News and commentary to champion excellence, belonging, and community at MIT
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Spring 2023 Edition


Clockwise from top left: Christine Chalifoux, Danielle Dorvil, Ever Osario-Ruiz, and Porntip (Ploy) Isarena Twishime. Courtesy photos.

The MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (SHASS) Diversity Predoctoral Fellows are concluding their time in the program. 

The purpose of the SHASS Diversity Predoctoral Fellowships program is to enhance diversity in the School and to provide the Fellow with additional professional support and mentoring as they enter the field.

The fellowships are intended to support scholars from a wide range of backgrounds, who can contribute to the diversity of SHASS and the higher education community. 

Learn more about this past year's fellows and their plans for the future.

Story at SHASS News



The fort to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Board in MIT’s Literature section began in 2020, in the wake of the George Floyd murder. 

Since then, there’s been ongoing conversation between Literature staff and faculty about the section’s anti-racism statement and what else needed to be done within Literature to address DEI-related issues.

Three years later, at a meeting last month, the Literature faculty unanimously approved establishing the section’s DEI Advisory Board.

Story at SHASS News


Rani Ukhengching Marma is a graduate student in the MIT Indigenous Language Initiative (MITILI). Photo by Allegra Boverman.

MIT graduate student Rani Ukhengching Marma is one of nearly 200,000 Marma people who speak the endangered Marma language. The Marma are one of the largest indigenous groups in Bangladesh, despite the dominant Bengali language and culture.

For Ukheng, who is enrolled in the MIT Indigenous Language Initiative (MITILI), preserving Marma is about more than the language itself.

“I am working to protect the language because it is strongly associated with our ancestral lands, culture, and knowledge,” Ukheng says. “Language is a big part of our indigenous identity. If we separate out our language, we are not Marma anymore.”

Story at SHASS News


MIT Flickr

Last year, Dean Agustin Rayo asked Prof. Jeff Ravel and Assistant Dean for DEI Tracie Jones-Barrett to produce a report on the status of lecturers in SHASS, focusing on the following questions:

* Are the School's lecturers paid appropriately?

* Do they do work that is appropriate for their rank and job description?

* Do they have adequate avenues for professional development?

* Are they embedded within an optimal organizational structure?

* What DEI efforts are we currently engaged in and what new approaches can we take?

Our report is available here

Two of the report's recommendations will have already been addressed. First, SHASS will be instituting a new system of minimum salaries for lecturers, based on rank and years of experience.

Second, the SHASS Lecturer Council will begin convening monthly, with an initial charge of deciding how best to respond to the Report's remaining recommendations.

"We know that our lecturers are an essential part of our School. Moreover, they provide an exceptional experience for our students. This report is just the beginning of celebrating and recognizing their contributions to SHASS and the greater MIT community," says Jones-Barrett.


Carly Soll. Photy by Jon Sachs.

A warm welcome to Carly Soll, who is working in the SHASS Dean's Office as the Administrative Assistant for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In her new role, Carly will support SHASS DEI Initiatives. Carly comes to MIT from the International Research and Exchange Board in Washington, D.C. where she served as a Global Human Resources Intern and Associate. She will be receiving her MA in Diversity and Inclusion Leadership from Tufts University next year and has a BA in Psychology from George Washington University.


2030 ISO Indigenous Incubator at MIT participants gather with members of the Institute's Indigenous community. Photo courtesy of the Co-Creation Studio at MIT.

First-of-its-kind Indigenous immervise incubator gathers on MIT campus
Over the course of four days, Indigenous delegates collaborated on immersive technology.
Story at MIT News

Laying the foundation to diversify the economics field and center racial equity in economics research
J-PAL North America is developing a strategic vision — informed by a new racial equity advisory committee — to advance inclusion, prioritize racial equity in research, and promote equitable and inclusive research practices in its network.
Story at MIT News


Work is underway for the SHASS Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement and Composition. Departments, Labs, and Centers will develop their own Strategic Action Plans. Resources for developing your plan can be found here.

In addition, please reach out to schedule a time to meet if you’d like support developing your plan.


A new interactive Canvas site is being designed to help you to emark on your own DEI learning journey. We are compiling a repository of diversity, equity, and inclusion resources designed to amplify the role of engagement, empathy, social analysis, civil discourse, mentoring, advising, and inclusion as institutional values. This is not an exhaustive list and we welcome suggestions and contributions from members of the SHASS community. Please send any feedback about the site to

Registration is required to have access to the Canvas site. Please register here.


Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led groups formed around common interests, common bonds, or similar backgrounds.
ERG members create a positive work environment at MIT by actively contributing to the Institute’s mission, values and efforts specific to inclusion, such as recruitment and retention.

Council on Staff Diversity and Inclusion

The Council provides a forum for identifying sharing, and implementing effective diversity management programs and practices; encourages new programs and practices; and recognizes successful efforts. It also identifies and suggests ways to address problems and concerns related to equal employment opportunity and works to create synergy among faculty, staff, and student diversity management efforts. 

Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response Office (IDHR)

IDHR is a resource for the entire MIT community for concerns related to discrimination and discriminatory harassment, including for sexual misconduct under Title IX federal regulations.



On Monday, June 19, 2023, the MIT community will observe Juneteenth as an Institute-wide holiday and as a U.S. federal holiday.

Many of us will enjoy the day away from our regular routines of work, study, and research, but it’s important for us to remember why it’s not just another “day off.” We have the opportunity to celebrate the freedom of Black Americans and to be intentional about how we acknowledge our nation’s history of injustice, as well as our history of resilience and hope. 

Also known as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, and Jubilee Day, Juneteenth originated as a holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865. This is the date that enslaved Black Americans in Texas were finally notified of their freedom—nearly two and half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

While Juneteenth celebrations date back to 1866, Juneteenth was recently adopted as an MIT-wide holiday in May 2021 and proclaimed a U.S. national holiday in June 2021. 

In preparation for Juneteenth 2023, the ICEO invites you to take advantage of your holiday weekend auto-reply/out-of-office email message by inserting details about Juneteenth alongside typical information like the date you’ll return to work or school. 

See out-of-office message examples from ICEO.


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ENVISION is published by SHASS Communications
Executive Editor: Tracie Jones-Barrett, Assistant Dean
Editor and Designer: Michael Brindley

Office of the Dean

MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
June 15, 2023