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Faculty debate communications measure at Dec. 19 meeting

Reif discusses minority faculty, grad students

At their Dec. 19 meeting, MIT faculty debated and voted down a resolution regarding Institute communications. They also received an update from Provost L. Rafael Reif on MIT's efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented minority and women faculty and graduate students.

The resolution, originally presented at the Oct. 17 faculty meeting by Kenneth Manning, Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and the History of Science, and Patrick Winston, Ford Professor of Engineering, was defeated by a 36-31 vote.

The measure asked the MIT administration to refrain from characterizing "the behavior and motives of members of the MIT community whose actions are the subject (real or potential) of pending criminal investigation."

In his update on minority faculty and graduate students, Reif indicated that steady progress has been made toward meeting the goals of a May 2004 faculty resolution advocating for sharp increases in underrepresented minority faculty and graduate students.

He reported that the faculty had experienced a net growth of 41 members in the last five years. Of this increase, 85 percent were women and 24 percent were underrepresented minorities. Even with this growth, the provost emphasized that more rapid progress is needed.

"There is still a great deal of work for us to do … to come closer to the goals of the 2004 resolution," Reif said, noting that underrepresented minorities currently make up 5.3 percent of faculty at MIT.

The provost said a key element in raising the percentage of underrepresented minorities among graduate students appears to be encouraging more to apply. He reported that only 3.4 percent of applications to MIT's graduate programs for the Fall 2007 class came from underrepresented minorities. Underrepresented minority students constituted 5.3 percent of admitted and 5.4 percent of enrolled graduate students.

Reif said women currently make up about 45 percent of MIT's undergraduate student body, 30 percent of its graduate students, 20 percent of its overall faculty and about 15 percent of its science and engineering faculty.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 16, 2008 (download PDF).

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