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Reif Succeeds Brown as New Provost

By Ray He

Professor L. Rafael Reif took the office of provost this Monday, following the July 12 announcement of his appointment by President Susan Hockfield.

As provost, Reif said he plans to continue many of former Provost Robert Brown’s initiatives and to pursue the goals that Hockfield outlined in her inaugural speech. He also said he will emphasize certain initiatives such as increasing diversity among faculty and students and maintaining MIT’s financial future. Also important is MIT’s role in “business, globalization, and the global economy.”

He said a constant focus will be on attracting international students to the Institute and lobbying the government to help reduce the security barriers for their entry. “We want to be a place where the most dedicated students will be attracted to; we want to be able to receive them and we want them to be able to come here.”

Appointment made after input

The appointment was made after a search for candidates, where input was gathered from members of the MIT community, including students, alumni, and faculty, Hockfield said. “I conducted dozens of interviews, asked what everyone thought the major issues were and who they thought would serve well as provost,” she said.

Hockfield looked specifically for an experienced MIT faculty member, she said. “I’ve only been here a short time and I thought it was important to find someone who’s been here a long time and understands it from the inside,” she said.

“As I gathered input, Professor Reif’s name emerged from people across the institute, not just from EECS and not just from Engineering,” Hockfield said. “He’s known across the Institute as someone who’s widely curious and well informed about the Institute’s activities.”

Reif to decrease own research

The greater involvement a provost must have with the day to day operations of MIT will be a major change from being head of EECS, Reif said. “The scope is wider; the provost is very involved in the operations of the Institute, and I don’t see myself at the front line of hiring faculty and looking at what’s important for the department but what’s important for all of MIT.”

Reif said he plans to decrease his research activities, but will keep his current graduate students until they graduate. “I will not be hiring new students, however; it wouldn’t be fair to them to be hired by someone who is so immersed in the running of the Institute,” Reif said. “I loved doing research and more than doing research, I loved interacting with my grad students. I’ll miss that immensely.”

Search is on for new EECS head

The search for a new head of the EECS department head is being conducted by a committee that will make a recommendation to Dean of Engineering Thomas L. Magnanti, who will then make the appointment, Associate Department Head of EECS W. Eric Grimson said.

“In the interim, Professor Grimson is serving as department head,” Hockfield said.