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Faculty team will develop initiative on race issues

A core team of faculty representing all five of MIT's schools has been appointed to develop the Institute's new initiative on faculty race issues, Provost L. Rafael Reif announced in a letter to the faculty e-mailed today.

The members of the new core team are Professors Emery N. Brown (science), Paula T. Hammond (engineering), Leslie K. Norford (architecture and planning), Christine Ortiz (engineering), Marcus A. Thompson (humanities arts and social sciences) and JoAnne Yates (MIT Sloan).

"This new initiative will provide the background necessary to allow us to develop effective mechanisms to strengthen the representation and career experiences of underrepresented minority faculty at MIT. I expect this initiative to bring about real and measurable change at MIT and to make the Institute a leader and a model in minority faculty recruitment and retention," Reif wrote.

As announced in February 2007, the initiative will study how race affects the recruitment, retention, professional opportunities, and collegial experiences of underrepresented minority faculty members at MIT, Reif noted.

The core team will "consult closely with the MIT minority faculty, with leaders of the MIT community and with the faculty broadly to define the process and determine the resources required for a comprehensive, rigorous and systematic study of these issues. I have asked the core team to review its recommendations with the minority faculty and with the Council on Faculty Diversity before submitting them to me by the end of this academic year," Reif stated.

The initiative itself will be launched following the consultative process Reif outlined in his letter. Once launched, it will be merged into the committees on minority faculty recruitment and retention established in January 2006.

"We anticipate that the initiative will be similar in scope and in impact-both at MIT and across the nation-to our earlier studies of gender equity in the faculty, which began with the study of women in the School of Science (1999) and went on to include the other four schools in reports released almost exactly five years ago," Reif wrote.

In his letter, Reif noted that ideas, perspectives and suggestions on the new initiative may be sent to

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 4, 2007 (download PDF).

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