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Initiative launched to assess minority faculty issues

Susan Hockfield
Susan Hockfield
L. Rafael Reif
L. Rafael Reif

Provost L. Rafael Reif and President Susan Hockfield have announced that MIT will 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.

The president and provost will consult broadly with the MIT faculty and community in framing plans for the new initiative.

In a Jan. 29 letter announcing the initiative, Reif told the faculty that he and Hockfield are "deeply committed to removing barriers that may exist for underrepresented minority faculty members."

Hockfield, writing to the Institute community on Feb. 2, noted that these are "issues of concern to higher education nationwide," and said, "We owe it to our students and community to take a position of leadership on this issue."

Hockfield pointed to the diversity of new arrivals to the faculty and of this year's freshman class as evidence that "concerted institutional efforts can make a difference."

Reif noted that he has discussed these issues with many members of the faculty since becoming provost. The new initiative will build on the efforts to date of committees on minority faculty recruitment and retention he appointed a year ago.

In developing plans for the new venture, the Institute will draw on the example offered by its pioneering work on gender equity, which Hockfield noted has had "lasting national and international impact."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 7, 2007 (download PDF).

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