MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The 1997-98 academic year brought several significant changes to MIT's senior academic and administrative leadership.

In May, Joel Moses announced his decision to step down as Provost effective August 1, 1998. Professor Moses had indicated his strong desire to focus more directly on teaching and research after nearly two decades of administrative service to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Engineering, and, since 1995, as Provost. As Provost, he was particularly effective in forging new institutional partnerships, both in the industrial and international arenas. An intellectual as well as an administrative leader of MIT, his pioneering work in complex software systems has been recognized by his election as a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and Fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. An abiding devotion to the interests of the Institute has informed his many accomplishments.

In June, it was announced that Dean of Engineering Robert A. Brown would be the next Provost. The Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering and former Head of his department, he has specialized in the fields of fluid mechanics, transport processes and numerical methods. As Dean of Engineering, Professor Brown has been a leader in establishing the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health and has played a major role in developing the Ray and Maria Stata Center for the computer, information, and intelligence sciences to be built on the site currently occupied by Building 20.

At the same time, Lawrence S. Bacow, Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, was named to the new position of Chancellor, effective August 1, 1998. Professor Bacow's research and teaching span several fields, including environmental economics and policy, regulation of the development process, negotiation, and risk assessment. He served as Chair of the Faculty from 1995 to 1997 and possesses a broad-based appreciation for all aspects of the MIT community.

The decision to appoint two senior officers with responsibility for academic administration was made in recognition of the increasing complexity and volume of issues faced by research universities. The Provost will have overall management responsibilities for MIT's five schools and will work with the academic deans to direct programs and oversee budgets. Lincoln Laboratory and several other interdisciplinary centers will continue to report to the Provost's office. The Chancellor will play a leading role in the Institute's long-term strategic planning, and in developing and supervising educational policy at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He will also be responsible for the overall management and development of MIT's large-scale institutional partnerships, both industrial and international.

This was also the year in which William R. Dickson retired after a career that spanned four decades of intense campus development. Beginning as a construction project manager in the late 1950's, Mr. Dickson rose through the Institute's administrative ranks to become Senior Vice President in 1981. Under his skillful management, the Institute's physical size has more than tripled, and a host of valuable management structures and systems have been successfully implemented. He has long been one of MIT's most valuable assets, and will continue to be a source of advice and guidance. Mr. Dickson's retirement was marked by tributes that testified to the extraordinary affection and esteem with which he is regarded across the Institute. Prominent among these was the naming of the William R. Dickson Cogeneration Plant.

Walter E. Morrow, Jr., stepped down as Director of MIT's Lincoln Laboratory effective June 30, 1998. Mr. Morrow was on the staff of the Laboratory when it opened in 1951 and was named its ninth Director in 1977. Much of the outstanding reputation of the Laboratory is due to his leadership of its exceptional staff, while in Washington he has been valued in the defense policy community as an advisor of great integrity, analytical capability, and wisdom. During the year it was announced that he would be succeeded as Director by David L. Briggs, Assistant Director of the Laboratory, and that Herbert Kottler, currently Assistant Director, would assume the position of Associate Director.

Glen L. Urban stepped down as Dean of the Sloan School of Management effective June 30, 1998. Under his leadership, Sloan developed innovative educational and research programs that enhanced its strong relationships with industry in the United States and abroad. Its standing among its peers has continued to rise, and applications have increased dramatically. After a sabbatical year, Dean Urban expects to return to teaching and research at Sloan. Richard Schmalensee, Gordon Y Billard Professor of Economics and Management, agreed to serve as Interim Dean of the Sloan School.

The year also saw the "retirement" of the venerable Building 20. Few buildings at any university have achieved such legendary status. It was never intended to be a permanent structure, but it leaves a rich legacy in the scientific and technological innovation that took place within its walls: A "magical incubator," it has been home to the Radiation Laboratory; the early years of the Research Laboratory of Electronics, Lincoln Laboratory, and the Laboratory of Nuclear Science; and more than fifty years of pioneering research in a host of fields. As the year came to a close, plans were in progress for the site to house the next generations of intellectual advance in the computer, intelligence, and information sciences.

As in every year, appointments to positions of leadership in the administration offered talented members of the faculty and staff the opportunity to shape the future of the Institute.

Daniel Roos, Japan Steel Industry Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was named to the new position of Associate Dean for Engineering Systems in the School of Engineering, as part of the School's increased focus on interdisciplinary systems.

New academic department or program leaders whose service began during the year were Rohan Abeyaratne, Associate Head, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Rodney A. Brooks, Director, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; Joel Clark, Director, Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development ; Joshua Cohen, Head, Department of Political Science; Rick L. Danheiser, Acting Head, Department of Chemistry; Jeffrey P. Friedberg, Head, Department of Nuclear Engineering; Martha L. Gray, MIT Co-Director, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; Thomas J. Greytak, Associate Head, Department of Physics; Robert L. Jaffe, Director, Center for Theoretical Physics; Marc Kastner, Head, Department of Physics; David H. Marks, Director, Center for Environmental Initiatives; James G. Paradis, Head of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies; Paola Rizzoli, MIT Director of the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering; Robert J. Silbey, Director, Center for Materials Science and Engineering; Robert Stalnaker, Head, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy; and Mriganka Sur, Head, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Among notable changes in the administration during the past year were the appointments of Marilee Jones, Dean of Admissions; Patrick K. Marx, Special Assistant to the President for Communications; and Christopher G. L. Pratt, Director of Career Services and Preprofessional Advising.


The awards, recognition, and professional distinction achieved by MIT's faculty and staff reflect the excellence of our programs of instruction and research. This year, as always, that excellence was confirmed by the numerous prizes and other honors earned by members of the MIT community. The following summary touches on only a few of these professional achievements:

Four MIT professors were elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest distinctions accorded within the scientific community. This year's new members from MIT were Roman W. Jackiw, Jerrold Zaccharias Professor of Physics; Thomas H. Jordan, Robert R. Shrock Professor and Head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; Carl O. Pabo, Professor of Biophysics and Structural Biology in the Department of Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; and Kenneth N. Stevens, Clarence Joseph LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering. The election of these exceptional scholars and researchers brings the number of NAS members on the MIT faculty to 111.

The National Academy of Engineering elected five new members from the MIT faculty: Edward F. Crawley, Professor and Head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; John B. Heywood, Sun Jae Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory; James A. Fay, Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Jerome H. Saltzer, Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and D. Bruce Montgomery, former Associate Director of the Plasma Fusion Center. This year's elections bring to 95 the total number of NAE members from the Institute. Corporation Member Richard P. Simmons, Chairman, President, and CEO of Allegheny Teledyne, also was elected to membership in the Academy.

Six MIT faculty members from a broad spectrum of academic fields were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences: Robert W. Field, Professor of Chemistry; Ellen T. Harris, Class of 1949 Professor of Music; Nancy H. Hopkins, Professor of Biology; Pauline R. Maier, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of History; Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology and Director of the McDonnell-Pew Center for Cognitive Neuroscience; and Rainer Weiss, Professor of Physics.

The Institute of Medicine, whose 558 members include 24 members of the MIT faculty, elected to membership David E. Housman, Novartis Professor of Biology.

Timothy J. Berners-Lee, Principal Research Scientist in the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS), was named a 1998 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Mr. Berners-Lee was awarded what is colloquially known as the "genius grant" for his development of the World Wide Web in 1989-90, when he was at CERN. As Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a nonprofit, member-sponsored organization based at LCS, he has encouraged the development of open communications systems and works to enhance the capacity of the Web as a locus of free expression and global collaboration.

Professor Christopher C. Cummins of the Department of Chemistry was awarded the Alan T. Waterman Prize by the National Science Foundation for his achievements in the field of synthetic or exploratory chemistry. He was recognized in particular for his discovery of new methods for breaking down nitrogen molecules, thereby freeing nitrogen atoms for inclusion in different molecular combinations. This work has tremendous implications for industrial chemistry. The Waterman Prize was the second major award Professor Cummins received during the year: He also received the 1998 Award in Pure Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. Professor Cummins is the first member of the MIT faculty to win the Waterman Prize for work conducted at MIT, although Gang Tian, Simons Professor of Mathematics, was awarded the prize in 1994 while affiliated with the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.

Elfatih A. B. Eltahir, Gilbert Winslow Career Development Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering. Professor Eltahir was nominated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for this Federal award, which recognizes scientists and engineers who demonstrate the highest levels of achievement and promise at the outset of their independent research careers. Professor Eltahir's work on the links between the biosphere and the atmosphere offers new understanding of how global climate change and human activity affect the sustainability of global water resources, especially in the tropics.

H. Robert Horvitz, Professor of Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, received the Alfred P. Sloan Award from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation for the most outstanding recent contributions to basic science research related to cancer. Professor Horvitz was cited for his work in demonstrating that programmed cell death is a genetically determined biological process. This important discovery has contributed significantly to new knowledge about how benign cells can become malignant.

Robert S. Langer, Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering, was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize, which celebrates invention and innovation in all fields of science and technology. The prize is administered by MIT, but the Institute plays no role in selecting any of the nominees or the eventual winners. Professor Langer's innovations have led to over three hundred patents, provided a framework for the emerging technology of tissue engineering, and have been used in such areas as drug delivery systems, vaccines, tissue repair, diagnostics, innovative waste disposal technologies, and novel therapeutics.

Sheila E. Widnall, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, returned to MIT after more than four years as Secretary of the Air Force. Professor Widnall was the first woman to head a branch of the armed forces. Two MIT faculty members with long records of service to the Federal government were recalled to duty this year. Institute Professor John M. Deutch, whose prior government experience includes service as Deputy Secretary of Defense and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was named to the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, whose 16 other members include President Charles M. Vest and Institute Professor Mario Molina. Ernest J. Moniz, Head of the Department of Physics and former Associate Director for Science of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy, was appointed Undersecretary of the US Department of Energy.

Two members of the faculty were recognized for their commitment to teaching excellence with appointments as MacVicar Faculty Fellows: Sylvia T. Ceyer, John G. Sheehan Professor of Chemistry, and Robert L. Jaffe, Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for Theoretical Physics.

Pauline R. Maier, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of History, was the recipient of the twenty-seventh annual James R. Killian, Jr., Faculty Achievement Award. The selection committee cited Professor Maier's record as an outstanding teacher and scholar whose highly-praised books - including her recent study American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence - have broadened public awareness of MIT's great achievements in the humanities and social sciences.

Steven B. Leeb, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, received this year's Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement award, which recognizes junior faculty for achievements in teaching, research, and service to the MIT community. A successful teacher and dedicated freshman adviser, Professor Leeb has worked on a multiprocessor-based monitor to track patterns of electrical energy consumption in buildings and on the medical use of polymer gels as controlled releasers of medicines and hormones.

The Gordon Y Billard Award, recognizing individuals who have performed special services of outstanding merit to MIT, was given this year to Cheryl N. deJong Vossmer of the MIT Campus Police and Ronald E. Parker of Information Systems. Sergeant deJong Vossmer was cited for her leadership in promoting security and community at MIT, and for her extensive community service work in Cambridge and Boston. Mr. Parker, Senior Database Analyst, was recognized for his effective mentoring of junior staff, his professional versatility, and his readiness to respond to data management crises at all hours of day and night.


The passage of another year has, as always, meant the passing away of beloved and honored former colleagues. The Institute cherishes the memories of their lives and their many accomplishments.

Albert G. H. Dietz, Professor Emeritus of Architecture, who died on April 28, 1998, at the age of 91, was a builder by family background and by inclination. He had earned three degrees from MIT before joining the faculty in 1946. At MIT, he held appointments in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and of Architecture. His work in construction techniques, materials and the use of solar energy earned him prizes and awards at the regional, national and international levels. An avid traveler, he had visited every continent except Antarctica, often bringing a special 3-D camera to take photographs which he could use as teaching aids in his coursework.

Carl F. Floe, Professor Emeritus of Metallurgy, died at his home in Boston on May 18, 1998, at the age of ninety. Recipient of an ScD from MIT in 1935, he joined the Institute faculty four years later. During World War II, he served as a consultant to the US Army Quartermaster Corps and to several defense industries. Named full professor in 1950, he was subsequently named Assistant Provost and then Assistant Chancellor. As Vice President for Research Administration, he oversaw the activities of the Lincoln and Draper Laboratories and represented MIT on numerous national boards, including those of the Brookhaven National Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He chaired the Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies. He retired in 1973, but remained active in consulting to industries in the United States and overseas.

Martin Diskin, Professor of Anthropology, died in Cambridge on August 3, 1997, at age 62, after a lengthy struggle with leukemia. He joined the Department of Humanities in 1967, helping to establish both the Latin American Studies Program and the anthropology/archeology exchange program with Wellesley College. His work in rural Latin America had transformed him into a passionate advocate for social reform. A dedicated activist on behalf of the poor and oppressed, Professor Diskin was equally at home in political demonstrations and in congressional hearings.

Harold A. Freeman, Professor Emeritus of Statistics, died at his home in Andover on October 20, 1997, at the age of 88. Professor Freeman was affiliated with MIT for almost all of an academic career which spanned over six decades. An economist and statistician, much of his most important work grew out of his experiences with the Statistical Research Group assembled at Columbia University during World War II to devise methods of sampling inspection and quality control for use in wartime industry. Later in life, he turned to broader social criticism. While he retired from his professorship at the Institute in 1976, he continued to teach until 1990 as a senior lecturer.

David N. Hume, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, died on March 2, 1998, at the age of 80. Professor Hume received his PhD in chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1943 and went to work on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago and at the Clinton National Laboratories in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. By the end of World War II, he was head of analytical research at the Oak Ridge plutonium plant. He joined the MIT faculty in 1947, becoming a full Professor in 1959. Professor Hume won numerous honors, including the 1964 Fisher Award in analytical chemistry, in a career which lasted until 1980.

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry John Withers Irvine, Jr., died at the age of 84 on February 23, 1998, at his home in Tucson, Arizona. Like many MIT faculty of his generation, he performed vital scientific work during World War II. After earning his PhD from MIT in 1939, he served as a research associate in the Department of Physics until 1943, when he became Assistant Professor of Chemistry and joined the MIT Radioactivity Center. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1947 and to full Professor in 1958. His contributions to the Institute community included service from 1966 to 1973 as the faculty resident in Ashdown House. At the time of his retirement in 1979, Professor Irvine was executive officer of the Department of Chemistry.

Padmakar P. Lele, Professor Emeritus of Experimental Medicine, died at age 71 on June 11, 1998, in San Diego. He had been a member of the faculty of the MIT-Harvard Health Science and Technology Program and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. A native of India and a graduate of the Universities of Bombay and Oxford, he was a pioneer in the medical and industrial uses of ultrasound and was affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital before coming to MIT in 1969. A longtime resident of Winchester, he moved to La Jolla, California upon his retirement from MIT.

Donald A. Schön, Ford Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Education and Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning, died on September 13, 1997, at the age of 66. A native Bostonian trained as a philosopher at Yale and Harvard, he was for several years Director of the Institute for Applied Technology in the Bureau of National Standards of the US Department of Commerce. He arrived at MIT in 1968 as a Visiting Professor, and was named Ford Professor in 1972. From 1990 to 1992, he served as chair of his department. A specialist in the ways that practitioners could continue to develop their professional skills and personal capabilities throughout their careers, Professor Schön was also a highly accomplished clarinetist who performed with local jazz and chamber music ensembles.

William J. Weisz, Life Member of the MIT Corporation, died December 17, 1997, at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. A native of Chicago, he served in the US Navy before entering MIT, where he majored in electrical engineering and received the SB degree in 1948. He joined Motorola the same year and spent almost fifty years with the company. As President, Vice Chairman, and Chairman, he was a key member of the leadership team that transformed a relatively small consumer electronics company into the world's largest supplier of equipment for cellular telephones, paging, and two-way radios. His achievements at Motorola and his contributions to the electronics industry were widely recognized, and he was admired for his insights and expertise in the philosophy of corporate management. His ties to MIT grew with the passage of time, and he will be remembered as one of the Institute's most dedicated trustees.

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98