Gray, Sxon to remain until successor is found
By Reuven M. Lerner
The MIT Corporation decided last Friday to resume the presidential search process, and agreed to extend the terms of President Paul E. Gray '54 and Corporation Chairman David S. Saxon '41 until a successor to Gray is found.
The announcement means that the Corporation and faculty search committees, which suspended operations last month, will soon restart their review of presidential candidates.
Before Professor Phillip A. Sharp, the committees' original choice to be the next president, pulled out of the running two weeks ago, the Corporation had been expected at its Friday meeting to approve his nomination. Sharp would then have replaced Gray on July 1, while Gray would have taken over from Saxon.
Sharp's decision to withdraw disrupted that plan, however, and left the Corporation with the choice between beginning the presidential search anew or resuming from where it left off.
The Corporation's action means that a new president could be named at the Corporation's June meeting, although that seems unlikely. In a statement released yesterday, Saxon said that the search would resume "with due deliberation and without any deadline." The search committees met Friday afternoon to discuss a timetable for continuing the search.
Professor Eugene B. Skolnikoff '49, a member of the faculty committee, said yesterday that it was "much to early to tell" if the search would be complete by June. He added that "the goal here is to get the best possible person for the job ... there is no reason to jump at anything."
According to Walter L. Milne, assistant to the chairman of the Corporation, this is the first time in the recent history of the Institute that the Corporation has extended the term of a president.
New candidates are
also being considered
Some faculty members have voiced concern that any new nominee produced by the existing search committees would be considered a "second choice" and not as good a president as they might have liked. One said, "You've got to think about how ... anyone who is picked out now" will be publicly labeled as second best.
Perhaps in response to these criticisms, the committees have decided to reconsider old candidates as well as look at new ones, with "no presumption of a closed list," according to Skolnikoff.
Saxon's statement also addressed this issue, saying that "new names have been proposed in the past two weeks."
Skolnikoff said that the committee had never determined a short list, but that fewer and fewer candidates were interviewed as the search went on. "We considered many, many names" at first, he added.
These and other comments would seem to imply that even Provost John M. Deutch '61 might be reconsidered, in addition to Stanford Engineering Dean James F. Gibbons and Economics Professor Paul L. Joskow.
Deutch was thought a front-runner until he announced his withdrawal from the search process at a January meeting of the Academic Council. In a telephone interview yesterday, he refused to comment on any aspect of the search, other than that he was willing to continue as provost until a replacement for Gray could be found.
Joskow similarly refused to comment on his candidacy.
Two additional strong contenders appear to be Michael L. Dertouzos PhD '64, director of the Laboratory for Computer Science, and Dean of Engineering Gerald L. Wilson '61. Another rumored candidate, Chemistry Chair Mark S. Wrighton, said yesterday that he had not met with the search committees since "a much earlier time," when they asked him "my views on the future of MIT."