The Institute will open the doors of Walker Memorial to the entire MIT community on Tuesday, April 8 from 4:30-6:30pm to honor Dr. Paul E. Gray and Priscilla King Gray, who have been mainstays of MIT for more than four decades. The reception will give colleagues and friends the opportunity to greet the Grays and celebrate with them their contributions to MIT.
Dr. and Mrs. Gray have long been appreciated for their commitment to the life and activities of the Institute, nurturing thousands of students both in the classroom and inside their home. Dr. Gray's MIT career encompasses many roles from undergraduate to Chairman of the Corporation.
MIT will honor Dr. Gray by raising an endowment in his name for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Results of fund- raising for the Paul E. Gray (1954) Endowed UROP Fund will be announced on May 17 at a gala for the couple at Walker Memorial for 400 donors and friends.
"Endowing the UROP program is a wonderfully fitting tribute to Paul Gray," said President Charles M. Vest. "It symbolizes well Paul's deep commitment to the MIT undergraduate experience. Of course, it goes well beyond symbolism to ensure a strong future for this remarkably important and effective component of an MIT education. Paul Gray and UROP are both universally admired and respected. It is very appropriate to tie them together in this manner."
In July, Dr. Gray will complete his service as chairman of the Corporation and plans to spend more time teaching and advising undergraduates in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, where he is a faculty member. Teaching long has been one of his greatest passions. "It is the students," he once wrote, "who provide us with the capacity-and the imperative-for continuous self-renewal. They are a fountain of youth and keep this place young, vigorous, and committed to the idea of a future different from and far better than the past we have known." "Paul Gray took more care with his classes than anyone else I have ever known, and he is a leader of great vision, integrity and dedication," one faculty member has said.
As associate provost in 1969, Dr. Gray backed Margaret MacVicar, then a young faculty member, in her efforts to launch a program to involve undergraduates in faculty research. The pair persuaded a sometimes skeptical faculty to establish UROP, which in the past 25 years has transformed undergraduate education at MIT.
UROP was the first program of its kind in the country. It is now the largest, and has become a national model. Incoming freshman often say that UROP is one of MIT's biggest attractions; by the time they graduate, three-quarters of them have participated.
Despite its popularity, the future of the program depends on new sources of support. The cost of a UROP student on a research grant is now roughly twice what it was before 1994, when federal regulations regarding reimbursement for such activities changed. Establishing an endowment for UROP will bring permanence and stability to the program.
Dr. Gray came to MIT from Livingston, NJ, in 1950 to study electrical engineering. He earned three MIT degrees and went on to become a faculty member, dean of engineering, associate provost, chancellor, and the 14th president of the Institute before he became chairman of the Corporation in October 1990.
Priscilla King Gray likewise has a long history of dedication to MIT and the larger community, as well as to her own family of four children and 11 grandchildren. In the 10 years during which her husband was president of MIT, Mrs. Gray hosted an estimated 80,000 people in the President's House.
Since 1988, Mrs. Gray has co-chaired the steering committee of the MIT Public Service Center. She was instrumental in establishing the PSC, which matches students with volunteer opportunities in the community. With the PSC's help, students can run a charity program, tutor children or read to the blind, and in return they develop leadership skills, responsibility and compassion.
Mrs. Gray also played a major role in raising funds for a fellowship program for MIT students. The resulting Priscilla King Gray Fund now supports the PSC's endowment. Mrs. Gray herself is a longtime volunteer at Children's Hospital in Boston and at MIT, and she has for many years taught a Women's League class in crewel embroidery.
---------------------------How to Contribute---------------------------
Gifts to either the PaulE. Gray (1954) Endowed UROPFund or the Priscilla KingGray Endowment Fund for thePublic Service Center shouldbe sent to Bonny Kellerman,MIT Office of the Treasurer,238 Main St., Cambridge,MA 02142. Questions aboutthe funds should be directedto Lucy Miller or JennyHertig in Resource Develop-ment, x3-2066, .
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 3, 1997.