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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the President and Chancellor, records of Chancellor Paul E. Gray

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0397

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection documents the responsibilities and functions of Paul Gray in his capacity as the chancellor of MIT, during the presidency of Jerome B. Wiesner, from 1971 through 1980. In addition, it includes some records reflecting Paul Gray’s activities as the associate provost, and through 1981, his first year as MIT president. The materials included in this collection provide a rich source of information about the administrative history of the Institute during the 1970s, the evolution of its academic policies, and the development of its research and educational programs. A major strength of the chancellor’s records is that they complement the records of President Wiesner (AC 8). Both collections provide insight into the ways the Institute responded to the major challenges of the late 1960s and 1970s—a shift from military to civil-oriented research, evolution of undergraduate education, and the emergence of computer science and technology and its impact on a wide variety of academic and research programs.

Administration of the Institute

Most of the records in the collection reflect the daily work of the chancellor’s office related to the internal administration of the Institute, shedding light on his many functions and activities, and on the communication patterns among the top administrative officers at the Institute. Appointment books documenting the day to day activities of Paul Gray can be found in Series 4, Calendars.

Materials in Subseries 1.B, MIT Correspondence, document a variety of issues pertinent to the internal administration of the Institute, from Accreditation, through Minorities at MIT, to discussions on the Year-round academic calendar. Subseries 1.C, Outside Correspondence, includes materials reflecting interactions of MIT’s administration with individuals and organizations outside the Institute. Among others, it contains correspondence with the Association of the American Universities, the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, and the National Academy of Engineering.

One of Paul Gray’s major responsibilities was to oversee budget-planning activities. Budget-related files, located in Series 2, reflect the administration’s concerns with the financial issues faced by MIT and document efforts towards improving planning and budgetary processes. The Institute initiated several projects to analyze existing salary policies. Information regarding those projects can be found in Series 2 under Salaries (boxes 147-150). Surveys of faculty salaries, in comparison to similar academic institutions, led to the re-evaluation of salary increase guidelines. Work of the Staff Classification Steering Committee, chaired by Paul Gray, focused on developing a uniform salary program for administrative staff, while the objective of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships was to develop compensation policies for graduate student assistants.

Records documenting personnel affairs can be found under a variety of headings. Those, filed in Series 2 under Personnel (boxes 137-138), provide information on employment statistics, discussions on the unfair benefits structure for non-teaching staff, union negotiations, and planning for the reorganization of the Personnel Office to improve service to employees by creating the MIT Administration Development Program.

Fund Raising and Leadership Campaign

The collection includes significant materials documenting MIT’s fund raising activities. The files include information and correspondence with the chancellor’s office regarding development activities led by the MIT Alumni Association (boxes 41-48), class gifts, educational grants (boxes 90-93), foundations and individual donors (Series 3). They also include records documenting the Leadership Campaign, a major fund raising campaign launched during the 1970s.

During the 1970s, MIT was affected financially by the economic recession, high rate of inflation, rapidly rising energy prices, and a decrease in federal funds for education and research. To keep the Institute fiscally sound, build endowments, and be able to fund a wide variety of new academic and research programs, the Corporation launched a massive fund raising campaign, the Leadership Campaign, in 1975. Its proceeds meant a substantial increase in endowment funds to be used mainly for professorships (45 new professorships were established) and student aid. The funds raised allowed for initial planning and construction of major campus facilities, including the Whitaker College for Health Sciences, MIT Health Services, Athletics and Special Events Center, and an undergraduate dormitory on Memorial Drive. Records documenting the Leadership Campaign, are filed in Series 2 under Capital Campaign (boxes 57-61), and include information about planning activities, goals and priorities, the work of campaign committees and staff, campaign draft budgets and narratives, and gift reports and pledges related to specific campaign goals. Materials documenting the administrative origins of the campaign can be found in the papers of the Council on the Resources of the Institute (box 60) and the Development Office (box 61). In addition to gift reports and pledges and campaign-related publications, the Capital Campaign records include information on the Permanent Charity Fund, the MIT Associates Program, the Industrial Liaison Program, and the Development Foundation.

Educational Policies, Programs, and Student Affairs

Records in the collection reflect ongoing activities of the Institute administration and faculty towards reshaping undergraduate education. Through the work of faculty committees (Committee on Educational Policy), special studies of the Committee on Curriculum Content Planning, the Commission on MIT Education, and the Special Task Force on Education, the administration continued adjusting educational policies and teaching methods to create a more stimulating environment, creating interdisciplinary programs, providing research opportunities at the undergraduate level, and expanding the role of humanities and arts. The January Independent Activities Period (IAP) was approved as a permanent program to offer a wide variety of lectures, seminars, mini-courses, and other events on a broad spectrum of topics (box 101). Information about the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which was expanded to include off-campus activities can be found in boxes 18, 167, and 168. The records include information on issues related to student life on campus. Materials related to student housing, including correspondence with the office of the chancellor, can be found in Series 2 (boxes 96-98). The records under this heading consist of reports, correspondence, and memoranda related to the status of undergraduate and graduate housing, on-campus and off-campus, reports on housing and dining rates and their projections, grievances, and other issues related to specific dormitories. Several studies were undertaken to analyze tuition costs at MIT over the span of its existence and to compare educational expenses at the Institute with those at other universities and colleges. Tuition-related records (box 166) provide information on those studies and on analysis of possible solutions to the problem by introducing course-overload charges and changing payment charges for part-time students. In order to improve communication with the students, the chancellor’s office organized an open meeting in May 1973 to discuss tuition increases (box 167).

Women and Minorities

One of the most important efforts undertaken by the MIT administration during the late 1960s focused on developing opportunities, both educational and professional, for women, for African-American students, and for members of other minority groups. MIT started minority recruitment activities in 1968 by creating the faculty and student Task Force on Educational Opportunity, with Paul Gray as its chair from 1968 to 1973. The Institute’s first Affirmative Action Plan (box 37) was submitted to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in April 1973.

Recommendations of the Commission on Minority Education (box 121), under the chairship of Professor Albert G. Hill, called for the establishment of an Office of Minority Education. Such an office was created in 1975, with Wesley L. Harris as its first head, 1975-1979.

Records filed under Office of Minority Affairs (boxes 118-132) and Affirmative Action Plan (boxes 37-39) in Series 2, consisting of reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, memoranda, and notes, document the establishment of an administrative infrastructure for minority issues. They include information on undergraduate and graduate education, recruitment and retention of minority students, including evaluation of special programs. Records filed under Office of Minority Affairs - Equal Employment Opportunity (boxes 123-124) reflect the efforts of the administration to increase the number of minority employees, including faculty, staff, and contractors. Some information about MIT’s efforts to address women’s issues, including a conference on Women in Science and Technology, can be found in Series 2, boxes 172-174.

The administration also established the office of the Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Women and Work, with Mary P. Rowe as its first head.


Most materials on research activities at MIT from 1971 to 1980 can be found elsewhere (see AC 7 - MIT Office of the Provost [Walter A. Rosenblith], Records, 1958-1980), but the records in this collection may provide additional documentation on the development of some new interdisciplinary programs.

The collection includes materials on the Center for Policy Alternatives established within the School of Engineering in 1972 to study and develop policies to deal with social problems related to technological advances (box 63), and the Energy Laboratory created in 1973 to examine engineering, science, social, management, and planning issues related to the exploitation of energy sources (boxes 107 and 108). Records on the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity, established in 1975 within the School of Engineering and the Sloan School of Management to collaborate with industry on the development of new manufacturing technologies, can be found in Series 2 (boxes 109 and 110).


  • 1965 - 1981


Access note

This collection must be reviewed to identify any restricted material before access can be granted. Please submit your requests at least ten business days before your desired visit to allow time for this review. An archivist will respond within five business days to let you know whether your requested material is open. For complete information on this policy, see our Statement on Accessing Institute Records.

Intellectual Property Rights

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to Distinctive Collections. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the creating office.

Historical note

Office of the President and Chancellor, 1971-1980

When Howard Johnson announced his intention to retire as MIT president as of June 1971, the Corporation appointed a presidential search committee to select the new president. The committee chaired by James Fisk nominated Jerome Wiesner as Johnson’s successor. At the same time, responding to the needs of the Institute, the committee recommended that the post of chancellor be reestablished and named Paul Gray, associate provost, to the position.

During the first year of their working together, Wiesner and Gray shared most of their responsibilities, the chancellor having major responsibilities for the Institute’s budget. In the fall of 1972 they divided their responsibilities to allow the president to concentrate on policies and strategies for the future development of the Institute, and the chancellor to assume general management responsibilities for academic, research, and administrative programs.1 Those changes led to modification of the reporting structure. Vice presidents were to report to the chancellor on all administrative matters, and the provost was to report on the academic and research programs. In addition, several other offices reported directly to the chancellor, including the Dean for Student Affairs, the Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Pre-professional Programs, the Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Minority Affairs, and the Director of Information Processing Services.

Recognizing the need to address the major issues facing the world such as those related to controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons, providing energy and food for exponentially growing populations, protecting the environment, and increasing industrial productivity, Wiesner and Gray set the goals of their administration to continue and enhance searching for the “ways to apply knowledge and skills of science and technology to the pressing problems of our society.” 2 That meant providing the best scientific and technological education and fostering diverse research efforts relevant to the most important issues of today and to the anticipated needs of generations to come.

Educational and research initiatives introduced during Wiesner’s and Gray’s administration included creating the Center for Policy Alternatives in 1972 to examine technology and engineering problems and their relation to social issues. An interdisciplinary major in the School of Science was established in 1971,3 fostering programs linking science, technology, and social policy, and promoting diverse selection in environmental studies, education, and law. The Division for Study and Research in Education, formed in 1973, focused on studies of knowledge structures, including learning processes. The new Institute requirement in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences was approved in 1974, and the Writing Program was introduced the same year. Efforts to integrate the humanities into the education of scientists and engineers resulted in the establishment of the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society in 1978.

In the mid-1970s, the Committee on Research Structure, under the chairship of Professor Frank Press, evaluated the influence of the “national research climate” on research operations at MIT. In its report, published in 1976,4 the committee recommended enhancing the role of the research centers at the Institute to provide new sources of funding and research opportunities. It also recommended expanding research staff opportunities by creating new research positions in addition to the traditional teaching faculty structure.

Growing interest in the life sciences and health studies led to new major programs on the campus. The Center for Cancer Research, under Professor Salvador E. Luria, was created in 1972.5 The Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and the College of Health Science, Technology, and Management were established in 19776 to provide venues for research and academic activities that were outgrowing the mandate of the Joint Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology.

The recognition of the importance of the arts and humanities in complementing educational and research activities led to the establishment in 1971 of the Council for the Arts, a volunteer group of alumni and others promoting development of the arts at MIT, and to the formation of the Corporation Visiting Committee for the Arts. President Wiesner’s strong support for the arts and his interest in exploring interactions between the arts and technology led in the late 1970s to the Arts and Media Technology project under the leadership of Nicholas Negroponte.7

The ambitious, forward-looking goals of the Institute in the 1970s led Wiesner and Gray to create several new senior administrative posts during the first years of their tenure:

•1972/1973 - Assistant for Minority Affairs (later Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Minority Affairs)

•1972/1973 - Special Assistant to the Chancellor (later Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Pre-professional Programs)

•1973/1974 - Assistant to the President for the Arts

•1973/1974 - Special Assistant to the President on Urban Resources

•1973/1974 - Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Women and Work

The next major revision of the division of responsibilities between the president and the chancellor came in December 1977.8 For the duration of the Leadership Campaign, a major fund raising campaign launched by the Corporation in 1975, the president was to focus on the campaign-related activities in close collaboration with Howard Johnson—the leader of the campaign and chair of the Corporation. At the same time, the chancellor assumed responsibility for all management decisions regarding academic and administrative activities on the campus, including planning and developing strategies for the future. This change led to the transfer of a wide variety of functions and responsibilities from the president to the chancellor, including chairing committees and meetings. The position of the chancellor was discontinued in 1980 when Paul Gray became the president of the Institute.


1Report of the President and the Chancellor - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1971-1972 (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1972), p.12.

2 Ibid., p.1.

3 Ibid., pp.191-192.

4 “Report of the Committee on MIT Research Structure.” (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, October 1976).

5Report of the President and the Chancellor - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1972-1973 (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973), pp. 63-64.

6Report of the President and the Chancellor - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976-1977 (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1977), pp. 9-10, 95-96.

7 Walter A. Rosenblith, ed., Jerry Wiesner: Scientist, Statesman, Humanist: Memories and Memoirs (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003), pp. 89-97, 149-155

8Report of the President and the Chancellor - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1977-1978 (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1978), p. 14.


History of the MIT Office of the President

History of the MIT Office of the Chancellor


63 Cubic Feet (189 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials


Guide to the Records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Office of the President and Chancellor
Records of Chancellor Paul E. Gray
Ready For Review
Ewa Basinska
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US