Laura Avakian, vice president for human resources since 1999, will retire at the end of May, announced interim Executive Vice President Sherwin Greenblatt.
"Laura's leadership has played an important role in positioning MIT as an employer of choice for talented and dedicated staff. She has guided the development of new systems within HR and streamlined procedures for our departments, labs, and centers. Our successful Rewards and Recognition program, Leader to Leader development program, and expanded child care services all illustrate Laura's effectiveness in meeting critical challenges in a rapidly changing workplace, while the establishment of the Staff Diversity Council reflects her personal commitment to a diverse and inclusive MIT," Greenblatt wrote in a letter to members of the MIT community.
In his letter, Greenblatt invited the MIT community to join him in thanking Avakian for her contributions to the Institute. Under her leadership, MIT has been widely recognized as an outstanding place to work, he noted.
"In the year 2000, Working Mother magazine designated us one of the nation's 100 Best Places for Working Mothers, and twice in the last three years AARP has named us one of the country's 50 best employers for workers over the age of 50. Well-known to HR professionals around the country, Laura is currently president of the 4,000-member Northeast Human Resources Association," he said.
Avakian said she has "greatly enjoyed the unique challenges MIT presents" and said she is particularly proud of the Rewards and Recognition program.
Before coming to MIT, Avakian served as senior vice president of human resources for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and for its parent corporation, CareGroup, for 19 years.
Avakian, who received her bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia and her M.A. from Northwestern University, has also served as the president of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration.
In 1996, she received the Award for Professional Excellence in Human Resources Management from the Society for Human Resource Management. Additionally, Avakian has served as editor of the Yearbook of Healthcare Management and authored numerous chapters and articles on human resources management.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 1, 2006 (download PDF).