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Karl Reid Takes Over As Head Of OME

By Laura Nicholson

Karl W. Reid ’84 recently took office as the new director of the Office of Minority Education, a position now endowed with influence beyond the Institute’s undergraduates. Appointed by Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert P. Redwine, Reid said he intends to analyze current patterns in minority populations at MIT to develop new diversity programs involving graduate students as well as undergraduates.

Reid, previously director of the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science Program (MITES), replaces interim OME director Kim R. Beamon. Reid also now holds the positions of assistant to the chancellor and associate dean for undergraduate education.

The position of OME director was expanded into one of Institute-wide influence on the basis of recommendations from a review committee chaired by Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75. “The faculty committee who looked at the OME felt that it should have influence over diversity issues beyond just undergraduate education,” Reid said. The director of OME originally reported directly to the dean of undergraduate education; now, Reid will report directly to Clay.

As director of the OME, Reid intends to take inventory of existing diversity programs at the Institute. “I need to figure out what’s been effective and why,” he said, and he will extend this analysis beyond MIT.

The committee that reviewed the OME “did not get into operational issues but did encourage MIT to look at how other schools address similar challenges. That will now happen,” Clay said.

The office will study diversity patterns and try to explain what aspects of educational programs have led MIT to have a smaller percentage underrepresented minorities as graduate students than as undergraduates.

From this information, Reid said he will look to create new programs to address diversity issues. “My role will be to work with offices that are directly in the trenches dealing with these issues. So rather than reproducing their work, I think we could do a better job leveraging their efforts.”

Although the MIT faculty have put forth an initiative to increase the number of underrepresented minority faculty members and graduate students, Clay said that the OME review would be unrelated.

“Clearly we could take some of the lessons we’ve learned in MITES about creating community, building confidence, and connecting with the institution that will increase the chance that more students of color will pursue graduate studies and seek faculty positions,” Reid said.

“As a student, the more diverse your interactions, the more satisfaction you get out of college,” Reid said.

Reid left his previous position as executive director of special programs in the School of Engineering and the MITES program to assume his new role. Thomas L. Magnanti, dean of the School of Engineering, will lead a search for a new MITES director. Reid said he will be involved in the search and will also remain as an advisor for the special programs in the School of Engineering programs he previously oversaw.