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Kolenbrander named VP for Institute affairs

Kirk D. Kolenbrander
Kirk D. Kolenbrander
Photo / Kathryn Willmore

President Susan Hockfield today announced that Kirk D. Kolenbrander, senior advisor to the president, has been named vice president for Institute affairs. He has also been nominated to become the new secretary of the Corporation, replacing Kathryn A. Willmore, who will step down from that post and from the vice presidency at the end of the academic year.

The Executive Committee of the Corporation last week unanimously approved Kolenbrander's appointment and voted to recommend his election as secretary to the full Corporation. His nomination will be brought to the trustees' quarterly meeting in March.

He is slated to assume both positions on July��1.

"Kirk has demonstrated a deep commitment to MIT during his 16 years here," Hockfield said in her announcement, which was sent to the community by e-mail. "He draws on wide-ranging experience as both an administrator and a member of the faculty, and his service to our community has been recognized by Institute-wide awards for distinction in undergraduate teaching and for contributions to student life."

Kolenbrander has served as senior advisor to the president, acting as chief of staff and policy advisor, since December��2004.

As vice president for Institute affairs, Kolenbrander will have overall responsibility for MIT's internal communications activities and for coordination of policy issues within the senior administration. Conference Services, Special Events, the Information Center, the Publishing Services Bureau and the Reference Publications Office will report to him.

As secretary of the Corporation, he would be ex officio a member of the board of trustees. He would oversee the administration of the full range of its operations including membership, quarterly meetings, standing committees and the activities of 30 visiting committees. He is also expected to serve as secretary of the Executive Committee, and in that role manage the flow of issues and decisions between the administration and trustees.

"Over the course of my time here, I have truly fallen in love with MIT," Kolenbrander said. "It is a great privilege to have this new opportunity to serve the Institute, and to work with President Hockfield and the chairman of the Corporation, Dr. Dana G. Mead. The shared focus of these new responsibilities is the wonderful people of the MIT community -- trustees, faculty, students and staff alike. I have been fortunate to learn much from Kathryn Willmore since I joined the administration, and it is an honor to succeed her in these roles."

Hockfield has also announced that a search will soon begin to fill a new position in the administration: vice president for external relations. "This individual will take a leading role in coordinating MIT's communications with external constituencies and audiences including government and the media," she said.

Kolenbrander, who came to MIT as a faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 1990, moved into the chancellor's office in 1998, serving as associate dean and then interim dean for student life. He became special assistant to the president and the chancellor in 2001, before taking on his present position.

Kolenbrander holds a B.A. in chemistry from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and received the Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1988.

Kolenbrander and his wife, Terri, and their two daughters live in Belmont.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 8, 2006 (download PDF).

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