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Retiring Provost Joel Moses Discusses Funding, Research

Photo Courtesy the Provost's Office
Retiring Provost Joel Moses PhD '67

By Zareena Hussain
News Editor

While short on describing his specific experiences during his tenure as provost, only saying that his favorite part was giving out awards, such as appointments and the Margaret L. MacVicar faculty award, Joel Moses PhD '67, as the chief academic officer at MIT, has insight and accomplishments few others will be able to boast.

When he steps down at the end of the month, he leaves an Institute both in the midst of change and prepared to deal with future challenges. One of the key issues in future years for the Institute is funding with the oncoming capital campaign.

"A key challenge is getting sufficient funding to permit MIT to hire and retain outstanding faculty, students, staff, and facilities. This past year I have developed, with the help of the academic leadership, a draft list of priorities for a capital campaign. In addition, Chuck Vest, Bill Dickson and I have developed parameters for future MIT budgets that will keep MIT at the forefront of academic institutions for the coming decade. These changes assume a transition of support for MIT that increasingly comes from private gifts and the endowment that results from them. I am optimistic that these changes will permit the new team to deal with the challenges they will face," Moses said.

In addition to funding issues, another key issue that has come up during Moses' tenure is the aggressive hiring of junior faculty.

"The retirement incentive plan for the faculty a few years ago created a sizable number of openings for new faculty," Moses said. Many deans "have used this opportunity to hire outstanding young faculty. The strength of the faculty is, of course, a key reason why MIT attracts superb students," he said.

Moses was also integral to creation of the Systems Design and Management graduate program.

"We have discussed creating a program that parallels the Leaders for Manufacturing program, but that emphasizes design, for nearly a decade. I was dean of engineering during much of this period and helped advocate its creation. With the tremendous support of Tom Magnanti and Ed Crawley we were able to launch such a program two years ago. We find that industry leaders are now convinced that the material, a mix of management and systems engineering, is needed nationwide for much larger number of engineers than MIT can teach, even with distance learning. We are therefore working with other schools to help them to teach this material. I have found that giving lectures in SDM one of the most rewarding experiences in the past several years," he said.

Finally, industry-sponsored research as well as funds derived from gifts is key to supporting the Institute's future research endeavors.

"Industry has changed a great deal in the past decade, and it is important for us to learn what new problems they face. The usual industrial contracts give us an important, but limited, view of these problems. Hence we have developed the notion of strategic partnerships with selected companies. We currently have three such partnerships, with Amgen, Merck, and Ford. I expect that we will have a few more in the coming years. I am pleased to say that the discussions over intellectual property and publication have gone smoothly in all the negotiations that have been completed so far," Moses said.