Skip to content ↓

Robert Brown is new provost; Bacow named chancellor

President Charles M. Vest announced Tuesday that he will recommend to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation that Dean of Engineering Robert A. Brown be appointed provost of MIT, and that Professor Lawrence S. Bacow be appointed to the new position of chancellor. Both positions will report directly to the President.

Their appointments will be effective August 1, when Professor Joel Moses steps down as provost. Dr. Moses will return to teaching and research after a sabbatical leave (see interview on page 15 with Professor Moses.) Dr. Vest also noted that the search for an executive vice president is continuing, with the expectation that an individual to fill this position will be identified this summer.

Dr. Vest said his decision to appoint two senior officers with responsibility for academic administration was made in recognition of the increasing complexity and volume of issues faced by research universities. "We are entering a period of increasing opportunity as well as challenge," he said. "I believe this new structure will enable us to better support the faculty as they recruit the very best students and professional colleagues in the face of increasing competition, sustain a vigorous level of research support, and enhance the living and learning environment for our students.

"I am delighted that Bob and Larry strongly support this concept, and I look forward to working with them to shape the agenda and garner the support necessary to accomplish our academic goals," Dr. Vest said.

As provost, Professor Brown will have responsibility for MIT's five schools, working with the deans to establish programmatic priorities and maintaining responsibility for budgetary planning to meet those priorities. He will have overall responsibility for faculty development, including the processes for recruitment, appointment, promotion and tenure, and will oversee the Institute's activities to recruit and support women and minorities in the faculty ranks. Lincoln Laboratory and several other interdisciplinary centers and programs will continue to report to the provost.

As chancellor, Professor Bacow will have line responsibility -- and will play a central coordinating role -- for education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also will be responsible for the overall management and development of MIT's large-scale institutional partnerships, both industrial and international. In addition, he will play a major role in long-range strategic planning for the Institute, in education, research and campus development.

"I am very grateful to both Bob and Larry for taking on these new responsibilities," said Dr. Vest. "While this is a new team, we have worked together in a variety of other capacities, and I look forward to working with them as we forge a strong recommitment to our core values, our sense of national and world mission, our academic excellence, and our learning community of students, faculty and staff." The president said that over the next two months, they would work together to continue to refine and optimize the structure of the two positions.

In making the announcement regarding the provost, Dr. Vest said, "Bob Brown has exhibited the leadership, commitment to excellence, and sound judgment that will serve us all very well as he assumes his new role as provost. As a member of the Academic Council, he has consistently displayed a strong interest in and understanding of our five schools and their different perspectives and cultures. Indeed, his own scholarly activities have been at the interface of science and engineering.

"Bob's commitment to diversity has been strong, continual and effective. As dean, he has been a risk-taker, and he has built consensus about bold new directions, including international activities, the engineering/biology interface and relationships with industry. In these and other activities, he nicely balances broad vision with consideration of important details and processes."


Commenting on the position of chancellor, Dr. Vest said, "This new position at the highest level of the administration will enable us not only to respond effectively to the educational challenges before us, but to lead in this core area of our mission. The chancellor will be critical to our ability to act on the forthcoming recommendations of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning." In its preliminary report, the Task Force emphasized the importance of building a learning environment based on a combination of teaching, research and community.

"Larry's dedication, versatility and skill as a teacher in three of our schools -- together with his outstanding tenure as chair of the faculty from 1995-97 -- suit him exceptionally well for this position of educational leadership," said Dr. Vest.

"The chancellor will also enable us to better implement the recommendations of the Councils on the Environment, Educational Technology, Industry Relationships and International Relationships. Larry's deep dedication to academia coupled with his outstanding organizational and diplomatic skills will serve us well," Dr. Vest said. He noted that Professor Bacow had played a very significant role in creating a consortium on global environmental challenges, which, he said, is "an example of the kind of institutional partnership with industry we will see more of in the future." Major institutional partnerships developed in recent years include those with Ford, Amgen and Merck, supporting research in the environment, design and biological sciences.

Commenting on this enhancement of the senior academic administration, Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind Williams said, "This extends and fulfills the reorganization of the ODSUE which occurred in the fall of 1996. Since then, ODSUE has come a long way in becoming a cohesive organization in support of education, both in the classroom and throughout the campus. Now we will be in a much better position to work for these educational goals because the administrative context focuses attention on them as never before."

Professor Brown, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, joined the MIT faculty in 1980 and is the Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering. He was head of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1988 to January 1996, when he was named dean of the school. An expert in fluid mechanics, transport processes and numerical methods, he has been very interested in the application of information technology in education and research and its impact on the roles of research universities.

He also has been a leader in the formation of the Division for Bioengineering and Environmental Health, a new academic unit within the School of Engineering, and has played an important role in the fundraising and project leadership for the construction of the new complex of buildings to house faculty and students in computer information and intelligence sciences.

Known as a superb teacher, he received the department's Outstanding Faculty Award from its students four times during the 1980s and the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award in 1985. Dean Brown lives in Winchester with his wife, Beverly, and their two sons, Ryan and Keith.

"I am very honored to have the opportunity to help the faculty and staff shape MIT for the coming years," said Dean Brown. "I look forward to working with President Vest, Professor Bacow and with Academic Council to help MIT respond to the tremendous opportunities that are in front of us."

Professor Bacow is the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. He received the SB in economics from MIT, the JD from Harvard Law School, and the MPP and PhD from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

A member of the MIT faculty since 1977, his teaching and research span a number of fields, including environmental economics and policy, regulation of the development process, bargaining and negotiation theory, and risk assessment. This past year he taught courses in three of MIT's schools (Sloan, Humanities and Social Science, and Architecture and Planning), and one of his courses was required for majors in environmental engineering.

Professor Bacow was the co-founder of the MIT Center for Real Estate and served as its first faculty director. From 1995-97, he served as chair of the MIT faculty, and currently serves as associate director of MIT's Center for Environmental Initiatives and co-director of the Consortium on Global Environmental Challenges. He and his wife, Adele, live in Newton with their two sons, Jay and Kenny.

Commenting on his appointment, he said, "Over the past several years, the faculty -- with help from our students -- have worked hard to plot a vision of the future through their efforts on the Task Force on Student Life and Learning, and the provost's councils. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Chuck, Bob and the deans to help make this vision a reality."������������������

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 3, 1998.

Related Topics

More MIT News