Introduction@ByName:By Prabhat Mehta
The past year may well be remembered as a time when MIT concluded a period of major change and prepared for the challenges of a new decade. A fitting symbol of the new era will be the inauguration of MIT's 15th president in July. Questions of MIT's role in society will have to be addressed as the Institute searches for direction in a post-Cold War world. Defense department cutbacks and federal budget constraints will undoubtedly put a dent in MIT's large government grants, forcing a review of research goals.
In part, that review has already begun. Critics of MIT's links with industry ignited a debate which went to Congress in June. Paul Gray was "ambushed" there by questions of technology transfer to foreign companies involved in the Industrial Liaison Program. David Noble, one of the most outspoken critics of the Institute's links with industry, continues his three-year tenure suit, claiming that he had been rejected because of his views.
A larger issue of concern to those involved in the presidential search has been MIT's future role in public affairs. The MIT Commission on Industrial Productivity completed a book in May calling for a new emphasis on science and technology in education. Stemming from a growing concern over American competitiveness, recommendations of this nature will likely generate considerable discussion.
Closer to campus, the end of an era was marked by the conclusion of debate on key educational reform measures and a retreat from admissions liberalization.
Attention has shifted to housing -- likely to become the most important and volatile issue in the next few years -- and the mounting deficit and tuition problems. With the specter of a Justice Department anti-trust investigation looming over the heads of administrators from here to Stanford, the problem of bloated tuition costs may soon turn into a battle for financial survival between high-priced universities and near-broke parents and students.
Singular events also played an important part in shaping the year that was. Nobel laureate David Baltimore '61 announced that he would leave his position as head of the Whitehead Institute to become president of Rockefeller University. Hundreds of activists participated in two marches on Washington, DC, in support of a woman's right to choose.
But perhaps the most emotional and painful event of the year was the death of MIT's beloved professor, Harold E. Edgerton SM '27. His pioneering technological accomplishments and his contribution to the education of the many hundreds of students who passed through his laboratory and classes are immeasurable.
The staff of The Tech
Copyright 1990 by The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, February 6, 1990.
Volume 110, Year in Review
The story was printed on page 3.
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