L. Rafael Reif, Provost

Report of the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity

Part I:
Executive Report and Recommendations

E. Recommendations

The findings described in Section D, as well as the additional input gained from discussions in the minority faculty forums, in meetings with the deans and from other members of the MIT community, have informed a set of recommendations to increase and promote diversity among the MIT faculty. Although the focus of these recommendations is on underrepresented minority groups, it is believed they will benefit a much broader group of faculty, especially all junior faculty members, and the faculty in general, including those who represent a broad range of differences: gender, national, cultural, sexual preference and identity, and physical ability. We also believe these recommendations will strengthen many of the core elements of the Institute's hiring, mentoring and promotion processes by implementing a framework for greater oversight and self-evaluation at all levels, from department and lab to school and administration. Finally, along with the research findings, several recommendations were informed by successful examples of diversity efforts - from the building of the pipeline among graduate students and postdoctoral associates to the successful recruitment of new URM faculty - which were found within our own departments and schools. For this reason, the recommendations will provide the opportunity for MIT to learn from its best local successes by sharing information where appropriate and providing implementation across its units. The recommended actions will enable MIT to leverage its academic strength and reputation toward increasing diversity by setting and ultimately achieving targeted goals in diversity. These goals should be given similar priority to other known factors of excellence such as publication, rank and international recognition.

As mentioned above, we recognize that some aspects of the strategies recommended here have been implemented, in full or in part, in specific schools, departments or units at MIT. There is a great deal of good will and a large amount of effort that has been expended by many units to address diversity issues. In such cases, shared experiences and practices will prove helpful in designing and implementing Institute-wide policies and systematic approaches that impact and improve URM faculty recruiting and promotion. Some of the specific models of interest that exist at MIT and at other institutions are described in Section G. The diversity-related efforts that have taken place in each of the schools is also detailed in the meeting summaries with the academic deans, included in Appendix C.

Structural Recommendations

These recommendations are intended to increase the level of active engagement that the Institute invests in the increased diversity of the faculty by addressing administrative organization of effort, from recruiting to reporting. Particular action is directed toward increasing the numbers of all underrepresented minority faculty, with special emphasis on the recruitment of U.S.-born and/or -educated underrepresented minorities, though these measures should also lead to increased diversity of many different kinds within the faculty. As a launch point for a university that has accomplished much by setting strategic goals for challenging endeavors, these measures include directed efforts to set meaningful goals and guidelines and to increase the level of short- and long-term strategic planning of our departments, labs and centers around diversity efforts; to generate the needed ideas and infrastructure to support them; and to encourage sharing and discussion of practices among department heads and academic deans. Goals and efforts should reflect the academic pipeline for specific fields and should also include a comprehensive plan to address long-standing pipeline issues as well as short-term efforts in recruiting.

  1. Each departmental unit, lab and center should work with its academic dean and the associate provost of faculty equity to set realistic but meaningful specific goals with timelines with respect to recruitment efforts of URM faculty. These goals should include URM faculty interview and recruitment; planning for future faculty recruitment through outreach on the graduate, undergraduate and lower level; and efforts to increase the graduate and postdoctoral pool, especially for fields that are highly challenged with regard to pipeline. Specific strategies and efforts should be re-assessed and new strategies put into place if long-term increase in diversity is not achieved. A focus should be placed on units that have experienced difficulty in this area in the past, with the idea of providing additional support and addressing needed strategies that can lead to success over reasonable time horizons.
  2. Resources and support should be provided to all units by the administration and school deans to assist in the recruitment and/or retention of faculty from URM groups. Efforts toward increasing diversity in the faculty should be periodically assessed and taken into account when reviewing the performance of the units and their leadership. For units that have achieved some level of success and/or met goals in URM recruitment and diversity efforts, resources should remain available for continued efforts in increasing diversity; attention toward retention should also be considered.
  3. Institutional measures of success and strategic plans for future diversity efforts for each of the schools, set by the president, the provost and academic deans, should be specified and addressed on an annual or biannual basis in a written report to the president.
  4. Minority hiring and retention should be critical issues in the selection of MIT administrative leadership. It should be the MIT administration's goal to appoint leaders (i.e., deans, department heads, etc.) committed to advance diversity in the faculty. A clear plan to increase URM diversity and, where possible, a track record and accountability in this area must be a necessary condition in consideration of others for appointment to department, lab, center, school and administrative leadership roles.
  5. The MIT Corporation should play a role in active oversight via the visiting committees. The Corporation should discuss the critical nature and importance of diversity and recruitment of URM and women faculty with all Visiting Committee chairs. Each Visiting Committee should have at least one member who strongly advocates for issues of diversity.
  6. The provost should ensure support and clarity around the purposes and mechanisms of the Provost Opportunity Hire. This includes the critical fact that the program enables the hiring of top choice candidates who enhance diversity that are put forward following departmental searches.
  7. Department heads and deans should catalog specific efforts and progress toward the recruiting and retention of diverse faculty in a formal and uniform manner, with such efforts shared annually at a Dean's Council Meeting. A great deal of information can be gained by sharing and comparing strategies and goals. This meeting should specifically address the sharing of lessons learned in the recruitment of underrepresented minority candidates; emphasis should be placed on the progress made and efforts put forth by each department in achieving goals.
  8. Specific sharing of information from programs and departments - with quantifiable measures of success in minority faculty recruiting and retention, and pipeline issues such as minority graduate student recruiting - should be implemented. These departments should be recognized for their successes. One means of sharing information on models of success more universally with faculty is to ask such units to present their efforts and acquired knowledge at a general faculty meeting for dissemination and discussion.

Recruiting Recommendations

  1. Department heads and faculty search chairs must be held accountable for minority faculty recruiting and strategic efforts toward a diverse faculty. This is possible through the usual methods of departmental evaluation and oversight (see Structural Recommendations).
  2. Faculty search chairs must be trained and informed on issues that include hidden biases, broad search policies and existing resources for identifying potential candidates. This training process should be executed and maintained by the schools and the provost's office. Resources needed for the implementation of training programs should be provided by the administration and managed by the associate provost office for faculty equity.
  3. When possible, faculty searches that involve hiring in small groups or clusters, as opposed to single hires, should be pursued. Final top candidates should be grouped, but not ranked, since ranking can often lead to exclusion of excellent candidates based on arguments of fit or need. An example of the approach of cluster hiring is given from MIT Sloan (Section G). In some cases, this can be facilitated in the following ways: by the monitoring of slots by school deans; open discussion with the dean's office and the department about potential candidates who are strong but may be in areas beyond the focus of a current search; or coordination across searches in several departments. An example of coordination between search committees from the School of Engineering is also provided in Section G.
  4. MIT should build strong pipeline programs on campus and network with the top peer institutions from which current URM faculty have come in a targeted and focused manner.
    1. A large number of MIT's URM faculty have matriculated at MIT or from a short list of peer institutions. Building strong two-way relationships with these peer institutions that involve directed recruiting will expand the pool of faculty candidates. For such efforts to be successful, they must be initiated on the top levels - between presidents at the institutions of interest (based on the cohort analysis, Stanford and Harvard would be in this group). The interactions initiated on the presidential level should be bridged by specific one-to-one interactions with peer schools, including planned efforts for sharing information and shaping programs (on the school, department or disciplinary level) between deans and department heads. This kind of model should be adapted to engage groups of search chairs and department heads - on the level of fields or disciplines - to exchange information with frequency. Such efforts would enable the tracking of potential candidates early in their graduate careers and the guiding of those candidates toward academia.
    2. The ability to target our own MIT students is an opportunity the Institute must take advantage of with deliberate programs that introduce undergraduate and graduate students to faculty life at MIT and the possibilities of a future career in academia. These efforts can be made in conjunction with the Office of Minority Education and the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education.
  5. Each department should track its top underrepresented minority undergraduate and graduate students, follow their academic careers and post-graduate successes,
    and keep information available that will enable or inform a search committee in
    future years.
  6. The Institute must enforce the broadening of searches to other carefully selected institutions to increase the numbers of highly qualified URM applicants. Because these relationships are strongest on a disciplinary level, these interactions should be engaged by department heads and academic deans in a strategic fashion by determining top schools at which URM candidates reside. Infrastructure should be provided to enable departments and units to build these relationships. The fact that more than half of the current URM faculty come from three or four peer institutions is indicative of a significant problem in the breadth of academic searches. For many departments and disciplines, even an extension of a search for URM candidates to the top 10 schools could impact these numbers. In many cases, there are excellent, highly ranked institutions, particularly in specific areas or fields, which also have larger numbers of URM Ph.D. candidates. MIT must form strong and substantive relationships with these institutions that will enable the sharing of information about potential URM candidates early in their graduate careers. It is critical that significant effort is placed in building the quality of these partnerships, which rely on trust and mutual benefit to yield an exchange and growth of minority scholars. Weak efforts could lead to a diminution of respect or trust with MIT and a loss of good faith.
  7. MIT departments and schools should increase the numbers of prestigious postdoctoral/visiting scholar programs that can bring minority scholars to campus, naturally expanding the pool of potential candidates over a short timeframe. These programs do not need to be solely focused on minority candidates, but should be used to increase the pool of URM candidates. This benefits MIT and its peer institutions by producing highly qualified scholars with substantive experience and some exposure to the academic rigors at the Institute. Such programs would be particularly beneficial if they enable scholars to initiate independent research in a supportive faculty lab environment and to develop a strong mentorship relationship with the faculty member(s). An example of such an initiative that has been successful in attracting women faculty is the prestigious Pappalardo Fellowship Program established in Physics, discussed in Section G.
  8. Bridge programs in science and engineering that facilitate the transition for excellent students from less competitive undergraduate institutions for MIT graduate school should be designed. This approach would be particularly helpful in fields with low numbers of URM students and for which few students matriculate at top-tier graduate institutions. Such programs could provide a one- or two-year period of academic rigor at MIT and could also offer academic research opportunities. An example of such a program exists in the field of Physics at Vanderbilt University with Fisk University, an historically Black university. Several of the participants in the bridge program have applied and been admitted to Vanderbilt as graduate students, making Vanderbilt one of the top producers of minority physics Ph.D.s, as described in Section G.
  9. MIT should develop programs that enable departments to build relationships with early and pre-career minorities in a substantive fashion. More targeted programs can be undertaken by specific departments to attract and evolve future faculty members. Resources for such programs should be discussed and made available on the school and administrative level, and partnerships among departments can enable shared resources. Coordinated efforts such as these can be greatly facilitated in schools or departments that hire a full- or part-time person to focus on minority recruitment on both the student and the faculty level. Resources for such personnel and programs should be implemented to allow a much more extensive use of MIT's own student resources. An example of such hires includes the position of manager of diversity recruitment for the School of Architecture and Planning to address outreach, diversity awareness and recruiting on every level, from undergraduate and graduate students to faculty. A second example is the hiring of a full-time staff person in the Department of Biology to operate diversity recruitment and outreach programs directed toward undergraduate and graduate students. Both of these examples are discussed in more detail in Section G. Career-building workshops can also bring graduate students and postdoctoral associates to MIT's campus to learn more about the preparation for faculty life, the application process and the expectations of applicants. They can include assignment of mentors, discussion of research plans or discussions on how to choose a good postdoctoral opportunity. An example of one such activity was a Future Faculty Workshop - supported by MIT's Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering departments - headed by Chemistry Department Head Tim Swager. Swager partnered with participants at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the cross-disciplinary area of materials chemistry and engineering and polymer science; this example of cross-field and cross-institutional collaboration is also detailed in Section G.
  10. Minority undergraduate students should be targeted and encouraged toward graduate school via summer research opportunities at MIT such as the MIT Summer Research Program (detailed in Section G). Comprehensive on-campus honors programs that train and prepare the top URM undergraduates for graduate school at research institutions can also greatly increase the yield of undergraduates that attain Ph.D.s; an example is the Meyerhoff Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as described in Section G.
  11. The disciplinary and departmental units at MIT should engage on a substantive level in professional organizations to specifically reach minority scholars. The presence of MIT, especially when it includes significant representation from faculty or key staff at organizations that represent minority groups in a range of fields, can have real impact in both the exposure of students who are considering faculty careers and have not considered MIT, and in opportunities for MIT to spot new talent. Such groups include the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Black MBA Association, National Society of Hispanic Physicists, National Society of Black Physicists, National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, etc.

Mentoring Recommendations

Given the differences between mentoring experiences among URM and non-URM faculty, and the significant loss of URM faculty in the first three to five years at MIT, we have placed particular emphasis on mentoring and support of all junior faculty, with an eye toward retention. This section and the next specifically address recommendations on mentoring in relation to the tenure and promotion process. It is noted that a comprehensive investigation of MIT's tenure and promotion, as well as the grievance procedure, has been addressed separately by a faculty committee appointed by the Faculty Policy Committee, and chaired by Thomas Kochan. A number of the points addressed below resonate with the findings and forthcoming recommendations of the FPC committee as well.

  1. Formal mentors should be assigned to all junior faculty hires as part of an Institute-wide policy on mentoring. There is not a universal mentoring policy in place today for junior faculty at MIT, and there are large variations in mentoring efforts across schools and departments. Inconsistencies in mentoring practices and, in some cases, a lack of a formal mentoring program of any kind, have led to a range of negative mentoring experiences. Even in the best case, a lack of consistent mentoring represents a lost opportunity to provide guidance, support and information that assist in the development and optimization of junior faculty, along with their career opportunities.
    1. It is recommended that junior faculty be assigned at least two mentors. Multiple mentors enable a balance/counterbalance in career guidance and provide the advantage of more than one perspective. It also provides a greater opportunity for a good fit with at least one departmental faculty member.
    2. It is also recommended that one faculty member outside of the departmental unit (and in some cases outside of the school or the Institute) be assigned a mentorship role, which would be slightly different from that of department members. This external mentor can provide a broader range of advice and may also have the ability to prod action outside of the department in difficult or strained internal situations.
  2. The primary role of the mentor as an informed advocate independent of the evaluation process, rather than an evaluator, must be delineated and should be encouraged. In some cases, 'mentors' have been defined as internal evaluators of a tenure candidate as part of a tenure committee. This role of evaluator should be reserved for the senior faculty departmental body that determines the final promotion decisions (be it a full senior faculty, subdivision or tenure committee) and not specifically assigned to the mentor. Mentors should be independent advocates who can inform fellow senior faculty of the candidate's status and efforts, as well as act to help shape and develop the junior faculty member in a supportive fashion.
  3. Mentors should be accountable to the department in their role. Regular annual or biannual meetings with the mentee, followed by a presentation and update of the mentee's progress to the department or department head, should be minimal requirements of mentors. Mentors should be chosen so that they may be engaged/invested in both the process and the person.
  4. Mentors should be trained/informed of their role and expectations - formal training or informationals within departments or schools may be needed to disseminate the meaning of the mentor's role.
  5. Mentees also should be trained or informed on what to expect from and how to use mentors. Specific training and information on mentors and the promotion process in general can be included in the junior faculty introductory workshops now offered on teaching.
  6. Annual departmental reviews should be implemented for each junior faculty, beginning in the first year. It is important for junior faculty to receive feedback and advice from their departments or units as early as possible. The review should be followed by verbal and/or written feedback from the department head and the assigned mentor(s). A follow-up meeting based on the feedback provided should be arranged with the mentee during the course of the following year.
  7. All junior faculty should be introduced to the Faculty Personnel Record or other relevant device or form used to assemble the promotion package in the first year. This is early enough to enable junior faculty to see benchmarks for tenure evaluations, to discuss and determine the relative importance of those benchmarks with mentors, and to enable mentors to impart rubrics for success.
  8. Department heads, deans and the provost must implement a comprehensive feedback and evaluation process. It is recommended that the MIT Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Equity initiate a general procedure enabling feedback from junior faculty on their mentoring experiences, which can be shared with deans and department heads.
  9. Regular discussions with the associate provosts for faculty equity and department heads to confer on the progress for each of the junior faculty in the department or unit should occur on an annual basis.

Promotion and Career Development (tenure and beyond)

To address the concerns raised about objectivity and the tenure process, as well as questions about field-specific tenure issues that were named by multiple URM faculty, the following overall suggestions regarding the tenure process are provided.

  1. A general oversight process for all tenure cases from the dean and provost level that can take place prior to development of the junior faculty case is recommended. This overview could consist of a discussion with the department or unit head and the dean to cover potential issues and how they will be handled (e.g., time off tenure clock for children, unusual situations regarding lab or infrastructure availability, other concerns).
  2. In many fields, URM faculty study areas viewed as different, nontraditional or "non-core" to a specific discipline. In many such cases (regarding both non-URM and URM faculty), there is a need to pay specific attention to letter writer selection. Careful discussion of potential referees, including their competency levels and research relevance to the candidate, should begin with the first annual reviews and continue to the point of promotion.
  3. Guidelines to promotion and tenure should be described to all junior faculty upon arrival, and these guidelines should be reviewed with specific attention to details about how junior faculty can actively engage in the tenure process.
  4. It is recommended that clearer guidelines be presented on the promotion to full professor, including typical expectations around timing and accomplishment. This information should be provided by the department chair and the assigned mentors within a year of a positive tenure decision. Mentors should maintain a role in the process to "full" and address how to gain recognition and expand research programs and/or other opportunities as senior faculty.


  1. MIT must present leadership from the top levels to introduce, create and maintain a climate of inclusion. Efforts should include:
    1. The president and provost should initiate systematic efforts on the importance of diversity; motivation and the initiation of innovative processes to address diversity challenges should become a part of the primary messages shared with the Institute faculty.
    2. Leadership training of new deans and department heads should be introduced, which should include a significant and relevant diversity component.
    3. Implementation of a diverse faculty and student body as a part of the evaluation of success for schools, departments, labs and centers, and their leadership.
  2. The Institute should create forums at MIT where race and cross-cultural interactions are openly discussed. One approach to the idea of Institute-wide forums would be problem-solving open forums or task-force style working groups that seek innovative solutions to increasing diversity. This approach is unique to the MIT culture of creative and collaborative means of addressing difficult problems. A second approach is to directly address the faculty about the existence of hidden bias using workshops, as was done recently in the School of Science with each of its departments, detailed in Section G.
  3. It is recommended that MIT harness its top and most highly respected scholars, scientists and engineers of the Institute to act as spokespeople on diversity issues. Key individuals respected for their academic achievements can be used as visible and influential allies in the effort to increase faculty diversity. Other allies include those people with institutional roles and/or background and knowledge who have shown consistent support for issues of diversity. An example from a peer research institution is the University of Michigan, where highly respected non-minority faculty were engaged as both consultants and advocates to address and champion diversity and excellence across campus. It should be noted that significant resources may be needed to engage, inform and prepare such allies. This example, which is a part of the National Science Foundation-funded ADVANCE STRIDE program, addressed all STEM fields on campus and is detailed in Section G.
  4. Efforts toward increasing diversity need to be clearly specified and owned from department heads through the school and Institute levels (see structural recommendations). Departments should be expected to take the initiative to invest in the resources needed to develop either their own programs or joint programs with departments in related fields, and to take part in other efforts to increase student and faculty diversity.
  5. Active efforts are expected from department heads and deans to seek and recognize talent from faculty of color (at all ranks) within and beyond the university. Such efforts include speaking opportunities, named seminars, invitation of visiting faculty and scholars, selection of members to visiting committees, etc. By increasing awareness of scholars of color across all fields, increasing awareness of excellence in diversity will help to address some issues around tensions of inclusion versus excellence.

D. Major Findings and Conclusions

F. Plan for Institutional
Implementation, Assessment and
Ongoing Evaluation of Progress

L. Rafael Reif
Office of the Provost
Room 3-208
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

(617) 253-4500 phone
(617) 253-8812 fax