MIT Debuts Excellence Through Adversity Award to Honor Robbin Chapman of Wellesley College

chapmanThe Massachusetts Institute of Technology has established the Dr. Robbin Chapman Excellence Through Adversity Award. The new award will be presented to a senior at MIT from an underrepresented group who has demonstrated excellence and leadership.

Robbin Chapman is the former manager of diversity recruiting at the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT and also served as the inaugural assistant associate provost for faculty equity at the university. Since 2011, Dr. Chapman has been associate provost and academic director of diversity and inclusion at Wellesley College, the highly rated liberal arts educational institution for women in suburban Boston.

At the ceremony announcing the award, Dr. Chapman explained that “being African-American in a predominantly white institution, I experienced the same systemic barriers and challenges that are seen across higher education. Those included isolation, marginalization of my course and lab work, expectations of intellectual inferiority, and deficits in mentoring. Having someone believe in you and your abilities is critical, and this award may inspire the recipient to continue inspiring others to make the fullest use of their time and talents.”

Dr. Chapman holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from MIT. She is the co-editor of The Computer Clubhouse: Constructionism and Creativity in Youth Communities (Teachers College Press, 2009).

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  1. When will institutions like MIT advance from celebrating, memorializing, and protecting racial discrimination and its sources and perpetrators within their walls to taking firm and deliberate action to eradicate it? I am often saddened and enraged by continuing private notices of horrendous cases of racist mistreatment of students, staff, and faculty at MIT while the Institute simultaneously throws annual racial relations parties that do not consider or even mention the racist injustices that occur daily. When MIT establishes a commission, with extramural members, that ardently investigates allegations of racial discrimination with an open due process that protects and defends victims while censuring racial discriminatory practices, and, yes, sanctioning their perpetrators, too, then MIT will have become a socially modern institution of higher education. Presently, no matter what current MIT leaders hope that a gesture like this one might portray for them, in reality they still hug very tightly the traditions and attitudes of African enslavement.

  2. This is such wonderful news Robbin! Even though you no longer work at MIT – your presence is still with us and this award is one example of how you have touched MIT.

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