In 2008, I resigned from MIT and the Media Lab to lead Rhode Island School of Design. When people ask me why I left MIT, it was primarily because I was inspired after reading The Audacity of Hope — I felt a calling to do more as an American than grow comfortable spending the rest of my life in the Ivory Tower.
At MIT I was on the research faculty at the Media Lab in the role of a full-time research professor. My fundraising responsibilities were limited to corporate donors, and I did not participate in or know any details about private donors to MIT or to the Media Lab.
With regards to the recent resignation of Joi Ito as Media Lab director, the women who spoke up first, and who should have been listened to, are top of mind for me. Automattic designer Lynn Collette has started a thread on Twitter to that effect:
Unsurprisingly, it took a man's voice to get @Joi to resign.— Lynn Collette (@pdxposhy) September 7, 2019
While @RonanFarrow's article was important, please don't forget all that @xeni, @dearsarah, and @monaeltahawy (amongst many others) have done to make this happen.
Listen to women. https://t.co/LKiX3PL8I3
For complete transparency, five years ago I joined a volunteer advisory council of the Media Lab. And frankly, I have been a bit too busy to participate in any of its meetings — and instead have dropped by the Lab to experience some of the research there with the Automattic Design team. As for whether I will want to continue to visit or associate with the Media Lab now or in the future — I will continue to actively track the innovative research work being done there at the crossroads is science, art, and technology with the rest of the world. And I hope the best for its future as it rethinks its policies and procedures with new leadership in the coming months and years.