The name was chosen by an anonymous donor who made the first gift toward the renovation that transformed the former Ashdown graduate residence into a new undergraduate residence renamed Fariborz Maseeh Hall this past September.
The anonymous donor’s exceptionally generous gift enabled the project to start in the midst of a difficult economic climate — and catalyzed a successful fundraising campaign that would benefit from the generosity of a number of donors. According to Vice President for Resource Development Jeffrey Newton, “Howard” has significant personal meaning for the donor, but it is not the donor’s name.
“The Howard Dining Hall will provide a new kind of dining facility that will transform campus life at MIT,” said MIT President Susan Hockfield. “It will give members of our community a beautiful new place to gather, collaborate and recharge. We could not be more grateful.
“Today’s news recalls the story of an earlier anonymous donor,” Hockfield continued. “In 1912, a ‘Mr. Smith’ stepped forward to fund the new Cambridge campus, now known as the main group. Then-president of MIT Richard Maclaurin called the donor exemplary: ‘ready to do a great thing quietly and unostentatiously.’ Nearly 100 years later, President Maclaurin’s words have renewed meaning.”
Located on the first floor of Maseeh Hall, The Howard Dining Hall will open in September as part of the new House Dining program. A primary role for The Howard will be to serve the student residents of Maseeh Hall, but The Howard will also be open to other members of the community.
“We’re thrilled to restore a centrally located dining hall to MIT’s campus, and we think dining in The Howard will be very popular with faculty, graduate students and staff, as well as with undergraduates,” said Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo.
The restored facility preserves building details such as several original fireplaces and includes private dining rooms, river views and broad, open seating areas. The Howard can accommodate up to 360 diners at a time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Like other dining halls in the new House Dining system, The Howard will feature all-you-care-to-eat service with stations that include salad bars, stir-fry, prepared entrées and a grill for burgers, pizza and other fare. The amenities include a dedicated kosher station, with kosher dinners available seven days a week. Each service will also offer a range of vegan and vegetarian fare.
The Howard Dining Hall also sets a new standard for sustainability in dining at MIT. The kitchens will employ sophisticated, energy-efficient equipment. All food scraps will be composted, and cooking oil will be reused as biodiesel.
“We are so excited for September to arrive,” said faculty Housemaster Suzanne Flynn, who will live in Maseeh Hall with her husband, Housemaster Jack Carroll. “The Howard Dining Hall will be a centerpiece for our new community, and we can hardly wait to share our first meal with students.”