Karl W. Reid ’84, Director of the MIT Office of Minority Education since 2005, was recently appointed Senior Vice President of Academic Programs and Strategic Initiatives of the United Negro College Fund in Fairfax, VA. The search for his replacement is currently underway.
Noted as a “growing national presence on the issues of educating minority students within majority institutions,” by Dean for Undergraduate Education Daniel Hastings, Reid became involved with minority education at MIT in 1998 as Director of Engineering Outreach Programs, where he directed the nationally recognized Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) Program, an academic summer program for promising high school juniors. He additionally founded the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program and Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery (SEED) Academy, two academic and mentoring programs for local middle and high school students.
“My goal was to increase access to opportunities for students who would benefit from pre-college programs,” Reid said. “First, we had to raise the [MIT] endowment for MITES, since eighty percent of the funding was external, and then we parlayed the strength of MITES to start the SEED Academy to involve the local community.”
In 2005, Reid assumed the role of Director of the OME where he focused on ensuring the academic success of minority students. “With an approach driven by data and successful experiences at other institutions, Dr. Reid started several new programs aimed at supporting and enhancing the experience of our students, especially focus[ing] on graduate school options,” said Hastings.
According to Reid, one of his main objectives was to increase graduate school matriculation of MIT minority students, whether it be Masters or PhD. programs. “We want[ed] to raise the level of expectation within MIT and show that students of color can perform at high levels,” added Reid. Reid’s other initiatives included increasing minority student grade point averages and graduation rates.
When asked what MIT could still improve upon in terms of minority education, Reid replied that MIT needs to continue working on building connections between minority students and faculty and staff. “The faculty members at MIT are excellent content experts, but they need to realize the value of diversity playing a role in interaction in the classroom,” he said. “It can have the power from influencing how professors structure class and who they hire as TAs (teaching assistants) to what examples they give in class. Like President [Susan] Hockfield has said, professors need to internalize and institutionalize the belief that diversity makes everyone better,” said Reid.
During his tenure at MIT, Reid also served as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Assistant to the Chancellor for Diversity, and advisor to the MIT chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, and to the Chocolate City Living Group. Reid also led the freshman advising seminar, “Race, Identity, and Achievement.”
“In every aspect, he will be missed. Karl … ingrained his name into the success of many of the minority student groups on campus. At the same time … the impact that he had on the minority community, more specifically the Black community, can now be shared with a greater audience,” said Jarrell Johnson ’09.
Sharon M. Bridburg, Director of Human Resources in the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, says that MIT plans to launch a national search for a new Director of the OME. The search committee, led by Professor Robert P. Redwine of the Department of Physics, includes faculty and staff members, as well as student and alumni representatives, who will be aided by consultants from headhunting firm Isaacson, Miller.
Johnson, one of the student representatives on the search committee, hopes that Reid’s improvements and community impact will be maintained. “The dedication to positively establishing a connection with faculty and staff for incoming freshmen through the Interphase Program and allowing student groups to have a strong voice in the inner workings of the Office of Minority Education are two of the primary aspects of the Dean role that I would like to continue to see,” said Johnson. “I hope the new Dean will be able to continue to lead that positive projection of the OME programming,” he added.
Julie B. Norman, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming, will serve as the interim director of the OME during the search for Reid’s replacement.