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MIT establishes new position to promote faculty equity

MIT President Susan Hockfield and Provost L. Rafael Reif announced today the creation of a new senior leadership position, associate provost for faculty equity, within the Office of the Provost.

In a joint letter to the MIT faculty, Hockfield and Reif underscored the Institute's "extraordinary success in hiring an extremely talented and diverse faculty" over the past academic year, stating, "We are very pleased with the strong and diverse talent our department heads and deans are attracting and recruiting."

They noted that since October 2005, "52 new faculty appointments have been made, bringing exceptional research and educational strengths to MIT. Nineteen of these new faculty members (36.5 percent) are women, and six of them (11.5 percent) are from under-represented minority groups. To put this in perspective, last October the MIT faculty included 18 percent women and 4.4 percent under-represented minorities."

Hockfield and Reif declared that MIT's "efforts do not stop with attracting the best talent. We also need to ensure the retention of our talented faculty members. In short, we need to continue building on our strong momentum, to increase our efforts to identify and recruit the best talent, and to make sure that these new members of our community succeed at MIT."

The new associate provost for faculty equity, established with those goals in mind and following broad faculty consultation, will "extend the successful work of the Faculty Diversity Council since 2000. This new office will provide a focus for faculty diversity and equity issues across the Institute, including, for example: faculty recruitment and retention; promotion and career development; and work-family issues," they wrote.

The associate provost for faculty equity will coordinate the activities of the Faculty Diversity Council, help implement the recommendations of the committees that report to the council, and represent gender and diversity issues in Academic Council. The work of the associate provost for faculty equity will complement that of Associate Provost Lorna Gibson, who is responsible for faculty affairs more broadly.

Barbara Liskov, Ford Professor of Engineering, will serve as interim co-chair of the Diversity Council (along with Provost Reif) until the new associate provost is selected.

Hockfield and Reif expressed gratitude in particular to Nancy Hopkins, professor of biology, for her "immense dedication to gender equity issues at MIT. Professor Hopkins organized and chaired the first Gender Equity Committee at MIT, which served as a model for such studies nationally. Her leadership gave rise to MIT's Diversity Council, and MIT is indebted to her for all she has done for MIT and for women faculty around the nation and the world," they wrote.

The announcement letter also thanked the chairs and members of the Gender Equity Committees in all of MIT's schools, as well as the chairs and members of the Minority Faculty Recruitment Committee, the Committee on the Retention of Minority Faculty and the MLK Review Panel, for their contributions to faculty diversity at MIT.

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