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New faculty task force to examine tenure issues

A new MIT faculty task force has been formed to examine the process of promotion and tenure at the Institute.

Co-chaired by Chemistry Professor Robert Silbey, former dean of the School of Science, and Thomas Kochan, the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the incoming chair of the faculty, the new ad hoc committee will review existing policies, procedures, norms and practices that guide promotion and tenure decisions, including the process of considering complaints and grievances.

"MIT is firmly committed to rigorous, comprehensive and fair review for promotion and granting of tenure to faculty," Silbey and Kochan said in a statement. "As an integral part of fair practices in conducting such reviews, the Institute needs to consider seriously any complaints about procedures involved in promotion and tenure and to do so in a manner outlined in MIT's Policies and Procedures."

The task force, created by the Faculty Officers in consultation with Provost L. Rafael Reif, will review promotion practices among the Institute's five schools and consider such issues as mentoring, feedback, fairness and impartiality.

The task force's recommendations, which will likely take at least a year to compile, will be advisory and presented at a full faculty meeting after consultations with department heads, deans and senior administrators.

Task force members are: Stanford Anderson, professor, School of Architecture and Planning; Lotte Bailyn, professor of management, Sloan; Cynthia Barnhart, associate dean in the School of Engineering; Suzanne Berger, political science professor, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Edward Crawley, director of the Gordon Leadership Program and professor of aeronautics and astronautics, School of Engineering; Kai von Fintel, SHASS associate dean; Robert Freund, deputy dean and the Theresa Seley Professor, Sloan; Ahmed Ghoniem, professor of mechanical engineering, School of Engineering; Stephen Graves, the Abraham Siegel Professor of Management, Sloan; Terry Knight, professor, Department of Architecture; Chappell Lawson, associate professor of political science, SHASS; Elly Nedivi, associate professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, School of Science; Robert Sauer, biology professor, School of Science; Marcus Thompson, professor, Music and Theater Arts Section, SHASS; and Phillip Thompson, associate professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 25, 2009 (download PDF).

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