John S. Reed ’61 (chairman of the MIT Corporation), David S. Ferriero (10th Archivist of the United States and former associate director of MIT Libraries), and Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 (senior advisor to the president and former MIT Chancellor) are among the notable speakers selected to talk at the Next Century Convocation on April 10. The event, in honor of MIT’s sesquicentennial, will be held at the Boston Convention Center. According to the MIT150 Convocation invitation, “[these speakers] exemplify the qualities [MIT] values.” The announcement adds that “they can speak to these themes and the importance of MIT’s role in setting an example for the nation and the world.”
The Next Century Convocation recognizes of the signing of MIT’s charter 150 years ago on April 10, 1861. According to the MIT150 website, the event is meant to “recall the 1949 Mid-Century Convocation and to celebrate the scholarly accomplishments of MIT faculty and students.” The reference is a nod to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s visit in 1949 against the beleaguered backdrop of a recently-concluded World War II and rising Cold War tensions. Churchill spoke at length of the Institute’s role in solving the great global problems of the time, noting that “[improvement] can only [come to be] by the tireless improvement of all our means of technical production, and by the diffusion in every form of education of an improved quality to scores of millions of men and women.”
For MIT’s centennial anniversary celebration, the Institute brought British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Aldous Huxley, and other prominent figures to speak to students, faculty, and alumni. Dr. Julius A. Stratton ’23’s opening address reminded the audience that MIT was “dedicated to truth through science, proud of its concern for useful knowledge, and alive to a new order of ethical and social responsibilities,” sentiments that will be reiterated this April.