Provost rejects UA, GSC request
By Reuven M. Lerner
Provost Mark S. Wrighton has turned down a request by the Undergraduate Association and Graduate Student Councils to include students on the search committee for a new dean of engineering.
The committee, which is expected to be appointed later this week, will help Wrighton choose a successor to current Dean Gerald L. Wilson '61, who announced his resignation last April. Wilson had originally planned to step down as of September, but agreed to continue through the end of January.
While Wrighton has the ultimate power to choose the new dean, he has asked members of the faculty and administration to help him make the selection. Candidates are almost all expected to come from inside of MIT, although no names have surfaced so far. Wrighton is said to have set a target date of Jan. 15 for the appointment.
At a meeting with student leaders last week, Wrighton said he did not think students would offer a unique perspective, and thus was unsure whether students would be valuable members of the committee.
But UA President Manish Bapna '91 disagreed, saying that faculty members he had spoken with felt differently. "Most faculty that have worked with students in sensitive issues do feel that students offer an invaluable perspective that should not be avoided," he said.
Bapna said that while he does not think students will initially be appointed to the committee, the faculty and administrators who are appointed might vote to approve one or two student members.
"Wrighton's main objective is to find the best people for these positions," Bapna said. "If he finds , I do not see him discouraging them in any manner."
Both the UA and GSC see this committee as a possible precedent for student involvement in other committees, including those which will search for other administrators.
Many deans are expected to resign or retire within the next year, including Associate Provost for Educational Programs and Policy Samuel J. Keyser, Associate Provost and Vice President for Research Kenneth A. Smith '58, Dean of Science Gene M. Brown, Dean for Undergraduate Education Margaret L. A. MacVicar '65 and Dean of the Graduate School Frank L. Perkins '55.
In addition, permanent replacements will have to be found for Acting Dean for Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith and Acting Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science Philip S. Khoury.
Wrighton indicated to the students that the search committee for each position will vary, but did not say whether there will be student members on any of them.
Bapna said that he would like one undergraduate and one graduate student to be appointed by Wrighton to each committee. "Students should be on all committees unless there is a compelling reason for them not to be," he said.