‘Mother of us all’
Priscilla King Gray, wife of former MIT President Paul Gray ’54, SM ’55, ScD ’60 and co-founder of the MIT Public Service Center (since renamed PKG Center), died Feb. 8 at age 89.
In more than 50 years at the Institute, beginning with her husband’s arrival at the faculty in 1960, Gray has left an indelible mark, notably through the center she founded in 1988 with the late Shirley McBay, then Dean of Student Affairs. She served as co-chair of its steering committee for 23 years and has been “a true strategic thinking partner” throughout its evolution into an organization whose vision for public service is now long-term, community-informed and aligned. academically, Associate Dean Jill Bassett said. , its current director.
But she also played a much more personal role for generations in the MIT community. Through her community activities and the embroidery classes she taught for years, Gray learned a great deal about the opinions and needs of the students, helping her offer valuable advice to her husband. And when he became president, she started a tradition of undergraduate dinner parties at what is now Gray House. “I kind of wanted to make sure that every student at MIT had been in the president’s house once,” she told the MIT Infinite History project.
“Priscilla was the mother of all of us who were students at MIT,” says Hyun-A Park ’83, MCP ’85, a member of the MIT Corporation and former president of the Alumni Association.
Gray was made an honorary member of MITAA in 1977 and received its Harold E. Lobdell ’17 Distinguished Service Award in 1985. In 1990, she received the Bronze Beaver, her highest honor.
“As I learn,” says new MIT President Sally Kornbluth, “Priscilla’s name is synonymous with public service at MIT – a fitting legacy for someone who believed deeply in our students and in their ability to do good in the world.”
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