Susan Hockfield elected as MIT's 16th president

Comments by Corporation members, professors, students and colleagues on Dr. Hockfield's selection as MIT's 16th president.

Members of the Corporation Committee on the Presidency

James A. Champy
Chairman of Consulting, Perot Systems Corporation
Chair of the MIT Corporation Committee on the Presidency
Dr. Hockfield emerged from a stellar field of candidates as the best person to lead MIT to new frontiers of innovation and leadership in research and education. She possesses a rare combination of scientific achievement, outstanding managerial talent, and an extremely engaging personal style that will serve MIT's faculty, students and staff very well.

Dana G. Mead
Chairman of the MIT Corporation
As a strong advocate of the vital role that science, technology, and the research university play in the world, and with an exceptional record of achievement in serving faculty and student interests, Dr. Hockfield is clearly the best person to lead MIT in the years ahead. She brings to MIT an outstanding record as teacher, scientist and inspirational leader with a reputation for bringing out the best in all the people with whom she works.

Susan E. Whitehead
Vice Chairman, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Member of the MIT Corporation
Susan brings a rare blend of scientific excellence, deep intellect and curiosity, reputation as a highly effective manager, and an appreciation and zest for the promise of science and engineering in the world. She is a decisive leader who is an extraordinarily decent and ethical person, a great listener and respectful community builder. The Search Committee is truly proud of its work in identifying a spectacular leader for the years to come.

Dedric A. Carter
MIT Class of 1998
Member of the MIT Corporation
Susan's unique and innovative perspective on leadership and the role of science in higher education distinguished her as a leading candidate for the role of MIT President. As we enter a time of new and varied challenges, her collaborative leadership style and strong vision for the future of higher education will make her an excellent asset to MIT. I'm excited to welcome her to our family.

Members of the Faculty Advisory Committee

Jerome I. Friedman
Institute Professor and Professor of Physics
Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee
Professor Hockfield has made significant scientific contributions in her career, and she is highly appreciative of the creative blending of basic and applied research to address some of the most important problems of our time. This and her commitment to the social sciences, humanities and the arts point to her interest in facilitating new intellectual interactions among faculty and students in all five Schools of the Institute. She is a superb choice to lead MIT.

Rafael L. Bras
Chair of the MIT Faculty
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Professor Hockfield has impeccable academic and administrative credentials. All of us were very impressed by her incisive assessment of the opportunities and challenges facing MIT, her engaging personality, her ability to listen, her openness and candor, and her deep knowledge and love of the academic enterprise. Susan Hockfield is a "natural" who will lead in the best MIT tradition.

Rafael Reif
Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
The administration of President Vest, just as MIT administrations before it, has done a superb job at preserving and strengthening MIT's commitment to the highest levels of academic excellence. I fully expect the administration of Dr. Susan Hockfield to continue this MIT tradition. Dr. Hockfield is a most unique and exciting choice for MIT. She understands excellence, and understands that only the very best people build excellence. Moreover, she understands and has successfully addressed student issues and concerns, is firmly committed to a diverse campus community, and fully appreciates the educational role of international students in U.S. institutions of higher learning. She understands the role of the arts, humanities, and social sciences in a science and engineering curriculum, and vice versa. She has an open style of intellectual engagement and interaction, and seems motivated to help implement the aspirations of the faculty. I believe I can state unequivocally that the MIT engineering community will embrace Dr. Hockfield and support her enthusiastically in her historical stewardship.

Bishwapriya Sanyal
Ford International Professor
Professor of Urban and Regional Planning
Coming from Yale, with her research, teaching, and administrative experiences, she will be a catalyst in bringing together all five schools at MIT. Her expertise in basic science, her appreciation for problem solving, her familiarity with the professional schools of management and architecture, and her intellectual engagement with the arts, humanities and social sciences give her the unusual intellectual breadth one needs to play such a catalytic role at MIT.

Sheila E. Widnall
Institute Professor and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
In meeting with MIT faculty, students and staff, the committee obtained a remarkably consistent picture of the uniqueness of MIT, its role in the world, and the challenges and opportunities ahead. Interacting with candidates against this template, Susan Hockfield emerged as the most exciting and capable candidate to lead MIT into its future.

Members of the Student Advisory Group

Pius A. Uzamere
MIT Class of 2004
Co-chair, Student Advisory Group to the Corporation Committee on the Presidency
Rare is it to find such an accomplished scientist whose zeal for research is matched by her passion for enriching the greater community to which she belongs. I am confident that Susan Hockfield will propel the Institute to new intellectual heights while being receptive to student concerns and continuing MIT's tradition as a progressive trailblazer whose actions improve the educational landscape for everyone.

R. Erich Caulfield
Graduate Student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Co-chair, Student Advisory Group to the Corporation Committee on the Presidency
Dr. Hockfield's demonstrated commitment to student life and learning, coupled with her exceptional scientific and administrative leadership and vision, will serve MIT well as we press forward into the seemingly limitless possibilities of the 21st century. I am genuinely excited to see where MIT will be a decade from today.

Other academic colleagues

Richard C. Levin
President of Yale University
Susan Hockfield has been an outstanding dean and provost. She has the intelligence, judgment, and interpersonal skills to be a superb president. She has a broad understanding of the future direction of science and technology, and is well prepared to assume the leadership of MIT and to take a leading role in shaping national science policy.

Gerhard Casper
President Emeritus of Stanford University and a Fellow of the Yale Corporation
MIT has made an inspired choice. Dr. Hockfield will bring to the presidency of the Institute her questioning mind and her great intelligence. She will also bring a deep familiarity with the range of teaching and research that characterizes the contemporary university at its best. Most importantly, few academics have as profound a sense of the academic ethic as she has.

Richard H. Brodhead
President of Duke University
MIT is extraordinarily lucky in its new president. Having worked closely with Susan Hockfield in her years as dean and provost, I have admired the way she sets high ideals for her university and inspires colleagues to work to reach those goals. A strong leader and passionate advocate for the sciences and higher education, she is also a good listener and a wonderful friend. MIT faculty and students will find it a joy to work with her.

Mriganka Sur
Head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
Susan Hockfield is a remarkably creative neuroscientist whose contributions range from characterizing the molecular diversity of brain cells to understanding certain brain tumors. Early in our careers, I had the privilege of collaborating with her. Using a novel antibody that she developed, we demonstrated that functionally distinct cell classes in the visual pathway of the brain are also molecularly distinct. This provides the basis for understanding how the neuronal connections that enable visual computations in the brain are made, and sets the stage for one day treating specific vision disorders.

Alison Richard
Vice Chancellor, University of Cambridge, England
Working with Susan Hockfield during her years as Dean of the Yale Graduate School, I saw firsthand her remarkable leadership and courage. This is an exciting appointment for MIT, although I know that Yale will sorely miss their provost. For my own part, I look forward to working with Susan again, this time on behalf of our two "new" institutions, which have forged close links through the Cambridge-MIT Institute.

Roland W. Betts
Senior Fellow of the Yale Corporation
MIT is extraordinarily fortunate to have Susan Hockfield as its next President. Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of working closely with Susan - both in her capacity as Dean of the Graduate School and as Provost - and have been impressed by her intelligence, her dedication, and her passion for excellence.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 1, 2004 (download PDF).

Topics: MIT presidency

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