Skip to content ↓

Community members greet MIT’s 18th president

With donuts and cider in hand, students, faculty, and staff gathered on Hockfield Court to speak with President-elect Sally Kornbluth and celebrate her appointment.
Press Inquiries

Press Contact:

Abby Abazorius
Phone: 617-253-2709
MIT News Office

Media Download

Sally Kornbluth, middle, poses for a picture with a member of The Choralaries in a red shirt, left, and another member of the MIT community in front of s red curtain
Download Image
Caption: Incoming president Sally Kornbluth greeted the MIT community during an event held on Oct. 27.
Credits: Image: Bryce Vickmark
From left to right, Diane Green, Sally Kornbluth, and Rafael Reif stand and applaud amid the crowd
Download Image
Caption: Chair of the MIT Corporation Diane Green (center left) and Sally Kornbluth (center right) applauded the MIT Chorallaries.
Credits: Image: Bryce Vickmark
The Chorallaries, made up of about ten students, perform on stage in front of a red and white backdrop
Download Image
Caption: The Chorallaries, a co-ed a cappella group at MIT, entertained the community at the event.
Credits: Image: Bryce Vickmark
Rafael Reif speaking with Sally Kornbluth in a crowd
Download Image
Caption: Outgoing president L. Rafael Reif greeted incoming president Sally Kornbluth.
Credits: Image: Bryce Vickmark

*Terms of Use:

Images for download on the MIT News office website are made available to non-commercial entities, press and the general public under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license. You may not alter the images provided, other than to crop them to size. A credit line must be used when reproducing images; if one is not provided below, credit the images to "MIT."

Close
Sally Kornbluth, middle, poses for a picture with a member of The Choralaries in a red shirt, left, and another member of the MIT community in front of s red curtain
Caption:
Incoming president Sally Kornbluth greeted the MIT community during an event held on Oct. 27.
Credits:
Image: Bryce Vickmark
From left to right, Diane Green, Sally Kornbluth, and Rafael Reif stand and applaud amid the crowd
Caption:
Chair of the MIT Corporation Diane Green (center left) and Sally Kornbluth (center right) applauded the MIT Chorallaries.
Credits:
Image: Bryce Vickmark
The Chorallaries, made up of about ten students, perform on stage in front of a red and white backdrop
Caption:
The Chorallaries, a co-ed a cappella group at MIT, entertained the community at the event.
Credits:
Image: Bryce Vickmark
Rafael Reif speaking with Sally Kornbluth in a crowd
Caption:
Outgoing president L. Rafael Reif greeted incoming president Sally Kornbluth.
Credits:
Image: Bryce Vickmark

On a warm, sunny afternoon last Thursday, MIT’s community gathered under a tent on Hockfield Court to meet the Institute’s next president, Sally Kornbluth.

Amid a festive, celebratory atmosphere that included live music and fall treats, Kornbluth soaked in MIT’s culture; chatted with faculty, students, and staff; heard from members of MIT leadership; and took innumerable selfies with community members.

The event featured talks by Kornbluth and MIT Corporation Chair Diane Greene SM ’78, as well as performances by MIT a cappella group the Chorallaries. Following a musical performance including MIT’s school song, Kornbluth traveled through the tent greeting community members, who shared their excitement and ideas with her.

In her remarks, Kornbluth acknowledged she has much to learn about MIT, but Thursday’s event was an early chance to immerse herself in MIT’s community and begin the learning process — what she happily described as “drinking from the firehose.”

“I want to leave you with one standing request,” Kornbluth concluded. “I want to know what you know about MIT. I want to know what you love about MIT, what makes you proud, and where you think that, by working together, we could make MIT even better.”

The lively gathering was accented by upbeat music and aromas from abundant refreshments and snacks, including spreads of apple cider and popular donut walls in every corner of the tent.

It’s a wonderfully open community that doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on hierarchy,” said David I. Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science, professor of physics, and associate dean of Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing in the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. “The undergraduates should be rubbing elbows with the provost and the president-elect and everyone in between. That’s what we get to do today, and not every place is like that. I think Dr. Kornbluth saw that about MIT and I think that resonated deeply with her.”

Greene opened her remarks by thanking current President L. Rafael Reif for his 10 years of service to MIT, prompting a standing ovation. She also recognized the presidential search committee, which for the first time included undergraduate and graduate students as well as members of the MIT Corporation, faculty, and staff.

“This committee made unprecedented efforts to seek input from all members of our community as well as the broader higher ed community,” Greene said.

Kornbluth’s appointment marks a notable time in MIT’s history. When she takes office, MIT’s president, provost, and chancellor will all be women.

Members of the search committee expressed an appreciation for Kornbluth’s desire to get to know every corner of the MIT community as she begins supporting its work.

She speaks all the languages of MIT, from the humanities to social sciences, design, as well as basic science and engineering,” said committee member Nicholas de Monchaux, a professor and head of MIT’s Department of Architecture. “That’s a very rare and unique quality, but more than that, it was clear to us [Dr. Kornbluth] has a complete and total curiosity and humility about ideas and knowledge, which is to say she’s coming in wanting to learn from us, and that’s so much the spirit of MIT.”

During Kornbluth’s conversations, some community members offered advice and mementos, while others extended a simple welcome message. The exchanges marked the beginning of a learning process Kornbluth and the community seemed eager to begin.

“It was such a privilege to get to know Dr. Kornbluth even a little bit during the search process and I’m excited the rest of the community now gets that same opportunity,” Kaiser said. “She has so much to learn with and from us, but I think people are really going to enjoy getting to know her as well.”

In describing the event, Kornbluth used an analogy from her favorite type of science fiction, when an intrepid explorer makes contact with a new civilization.

“This is kind of like that, except that all of you have gone out of your way to make sure I don’t feel like an alien, so thank you.”

Related Links

Related Topics

Related Articles

More MIT News

Wind turbines on the top of a hill

A healthy wind

Health benefits of using wind energy instead of fossil fuels could quadruple if the most polluting power plants are selected for dialing down, new study finds.

Read full story