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M.R. Smith appointed to Cutten professorship

Dr. Merritt Roe Smith, professor of the history of technology and director of the Program in Science, Technology and Society, has been named as the first holder of the Leverett Howell Cutten and William King Cutten Professorship.

The appointment, effective January 1 for a five-year renewable term, was announced by Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

The late Leverett Cutten of Allentown, PA, graduated from MIT in 1907 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He took up silversmithing as a hobby and in his retirement made the ornate four-foot MIT Mace which has been used at commencements and other ceremonial occasions since 1957. His son, William, also of Allentown, received the SB in materials science and engineering in 1939.

Professor Smith joined the MIT faculty shortly after the founding of STS in 1977, and he played a major role in the development of the doctoral program in the history and social study of science and technology. He was appointed director of STS in 1992. He has been Metcalfe Professor of Engineering and Liberal Arts, and co-director of MIT's Context Initiative.

Professor Smith received a BA in history from Georgetown University in 1963 and his MA and PhD in history, in 1965 and 1971, from Pennsylvania State University. Before coming to MIT, he was associate professor of history at the Ohio State University.

He is the author or editor of four books and numerous articles and reviews. His book, Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology: The Challenge of Change, won the 1977 Frederick Jackson Turner Award of the Organization of American Historians, the 1978 Pfizer Award of the History of Science Society, and nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in history. His latest work, a volume co-edited with Professor Leo Marx of the STS Program and entitled Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism, will be published this spring by the MIT Press.

Professor Smith is a member of the board of trustees of the Hagley Museum and Library, the Museum of American Textile History and the Charles Babbage Institute. He also edits the Johns Hopkins University Press series on the history of technology. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and most recently was elected a resident member of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 21).

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