December 11, 2023 - Letter to Chair Gorenberg

December 11, 2023

To Mark Gorenberg, Chair of the MIT Corporation:

We write as the current faculty officers and recent chairs of the faculty to voice our unreserved and public support for MIT President Sally Kornbluth. (Note: A number of former associate chairs and secretaries of the faculty have added their names below as well.)

MIT is an institution where we tackle hard problems.  The job of our senior administration is to create the space for everyone in the MIT community — from first year students to senior faculty — to tackle those problems in defense of the nation, stewardship of the planet, and service to humanity.  We do so by asking questions, experimenting with methods and testing solutions.

This fall, we are witnessing a situation of great complexity, at a moment of terrible human suffering in Israel and Gaza.  One consequence has been that we hear things that can but shouldn’t be said.  Do we fail to respond when that happens?  Of course not.  But as educators, we seek to open minds rather than to close mouths.  The approach of MIT’s leadership has not been to make lists of what can’t be said, but to talk directly with our students — both in public and in private — about the meaning and consequences of what they say.  Some things are resolved in conversation, while other words and actions are addressed through our disciplinary processes.

President Kornbluth’s opening remarks during her congressional testimony reflect this approach, and we believe it is well aligned with the statement on expression that we recently adopted as a faculty, as well as with the values and policies that shape our community.

MIT is a global community, and for many of us this conflict has direct and personal consequences that cause grave pain.  Yet we continue to work together in solving the world’s hardest problems, whether in space, in the core of the atom, or in the places we speak together about what touches us most deeply.  In recent weeks, Institute faculty from Israel, the Middle East, and North Africa joined in writing a letter signed by numerous colleagues, calling us to join in their efforts to maintain and strengthen the bonds of friendship and collegiality that cut across political, ethnic, and religious differences.  We agree.  We also agree that it is a moral imperative for us, as a community, to confront and address the pernicious influence of antisemitism, Islamophobia/anti-Palestinian racism, and indeed any form of racism.

The faculty share with MIT’s administration the responsibilities of securing the freedoms we need and caring for our community.  We applaud those who have risen to the challenge and worked to make sure our campus remains the kind of place where we can work and speak together.  President Kornbluth has been a strong and dedicated partner in these efforts. We look forward to continuing to work with her to tackle all the challenges of our time.  As current and former faculty officers, we welcome and concur with the Executive Committee of the Corporation’s support for President Kornbluth, and we join in her and your affirmation of MIT’s values.

Yours truly,

Mary C. Fuller, Professor of Literature, Chair of the Faculty

Elly Nedivi, William R. (1964) & Linda R. Young Professor of Neuroscience, Associate Chair of the Faculty

Anette (Peko) Hosoi, Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Chair of the Faculty

Lily L. Tsai, Ford Professor of Political Science, Chair of the Faculty, 2021-2023.

Rick L. Danheiser, A. C. Cope Professor of Chemistry, Chair of the Faculty, 2019-2021.

Susan S. Silbey, Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, Chair of the Faculty, 2017-2019.

Krishna Rajagopal, William A. M. Burden Professor of Physics, Chair of the Faculty, 2015-17.

Steven R. Hall, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chair of the Faculty, 2013-15.

Samuel M. Allen, POSCO Professor Emeritus of Physical Metallurgy, Chair of the Faculty, 2011-2013.

Thomas A. Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor Emeritus, Sloan School of Management, Chair of the Faculty, 2009-11.

Bishwapriya Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning, Chair of the Faculty, 2007-09.

Lorna J. Gibson, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chair of the Faculty, 2005-06.

Stephen C. Graves, Abraham J. Siegel Professor of Management, Chair of the Faculty, 2001-03.

Lotte Bailyn, T. Wilson (1953) Professor of Management Emerita, Chair of the Faculty, 1997-99.

Robert L. Jaffe, Otto (1939) and Jane Morningstar Professor of Science, Chair of the Faculty, 1993-95.

J. Kim Vandiver, Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering, Chair of the Faculty, 1991-93.

Henry D. Jacoby, William F. Pounds Professor of Management Emeritus, Chair of the Faculty, 1989-91.

Sheila Widnall, Institute Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chair of the Faculty, 1979-81.


Former Associate Chairs and Secretaries of the Faculty

David A. Singer, Department Head and Raphael Dorman-Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science, Secretary of the Faculty, 2019-21.

W. Craig Carter, Toyota Professor of Materials Processing, Secretary of the Faculty, 2017-19.

Leslie A. Kołodziejski, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Associate Chair of the Faculty, 2015-17.

Christopher Capozzola, Senior Associate Dean for Open Learning and Professor of History, Secretary of the Faculty, 2015-17.

JoAnne Yates, Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management Emerita, Secretary of the Faculty, 2014-15.

J. Chappell Lawson, Associate Professor of Political Science, Secretary of the Faculty, 2011-13.

June L. Matthews, Professor of Physics Emerita, Associate Chair of the Faculty, 2009-11.

Bruce Tidor, Professor of Biological Engineering and Computer Science, Associate Chair of the Faculty, 2005-07.

Diana E. Henderson, Arthur J. Conner (1888) Professor of Literature, Secretary of the Faculty, 2005-07.

Kenneth R. Manning, Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and of the History of Science, Secretary of the Faculty, 2003-05.

Leigh H. Royden, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Geology and Geophysics, Associate Chair of the Faculty, 1995-97.

Rosalind H. Williams, Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology Emerita, Associate Chair of the Faculty, 1991-93.

Sallie (Penny) Chisholm, Institute Professor, Associate Chair of the Faculty, 1987-89.

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