New Whitehead director likely to be named soon@ByName:By Joanna Stone
"We`re down to the short list. The next Whitehead board meeting is at the end of this month; we`re hoping an announcement will be possible at that time," said Richard O. Hynes PhD '71, head of the Department of Biology and member of the Whitehead search committee.
According to Hynes, the short list consists of less than half a dozen names. Hynes said that all on the list are qualified to assume the position and have expressed an interest in doing so.
Although all potential candidates have been screened by the search committee, the committee does not have final say over who will be chosen as the new director. Instead, the search committee must bring their recommendations to the Whitehead board of directors where the final appointment will be made. The appointment does, however, have to be made with the approval of the Department of Biology.
"We hope and anticipate they [the board] will approve of our recommendation," said Hynes.
The search for a new director began in October after current director David Baltimore '61 announced he would be leaving the Whitehead Institute to take over as president of Rockefeller University in New York City in July.
Baltimore has been the director of the Whitehead Institute since it was first established eight years ago. His departure, although not a surprise, was viewed with regret by members of the Whitehead Institute.
"Our first father is leaving. It is of course a sad moment," said Francis E. Low, a physics professor and Whitehead trustee. "It is also a moment of maturity. Some things will surely be different in the future. But I believe the Institute will continue to grow and continue to succeed."
Low, a member of the search committee, believed the key to the future success of Whitehead depended on finding a new leader with the right personality.
"We must have a distinguished scientist. Someone who will have vision and the ability to effectively lead and help people and find consensus within the Institute," said Low.
The Whitehead search committee, run by John Sawhill, who is also head of the Whitehead board, began its search process began by petitioning for suggestions from Whitehead faculty and staff and from members of related MIT departments. Baltimore was also consulted for suggestions and opinion.
The Whitehead search committee would not make any official statement on who the successor might be. According to one Whitehead faculty member, Gerald R. Fink, Whitehead members not directly involved in the selection process have not been given any idea who the new director will be. "Rumors range across the continent, but none of us have been let in on the actual selection," he said.
The committee did, however, narrow the possibilities a bit. The search began as an international one but now is said to be strictly domestic.
Any outside candidate approved by Whitehead's board will have to face a tenure review, as Whitehead's director must be a tenured faculty member.
Development of the Whitehead Institute at MIT was proposed in 1981 by millionaire industrialist Edwin Whitehead. The final agreement stated that Whitehead would provide direction to MIT's biomedical research by appointing 20 MIT biology department and would own all inventions and intellectual property produced by those members. In return, MIT received a $7.5 million donation for its endowment as well as $5 million annually until 2003, and $100 million upon the death of Whitehead.
Many MIT faculty members were critical of the Whitehead agreement. Most notable of these was former Associate Professor David F. Noble, who wrote an article in the Feb. 6, 1982 edition of The Nation