Professor of Philosophy
Interim Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Photo by Jon Sachs, MIT SHASS Communications
"Even as we move to a more active campus in September, I’m mindful that the pandemic affected our community in many ways. As part of this interim role, I want to make sure that staff, faculty, and students have the support they need as we continue our transition to a post-pandemic normal."
Agustín Rayo, Professor of Philosophy, serves as the Interim Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. He also served as the Associate Dean of the School between 2016-2019. Under Dean Rayo's leadership the School's mission continues to focus in three areas:
Research and Innovation — To meet the world's greatest challenges
Teaching Critical Skills — A foundation for success in all endeavors
International Education — Educating leaders and global citizens
Announcing Dean Rayo's appointment, shortly after Melissa Nobles, Dean of MIT SHASS from 2015-2021, was named the new Chancellor for MIT, Provost Marty Schmidt wrote, "Agustín is an experienced, thoughtful, and engaging leader who values excellence and carries with him a sincere respect for the SHASS community. I am grateful to him for accepting this interim position during this time of transition."
During his service as Associate Dean of SHASS from 2016 to 2019, Rayo served as the chair of the Digital Humanities Steering Committee, the SHASS Faculty Diversity Committee, and the SHASS Educational Advisory Committee.
Of his current leadership role, he says, "My main job as interim dean is to ensure the school can carry out its mission with minimal disruption and that the transition from Dean Nobles to her successor happens as smoothly as possible. Even as we move to a more active campus in September, I’m mindful that the pandemic affected our community in many ways. As part of this interim role, I want to make sure that staff, faculty, and students have the support they need as we continue our transition to a post-pandemic normal."
Known for his expertise in “mathy philosophy,” Dean Rayo's domain of study lies at the intersection of the philosophy of logic, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language. He has focused on understanding the relationship between our language and the world it represents, clarifying the connection between logic and mathematics, and investigating the limits of communicable thought.
Rayo, who showed an interest in math and logic from a young age, grew up in Mexico City. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1996 from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his PhD from MIT in 2001. He served as a postdoc at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California at San Diego, then joined the MIT faculty in 2005.
Dean Rayo was elected to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in 2018, was a Burkhardt Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and a Professorial Fellow at the University of Oslo from 2015 to 2020. His books lnclude The Construction of Logical Space (OUP, 2013) and On the Brink of Paradox (MIT Press, 2019), which won the 2020 PROSE Award for best textbook in the humanities.
Primary Office: Room 4-250
Secondary Office: Room 32-D932
Story: Philosopher Agustin Rayo named Interim Dean of MIT SHASS
Provost Martin Schmidt appoints the professor of philosophy and former associate dean to the role, launches search committee.
Mission of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Really, You're a Philosopher?
Rayo's explanation of what he does, for non-philosophers
Rayo's course on edX: Paradox and Infinity
An introduction to highlights from the technical side of philosophy