Gray to resign and head MIT Corporation
Institute begins search for a new president
By Andrew L. Fish
MIT President Paul E. Gray '54 announced Friday that he will resign his position in July 1990. David S. Saxon '41, chairman of the MIT Corporation, announced that he will retire at the same time and that Gray will succeed him as chairman. The MIT Corporation is forming the Committee on the Presidency to search for Gray's successor.
The resignation and retirement were revealed at Friday's meeting of the MIT Corporation.
Gray has served as President since July 1980; Saxon has chaired the Corporation since July 1983. "Paul and I have talked for some time [about the transition]," Saxon said. Saxon will be 70 in 1990, and he believed he should follow the "general practice of the Institute" of retiring at that time.
In addition, 1990 will mark the 10th year of Gray's presidency. He accepted the post with the notion of serving a decade.
Saxon named Carl M. Mueller '41 to chair the Corporation Committee on the Presidency. Mueller chaired the search committees which selected both Gray as President and Saxon as Chairman. The committee's size and membership have not been determined, said Walter L. Milne, assistant to the chairman and to the president.
Saxon asked Professor Bernard J. Frieden, the chairman of the faculty, to form a faculty advisory committee to the Corporation committee. Frieden said he did not find out about Gray's resignation until Friday morning. He did not know what the faculty committee's size or composition would be, and he did not know the time frame in which it would work.
Saxon's hope was that the search would be completed by the start of 1990. It took the Corporation 10 months to select Gray after former President Jerome B. Wiesner announced his retirement.
Milne, who will assist Mueller's committee, said the search will be national, and possibly international, in scope. "It is totally an open-ended process" -- there is no bias in favor or against candidates currently at MIT, Milne said.
The last MIT President who was not employed by the Institute at the time of his selection was Karl T. Compton, who served from 1930-1949. His five successors (including Gray) were all affiliated with the Institute when they were named.
But "one should not start with the presumption that [the new president] is an insider," Saxon cautioned. While individuals affiliated with MIT would have an advantage in the search process since they "know the system," Saxon believed any such candidate "must compare with the best people in the nation."
Even though there has been a recent history of appointing individuals from inside the Institute to the presidency, Gray said "that's not a settled issue." But he acknowledged that "there may be some folks inside who may be qualified [for the position]."
Gray said that it would be "improper for a sitting President to play a role in a search," and that he would not assist the committee unless it came to him with questions. For the same reason, he would not speculate about what qualities the next president should have.
The search committee will look at "what the issues and agenda of the Institute [will be] in the next ten years," Milne said. It will then focus on the qualities of each candidate, and how each is suited to the committee's goals.