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Hockfield Briefly Appears on WSJ Independence Committee Shortlist

MIT President Susan Hockfield enjoyed a brief moment in the limelight this summer as a possible candidate for The Wall Street Journal’s new five-member editorial independence committee, The Journal reported in July. The board, proposed by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. as a way to preserve the Journal’s journalistic integrity after it is acquired by News Corp., now includes Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab.

“I was honored to be considered for the new Board,” Hockfield said in an e-mailed statement. “However, I withdrew my name from consideration early in the process because of the time commitment that would have been required.”

News Corp. sealed a deal this summer to acquire the Dow Jones Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal. As part of the deal, News Corp. and the Journal’s controlling Bancroft family agreed to a set of independence guidelines to retain the independence of the Journal’s news and opinion sections from the News Corp.’s influence. The Journal set up a committee charged with enforcing these guidelines and Negroponte was named a member.

Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child project received a $2.5 million donation pledge from Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire, Reuters reported. Negroponte and Murdoch are personal friends, Negroponte said in a May e-mail to Reuters.

—Michael McGraw-Herdeg

MIT Falls in U.S. News Rankings

MIT slipped from fourth to seventh in this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of undergraduate schools. Ranked ahead of MIT are Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the California Institute of Technology, respectively.

Last year, MIT was tied for fourth with Caltech and Stanford, while the University of Pennsylvania was ranked below MIT. Princeton, Harvard, and Yale did not move in the rankings.

In engineering-specific rankings, MIT was ranked the best overall undergraduate engineering school; MIT has held the number-one slot for the last six years. Four MIT departments ranked first in section-specific rankings: Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering.

—Nick Semenkovich