A new president, new senior officers—significant announcements for MIT, now and in the past. Shown here is the front page of the 30 June 1971 Tech Talk announcing the appointment by MIT president-elect Jerome Wiesner of Walter Rosenblith as provost and Constantine Simonides as vice president of the Institute.
Wiesner's appointment of these two men, Walter Rosenblith and Constantine Simonides, was in keeping with the Institute's decision to redefine some of the functions and authority of the offices of president, chancellor and provost so that there was an increased sharing of administrative and academic responsibilities. Paul Gray had been named chancellor and was to serve as deputy to the president in all matters. Rosenblith would have "Institute-wide responsibilities for the educational programs, with particular emphasis on interdepartmental and interdisciplinary activities." Simonides was the senior staff officer reporting to the president and chancellor. He was to "assist the senior officers in institutional organization and planning and . . . be responsible for studies of academic programs and operations."
President, chancellor and provost—Wiesner, Gray and Rosenblith—worked very closely and shared information constantly. It was common for a memo or report sent to one to be shared with the others, as evidenced by the initials or comments of each on the documents. Over the course of Wiesner's presidency the records reflect a subtle shifting of responsibilities so that there are slightly clearer lines of authority and accountability, though the communication among the offices never appears to cease.
With funding from the provost's office, the administrative records of Rosenblith and Simonides were processed and described by the Institute Archives and Special Collections in 2004-2005. These records, as well as those from Wiesner's tenure as president and Gray's as chancellor, tell parts of the story of the MIT community during the late 1960s and the 1970s—protests against the Vietnam War; efforts to enroll women and minority students; responses to affirmative action; the establishment and growth of new interdisciplinary programs, labs, and centers (such as the Cancer Research Center, the Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies and the Energy Lab); and the creation of new opportunities to learn (such as the Independent Activities Period [IAP] and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program [UROP]).
The administrative records of Rosenblith (AC 7) and Simonides (AC 276), as well as Wiesner's as president (AC 8) and Gray's as chancellor (AC 397), are available for use in the Institute Archives and Special Collections, 14N-118. Guides to the collections are available on the Archives' web site.
MIT Institute Archives