Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Guidelines for Outside Engagements

About the Committee



The members of the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Guidelines for Outside Engagements were selected by Faculty Chairs Susan Silbey and Rick Danheiser because of their experience with the relevant issues and their attentiveness to the MIT mission. The committee members have received requests to participate in and support grass-roots efforts, many of which coincide with our current deliberations. Because we wish to continue our deliberations with open minds and to avoid any appearance of bias, we will abstain from signing any public letters or making any public declarations of support for such efforts. The absence of individual committee member support should not be construed as agreement or disagreement with the views expressed in those letters. That said, the faculty on the committee play important roles at MIT and will freely articulate their own independent views on important issues beyond the purview of the committee charge in their respective communities and the greater MIT community.


The charge to the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Guidelines for Outside Engagements is to define a set of values and principles, consistent with MIT's mission, to guide the assessment of outside engagements.  Outside engagements include grants, gifts, and any other associations and collaborations involving MIT with governments, corporations, foundations, or private individuals, domestic or foreign.  The committee will produce a set of guidelines to be employed by the MIT decision-makers in ways that will be defined by the Process Committee for the evaluation of potential outside engagements.

Professor Tavneet Suri will chair the committee, which will have 18 members.  The membership has been selected by the Chair of the Faculty, Rick Danheiser, in consultation with Professor Suri, and includes the following 11 faculty transferred from the membership of the Ad Hoc Committee on Guidelines for International Engagements (which will be discontinued):  Professors Daron Acemoglu, W. Craig Carter, Fotini Christia, Amy Glasmeier, Daniel Hastings, Diana Henderson, Chappell Lawson, Tamar Schapiro, Susan Silbey, Bruce Tidor, and Bilge Yildiz.  The members of the discontinued International Engagements Committee had been selected in the spring by Professor Susan Silbey in her capacity as then Chair of the Faculty, in consultation with Professor Richard Lester, Associate Provost for International Activities.  These 12 members are joined by the following faculty selected by the Chair of the Faculty:  Professors Arup Chakraborty, Robert Desimone, Paula Hammond, Jacqueline Lees, Yogesh Surendranath, and Robert van der Hilst.  The full membership roster can be found above.

A Subcommittee on International Engagements has been appointed from among the membership of the committee.  This subcommittee will hold meetings (in addition to those of the main committee) at which issues specific to international engagements will be considered.  The subcommittee will provide an interim report on guidelines for international engagements by January 31, 2020 to the International Advisory Committee and the International Coordinating Committee for use in evaluating urgent pending international engagements.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Guidelines for Outside Engagements will issue its overall report to the MIT community during Spring 2020.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Guidelines for Outside Engagements will work in conjunction with the committee on processes for outside engagements being convened by the Provost.  Several members of the ad hoc committee, including its chair, will sit as voting members of the committee on processes to facilitate communication and ensure coordination in their work.

The report of the ad hoc committee will include the following components:

  • A discussion of MIT core values that are the basis for evaluating problematic engagements.
  • Guidelines for use by MIT individual faculty, administration, and relevant staff and committees in determining whether proposed engagements with governments, corporations, foundations, or private individuals are acceptable.  The process through which such guidelines are implemented will be developed by the processes committee being convened by the Provost.  That committee will consist of representatives of both the faculty and administration, including several members of this ad hoc committee.
  • The International Engagements Subcommittee will provide additional guidelines specific for engagements in and with countries with problematic political, civil, and human rights records.
  • The report will also discuss general principles relevant to evaluating and undertaking outside engagements, such as under what conditions, if any, anonymous donations can be considered.
  • To inform their deliberations, the Outside Engagements Committee will gather input from the MIT Community via meetings with departments and through extensive focus groups across campus, including one or more in each school.  Other focus groups will include representatives from departments, labs, and centers, students, post-docs, alumni, and non-faculty instructors and staff.
  • To engage students, a Student Committee on Outside Engagements will be convened by the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council to advise the Ad Hoc Committee with regard to guidelines for outside engagements.  Representatives of the student committee will meet frequently with the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee to provide input and receive summaries of the progress by the Ad Hoc Committee.  The Student Committee will prepare a report that will be incorporated as an appendix in the final report of the Ad Hoc Committee.
  • One or more updates will be presented by the Committee at Institute Faculty Meetings to gather input prior to the completion of the final report.