President Susan Hockfield expressed admiration for the longevity of MIT's annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast and asserted MIT's "special commitment to meeting the challenge of creating a more diverse and supportive community" in her comments and introduction of keynote speaker Gwen Ifill.
"In bringing the MIT community together each year, this breakfast asks us to renew our commitment to the values Dr. King articulated and that he exemplified in his own life and work. This morning reminds us that it is our collective responsibility to meet the need for a more just and humane society," Hockfield said.
"America and the world have benefited enormously from MIT's willingness, during and after the Second World War, to hire teachers and scholars from many nations and from groups that had been denied full membership in a restrictive academy. As we look to the future, we need to keep the lesson of that history in mind.
"It is essential that MIT is a welcoming and supportive place for anyone, from any background, who has the talent and passion to make the most of what the Institute has to offer," Hockfield said.
Hockfield also noted the MIT faculty's commitment to taking a "leadership position among our peer institutions in the recruitment and in the academic success of underrepresented minority faculty and graduate students.
"We cannot ignore any part of our population. We must recruit a diverse student body, opening MIT to anyone who can benefit from the tremendous opportunities available here," she said.