Infinite History Project: Isaac Colbert (2007)

Isaac Colbert, Dean for Graduate Students, 1999 - 2007

Isaac "Ike" Colbert received both an MA and a PhD in experimental psychology from Brown University. Colbert came to MIT in 1977 as a senior consultant, and held a variety of positions at the Institute, including manager of faculty and staff information services, assistant to the vice president for financial operations, and dean for graduate students from 1997-2007. As dean, Colbert focused on increasing social opportunities and community for graduate students, and he campaigned for better on-campus graduate housing. Colbert serves as a trustee of the Educational Testing Service and as vice-president of the National GEM Consortium, where he provides support for under-represented minorities in engineering and science.

Interview Highlights

  • Obstacles faced as an African American undergraduate student in the 1960s.
  • Working in a lab with experimental psychologists as an undergraduate.
  • Efforts made to diversify Brown University’s campus while a graduate student during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Involvement in changing MIT’s main administrative computing systems in the early 1980s.
  • Changes implemented on campus as acting dean of the graduate school.
  • Evaluation of how MIT handled some of the challenges met while he was dean.  
Timeline: 2000s
Department: Administration
Career: Education
Collection: Administrators, Rising Voices 1995-Present