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Margaret MacVicar

Margaret L.A. (Scotty) MacVicar (November 20, 1943 – September 30, 1991) was an American physicist and educator. In addition to serving as MIT's Dean of Undergraduate Education (1985–1990), MacVicar is credited with founding the now widely emulated Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) in 1969.[1] MacVicar received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at MIT and joined the faculty, giving her the rare distinction of being a "MIT lifer."

Margaret L.A. MacVicar
BornNovember 20, 1943
DiedSeptember 30, 1991(1991-09-30) (aged 47)
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materMIT
Known forUndergraduate Research Opportunities Program, MIT Dean for Undergraduate Education
Scientific career


MacVicar was born on November 20, 1943 in Hamilton, Ontario to George and Elizabeth MacVicar. Her family relocated to Flint, Michigan in 1946 where she lived until she graduated from high school in 1961. Because she had been taking classes at a local junior college as a high school student, a local retired General Motors senior executive offered to help defray the costs of attending MIT.[1]

At MIT, she was one of the first residents of the McCormick Hall women's dormitory, which opened in the fall of 1963.[2][3] She was the president of the Association of Women students, and also served as a physics tutor at McCormick Hall; Shirley Ann Jackson was one of the students she tutored.[4] She received a bachelor of science degree in physics in 1964 (although she is often identified as a member of the class of 1965, with whom she entered MIT; compare [5] and [6]) and a doctor of science (Sc.D) degree in metallurgy and materials science in 1967. Between 1967 and 1969, she worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the Royal Society Mond section of Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. In 1969, she joined the Department of Physics at MIT, where her research investigated high-temperature metal and ceramic superconductors, single crystal and thin-film materials research, and detecting corrosion kinetics using superconducting magnetometry.[1]

As Dean for Undergraduate Education, she worked to recruit more women, minorities, and students of varied interests, implemented changes in the humanities and social science requirements, and publicly criticized a Department of Defense policy barring homosexuals from ROTC programs.[7]

Professor MacVicar was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Clarkson University in 1985. She was Orator at the 1984 Literary Exercises of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard University; Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Texas in 1979; and Vollmer W. Fries Lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1976. She was a member of the Corporations of the Charles S. Draper Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a trustee of Radcliffe College and of the Boston Museum of Science, and a director of Exxon Corporation, the Harvard/MIT Cooperative Society and H. W. Brady Company. She was a fellow of the American Physical Society.[1] In 1986, MacVicar was awarded the Valeria A. Knapp Award by The College Club of Boston in memory of the teacher and director of The Winsor School, a girls' college prep school, from 1951–1963.[8]

She died on September 30, 1991 at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a year after being diagnosed with cancer.[7]


MacVicar established the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in 1969 based upon a suggestion from Edwin H. Land.[9][10] The program allows undergraduates to gain hands-on research experience with faculty members around the university and provides the laboratories with the funds to employ the students. More than 3,000 undergraduates (75% of the undergraduate population) participate annually.[11] The program has since been cited as a model educational program by the Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and several private foundations.[1]

MacVicar Faculty FellowsEdit

Each year, beginning in 1992, members of the faculty are selected as Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellows "to recognize faculty members who have profoundly influenced our students through their sustained and significant contributions to teaching and curriculum development."[12] The fellows are appointed for a ten-year term and receive support from the Teaching and Learning Laboratory. The fellows are announced on "MacVicar Day" in early March with roundtable discussions and symposia centered on various facets of undergraduate education such as curriculum requirements, mentoring, classrooms, international exposure.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Professor MacVicar Dies at 47". MIT News Office. October 2, 1991. Archived from the original on February 17, 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  2. ^ "History – McCormick Hall". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  3. ^ MIT SHASS (2012-11-14), Remembering Margaret MacVicar, retrieved 2018-11-20
  4. ^ Williams, Clarence G., ed. (2003). Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999. MIT Press. pp. 221–22. ISBN 9780262731577.
  5. ^ "Undergraduate dean MacVicar dies at 47 - The Tech". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  6. ^ "Former MIT President Paul Gray dies at 85 after lifelong career of service and leadership at the Institute". MIT News. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  7. ^ a b Frank J. Prial (October 2, 1991). "Margaret MacVicar, M.I.T. Dean and School Innovator, Dies at 47". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  8. ^ Phyllis Coons (April 27, 1986). "New Mit Dean Says Undergraduates Should Perform Creative Research". Boston Globe. p. 107. Retrieved February 19, 2011. |section= ignored (help)
  9. ^ "A Symposium in Honor of Edwin Land". Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 45 (7): 47–48. 1992. doi:10.2307/3824908. JSTOR 3824908.
  10. ^ "MIT History | Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  11. ^ "UROP: Basic Information". Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  12. ^ "Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program". Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  13. ^ "MacVicar Day 2007". Retrieved 2007-12-02.

External linksEdit