Joel Moses new engineering dean
By Brian Rosenberg
Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Joel Moses PhD '67 has been appointed dean of the School of Engineering. Moses succeeds Gerald L. Wilson '61, who had been dean since 1981.
Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who made the appointment, called Wilson "an intellectual powerhouse. He understands rather deeply the engineering and research projects going on [in the school]," he said.
Moses, who headed the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1981 to 1989, is best known for the development of MACSYMA, the largest computer system for symbolic algebraic manipulation. When reached yesterday, Moses would not comment on his appointment.
Wrighton declined to name other people who had been candidates for the position. "A number of outstanding people at MIT could do the job. However, I think at this time that Joel has the combination of talent and experiences which is most appropriate," he said.
"[Moses] has the commitment to continue projects started under Wilson as well as start new things for the school," Wrighton said. "I am looking forward to working with him to maintain MIT's engineering school as the best in the country, and maybe even make some improvements."
Professor Gerald J. Sussman '68, one of Moses' longtime friends, said that "everything Moses has done, he has done well. . . . I expect he'll be a great dean."
Sussman first met Moses when he took a programming class Moses was teaching at Columbia University in the early 1960s. "I've always had something to learn from him," he commented.
The search for a new dean of engineering was marked by pressure from the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council to include a student on the advisory committee that made a recommendation to Wrighton.
"Students were given some input into the committee, but its short-term nature made student participation ineffective," UA President Manish Bapna '91 said.
Hans C. Godfrey '93, chairman of the UA Committee on Governance, expressed hope that a committee forming now to search for a new dean of science will include students. Gene M. Brown, the current dean of science, "wants a student on the committee, and that's what the UA is focusing on," he said.
"We are planning to approach Provost Wrighton about student representation on the [dean of science] committee, and I am quite confident that students will be included," Bapna said.
Moses' appointment was effective Jan. 16, though it was approved by the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation on Jan. 22. Wrighton explained that this difference was not unusual. "Professor Wilson's term as dean ended on the 15th, and so Moses' began on the 16th, so that there was no time at which we did not have a dean," he said.
Wrighton also said that Moses' salary as dean would be computed beginning Jan. 16.
Moses, who is 49, came to the United States in 1954 from Israel, where he was born. He received a BA in 1962 and an MA in 1963, both from Columbia University. These degrees and his MIT doctorate were all in mathematics.
He was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1967, associate professor in 1971 and professor in 1977.
Moses has also been associate director of the Laboratory for Computer Science. He was a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School during the 1989-90 academic year.
(Editor's Note: Jeremy Hylton contributed to the reporting of this story.)