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Diversity and Inclusion: Building a Solution Worthy of MIT

02/21/2008 7:30 AM Walker Morss Hall
Dr. Susan Hockfield, President, MIT; Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond, '75, Founding Pastor, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Description: While Martin Luther King might be amazed to see what blacks, Hispanics and women have accomplished since his time, says Ray Hammond, we must take an honest look at the "state of his dreams" today, and ask, "Where do we go from here?" This is a question that MIT President Susan Hockfield has also taken to heart. Hockfield admits that "despite the intense, unrelenting and committed work of many people," MIT has failed to create the serious, meaningful diversity and inclusion "that we long for." Says Hockfield, "We cannot be satisfied until, to everyone who earns a place at MIT, we are a community that says not "You're lucky to be here," but rather, "We're lucky you came." Hockfield sees diversity as an "obvious moral imperative," essential at MIT, which educates students "who in a thousand ways will lead the nation." She plans to convene a Diversity Leadership Congress, a group that will include all 300 or so of the Institute's academic and administrative leaders, to develop goals for changing the way MIT operates. Hockfield has also begun an initiative to address faculty race and diversity issues.

Ray Hammond believes MIT and other elite academic institutions have a unique role to play in the "post"Civil Rights era." He cites three areas essential in strengthening a commitment to educational access. The first, which he calls "pipeline," involves ensuring a steady flow of scientists and engineers. By the middle of the 21st century, there will be no majority population in the U.S., and white students alone won't suffice to fill jobs in science and technology. Black, Hispanic and female students must be shown the way into these fields, says Hammond, and one way is through providing "mentors and role models."

Pedagogy is the next step. Once in college, black and Hispanic students often fail introductory courses and drop out or turn away from science. Hammond cites a study showing how certain methods help keep minority students on track in these courses, including working groups that network and share strategies for success. Universities must put such models into place, or risk cheating "all of our students."

Hammond says the final issue for the research university lies in the realm of social policy. Scientists should not be responsible only for discoveries. "Scientists and engineers must be educators, debaters, advisors, and, sometimes, deciders. What they cannot be are the monolithic, mono" or bi"racial, and unrepresentative guardians of information and wielders of authority."

Hammond says that we "know how to tolerate situations of inequity and to try to put the best face on them as the ways things are or as the way God intended them to be or as the fault of those not as gifted as ourselves." Research universities like MIT "can make a firm, moral and practical commitment to opening the doors of opportunity ever wider to an ever growing circle of people."

About the Speaker(s): Prior to her arrival at MIT in 2004, Susan Hockfield served as Provost at Yale University, where she was also William Edward Gilbert Professor of Neurobiology. She previously served as Dean of Yale's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Hockfield is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

She earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Rochester in 1973, and a Ph.D. in anatomy and neuroscience from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1979.

Ray Hammond is a physician and founding pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston. He is chair and co"founder of the Ten Point Coalition, an ecumenical group of clergy and lay leaders working to prevent violence and mobilize the Greater Boston community on behalf of at"risk youth.

Hammond also serves as executive director of Bethel's Generation Excel program; as chair of the Boston Foundation; and as vice president for membership of the Boy Scouts Minuteman Council in Boston. He is an executive committee member of the Black Ministerial Alliance and serves as a trustee of Catholic Charities of Boston, of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and of the Yawkey Foundation, among other organizations.

Hammond received his B.A. from Harvard College. He was a graduate of the first cohort of the Joint Harvard"MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, receiving his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. After completing his surgical residency at New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, he joined the emergency medicine staff at Cape Cod Hospital.

Hammond has written widely on topics including academic achievement, diversity and the ethics of reproductive technology, and has received numerous honors including honorary doctorates from Boston University, Lesley College and Northeastern University.

He devoted himself to the ministry in 1976 and received his M.A. in religion, concentrating on Christian and medical ethics, from Harvard University in 1982.

Host(s): Office of the President, MIT Annual Breakfast Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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