MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXXII No. 3
January / February 2020
I. The Goodwin Procter Report and Faculty Views on the Jeffrey Epstein Case; II. No War on Iran; III. Professor Aron Bernstein;
IV. FNL Officers Elected
MIT: Where Now?
Straighten Up & Fly Right
Epstein and MIT:
The Unanswered Questions
Aron Bernstein
Catalyzing a Conversation
Statement from the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Guidelines for
Outside Engagements
A New Center for MIT
MIT 2020 Quality of Life Survey Launches
Improving on the Probability
of Alumni Connections
Save the Date for MacVicar Day 2020
The Coop and the MIT Press Bookstore
Budget of the United States Government:
2018 Discretionary Outlays
Budget of the United States Government:
Comparative Defense Spending
Printable Version

Improving on the Probability of Alumni Connections

Joe McGonegal

There are some 98 MIT alumni chapters, 1,200 MIT faculty and leadership, and 365 days in the year.

Given that each MIT faculty member has, on average, five extra-curricular commitments per week that restrict them from travel, what are the odds that a given faculty member could come, at the request of an MIT club of group, to give a talk on a given night in a given city?

I posed that question to Allan Gottlieb ’67, editor of the “Puzzle Corner” column in MIT Technology Review and NYU faculty member himself who has given his own share of alumni talks. 

Gottlieb replied:

“Well, each faculty has a 5/7 probability of NOT being available.

The probability that all faculty are not avail is (5/7)^1200 (^ means power, i.e. exponent).

The prob at least one can make it is 1 - prob none can make it
    = 1 - (5/7)^1200 = .999999999999... (174 9a).

But I'll bet you don't get that many successes!”

Indeed we don’t. But my colleagues and I in the Alumni Office are perpetually grateful to the faculty who do collaborate with us in any given year to travel, reconnect with, and inspire MIT alumni around the world.

In calendar year 2019, that number was 69, and I’ve listed their names below. Did we forget you? Please let us know.

Can we partner up in 2020 to get you in front of an alumni audience, one consisting of your former students, your future collaborators or donors, amplifiers of your department’s work and/or ambassadors of MIT to the world?

Please give us a call or complete our faculty speakers’ bureau survey, a useful guide for our hundreds of alumni volunteers who want to convene events for their classmates spotlighting great speakers addressing the world’s greatest problems.

Beyond these events, we track and market MIT faculty appearances at conferences and other events on a public-facing calendar for our colleagues in the advancement community and alumni volunteers to follow. In the fall 2019 term alone, we tracked and publicized an additional 155 upcoming talks MIT faculty were giving at conferences around the world. A handful of these leads engendered volunteer-led alumni gatherings in and of themselves.

Our 1,200 faculty lead busy lives and are likely on the road more than typical researchers – leading book tours, spawning startups, working with sponsored research entities, and (we hope) going on vacation. We wish you safe travels for all of the above. If there’s time to spare on these sojourns though, the Alumni Office can frequently help subsidize such travel in order to enrich our global network of connected alumni making a better world. Let’s be in touch!

Thanks again to the following faculty who volunteered with us in 2019.

Hal Abelson Paula Hammond Mitchel Resnick
Nicholas Ashford John Harbison Israel Ruiz
Arthur Bahr Susan Hockfield Donald Sadoway
Richard Binzel Jeffrey Hoffman Sanjay Sarma
Tanja Bosak Neville Hogan Martin Schmidt
Cynthia Breazeal Jason Jay Stuart Schmill
Markus Buehler Valerie Karplus David Schmittlein
Vladimir Bulovi John Kassakian Noelle Selin
Gang Chen Kyle Keane Kieran Setiya
Joseph Coughlin Jeehwan Kim Julie Shah
Ed Crawley Sangbae Kim Phiala Shanahan
Munther Dahleh Janelle Knox-Hayes Pawan Sinha
Bob DeSimone John Leonard Amy Smith
John Durant Richard Lester William Thilly
Kerry Emanuel John Lienhard Skylar Tibbits
Nick Fang Thomas Malone Evelyn Wang
Eugene Fitzgerald Robert Merton Ben Weiss
Felice Frankel David Mindell Dennis Whyte
Ted Gibson Neha Narula Omer Yilmaz
Shafi Goldwasser Melissa Nobles Dick Yue
Jonathan Gruber Elizabeth Nolan Feng Zhang
Leonard Guarente Scot Osterweil Xuanhe Zhao
Alan Guth Krishna Rajagopal Maria Zuber


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