July 2020 progress
In summer 2020, amid the national outcry over the brutal killing of George Floyd, President Reif committed MIT to a series of actions to advance a more just and equitable future.
Examine the roster of Institute holidays with an eye to equity and inclusion.
In September 2020, President Reif announced that MIT would change the name of the October holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day. Separately, in response to a recommendation by a working group charged to assess MIT’s roster of Institute holidays, President Reif announced in May 2021 that MIT would adopt Juneteenth as an Institute holiday.
DEIC staff hires in schools/college
Hire a senior officer in each MIT school and the College of Computing to guide and gauge concrete progress on diversity, equity, inclusion and community.
MIT’s five schools and the college have hired assistant deans for DEI, who have a dotted-line reporting relationship to the ICEO. The schools of Engineering, Sloan and Science have also appointed faculty to serve as associate deans focused on issues of DEI. And many academic departments have hired diversity officers. The ICEO is working with all new DEI staff and leadership to develop this cohort and promote Institute-wide collaboration in academic and administrative units.
Make a commitment of $1 million to antiracist research and seek additional funding sources.
In 2021, the Office of the Provost provided a $150,000 grant to support the recently launched Initiative on Combatting Systemic Racism, which uses big data to develop and harness computational tools that can help effect structural and normative change towards racial equity. In spring 2022, the office established a $1.2M pool for new research to pursue related goals. In April 2023, MIT announced the seven projects selected to receive support in the fund’s inaugural year.
Work with student leaders to review issues related to policing at MIT.
In December 2022, President Reif released the report of the Working Group on Reimagining Public Safety at MIT, co-chaired by Vice President and General Counsel Mark DiVincenzo, Chancellor Melissa Nobles, and former Co-President of the Black Graduate Student Union Ufuoma Ovienmhada, and committed to “drive this work forward expeditiously.” A new Community Campus Safety Council serves as a community advisory body to seek and provide ongoing feedback on questions of campus safety.
Appoint an ad hoc committee to recommend artistic/cultural responses to affirm and inspire our community.
In December 2022, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart released the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Arts, Culture, and DEI, co-chaired by Associate Provost Philip Khoury and ICEO John Dozier. She announced an implementation committee and four working groups to advance the report’s recommendations.
MIT and Slavery
Continue to support the groundbreaking class "MIT and Slavery".
Prof. Craig Wilder continues to teach this subject, which explores the influence of slavery and race on MIT’s founding and early development, and the connections between slavery and the development of scientific and engineering institutions in the Atlantic World.
Native Americans and MIT
Fund a new research project on the history of Native Americans and MIT.
With support from the Office of the Provost, the History section has offered the class “The Indigenous History of MIT” since spring 2021. In a spring 2022 letter to the community, President Reif described the steps MIT will take in response to the class’s findings, and MIT News published an article with additional details. President Reif released the report of the ad hoc Indigenous Working Group in a December 2022 letter to the community.
Action plan for diversity, equity and inclusion
Engage the community in developing and implementing an Institute-wide action plan for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Following an extensive community engagement process, in September 2022, the Institute released the MIT Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement, and Composition. The plan is a framework to support local and Institute-wide efforts to advance practices, systems and behaviors that promote equity, value differences and establish conditions so that all members of our community can thrive. The 2022-23 academic year serves as a foundation year—a time for local units to collaborate and align their efforts with the framework proposed by the plan.
Raise funds for new endowed graduate fellowships for students from underrepresented groups.
The deans of the five schools and the college together previously committed more than $17 million in endowed funds, and in summer 2020 the provost provided an additional $1 million in expendable fellowship funds. Resource Development continues to work with the schools and college, as well as the Institute community and equity officer, to refine an overall strategy to support new endowed graduate fellowship fundraising for underserved groups. Resource Development has developed tools and is providing guidance to help gift officers make the case for fellowships.
Purchasing and contracting
Increase purchasing/contracting with minority-owned businesses, including Black-led enterprises.
The Small and Diverse Business Program in the Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) continues to seek new ways to inspire MIT purchasers to align their spending with MIT’s DEI and sustainability priorities. In 2023, the program will launch Purchase with Purpose, a long-term, campus-wide campaign to address the commitments outlined in the MIT Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement, and Composition and Fast Forward: MIT’s Climate Action Plan for the Decade. The campaign will target small businesses, local businesses, businesses with diverse ownership, and businesses focused on sustainability. During its first year, the campaign will help educate campus purchasers on the benefits of buying from suppliers that align with the Institute’s priorities. Relatedly, VPF will soon launch Supplier Search, a tool to enable MIT purchasers to identify suppliers by campaign focus areas, and the Procurement Services website, which will couple purchasing with the ideas and inspiration of the Purchase with Purpose campaign.
Other efforts to advance this priority include the Launchpad, which features minority-owned businesses in the Student Center, and ongoing engagement with local business groups like the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts.