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New MIT committee will study effects of race on minority faculty careers

Provost L. Rafael Reif has announced that MIT will establish a committee of leaders within the Institute to undertake a comprehensive, rigorous and systematic study of the effects that race may have in the hiring, advancement and experience of underrepresented minority faculty at MIT.

In a letter to the faculty, Reif asserted that he and MIT President Susan Hockfield are "deeply committed to removing barriers that may exist for underrepresented minority faculty members."

In setting up the new committee and in defining its role, the administration will use as a guide the Institute's groundbreaking 1999 study of the status of women in science at MIT. The president and provost will work with MIT minority faculty and others to establish the new committee.

The announcement came in a letter from the provost that discussed the process MIT had followed in reviewing the tenure case of Associate Professor James L. Sherley. Noting that Sherley alleges that race was a factor in the decision not to grant him tenure, Reif wrote, "We consider charges of this nature with the utmost seriousness. Issues of fairness and the integrity of our academic processes are matters of fundamental concern to the Institute."

The provost's letter outlined a sequence of three faculty reviews of the process in Sherley's tenure case that took place between January 2005 and December 2006. To read the full text of the provost's letter to the faculty, please go to web.mit.edu/provost/letters/letter01292007.html.

To read more about MIT's pioneering studies of the status of women in the School of Science (1999) and in the Schools of Architecture, Engineering, Management, and Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (2002), please go to web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2002/genderequity.html.

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