Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, an MIT alumna and the first African-American woman to head a ranking technological university in the United States, will be the keynote speaker at MIT's 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebratory breakfast on Thursday, Feb. 3.
The theme of the year 2000 celebration of Dr. King's life and legacy is "Engineering Bold Leadership For the 21st Century: A Blueprint for Full Participation in Academia, Government and Industry."
The breakfast, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Morss Hall at Walker Memorial at 7:30am. Seating is limited, with reservations required by Thursday, Jan. 27.
Dr. Jackson, who became president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in July, was the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in physics in the United States. Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 1995-99, she received the SB (1968) and PhD (1973) in physics from MIT. She was the first African-American woman to head the NRC and the first African-American woman to earn an MIT doctorate.
While an undergraduate at MIT, she was a founder of the Black Students Association and helped increase the number of African-Americans entering the Institute from two to 57 in a single year.
Prior to joining the NRC, Professor Jackson was a university professor, research scientist, consultant and corporate director. From 1991-95, she was professor of physics at Rutgers University, serving concurrently as consultant in semiconductor theory to AT&T Bell Laboratories. From 1976-91, she conducted research in theoretical physics, solid-state and quantum physics and optical physics at Bell Laboratories.
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. She was elected as the first chair of the International Nuclear Regulators Association, formed in 1997.
Other speakers at the breakfast include President Charles M. Vest, Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow and Provost Robert A. Brown.
The MLK Planning Committee, which coordinates the breakfast, will sponsor a series of IAP seminars January 18-20 on "Carrying on the Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- Exploring the Past and Changing the Future." Speakers include Dr. Janet Moses of MIT Medical and the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, Bishop Suffrigan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
The January 19 session featuring Rev. Harris will be from 5:30-7pm in the main dining room in Building W11. The site of the other panels will be announced. The Rev. Jane Gould and Tobie Weiner of political science, both members of the committee, are organizing the programs. Contact Ms. Weiner at x3-3649 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The MLK celebration will also include performances by the Consecration Dance Ministry from 4:30-5pm and the South Mass Choir from 5-5:30pm in Lobby 10 on the afternoon of February 3.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 15, 1999.