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Council for the Arts at MIT welcomes Rachel Bennett as its new director

The Council has funded arts programs at MIT for 44 years.
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Rachel Bennett, director, Council for the Arts at MIT
Rachel Bennett, director, Council for the Arts at MIT
Courtesy of Rachel Bennett

The Arts at MIT is pleased to announce that Rachel Bennett will assume the position of director of the Council for the Arts at MIT (CAMIT) on September 19, 2016.

Bennett has been at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston since 2011 and most recently served as the manager of friends of Fenway Court. In this role, she directed the museum’s patron program, where her capacity for building relationships, managing projects, and solving problems helped achieve record results. She helped develop innovative new programs, including “The Gardner Remixed,” and execute many events during her time at the institution, including the museum’s annual gala. Bennett supported the Campaign for the Gardner — a $180 million fundraising campaign, the largest in museum history — and participated in the opening of the museum’s new Renzo Piano-designed building. She also collaborated with the director of development and the director of individual giving, contributing to several new fundraising initiatives, including a sponsorship program and an honorary fund in recognition of the museum’s longstanding director, Anne Hawley.

The Council has served the arts at MIT for 44 years with unflagging enthusiasm and support since it was founded in 1972 by Jerome B. Wiesner, the 13th president of MIT. The organization was created to support “a broadly based, highly participatory program in the arts, firmly founded on teaching, practice, and research at the Institute.” As the chair of the Council, Rick Stone, comments, “CAMIT is approaching its 50th anniversary, and we seek to renew and expand its mandate. Rachel is energetic, innovative, and deeply committed to the arts.  She will help us to build communities to support the arts at MIT. I'm very excited that she will become the Council’s new director.”

The director’s search was led by Philip Khoury, the associate provost with responsibility for the arts, and Leila Kinney, executive director of arts initiatives, and included three advisors from the Council for the Arts: Rick Stone '76, chair; Karen Arenson '70, vice-chair; and Jim Champy '63, who serves on the MIT Corporation. “It was an enlightening and rigorous process,” Arenson notes. “Rachel drew raves from her colleagues and her superiors alike at the Gardner Museum. She is a thoughtful, lovely person, with experience and vision, and I am looking forward to working with her.”

Bennett will work closely with Kinney, Khoury, and the Office of the Arts to strengthen CAMIT’s connections to the Institute, including faculty in the School of Architecture and Planning and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, as well as the leaders of the Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST), the List Visual Arts Center, and the MIT Museum. She is eager to work with students in the many programs that CAMIT supports, especially through the annual grants cycle and the Arts Scholars program, which was endowed by the Council.  

Bennett earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, with a secondary field in English, from Harvard College. She participated in two excavations, the Kenchreai Archaeological Field School in Corinth, Greece and the Harvard Yard Archaeology Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

CAMIT is a group of up to 100 alumni and friends of MIT who support and promote the arts at the Institute. Council members are appointed for three-year, renewable terms by MIT’s president to serve as advocates and ambassadors for the arts at MIT.

Annual donations by CAMIT members fund a wide array of programs and arts events at MIT, including the List Visual Arts Center and the MIT Museum, arts awards, visiting artists, concerts, and performances. Also, CAMIT members fund the popular tickets program, which provides free or subsidized access for MIT students to local arts organizations and performance events, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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