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Arts Provost Pick Expected Soon

By Jennifer Lane
Associate News Editor

By the end of this month, an advisory committee to the provost composed of faculty, consultants, and students expects to make its recommendation for the second-ever associate provost for the arts.

Ellen T. Harris resigned from the position last winter after six years but has agreed to stay on as part-time provost until a successor is chosen. She will remain a professor of music.

The associate provost for the arts is the senior administration official responsible for the oversight of creative arts activities throughout the Institute, including the Office of the Arts. A member of the Academic Council, he advises the provost and president on all non-academic activities related to the arts and is the senior officer responsible for resource development for the arts.

The advisory committee would like to see a new associate provost for the arts in place by the beginning of the spring term, said Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Philip S. Khoury, head of the committee.

President Charles M. Vest and Provost Joel Moses PhD '67 are ultimately responsible for recruiting someone to fill the position.

The committee is looking for someone of distinction in their field, and who "has a strong commitment to the entire sweep of arts programs at MIT," Khoury said.

After publicizing the position, the committee received 300 applications which "is an unheard of number for such a senior position," he said.

Visual arts stressed

By making the decision to continue to support and fill the position of associate provost for the arts, the president and provost have demonstrated that "MIT is committed to more than just science and engineering," Khoury said.

Music and theater programs at the Institute are very strong, but there was a broad consensus among committee members that the visual arts program is in need of more attention. The new associate arts provost should be able to address that, Khoury said.

Additionally, there is rising interest in media studies, an area where "MIT could make a huge impact nationally and internationally."

Harris was the first ever associate provost for the arts. She "coordinated and gave greater definition to the arts at MIT," Khoury said. She chaired both the Committee on Campus Race Relations and the Creative Arts Council.

Harris will stay on in a limited capacity until a successor is chosen, but will spend most of her time this year on sabbatical. She will be an affiliate at the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she will work on a book about George Frederic Handel.

The search committee is made up of 8 faculty members: Professor of Writing Anita Desai, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Woodie C. Flowers PhD '73, Institute Professor Jerome I. Friedman, Professor of Music and Theater Arts John H. Harbison '49, Khoury, Director of the List Visual Arts Center Katherine G. Kline, and Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning William J. Mitchell.

Two students serve on the committee: Ivana Komarcevic '96 and Suguru Ishizaki G.

Although the students won't be involved in making the committee's final recommendations, they are able to evaluate applicants' ability to meet student needs, Khoury said. "I am delighted to have the students here. It is an appropriate and absolutely wonderful idea."

Three consultants advising the committee are: Professor of Literature J.R. Gurney, Chairman of the Council for the Arts John Kunstadter '49, and Vice Chair of the Council for the Arts Martin Rosen '62.