Power of the NSCPhotos of MIT alumniPhotos of MIT alumni
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The National Selection Committee acts with power to select top alumni leaders at MIT.

The National Selection Committee selects the MIT Alumni Association President and all other members of the Association's Board of Directors. The Association's Board is responsible for strategic oversight of all Association activities. Selection to this governing body is both an honor and a significant responsibility.

The NSC is the nominating source of alumni for appointment to the MIT Corporation, the Institute's governing body. Selection to this body is the highest volunteer opportunity available to MIT alumni. The MIT Corporation sets policies that determine the future success of the Institute. Under the Institute by-laws, at least one third of the Corporation's 45 term members must be alumni.

"Don’t let MIT get sold to Harvard!"

You may laugh, but history shows that a merger was considered a number of times, and through this experience alumni fought for and gained real influence on MIT's governing board.

In 1904, Tech was in financial trouble and then president Henry S. Pritchett crossed the river (MIT was still in Boston’s Back Bay) to discuss with Harvard’s president, Charles W. Eliot, the possibility of a merger. When alumni heard about this discussion, they pledged money to the Institute in record numbers to prevent its being swallowed by Harvard. Led by Thomas Leonard Livermore, a Boston businessman on the Corporation who believed in an independent MIT, alumni pledged $200,000 by the end of 1904.

However, the idea of a possible alliance with Harvard did not go away. A tentative plan was presented to the MIT Corporation in March 1905 and given preliminary approval (no doubt because 14 of its 37 members were alumni of or affiliated with Harvard). The plan was sent to alumni and faculty for their opinions and alumni voted overwhelmingly to reject the plan. In June 1905, the Alumni Association reported that of the 1,831 alumni who voted on the plan, 1,351 rejected it – a 3 to 1 rejection.

All talks of merger ceased when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in September 1905 that MIT could not sell its buildings in Boston and move to Cambridge. This ruling was based on the fact that profiting from the sale of that land would have violated MIT’s original charter as a land-grant university.

Ultimately, these episodes served to galvanize MIT’s alumni. In 1908, the Alumni Association and the Association of Class Secretaries were merged into one organization that was to provide the essential foundation for alumni relations and a focal point for communications, record-keeping, and a staff to support regional and national activities. Alumni also pushed for, and got, increased representation on the Corporation, upping alumni membership to at least one-third of the members.

This configuration still exists. Today, more than 80% of Corporation members are alumni, giving them a remarkable say in how the Institute is governed.

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