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Baltimore, Haribson, Wang Named Institute Professors

By Nicole A. Sherry
Staff Reporter

Professors David Baltimore '61, John H. Harbison, and Daniel I. C. Wang '59 have been named Institute professors, bringing to 13 the number of professors with MIT's highest faculty honor.

"One of the things I like about the three appointments is that they span the breadth of MIT's strengths. The engineer, the scientist, and the humanist; these are the three things on which an Institution like MIT stands," said Professor Robert L. Jaffe, chair of the faculty.

The distinction of Institute professor is bestowed on a faculty member to acknowledge outstanding leadership, accomplishment, and service in the scholarly education and general intellectual life of the Institute or wider academic community.

In principal, the title of Institute professor increases the awardee's freedom. The professor reports to the provost rather than to a department head or dean, and can thus range more freely, Jaffe said.

In practice, Institute professors are singled out in distinction and given a central Institute role. Often Institute professors make contributions on committees and panels at MIT, Jaffe said.

On receipt of nominations from members of the faculty, the chair of the faculty consults with the president, provost and dean of the nominee's school and then appoints an ad hoc faculty committee, including members from within as well as outside MIT.

This committee presents its recommendations to the president, who brings the recommendations to the Academic Council for review and then submits the appointments to the Executive Committee of the Corporation for formal approval.

"President Charles Vest and I saw that the current number of Institute Professors was low," Jaffe said. "According to the Policies and Procedures book there should be about twelve Institute professors. We did a little beating of the bushes and let it be known that we were looking for recommendations," he said.

Baltimore, of the Department of Biology, has been on the MIT faculty since 1968, except from 199094 when he served as president and on the faculty at Rockefeller University. He helped develop both the MIT Center for Cancer Research and the Whitehead Institute; he directed the latter from 198290. He recieved the Nobel Prize with Howard Tenim in 1975 for the discovery of reverse transcriptase enzyme.

"David Baltimore is a great basic scientist, whose career in the last 25 years has been foundational in molecular biology," Jaffe said.

Harbison of the music and theater arts section of the Department of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1969. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for his oratorio, Flight Into Egypt. He has twice been chair of the section, and in collaboration with Professor Marcus Thompson has developed a successful chamber music program.

"John Harbison is a great humanist and artist who has been referred to as one of a couple of people who are the most important living composers," Jaffe said.

Wang, of the Department of Chemical Engineering, played an important role in the foundation and leadership of the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center, a multidisciplinary research center focusing on problems in biochemical engineering. He is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

"Wang is the kind of engineer who has distinguished himself by putting complex science into practice," Jaffe said.

These three professors "are the best of the best. Reading about their careers is an inspiration," Jaffe said.