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Four are named MLK Visiting Professors

The Departments of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Political Science and Mathematics will be the academic homes for the four inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors at MIT. The new program was created to expand the presence of minority scholars at the Institute.

The appointments, announced by Provost Joel Moses, were:

  • Wesley L. Harris, an aeronautical engineer and former MIT faculty member, most recently NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics.
  • Richard A. Joseph, a political scientist from Emory University in Atlanta.
  • Steven L. Lee, a computer scientist/mathematician from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the mathematical sciences section of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Oliver G. McGee III of the Georgia Institute of Technology, an aerospace engineer who was a visiting professor here in 1993 at the Gas Turbine Laboratory.

Professor Moses, in announcing the names of the first group of MLK Visiting Professors, said, "This new program represents an important thrust in the Institute's continuing efforts to increase the presence of minority faculty, and I am extremely pleased to make these inaugural appointments."

The MLK Visiting Professors will spend varying lengths of time at MIT. Professor Harris will be here for the 1995-96 academic year. Professor Joseph will spend two academic years here, starting with the current year. Professor Lee will be here for the spring term in 1996. Professor McGee will be at MIT from April through June 1996.

The MLK Visiting Professors Program was proposed in 1994 by MIT's Martin Luther King Committee and formally announced in January 1995 by former provost Mark S. Wrighton, now chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.

The MLK Committee has planned annual events at MIT for more than two decades to celebrate the life and legacy of the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968. The committee, co-chaired by Dean Leo Osgood and Professor Michael S. Feld, proposed the program as an expansion of the MLK Visiting Scholars Program which it conceived four years ago. The objective of the new program is to support six to 12 MLK Visiting Professors in each academic year.

Appointment as an MLK Visiting Professor is open to members of all minority groups, but there will be an emphasis on African Americans.

Professor Earll M. Murman, head of aeronautics and astronautics, said, "We are very pleased that two outstanding minority scholars will be active members of Course 16 this year as MLK Visiting Professors." Professor Richard J. Samuels, head of political science, said, "Dr. Joseph is an exemplary policy intellectual who has used his considerable skills to advance public and scholarly purposes in equal measure."

Professor Harris, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, holds the BS degree (1964) in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia and the MA (1966) and PhD (1968) in aerospace and mechanical science from Princeton University. He was a member of the MIT faculty from 1972 until 1985. From 1975 to 1979 he was director of MIT's Office of Minority Education. He left MIT to become dean of engineering at the University of Connecticut, a post he held until 1990 when he became vice president of the University of Tennessee Space Institute.

Professor Joseph holds the AB degree (1965) from Dartmouth College, the B.Phil (1969) from New College, Oxford University and the D.Phil (1973) from Nuffield College, Oxford. From 1979 until 1988 he was a member of the faculty at Dartmouth. Since 1988 he has been the Asa G. Candler Professor of Political Science at Emory University. He has worked closely with The Carter Center, the organization in Atlanta formed by former President Jimmy Carter. Professor Joseph's teaching interests include African politics, comparative democratization, political theory, social and political thought and politics and literature.

Professor Lee holds the BS degree (1985) in applied mathematics from Yale University and the PhD in computer science (1993) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include differential-algebraic equations, Kaylov methods, preconditioning techniques, groundwater modeling, numerical relativity and computational fluid dynamics. In addition to his post at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the Department of Computer Science.

Professor McGee holds the BS degree (1981) from the Ohio State University and the MS (1983) and the PhD (1988) from the University of Arizona. At Georgia Tech, he is associate professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently named him the 1995 Georgia Professor of the Year. His current research interests include computational mechanics, coupled finite element and boundary element methodologies, aerothermomechanics of aircraft engines and interdisciplinary design optimization of civil and aerospace structural systems.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 18, 1995.

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