Five MLK Professors come to MIT


Five new Dr. Martin Luther King Visiting Professors have joined Dr. Steven Lee on campus this semester. Dr. Lee, a research staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, is in his third semester as King Visiting Professor.

The program was established in 1995 to enhance and recognize the contributions of minority scholars by providing a greater presence of minority scholars on campus.

Nominees are submitted by department or section heads in consultation with their dean. Appointments are given to members of minority groups, with the emphasis on African Americans.

The visiting professors are expected to play an active role in the intellectual life of MIT through teaching programs, seminars, lectures and original scholarship.

Besides Dr. Lee, who is in the Department of Mathematics, the 1997-98 visiting professors are:
��������������������������� Ernesto Cortes, a disciple of legendary community organizer Saul Alinsky and southwest director of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in Austin, TX, in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The IAF, a nonprofit institution that provides leadership training for poor and moderate-income people, was founded by Mr. Alinsky in Chicago in the 1940s.
��������������������������� Lynda Jordan, associate professor of chemistry at North Carolina A&T State University, in the Department of Chemistry.
��������������������������� Kevin Kornegay, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, in the Micro-systems Technology Laboratories.
��������������������������� Winston Soboyejo, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State University, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for the fall semester and Materials Science and Engineering in the spring.
��������������������������� Louis Thomas, assistant professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in the Sloan School of Management.

Dr. Lee, who earned the BS in applied mathematics from Yale University and the PhD in computer science from the University of Illinois, is the main lecturer for 18.06 (Introduction to Linear Algebra) this semester. The recitation sections are being taught in renovated classrooms in Building 2.

"I enjoy bringing linear algebra to the students using the Internet and computer-aided recitations," he said, "but don't forget that old-fashioned blackboard-and-chalk lectures are still important, too."

Mr. Cortes, winner of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1984 for his community organizing accomplishments, was a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1993. He is a member of the Carnegie Task Force on Learning in the Primary Grades, the Pew Forum for K-12 Education Reform and the Aspen Institute Domestic Strategy Group.

Mr. Cortes, a graduate of Texas A&M University, is teaching a graduate course entitled Power Politics and the Revitalization of American Democracy Through Community-Based Institutions. He will deliver an open lecture on a similar topic on November 12.

Professor Jordan, a graduate of North Carolina A&T, received the MS in chemistry from Atlanta University in 1980 and the PhD in biological chemistry at MIT in 1985.

"My expectations are that in conjunction with making a scholarly contribution to my academic area(s), this professorship will expand Dr. King's dream of creating diversity in a predominately white male environment," she said. "I hope that these visiting professorships will facilitate a mechanism for individuals to be judged by the 'content of their character,' not their race or gender. Character is inclusive of scholarly activities."

Dr. Kornegay, an honors graduate of Pratt Institue in Brooklyn, NY, holds the MS and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He was a research staff member for IBM and an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute before his appointment at Purdue in 1994.

Dr. Soboyejo, born in Palo Alto, CA, when his father was working toward a PhD at Stanford and educated at London University's Kings College and Cambridge Uni-versity's Chur-chill College, has been assisting Professor Lallit Anand teach 2.002 (Mechanics and Materials II). MIT students are "living up to my expectations," said Dr. Soboyejo, who has been at Ohio State since 1992. "The overall standard is very high." In addition to teaching, he is a faculty fellow at Ohio State's Center for African Studies.

Dr. Thomas, a graduate of Yale University, received the PhD in business economics from Harvard University in 1992. He has been the Whitney M. Young Jr. Assistant Professor of Management at Wharton since 1992.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 12, 1997.


Topics: Faculty, Special events and guest speakers

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