Vest- Hire more minority faculty
By Lakshmana Rao
President Charles M. Vest said last week that he was unsatisfied with the results of a new recruitment policy designed to attract minority candidates who are suitable for faculty and administrative appointments to MIT.
"I am unhappy with the lack of progress that we have made in this front this year," Vest said while delivering the welcome address at the 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Kresge Auditorium on Friday. "I am encouraged with the response of the departments to these new efforts and I hope I will have a brighter message to report next year," he said.
The Institute launched a program last fall to provide additional funding for minority candidates who qualify for faculty appointments. It was one of various initiatives designed to increase the number of minority appointments at the faculty and administrative levels.
"I am concerned about the message sent to our students when they do not see the changes in the face of America reflected in our faculty," Vest said. "One of the greatest challenges is to encourage the [minority] students to pursue graduate studies and to take up academic careers. This is a difficult task, especially when there are so few role models to observe and follow," he continued.
Vest said that Provost Mark S. Wrighton has asked each department to designate a faculty member who is responsible for finding women and minorities who qualify for faculty appointments. "Additional resources and scholarship allowances have been allocated to help support new minority and women faculty members," he added.
Vest also announced that in the last year he appointed a working group "to develop specific strategies for increasing the number of minorities in the administration, especially at the senior level." The committee is expected to submit its recommendations within the next two months.
King's message remembered
Political Science Lecturer Margaret A. Burnham delivered the keynote address at the celebration to mark what would have been King's 63rd birthday. "It is perhaps the nearness of Kings' birthday that makes the celebration so unique and so different from other national days of memorial that we commemorate," she said. "Martin is still very much flesh and blood to us. Many of us were still alive when he was struck down on April 4, 1968 by a bullet."
The theme for this years' celebration was, "What messages help youth realize their dreams? Media, music, models and microchips." Many students from neighborhood schools and colleges participated in a conference at the Student Center over the weekend which focused on this theme.
Burnham pointed out that King made a unique contribution to the civil rights movement by becoming involved at a very early age and by adopting non-violent methods to achieve his goals.
Burnham expressed concern that although the civil rights agenda has been rightfully enshrined in the law books, "the written word belies local reality." She pointed out that today "African-Americans remain twice as unemployed as whites, earn only $56 for every $100 earned by white Americans, constitute only three percent of Ivy League college enrollment and die younger than an average white American."
Burnham said, "We honor Dr. King for lifting us in our despair, now and then, and for showing us a way for greater living. In honoring him, we commit ourselves to action of right kind."