Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

A national search for MIT’s first vice president for equity and inclusion

In August of 2023, President Kornbluth wrote to the Institute community about a new, national search to replace MIT’s Institute Community and Equity Officer. “Because the health of our community depends on our ability to come together to face challenges around inclusion, belonging, and free expression,” the president wrote, she and the Provost, Cindy Barnhart, “have concluded that the person who leads us in this important work will need to be part of the senior team.”

The search for a vice president for equity and inclusion will be overseen by a search committee, with leadership from Institute Professor Paula Hammond ’84, PhD ’93, who was recently named to a new role as vice provost for faculty.

The committee welcomes input on the skills and qualities the role requires, as well as the names of potential candidates. Confidential emails to the committee can be sent to

Members of the search committee:

  • Ayo Arowosola, PhD ’21, Postdoctoral Associate, Materials Research Lab
  • Shannon Cardillo, Senior Administrative Assistant, Music and Theater Arts
  • Enoch Ellis ’26, Undergraduate Student, Chemical Engineering
  • Malick Ghachem, Professor and Section Head, History
  • Paula Hammond ’84, PhD ’93 (co-chair), Institute Professor and Department Head, Chemical Engineering
  • Catherine Kim, Assistant Dean for Human Resources and Administration, School of Engineering
  • Sara Kim, Technical Associate II, Biology
  • Kayla Storme, Graduate Student, Chemistry
  • Aaron Weinberger (co-chair), Chief of Staff, Office of the President

3 Questions: Paula Hammond and Aaron Weinberger on the search for MIT’s first vice president for equity and inclusion

In August, President Sally Kornbluth announced the launch of a national search for a vice president for equity and inclusion, to serve as a thought leader across campus, partnering with faculty, staff, students, postdocs, and alumni to advance MIT’s commitment to inclusive excellence.

Search committee co-chairs Paula Hammond (Institute Professor and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering) and Aaron Weinberger (President Kornbluth’s chief of staff) recently answered three questions about the position, the search, and the feedback the committee has been gathering from the community.

Q: How is the role changing?

Aaron: MIT established the Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO) position about 10 years ago. It focused broadly on matters of community, equity, inclusion, and diversity on campus and reported to the provost. In April, President Kornbluth and Provost Barnhart announced that ICEO John Dozier was leaving MIT to become president of Columbia College. That was a real loss for all of us who worked closely with John and appreciated everything he did for MIT, but it also presented an opportunity to rethink how best to approach the work of that office.

As the president and provost started to talk about the position and think about what MIT needs in this moment, it became clear that two structural changes would help position John’s successor to step easily and effectively into the role. First, we needed a more descriptive title that signaled how much the president and her team value equity and inclusion. After a lot of discussion and research about what’s worked for other institutions, the senior team ultimately decided to shift from ICEO to Vice President for Equity and Inclusion (VPEI). Hopefully, the new title will make the incumbent’s role and responsibilities clear and signal how dedicated MIT is to this work.

Second, President Kornbluth decided that the VPEI should report directly to her. This comes partly in response to something we observed with John: Although he reported to the provost, who focuses primarily on faculty, the office engages in projects than span across MIT. The change in reporting relationship clarifies the position’s importance and broad portfolio.

Paula: The response to the title and reporting changes has been overwhelmingly positive. Internally, we’re hearing that the community appreciates the signal President Kornbluth is sending about her commitment to issues of equity and inclusion by elevating the position. And externally, the changes are resonating with applicants, who see the new title and reporting relationship as an indication of institutional support at the highest level.

Q: How is the search unfolding?

Paula: In July, a search committee of staff, faculty, students, and a postdoc began meeting to discuss the qualities we’d like to see in candidates. We also reviewed and discussed community feedback and suggestions. And members of the committee and the search firm have met with key stakeholders—students, staff, faculty, alumni, and Corporation members who are vested in issues of community, equity, and inclusion—to understand what our community would like to see in the VPEI.

We’ve appreciated all of the input, both the names of potential candidates and the qualities we should prioritize. And we’re fortunate to be guided by Spencer Stuart, a firm with extensive experience conducting searches for senior leadership positions in academia, including ones focused on equity and inclusion.

And I should say that the quality of the candidates we’re seeing has blown us away!

Aaron: Each person or group we speak with shares something we haven’t heard before, but some common themes have emerged. The community has told us the vice president should be action oriented, open minded, transparent, empathetic, and collaborative. We need a strong listener and an expert communicator, someone who can learn and build on MIT’s existing systems but not feel bound by them. We’ve also heard that candidates should have a broad vision of diversity in all forms, not just gender and race, and be attuned to issues of accessibility.

Some have told us that MIT experience—or at least experience working in an environment like MIT—would be ideal. Others have advocated for non-MIT academic experience, to bring in new ideas and perspectives. And some have suggested that industry experience would be useful. We’re learning from all of these opinions.

Q: How do you see the VPEI role fitting with the vice provost for faculty position you’ll assume in December?

Paula: The two positions are complementary and interconnected. The VPEI will have a broad portfolio of responsibilities and serve MIT’s entire community—faculty, staff, students, and postdocs—and engage with alumni and Corporation members, too.

My focus will be on faculty. The provost has asked me to partner with department heads to address a range of faculty-related issues: expanding professional development offerings, enhancing recruitment and retention of our faculty, resolving conflict, improving mentoring, providing guidance on faculty advising of graduate students, and fostering a sense of community. There will be opportunities for me to partner with the new vice president to provide departments with resources and assistance in attracting and retaining a broad and diverse faculty, and to ensure that MIT’s climate for our faculty is welcoming and inclusive.

Fundamentally, both positions will work to advance MIT’s commitment to belonging, achievement, and composition. We’ll have different pieces of the puzzle, but we’ll be solving the puzzle together!