Vest names Moses as provost of MIT


President Charles M. Vest announced Tuesday afternoon the appointment of Professor Joel Moses, dean of the School of Engineering since 1991, as provost of the Institute.

"It is with great enthusiasm that I announce my intent to appoint Joel Moses to be MIT's Provost, subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee of the Corporation. He will be the next in a line of distinguished scientists and engineers who have served superbly in this important position," said Dr. Vest.

"Dean Moses's deep knowledge of MIT, varied educational background, eclectic intellectual interests, respect for faculty culture and thoughtful understanding of the current forces for change will make him an outstanding institutional leader for our times. As dean, Joel has set a new course for engineering education, and has been widely recognized as the national leader in this regard. But Joel is first and foremost a citizen of the Institute. I look forward to working with him, the Academic Council and the faculty to build the cohesive environment and strategy, encompassing both change and continuity, that is necessary to maintain and enhance MIT's academic excellence in these times of change and financial pressure."

Dean Moses succeeds Dr. Mark S. Wrighton, who is stepping down effective Friday to become chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Moses, a mathematician who has concentrated on computer science and engineering, said in a brief interview yesterday, "I am very pleased at the confidence the President has shown in me.

"Chuck and I agree that a fundamental challenge in the coming years is to redefine a research university, and its relationship to the federal government and industry. Fifty years ago, Vannevar Bush promulgated the vision of federal support for university research and, implicitly, for the education of undergraduate and graduate students for the good of the country. That compact is now being questioned."

As dean of engineering, Dr. Moses has stressed long range planning and what he calls "Big E" engineering in which engineers are expected to integrate all aspects of a problem. He has been a leader in the move to have five year bachelors/masters programs in engineering, which at MIT now include the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ocean Engineering, and Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The MIT School of Engineering has been consistently ranked No.1 during his tenure by US News and World Report.

Professor Moses, the Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, was head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1981 to 1989. A member of the faculty since 1967, he is recognized for the development of MACSYMA, one of the largest computer systems for symbolic algebraic manipulation. As a computer scientist, he is known for his work on the theory of algebraic manipulation algorithms in the areas of simplification and integration. As a computer systems engineer, he is best known for applying his theoretical results to the development of MACSYMA, a system that enables computers to carry out exact differentiation and integration of complex expressions as well as symbolic solutions of equations.

His areas of interest are the organization of large complex systems, competitiveness, product realization, knowledge-based systems, computer and education, and symbolic manipulation.

For his contributions to research and education, Professor Moses was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1986, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987 and a fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) in 1990. He received the American Society for Engineering Education Centennial Award in 1993.

A native of Israel, Professor Moses came to the United States in 1954 and became a US citizen in 1960. He received the Bachelor of Arts (1962) and the Master of Arts (1963) in mathematics from Columbia University.

Dr. Moses first came to MIT 32 years ago as a candidate for a doctorate in mathematics in the School of Science, under the supervision of Professor Marvin Minsky. He became an assistant professor in the department of electrical engineering in 1967, when he received the PhD, an associate professor in 1971 and a full professor in 1977.

He headed the Mathlab Group in the Laboratory for Computer Sciences from 1971 through 1983. From 1974 to 1978, he was associate director of the Laboratory for Computer Science and from 1978 to 1981 he was associate department head for computer science and engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). In 1979, he and Professor Michael Dertouzos, director of the Laboratory for Computer Science, edited The Computer Age, an examination of the next 20 years of development in computers.

As head of EECS from 1981 through 1989, Professor Moses was responsible for more than 110 faculty members and about one-third of all MIT undergraduate students. After completing his eight-year term as head of the department, Professor Moses was a visiting professor during the 1989-90 academic year at the Harvard Business School. He was named Dugald C. Jackson Professor in 1989 and became dean of engineering in January, 1991.

Professor Moses is a director of Analog Devices, Inc. and Coltec Industries, Inc. and is a member of the academic advisory committee for Sematech.

He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, the Association for Computing Machinery and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Moses was recently elected vice-chairman of the Engineering Dean's Council of the American Society for Engineering Education.

He is a member of the advisory board of the Stanford University School of Engineering, of the advisory council of Cornell University School of Engineering, of the Draper Prize Committee for the National Academy of Engineering, and of the NAE's Committee on Foreign Participation in US R&D.

Dr. Moses is married to Peggy Garvey. Their children are Jesse and David.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 7, 1995.


Topics: Administration, MIT presidency

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