May 15 open faculty meeting celebrates faculty and holds amendment votes

J- grading proposal and faculty newsletter amendment passes: Roger Levy of Course 9 to become Faculty Chair

Editor-in-chief's note: This piece includes coverage of the May 15 meeting open to the members of the MIT community. Coverage of the executive sessions, in which only faculty were allowed to be present on May 15 and May 17, are in a separate piece.

The May 15 monthly faculty meeting included the presentation of the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, the results of votes on the J- grade modifier and a proposed amendment to the Faculty Newsletter (FNL) policies, and the elections for Faculty Chair and other committees.

Course 21L Professor and Faculty Chair Mary Fuller was the first to address the gathered faculty after President Sally Kornbluth’s opening remarks, recognizing 18 tenured faculty members who have made substantial contributions to the Institute. The faculty honored were cited for furthering MIT’s research missions in areas including remote learning and the history of technology. Fuller highlighted the professors becoming emeriti or entering post-tenure, and wished them well. 

The James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award was then presented. Course 24 Professor Roger White PhD ’00 presented the award to Course 8 Professor John Joannopoulos for his work in theoretical condensed condensed matter physics and his research in developing photonic crystals. White described Joannopoulos as a “legendary mentor for generations of students.” Joannopoulos’ students have become leaders in their respective fields, with one of them, Robert Laughlin PhD '79, capturing the Nobel Prize in Physics.

The results of the J- grade proposal and FNL amendment, both of which were proposed in the previous meeting, were revealed. Duane Boning, a Course 6 professor and Chair of the Committee on Graduate Programs, once again argued that the proposal would have “low impact [to students], but with a high value of opportunity [for faculty].” The J- grade proposal was approved by the gathered faculty along with the FNL resolution. The FNL amendment that passed called for the creation of a committee that will review and revise the FNL’s policies to “clarify its relationship with the faculty.”

Course 6 Professor George Verghese was among some of the faculty who were not fully enthusiastic about the proposed FNL motion. Many, however, voted in favor in hopes of enabling “constructive conversation.” Verghese stated that he trusts the Faculty Chair’s judgment in appointing a committee that will respect the FNL’s importance to MIT as a forum for faculty voices.

The biennial Faculty Chair election for the 2025 to 2027 academic years also took place: Course 9 Professor Roger Levy won with 175 out of the 190 votes cast. Course 15 Professor Michelle Hanlon and Course 21H Professor Craig Wilder were also elected to the Faculty Policy Committee for a three-year term. Regarding the Committee on Graduate Programs, Course 2 Professor Domitilla Del Vecchio, Course 21A Professor Erica James, and Course 5 Professor Matthew Shoulders won majorities of the votes.

Afterwards, the faculty voted to close the meeting and go into an executive session.

Ellie Montemayor '26 contributed reporting.