Priscilla King Gray, former MIT President Paul Gray 54, SM’55, ScD’60, and founder of the MIT Center for Public Service (later renamed the PKG Center), died on February 8 at age 89.
In more than 50 years at the institution since her husband joined the faculty in 1960, Gray has made an indelible impact, particularly through the center she founded in 1988 with the late Shirley McBay. She served on the steering committee for 23 years and was a “true strategic thought partner” in its evolution and vision of public service into the long-term, community-informed, academically supported organization it is now, says Associate Dean Jill Bassett. , the current director.
But she has played a more personal role in the MIT community for generations. Through her community involvement and the embroidery classes she taught over the years, Gray learned a lot about students’ opinions and interests, which helped give her husband valuable advice. And when he became president, she started a tradition of dinners for undergraduate seniors at what is now the Gray House. “I wanted to somehow make sure that every MIT student had been to the president’s house at least once,” he says for the MIT Infinite History project.
“Priscilla was a mother to all of us who were MIT students,” said Hyun-A Park ’83, MCP ’85, a member of the MIT Corporation and past alumni association president.
Gray She was named an honorary member of the MITAA in 1977 and received the Harold E. Lobdell ’17 Distinguished Service Award in 1985. In 1990, she received her highest honor, the Bronze Beaver.
New MIT President Sally Kornbluth said, “As I learn, Priscilla’s name is synonymous with MIT public service—a fitting legacy for someone who believes so deeply in our students and their ability to do good in the world.