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Emily Wick, first woman to earn tenure at MIT, dies at 91

Posted by Your Town  April 24, 2013 01:27 PM

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Emily Wick, the first woman to earn a tenure position at MIT, has died, the university announced Tuesday in a statement.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s announcement came more than a month after her death. According to the statement, Wick, “a pioneer in women’s rights on campus,” died at her home in Rockport on March 21. She was 91.

The statement said that Wick studied at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, where she received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and her master’s degree in organic chemistry. She earned her PhD from the MIT chemistry department in 1951.

In 1959, Wick was hired as an as assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food science at MIT. She was promoted to associate dean of students in 1965, and in 1968 she became the first female to earn tenure at the university.

She helped found the university’s Women’s Forum, which brought together staff, faculty, undergraduates and graduate students to discuss “issues from women’s health to career opportunities.”

An avid sailor, she helped start the women’s varsity sailing team at MIT in 1969. To honor her legacy, MIT alumnae organized the annual Emily Wick Regatta.

“She was an active advocate for female students and assisted them in navigating the predominantly male environment of the day,” the university wrote in the statement. “She was also instrumental in eliminating gender considerations from the Institute’s admissions criteria and ensuring that female students, faculty and staff had an equal voice and role on MIT’s campus.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

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