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Deans Smith, Brown resign posts, return to teaching

By Joanna Stone

Several months into Charles M. Vest's presidency, two more deans have resigned their positions. Last week, Kenneth A. Smith '58 resigned from his positions as associate provost, vice president for research and director of MIT's Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology. Earlier last month, Gene M. Brown, professor of biochemistry, announced his resignation from his position as Dean of Science, effective June 30.

Smith will return to teaching next term in the Department of Chemical Engineering, where he is the Edwin R. Gilliland Professor.

Provost Mark S. Wrighton appointed J. David Lister PhD '65 as interim associate provost, vice president for research and director of Whittaker College, effective today.

In response to Smith's resignation from his posts, Wrighton praised Smith for his "significant contributions to MIT during a decade of service in two crucially important administrative posts."

Smith had been associate provost since 1980 and vice president for research since 1981.

"His [Smith's] natural commitment to consensus building and leadership in making difficult decisions understandable was always readily apparent and was highly appreciated," Wrighton said.

Smith was out of town this week and could not be reached for comment on his resignations.

Brown, who taught in the biology department while serving as dean, intends to resume his faculty responsibilities after June. "I'm looking forward to going back to Department of Biology and helping that department run smoothly," Brown said.

Brown mentioned the benefits he will enjoy once he is no longer dean. "One of the things I missed most about being dean was not being able to deal with students and young faculty as much," Brown said.

"I've been involved in administration one way or another for the past 24 years; it is time for a break," he said.

Latest in series of resignations

Smith and Brown's resignations come as the next in a succession of resignations over the past year.

In April, the dean of the School of Engineering, Gerald L. Wilson PhD '72, announced his resignation, agreeing to hold his position through January 1991.

Ann Friedlaender PhD '69, former dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, announced in February that she was relinquishing that position to continue teaching economics at the Institute.

And Dean Shirley M. McBay took a two year leave last June 30 from her position as Dean of Student Affairs.

It is believed that this recent succession of resignations is in response to the inauguration of the new administration.

Brown admitted that one of the major reasons he chose to resign at this time was the installment of the new administration.

"With the new administration coming in, with new deans in many other departments, the change in administration has not merely been at the top but at middle level administration as well," Brown said.

"I feel it's a reasonable time to step down and allow a new dean of science to take part in the extensive discussions that always take place when a new administration takes over," Brown said.

A new administration is always accompanied by in-depth discussions about the future of the Institute, including goals and priorities for the future, Brown said.

Brown did not want to deny the new dean the opportunity to take part in such discussions, "Especially since I would have been leaving in two to three years' time anyway," Brown said, noting that next week he will turn 65.

It is believed that several other deans may be planning to step down over the next semester. However, Wrighton could not be reached to confirm this.