MLK Visiting Profs for 1999-2000 honored at reception

Five of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors for 1999-2000 were welcomed to MIT on October 14 at a reception at the Faculty Club hosted by Provost Robert A. Brown, who heads the program.

Dean Leo Osgood Jr., co-chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, introduced Visiting Professors Relva C. Buchanan of the University of Cincinnati, Lloyd Demetrius of Harvard University, Olusegun J. Ilegbusi of Northestern University, Starling D. Hunter III (who received the PhD from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business last June), and Karyn Lacy, a PhD candidate in sociology at Harvard. A sixth MLK Visiting Professor, Harvey B. Gantt, former mayor of Charlotte, NC, was unable to attend the reception.

They will be joined in January by Assistant Professor Arthur G.O. Mutambara of the joint engineering college of Florida A&M and Florida State Universities (FAMU) and Guillermo G������mez-Pe�a, who will be an MLK Visiting Artist-In-Residence.

Professor Buchanan, a professor of ceramic science and engineering at Cincinnati, has been head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering since 1992. A 1960 graduate of Alfred University who earned the ScD from MIT in 1964, he taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana from 1974-92. Before that, he was a senior engineer in microelectonics components and packaging with IBM Corp. in Fishkill, NY, and he taught at Purdue University and the University of Aveiro in Portugal.

He has served as trustee of the American Ceramic Society and is a Fellow both of the American Ceramic Society and the American Society of Metals. Professor Buchanan also serves on an International Materials Review Panel for the Ministry and Foundation for Science and Technology in Lisbon, Portugal. He has authored six books and more than 120 technical articles. He is a 1999-00 MLK Visiting Professor in materials science and engineering.

Professor Demetrius, who has been a research associate at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology since 1992, earned the BA (1961) and MA (1964) in mathematics from Cambridge University in England and the PhD from the University of Chicago in 1967. He has taught mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley, Brown University and Rutgers University, and biology at Harvard. Before coming to Harvard as a visiting professor in 1990, he was a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany from 1981-89. Professor Demetrius, who came to MIT last Feburary, is an MLK Visiting Professor in the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health through this semester.

Professor Ilegbusi received the BS from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in 1979 and the DIC and PhD from Imperial College, London University, in 1983, all in mechanical engineering. He taught at Ibadan and Imperial College before coming to MIT as a research associate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 1986. He was promoted to principal research associate in 1989 and joined Northeastern as an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in 1992. He is now a full professor there, and is a 1999-00 MLK Visiting Professor in materials science and engineering.

In addition to the PhD, Professor Hunter received the BA in electrical engineering from Arizona State University in 1985 and the MBA from the Fuqua School in 1992. He was an engineer for the Boeing Co. defense and space group in Seattle from 1985-90 and a human resources associate at Exxon Chemical in Linden, NJ from 1992-93. Dr. Hunter, the author of two books, is a 1999-00 MLK Visiting Professor in the Strategy Group of Behavorial and Policy Sciences at the Sloan School of Management.

Professor Lacy, who has a BA in urban studies and black studies from Oberlin College (1987) and MA degrees in African American studies (1991) and sociology (1993) from Temple University, expects to receive the PhD in sociology from Harvard in 2000. Her dissertation topic is "The Suburbanization of Middle-Class Blacks." She is a 1999-00 an MLK Visiting Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

After attending Iowa State University from 1960-62, Mr. Gantt enrolled at Clemson University in 1963 under a federal court order, becoming the first black to attend a previously all-white school in South Carolina. He graduated with honors in 1965 and went on to earn the MCP from MIT in 1970. A partner in Gantt Huberman Architects in Charlotte, he served as the city's mayor from 1981-87 and ran against longtime incumbent US Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) in 1990 and 1996. He is a 1999-00 MLK visiting professor in the Department of Architecture.

An associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at FAMU, Professor Mutambra was awarded both Rhodes and Fullbright Scholarships after earning the BSc with honors in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Zimbabwe in 1990. He accepted the Rhodes and received the MSc in computation (1992) and PhD in robotics and information engineering (1995) from Oxford University's Merton College, after which he accepted a one-year visiting research fellowship at MIT. He later was a visiting research fellow at Caltech, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA and a visiting research scientist at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. Professor Mutambra will be an MLK Visiting Professor in aeronautics and astronautics.

Mr. G������mez-Pe�a, a performance artist, author and regular contributor to the NPR radio program All Things Considered, won a MacArthur Fellowship in 1991. A native of Mexico, he came to the US in 1978 to study at the California Institute of the Arts. He has received numerous awards for his radio work, and has performed and created installations in the US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Australia and throughout Europe. Mr. G������mez-Pe�a was at MIT in October to give the Abramowitz Lecture (see photo at right). He will be an MLK Visiting Artist-In-Residence during IAP.

The MLK Visiting Professors Program, established in 1995, is open to members of all minority groups. The objective is to support six to 12 MLK Visiting Professors in each academic year.

The MLK Celebration Committee has planned annual events at MIT for more than 25 years that celebrate the life and legacy of the slain civil rights leader, including an annual breakfast that features a guest keynote speaker. The committee is co-chaired by Dean Osgood and Professor Michael S. Feld of physics.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.

Topics: Humanities, Awards, honors and fellowships

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