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Dean of Science Deutch named Institute provost

By Harold A. Stern

John M. Deutch '61, dean of the School of Science, has been appointed provost effective July 1, according to an announcement made by President Paul E. Gray '54 yesterday.

Deutch will succeed Francis E. Low, who has held the position since 1980. Low plans to retire June 30 in order to return to teaching and research.

As provost, Deutch will have the power to approve or reject proposals for research projects and grants. He will also be the principal deputy to Gray and serve as the university's chief academic officer.

Deutch said he will be "responsible for managing ... intellectual enterprises, consisting of all aspects of both education and research."

"Professor Deutch's background," Gray said, "in a broad range of intellectual fields, his experience in academic administration, his participation in national science policy, and his dedication to excellence in teaching and research are qualities that will serve MIT well."

Deutch hopes "to direct [his] main energies to issues which affect the quality of life" as provost. He would like to see a greater emphasis placed on undergraduate education and the role of the humanities in education and scholarship.

Improving the interaction between the schools of science and engineering is another of Deutch's goals as provost. He gave as an example, the Biotechnology Processing Center, which has been proposed to the National Science Foundation. "This facility will involve faculty from both the schools, and it appears that it is going to be granted," he added.

As dean of science, Deutch said he made "substantial efforts to improve the record of the school in regard to our hiring practices minority faculty."

"It is important that the record of MIT on attracting and retaining outstanding women and minorities actually compares not unfavorably with other universities," Deutch said. "In general it is my view that universities lag behind other parts of society -- medicine, law, and journalism -- for example."

Deutch believes that "it is essential for MIT and other American universities to have a better representation of women and minorities on the faculty."

Hiring minority faculty is difficult because there is "a limited pool for which we have to compete," he said.

Deutch will also be responsible for assigning space in MIT facilities as provost. His view of the use of these facilities for showing sexually explicit films is that "MIT is a great university ... but issues come up, and I think that it takes too much attention from our main purposes," he said.

He plans to abide by the existing policies concerning the screening of pornographic movies. "My general inclination would be to support" any decision made by Dean for Student Affairs Shirley M. McBay as to the use of facilities, he said.

A potential obstacle to naming Deutch provost was his candidacy for the presidency of Rice University. "The Chairman of the Board [of Rice] was my boss as the Secretary of Energy, and is a good friend of mine," he said.

"Norman Hackerman, [Rice's current] president, is also a friend. It was not surprising that they would come talk to me about Rice's needs," he continued.

He decided that "both my professional life and personal life would be happier for me here in Boston." Deutch explained that "A formal offer was neither made nor expected."

"I think [MIT] is a great place, and I am personally very pleased that I have been given the opportunity to be provost. I hope to make it a better place for all," he said.

Deutch has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1970. He served as head of the Chemistry department from 1976 to 1977, and then left to join the Department of Energy. He was appointed undersecretary in 1979.

Deutch served on President Jimmy Carter's Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee the following year. He returned to MIT in 1980 and was named the Arthur C. Cope Professor of Chemistry.

He currently serves on the Commission on Strategic Forces at the request of President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

The search for a successor to Deutch's position as dean of science has not yet begun, he said. "We are just now discussing how to go through an appropriate search."