By Charles M. Vest
In his fourteen years as president of MIT, Charles Vest labored always to achieve his imaginative and prescient of rebuilding America's belief in technological know-how and know-how. In a time while the government dramatically diminished its investment of educational study courses and shifted its R&D assets into the momentary product-development procedure, Vest known as for brand new partnerships with company and govt. He referred to as for universities to fulfill the highbrow demanding situations posed by means of the innovation-driven, globally hooked up wishes of even as he reaffirmed uncomplicated educational values and the continued desire for longer-term medical inquiry.In Pursuing the unending Frontier, Vest addresses those and different concerns in a chain of essays written in the course of his tenure as president of MIT. He discusses the learn university's have to shift to a broader, extra foreign outlook, the worth of range within the educational group, the better management position for school outdoor the school room, and the boundless chance of recent clinical and technological advancements even if coupled with monetary constraints. within the provocative essay "What we do not Know," Vest reminds us of what he calls "the most important element of all," that technological know-how is pushed via a deep human have to comprehend nature, to respond to the "big questions" -- that what we do not be aware of is extra very important than what we do. In one other essay, at the way forward for MIT, he celebrates MIT's strengths as being terribly well-suited to the wishes of an period of extraordinary switch in technological know-how and expertise. In "Disturbing the academic Universe: Universities within the electronic Age -- Dinosaurs or Prometheans," he describes MIT's cutting edge OpenCourseWare initiative, which builds at the basic nature of the net as an allowing and freeing technology.Vest, who's stepping down from MIT's presidency within the fall of 2004, writes with readability and perception concerning the concerns dealing with educational associations within the twenty-first century. His essays in Pursuing the never-ending Frontier supply idea to educators and researchers looking the way in which ahead.
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Increasingly, the commerce of this new marketplace will be conducted along fiber optic information superhighways that will connect computers, telephones, high-definition video systems, and hybrid technologies yet to be developed. This information infrastructure already exists in rudimentary form. MIT has the opportunity to play a pivotal role in bringing increased capabilities and coherence to this system and in defining the currency of the new information marketplace. In doing so, we must not only increase the power and ease of computing and communications but we must do so in ways that enhance our intellectual and social capabilities, that help us make wiser decisions, and that enable us to bridge cultural and political barriers.
Enrollments in our graduate programs and representation on our faculty of underrepresented minority scholars, however, have not kept pace. It is imperative that we improve this situation appreciably. At the faculty level, the provost has recently announced a reinvigorated, funded program designed to assist departments financially in increasing the number of underrepresented minorities on the MIT faculty. We also are accelerating the conduct of programs aimed at making the opportunities for graduate study at MIT clearly known to underrepresented-minority undergraduate students around the country.
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