Soundings - home
Fall 2000

Walking, talking, oxymoron

50 years: SHASS timeline

Seven notables contemplate the state of humanities, arts, and social sciences at MIT and beyond.

Donald Blackmer

David Epstein

Morris Halle

Bruce Mazlish

Travis Rhodes Merritt

Paul A. Samuelson

Judith Jarvis Thomson



Dean's letter

Honors & awards

Bullets & bytes



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Soundings is a publication of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT

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Dean's Letter

Philip S. Khoury
Graham G. Ramsay

Dear Friends,

The year 2000 marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the School of Humanities and Social Science at MIT. This special issue of soundings is devoted principally to a retrospective of the past half century. We have not neglected the present and future, however, as the interview with Professor Henry Jenkins, director of the Comparative Media Studies Program, makes abundantly clear.

To recognize our golden anniversary, we have planned a series of events in October 2000 that form an exciting tribute to the School's history. On October 6 and 7, an extraordinary group of scholars and artists will participate in a colloquium entitled "Asking the Right Questions." On the evening of October 6, the MIT Symphony Orchestra and other groups will present a special concert. Our celebration culminates in a gala dinner and dance on Saturday evening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, offering opportunities to reconnect with colleagues and friends and make new acquaintances. We also have put together a significant exhibition, "A Fifty-Year Reflection: Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT," which is scheduled to open in Compton Gallery on September 20 and run for four months.

You will notice we have added the arts to our School's name. We now are known as the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. This change recognizes the enormous contributions of the arts to the School and across MIT. It places the arts on the Institute's marquee, alongside its other great "learning and doing" cultures: humanities, social sciences, management, architecture, planning, engineering and science.

This past year brought countless honors to the School's faculty. Professor of History John W. Dower received nearly every major book prize for Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. No historian has taken home as many fine honors for a single book. Institute Professor of Economics Emeritus Robert Solow was honored with the National Medal of Science. Professor of Music John Harbison's magnificent opera, "The Great Gatsby," premiered at the New York Metropolitan Opera and will be performed at the Chicago Lyric Opera before returning to the Met in 2001. Professors Harbison, Solow and Dower all will participate in our 50th Anniversary Colloquium, along with Professors Anita Desai, Suzanne Berger, Pauline Maier, Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker.

Last November MIT launched a new fund-raising campaign with a goal of $1.5 billion. The School's goal is approximately $150 million; we need and deeply appreciate your support to reach this goal in the campaign's remaining four years.

I want to personally invite you to join us for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. There is a great deal to celebrate and my colleagues and I promise a stimulating experience.


Sincerely yours,

Signature image


Philip S. Khoury, Dean



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Soundings - home
Fall 2000