MIT announced today that it has created a new associate provost position, to be filled by Timothy Jamison, the Robert R. Taylor Professor of Chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry. The Institute is also launching an expansive search for a new Institute community and equity officer (ICEO).
The new approach is intended to bolster MIT’s ability to implement programs and strategies that advance diversity, inclusion, equity, a positive climate, and a sense of community. It will also enable the Institute to conduct rigorous self-assessment of its own progress on these issues.
Jamison, who will serve as associate provost for a three-year term, will work with the incoming ICEO to help MIT’s departments create an inclusive campus community. Both Jamison and the ICEO will report to MIT Provost Martin A. Schmidt, who announced the new approach today in an email to the MIT community.
“I am delighted that Tim has agreed to assume this important role. Since 2015, he has led energetic efforts to enhance the quality of life for all members of the Department of Chemistry, and I have been tremendously impressed with his insight, sensitivity, and ability to inspire positive change,” Schmidt wrote in the email.
“I am very grateful for and look forward to this new opportunity to serve the Institute,” Jamison says. “It has been a privilege and pleasure to be head of the Department of Chemistry for the past four years. Looking ahead to this new role, my overarching aim is to support the faculty and their roles in the MIT community. My highest priorities include promoting diversity, inclusion, equity, and community, and to facilitate the search for our next ICEO.”
Alyce Johnson, who has been serving as MIT’s interim ICEO, is retiring this summer after a distinguished career in the Instutute’s leadership ranks. Since last fall, she has been consulting with the MIT community and working with Schmidt to plan the new path forward.
“I am extremely grateful to Alyce for her service as interim ICEO, and for her thoughtful engagement and guidance,” Schmidt wrote to the community.
“I appreciate the broad strategic approach these two roles embody in MIT’s long-standing pursuit of excellence in equity, inclusion and belonging,” Johnson says. “While we continue to collaborate and make forward strides, having dedicated leadership in this area will have a substantial impact on advancing our vision in a more directed and measurable way. We will benefit from the depth of knowledge and experience that both Tim and the new ICEO can bring.”
The new ICEO search will be open to candidates beyond the ranks of MIT faculty, a shift from how the position was originally implemented. This allows MIT to broaden the search and include experts with professional backgrounds in diversity and equity issues. This change was made after consideration of input from the MIT community.
MIT’s ICEO position was created in 2013 to advance activities and public discussion in the areas of community, equity, inclusion, and diversity — comprehensively across the Institute, for students, staff, and faculty. The first ICEO at the Institute, Ed Bertschinger, served from 2013 to 2018 and oversaw a widely read 2015 report identifying a range of inclusion issues in need of ongoing attention.
Jamison will assume his new role beginning July 1. Jamison has been an MIT faculty member since 1999; he earned tenure in 2006 and was promoted to full professor in 2009.
As the new associate provost, Jamison will work to further codify and implement equitable practices across the full range of faculty experiences — including hiring practices, as well as review, promotion, and tenure cases. He says there are also important equity issues centered around the fair distribution of service roles among faculty, which he expects to evaluate as well.
The associate provost will work extensively with MIT’s MindHandHeart coalition — a campus initiative founded in 2015 that develops new approaches in support of health, well-being, and inclusion for people in the MIT community.
MindHandHeart often develops programs tailored to specific portions of the MIT community, an effort that converges with the associate provost’s goal of providing more departmental-level support at MIT, says Maryanne Kirkbride, the executive administrator of MindHandHeart. “We’re looking forward to working with Tim and the next ICEO to develop better individualized support for our academic departments,” she says.
Additionally, Jamison will bring new support to departments, as well as MIT’s five schools and the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, to help them create a fully professional climate of inclusion and community in daily life at the Institute.
Jamison brings a record of service and experience to these matters. He and Paula Hammond, head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, are currently co-chairs of a working group focused on implementing recommendations from a recent report on sexual harrassment produced by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The chemistry department, under the supervision of Jamison along with Sarah Rankin, the Institute’s Title IX cooordinator, and Kelley Adams, assistant dean in the Division of Student Life, has also instituted all-inclusive workshops on preventing sexual harrassment at MIT. Similar programs are now being implemented elsewhere at the Institute, including the chemical engineering department.
In the near future, Schmidt stated, he hopes that the presence of Jamison as associate provost, alongside the incoming ICEO, “will help us to move together toward our goal of One MIT.”