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Provost Search Returns Reborn Chancellor Post


Chun Hua Zheng--The Tech
Lawrence S. Bacow '72

By Douglas E.Heimburger
News Editor

The Executive Committee of the Corporation yesterday approved President Charles M. Vest's appointment of Dean of Engineering Robert A. Brown to replace Provost Joel Moses PhD '75, who is returning to teaching at the end of the month.

The Corporation also approved the creation of a new Chancellor position to be filled by Lawrence S. Bacow '72, former chair of the faculty and professor of urban studies and planning.

The split of what was once the job of provost into two positions recognizes the increasing complexity of the position, which oversees the Institute's five academic schools, faculty hiring and promotion, and long-term planning for education, Vest said.

Under the new plans, Brown will take responsibility for the academic schools, overall budgeting, faculty development, tenure of faculty members, minority faculty recruitment, and Lincoln Laboratories. Bacow will undertake long-range strategic planning and oversee institutional partnerships and education at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The changes will be "monumentally positive" for student affairs, said Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates. "I think it represents more resources at the senior level" for student issues.

Bacow is a "real advocate and champion"of student affairs, said Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams. In addition, he will work to make sure that new experiments in student education and student life can progress.

The job of Provost has "just become too big and too complicated" during this decade as long-range planning becomes more complex and the Presidential Task Force on Student Life and Learning completes its work and recommends changes in the broad educational mission of MIT, Williams said. "No one should be asked to do a job that's beyond their human capacity."

"There's a tremendous amount of implementation that needs to be done"when the task force releases its report next year, Brown said. The new position of Chancellor will be well-suited for this task.

The Chancellor will also deal with educational issues that "span the schools"such as the freshman year and interdisciplinary issues, Brown said.

The last time the Chancellor position was filled was in the 1970s, but the position then was nothing like the new position being filled now by Bacow, Brown said.

Provost to maintain stature

Besides granting new stature to student learning, the split also allows the Provost to focus upon maintaining the quality of faculty at the Institute by looking more closely at appointments and tenure proceedings,Williams said. "The excellence of the faculty is what attracts excellent students" to come to the Institute.

Moreover, the Provost will remain central to the administration since he controls the three central factors in the Institute:money, people, and space, Brown said.

The move increases the size of the upper administration that had shrunk with the death of Vice President for Administration JamesJ. Culliton in 1997 and Vice President and Secretary of the Corporation Constantine B. Simonides '57 in 1994. Administrative positions were shuffled around, with neither position being filled in its initial form.

Moses' will not be the only senior administrator to depart the senior administration this summer. Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56 will also be retiring. A search for a new position, executive vice president, which will supplant Dickson's duties in further consolidation, is underway.

Both have leadership history

Both Brown and Bacow have extensive histories within the administration and the faculty.

Brown joined the faculty in 1980 and is a Professor of Chemical Engineering. He was the head of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1988 until January, 1996, when he was named Dean of Engineering. He also has been involved in the formation of the Division for Bioengineering and Environmental Health, and has worked extensively on the development of the planned Stata complex for Electrical Engineering andComputerScience, to be finished early in the next century.

Bacow joined the faculty in 1977 and has taught in the School of Humanities and Social Science, the School of Architecture and Planning, and the Sloan School of Management. He co-founded theCenter for Real Estate, and served as its first director. From 1995 through 1997, he served as the chair of the faculty.