Yale Bulletin and Calendar

September 3, 2004|Volume 33, Number 2|Two-Week Issue















Susan Hockfield

Hockfield is appointed as MIT president

Provost Susan Hockfield will leave Yale later this fall to become president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

When she takes up her post as MIT's 16th president in early December, Hockfield will become the first woman and the first life scientist to lead the renowned scientific and technical institution.

"It is a fitting tribute to Susan that such a distinguished institution would choose her as its leader, and we at Yale know, even better than the trustees who have selected her, what an inspired choice they have made," said President Richard C. Levin in a message to the Yale community.

A noted neurobiologist, Hockfield has been a faculty member at the School of Medicine since 1985. She was appointed dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences in 1998, becoming the first medical school faculty member to hold that post. As provost since 2003, she has coordinated and overseen the educational policies and academic plans of all sectors of the University.

"Over the past six years, Susan has excelled as dean of the Graduate School and as provost," said Levin, "possessing in rare combination intelligence, integrity, pragmatism and grace."

As dean of the Graduate School, Hockfield instituted an array of initiatives to improve the quality of life for graduate students and expand student services. She strengthened and broadened the programs in the McDougal Graduate Student Center -- including those for teacher preparation, career services and student life -- and she worked to encourage and support interactions between graduate students and faculty. As dean, she also instituted policies extending and increasing the stipend and tuition support and health care coverage for graduate and doctoral students. In addition, she established an Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity to lead a coordinated effort to recruit and retain members of under-represented minority groups.

In Hockfield's three semesters as provost, Levin noted, "she has moved aggressively to accelerate investment in science and medicine, and she has encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration across the humanities and the arts. She has made superb new appointments to our administrative ranks, and she has worked closely with the other officers to fashion plans for strengthening the culture and practice of management within the University."

Hockfield, who has held the William Edward Gilbert Professorship in Neurobiology since 2001, is a neuroanatomist whose research focuses on the development of the mammalian brain. She and her laboratory staff have identified a family of cell surface proteins whose expression is regulated by neuronal activity early in an animal's life; one of these proteins is believed to play a role in the progression of brain tumors. A particular interest for Hockfield is to gain an understanding of a deadly kind of brain tumor called gliomas. She has written more than 90 scientific publications and is the primary author of the book "Molecular Probes of the Nervous System: Selected Methods for Antibodies and Nucleic Acid Probes."

Hockfield earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in anatomy from the Georgetown University School of Medicine, while carrying out her dissertation research in neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco 1979-1980, and then joined the scientific staff at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York in 1980. She served as director of the lab's Summer Neurobiology Program from 1985 to 1997, concurrent with her teaching post at Yale. She is currently a trustee of the laboratory.

At Yale, Hockfield also served as director of graduate studies for the Section of Neurobiology from 1986 to 1994, and was a member of the Graduate School's executive committee and of a committee to improve linkages among the biomedical sciences. She also played a role in the development of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, a collaboration among biological science departments designed to foster interdepartmental interactions.

Her honors include the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship in the Neurosciences and the Charles Judson Herrick Award from the American Association of Anatomists for outstanding contributions by a young scientist. She was selected as a Grass Traveling Scientist by the Society for Neuroscience in 1987. She currently serves on the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council, as well as a number of other advisory boards. Her memberships in professional societies include the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Neuroscience.

She and her husband, Dr. Thomas Byrne, have one daughter.

In announcing her move to MIT, Hockfied said, "It is an extraordinary honor to have been asked to lead an institution that has been the birthplace of an astounding number of scientific discoveries and technological innovations and that has held a preeminent position in education and research. At the same time, it is an immense sadness to leave the very many wonderful people with whom I have worked, and the remarkable institution I have served over the last almost 20 years. I consider myself blessed, indeed, to have had the benefit of your wisdom and assistance in the several roles I have played at Yale. ... I thank you for making these last two decades a remarkable time of learning for me, and for making Yale a wonderful home for me and my family."

Levin urged members of the Yale community who have advice on the selection of a successor to Hockfield to send him an e-mail or letter labeled "Confidential."


Yale welcomes new freshmen

Hockfield is appointed as MIT president

Changes to improve campus shuttle's efficiency

China's education leaders learn about Yale


Nursing dean Catherine Gilliss accepts dual post at Duke

Law student makes wrestling history . . .

Graduate School's 522 new members welcomed . . .

Yale to be test site for national study on childhood epilepsy

In Focus: Studying the Near East

Desert expeditions challenge previous notions
about early societies

Year's first Chubb Lecture to explore ethical issues and Olympics

Studies demonstrate role of cilia in kidney disease

Yale researchers' studies of mental illness win grant support

Historic events in psychology to be celebrated

Jewish philosopher Maimonides is the subject of conference

Film Fest New Haven to feature four works by Yale alumni

While You Were Away: The summer's top stories revisited

Welcome to Yale

Yale United Way Campaign sponsoring 'Day of Caring' book drive

In Memoriam: Mathematician Walter Feit, advanced finite group theory

Memorial Service for John Rodgers

Symposium honors Dr. Charles Radding

Historian is term member of foreign relations council


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