“I believe many administrators were well intentioned as they guided the design of their universities’ diversity polices and statements, thinking that diversity would translate into representation. However, they built in few checks or accountability. Thus, universities continue to recruit the best students and faculty members from around the world, but now they do so in the name of diversity.”RICHARD TAPIA in Chronicle of Higher Education, 2007- Professor of Mathematics, Rice University/National Medal of Science
Expanding the Possible
Richard A. Tapia
Professor of Mathematics, Rice University
National Medal of Science
Professor and Head, Physics Department
Arnold R. Henderson, Jr.
Associate Dean and Co-Director, Student Support Services
Manager of Staff Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources
Julia Jaskólska '13
Materials Science and Engineering
Cato T. Laurencin, MD PhD '87
Chemical Engineering & Dean of School of Medicine, University of Connecticut
MIT-Wellesley Upward Bound Program
IAP MLK Design Seminar
Richard Tapia is a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University. He is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach.
At Rice, he is University Professor (only the sixth individual afforded this title in the 100-year history of Rice University), Maxfield-Oshman Professor in Engineering, Associate Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education.
Tapia was born in Los Angeles to parents who separately emigrated from Mexico as young teenagers in search of educational opportunities for themselves and for future generations. The first in his family to attend college, Tapia went on to receive BA, MA and PhD degrees in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 1967 he joined the Department of Mathematics at UCLA and then spent two years on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin. In 1970 he moved to Rice University, where he was promoted to associate professor in 1972 and full professor in 1976. He chaired the department from 1978-1983. He is currently an adjunct faculty member of both Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston. Tapia has authored or co-authored two books and more than 100 mathematical research papers.
Among his many honors, Tapia was the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1996, President Clinton appointed him to the National Science Board, where he served until 2002, and from 2001 to 2004 chaired the National Research Council’s Board on Higher Education and the Workforce.
He has received the National Science Foundation’s inaugural Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring; the Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the Distinguished Service to the Profession Award from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics; the Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Mathematical Society; the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science; and honorary doctorates from Carnegie Mellon University, Colorado School of Mines, and Claremont Graduate University. He was also the first recipient of the Computing Research Association’s A. Nico Habermann Award for outstanding contribution to aiding members of underrepresented groups within the computing research community; named one of 20 most influential leaders in minority math education by the National Research Council; listed as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by Hispanic Business magazine (2008); and given the “Professor of the Year” award by the Association of Hispanic School Administrators, Houston Independent School District, Houston, TX.
In 2005, Tapia was elected to the Board of Directors for TAMEST, which is comprised of the Texas members of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine.
While at Rice, Tapia has directed or co-directed more underrepresented minority and women doctoral recipients in science and engineering than anyone in the country, and has led several programs that have brought recognition to the university’s commitment to diversity. Since 1996, 60 underrepresented minority students have received Ph.D.s in science and engineering at Rice University. Tapia directs programs that are supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and other organizations that are designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities obtaining graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and enhance the preparation of underrepresented minorities for faculty positions in academia. At Rice, the NSF-supported Alliances for Graduate Education in the Professoriate has developed a supportive community of students and faculty members that gives advice on admissions to departments and provides students with formal and informal resources, support, and professional development.
Professor Tapia is recognized as a national leader in diversity and has delivered numerous invited addresses at national and international mathematics conferences, served on university diversity committees, and provided leadership at a national level. Two professional conferences have been named in his honor, recognizing his contributions to diversity: Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference and the Blackwell-Tapia Conference, whose founders described Tapia as a seminal figure who inspired a generation of African-American, Native American and Latino/Latina students to pursue careers in mathematics.
Edmund Bertschinger is a physicist, professor, and head of the Department of Physics. He is recognized with an MLK Leadership Award for leading both his department and the Institute to foster a culture of inclusion.
“Professor Bertschinger has proven himself to be tireless and passionate in ensuring that every group has a voice,” Provost Chris Kaiser would say a year later in 2013, when announcing Prof. Bertschinger's appointment as MIT’s Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO).
Bertschinger joined the MIT faculty in 1986. He served as head of MIT’s astrophysics division from 2002 to 2007, becoming head of the Department of Physics in 2008. One of Bertschinger’s priorities as department head has been mentoring and supporting women and minorities, and he has actively sought perspectives on diversity within the department.
“Through the years, I have been inspired by many at MIT who have articulated to me a strong desire for our culture to be one of inclusion and caring,” Bertschinger said.
As head of the physics department, Bertschinger has established initiatives to create a more inclusive environment and to attract more women and underrepresented minorities. By 2012, women would constitute 38% of MIT’s graduating seniors in physics, compared with a national average of 21%. The number of underrepresented minorities receiving degrees in physics at MIT would also increase.
“I have been impressed by Ed’s sincere commitment to increasing equity at all levels,” said biology professor Hazel Sive, associate dean of science. “As department head, Ed has made a strong effort to encourage a diverse set of outstanding students to seek training in physics, and has worked to promote a respectful climate within the department. These are key steps toward more equitable representation of different demographic groups amongst physics faculty at top universities.”
Bertschinger’s efforts have changed the climate within the Department of Physics, colleagues say.
“With Ed at the helm, I have felt that the women and minorities in the department had a strong and committed advocate and champion,” said Nergis Mavalvala, the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics. “He has made the climate in the department more welcoming and inclusive. He has led the dialog and taken important steps to address issues of bias and inequity in the workplace. He has supported women and minorities at all levels, from undergrads to faculty, through recruitment, retention, mentoring and effective allocation of resources.”
“Ed has done all this while also maintaining the MIT physics department as the top physics department in the country,” Mavalvala added. “He sees diversity and inclusion as a path to excellence, rather than being at odds with excellence. I cannot think of a better person to be ICEO. We will miss him as head of physics, but our loss is the Institute’s gain.”
Bertschinger has also worked to address issues of diversity and inclusion beyond his own department. Since 2009, he has served on MIT’s Committee on Race and Diversity, later going on to co-chair that committee in 2012; he has chaired the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Office of Minority Education since 2010.
“One thing I especially admire about Ed is his ability to balance leadership with a sincere willingness to listen, learn and collaborate with others,” said Emma Teng, the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Associate Professor of Asian Civilizations, who has served with Bertschinger on the Committee on Race and Diversity. “He is truly dedicated to creating a culture of caring and inclusion that will help our community to become the best that it can be.”
Source: MIT News, 20 Jun 2013
Arnold R. Henderson, Jr., associate dean for counseling and support services since 1993, has been a member of the President's Planning Committee for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration for many years.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts/Boston (BA in English, 1970) and Boston State College (MEd in 1976), Dean Henderson was an assistant to the dean and an assistant dean from 1984-86 at Brandeis University, where he was named Person of the Year in 1986. Prior to that, he was a counselor at Salem State College and taught English and social studies at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
Dean Henderson came to MIT as an assistant dean for counseling in 1986 and has headed Counseling and Support Services since 1996. He was also a member of the President's Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Committee and chaired its Student Services Subcommittee. Dean Hernderson has co-Chaired the MIT Mental Health Task Force and, from 1996 to 2010, was a member of the Committee on Academic Performance.
In 2000, he was named MIT's winner of the YMCA Black Achiever Award. "Dean Henderson has contributed significantly to the furtherance of the mission of MIT," Leo Osgood Jr. [2008 MLK Award winner] said in his nomination of Dean Henderson for the award. "He has provided support for all students and exhibited an unwavering commitment to students' concerns and issues... He has worked tirelessly to improve and strengthen the ability of CSS to deliver effective services to the student population."
In 2009, Arnold R. Henderson, Jr. was honored for fostering diversity and inclusion:
Before there was an Americans with Disabilities Act, there was someone at MIT who took responsibility for providing support and access to students with disabilities. He is now associate dean and co-director in Student Support Services, a welcoming, accessible place for MIT students who seek help with academic, administrative, or personal issues. During his 22 years at the Institute, he has been involved in numerous offices or committees that serve the disadvantaged promote fairness and inclusion, or remove barriers, whether social, economic, cultural, or physical. As one nominator said, ‘He is the conscience of MIT.
His advocacy begins with friendship – the kind that can build self-confidence in a student who is isolated or adrift. One alumnus wrote that our awardee saw his need, reached out and drew him into a conversation — that turned into a community. Without that action, this student and many others would not be among our graduates today. Because of our awardee’s commitment, skill and nuanced understanding of the needs of students and the guidelines of administration, he is respected throughout the Institute.
With thanks, we recognize Arnold Henderson.
Alyce Johnson was awarded an MLK Leadership Award for her dedication to diversity and inclusion for staff employees. Her career in all facets of human resources (benefits, compensation, employee relations, organization development, professional development, & staffing) spans over 30 years. Her certifications include the Center for Creative Leadership in Benchmarks 360, 360-By-Design Assessment Tools, and Coaching for Development. She is also certified through the American Compensation Association (aka World of Work); the Hay Group in Emotional Competence Inventory; CPP,Inc in MBTI; Situational Leadership II; and the Society of Human Resources Management (PHR).
She is responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of programs and processes that promote and sustain diversity, equity and respect. Collaborating with members of the MIT community, Johnson provides leadership and guidance for developing programs, strategies and practices to advance and support MIT's long-standing commitment to workplace diversity and an inclusive and equitable work environment for staff members across the Institute.
She is a member of the Institute's Committee for Race and Diversity, which represents the diverse interests of faculty, students, and staff. She also leads the Council on Staff Diversity and Inclusion, which leverages a distributed leadership model of sharing information and implementing programs locally for staff. In addition, Johnson leads the Human Resource Diversity and Inclusion team charged with developing the tools, systems and programs for implementation through the CSDI.
Johnson continues to apply an organizational lens to other work through coaching leaders and managers, delivering professional development learning opportunities, assessing readiness for change and performance development and facilitating retreats that focus on strategic planning, employee engagement, and team building.
In 2011, Alyce Johnson was honored by MIT for fostering diversity and inclusion:
An outstanding leader and example for us all, this awardee is the manager for staff diversity and inclusion. Her responsibilities include developing and implementing programs that promote diversity, equity, and respect—but she has gone above and beyond expectations in fulfilling that role. In just the past year, her work leading the Council on Staff Diversity and Inclusion has helped shape a stronger MIT vision, and her willingness to talk candidly about sensitive topics has made her invaluable in efforts to make MIT more inclusive. She co-led the Affirmative Action Planning process and created the HR Diversity and Inclusion Team, in both cases developing resource materials and distributing leadership responsibilities to multiply the Institute’s diversity efforts. She also organized an impressive knowledge-sharing event with other universities, placing MIT as a leader among its peers.
Please join me in congratulating Alyce Johnson.
I think the questions that resonated for me is, what about -- what about MIT allows me to demonstrate my own excellence, my own performance? And I think it has to do with the values of MIT. It has to do with how I connect with this community, that I have a community, that it allows me to bring all of me to this job. It's a 24/7 community that, I think that instills something about the need for me, then, to bring my 24/7, my whole being, my 360, to this work environment.
I think one of the advantages that I have is that I worked in a department that had a diversity of staff. I was not the only one. And so that made it very comfortable for me to bring me. I worry about departments that either have no staff of color, or differences. Because I do think, regardless of who you are, I, I think part of your success is the connections that you make and how people, again, help you to navigate. I don't care whether you're African American, white, Asian, Latino, it doesn't matter. It's -- and it's not able, disabled, transgendered, sexual orientation, doesn't matter. People need -- to be successful, I think you sometimes need a little help. How do I get through this? Or, or what are my challenges?
So hopefully you have that kind of a relationship with your manager, your supervisor. But if you don't, there are others in the community to seek out. And not even in an official capacity. In an unofficial capacity.
Julia Jaskólska '13 was a junior majoring in material science and engineering when she received the student MLK Leadership Award.
She was recognized for her service to the MIT and international communities and passion for travel and education.
In 2011, Jaskólska traveled to the Ninth Ward of New Orleans with the MIT student group Alternative Spring Break (ASB). She worked with the group seven hours each day on a Historic Green project to restore a playground. In 2012, she travelled to Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam. Throughout the duration of her travels, Julia presented the best comparative research project in the history of the program.
Jaskólska's continuous involvement with various projects at MIT and beyond have earned her numerous other honors. Angel.com recognized her work for Best Use of Technology in a Speech Recognition System. The Global Youth Enterpreneurship Forum in Hong Kong honored her with a Best Business Plan Award and Most Popular Startup Idea. Her positive influence on campus life also earned her a 2012 MIT Golden Beaver Award for an Individual.
Cato T. Laurencin PhD '87, a nationally prominent orthopedic surgeon, bioengineering expert, and administrator and professor, is the Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of Connecticut and the seventh dean of the UConn School of Medicine. Dr. Laurencin is an expert in shoulder and knee surgery and an international leader in tissue engineering research.
He was recognized with an alumnus MLK Leadership Award for his groundbreaking work in musculoskeletal regeneration and national leadership in bioengineering.
Raised in North Philadelphia, Dr. Laurencin earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, where he was a Magna Cum Laude graduate and the recipient of the Robinson Award for Excellence in Surgery. During medical school, he also earned his PhD in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from MIT, where he was a Hugh Hampton Young Scholar.
After completing his doctoral programs, Dr. Laurencin continued clinical training at the Harvard University Orthopaedic Surgery Program, and ultimately became Chief Resident in Orthopaedic Surgery at the Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Simultaneously, he was an instructor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, where he directed a biomaterials laboratory at MIT.
Among his national leadership responsibilities, Dr. Laurencin has served as Speaker of the House of the National Medical Association, and currently serves as Chair of the Board of the National Medical Association’s W. Montague Cobb Health Institute. He has been a member of the National Institutes of Health National Advisory Council for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the National Science Advisory Board for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He currently sits on the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee.
He is the Van Dusen Endowed Chair Professor in Academic Medicine and is Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chemical, Biomolecular and Materials Engineering at the University of Connecticut.
He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and has been recognized by America's Top Doctors and America's Top Surgeons. He is widely published in scholarly journals and holds more than 20 U.S. patents.
President Obama named Dr. Laurencin a 2009 winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence, awarded to science, math and engineering mentors. Additionally, Dr. Laurencin was recently honored by Scientific American Magazine as one of the top 50 innovators for his groundbreaking technological work in the regeneration of knee tissue. He was also recently named among “100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and is the 2009 winner of the Pierre Galletti Award, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s highest honor.
In research, he has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Defense. He has won the prestigious Nicolas Andry Award from the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons for his work in musculoskeletal regeneration.
Dr. Laurencin is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
The staff of the MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound Program was selected as recipients of the 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award for an organization.
MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound is a year-round (from time of entrance until graduation from high school) educational program serving fifty (50) low-income and/or first generation* high school students who live in Cambridge and attend Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS).
The 46-year-old program stresses the development of academic skills and motivation for students who might not traditionally be considered college-bound.
“This program has not only helped me realize my academic potential, it has given me a second family," student Richard Kieser would tell city councillors a year later in 2013, when Upward Bound faced closing due to budget cuts. "I have seen the program turn girls into sisters, boys into brothers, men and women into leaders. I have watched a shy guy who stood in the back stand up and take responsibility for the program,” Kieser said. “The thought of this program not being here breaks my heart…Today I got my first acceptance letter to college, and the first thing I did when I got off the phone was run to tell my U.B. mothers.”
The Upward Bound staff felt especially honored by the MLK Leadership Award recognition because their nomination was submitted to the committee by the student body, an effort led by graduating senior Ziara Queen-Walker.
*Parents/ guardians of students under this category have not received a baccalaureate or higher degree.
Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office
February 10, 2012
On Thursday morning, hundreds from the MIT community gathered to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Institute’s 38th annual breakfast celebration of the late civil rights leader. At the event, where invited speakers reflected on the theme “Expanding the Possible,” President Susan Hockfield said that to achieve real diversity and inclusion, “we must answer inertia with momentum.”
“Without constant vigilance, old habits and well-worn pathways will prevail,” Hockfield said. “We need to engineer a set of underlying institutional mechanisms, expectations, habits and rhythms that make diversity and inclusion simply part of what we work on here, every day.”
In her remarks, Hockfield highlighted a number of efforts to cultivate diversity and inclusion in MIT’s faculty and student body: The School of Engineering is honing its procedures to recruit and mentor underrepresented minority (URM) graduate students and faculty; the School of Architecture and Planning is reaching out to its alumni to form a mentoring network for URM graduate students; and the School of Science is identifying new funds to expand its pool of URM faculty.
“Just as everyone at MIT shares responsibility for our mission, if we hope to continue ‘expanding the possible,’ we also share responsibility for making our diverse community thrive,” Hockfield said.
Fitting the model
Keynote speaker Richard Tapia, professor of mathematics at Rice University and a recipient of the National Medal of Science, echoed Hockfield’s call for diversity. Tapia, a longtime champion and mentor of underrepresented minorities in education, spoke of his own path to academia, and how he learned early on that he didn’t “fit the model of the good student.”
Tapia grew up in Los Angeles, the son of Mexican immigrants. Instead of attending a predominantly Hispanic school, he went to a “poor white school,” excelling at math. Tapia recalled a time when the principal announced a school-wide math contest whose winner would receive a medal at an assembly in front of the entire school. When Tapia won, the principal presented him with a medal — but in his office, not at an assembly.
“That bothered me,” Tapia said. “That bothers me to this day. I didn’t fit the model that they had.”
Tapia has worked to change this model, encouraging women and underrepresented minorities to pursue education and careers in science and engineering. He said that while there have been many “sincere efforts” since King’s time to promote racial equality in education, “some progress was made, but not enough.” To illustrate his point, Tapia pointed to the meager representation of minorities in university faculties across the United States.
He also urged his audience to examine an oft-overlooked metric: How many minority students graduate in their intended disciplines, “in the areas they love?” Tapia’s research has found evidence that the answer is less than encouraging. For example, students who attend minority-serving institutions and pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) are encouraged by their mentors to go on to graduate school at top-tier institutions such as MIT. However, Tapia observed that once there, these students find they are less prepared for graduate-level coursework than their peers, and tend to “leave with a master’s degree, lost to science for good.”
On the other hand, Tapia found that many minority undergraduates who attend top colleges lack support, “feeling beat up and losing confidence.” These students tend to migrate to non-STEM majors, or choose not to continue on to graduate school. Tapia pressed for more mentoring and support of minority students in their intended disciplines, in order to increase the population of minority faculty across the country.
Living up to mens et manus
MIT senior Shamarah Hernandez '12 spoke about her own experience navigating MIT’s science-centric culture, pointing out a subtle institutional bias. When she first came to MIT, Hernandez aspired to be a science journalist. She found that when she raised the subject with her peers, they would often joke that she belonged at an Ivy League school, “where they do that sort of thing.” When Hernandez eventually chose to major in economics, people would inquire, “What else are you studying?”
“I felt I didn’t belong,” Hernandez said. “My journey was fraught with doubt.”
Hernandez, who said she will be the first member of her family to earn a bachelor’s degree — and the only female African-American economics major in the Class of 2012 — drew a standing ovation as she urged the MIT community to live up to its motto, mens et manus (“mind and hand”), encouraging students in all disciplines.
Derek Ham, a second-year PhD student in architecture and planning, invoked the Olympic torch as a symbol of purpose. He spoke on the importance of mentors, from King — “his life indeed was a torch itself” — to professors who have advised him in his academic career.
“We all have a torch to carry,” Ham said, “a torch that represents a legacy of excellence in lives lived to the fullest, for the betterment of generations to come.”
The breakfast featured performances by the MIT Gospel Choir and singer Jermaine Tulloch, along with a video of past speakers at the event and an invocation by the Rev. Keri Jo Verhulst. MIT Chaplain Robert Randolph gave the closing benediction.