Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
Hanna Holborn Gray, president emerita of the University of Chicago, will be the MIT commencement speaker on Friday, June 9.
In making the announcement, MIT President Charles M. Vest said, "As president of the University of Chicago for 15 years, Hanna Gray played a crucial role in defining the importance of research universities to the health of the nation."
Mrs. Gray, who served as president of the University of Chicago from 1978 to 1993, is an historian with special interests in the history of humanism, political and historical thought, and politics in the Renaissance and the Reformation. She taught history at the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1972 and is now the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor of History.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, she received the BA degree from Bryn Mawr in 1950 and the PhD in history from Harvard University in 1957. From 1950 to 1952, she was a Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University.
Mrs. Gray was an instructor at Bryn Mawr in 1953-54 and taught at Harvard from 1955 to 1960. She returned to Harvard as a Visiting Lecturer in 1963-64.
In 1961, she became a member of the University of Chicago's faculty as assistant professor of history and became associate professor in 1964.
Mrs. Gray was appointed dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of history at Northwestern University in 1972. In 1974, she was elected provost of Yale University with an appointment as professor of history. From 1977 to 1978, she also served as acting president of Yale.
She has been a Fellow of Newberry Library, a Fellow of the Center of Behavioral Sciences, a visiting scholar at that center, a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and a visiting scholar for Phi Beta Kappa. She is also an Honorary Fellow of St. Anne's College, Oxford.
Mrs. Gray is a member of the Renaissance Society of America, She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education and the Council on Foreign Relations of New York.
She holds honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities including Oxford, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Princeton, Duke and the Universities of Michigan and Toronto.
She is a trustee of Bryn Mawr College, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Marlboro School of Music and is a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution. In addition, Mrs. Gray is a member of the boards of directors of J.P. Morgan & Co., the Cummins Engine Company, Atlantic Richfield Company and Ameritech.
Mrs. Gray was one of 12 distinguished foreign-born Americans to receive a Medal of Liberty Award from President Reagan at ceremonies marking the relighting of the Statue of Liberty's lamp in 1986. In 1991 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, from President Bush. She received the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Jefferson Medal from the American Philosophical Society in 1993.
Her husband, Charles M. Gray, is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Chicago.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 26, 1995.