The inauguration of James R. Killian as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's tenth president on April 2, 1949, was preceded by the two-day "Mid-Century Convocation on the Social Implications of Scientific Progress" on March 31 and April 1. The idea for the convocation originated in the wish of the MIT Corporation to examine the role MIT was to play in the post-war era, after the Institute had become a leader in government scientific research during World War II. The convocation and inauguration were the occasion of a gathering to listen to Winston Churchill, Harold E. Stassen, and prominent scholars who examined the role of science and technology in addresses that included the following themes: The State of Science; The Twentieth Century; Men against Nature; Men against Men; Science, Materialism and the Human Spirit; The Role of the Individual in a World of Institutions; The Problem of Specialization in Twentieth Century Education; The State, Industry, and the University; The Store of the Future; and The Obligations and Ideals of the Institute of Technology.
Large numbers of MIT alumni were invited as guests and since almost 18,000 persons attended, Churchill's speech was given in Boston Garden with television signals sent back to the MIT campus. Convocation program events were held in Rockwell Cage on the MIT campus. Representatives from institutions of higher learning and learned societies took part in the inauguration of President Killian on the third day of the convocation. Verbatim accounts of the convocation discussions were published in Mid-Century: The Social Implications of Scientific Progress, edited by John Ely Burchard (Cambridge, 1950).
From the guide to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mid-Century Convocation on the Social Implications of Scientific Progress records, 1949, 1999, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections)