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Wrighton Announces MLK Visiting Professor Program

By A. Arif Husain
Staff Reporter

To attract minority scholars in science, engineering, and technology, MIT has established the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor Program, said Provost Mark S. Wrighton in a Jan. 10 memorandum.

Wrighton formally announced the program on Jan. 14 at a reception honoring the first MLK Visiting Scholar Henry C. McBay, professor of chemistry at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

The objectives of the visiting professor program are to recognize and enhance the contributions to MIT of both visiting and Institute minority scholars by increasing and drawing attention to their presence. In a larger sense, the program will honor the life and contributions of King, Wrighton said.

The program aims to support six to 12 MLK Visiting Professors in each academic year, Wrighton said.

The program was encouraged by a proposal from the Institute's Martin Luther King Committee as an expansion to the MLK Visiting Scholars Program, conceived in 1991 for the same purpose.

"It is expected that the MLK Visiting Professors will be deeply engaged in the intellectual life of the Institute through teaching programs, public lectures, seminars, and original scholarship," Wrighton said.

"The program offers another networking element to ultimately enhance the representation of minority scholars on the MIT faculty," Wrighton said. The program will be open to individuals of any minority group, but will focus on blacks, he said.

MLK Visiting Professors will be chosen based on their contributions to their profession and on their potential for significant contribution to the intellectual life of MIT, Wrighton said.

Individuals will be nominated by a department or section head; the nominations will them be advanced to the provost by a dean. Nominations are to include a detailed outlining of the nominee's achievements and plans for involvement in the MIT community, Wrighton said.

The appointment will be made by the provost after consideration of the nomination materials, Wrighton said. Appointments will last between one academic term and two years, he said.

The program will be funded by the Office of the Provost with resources drawn equally from unrestricted MIT funds and funds used to sponsor replacements for professors on sabbatical leave, Wrighton said. This system of funding provides departments with an incentive for involvement in the program, since participation will be financially profitable, he said.