Yvonne Harris and Sherry Glanville, ca. 1965

Yvonne Harris and Sherry Glanville, ca. 1965
Courtesy of MIT Museum

Staff members Yvonne Harris (left) and Sherry Glanville, ca. 1965.

Yvonne Gittens [née Harris] spent her entire career at MIT, beginning in 1965. "All of my grandmother’s children were born in Cambridge, literally within walking distance to MIT," she says in Technology and the Dream by Clarence G. Williams (MIT Press, 2001). "My mother always worked in factories until she came to work at MIT;" her mother Louise V. Harris (Layne) worked as a payroll accountant at the Institute for many years until retirement.

[Yvonne] Gittens [née Harris] came to the Institute in 1965. As noted at an event honoring long-time service at MIT, Gittens “talked of how she first came to interview at MIT, unsure about whether there were jobs for Cambridge kids just out of high school, especially Cambridge kids who happen to be African American. There were, she discovered, and she became a clerk in the Personnel Department.” [Slice of MIT, 5/29/11]

While working as an administrative assistant in various capacities, Gittens used MIT’s tuition assistance program to get her bachelor’s degree. She ultimately received her master’s degree in education at Harvard, and in 1980, was considering two job offers. Luckily for the students she would assist in the years to come, Gittens chose MIT and became the assistant director of financial aid. In 1986, she was promoted to associate director.

After an incredible 42 years of service to MIT, Gittens retired in 2007...Gittens received many honors during her time at MIT, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award in 1989 and the President’s Award for Community Service in 1994. She currently is president of the Quarter Century Club.

"Yvonne Gittens: Helping MIT Students Turn on the Light Bulbs," Human Resources at MIT, 2016

Timeline: 1960s
Department: Administration
Career: Education
Object: Image
Collection: Caribbean, Critical Mass 1955-1968, Harvard, Honors, MIT Quarter Century Club, Staff, Women