John R. Curry, vice president for business and finance at Caltech and a former senior official at UCLA and the University of Southern California, has been appointed executive vice president of MIT, President Charles M. Vest has announced. Mr. Curry, 57, will take office November 15.
The executive vice president is a new position, responsible to the president for the overall leadership, management and organization of the Institute's administrative and financial affairs, including operations, financial management and planning, human resources management, information systems, resource development and facilities.
In a letter to the Administrative, Academic and Faculty Councils announcing the appointment, President Vest said, "John brings a highly regarded talent for management of research universities, and a deep understanding of both academic culture and the challenges we face. MIT is fortunate to have an exceptionally talented and dedicated staff, and with John Curry, Bob Brown and Larry Bacow on board, I believe we are well positioned to meet the opportunities of the years ahead."
"I am very pleased that John Curry has agreed to come to MIT as our new executive vice president," said Professor Paul Joskow, head of the search advisory committee. "John is an extraordinary individual. He has extensive experience with a wide range of research university administrative responsibilities and a proven track record of success. The advisory committee was extremely impressed with John's energy, leadership capabilities and his vision for and understanding of the changes that research universities like MIT must confront as we enter the next century. I am looking forward with great enthusiasm to the opportunity to work with him."
The other members of the advisory committee are Dennis Baron, director of voice, data and image networking in information Systems; Samuel W. Bodman, member of the MIT Corporation; Allan S. Bufferd, deputy treasurer and director of investments; Thomas W. Eagar, head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Thomas L. Magnanti, Institute Professor, Sloan School of Management; James L. Morgan, controller; Robert P. Redwine, professor of physics and director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science; Victoria V. Sirianni, director of Physical Plant; John S. Wilson, director of the Office of Foundation Relations and School Development Services and assistant provost for outreach; and Nancy D. Kelly, administrative officer in the President's Office, who served as staff to the committee.
Mr. Curry said what interested him in the job is "the extraordinary breadth of the role and the special array of schools and academic programs on this campus. This campus is large, complex, multifaceted. It's very exciting. I want to make sure, as I enter this role, that I understand what works and what doesn't, and get to know the people well. The challenge will be to ensure that MIT's administration works hand in hand with the academic leadership on behalf of the faculty and students."
Asked to describe his philosophy of management, he said, "To manage is to know people, to know what needs doing, and to bring the two together. I expect a high level of professionalism and strong teamwork."
He said he asked the search committee to describe what kind of administration they would like to see at MIT, and the group said, "an administration that hums." He commented, "Clearly, we will focus on a continuously improving administration. I've met many dedicated and professional staff at MIT eager to do just that. Everyone I've talked to at MIT -- faculty, administration, staff -- has a keen sense of what needs to be done in the rapidly changing competitive world we are in."
Mr. Curry was born in Philippi, W.V. He holds a BA in physics and an MA in mathematics from West Virginia University, where he and Dr. Vest were classmates. "We knew each other a little bit in college, but we had not kept in touch. I was aware of his career at Michigan and I represented USC at his inaugural in 1991," he said. "What a treat to be able to work with him after all these years."
He completed the course work for a doctorate in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University, where he served as an instructor in mathematics from 1965-67. He lectured in mathematics at Pittsburgh's Chatham College from 1967-73.
Mr. Curry then went to Stanford as a National Institutes of Mental Health Fellow, studying organizational research. In 1974, he joined the office of Stanford's provost as an administrative intern in university financial management.
In 1976, he became assistant to the executive vice president of USC. He was named director of management planning in 1978, executive director of the university budget in 1980, and vice president for budget and planning in 1986.
In 1993, he became administrative vice chancellor and chief financial officer of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and in 1995 he moved to his current job at Caltech.
The author of numerous articles on academic finance and organizational management, he is a member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers and a member of the finance committee of The College Board.
He is married to Dr. Kristine Dillon, associate vice president for student affairs at USC. They currently live in Pasadena and have two sons, Christopher, a junior at USC, and Patrick, 10.