Naming Celebration for Hockfield Court

Naming Celebration for Hockfield Court


Good afternoon. I’m Bob Millard, the chairman
of the MIT Corporation, which is our board of directors. Welcome. This is a very special occasion
for a very special person at what Paul Gray used to call
“this very special place,” MIT. We’re here today to give
a proper name to this, to a place at MIT that– I hope I’m the last person
to call it the North Court– that has evolved over decades. Some of us remember
it as a parking lot. You had to request a pass to
use this place in those days, and I used to use this place
to park my car whenever I came to Boston. Now I live here. I can tell you that the two
hardest things to get at MIT are a degree and
a parking place. [LAUGHTER] So when the construction of
the Stata Center and the Koch Institute happened,
the restricted space that was this parking lot
became a beautiful place. So I lost my parking place,
but fortunately, they didn’t take away my degree. In every season, you can see the
MIT community cross this place from one building to another,
from one place to another, or just hang out in this court. It’s become a really vibrant
part of our community. It’s kind of not
a court, in a way, in the way Killian Court is. It’s really an intersection. It’s one of the real physical
centers of our campus. Because it’s the
intersection with the life sciences and engineering,
a convergence, if you will. And Susan Hockfield knows a
thing or two about convergence. If you haven’t already
read her book called The Age of Living Machines,
I highly recommend it. It’s about the convergence of
life science and engineering. So who could imagine
a better next life for this court,
this intersection, than to bear the name of
the first life scientist to lead MIT, our 16th president
and my good friend, Susan Hockfield? [APPLAUSE] You’re going to have
the pleasure of hearing from a number of individuals. Let me introduce them,
then just very briefly. First you’re going to hear
Jim Champy, life member emeritus of the MIT
Corporation and the person who chaired the MIT search committee
that led us to Susan Hockfield and led Susan Hockfield to us. Next, Professor Paula Hammond,
the David H. Koch Professor and department head of
Chemical Engineering. You’ll also be treated
to a performance by Professor John Harbison
and the MIT faculty from Strength in Numbers,
followed by the MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble. President Reif will conclude our
program, but not until after we hear from the great
lady herself, Susan. Jim? [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Bob, and
thank you, Rafael, for inviting me to tell the
story once again of our search that brought Susan to MIT
and the engagement of Susan. You know, I’ve been asked a
few times to tell this story, and as I prepared
for today’s ceremony, I thought we might simply make
a movie about bringing Susan here. We’d simply call it
“Susan Comes to MIT.” “Susan Comes to MIT.” And it would have two parts. The first part would
be about the search and actually finding
Susan, and the second part would be about convincing
Susan that this is where she wanted to be. Although I have to
tell you I believed from the very beginning this
is where Susan wanted to be. She was just too good
a negotiator to give us an early and easy yes. I do remember that. I do remember that. It all began in 2004,
when Chuck Vest announced that he would be stepping down. And as we’ve done in the past,
Dana Mead, our then-chairman, formed what we formerly
called the Committee on the Presidency. It would be the members of
the corporation that would form the search committee. At the same time, Dana invited
the then-chair of the faculty– that was Rafael Bras, the chair
of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
to form a faculty committee. And that faculty committee would
be chaired by Jerry Friedman. Some of you may know Jerry. I don’t think Jerry is with
us here tonight or today, but Jerry was a Nobel
Prize winner, as many of you may know, really
an eminent and wonderful, wonderful faculty member. And it was such a privilege to
have Jerry on the committee. And we actually merged both
committees, both the faculty and the corporation committee,
to act as a single committee. That’s always been
the MIT process. And it’s a wonderful
method of governance that brings the faculty
and the corporation together very early in the
decision about who will serve as MIT’s next president. During those discussions, the
many discussions and meetings that we had, I remember
the faculty would often move us to great debates and
discussions about process. And the corporation
members would get nervous. They’d worry we’d
never get the job done. And then sometimes, the
faculty would act up. But Jerry always sat next to me. I’d nudge Jerry, and Jerry
would settle the faculty down. I was always amazed at how a
Nobel laureate could quickly settle the faculty down. We began our work, as
always, by gathering a large number of names. We would ask people
inside MIT, people outside of MIT, for suggestions. The funnel always
begins in these searches with maybe 50 or 60
possible candidates. But I have to tell
you, in the very end– and I’ve had the privilege of
chairing two searches for MIT’s presidents– at
the very end, you discover that there are, in
fact, very few people who have the qualities and the
skills to be president of MIT. And the challenge is, how
we get to the narrowing of the very large list? Well, we begin– and we
began in both searches– by talking extensively
about MIT’s opportunities and challenges, what we
believe in as an institution, and what that all means for
the qualities, the qualities, of MIT’s next president. I got that advice,
interestingly, from Chuck Vest. When Chuck was
leaving, he said, Jim, don’t waste your time
creating a job description. You’ll never find
the perfect candidate who will check all those boxes. And we didn’t. We didn’t. We just started to articulate
and, as a committee, think about, what are
the qualities required of our next president? Now, we had a large list. We had on that list the
name of Susan Hockfield, the provost of Yale. We didn’t know Susan. We didn’t know Susan. Nobody on the committee
really knew Susan. We knew her by reputation,
and we knew her credentials. And we had a mechanism. It was a bit of a
lame mechanism that we would use when we sort of
knew maybe a candidate that might be a serious candidate,
but we weren’t sure. So we wouldn’t call them and
say, please come and talk to us as a candidate. We didn’t want to embarrass
them or the committee. We would call them and say,
we’re doing a search here at MIT for our next president. Please come and
give us some advice. Give us some advice on what
we should be looking for. So I called Susan. The chair of the
committee always calls the potential candidate,
so I called Susan. I said, Susan, we’re
doing a search. Would you please come
here and give us advice? And she said, sure, Jim. By the way, I
learned immediately about Susan’s directness. But she then said, how long
will we keep up this charade? [LAUGHTER] I remember that. I remember that. I said, Susan, it would
be it would be best for us to end the charade now. We’ll just end the charade now. So please come. Kirk Kolenbrander– I don’t
know whether Kirk has joined us today, but Kirk was the
Secretary of the Corporation. And I said, Kirk, send a car. Send a car to New Haven. Get Susan. Bring her to one of
our meetings, please. This could be a very,
very serious candidate. By the way, in preparation
for that meeting, I was looking for
advice about how to really do this job,
how to find a president. And I went and called on
another emeritus member of the corporation, Carl
Mueller, class of ’41. Carl had actually chaired
two earlier search committees in very early days
for MIT’s presidency. He was living, I remember– I remember visiting him. He was a retired banker living
on the East Side of New York, on the river. And he invited me to lunch. I said, Carl, how
should I do this? I’ve never done this before. He said, Jim, you have
nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about. You will know when you
have MIT’s next president in the room. You will know when you
have MIT’s next president in the room. So, of course, we had to
get Susan into the room. I remember the setting. I remember the
setting distinctly. We held our meetings off-campus
because we never wanted to see– the campus couldn’t see
who was coming and going, who we were considering
for MIT’s next president, so our meetings
were all in Boston. We rotated between the Algonquin
Club, the Four Seasons, and the old Ritz-Carlton
on Arlington Street. We would have dinner meetings. The faculty liked
the Four Seasons because the food was
best, the food was best. But Susan’s meeting was
at the Algonquin Club. We were gathered in a
large conference room facing Commonwealth Avenue. The large sliding doors opened. Susan entered the room. The committees– and there were
about– a committee of about 23 when you added everything up–
was seated around a table, and the discussion began. We had a protocol
for the interviews. We had a set of questions
that the committees had created to ask every candidate. And the protocol required
a member of the corporation and a member of
the faculty to kind of lead in the questioning. We had someone
assigned to do that. So that process began. The rest of the committee
started to engage. Susan started to engage, and it
was an extraordinarily natural, natural engagement. We could tell that Susan
understood the kind of institution we were. We could understand Susan. The conversation
just flowed so easily that I think at the end
of about two hours– and we usually
spoke to candidates for about two hours–
several of us in the room knew that we might just
well have had MIT’s next president in the room. We knew that. We knew that in
our first meeting. But there was a long way to go. We had other candidates
to talk with. We talked with all
of those candidates. We got to a very narrow list,
a very, very narrow list. We had a student
advisory committee, a student advisory
committee that actually did very, very good work. We asked them to
interview the finalists. They came back to
us and said, Susan should be the next president. They had advised us on that. The very last meeting
of the committee was at the old Ritz-Carlton. I remember, again, the room. It was a long, narrow room. Jerry and I used to always
sit next to each other at one end of the table. We went around the room asking
every member of the committee to voice his or her perspective
on all the candidates, and everybody was being
very fair and very balanced. And it was hard
to tell, actually, where we would come out. These were two very
good candidates. I turned to Jerry. I said, Jerry, do you know
where this is going to come out? He said no. I said, I don’t know either. And then Jerry reminded me
that the faculty actually wanted a secret ballot. I wanted a show of hands. I wanted to see
where everyone stood, so if we had a tight
vote we could kind of negotiate to an end. But Jerry said, no,
the faculty wants to be private in how they vote. So Jerry and I quickly,
quickly devised a process by which we would
have a written ballot. Every member of the committees
would sign his or her ballot. Jerry and I would be the only
ones to count the ballot, so we would know
how everyone voted. But we had nothing to worry
about, because on the very first ballot, Susan was
the overwhelming choice, the overwhelming choice. And I remember the room. I remember the room when
the counts were announced. Someone at the far end from
where Jerry and I were sitting, one of the faculty
members, quietly announced that without having
set this out as an objective, we were about to recommend
to the MIT Corporation the first woman
president of MIT. It was actually a moving
and solemn moment, a moving and solemn moment. But now we had to go
and convince Susan that she wanted MIT. So I called Kirk again. I said, Kirk, I’ve
never been to New Haven, never been to the Yale campus. Get me a car. The train wasn’t– we didn’t
have a train that ran there very easily. We didn’t have a fast train. And I was a bit concerned
about going to Yale, going onto the
campus, because I was going to poach Yale’s provost. That’s what we were going to do. We wanted to pull Yale’s
provost out of Yale, get the provost of
Yale to understand that this was the place for her
before any other institution, including Yale,
figured out that Susan could be its next president. And we knew we had to act. At that point, at that time– and I believe it
still is the case– Yale had a home for its provost. Marty, we don’t have a
home for our provost. I’m sorry. But Yale had a lovely
home for provost. I visited the home. I first met Tom and
Elizabeth there. I also met the family
dog, the now late Casey. Casey is now in dog heaven. But I remember meeting Casey. Casey was a lively and wonderful
and friendly golden retriever, as I remember. And when I met Casey, I knew
we had made the right decision. We had made the right decision. Gray House hadn’t
had a dog since we had Priscilla Gray’s corgi,
and Casey was much livelier. The students would love Casey,
and they would love Susan. We knew that. We knew that. But it was there that
Susan and I first began a serious discussion
about what MIT was. I remember having
that discussion. What do we believe in? And we started to talk about
things that we commonly talk about, about meritocracy
and excellence and the search– you know, the search
for the truth. I could feel the engagement. I could feel the engagement. But there were a
couple of obstacles we still had to address. One, we learned that Yale
was paying its provost a lot more than we paid
our presidents. And we also recognized that
we were not only recruiting the provost of Yale, but we were
recruiting a very distinguished faculty member and scientist,
someone who had tenure at Yale. Now, many of you
may not know this, but the MIT presidency
does not come with tenure. We typically don’t
have that problem. When the MIT president comes
from the current faculty, they usually arrive, as
Rafael did, with tenure. But somehow, we had
to get Susan tenure. Well, the MIT Corporation has
the power to grant tenure, but it has never done that
without the recommendation of the faculty. It has never
exercised that power, and we weren’t about to do it. But again, we had
nothing to worry about. Because graciously,
Susan volunteered to apply for tenure, just
as any entry-level faculty member does. Submitted her letters,
her work, to the faculty of brain and cog,
and sure enough, Susan was granted tenure– although I do remember
calling Jerry Friedman during that process
and saying, Jerry, please call the head
of that department and tell him how
important this case is. Tell him how important
this case is. [LAUGHTER] Well, we got over that obstacle. Dana Mead had negotiated
with the salary subcommittee or the compensation
committee of the corporation to handle the
compensation issues. We were ready to go. Dana called a phone meeting–
it was a phone meeting of the corporation– for a vote. I made the report
of the committee. The corporation
voted unanimously to elect Susan as
MIT’s 16th president. We were to have a celebration
and an announcement in the lecture hall 10-250. I remember that day,
the lecture hall was filled floor to ceiling. People were seated
in the aisles. Dana stood in front of the
gathered community, made the announcement. Susan, Tom, and Elizabeth
entered the room, and there was a resounding
welcome of applause, of cheers and excitement. Susan, there’ll be
many people today who thank you for everything
you’ve done for MIT. I just want to
thank you on behalf of that committee and all the
work, and some of the members who aren’t with us anymore,
Dana and Paul and Henry. I just want to thank you
for saying yes, if you will. And now I’d like to introduce
Paula, who actually, as a young faculty member,
served on that committee, who now, as we can see,
has grown to be chair of the Department
of Chemical Engineering. Paula? [APPLAUSE] As Jim said, we’ve grown,
but we look the same. [LAUGHTER] [LAUGHS] There was such
excitement on campus when Susan joined MIT. Our first woman president
and our first life scientist. So when I first met Susan,
I wondered to myself what this learned
neuroscientist, this distinguished
Ivy League professor, would do with all of
us unruly engineers and technologists here at MIT. Back in 2004, MIT was
already a thriving place with a very interactive and
cross-disciplinary nature. If asked at that time
what MIT is missing, many might have told
you that we had already reached the penultimate
levels of success. But Susan had a vision
of what MIT could be. Susan had a vision
of a campus in which energy-related activities
and science, which were spread across
campus, would unify to create something greater
than the sum of their parts. That collaborative efforts
in the important areas of every form of energy
could be supported by a central core of research
activity, student engagement, education, and even
policy discussions. And the MIT Energy
Initiative was born. Susan had a vision of the
furtherment of our engagement with the greater technology
world, including our neighbors, and she helped to
usher in the expansion of small and large companies
here in Kendall Square. Susan had a vision of a place
where we not only educated our unique community
of scholars, but sought to share actively in
educating the world in a manner that leveraged digital
access and new innovations in teaching and
learning, and thus, in partnership with
then-provost Rafael Reif, MITx and edX were born. And, at least for me personally,
most importantly Susan had a vision of the convergence
of engineering and life sciences, one that she shared
with colleagues like Phil Sharp and Tyler Jacks. The bringing together of
biology with chemical, biological, electrical
engineering, materials science, computer science so that we
can learn from each other and provide
educational experiences to train the next
set of investigators to address the world’s
medical and health needs. And this led to many things. It led to the Reagan Institute. It led to the Institute
of Medical Engineering and Science, or IMES, and
it led to the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research. I’d like to speak personally
to the Koch Institute, as it is my personal experience
with Susan, in particular. The founding of the Koch
Institute of Integrative Cancer Research has been an absolute
game changer in the way that we approach cancer. And by example, in the
way biomedical science and engineering is carried out
on this campus and the greater world, by putting cancer
cell biologists, engineers of all kinds, and clinicians
together in a single building and creating a home for us
to work closely together, we have been able to truly
exchange about our science, discuss the critical
challenges in treating cancer, and discover the
incredible capabilities we gain when technology is
guided by the understanding of biology. By bringing together
this unique community, we have been able
to uncover ways in which technological
tools might be designed to uncover
new and important biological discoveries. We work together
across boundaries in a manner that truly
involves not just pro forma collaboration, where the
scientists and the clinicians and the engineers each
stay in their own lane, but the absolute integration
of knowledge across boundaries by investigators at every level. So to a faculty
member like myself, who had just recently begun
to apply my own engineering skill set toward addressing
biological and biomedical needs, the Koch
Institute represented the ultimate opportunity. I had spent the first
part of my career working on fundamental polymer
self-assembly and synthesis, on design of functional
polymer materials and materials for energy
applications from batteries to fuel cells. I had begun designing polymers
for drug delivery just a few years before the
launch of the Koch Institute and was thrilled to be invited
to join the team of engineers that would join the biologists
to make up the Koch. At the time, I had a much more
naive and incomplete sense of the complexity of cancer
and the challenges of targeting this disease of many diseases. Upon joining the Koch Institute,
my students immediately began listening to
and understanding more about cell biology and
physiology of disease, and remarkably, my
students actually began to learn how
to speak biology. And they taught me, thankfully. I witnessed the excitement of
seeing engineering students and postdocs talk to biology
trainees and uncover big ideas to address cancer
more effectively. In that first year alone, seven
or eight new collaborations were born in my own lab,
many involving colleagues with whom I now regularly
work and publish. The sense of discovery
continues today. There are 83 Koch Institute
faculty-founded biotech companies, and of those,
31 have clinical activity. The KI building has the highest
rate of overall interim MIT co-authorship and the largest
rate of patent generation on our entire campus. Ideas born in elevators and
in the line at the Koch Cafe; Genius Bar sessions
from engineers and biology 101 sessions
from biology students; clinicians visiting
and joining in to provide true medical
context to point us toward the most important
issues in patient treatment and bring an understanding
of the reality of the nature of the disease. And so it is so appropriate
that Susan’s name be associated with this courtyard. Think about the
interconnections at MIT that this courtyard represents. The Koch Institute here. Chemical engineering there. Biology, biological engineering,
IMES, computer science. We are surrounded by the
interdisciplinarity that makes MIT an incredible place to be. And the outward-facing
corners points us out to the world of Kendall
Square and Technology Square and the burgeoning
technology sector around it. Most importantly, though,
think about this courtyard. This courtyard represents
community, our MIT community. Frisbees flying across the green
stretches, babies and strollers pushed across by parents,
dogs walking and running, students eating and
lounging, tours of parents and future MIT prospectives,
children climbing the red structure, faculty
racing across campus for class, or thesis committee meetings. This is MIT. And this is the world that
Susan helped create, right here. This collaborative space
represents the many gifts you have brought us, and we
are so thankful to you, Susan. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] It is my pleasure now to
introduce a musical tribute to Susan. Please welcome MIT’s faculty
musicians, Strength in Numbers, joined by Laura Grill Jaye and
members of the MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Paula. This is indeed Strength
in Numbers, SIN, and the MIT Vocal Jazz
Ensemble, Laura Grill Jaye. We know that Susan Hockfield
was a wonderful champion of the arts, and we
know she liked jazz, and we hope that she will
enjoy our performances of “It Had to Be You” and “Red Top.” [MUSIC – “IT HAD TO BE YOU”] (SINGING) It had to be you. It had to be you. I wandered around
and finally found there’s somebody who can make
me feel blue, make me be true. Or even be glad just to
be sad thinking of you. Some others I’ve seen
might never be mean. And might never be
cross or try to be boss, but they wouldn’t do. For nobody else gave me a
thrill with all your faults, I love you still. It had to be you, wonderful
you, wonderful you, had to be you, wonderful you. [INSTRUMENTAL] [VOCALIST SCATTING] (SINGING) Some others
I’ve seen might never be mean, oh, oh, oh. Try to be cross or be
bossed, but they wouldn’t do. Nobody else gave me a thrill. With all your
faults, I love you. It had to be you, had to be you. Ohh, it had to be you. Oh, it had to be
you, wonderful you. It had to be you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC – “RED TOP”] [VOCAL ENSEMBLE SCATTING] (ENSEMBLE SINGING)
My little red top, see how you got me spinning,
going round and round, and I don’t want to stop. You’ve got me, so if I don’t
go around, I’m sure gonna drop, gonna drop, gonna drop. So red top, you just go
right on spinning, going round and round, and
don’t you ever stop. Remember that if you don’t go
around, we’re sure gonna drop, gonna drop, gonna drop. (MALE SOLOIST SINGING) Oh, my
sweet little Alice Rosetta, I’m spinning and I promise
that I’ll love you forever. You know there is no
other who can thrill me. No one can kill me,
baby, like you do. And I’ll tell the world
I’m in love with you. (FEMALE SOLOIST SINGING) Oh,
yes, I’m in love with you. Any old thing you say,
everything that you do. So, darling, won’t
you tell me your mind and hold me tight through
the night, and love me? Going round spinning,
going round spinning top, and don’t you dare stop. I’m high up on a dream,
and I don’t want to drop. I might take a solo,
but I can’t stop. I’ve gotta go right on
spinning, it’s a sin that I’m a little red top. I gotta go right
on spinning, gotta go round and round
until I tumble down and fall with a drop. Morning glory, now you’ll know
the story of a little red top. [ENSEMBLE SCATTING] (ENSEMBLE SINGING)
The little red top. Top, you’ve got me spinning. [ENSEMBLE SCATTING] (ENSEMBLE SINGING)
I don’t wanna stop. You’ve got me, so if
I don’t go around, well, I’m sure gonna drop,
gonna drop, gonna drop. So red top, you just
go right on spinning. Going round and round,
and don’t you ever stop. Remember that if
you don’t go around, you just come down, baby,
’cause we’re sure gonna drop. [APPLAUSE] Good afternoon, and
it’s truly wonderful to see so many of you joining
us this afternoon, this evening. To all the performers, thank
you for sharing your talents with us. And of course, to Paula and to
Jim, thank you for joining us and for your wonderful
remarks to honor Susan. I also would like to offer
a very special welcome to Dr. Thomas Byrne. Susan’s husband Tom also served
MIT through the Hockfield years with great patience
and dedication. And Tom, we’re going
to need you again here in a couple of minutes. But of course,
today I mostly want to recognize our guest of
honor, Dr. Susan Hockfield. As Jim explained, it was
tremendously exciting for all of us who were part
of the national search and the milestone decision
that brought Susan to MIT. At the time, I was just one
member of the faculty search committee, and I had no
idea that Susan would later invite me to join her
administration as provost. Susan, I will always be
grateful for that opportunity, for the trust you placed in
me, and for what you taught us all through your example. And what was the first
lesson Susan taught us? Do not waste time
getting down to work. Months before she was officially
installed as president, Susan set out on an
exhaustive listening tour. It took her all across MIT. From the faculty, she
heard an overwhelming call. They told her that MIT
needed a serious new emphasis on sustainable energy
and the environment. So in her inaugural
remarks, she paved the way for what we now know
as the MIT Energy Initiative, or MITEI. Today, MITEI includes hundreds
of students, faculty, and staff across all of the five schools. It is an inspiring community,
pursuing leading-edge science, technology, and policy
with a modest goal of helping to transform
the global energy system. So launching a game-changing
energy initiative– well, that was day one of
the Hockfield presidency. After that, Susan
was unstoppable. With her perspective
as a neuroscientist, very early on she
understood the significance of the rapid coming
together of the life sciences with engineering
and physical sciences. She recognized this great
intellectual convergence, and then, here on
our campus, she helped advance it
geographically, too. As many of you
know, Suzanne calls this spot “the great circle.” All around that circle are
physical manifestations of the convergence she
helped us recognize– the Broad and
Whitehead Institute, the MIT Departments of Biology
and Biological Engineering, the Brain and Cognitive Science
Complex, the Stata Center, and the Koch Institute for
Integrative Cancer Research. As Bob mentioned, it
used to be a parking lot, but Susan was able to look
beyond the asphalt and the food trucks to see a
vision of the future. Susan had exciting ideas
about creating environments that would bring biologists
and engineers together to accelerate cancer research,
and she took bold action, drawing on the talent and
energies of people across MIT. Today, the Koch Institute
stands in the heart of the great circle,
a world-renowned, first of its kind
cancer research center. With engineers and biologists
working side by side, the Koch embodies the
idea of convergence, and it reflects MIT’s
finest tradition of bringing knowledge to bear
on the world’s great challenges. Paula gave us a
vivid personal sense of how Susan transformed
the landscape of research and education at MIT in the
fields of energy to cancer. Susan provided outstanding
leadership in many other areas, too, from advanced manufacturing
to the great community celebrations of MIT 150, from
diversity to digital learning, and from Kendall Square
to our global engagements around the world. Through her years as
president, the world saw Susan’s distinctive
qualities as a leader– her brilliance; her unlimited
capacity for hard work; her gift for seeing a
subject from many angles, her ability to deliver calm,
clarity, and confidence when the community
needed reassurance, as it did during the
global financial crisis; and her personal
highest standards of dedication and excellence,
which challenged all of us to be the best that we could be. In 2012, when Susan stepped
down from the presidency, people crowded the campus
to celebrate with her. One lively gathering was
called Hockfield Day. As some of you will
remember, it included a fleet of translucent blimps,
along with roving entertainers and magicians. Susan, I want you to know that I
argued very hard to have blimps again today. [LAUGHTER] But I was informed that
having blimps in a tent is not prudent. So we’re delighted to
honor you with something a little more down to earth. Susan and Tom, would you
please join me on the stage. In a moment, we’ll sit together
for the very first time– please join me. We’ll sit together. For the very first time,
MIT’s permanent tribute to Susan, which names this
gathering space Hockfield Court. Please turn your attention
to the screen as [? Susan ?] [? Yu ?] and [? Jesse ?]
[? Kirkpatrick, ?] two of Susan’s former first-year
students, advisees, unveil the plaque. [APPLAUSE] We hereby mark October
4, 2019 as opening day on Hockfield Court. Susan, would you like
to say a few words? Thank you, Rafael. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. Thank you. Ah, this is amazing,
totally amazing. And I’m just thinking
as I’m getting ready to speak to you
that Dana Mead, who was chair of the corporation
during most of my presidency, had many bon mots. But among my favorites, he said,
well, everything’s been said, but not everyone has
had a chance to say it. And after all of these
recitations, I mean– what I’m prepared
to say is probably– is a repetition of
what many of you said. But I have to thank Jim, Paula,
John Harbison, and the students and musicians, and Rafael for
these marvelous, marvelous, and quite flattering and
overwhelming comments. Jim, I remember those
early days quite vividly, and I remember the first call. And just to give you a
little bit of context, the provost’s office is
different from the provost’s office here. It’s in an old, very
old building at Yale, and the phone rang. And I have to tell you, I was– this is going to sound immodest,
but I was fending off interest in my interviewing for
presidents’ positions, because they just
took too much time, and I wasn’t interested
in leaving Yale. I was very, very happy there. So I got this message. My assistant gave me the
message that someone from MIT had called, and I
remember rolling my eyes and saying, oh, agh. Anyway, but Jim is a
remarkable salesman. [LAUGHTER] So I did, when he proposed
this ridiculous scenario, call his bluff and say, come on. What are you talking about? And I’m really not interested. I think my opening game
was, I’m not interested. And Jim said, but wait a minute. You don’t know
anything about MIT. Let me tell you a
little bit about MIT. And this is the old
days, where I had the handle of the phone part. And he said, MIT is
a place that believes in the pursuit of truth. Now, while this is my
fervent, deeply held belief, this was a time at Yale where
you couldn’t use that word without getting into a fight. So someone who would
baldly say, we believe in the pursuit of
truth, this was like music to my ears and
a little bit inconceivable. And then he said something
even more remarkable, which is that MIT is about
meritocracy, at which point I literally held the phone away
from my head and looked at it– [LAUGHTER] –not believing that
someone on this earth could say such things. And so Jim persuaded me to come
up for this first interview, but there was a ruse there, too. Because first he said,
well, you can just come talk to the committee. I said, I’m really
not interested. He said, well just
come talk to six of us. So I said, fine. And then the night
before, the day before, he said, well, guess what? The whole committee’s meeting. Do you mind talking to 23 of us? [LAUGHTER] In any case, so– you know, I didn’t have,
frankly, much stake in this game, so I got in a car. It was a beautiful day. Drove up to the Algonquin Club. And you know, sat down in front
of these 23 people, which– and you know, I
don’t know whether– it probably wasn’t all 23,
but at least 20 of them were wearing brass
rats, and they were all sitting like this. [LAUGHTER] You know how people
with brass rats sit. So the conversation
began, and it was amazing. It was an amazing conversation. I mean, I remember it as
though it were yesterday, how exciting and interesting
and deep and thoughtful it was. Anyway, left the
room, got in the car to go back to New Haven. I called Tom, and he
said, well, how did it go? And I said, well, unfortunately,
it went very well. [LAUGHTER] Knowing that our lives
were going to change. So Jim, thank you,
thank you for being such a persuasive salesman
for MIT’s great gifts. So I have to say
I’m just honored beyond words by this ceremony,
by the naming of the courtyard. But I’m a little bit
embarrassed by all of it, because I’m acutely
aware that all of you who are gathered here– and many, many others
who are not here– deserve all the credit for
imagining the possibilities and delivering on them
during my presidency. So thank you, all of you,
from the bottom of my heart– and, you know, from
my entire brain. There’s a commonplace that says,
when I say “I”, I mean “we”, and when I say
“we”, I mean “they”, and that could not be more
true for my work at MIT. And I could spend the whole
afternoon and probably the whole next week listing
all of the people who worked really hard and worked so
collaboratively to make things happen at MIT, and
they deserve my thanks. And I hope all of
you know who you are. But even so, I
can’t let this pass without expressing gratitude,
just a few people by name who worked most closely with
me, at the frankly very, very difficult work of helping a
university, this Institute, be what we all
know we want to be. So first and foremost,
deepest thanks to Rafael for agreeing to be my provost. I arrived at MIT not
knowing anyone, not knowing who I could
trust, basically, who would be with me. Who would be agin me. Who believed in, you know,
particular ambitions. And Rafael served
steadfastly as my provost, and his devotion to MIT made
him my most important guide. Rafael’s integrity,
his knowledge of and commitment to the Institute
served me and continue to serve MIT exceedingly well. Thank you, Rafael. Terry Stone, who
is here, I think. MIT’s EVP and treasurer, who is
infinitely wise in all domains. In a difficult time
for the Institute, guided our finances through
good times and bad– actually, through bad times
and then good– and choreographed in a very
thoughtful and inclusive way the future of our campus. Sherwin Greenblatt, who I think
I saw today, preceded her for– I said it would only be
three months, Sherwin. It just– it ended up to be a
couple of years, but you know, it probably felt like
only three months. And followed by
Israel Ruiz, when Terry decided to go
back to retirement, from which I had seized her. Greg Morgan, who I
don’t think is with us, had the remarkable
courage to take on the role of MIT’s
first general counsel, and he magnificently designed,
in a very subtle way, a new skill set for MIT. Jeff Newton and Barbara Stowe
led our enormously successful fundraising, even without
a comprehensive campaign, but I would say kind
of set the stage for the incredible fundraising
that Rafael has led. Seth Alexander, who we
took from Yale, also– I was– one choice, you
know, one draft choice– whose careful stewardship of
the MIT investment portfolio has allowed us to do much
more than we would otherwise have been able to do. And Kathryn Willmore
and Kirk Kolenbrander assisted me in the office. Running a president’s
office is more complicated than I could have ever imagined. And Kathryn and Kirk
both provided me with incredible guidance. Leslie Price, my amazing
executive assistant who joined me at the outset
and remains with me today, was marvelous in actually
operating the office and frankly helping with our
always welcoming colleagues in the president’s office. It made it a real
joy to come to work. The MIT Corporation,
a relationship that I didn’t understand
until I was actually, you know, well
into my presidency. The relationship between
the corporation and MIT is critically important
to MIT’s excellence. And its chairs, Dana Mead,
John Reed, and Bob Millard, have been constant sources of
steady encouragement, guidance, and inexhaustible
founts of wisdom. Now, as you all will
know, I had a little joke about the presidency. People say, wow, it seems like
there’s a lot of work to do. And my joke was, yeah, you
know, when I took this on, I knew it was going to be 24/7. I didn’t know it was
going to be 36/10. [LAUGHTER] And those physicists
didn’t come up with those extra hours for me. But my work often continued
many mornings and evenings in my campus home at Gray
House, where I relied on Kathryn LaFargue and [? Muriel ?]
[? Petranek ?] to help out with the steady flow of visitors. We had about 125 events
a year at Gray House, and close to or just over
about 3,000 people each year would come through the house. And perhaps most of all,
I can never sufficiently thank my devoted
husband, Tom Byrne, and our daughter, Elizabeth, for
their extraordinary willingness to share all of our
lives with all of you. So thank you, everybody. As, again, a number people
have mentioned– to me it’s just particularly
meaningful to have this courtyard chosen
as the legacy of my leadership. Many of you have
recalled what it looked like when I arrived at
MIT in 2004, a kind of tired and crumbling parking lot. Not the most attractive place. And it was surrounded,
also, by loading docks for all these buildings. But even then, the newly
opened Ray and Maria Stata Center provided a hint of a
different possible future. The direct line of sight
between the Stata Center and the Koch Biology
Building over there spoke to a very different
21st-century campus. The David H. Koch Institute
for Integrative Cancer Research replaced the parking lot
and gave further expression of the emerging future promise
of this growing convergence of biology with engineering. The Koch Institute completed
the perimeter over there, but at that time,
frankly we weren’t thinking much about what
this space would be, what this courtyard would be. And today, we sit
in what has become a vibrant gateway between MIT
and Kendall Square, the highest density bio industry
cluster in the world. And at this apex of
the isosceles triangle of MIT’s campus– you all know what I mean– we perch MIT at a
major crossroads of the biomedical,
biopharmaceutical, and med tech industries and more. MIT’s sister neighbors, the
Broad Institute, the Whitehead Institute, and the
Reagan Institute, extend our intellectual and
geographical connections into Kendall. Now, when you enter
this courtyard from the corner over there,
from the corner of Main and Ames Street, MIT’s great, iconic
dome sits in your sight, and it welcomes you
into the world of, as Paul Gray says,
“this special place.” The crisscrossing pathways–
that are, of course, now covered by this little
village of tents, which is– I have to say thank you. Where’s Gayle Gallagher
and her amazing team? For putting all of this
together, thank you. Always an amazing event when
Gayle gets her hands on it. Really appreciate it. But these crosswalk, crossways,
are always busy with traffic. And as Paul put it,
they were on foot. They were on bicycles. They were on scooters, plenty of
baby carriages, all reflecting MIT in action. The walkways link buildings,
department schools, and disciplines
and facilitate what I view as one of MIT’s
signature promises– to turn footpaths
of collaborations into superhighways. MIT’s intellectual
commerce represents, for me, the university’s
central purpose– to catalyze conversations
and collaborations. Through the active
contest of ideas, we invent a better future. And we can get to
that better future only if we succeed in including
lots of different voices, including those
we’re hearing today, raised in protest against
what MIT has been doing. Now, I recognize that
today’s dedication happens during a
difficult time for MIT. But if we include a wide range
of different perspectives in the ongoing conversation
and debate, we will, I trust, move the Institute
in a wise direction. Catalyzing crosscurrents and
collaborations as MIT president was an inordinate privilege
and the most intensive educational
experience of my life. And need I say, as the first
woman and first life scientist to serve as president, I felt
a particular responsibility for paving new paths and
setting new directions that would be welcoming to all. Earlier this week, in
announcing a new fund to address gender
inequities, Melinda Gates observed that, and I quote,
“A window of opportunity has opened. But there is no
reason to believe this moment will last forever or
that this window will stay open as long as we need
it to,” she said. I have confidence that MIT
will continue to open and hold open new windows of
opportunity so that, as I said when I was first
elected to MIT’s presidency, MIT can be the dream
of every child who wants to make the world a
better place and also the dream of every engineer, scientist,
scholar, and artist who draws inspiration from
the idea of working in a hotbed of innovation
to serve humankind. I offer infinite thanks
for celebrating my service, but even more importantly for
the extraordinarily great joy of working together with all of
you to invent a better future. Thank you, thank you, thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Susan,
for those remarks. Thank you so much for
everything you’ve done for MIT, and thank you to our project
team, Jon Alvarez, Dick Amster, [? Camille ?] [? Mekdeci, ?]
Paul Murphy, Laura Tenny, [? John ?] [? Seeley, ?]
[? Russell ?] [? Brown. ?] Thank you to everyone for
joining us in this celebration. I look forward to seeing
you at the reception adjacent to this tent
following our ceremony. Before we conclude, I’m
delighted to welcome back our marvelous musicians,
our MIT performers. Let me invite Professor
Harbison to say a few words of introduction to our finale. Thank you for letting
me talk to you. [APPLAUSE] Very few words. This is a little encore. Some of you remember
the 150th anniversary of MIT, which was
under Susan’s watch. And we presented at
that time an arrangement of the MIT school song. We’re about to check your
memories with a Slim Fast version of that arrangement
with the forces you see here. It has a singalong
built onto the end. Those of you who know the
words, you’ll join in. Towards the end, we’ll
give you a little nod. So here it is. “In Praise” in the old
refurbished arrangement. [MUSIC – “IN PRAISE OF MIT”] (ENSEMBLE SINGING) Arise, all
ye of MIT, in loyal fellowship. The future beckons unto thee,
and life is full and rich. Arise and raise
your glass on high. Tonight shall ever
be a memory that will never die for ye of MIT. [INSTRUMENTAL] (ENSEMBLE SINGING) Thy
sons and daughters, MIT, return from far and wide. And gather here, once more to
be renourished by thy side. And as we raise our glasses high
to pledge our love for thee, we join all those of days
gone by in praise of MIT. [INSTRUMENTAL] (FEMALE VOCALIST SINGING)
Arise, all ye, of MIT, in loyal fellowship. I said Oh, I said the
future beckons unto thee, and life is full and rich. (MALE VOCALIST SINGING)
Arise, all ye of MIT, and raise your glass on high. A memory that will
never die for ye of MIT. (FEMALE VOCALIST SINGING)
Thy sons and daughters, MIT, return from far and wide. And gather here once more to
be renourished by thy side. (ENSEMBLE SINGING) And
as we raise our glasses high to pledge
our love for thee, we join all those of days
gone by in praise of MIT, in praise of MIT. [APPLAUSE] [CHEERING]

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