Dean, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Several new developments in 2001–2002 in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) merit special mention.

SHASS took the leadership role in launching the HASS-CI component of the Communication Requirement (CR), MIT's newest addition to the General Institute Requirements for undergraduates. The launch proved to be remarkably smooth and faculty are generally positive about the prospects for HASS-CI.

The first class of seven students was admitted to SHASS's newest graduate program, the S.M. degree in Science Writing, which is located in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. These students will matriculate in September 2002. This new degree's mission is the improvement of the public understanding of science. The graduate program is directed by Professor of Science Writing Robert Kanigel and will draw on the talented teaching staff of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies to support its curriculum. The faculty have high hopes for this program and see it as a major addition to SHASS's other programs that promote the public awareness of science and technology nationally and internationally: the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships, the Program in Science, Technology and Society, and the Comparative Media Studies Program.

The Center for International Studies (CIS) celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 15-16, with a wonderful celebratory dinner and colloquium. The celebration included the release of Professor Emeritus Donald L. M. Blackmer's monograph The MIT Center for International Studies: The Founding Years 1951–1969, a remarkable history of CIS's first two decades, and the announcement of a $10 million gift from the Starr Foundation to support ongoing and new programs.

The Dean's Office was pleased to welcome on board in February Professor Charles Stewart III as associate dean of SHASS with responsibility for undergraduate education and for strengthening activities across the social sciences. One of the leading experts on the American congress, Professor Stewart is the founding director of the Washington Summer Internship Program in the Department of Political Science. He is also a MacVicar Faculty Fellow and Master of McCormick Hall.

The School continues to build and refine its undergraduate and graduate programs and to focus its efforts on fundraising, affirmative action and faculty recruitment in departments, sections and programs that are experiencing retirements and resignations. The faculty received a number of honors and awards, and some important administrative changes within the School have occurred.

Undergraduate Education

The School's participation in undergraduate education at the Institute is focused through its responsibility for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) requirement, which represents roughly half the course load embodied in the General Institute Requirements. All candidates for undergraduate degrees must pass eight HASS subjects, including three subjects in different HASS-Distribution categories, three subjects as part of a concentration in a field of HASS, and remaining HASS subjects that are elective.

The principal change in the undergraduate program during the 2001–2002 academic year was the implementation of the new undergraduate Communication Requirement. Overall responsibility for implementing the Communication Requirement rests with the Committee on the Undergraduate Program's Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR). SOCR, in turn, has delegated to the Humanities Overview Committee (HOC) the responsibility for reviewing classes that will serve as CI-H. (Freshmen and sophomores are generally required to take one CI-H subject each year. Juniors and seniors generally take communication-intensive subjects in their chosen majors.)

As with last year, matters related to implementing the HASS portion of the Communication Requirement consumed considerable effort from faculty and administrative staff. The HOC, which has broad responsibility for undergraduate-education issues within the School, postponed for a second year the re-certification of continuing HASS-D subjects, for instance, to deal with the crush of business associated with certifying new CI-H. The HOC, chaired by Professor Peter Perdue, reviewed 16 proposals for new CI-H subjects, recommending 14 for CI status to the Committee on Curricula (COC). Taking into account last year's approvals and one withdrawn subject, we will have exactly 100 CI-H subjects available for the 2002–2003 academic year.

The biggest concern this year was ensuring that all students who needed to take a CI-H class could be accommodated. (A total of 3,026 enrollments were logged in CI-H subjects this year.) There has proved to be considerable leeway for enrollments to expand. In addition, the fact that so many CI-H subjects are also HASS-D subjects has meant that we have been able to use the HASS-D lottery system to distribute students into many CI-H subjects with a minimum of disruption.

However, the addition of a new category of Communication Intensive HASS subjects as part of the GIRs has put renewed pressure on the HASS-Distribution system. There are two reasons for this. The first is practical. Of the 60 CI-H subjects actually taught in 2001–2002, 25 were also designated HASS-D. We have already observed some shifting of enrollments this year in favor of subjects that are both HASS-D and CI-H. This shifting of enrollments away from subjects that are "only" HASS-Distribution or HASS-Elective subjects will be a matter of attention within the School next year. The second reason is more substantive. The HASS-D requirement places practice in writing at the top of the goals pursued by these classes. The presence of a distinct Communication Requirement raises the question about whether the goals for HASS-D subjects are properly ordered. This, too, is a matter that will be addressed by the School next year.

In addition to beginning to implement the new Communication Requirement in earnest, Associate Dean Charles Stewart and Dr. Bette Davis, director of the HASS Office, have worked with officials from the Cambridge-MIT Institute undergraduate exchange program to encourage MIT students on exchange to take advantage of offerings in the humanities, arts, and social sciences at Cambridge. Because the Oxbridge system of higher education is so different from the American—especially in how it focuses on professional education at the expense of "elective" subjects—allowing MIT students at Cambridge to keep up with the HASS requirement during their exchange year has been a challenge. However, through the good will and hard work of officials at MIT and at Cambridge, a system has been arranged to facilitate the taking of HASS "papers" at Cambridge and transferring that credit to MIT fairly directly. Through meetings with students and the publication of a guide, "How to HASS@Cambridge" the School has begun advising Cambridge-bound MIT exchange students more systematically about the best way to approach HASS fields in Cambridge.

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Affirmative Action

The total number of women faculty in SHASS had been steadily increasing for several years—from 35 women in AY1993 to a peak of 49 in AY2000. However, in the last two years, the numbers have dipped slightly—47 in AY2001 and 45 in AY2002. AY2003 will see yet another decrease with 44 women faculty in the School. With a current faculty of 150 in AY2002, women represent 30 percent of the total, and of these, 32 are tenured (31 percent of the tenured faculty). While we were successful in recruiting two new women to the faculty (1 tenured/1 untenured) for next academic year (2002-2003), we lost three junior women faculty, including one Hispanic-American. On a more positive note, seven SHASS faculty were approved for tenure, including two women and two minorities (an African-American woman and an Asian-American man).

The School has had moderate success in its efforts to recruit minority faculty. Although we successfully recruited a Hispanic-American man to join our faculty effective January 2003, a Hispanic-American woman resigned her position effective June 2002 to enter the private sector. Therefore, the total number of minority faculty in the School—both this year and next—will remain at 21.

With the help of the Provost's Initiative and in keeping with the new Institute standards for faculty searches, we have asked the departments/sections/programs within SHASS to identify 5 to 10 leading senior (or tenurable at MIT) women and 5 to 10 leading senior (or tenurable at MIT) minorities in each field/discipline. We will then employ aggressive recruitment efforts to try and persuade those qualified women and minorities to come to MIT. In addition, we hope to establish an up-to-date database of women and minority graduate students across the country, thereby allowing us to develop a comprehensive candidate pool.

The School remains committed to increasing the minority representation of the administrative staff, as well as faculty, and happily announce that we successfully increased the number of minorities among the administrative staff from the previous year's total of three to this year's four. We now have four minorities (one Hispanic and three Asian-Americans) among the 38 members of administrative staff in the School (approximately 11 percent). We hope to further diversify our administrative staff by working closely with the departments and programs in the School and with the Office of Human Resources.

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Honors and Awards

The faculty within the School garnered an array of honors and awards this year. The most notable among them were the following:

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New gifts and pledges for FY2002 total $19,451,005. With the $75 Million from the Kenan Sahin gift, the campaign total for SHASS (July 1, 1997 through June 30, 2002) is $129,938,814.

Fundraising Highlights

SHASS Fundraising Priorities

The top School fundraising priorities continue to be increased support for graduate fellowships (Economics, Political Science, Linguistics/Philosophy, and the Program in Science, Technology and Society), and professorships at all levels. Specific program priorities include the Shakespeare Archive, Chinese Language and Culture Program, Comparative Media Studies, Bilingual/Bicultural Studies, Linguistics (Endangered Languages Program), Writing and Humanistic Studies (especially the new Masters Program in Science Writing), the Center for International Studies (CIS), along with the individual MISTI programs within CIS, and the Knight Science Journalism Program.

Faculty Promotions, Administrative Changes, Retirements

This year has seen two retirements, eight resignations and eight new faculty appointments within the School. Among the faculty retirements were Institute Professor Noam Chomsky (Linguistics & Philosophy) and Professor Arthur Steinberg (Anthropology). Among the resignations were four associate professors (all non-tenured), and four assistant professors. A total of seven faculty members in the School were promoted to tenure this year, effective July 1, 2002: Alexander Byrne of the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy, Esther Duflo and Jaume Ventura of the Department of Economics, Melissa Nobles of the Department of Political Science, David Mindell of the Program in Science, Technology and Society (STS), Shankar Raman of the Literature Section, and Jeffrey Ravel of the History Faculty.

The School was successful in recruiting a total of eight new members to the faculty for AY2003. Of the eight, one will join the faculty as a full tenured professor (Donca Steriade to the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy); one as a non-tenured associate professor (Junot Diaz to the Program in Writing & Humanistic Studies); and six as assistant professors in Economics, Foreign Languages & Literatures, History, and Music & Theater Arts.

Philip S. Khoury
Kenan Sahin Dean, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Professor of History

More information about the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences can be found on the web at


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