Friday, November 2, 2018

MIT Black Student Union at 50 Years



BSU members began helping recruit black students in 1968.
In 1972, assistant director of admissions John A. Mims
and two MIT student guides (left)
welcome students visiting from 23 high schools.

Photo courtesy of the MIT Museum


The BSU at 50
The Black Students' Union marks a half-century of making MIT more diverse.

Alice Waugh  |  MIT Alumni Association
October 30, 2018

Published by the MIT New Office


In 1968, the black student community at MIT was small and needed a way to amplify its voice. Formed during that tumultuous year in political and racial history in the U.S., the MIT Black Students’ Union (BSU) launched a journey of advocacy and community that now continues 50 years later.

In the late 1960s, about 11 percent of Americans were black, but each 1,000-member class at MIT had perhaps half a dozen black students. Galvanized by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., black student groups were forming at overwhelmingly white college campuses across the country, and MIT was no exception. The students who started MIT BSU had two goals in mind: to support each other and to bring more black students to the Institute. “Surely there were more than three blacks in the high school class of 1965 who could belong to the MIT tribe,” says Linda C. Sharpe ’69, one of the BSU founders, who is a past president of the MIT Alumni Association and a former MIT Corporation member.

In fall of 1968, the new group drew up and presented a list of recommendations to the MIT administration: increasing the number of black students, creating a pre-­enrollment summer program for minority students, and hiring more minority faculty members. In response, MIT established the Task Force on Educational Opportunity (TFEO), which was made up of a group of BSU representatives and MIT administrators and chaired by associate provost (and future MIT president) Paul Gray ’54, SM ’55, ScD ’60. Through a series of often intense discussions, the TFEO designed the summer program, called Project Interphase, and came up with more inclusive approaches to things like recruitment, admissions, and financial aid.

“The Institute rolled up its sleeves and attacked [the recommendations] in the MIT way — that is, being very analytical about what the challenges and problems were, and then trying to figure out solutions to those challenges,” says founding BSU co-chair Shirley Ann Jackson ’68, PhD ’73, who went on to become the first black woman to earn a PhD from MIT and is now the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a life member of the MIT Corporation. “That doesn’t mean there wasn’t great emotion around it, because there really, really was on all sides.”

Other key players in the birth of the BSU were founding cochair James Turner, PhD ’71, Jennifer Rudd ’68, Charles Kidwell ’69, Nathan Seely ’70, Sekazi Mtingwa ’71, Fred Johnson ’72, and Ronald Mickens, who was a postdoctoral associate in physics.

(This is only an excerpt from the main article which can be found at the MIT News web presence.)



Monday, February 26, 2018

The GRID: Foundations of Strength, Tenacity, Vision, Scholarship & Talent

MIT's Alumni, Faculty, Academic Officers,
Business Executives, and Researchers


Leadership and Resource Giving

As the initial research years have passed from 1995 to the present, these pioneering individuals have given generously of their time and numerous resources to the continual growth and rich development of the black experience at MIT.  This list will expand as we seek your participation in giving to the continual research of MIT Black History.  We hope you will contribute to MIT Black History as well.

Thank You!

Listing of Names
(left to right)

Reginald Van Lee
Shirley Jackson
Cleave L. Killingsworth
Keith Bevans
Diane Peters-Hoskins
Victor Hoskins
Dianna E. Abney
Sylvester James Gates
Christopher Rose
Lisa Heller
James M. Turner
Leslye Fraser
Darryl Fraser
Lisa Egbuonu-Davis
Edmund Bertschinger
William Buckner
Kristala Jones Prather
Darcy Prather
Paula Hammond
Linda Sharpe
Carol Espy-Wilson
Ernest Cohen
Jennifer Rudd
Ronald McNair
Paul E. Gray
Charles M. Vest
L. Rafael Reif
Phillip Clay
Clarence G. Williams


 MIT Black History


Sunday, February 11, 2018

MIT-Haiti Initiative: Technology and Pedagogy in the 21st Century



Michel DeGraff

MIT-Haiti Initiative

Technology and Pedagogy

Promoting active learning and Kreyòl language in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, to help Haitians learn in the language most of them speak at home.

A project for the development, evaluation and dissemination of active-learning resources in Kreyòl to help improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education plus leadership and management in Haiti.

Dr. Michel DeGraff is a professor of Linguistics at MIT, and the Principal Investigator of the MIT-Haiti Initiative. He is a leading expert in enabling science and engineering pedagogy within educational systems throughout Haiti and concentrated Kreyòl speaking population settings around the world. His collaborations with Google and other research sponsored entities are educational breakthrough achievements in allowing young people to learn STEM related technologies taught in the classrooms where their native language Kreyòl is the primary language of learning.

Professor DeGraff is the Director of MIT-Haiti Initiative, Founding Member of Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen. His research interests are in Syntax, Morphology, and Language Change.


MIT-Haiti, Google team up to boost education in Kreyòl

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office
October 30, 2017
Excerpt from Published Article

In recent years, MIT scholars have helped develop a whole lexicon of science and math terms for use in Haiti’s Kreyòl language. Now a collaboration with Google is making those terms readily available to anyone — an important step in the expansion of Haitian Kreyòl for education purposes.

The new project, centered around the MIT-Haiti Initiative, has been launched as part of an enhancement to the Google Translate program. Now anyone using Google Translate can find an extensive set of Kreyòl terms, including recent coinages, in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.

“In the past five or six years, we’ve witnessed quite a paradigm shift in the way people in Haiti talk about and use Kreyòl,” says Michel DeGraff, a professor of linguistics at MIT and director of the MIT-Haiti Initiative. “Having Google Translate on board is going to be another source of intellectual, cultural, economic, and political capital for Kreyòl,” he notes, adding that the project will aid “anyone in the world now, if someone is interested in producing text in Kreyòl from any language.”


MIT-Haiti Initiative

The Challenge

In Haiti, 95 percent of the population is fluent in Kreyòl only; at most 5% of the Haitian population speaks French fluently. “In Haiti’s classrooms,” said Guerda Jean-Guillaume, professor at the Training Center for Fundamental Schools in Haiti, “most children do not like to ask or answer questions. They are constantly struggling to translate from Kreyòl into French or from French into Kreyòl.”

French is the primary language of instruction in Haiti’s classrooms. School exams as well as national assessment tests are mostly conducted in French, rather than Kreyòl, and STEM course materials for high schools and universities have been available almost exclusively in French — until recently when the work of pro-Kreyòl educators both in Haiti and abroad, including work by the MIT-Haiti Initiative, started showing the key benefits of a Kreyòl-based education at all levels of the education system.

The Response

This Initiative meets a crucial need in Haiti. It introduces modern techniques and tools for interactive pedagogy in STEM while contributing to the development, by Haitians and for Haitians, of digital resources and curricula in Kreyòl.

“The basic premise of our initiative,” DeGraff explains, “is that using Kreyòl for Haitian education is an essential ingredient to improving quality and access for education for all.”


Select Research, Publications, Educational Initiatives and Implementation

English
Boston Public Schools’ Dual Language program in English and Haitian Creole
Boston Neighborhood Network, November 16, 2017

MIT-Haiti, Google team up to boost education in Kreyòl
In MIT News, October 30, 2017

Michel DeGraff on English/Kreyòl Dual Language program in Boston Public SchoolsBoston Neighborhood Network, September 25, 2017

A Haitian Creole program for preschoolers arrives in Mattapan
In
Boston Globe, September 7, 2017

How Discrimination Nearly Stalled a Dual-Language Program in Boston.
In
The Atlantic Monthly, April 7, 2017.

Haiti’s “linguistic apartheid” violates children’s rights and hampers development
In
openDemocracy, January 2017

Kreyòl
Diskriminasyon lengwistik” ann Ayiti se yon mepri pou dwa timoun epi sa frennen devlopman peyi a
In
openDemocracy, January 2017
Pami lang lokal yo, se lang kreyòl Ayiti ki pi popilè sou Twitter
In 
LOOP Haiti, October 28, 2017

La langue maternelle comme fondement du savoir: L’Initiative MIT-Haïti: vers une éducation en créole efficace et inclusive.
Revue transatlantiqued’études suisses, 6/7, 2016/17

An n konprann Chante Alfabè Kreyòl La
In
Potomitan, 2017

Education:
University of Pennsylvania
Doctor of Philosophty (Ph.D.), Computer Science and Linguistics
1986-1992

City University of New York City College
Bachelor's degree, Mathematics and Computer Science
1982-1985

 MIT Black History

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Remarkable and Steadfast Leadership from the Soul and Spirit of MIT



Dr. Paul Gray

Former MIT President Paul Gray passes away at 85 after lifelong career of service and leadership at the Institute

Guided by a passion for teaching,
MIT’s 14th president helped steer the Institute through decades of social change.


Kathy Wren | MIT News Office
September 18, 2017
Extract

Paul Gray ’54, SM ’55, ScD ’60, a devoted leader at MIT whose lifetime career at the Institute included turns as a student, professor, dean of engineering, associate provost, chancellor, president, and MIT Corporation chair, died today at his home in Concord, Massachusetts, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85.

As MIT’s 14th president, from 1980 to 1990, and in his other roles, Gray transformed the Institute through his commitment to enhancing undergraduate education and increasing the presence of women and underrepresented minorities on campus. With his wife, Priscilla King Gray, at his side, he helped guide MIT through the social change and technological transformation that marked the second half of the 20th century.

His commitment to MIT, particularly to its students, was absolute. Even after retiring as MIT Corporation chair in 1997, he returned to teaching and advising. His work at the Institute was carried out in partnership with Priscilla, a champion of public service who led efforts to create a sense of community at MIT and co-founded what is now called the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center. “Paul Gray led MIT with the clear-eyed pragmatism and uncommon steadiness of a born engineer, and the humility, warmth, and wisdom of an exceptional human being,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. 

“He was an indispensable advisor to two MIT presidents who preceded him and all three who have followed him. His affection for and trust in our students allowed him to serve as an anchor at MIT during the turbulence of the Vietnam War; inspired him to greatly increase the presence and profile of underrepresented minority and women students in our community; and led him to pioneer the creation of the then-revolutionary Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, now an inseparable part of the MIT experience. Paul loved the MIT community like family — and we feel his loss like family, too.”

“Paul became my first and most essential guide to MIT. With the wisdom gained from a lifetime devoted to the Institute, he showed me MIT’s ethos and history,” says MIT President Emerita Susan Hockfield, who served as president of the Institute from 2004 to 2012. “Whether at dinner with his newly red-coated Class of ’54 classmates, or walking the Infinite Corridor with wonderful Priscilla — love of his life and partner in a presidency of warmth and purpose — his love of the place, of the people, and of our mission shone brightly in all he said and did. A part of me has always and will always see MIT through his eyes.”

A Vigorous Embrace of Diversity

When Gray arrived at MIT as an undergraduate, women made up less than 2 percent of each MIT class, and the percentage of underrepresented minorities was similarly low. After joining the administration, he took up the charge to make the MIT community more representative of society at large.

In 1968, in response to recommendations from the newly created Black Students Union, Gray, who was then associate provost, and others created the Task Force on Educational Opportunity. Among other efforts, they hired an assistant director of admissions and worked with him to actively recruit minority students. MIT also began the landmark summer program Project Interphase, staffed largely by students of color.

As chancellor, Gray wrote and began implementing the Institute’s first formal plan to increase the presence of women and minorities among MIT’s faculty as well as its student body. In a 2008 MIT Infinite History interview, Gray recalled that these efforts represented a sea change for the Institute. Until that time, “MIT had never recruited [any students]. We waited for applications to come,” he said.

By the time he stepped down from the presidency in 1990, women made up more than 30 percent of incoming undergraduate classes, and underrepresented minorities constituted 14 percent. Gray’s efforts had laid the foundation for MIT’s subsequent leaders to further increase diversity and inclusion at the Institute. His work on diversity among students and the faculty “may be the most important thing I did around here,” Gray said in the Infinite History interview.

One of the first members of the Black Students Union was Shirley Ann Jackson ’68, PhD ’73, who is now the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a life member of the MIT Corporation. “For me, Paul was foremost a great friend, advisor, supporter, and confidante. I always turned to him at critical junctures in my career. He never failed me — his advice and guidance were always spot on,” Jackson says.

More about Dr. Gray can be found here at MIT News


Sunday, October 8, 2017

MIT Black History



Capture the MO*MIT… More Of MIT

The Blacks at MIT History Project is a continuous research effort and collaborative endeavor sponsored by the MIT Office of the Provost. The project is archiving the historical achievements and influence that students, staff, faculty, and management have accomplished for MIT in their ongoing careers.

The Blacks at MIT History Project mission is to research, identify, and produce scholarly curatorial content on the black experience at MIT since opening its doors in 1865. This Project was founded and is directed by Dr. Clarence G. Williams, Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies & Planning Emeritus and Former Special Assistant to the President, MIT. He is an innovator in higher education for four decades and a recipient of a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and Counseling Psychology.

Dr. Williams joined the administration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 as Assistant Dean of the Graduate School and was named Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Minority Affairs in 1974. From 1980-1982, he served as Acting Director of the Office of Minority Education, and from 1984-1997, he assumed additional responsibilities as Assistant Equal Opportunity Officer, along with a broader scope of the Special Assistant position, to serve the MIT community as an ombudsperson. From 1992 until his status changed to emeritus in 2004, he taught race relations and diversity courses in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. He is serving, since 1995, as the Founder and Director of the Blacks at MIT History Project.

The project’s continuing objective is to place the black experience at MIT in its full and appropriate context, by researching and disseminating a varied set of materials. It is also exposing a larger community of interests — both inside and outside MIT — to this rich and historically significant legacy. We are currently conducting oral history video interviews with black tenured faculty at MIT. The videos explore each faculty member’s passion for what he or she does, involving their professional fields, their research and teaching, and their personal journey. How did they become who they are? What was the path that led them to MIT? The videos will be part of a web-based history, with multimedia access by the public including particular outreach to young people. Additionally, the project is producing audio and image narratives reflecting on the continuing legacy of the this unique and important population within the MIT experience.

The Blacks at MIT History Project Team




Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Esteemed Election to the Prestigious National Academy of Medicine



U.S. President Barack Obama visiting Dr. Paula Hammond

Dr. Paula Hammond, MIT Distinguished Professor elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering and head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in recognition of her distinguished contributions to medicine and health.

Hammond is one of 70 new members and nine international members announced on October 17, 2016 at the annual meeting of the NAM. Membership in the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service.

Barack Obama smiles at Paula Hammond every day. A framed photo of the president, standing next to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist, hangs on the wall over her desk here at MIT. “That was from his 2009 visit,” she says with a grin. Hammond was one of only a few MIT faculty members selected to present their work to the president in what turned out to be like a grown-up version of a science fair. She presented work on virus-based batteries. “We had to explain our science in 5 minutes,” she says. “But then Obama asked so many questions that we went way over time.”

Like Obama, Hammond is an emblem of change. Her chemical engineering research has evolved rapidly over the 15 years since she got started, riding some of that field's big trends. It started with a fairly fundamental study of polymers, the long chains that certain organic molecules form. First it was their mechanochromic properties—how their colors shift in response to physical stress—then their thermochromic properties, and finally their electrochromic properties. “I find color fascinating,” Hammond says.

Dr. Hammond's laboratory basic research has since yielded a torrent of industrial applications, from medical diagnostic devices to flexible electronics—more than enough to keep most scientists busy. Starting in 2001, she added a sideline on military applications, helping found the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT, focusing on technology that protects soldiers from harm and heals their wounds. For example, her lab developed a material that can be sprayed onto wounds to accelerate blood clotting.

Hammond’s many awards and honors include the Alpha Chi Sigma Award for Chemical Engineering Research in 2014, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Charles M. A. Stine Award in Materials Engineering and Science in 2013, the Ovarian Cancer Research Program Teal Innovator Award in 2013, the Junior Bose Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000, an National Science Foundation Career Award in 1997, and the MIT Karl Taylor Compton Prize in 1992 (in recognition of achievements in citizenship and devotion to the welfare of MIT).

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow and former director of the Board of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and a fellow of the American Physical Society and American Institute of Biomedical and Biological Engineering, among other honors.

Professor Hammond received her S.B. in Chemical Engineering from MIT (1984), and her M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech (1988), and earned her Ph.D. (1993) in Chemical Engineering from MIT.


Excerpts from MIT News Office | Anne Trafton | October 17, 2016
Excerpts from Science Magazine | AAAS | John Bohannon | Dec. 3, 2014 


Image credit: Dr. Ben Wang - Pinterest




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Illustrious Entrepreneur par Excellence of the Highest Order



Dale LeFebvre

Dale LeFebvre is the founder and Chairman of 3.5.7.11, a holding company that creates value for technology driven companies through a proprietary methodology of Transformational Investing™.

LeFebvre began his career as an intern for Senator Edward Kennedy and as a Bell Laboratories fellow. He then went on to develop strategic management experience working at several Wall Street merger and acquisition firms and the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company.

After McKinsey, LeFebvre became the Managing Partner for Pharos Capital Group, one of the largest minority private equity firms and served as Managing Partner for AIC Caribbean Fund, the largest Caribbean-focused private equity firm.

LeFebvre holds a BS in Electrical & Electronic Engineering (1993) from MIT, an MBA from Harvard Business School (1999), a JD from Harvard Law School (1999), and a MFA in Literature and Poetry from American University (2016). LeFebvre is also the holder of a software patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Patent # 8321271.

Dale has managed and raised more than $1 billion in institutional capital. The current portfolio generates more than $300 million with operations in 11 states and territories, and now employs more than 1600. He is an alum of McKinsey and Company and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Bell Labs Fellowship, a Harvard Law Traphagen, and the 2006 Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship. He also holds multiple patents.

An engaged participant in his community, Dale serves on several Boards, including the Abraham Lincoln National Council of Ford's Theater Society, the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the University of the Virgin Islands Foundation where he has endowed a fellowship. He is also an Emeritus Board Member of the National Urban League. In 2015, Dale was appointed Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s National Finance Committee and is a member of YPO.

A passionate foodie, Dale has cooked for various restaurateurs, oenophiles, celebrities and the President of the United States. He is a native of Beaumont, Texas and a resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands who currently splits his time between the Virgin Islands and Washington D.C. Dale is a 2006 Henry Crown Fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Images courtesy of Black Enterprise and Dale LeFebvre