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Provost Moses Will Resign Post Aug. 1

By David D. Hsu
Contributing Editor

Provost Joel Moses PhD '67 will resign his position on Aug. 1 and return to teaching and research on a full-time basis.

Moses, also a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, announced his decision to leave the post he has held since June 1995 at an Academic Council meeting on Tuesday.

The provost is the Institute's chief academic officer and is responsible for managing much of the budget.

"There are major changes occurring now in the MIT budget," Moses said. "This involves a significant change in the manner by which research supports our overall budget The process for increasing private support, especially support from the endowment is well on its way, and should be completed by fall. Hence, now is a good time to pass the responsibility of the Provost's Office to someone else."

Moses, who has served as dean of the School of Engineering and head of the EECS department, is looking forward to returning to teaching and research.

"Fields that are of much interest to me, such as [artificial intelligence], cognitive science, computer science, and complex systems, are also undergoing much change," Moses said. "I feel that this is an opportune time to do such research-related teaching on a full-time basis."

"I have been pleased to have been involved in academic administration for two decades, and I feel that with the transitions underway, the institution will thrive in the coming years," Moses said.

Colleagues praise Moses

For students, Moses may be remembered for twice giving $40,000 grants to student activities and later tripling the student activity budget to $300,000.

"The need to increase funding for student activities was made very clear this year, and I was pleased to be able to do it," Moses said.

"He's been a real friend of education and of student life," said Rosalind H. Williams, dean of students and undergraduate education. He "understands the concept of broad education."

Moses has also looked into more flexibility during freshman year, a more robust advising system, classroom renovation, and keeping tuition and self-help low, Williams said.

In addition to student-related issues, Moses has led initiatives such as the early retirement incentive program for faculty, increased support from industry, increased support for environmental research, and the System Design and Management program.

"Generally, Joel was an outstanding provost," said Dean of the School of Science Robert J. Birgeneau.

There was much more emphasis on hiring relatively young faculty, Birgeneau said. "Currently, we have hired maybe the best junior faculty MIThas ever had."

"He is a very jovial and forthright character," said Chair of the Faculty Lotte Bailyn. Birgeneau added that Moses always begins academic council meetings with a joke.

"He adds a lot of fun to the [academic council] meetings," Bailyn said.

President Charles M. Vest will appoint Moses' successor. "I have requested that comments regarding the provost's role and specific suggestions of candidates be sent directly and confidentially to me by May 18," he said.

In the past, provosts have often been from MIT and either deans of schools, head of individual departments, or former chairs of the faculty.

The new provost is "clearly going to come from the ranks of the Institute's faculty," said J. David Litster PhD '65, vice president for research and dean for graduate education. However, "I think you might have a broader pool" than just the deans and department heads.

The position requires someone who is deeply familiar with MIT, Williams said. Vest said that the new provost "must have a deep commitment to, and understanding of, the values of academia, and MIT's mission as a world-class educational and research institution" and should be able to "guide the use of MIT's resources wisely, making difficult choices based on these values"

"The provost is a key member of the administration in its quest to provide the support and infrastructure that enable our faculty and students to achieve their highest aspirations," he said.

"There is no shortage of people who would do this job well," Birgeneau said.

Zareena Hussain contributed to the reporting of this story.