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Grad Dean Perkins Will Leave Position


Tech File Photo
Frank E. Perkins '55

By Eva Moy
Senior Editor

Dean of the Graduate School Frank E. Perkins '55 will step down at the end of August to return to teaching and research in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Perkins, who was named to this post in 1983, announced his resignation last month.

It was "refreshing to work with all the different parts of MIT," said Perkins, who also served on the Academic Council. "I really have enjoyed my 12 years as dean, and at the same time I eagerly look forward to returning to the department."

Perkins will return next fall after a short sabbatical and continue working in water resources engineering. He will also chair the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering's new Masters of Engineering program.

"There are very few others who could claim equal experience" as Perkins, said Professor Rafael L. Bras '72, head of the department. "I've always admired [Perkins'] professionalism in the technical aspects of his work."

"I share the excitement of all my colleagues of having him back in the department," Bras said.

"At MIT, we take the centrality of graduate education of the highest possible quality as a given," said President Charles M. Vest in a Dec. 14 Tech Talk article. "Dean Perkins has worked effectively to provide a supportive environment for graduate students as they pursue their studies, responsibilities, and contributions as key members of our community."

Perkins "has been a sage and wise leader of the Committee on Graduate School Policy and has made a strong effort to recruit more women and minority graduate students," said Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

Foremost, Perkins said he was concerned with the quality of the graduate student experience. "I tried to make the dean's office a place where [students] felt they were welcome," he said. Perkins often worked with students, whether resolving problems with faculty or meeting with the Graduate Student Council.

"The breadth of MIT is wider than most people realize," Perkins said. But he recognizes that graduate work is narrowly focused, he said. Perkins applauded the GSC for its efforts to bring graduate students together in a social setting.

During his tenure, Perkins worked on increasing the National Science Foundation allowance for research assistants' tuition from $5,000 to $8,000. At the beginning of his term, Perkins started a program to train new teaching assistants and faculty to teach classes.

Two years ago, Perkins also served as president of the Association of Graduate Schools, comprised of 56 major research universities in the United States and Canada.

Perkins started on the administrative track when he was appointed acting head of Course I in 1975. "I never thought of myself as an academic administrator," he said. "I had stronger ideas of what had to be done than I realized."