No decision on new president
By Reuven M. Lerner
The MIT Corporation will not announce a successor to President Paul E. Gray '54 today, according to spokesman Walter A. Milne.
Milne said that the faculty and Corporation presidential search committees, which have effectively functioned as a single group, have narrowed their search down to fewer than 10 candidates. He added that there is a possibility that the committees will finish the search process by the end of the month.
If the committees were to recommend someone before the Corporation's next quarterly meeting in September, the trustees would have to hold a special meeting to vote on the new president, Milne said. He added that there would simply have to be "due notice" to Corporation members in advance of the meeting.
One source in the administration said that the committees might have already found a possible candidate from outside of the Institute, who would be unavailable until January.
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Milne acknowledged that there were external candidates "this time, as well as last time." He said, however, that there is no deadline for a new president to take office, and explained, "an outsider . . . would have to disengage from wherever he or she is" before taking office.
Resumed search enters
This is the second time that the search committees have been asked to look for a new president. Biology Professor Phillip A. Sharp was nominated for the position in early February. He initially accepted, but then reversed himself one week later, saying he could not bear to give up his research. Sharp's action surprised both the search committees and the Corporation, Milne said.
Sharp's withdrawal meant that previously rejected candidates could be reconsidered for the job. Prominent among this list were Stanford Engineering Dean James F. Gibbons, Economics Professor Paul L. Joskow, and Provost John M. Deutch '61. Deutch had previously withdrawn himself from consideration at a meeting of the Academic Council in January.
In addition, The Boston Globe recently reported that Michael L. Dertouzos '64, director of the Laboratory for Computer Science, had been picked for the presidency. But Dertouzos has reportedly denied the claim, saying that he met with the committee only once, in October. Dertouzos was unavailable for comment.
Despite the possibility of a former candidate's selection, it appears that the current list is quite different from the original group. Milne said that "there are always people who, for one reason or another, withdraw from a process like this," and added that some new names were under consideration.
Process began over
one year ago
The search for a new president began almost immediately after Gray announced his resignation at the March 1989 meeting of the Corporation. According to the original plan, Gray was to have become chairman of the Corporation at the beginning of next month, replacing David S. Saxon '41, who is retiring.
The Corporation search committee was formed to accept recommendations, interview candidates, and recommend someone to the Corporation Executive Committee, which would then formally make the nomination to the Corporation. The faculty formed their own search committee as well, to help with the screening process. The two groups have effectively been functioning as one since the start.
Had Sharp accepted the nomination, the Corporation would most likely have elected him president at its March 2 meeting. After Sharp's decision to refuse the presidency, Gray and Saxon agreed to continue in their present positions beyond this month.
Some students have criticized the closed nature of the search process, including the lack of any official information about candidates. The Undergraduate Association gathered student opinion in a referendum during March elections, in which over 63 percent of the students agreed with the statement that "the committees responsible for choosing the next president of MIT were too secretive about the process and candidates."
Milne said that the committees "did pay attention" to the vote, but that no specific action was taken as a result. "We did not sit with any groups as a formal part of the process," he added.