What I want most is what’s hardest to get: for business to see the link between diversity and competitiveness. Because if we don’t understand that, we’re not going to win.TED CHILDS, JR., Former IBM Vice President
Maximizing Potential: The Congruence of Diversity and Excellence
Ted Childs, Jr.
Former Vice President, IBM
Isaac M. Colbert
MIT Dean for Graduate Students
S. Michelle Harton MSEE '83
Senior Staff Engineer, Motorola Inc.
Austin V. Harton '78, SM '79, PhD '88
Physics Professor, Chicago State University
La Tonya Green MCP '00, PhD '12
Department of Urban Studies (DUSP)
IAP MLK Design Seminar
Ted Childs Jr. is the former IBM vice president whom Fast Company called "the most effective diversity executive on the planet".
A native of Springfield, Mass., Childs was responsible for IBM's worldwide workforce diversity programs and policies; he oversaw a campaign to increase the number of woman and minority executives at IBM during his tenure.
Between January 1996 and December 1999, the number of women executives at IBM soared from 185 to 508, and the number of minority executives increased from 117 in 1995 to 270 by the end of 1999.
"I'm intensely proud of that," Childs told Fast Company in June 2000.
Childs, 61, is currently principal of his own diversity consulting company. He has also served as executive assistant to Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the NAACP. He served on the New York State Governor's Advisory Council on Child Care and co-chaired the Jewish Women's Work Family Advisory Board.
During his time at IBM, Childs took an approach of "constructive disruption," organizing task forces to look at IBM from the perspective of different groups--African-Americans, Asians, disabled people, gays and lesbians, Hispanics, Native Americans, white males and women. That work focused on developing employee talent and strengthening recruiting and mentoring strategies.
Childs approaches diversity as a requirement for global competitiveness. "We've moved beyond the moral imperative to the strategic imperative," he told Fast Company. "What I want most is what's hardest to get: for business to see the link between diversity and competitiveness. Because if we don't understand that, we're not going to win."
Childs, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., is a graduate of West Virginia State University and is now a member of the university's board of directors. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the Conference Board's Work Force Diversity Council, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Board of Directors.
He has been highly involved in childcare and aging issues: In 1995, he served as a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, and in 1997, he was appointed an advisor to the U.S. Treasury Secretary's Working Group on Child Care.
In 1998, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2003, the Human Rights Campaign presented Childs and IBM with its Corporate Leadership Award, and the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund awarded Childs its Alumni Leadership Award.
Childs was installed as a fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources in 2001, and he has received honorary doctorates from Pace University, West Virginia State University and Our Lady of the Elms College. He holds life membership in the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, the National Organization of Women, the Sierra Club and the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society.
Dean for Graduate Students Isaac Colbert [retired in June 2007 has had] three decades of achievement in Institute administration. Since being appointed dean in 1999, Colbert has led efforts to develop MIT's graduate community through such innovative programs as the Graduate Student Life Grants.
"Dean Colbert has developed and sustained a strong network of colleagues in a variety of offices around MIT who are committed to graduate students. He has passed his enthusiasm on to countless colleagues who did not realize they were part of the graduate commons," said MIT Chancellor Phillip Clay. "A champion for diversity and inclusion, he has also served as a bridge between faculty and students caught in difficult situations."
Colbert has served a number of different roles at MIT, starting as a consultant in human resources and eventually being named dean in 1999. "I thought MIT would chew me up and spit me out and now, 30 years later, they are still chewing," Colbert said last week in his expansive office overlooking Killian Court.
Though Colbert had not expected to spend so much of his life at the Institute, he knew soon after starting here that he had found a place where he belonged. "This was a place that fit my own style and characteristics as a risk taker and someone with a vision of things to do and how to get them done," Colbert said.
Colbert came to MIT in 1977 as a senior consultant and trainer in human resources, which was then called the Office of Personnel Development. Since then he has held a number of positions at MIT, including serving as the manager of faculty and staff information services from 1981 to 1985. From 1986 to 1988, he worked as the assistant to the vice president for financial operations, during which time he reorganized the process by which strategic administrative computing systems were acquired.
Colbert, 60, earned his bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, where he grew up. He earned both his M.A. in experimental psychology, primate learning and behavior and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology, human learning and cognition from Brown University.
These psychology skills came in handy during his time in the Graduate Students Office, where he started as associate dean in 1988. Colbert said he found an office that was "drowning in paper. My immediate goal was to make it more student centered than paper centered."
One of the main complaints Colbert said he heard from graduate students was that there was no sense of community. After being named dean in 1999, Colbert committed to changing that. Over the years, he has implemented more social opportunity and campaigned for better on-campus housing for graduate students. Colbert also focused his attention on graduate school alumni and alumnae, whose potential contributions to the current graduate community were, he felt, being neglected.
With the help of the Alumni Office, Colbert called a meeting in Hong Kong with MIT graduate alumni to gauge their level of commitment to the concept of graduate student community. "I would have been happy if 10 people had shown up," he said. "But I walked into a conference room jammed with people." As a result of the meeting, graduate alumni have been more in touch with the Institute, the focus of more attention by the Institute, and strongly supportive of improving graduate life.
Over the years, the close relationships he has formed with faculty and students have become the most important part of his work, Colbert said. He is pleased with what he has accomplished at MIT. "Today the idea of graduate student life is not the oxymoron it was less than a decade ago," he said.Â
"Ike (Colbert) has set a standard of caring that we hope to find in our next dean of graduate students," Clay said.
After [retirement], Colbert said he [had] plans to focus on his start-up business ventures. "Life has various stages and I'm eager to see what the next one holds in store for me," he said. "It is time to hand my work off to another generation of leadership."
Dr. Austin ['78, SM '79, PhD '88] and Michelle Harton [SM '83] were recognized with alumni 2007 Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award for their work in improving and encouraging the achievement of African-American students.
Austin earned SB, SM, and PhD degrees in physics from MIT. His research focuses on experimental high energy physics, optics, electronic imaging and display systems, nanotechnology. He is a member of American Physical Society and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Currently, Austin is an Assistant Professor of Physics and the Interim Director of Engineering Studies at Chicago State University.
Michelle earned a BS from Tennessee State University and an MSEE from MIT, both in electrical engineering. She also holds a Masters in education and social policy from Northwestern University. After a 17-year career as a Senior Staff Engineer at Motorola, she became a dedicated math educator in the Chicago Public Schools.
Both came of age during the Civil Rights Movement. Austin's upbringing was in segregated Birmingham, AL during the 1960s. Raised in Nashville, TN, Michelle did not know the extent of racism and discrimination around her until she faced it as a teen.
Decades later, the Hartons created MathCon, a month-long math incentive program, and the Math Academy, a program to increase the number of African-American students in honors high school math. The Math Academy targets African American students that have high potential in math. Its focus is to accelerate students in math by enhancing the 7th and 8th math curriculum, and forging bonds between the students, thus, creating a peer group of math scholars that leverage their talents to navigate the more demanding and difficult high school years. Students in this group are encouraged to take honors and advanced placement offerings at the high school. The objective is to increase the number of African American students in honors math at the high school and to ultimately increase the number of African American students that gain admission to and successfully compete at top tier colleges, such as MIT and Stanford.
They also help with educational outreach efforts through the Chicago Chapter of the Black Alumni of MIT to prepare minority students for a possible educational career at MIT.
Commencement ceremonies at Oak Park and River Forest High School June 11 were for most graduating seniors cause for unrestrained joy. For Michelle Harton, an OPRF parent, District 97 school board member and co-founder of the Math Academy for African-American students, it was a little bittersweet.
Since 2000, Harton and her husband, Austin, have run the Math Academy, with support from other parents and academy alumni, to help students reach success both in and out of the classroom. Ten students who graduated last month were with the Hartons from the beginning.
"Those kids were a blessing to Austin and me," said Harton. "They are like my own children."
For 10 months out of the year, including several weeks during the summer, students are given hands-on tutoring in subjects ranging from algebra to geometry. Beginning in seventh grade, students are tutored all the way through high school. The primary goal is to prepare them for honors math classes at OPRF and for graduation. For the last six years, the program has also taught the values of hard work, maintaining a strong work ethnic and building positive peer relationships, according to the students and parents involved.
It is also helping shatter some of the stereotypes associated with Oak Park's academic achievement gap. The graduating OPRF and academy students plan on going to college. The students and their parents recently met with the Hartons at their Oak Park home for a celebration.
"It was really overwhelming for me to see the students who were in seventh grade pushing for excellence," said Austin Harton. "I've seen that in all the students, all the way through. And when you think about the future with students like this, you feel really excited."
The academy began, the Hartons recalled, to help tutor seventh grade students in courses like Basic Continuing Math and Basic Algebra. Sessions took place at their home, area churches and at Emerson Junior High (later replaced by and renamed Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School).
The program, funded mainly by the Hartons out of their own pockets, now has roughly 60 students from OPRF, Dist. 97, Fenwick and Providence-St. Mel, a private high school on Chicago's West Side.
Beating the achievement gap
The academy helped prepare the Oak Park students for honors and advanced placement math classes at OPRF. One of the alums, Nia Brown, a 2006 OPRF graduate and original Math Academy student, plans to attend Boston University, majoring in International Relations. Like other academy students, she knows the achievement gap issue all too well. Brown and others recalled feeling stereotyped by some of their teachers at OPRF. Sometimes, she said, she felt looked upon as just "a loud black woman."
"I'm very outspoken and talkative and especially in math classes with some of the teachers, that's all I was to them," she said. "From the moment I walked into class, you could tell by the way they treated me."
Brown said there were many good teachers in Oak Park, but there were also those who didn't push them to excel.
"Sometimes you get caught up in these circumstances where teachers tell you to be proud of something that's not worthy of anything," she said. "The Hartons pushed us against the environment. They helped us to find ourselves according to our strengths rather than our weaknesses or the weaknesses that others see that may or may not be there."
Parent Marcia Green, whose daughter Deanna will attend Rutgers University, majoring in sociology, said she couldn't imagine where the children would be today if not for the Hartons and the academy.
"They've given them so much," she said. "They have been the parents to our kids without even realizing it. They brought this group of girls together, they formed their relationships, and that bond is still there in their senior year."
Cecile Keith-Brown, Nia's mother, added that universities routinely look at how applicants do on advanced placement classes in high school. She said the academy students were prepared for college from the time they entered the academy.
"These children have worked really, really hard," she said. "All of these children have excelled. They have done well. They did more than what was generally expected of them. And it's because of the Hartons establishing a support group, working with them and tutoring them."
On July 9, the original Math Academy students, their parents, and new members met at the Hartons home to reminisce about past and reflect on the students' future. Harton, in particular, is emotional in reflection.
"You start to look at your life and the legacy that you will leave, and I know I was sort of raised in this environment to think about legacies," she said, "but if I can touch each one of you, and you can touch a thousand people or a hundred people or 50 people, then I have touched them too ... that's a powerful gift you give to me."
La Tonya Green
MCP '00, PhD '12
Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP)
prior to 2007
Senior Research Associate, BCT Partners (2003 – 2012)
Lecturer, John D. O’Bryant African American Institute, Northeastern University (2006 – 2007)
Research Investigator, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan (2003 – 2005)
Adjunct Faculty, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York, Baruch College (2003)
Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Urban Studies, Public Policy Program, St. Peter's College Educational Technology Consultant, Paterson Community Technology Centers Network, Passaic County Community College (2002 – 2003)
Program Coordinator/Lead Teacher, Paterson Public Schools, Metro-Paterson Academy for Communications & Technology (2000-2002)
Writing Fellow, MIT (1998 – 2000)
Teen Advocacy Director/Director of Technology, Columbia Park Boys & Girls Club (1997-1998)
prior to 2007
Harold Horowitz (1951) Student Research Fund, MIT School of Architecture and Planning (2006)
Outstanding Contribution to the Intellectual Life of the Department, MIT DUSP (2005 and 2000)
Graduate Research Fellow, National Science Foundation (2003)
Presidential Graduate Fellowship, MIT (2003)
Umoja Award, MIT Graduate Students Office (2000)
Charles Abrams Award, American Planning Association (1999)
Department Service Award, MIT DUSP (1999)
Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Public Policy & International Affairs, MIT (1998)
Service Award, Office of African-American Student Development, UC Berkeley (1997)
[MORE TO COME]
Sasha Brown, News Office
January 12, 2007
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. design seminar held each Independent Activities Period at MIT offers the 120 students taking it the opportunity to open their minds to diversity and to creatively express their feelings over an intense four-week period.
"Students enjoy that they can come to class and partake in discussions that would normally be avoided in an effort to maintain some amount of political correctness," said senior Ryan Richardson, who is taking the course for the second time this year. "We discuss everything from the civil rights movement to racial stereotyping and biases prominent in the media today."
This is the seventh year for the seminar, which is led by Tobie Weiner, undergraduate administrator in the Department of Political Science. Each year it becomes more popular. "People are telling people about it," Weiner said.
Over the course of the month, students prepare artistic and political installations that will be displayed in Lobby 10. The course, which started Jan. 8, meets five days a week from 3 to 5 p.m. and runs through Feb. 2. The installation goes up on Feb. 5, and the projects are entirely student driven, said Weiner. "I don't help them. I let them figure out what to do," she said.
Through discussion groups, readings and guest speakers, the students in the class delve into issues of race and equality they might not explore throughout the year, said Weiner. Together, they decide on a project that reflects the work they have done.
Past projects have included work in the Cambridge Public Schools, educating the children about King and the civil rights movement, race and race relations. Students also organized a Boston Martin Luther King Dream Dinner as a fundraiser to contribute to the MLK memorial fund in Washington, D.C. Another group from a past course created a DVD with MIT faculty and administrators, as well as alumni, who spoke about "the changing face of MIT in terms of diversity," Weiner said.
Many students come back year after year.
Senior Lisa Witmer is taking the course for the second time. "I decided to take the course because it was recommended to me by a friend who raved about the deep level of discussion on topics such as race and current civil rights issues in America," Witmer said. "In these discussions many students contribute their own personal anecdotes about prejudices they have experienced firsthand, which is eye-opening for many students who may have never experienced a similar situation. Students come away with a new perspective on these issues, or at the very least learn to respect another person's point of view."
Last IAP Witmer helped to design a bus installation in Lobby 10. "We chose to make the focus of the installation a bus in order to commemorate Rosa Parks and her contributions to the beginnings of the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama," Witmer said. "My group designed the exterior of the bus with recent newspaper articles about race-related crimes and injustices to serve as a reminder to people that the civil rights movement did not end decades ago, but rather is an issue that Americans are still dealing with today."
Richardson also contributed to the final installation last year in Lobby 10. For him, the course is an eye-opener. "All things considered, MLK offers students the opportunity to interact with other students across racial and cultural lines," he said. "It's real and unpretentious, and allows you to meet people from different living groups often defined by race and/or culture lines."
Kristina M. Holton, The Tech
February 16, 2007
Vandals defaced the Martin Luther King Jr. display in Lobby 10 last Saturday and Tuesday nights. According to MIT Campus Police Captain David Carlson, "Part of a display was knocked to the floor, dish soap was dumped on the floor, two cardboard figures suspended by ropes were taken down, and a cardboard figure was cut in half." On Tuesday, the last night of the display, a sign featuring Dr. King's famous "I have a dream …" quote was ripped, a cardboard person's head was torn off, papier-mâché figures were shredded, and four posters were stolen. The vandals were not caught.
The display was constructed by students in the Independent Activities Period seminar, Special Topics in Political Science (17.920). James Pacella, a student who helped build the display, said that it took at least 12-15 people about five hours to erect the wooden figure alone. "The whole purpose of the installation this year was to answer the question, have we lived up to the dream? … The vandalism only shows that we still have a ways to go to live up to the dream."
The installation was on display from Feb. 5-13, leading up to MIT's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration today.
Professor James Sherley ends fast
February 16, 2007
Reflections on activism
by Ali S. Wyne - 2008 MLK Leadership Award
February 16, 2007
MLK Display Vandalized
February 16, 2007
Students honor Martin Luther King Jr. with creativity, open minds
January 12, 2007
Race and diversity committee formed
November 7, 2007