May/June 2022Vol. XXXIV No. 5

Congratulations to our Graduates of the Years of the Pandemic

The Editorial Board of the MIT Faculty Newsletter

MIT’s Faculty honors and takes particular pride in the accomplishments and resilience of the Class of 2022. You have had to navigate and overcome the unprecedented stresses of these recent years on the way to this important marker in your lives and careers. For many, this has meant long periods of isolation from fellow students and friends. For international students, travel restrictions have often forced extended absences from home and family.

As you have learned and grown – absorbing, resynthesizing, and generating knowledge and new insights – so have we, in collaboration with you. Your future contributions to your communities, to society, and to humanity will be among the most gratifying outcomes of our academic efforts together.

Teaching and mentoring students under the conditions of the pandemic has required the development of new skills and commitments, by students, faculty, staff, and administrators at the Institute. When successful, this has been a source of satisfaction. We hope, however, that having to continually adapt to the stresses and limitations of the pandemic will not be a new normal.

The values of scientific investigation and assessment, often taken for granted previously, have stood out in the response to the pandemic, but have also now become arenas for contention and even denial. Defending these values will require the urgent involvement of us all. The class of 2022 will be entering a world of considerable uncertainty and an increased level of social and political polarization. The developments of recent years have sparked many of you to become attentive to issues of climate change, global health and inequality, social justice, peace and nuclear disarmament, and the need to protect fundamental democratic and human rights.

Many of you participated in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election as your first engagement with the electoral arena, and your active involvement there as educated and thoughtful citizens is more needed than ever, as this country’s politics become ever more fraught. With Vladimir Putin’s Russia wreaking destruction on Ukraine and its people, the effects of conflicts that may have once seemed very far away to most of us have propagated globally and become impossible to ignore. We are impelled to step up to our responsibilities as citizens to ensure that government actions in the world increase the prospects of peace and prosperity for the world’s peoples, rather than undermining them.

During your time here, the campus experienced a revival in student engagement. Examples include the MIT Divest campaign; the opposition to MIT’s agreements with the Saudi Arabian monarchy; the campus die-in led by Black students; the protest and counter-forum to Henry Kissinger’s role as spokesperson for ethics in artificial intelligence; the revival of MIT Students Against War; the recent formation of a graduate student union at MIT; and many other expressions of social, economic, and political concerns. This engagement is heartening.

We on the faculty have watched and supported the burgeoning of your many talents, your creative ambitions, your recovery from setbacks, your quirky self-expression, and your creative and entrepreneurial energy. We hope that, as your individual paths unfold, you will put your powers to work on solving some of the problems that confront us all, and on making our societies here and abroad more responsibly productive and more supportive of those in need. On behalf of the entire faculty, we wish the Class of 2022 vision, wisdom, strength, commitment, and success, in addressing the unique challenges we will all face together.