President Charles M. Vest, noting some progress in increasing diversity among the administrative staff, said much remains to be done. He called for a continued commitment to affirmative action in employment and education "to ensure equality of opportunity. at the Institute."
In a statement issued in anticipation of the Martin Luther King holiday and on the 20th anniversary of MIT's celebration of Dr. King's life, President Vest said the first requirement is to create on the campus "an atmosphere of civility, collegiality, and mutual respect-one that stimulates and supports all of our faculty, students and staff." (See accompanying statement).
Dr. Vest has often said that one can see the changing demographic face of America among MIT students, but not as much among staff and faculty. He has noted that some progress is being made, however, citing such areas as the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, the Medical Department, Athletics and Resource Development. Managers throughout the Institute have been urged to give increased attention to career development and mentoring of their staff members, and specific career development assistance-including further education and professional training-has been provided to several minority administrators.
President Vest said that a specific action that will demonstrate renewed commitment to affirmative action in employment at MIT is "thoughtful and effective recruitment and career development of minorities for positions at all levels." This is necessary, he said, "to ensure their greater and more effective participation in MIT's workforce."
A major step in helping MIT maintain its commitment to equality of opportunity in education was the successful conclusion of the litigation with the federal government on financial aid. MIT views its commitment to need-blind admission and need-based support as vital in this regard, President Vest has said.
Despite current fiscal constraints, Dr. Vest and Provost Mark S. Wrighton announced earlier that special programs that assist departments in seeking minority faculty and women for faculty posts will continue to be funded. In the last three years, 11 new minority faculty members have been hired, four of whom are women. In addition to those four, there have been 21 women professors hired in the last three years. The Provost's Office also reported that several current offers of faculty positions made through these two recruitment programs are under consideration.
"MIT has always been a place where people with exceptional talents and intellect have gathered to work, to explore, to learn and to teach. Success in these efforts will enable us not only to reflect the changing face of America, but to draw on the full range of talents needed to meet the challenges of a changing world," Dr. Vest said in his statement.
A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 19).