Advancing Diversity, Inclusion and Community

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“One of my goals as president is to cultivate a caring community focused on MIT’s shared values of excellence, meritocracy, openness, integrity and mutual respect. I also want to help the entire MIT community to draw strength and energy from our extraordinary diversity of experiences and backgrounds.” — MIT President Rafael Reif, April 2013

At the end of MIT’s first term of classes, in the spring of 1868, there were 28 students. They were all male, all Caucasian, all US-born, and primarily from the greater Boston area.

The MIT Freshman Class of 2018  of 1,043 students is 48% female, 51% Caucasian, and 9% international. They come from 48 states and 53 countries.

MIT understands that diversity spans the whole array of human characteristics that differentiate and shape us, including, but certainly not limited to, race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic background, age, religion, and language. For MIT’s students to contribute to future research areas and lead in global communities, we must prepare them to step outside their own worldviews, to appreciate other people’s life experiences and to engage their perspectives.

Therefore, MIT has reenergized its efforts to create a culture of inclusion, so MIT can actively capitalize on our community’s diverse skills and perspectives, and better advance the fundamental mission of MIT to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”

Here are some highlights:

  • Accreditation– Every 10 years, MIT invites the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) to perform an accreditation evaluation. In October 2009 the Institute was pleased to share with the accreditation committee an extensive report on diversity and inclusion efforts. These related to Faculty Diversity, Supporting a Diverse Community, and Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Diversity Leadership Congress– The Diversity Leadership Congress in November 2008 brought 300 faculty, staff and students together for a half day of speakers and small group discussion regarding how to advance diversity and inclusion on campus. This event resulted in dozens of recommendations and ideas many of which are reflected in the design of this website.
  • Annual Report on Diversity– Provost Rafael Reif initiated an Annual Report on Diversity to the MIT Corporation in November 2008. This report highlighted the activities of the Associate Provosts for Faculty Equity, the Committee on Race and Diversity, the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education.
  • Excellence Awards– MIT’s Excellence Awards program added a category in 2008 to recognize individuals and teams that “Foster Diversity and Inclusion.” The first recipients of this award were Associate Professor Eric Hudson, Associate Dean and Co-Director of Student Support Services Arnold Henderson, Jr., and the MIT Medical Department Diversity Steering Committee.
  • Associate Provosts for Faculty Equity– Professors Barbara H. Liskov and Wesley L. Harris were appointed as the first Associate Provosts for Faculty Equity in September of 2007. The scope of the position included four central issues, according to Provost Rafael Reif: “faculty recruitment, faculty retention, providing a supportive environment for career development and promotion, and work-family issues.”
  • Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity– Provost Rafael Reif launched the Initiative on Faculty Race in Diversity in April 2007 “to study how race affects the recruitment, retention, professional opportunities, and collegial experiences of under-represented minority faculty members at MIT.” Headed by Professor Paula Hammond, the team presented the Report on the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity in February 2010.
  • Faculty Resolution– At its May 2004 Faculty Meeting, the faculty committed “to taking a leadership position among our peer institutions in the recruiting and success of underrepresented minority faculty and graduate students.” The resolution “urges the provost, academic deans, dean of graduate education and department heads to take all necessary and sufficient steps to increase the percent of underrepresented minority faculty by roughly a factor of two within a decade.” The resolution urges the MIT leadership to use identical methods to increase the percentage of underrepresented minority graduate students by roughly a factor of three within a decade.
  • Gender Equity Project– In March 1999, MIT released “A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT,” an analysis of the women faculty members at MIT’s School of Science. This report addressed the question of why, 30 years after civil rights and affirmative action legislation, there are still so few women on the science faculty. Responses to this report led to the creation of the Gender Equity Project, the creation of school-based gender equity committees, and the naming of the first Associate Provost for Gender Equity, Barbara Liskov.
  • MSRP– The MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP) began in 1986 to address the issue of underrepresentation of African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans in engineering and science in the United States. MSRP identifies talented sophomores, juniors, and non-graduating seniors who might benefit from spending a summer on MIT’s campus, working in a research laboratory under the guidance of experienced MIT scientists and engineers. Students who participate in this program will be better prepared and motivated to pursue advanced degrees, thereby helping to sustain a rich talent pool in critical areas of research and innovation.
  • MITES– MIT’s signature minority outreach program is MITES, the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science. Created in 1975 to address the low numbers of minority students pursuing advanced technical degrees, the MITES Program is a rigorous six-week residential, academic enrichment summer program for talented high school students who are interested in studying and exploring careers in science and engineering.

The above is a sampling of MIT’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.