute, Harvard, the University of Massachusetts and Northwestern University. She has served on review and advisory committees for NIH, NSF, NAS, IOM and AAAS.
Summary Notes of Academic Deans’ Discussions
with Members of Race Initiative for Each School
Members of the Initiative Committee met with each of the five academic deans at MIT to discuss individual school policies and efforts on diversity. During the meetings, each of the deans was asked about the following:
- What efforts, programs or initiatives have been implemented by the school to address minority faculty hiring?
- What efforts exist within individual departments?
- How is success measured with these efforts?
- Have the efforts been successful – why or why not?
- Are there informal efforts made with respect to minority diversity?
- Are there programs or resources available for increasing graduate student enrollment or postdoctoral scholars?
- What resources would be helpful?
In many cases, associate and deputy deans and other school staff were present at these meetings. Summary notes of the meetings are provided below.
School of Architecture and Planning
December 18, 2008
Adèle Naudé Santos, Dean
Mark Jarzombek, Associate Dean
Caroline Jones, Professor of Art History and Chair, SA+P Diversity Committee
Robbin Chapman, SA+P Manager of Diversity Recruiting
Provost Race Initiative Committee: Paula Hammond, Marcus Thompson, Les Norford
Dean Santos began by noting that SA+P is the only MIT school with a full-time position for minority recruitment, currently occupied by Dr. Robbin Chapman. At this time, the position is self-funded by the school, and Santos recommended that every school should have such a position. Chapman distributed copies of PowerPoint slides with school statistics about women and minorities, faculty search committee support, school diversity committee structures, administrative support of diversity efforts, a diversity roundtable that offers lunch-time discussion sessions, and diversity snapshots on school plasma displays.
Chapman’s statistics show that 23% of school faculty are women. URMs have been at 6% since 1997. She explained that these statistics for women and minorities exclude lecturers and professors of the practice. It was noted that the school uses many lecturers and that SA+P might account for them in a category separate from tenure-track faculty.
The school has used both formal and informal visits from minority scholars as a means of increasing diversity within the department. Chapman asserted that the MIT brand can sometimes be a drawback when recruiting minorities, who feel they won’t be valued. Chapman encourages minorities to make informal visits not associated with a search, to give a talk and to visit MIT and Boston. Jones and Santos noted that a minority landscape architect made a strong contribution to recent M.Arch. thesis reviews and has been approached as a candidate for an MLK position.
There are few minorities in the practice, in academia and in the pipeline. A recent conference, Architecture Race Academe (http://architecture.mit.edu/ara/), which was sponsored by Architecture Professor Mark Jarzombek with alumnus Darian Hendricks ’89, was meant in part to generate a means of contacting and interacting with minorities in architecture or those supportive of efforts to increase diversity in MIT’s Department of Architecture.
It was pointed out that, in general, recruiting efforts need to be broadened. Yung Ho Chang, head of the Department of Architecture, attended the recent conference of the National Organization of Minority Architects. With the help of a distinguished minority architect and department alumnus who is being appointed as a professor of the practice, Chang met senior faculty from several HBCU architecture schools who may serve as critical contacts to minority candidates. Jones suggested that faculty searches be clustered, such that two to three positions are advertised at the same time. She noted that the Media Lab used this approach successfully to yield a more diverse set of faculty hires in recent years. Chapman advocated the generation of multiple short lists for a single search, with each list emphasizing separate criteria (e.g., teaching, publications), then taking the top candidates from each list before trimming to a single list. She noted that the University of Maryland has used this kind of approach.
Chapman described her lunch-time diversity roundtable sessions, which provide an opportunity to discuss issues of diversity in an open context. These sessions, which include practice dialogues, typically attract seven to 13 attendees with comparable numbers of faculty, staff and students. Chapman has trained staff at MIT Sloan, which now runs its own series. She also described the diversity snapshots that appear on SA+P video monitors; these snapshots give a short and personable first-person bio of faculty of all backgrounds, inviting others to appreciate the breadth of experiences present on the faculty. Chapman noted that dorms and MIT Human Resources have shown interest in this idea.
On the topic of promotion and retention, it was noted that SA+P mentoring efforts vary by department. The Media Lab started a formal mentoring program in Fall 2008 for all junior faculty. Architecture has a long-standing mentoring program, including annual visits with the department head as well as matching junior faculty with senior faculty mentors. The culture in DUSP can make mentoring a challenge, because junior faculty are encouraged to “strike off” on their own; however, DUSP has more minority students and faculty than its sister departments and there may be a perceived, lesser need to do more in the area of mentoring. Jones described the difference between a mentor and evaluator, and that a mentor’s role should include advocacy. She identified a need for informal advice, as is provided in her discipline group. Jones concluded the meeting by noting that the SA+P Diversity Committee addresses diversity issues regarding both women and URMs.
School of Engineering
September 30, 2009
Subra Suresh, Dean
Cynthia Barnhart, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Donna Savicki, Assistant Dean for Administration
Provost Race Initiative Committee: Paula Hammond, Leslie Norford
Paula Hammond began the meeting by discussing major findings of the Race Initiative, noting differences in AWOT promotion statistics for minority and non-minority faculty; the need for consistently excellent mentoring of all junior faculty; opportunities for more effective recruitment of minority faculty; a climate at MIT that in many cases makes it difficult to discuss diversity issues; and different views as to whether inclusion and excellence are mutually supportive or mutually exclusive. Donna Savicki noted that it is important to be precise about defining minorities, given questions about such issues as country of birth and possible differences between definitions used by the federal government and the Race Initiative. (Hammond explained that the Initiative has been using the broader definition used by MIT for its study, but has also kept track of the URM numbers based on nationality.) Subra Suresh asked about the national average for URM faculty, given the lack of a common understanding of what is meant by the term “underrepresented minority.”
Last year, the School of Engineering (SoE) actually hired more women faculty than men for the first time: in all, seven men and 10 women, the highest number of women faculty ever hired in a single year by the SoE. The previous recruiting year yielded four URM hires, the highest number of URM faculty ever hired in a single year by the SoE. In summary, over the past two years, the SoE had five URM hires and 10 women hires.
Over the last two years, the SoE has introduced several key elements into the recruiting process that add flexibility to recruitment and hiring, and thus enable the hiring of a more diverse group of faculty. These include: 1) Associate Dean Cindy Barnhart chairs the school’s Faculty Search Diversity Committee (FSCD), made up of the chairs of each of the school’s faculty searches. The committee meets regularly during the recruiting season (from November through May); information about specific candidates is shared at the meeting, in part because some applicants apply to more than one search. Before interviews begin, interview lists are sent to the FSCD chair, along with the names and application materials of women and minorities who do not make the short list of candidates to be interviewed. Virtually all MIT-caliber women and URM candidates are interviewed. If the fit with the interviewing department is not right but another department’s search represents a better fit, coordination between the search chairs occurs to place the woman/minority applicant in the search that represents the best fit. 2) The dean retains a few slots that can be used judiciously in the hire of a woman or a URM who is in the top list of candidates for a department, particularly when the lack of slots is at issue for the hire. This capability to offer a slot creates added benefit for the department and the school. 3) The ability of the dean and department heads to negotiate and offer competitive packages has helped in finalizing acceptances of offers to URM and women faculty. 4) A few slots are designated each year for school-wide searches that can be single or dual appointments. The introduction of a few such searches each year makes it possible to identify the best fit among all SoE departments. In the last recruiting year, four slots were allocated for school-wide searches in areas of interest to many departments, namely energy, transportation, computational engineering and green technologies. One search may result in an interdepartmental appointment, or even an inter-school dual appointment, shared between Engineering and any other school at MIT. The ability to hold some slots aside for school-wide searches makes it easier to find a fit for women and URM faculty in the appropriate department, particularly given the range of interdisciplinary areas of research that engage faculty. SoE is unique at MIT in its ability to conduct school-wide searches, because the school controls all vacant slots (a practice in place since 1996), rather than departments, labs and centers (DLCs). Engineering also benefits by its size and the number of hires, 35 in the last two years.
The strong role of the dean’s office in assigning slots, and thus in recruiting and retaining faculty, requires delicate control and balance with the needs within departments and/or the presence of another bureaucratic layer. It has also made it possible for faculty at any career stage to move from one unit to another, or to split time between two units, which improves retention in the long run. Faculty need only make a case and obtain the permission of the head of the receiving unit in order to seek the approval of the dean to move to another departmental unit. Further, faculty hired with dual appointments now need only one of their department/division heads to bring the promotion or tenure case to Engineering Council, whereas previously, both units had to approve. Now, a single unit in favor can bring the case to Engineering Council. If the case is brought forward by only one of the unit heads and it is successful, the promoted faculty member switches to full time in the supporting unit.
Hammond expressed some concerns about the mentoring of dual appointees and the difficulty for junior faculty to successfully meet the needs, or requirements, of two departments at once — including increased duties with regard to faculty meetings, admissions and search committees, and other departmental functions — and their impact on pre-tenure faculty. In response, Suresh noted that such junior faculty can move at any time with the new policies recently put in place, undoing the dual appointment if necessary.
Each of the engineering departments has cultivated its own approaches to mentoring practices with regard to junior faculty. Barnhart explained that SoE has created a new mentoring policy for departments that was introduced in the 2008-2009 academic year. This policy suggests that departments set up a mentoring committee consisting of three mentors in a junior faculty member’s research field, and recommends the committee conduct annual reviews on the junior faculty member’s progress. The mentoring committee members can be drawn from different units, and even different schools, but the chairs are typically drawn from the junior faculty’s unit. Following the annual review, the committee must convey to the unit head(s) a summary of the advice provided to the junior faculty. The full policy was sent to Hammond and Leslie Norford after the meeting.
There are significant variations among departments in the execution of mentoring. Suresh mentioned that in DMSE, for example, mentoring committees have annual reviews with junior faculty members and report back to a given division of the department; this committee also serves as an evaluation committee in recommendations for promotion and tenure. Hammond noted that in chemical engineering, two or three mentors are assigned from within the department by the chair and these mentors meet periodically with the junior faculty during the year to provide suggestions, offer advice and help junior faculty in other ways such as setting up invited talks at peer institutions or recommending grant or other opportunities. These mentors give an annual presentation to all of the senior faculty members, followed by an open discussion on progress, advice and strategies to convey to the junior faculty members. Barnhart noted that some departments have separate mentoring and evaluation committees, while in smaller departments all senior faculty may serve as an evaluation committee. Conflicts may exist if mentoring and evaluation duties overlap.
There was brief discussion of mentoring beyond tenure. DMSE has an awards committee and SoE provides school-level attention. Suresh noted that it is helpful for those appointed as department heads to have recognition from their own fields, because such recognition makes it possible for them to nominate others for similar honors.
Suresh described SoE efforts in support of minority students, including his meeting with minority student organizations and the Graduate Student Council, as well as SoE’s working with the MITES program. He also explained that if an SoE faculty member identifies an outstanding URM postdoc but doesn’t have funds to support the postdoc, the faculty member may apply to the dean’s office for help. Suresh concluded the meeting by noting that SoE benefits from funding associated with MIT’s international programs and that such programs provide new sources of research funding that could potentially be important or meaningful for minority faculty.
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Monday, December 15
SHASS Faculty Equity Committee
Deborah Fitzgerald, SHASS Dean
Kai von Fintel, SHASS Associate Dean
Marc Jones, Assistant Dean (Finance and Administration)
Susan Mannett, Director of Human Resources SHASS
Sally Haslanger, Professor of Philosophy, Equity Committee
Marcus Thompson, Professor of Music, Equity Committee
Provost Race Initiative Committee: Paula Hammond, Marcus Thompson
The meeting began with general discussion initiated when Paula Hammond asked about SHASS procedures for addressing the recruitment of underrepresented minorities (URMs) and women. Marcus Thompson (representing SHASS) described search oversight procedures begun under previous Dean Philip S. Khoury. The SHASS Equal Opportunity Committee (EOC) was created as Dean Khoury’s response to former Provost Robert A. Brown’s directive to have a woman and URM on every departmental search committee. In the clear absence of numbers to fit that purpose, Khoury reconstituted the EOC to have school-wide scrutiny of each search and hire based on specific Institute-wide guidelines. The committee consisted of four faculty and four members of the SHASS administration and was to be headed by a faculty member. Each search began with the filing of a formal “Request to Search” that detailed how the search would be conducted. Each filing was scrutinized by the committee for the breadth of the position description, where it was advertised and the lists of proposed professional contacts (individuals, conferences and institutional). When approved by the EOC, the dean allowed the search to proceed. At the conclusion of the search, and before hiring could proceed, the departments were required to file a “Request to Hire” in which all the procedures approved for the search were compared with those actually used and resumes of the finalists. In addition, lists of all women and URM candidates were examined. When minorities and women were among the top finalists but not selected, a detailed explanation was required. Dean Khoury and Thompson (as EOC chair) would also privately visit with department heads in their offices to discuss issues, Institute initiatives and progress within a unit, or lack thereof.
Shortly after beginning her appointment, Dean Fitzgerald revised the oversight procedure, appointed herself as head of a new Faculty Equity Committee and kept the basic filing requirements intact. She reappointed Thompson from the previous Equal Opportunity Committee and added Professor Haslanger, who had chaired the SHASS Gender Equity committee, to create a three- to four-person Faculty Equity Committee. Dean Fitzgerald is also supported by members of her staff as listed above.
Members of the SHASS Faculty Equity Committee described newly installed search procedures that Dean Fitzgerald created to re-energize the process and to communicate to departments the depth of her commitment to faculty diversity. The first of these efforts was to appoint herself as head of the Equity Committee. The second was to require department heads and search committees to meet with her and the equity committee — prior to the start of a search — for a mini-seminar to discuss her expectations. The seminars included a slide presentation about schemas and hidden biases adapted by Professor Haslanger (from UMich ADVANCE effort, and further modified by MIT Sloan School Deputy Dean JoAnne Yates and Associate Provost Barbara Liskov), intended to inform all participants in a search to the shared potential for unintended biases. Following the slide presentation, meetings often included discussion about Institute initiatives for senior women or URMs, such as Target of Opportunity and MLK, as additional means of achieving diversity beyond the search process. The topic of who appropriately falls within the MIT definitions for URMs and eligibility often reveals confusion about how to proceed with diverse candidates.
The effectiveness of the new face-to-face strategy — and how it has been received and/or resisted — was considered, along with the need for a more flexible and thoughtful approach for each department. The dean pointed out that, as part of the new guidelines, a second meeting with each head and/or committee is scheduled, after folders are read and before candidates are invited, to talk about the reasons for exclusion of candidates early in the process. This may result in reversals of decisions and conveys the strong message that the process is under constant review. There are still places, however, such as a search for a native speaker of a particular language, etc., that may, by their nature, exclude URMs.
In the case of one department in which there was active resistance by its representative and negative consequences as a result of the seminar, it was possible to see ways in which the dean and the committee learned from the encounter by adapting a strategy and approach that may be more productive in the future. Thus, the learning in these encounters can go both ways.
Professor Haslanger spoke about the need for finding allies for diversity beyond women and URMs, whose advocacy for diversity is often more readily accepted among skeptics and resisters. The subject of retention and mentoring was deferred for another time, and was later taken up at a Fall SHASS School Council meeting discussing the recommendations for mentoring from the Initiative Committee, which took place in November 2009.
School of Science
January 9, 2009
Marc Kastner, Dean
Hazel Sive, Associate Dean
Provost Race Initiative Committee: Paula Hammond, Hazel Sive
The meeting began with a statement from Dean Marc Kastner regarding the fact that he has experienced enormous good will across the School of Science with regard to increasing the numbers of minority students and faculty. He considers this high level of commitment to be essential to increasing the numbers of underrepresented minorities in the undergraduate- and graduate-level and faculty positions.
With regard to faculty recruiting, Kastner explained that the communities are extremely variable in the School of Science depending on field, and – depending on the department or area – search committees may try to identify new candidates from the applicant pool (as is the case for biology), or may recruit from a fairly well-known pool (often the case for physics, math, EAPS). In either case, it can be difficult to generate a list of potential candidates. Part of this difficulty is due to the fact that science departments never recruit directly out of the Ph.D. graduate pool; typically, a faculty candidate has had one or two postdoctoral appointments. This means that a Ph.D. candidate or recent graduate may be as many as six years away from the point of hire, and it is likely that there is a smaller fraction of URMs in the postdoc pool than the graduate student pool, especially in certain fields, such as math. It is difficult to determine the fraction of candidates in the pool of faculty candidates who are URM, because there are no reliable data on the composition of the postdoc pool. The lack of a broad accounting mechanism that might enable information sharing and greater accounting of faculty candidates makes recruitment of minority candidates difficult.
Kastner also noted that, in certain fields, any candidate who is hired is likely to have had his/her previous work known years earlier, and is often a person who has already been significantly recognized in the field, even as a postdoc. Often such candidates come from a relatively small set of well-established research groups around the world for a given area. This means that the few highly recognized URM candidates are well known to all in the field, however, and are heavily recruited by the leading research universities. Kastner noted that in the life sciences and chemistry this is somewhat less of an issue, but it still remains quite difficult to round up candidates.
In order to improve identification of candidates who will increase diversity, the School of Science has implemented several procedures during faculty searches. Prior to the start of the search, search chairs report to the dean the work done to identify potential candidates who are female or URM. Chairs discuss with the associate dean strategies to ensure that folders are carefully read to identify all qualified candidates. A faculty representative from a relevant department, who is a member of the Faculty Search Oversight Committee, further examines folders of female and URM candidates not on the initial short list of invitees. This may identify additional candidates who fit the search criterion, as well as those who do not but may fit another search at MIT.
It was noted that academic studies and studies by professional societies find that some of the best students in science do not find academia an attractive career path; often students are lost to other disciplines following the science undergraduate degree, including law, finance, management consulting, etc. Since the latter fields heavily recruit outstanding URM students, it is likely that this reduces the URM fraction in the graduate student pool. This loss in the pipeline is something that might be counteracted somewhat through seminars or workshops for students about scientific research careers and academic futures; however, some fields of academic science require a great deal of personal sacrifice because research funding is scarce and the competition for faculty positions at research universities is fierce. Fields such as physics, math and earth science have become less appealing over the past decades.
Kastner also noted that effective tracking of MIT undergraduates could be useful in nurturing and increasing our own Ph.D.s, and that targeting schools and making connections between our faculty and those at specific schools may help as well. Hazel Sive mentioned that the recruitment and mentoring of students over a five- to 10-year time scale may be necessary to yield results. The use of resources to hire a person focused on recruiting issues at the graduate level, and perhaps the faculty level, was discussed. The example of a full-time hire in the Department of Biology to address URM graduate student recruitment was brought up. Kastner emphasized that, along with hiring such individuals, departments or schools need to learn how to best use such personnel while still maintaining the much-needed faculty voice and contact in engaging prospective URM students/candidates. The URM recruiter in biology is now also recruiting for BCS. In the School of Science it would not be possible to have a single recruiter because the sources of students who are recruited for graduate school in the life sciences are different from those who could be recruited for math or physics.
Discussion also included the Pappalardo Fellows, a postdoctoral fellowship program in the Department of Physics. The program traditionally appoints three new fellows per academic year, each for a three-year fellowship term. Fellows are selected through an annual competition for which candidates cannot directly apply, but must be nominated by a faculty member or senior researcher within the international community of physics, astronomy or related fields. This program quickly became one of the most prestigious postdoctoral programs in the field. Although the program does not specifically target URM or women, it has been able to attract top scholars that include a relatively sizable number of women. Over the past few years, the fellows program led to five MIT faculty hires, two of whom are women. Kastner notes that a strength of this program is that it does not specify diversity as a part of its target, but it is extremely effective in bringing women to MIT who might not otherwise come to campus. The interview process is a key component of the selection process, which may also broaden the pool of fellows as it enables a broader range of experiences and backgrounds to be considered via direct contact with the candidate, compared to those that are evident in the paper application. In addition, the program hires three or four fellows per year, enabling the selection of a broader group that fit the criteria. Some of the women hired have turned out to be the best faculty candidates a few years later. Unfortunately, there have been no qualified URM candidates nominated for the Pappalardo Fellows program.
There are initiatives in several of the School of Science departments that are making significant progress toward increasing diversity with respect to race and gender. The dean indicated that in some departments, such as math, a tractable challenge seems to be the recruitment of female faculty, whereas the recruitment of minority faculty may need to wait until the pipeline has been increased at the graduate and postdoc level.
A URM strategic group focused on graduate student issues has been formed and is chaired by Associate Dean Hazel Sive. This group includes representatives from all departments and has made multiple strong recommendations regarding URM representation in the school. The overriding recommendation is that emphasis should be placed on recruitment and retention of minority graduate students. URM graduate student recruitment efforts in all SoS departments are receiving strong attention. For example, the Department of Biology has vastly increased URM graduate enrollment through recruitment from a wider pool of schools. Biology also draws candidates from the MSRP (MIT Summer Research Program), and students from this pool generally go on to top-tier graduate or medical schools.
Other efforts to increase the URM graduate pool include setting up post-baccalaureate bridge programs in the fields of physics and biology for URM undergraduates who may not have had the appropriate preparation to attend graduate school at MIT or other top-tier schools. The SoS also sets aside funding for URM graduate students, guaranteeing three full years of funding: one year of funding is provided by the dean of science, one by the dean of graduate education and one by the department. The dean of science will also fund any qualified URM postdoctoral fellow.
With regard to retention, Kastner stated that every department has its own formal mentoring program, with some input from Sive as associate dean to ensure junior faculty understand expectations for promotion and to support the individual faculty member. The SoS initiated and is sponsoring discussions concerning hidden bias, run by Professors Sally Haslanger and Tommy DeFrantz, for all faculty in each of the departments. These discussions are designed to improve awareness of bias issues and could improve departmental climate, recruitment and retention efforts.
Kastner noted the Department of Physics is among the top 10 schools granting Ph.D.s in physics to URM students; development of the pipeline should increase the pool of faculty candidates in the long term. The department head of chemistry initiated, organized and co-sponsored a “Future Faculty” workshop for URM graduate students and postdocs, with sponsorship and faculty participation from the MIT Departments of Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, along with Carnegie Mellon and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to prepare students for an academic track.
MIT Sloan School of Management
December 12, 2008
David Schmittlein, Dean
JoAnne Yates, Deputy Dean for Programs
Robert Freund, Deputy Dean for Faculty
Provost Race Initiative Committee: Lotte Bailyn, Leslie Norford
The meeting began with a discussion of the definition of minority. It was clear from the discussion that there were concerns or questions about who counts as an underrepresented minority, self-identification, etc. The discussion then moved to recruiting efforts.
Dean Schmittlein explained that the strategy employed at MIT Sloan has been to recruit URM and women senior faculty. This was advocated because MIT Sloan was the only school that had never made a senior female appointment in its history. The school had tried to address this issue by recruiting senior faculty one at a time, only to be turned down at the point of offer; as an alternative approach, JoAnne Yates recommended seeking multiple appointments. This approach was further motivated by attempts to retain a current senior woman who asked for senior colleagues in her field. These considerations led the previous deputy dean for faculty to approve eight senior target of opportunity appointments. This experience and the results of the consequent hiring are described more fully in Section G.
Dean Schmittlein gave examples of minority faculty who had made significant and substantive improvements into areas of marketing research in a unique manner which he did not think a white man would necessarily have done – hence he sees some connection between diversity and excellence.
The dean noted that there are risks involved in hiring minority faculty and expressed frustration around the retention of minority faculty. When cases end badly, there is a real concern for many people. Senior hires lower this particular risk and also provide mentors for junior women and minorities. With regard to gender differences, it was noted that URM men may be better able to protect their time from excessive committee work and other duties than women, who can be at risk to fill stylized gender roles.
The deans have reached out to their group heads, who understand the need to increase diversity. Yates has given presentations to search committee chairs about implicit bias and other issues, which she feels may have done some good.
On the retention side, MIT Sloan has a formal mentoring system but has also made an attempt to provide non-field informal mentoring. The dean is aware of the need to be sure that people are comfortable in the environment, and that this can be problematic for minorities (and women); the school is discussing these issues with candidates they are recruiting. MIT Sloan does not have a system for the deputy dean for faculty to meet with each junior faculty member on a regular basis, hence official feedback comes primarily at review times. The general impression was that there are clear advantages to having deputy deans who can focus on and understand the issues at hand.
Summary of Minority Faculty Forums
The minority faculty forums (MFFs) were set up as informal and open discussions with small groups of minority faculty. Each forum was attended by two or more faculty members of the Initiative Committee. The MFFs were held in 2008 on 1) February 20, 2) February 28, 3) March 12, and 4) April 7; in the notes below, they are referred to as MFF #1 through #4, numbered chronologically. It should be noted that the April 7 meeting was added to the original schedule to accommodate requests from junior faculty who could not make the other dates. The brief notes below are meant to capture key points of discussion during the forums and are not attempts to record complete minutes of these informal, open discussions. The comments from the minority faculty greatly contributed to the understanding of key issues to address at MIT and also helped shape some aspects of the research component. The meetings were established to enable discussion with groups of junior and senior faculty as listed below; they are summarized in the sequence shown below as well:
Junior and Senior Faculty:
MFF #1 held on February 20, 2008 from 8 to 10 a.m.
MFF #2 held on February 28, 2008 from noon to 2 p.m.
MFF #4 held on April 7, 2008 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
MFF #3 held on March 12 from 8 to 10 a.m.
The notes below are a listing of topics covered, as well as the major points made and further elaborated on during the forums, used here as a means to convey significant issues and ideas. They are not meant to be comprehensive minutes of these discussions.
URM attendance: 2 senior faculty, 2 junior faculty:
This forum was attended by two senior minority faculty members and two junior ones, as well as three members of the Initiative Committee (one of whom was also a senior minority faculty member). For this reason, the discussion touched on topics key to both tenured and untenured faculty, and included exchange about means of supporting untenured faculty.
- Concerns raised about access to the system – the MIT academic infrastructure, how to get funding, the appropriate resources or space, students, etc. – these things are critical. It is often not clear how to become engaged in and gain access to these things, nor is it clearly understood early in junior faculty years that these kinds of problems and issues must be addressed soon to be effective.
- Mixed messages of tenure – quantity versus quality of things such as publications, funding, etc. – are prevalent. The degree of importance of each aspect is not made clear in the beginning, and the issue of quality can be much harder to discuss and define.
- Concerns around insider issues – is information about tenure and academic success shared equally among faculty?
- Discussion around research problem choice – what if a faculty member is in a nontraditional area or picks research topics that address more service to the community/(local or global) than what is viewed as “pure science/technological achievement?”
- Negative vibe from faculty
- Feeling that MIT does not “do” social justice, equity or related issues
- Little or no resources for exploring these kinds of problems at MIT — why? Why not, e.g., cancer in Harlem?
- If problem choice is not connected to areas of good funding, fewer papers result for what in many respects may be tremendous work.
- Result is less physical space and resources, less respect from peers, lower priority in department.
- MIT could market people and projects that contribute to key global and societal issues rather than burying them.
- Uneven or inconsistent access to information – how to get around the Institute, make a case for success:
- Inefficiency of the Institute in providing models and better examples of routes to success, lack of sharing of key information within departments and schools.
- e.g. — How to get allies and advocates on campus and in research community? Whom to try to avoid with regard to political riffs or issues? How to form mentoring relationships and manage them?
- It is often not shared that there are things you do and things you don’t spend as much time on (or at least don’t get rewarded or recognized for):
- e.g., advising — including additional advising UG’s of color or women outside of the normal assigned advising duties
- Problem choice and how you are rewarded for it
- There are only a few models for gaining tenure and a thousand ways to lose your chances at it. Is there a way of dealing with some of the reasons why people don’t get tenure? Can we better understand losses as well as successes? Senior minority faculty can help in addressing some of these mentoring and information issues.
- Data one should be collecting as part of the study:
- Monitor the turnover and attrition rates (related and not related to tenure)
- Who left and why did they leave?
URM attendance: 8 junior faculty
This forum was advertised as a junior faculty forum, and six to eight junior URM faculty were present at the forum at any given time during the course of the meeting, along with three members of the Initiative Committee (all of whom were also members of the minority faculty). In general, the junior faculty were highly energized and expressed a strong interest in graduate student recruitment of minority students to MIT as well as increasing the pipeline.
On Grad Recruiting
- Several key questions were asked and discussed regarding graduate student recruiting (note: faculty showed very strong interest in this topic, in particular):
- How can we have a larger effect on the numbers of minority grad students?
- MIT should exhibit leadership and be at the forefront of the charge for diversity in elite institutions and institutions of science/engineering.
- Recruiting of grad students, if done in a serious manner, requires real manpower — who is going to do the work? Who will pay to ensure the work is done? Resources and committed person/hours are needed.
- There is fertile ground for recruiting at conferences like NSBE, Black Physicists, etc.
- Programs like (Graduate Student Office’s) Converge to bring in potential candidates for a visit beforehand — is it effective? Can we begin to grow our own future faculty?
- Seems that for grad student recruiting there is an aversion among fellow faculty members/departments to really act on bringing in students of color as long as we are rated as good as or better than our peers.
- Note that established white male colleagues often step out of the kind of work needed for recruiting students/faculty of color in favor of other academic or management pursuits in the department. This leaves additional work for minority faculty.
- How to get graduate school applicants of high quality — fellowships, scholars programs, etc. like PPIA, Ford Fellows.
- MIT can take a leadership role by tapping into large pockets of talent at other schools.
- Communications network for identifying URM students/faculty for recruiting/mentorship, etc. Time to step up to the plate and invest in networks and activities like this, network with faculty across the city, state, U.S., create pipeline K-tenure, track kids from MITES through college and grad programs.
- Note that being approached by a university (department head, search committee chair, individual faculty member) to apply to MIT has a large impact on bringing in diverse faculty.
- Tracking outstanding students from undergrad and grad levels (or earlier) really works to make connections with and bring in talent, also mentors students and lets them know possibilities of academic career.
- Must “get beyond the gray persona” that MIT might appear to project to some of the young people applying to (or deciding not to apply to) MIT. Also some prospective grad students think of MIT as institutional, cold, less involved or engaged in the real world, a less warm, often too harsh environment.
- Perception by some prospective faculty candidates is that only “super brains” survive here; idea that the bar is too high and that the playing field is unforgiving.
- Sensitivity around how we (the faculty) are used as statistics to pump up MIT’s rep — this only works if it is done with sincerity/genuine desire to continue to improve.
- How are we (minority faculty) counted? Should be an awareness of our many categories, international, national, other — and how many times do we get counted for a given category or unit (1x? 2x? 3x?).
- Mentoring network for minority faculty — this requires the formation of a critical mass of diverse faculty.
- How we think about diversity: consider it a fundamental and essential source for renewal; regeneration in the academic environment; a key to future human resources.
Things to ask/learn in the study:
Any statistical correlations between minority faculty numbers in a department and URM graduate students in that department.
URM attendance: 4 junior faculty
This meeting was attended by four junior faculty and two Initiative Committee members. Each one of these faculty was very positive toward MIT — and emphasized that — but did express some concerns:
- Student interactions/student teaching evaluations — do students appreciate diversity in their faculty? Are they bothered by difference (e.g., gender, race, accent, etc) — when teaching evaluations comment on person being a brand new faculty person — would that happen to a young white male? Are students less tolerant or respectful of women or URM faculty (or both)? Maybe this should be checked — but there is not a way for the individual person to know whether any of this makes a difference.
- Is the Institute looking at teaching evaluations and how they may correlate with gender, race, ethnic groups?
- Authority in the classroom — challenge, implied or direct — can be an issue especially for young minority faculty.
Important to note that diversity of faculty also pleases some students; also, that students are not a monolithic population, either.
- SHASS — These can be somewhat devalued areas of study at MIT, sometimes not viewed as core to the Institute. A benefit of smaller schools is usually small classes — this makes the classroom experience comfortable and positive — but how are the small numbers seen by the rest of the Institute?
- If one is in a developing and unique field — i.e., very few are practicing in it, and not many universities, particularly not our usual bunch of peer schools, have this field in their departments, fair evaluation from peers can be difficult to get. Sometimes fields such as these might exist mainly in state universities with lower rank — under these conditions the usual processes of soliciting referees will not yield a positive response. How do we get departments to think differently about finding a network, evaluating letters from “lesser” ranked places, etc. when actually field-appropriate — how indeed to generate a network for junior faculty under those conditions.
- Building networks — Networks inform people of what the possibilities are in securing what one needs from the infrastructure, and in situations that promote success. A short list of what junior faculty don’t know and/or feel uncomfortable asking about:
- How does one know what one can ask for, whether one is being treated fairly, how does one find this out?
- Not aware of what other people are getting (startup, housing, salary, space, teaching considerations, time off or assistance with teaching).
- Women and minorities don’t want to rock the boat by asking for too much or asking too many questions.
- Issue of target of opportunity minority hiring — i.e. coming in on a provost’s line. Some questions about how we handle this situation – i.e. should the hired junior faculty member be told? Who, in fact, knows about use of this hiring tool? And does the use of it affect the perception people have of you? This could have negative impact if presumed to be an affirmative action appointment, both on others’ perception as well as self-perception. There is a distinction between using a search, finding good people, and then using the provost target of opportunity to get them (maybe getting to hire more faculty than had been allotted) — vs. looking specifically for provost target people. It seems that different schools handle this differently – i.e. is one chosen for one’s work or for one’s identity? Procedures within departments about how to go about using special hire opportunities should be carefully addressed. Also, resources should be addressed and at least well understood, i.e., only salary and slot can be accommodated, no allowance for startup and space, which must be the responsibility of the department.
- Hiring people is always challenging — what does the “best person” mean during a search? There is an overemphasis on outside indicators for success when recruiting when in fact MIT may be losing people who seem less obvious but who would contribute and succeed if given proper support. Maybe we need to broaden what we are going for (e.g., look at other feeder schools, de-emphasize the schools of letter writers, etc.) as we may be missing out with this fairly narrow sense of “the best.” We also may miss people working in a different way who may turn out to be most creative — don’t get caught up in quantitative indicators (e.g., H-factor from citation index) — if we want to be at the frontier and do new things we have to take risks — rethink what is meant by excellence — need also to alert the newly tenured to these risks of strict adherence to narrow indicators. Maybe we should take a look at the recently tenured and see how they looked, e.g., on H-factor, other such things, when they were newly hired?
- Since there were three women in this group, it was possible to talk about the intersection of race and gender. Bearing these minority labels gives an added sense of responsibility and of being needed — URM women get lots of invitations to represent various identities on committees, at meetings, councils, outside professional organizations, community, etc. Attendees noted that gender often makes a difference in what people (i.e. fellow faculty) want to casually talk to you about in the sort of daily-to-weekly interactions in the department. This may be especially true with some senior white male professors — they tend to talk more about personal or home/family issues rather than about work/career issues. Sometimes this creates a situation in which the woman faculty needs to make a conscious strategy to switch the topic, etc. [This is something that could be discussed further in women’s groups or women of color groups.] The issue came up of ‘like’ vs. ‘respect’ from fellow male faculty members; the idea of warmth vs. competence — warmth is always nice, but can’t get you advancement, respect is needed to make tenure and achieve, get recommended for awards, etc. One participant expressed it as getting caught in the “like monster.”
- Pluses of being at MIT — The faculty described many of the positive things they’ve experienced at MIT:
- Money and research funds
- People being creative, fresh and new, willing to change
- People’s belief in one another; feeling special and welcome
- Flexibility of arrangements
- Support for research
URM attendance: 4 senior faculty
This meeting was advertised as a senior minority faculty forum and was attended by four senior faculty and four Initiative Committee members, two of whom were also senior minority faculty members. It should be noted that an additional senior faculty meeting had been scheduled for March 17, 2008, from noon to 2 p.m., but the Initiative Committee received only two RSVPs and neither of those two faculty members were able to attend on that day.
The issues described by the senior faculty indicated greater concern about the tenure and post-tenure experiences of minority faculty, including some level of frustration around the rate of progress at MIT and the attitudes of some of the general faculty toward increasing diversity of the faculty.
Issues that came up included:
- The trap of considering diversity and quality as intrinsically negatively connected, whereas in fact they are orthogonal — it was expressed that the persistence of this notion among MIT faculty is quite irritating, but is part of the pushback from majority faculty on attempts to increase the diversity.
- The problem of looking only at our competitor schools for faculty candidates — this is too narrow. We have not been going to the biggest producers of minority engineers/scientists for recruiting purposes. Always go to the same five to 10 schools for faculty talent instead. Broader searches are key to improving faculty recruiting.
- MLK is a way to bring in people from a wider net. MLK Visiting Scholar — postdoc program could have some real potential to develop minority faculty talent. Downside is extreme screening of person who has been offered the MLK can make it a negative experience involving premature or prolonged examination of the potential candidate, and a level of scrutiny that is not the norm in a standard search. An upside is that by giving MLK scholars the MIT name we might become a good source for other peer institutions — in some fields it’s the place of postdoc that is important, less the Ph.D. — but in general narrowness of recruiting is still a problem. Unfortunately, department head survey done recently indicated that many DH and lab directors are clueless about the MLK; others may not buy into it or may even disparage it, rather than utilize it.
- Can we introduce a postdoctoral lectureship series that brings young talent in to speak in university setting as well? Can there be more events to get acquainted with new MLK scholars with regard to their work in the field?
- The pool is simply not the only issue — the MIT faculty also pose a real problem. Some faculty have strong opposition to anything that they view or label as ‘affirmative action’ and have no commitment to diversity. There is a fear of embracing diversity or even in some cases, considering it. Examples were given of highly negative remarks made by colleagues regarding diversity efforts, and in some cases of minority junior faculty of high quality not given tenure. The MIT faculty, for these reasons, is often a problem, as they do not reflect on their actions or admit to past mistakes. Champions of those URM faculty or faculty candidates who are not selected or successfully brought through tenure are effectively “hit” with regard to loss of respect and voice at future faculty discussions (as opposed to champions of majority people who do not make it). There was a question of the extent to which the Academic Council overrides departments and schools on recommendation, though realization that some recommendation can be faint praise.
- Many missed opportunities have been observed by some of the senior faculty — (both recruiting opportunities as well as some tenure opportunities, based on discussions). We need to be more careful, to become better stewards of diversity and to learn from past mistakes.
- Problem that minority faculty report having to work harder as a faculty member at MIT, and that this is not acknowledged on the important levels that make a difference. There is a (often self-imposed) dedication to issues of diversity, mentoring of students and junior people. URM faculty often have to step up and do the things that just wouldn’t get done otherwise — especially to help students make it — and they do this extra advising and outreach without getting any recognition or relief from other duties.
- There was recognition of the isolation of minority faculty, the fact that they are always the point person — also the notion of spending a whole career as the lone minority faculty is wearing, and gets more and more unappealing. Even if one is initially happy in a departmental home, one begins to resent this notion over time and the rest of the department doesn’t realize this as an issue. Being the point person for diversity in the department, and wearing it for an entire career, can get tiring, isolating, especially if no further progress is made. There is also an issue of intellectual isolation, especially for those who study in areas around diversity, equity, international or national justice, related to people of color.
- Being in a positive environment where lots of people are already committed to diversity issues (independent of race and gender) can make a big difference (SHASS given as example here).
- MIT still has a bad reputation in that it is not perceived as a place where one can flourish as a URM — and there is cognizance in the academic community of the failure rate — Boston also plays a role here.
- We should benchmark more successful places — e.g., Georgia Tech.
- Importance of getting the senior faculty to set the tone — need to talk about intangibles, social relationships, discomfort in communication in daily interactions.
- Need to see URM reach leadership positions that enable true leadership or opportunity to impact and implement change: department heads, deans, etc. Also need to make sure that deans hold department heads accountable on issues of diversity — how do DHs get picked? How are these issues taken into account in determining new leadership at the DH level and higher?
- These issues do not show up as a major topic at Academic Council or even at School Councils, when they should be a primary topic. Having a full-out discussion of gender matters in Engineering Council was very helpful and insightful.
- Things to consider in the study:
- Benchmarking of successful places, positive environments like Georgia Tech.
- How do we address senior faculty attitudes, particularly majority faculty members, who don’t understand or are not particularly vested in diversity, in particular in cases such as recruiting, promotion, mentoring?
- For the study — try to address the intangible experiences, including social relationships, unease and communication. Get at how faculty of color may adapt or deal with communications with colleagues to help others feel more at ease, or to explain aspects from their perspective, how it may impact faculty of color on a daily basis.
- Ensure those appointed to DH and dean positions are really committed to diversity and are willing to take action. This is in sharp contrast to a stance of minimal effort, or use of the same old broken (but easy) strategies, then complaining about how small the pipeline is.
- How do we ensure accountability on the dean level?
References for Executive Report