Gates chosen as new OME directorBy Ben Stanger
Associate Provost Frank E. Perkins appointed Associate Professor S. James Gates '73 acting director of the Office of Minority Education until the search committee finds a replacement.
Gates worked for Project Interphase, an OME program, from 1971 to 1982.
The organization of a search committee to find a director for the OME is almost completed, Perkins said: "I hope by the end of the week to have [the committee]."
The committee will include several minority students, Perkins said. He has received a number of nominations for the positions. The application deadline was last Wednesday.
Perkins said Gates will probably not head any major initiatives, because he will only be acting director for this semester, and possibly part of the summer.
Gates concurred with Perkins: he does not plan to initiate any major projects. He does, however, have some objectives he wishes to accomplish as acting director.
"I've set a modest goal, which is to get more students involved in the office," he said.
The purpose of the OME has been "to provide a means for minority students to interact with [the MIT bureaucracy] so that changes could be made. I've been disturbed by what I perceive as an estrangement between students and the office," Gates said.
The OME has always been concerned with providing academic support, he said. Some "quasi-academic" programs which give strategies for success at MIT have also been formed through the OME, he added.
Changes have occurred in both the minority community and the OME since its formation, but it would be difficult to predict any future course, he said.
Gates said that minority problems at MIT are the same as those all over the United States. "Forces which tend to draw the society apart are also present at MIT," he said.
Although Gates is not involved in the search for a new OME director, he described the qualities he would like the director to have. The most important quality would be the ability to listen to students.
Difficulties have occurred when past OME directors tried to impose their solutions to problems without first listening to students, he said.
He hopes that students will be eager to participate in the OME by the time he leaves the office.
Gates feels another important quality the new director should have is an understanding of MIT's bureaucracy: "It takes someone who is both perceptive and lucky to run the office in the best manner possible."