Skip to content

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Accreditation

2009 Accreditation Report

Institutional Self-Study

5. Faculty



At MIT, a single faculty instructs both undergraduate and graduate students, engages in research activities, participates in the Institute's governance, and provides service to our academic mission. In the 2008–09 academic year, 1,008 faculty held appointments at the Institute. Of these, 997 were full-time and 11 were part-time; 810 were men and 198 were women; and 75 percent were tenured. The Institute is committed to recruiting and supporting faculty of the highest caliber. This is evidenced in part by the numerous awards and recognitions our faculty have earned. Among both active and emeriti faculty, 225 belong to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 117 to the National Academy of Sciences, 108 to the National Academy of Engineering, and 34 to the Institute of Medicine. Seven current and six emeritus faculty members are Nobel laureates. One emeritus and sixteen current faculty members won MacArthur Fellowships; seven current and seven emeritus faculty members were awarded the National Medal of Science, one current and one emeritus faculty member earned the National Medal of Technology; and three have garnered the Pulitzer Prize.

Back to Top

 

I. FACULTY APPOINTMENTS

Types of appointments

Appointments are made at the following ranks: assistant professor, associate professor without tenure, associate professor with tenure, and professor. In the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER), appointments are made at the ranks of assistant professor/coach, associate professor/coach, and associate professor/senior coach. None of these ranks in DAPER includes tenure, although a few faculty in this department are tenured under former policy. An appointment at the professorial rank carries the expectation of full-time service to the Institute. Part-time appointments are allowed in limited circumstances, including special family situations or retirement-related cases. In rare cases where joint appointments between MIT and another institution are made, the faculty member's obligations to each institution are defined by formal agreement.

Faculty appointments are based in the academic departments, which in turn are grouped into five schools. Most appointments are based in a single department. However, faculty can hold joint or dual appointments in two departments, reflecting MIT's culture of encouraging scholarship that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Faculty holding joint appointments have a primary appointment in one academic department and a secondary affiliation with another department where they may teach, conduct research, or otherwise participate in departmental activities. Faculty holding dual appointments have academic and administrative responsibilities that generally are divided equally and formally between two academic departments. They are accorded all the rights and privileges of faculty membership in both departments, and they are reviewed for promotion and tenure, when applicable, by both departments. Dual appointments may be held at any faculty rank and between any two departments, although dual appointments across schools are rare.

Reflecting MIT's strong tradition of collaboration between departments, in 2008–09 the School of Engineering initiated several faculty searches in interdisciplinary areas including energy, transportation, and computational engineering. In this relatively new model, the faculty search committee included representatives not only from a cross-section of the school's departments, but also colleagues from other MIT schools. The searches commenced without any a priori consideration of departmental affiliation for the recruited candidates (who were given the option to choose their home department). The committee's goals were to recruit outstanding faculty in important emerging areas and to promote expanded interdepartmental collaborations among the faculty. These searches have succeeded in identifying the types of candidates that the school hoped to attract, and three of the four searches resulted in job offers, all of which were accepted. As one indicator of the successful ability of this model to break down traditional barriers, all three search committees recommended the candidates to be hired (with input from the candidates themselves) in departments that were not predominantly represented by the composition of the search committee. The Dean of the School of Engineering will likely authorize additional school-wide searches in the coming years, and the apparent success of this strategy may influence other areas of MIT that wish to expand their interdisciplinary approach to faculty recruitment.

Back to Top

Hiring, promotion, and tenure policies

The Institute's practices regarding faculty hiring, promotion, and tenure are based on a commitment to identify the most highly qualified faculty. This serves to advance MIT's mission and to provide mechanisms for a fair and thorough assessment of each individual's qualifications and accomplishments.

All faculty search plans originate within academic departments and require the approval of the relevant school deans. The Faculty Search Committee Handbook (http://web.mit.edu/faculty/reports/FacultySearch.pdf) provides detailed guidelines concerning the search process. All appointments are subject to the affirmative-action serious-search procedures, except in rare cases when the provost may grant an exception for good cause.

Recommendations for reappointment, promotion, and tenure also are initiated in departments. The policies governing these actions are defined and communicated within departments and schools, as well as on MIT's Policies and Procedures website (http://web.mit.edu/policies/). New faculty members are provided with information regarding reappointment and promotion schedules, teaching and advising loads, and resources for conducting scholarly research. Each year, department heads are expected to meet with each untenured faculty member within the department to review his or her prospects for reappointment leading to eventual tenure.

Promotion to the successive professorial ranks involves an increasing measure of participation and review by appropriate department-, school-, and Institute-level councils. Decisions take into account both internal and external assessments of the candidate's research accomplishments and professional promise, as well as evaluations of teaching performance and other institutional or professional contributions. The Institute has in place policies that mandate promotion to certain ranks, as well as tenure reviews, based on the faculty member's years of service and age.

Assistant professors are reviewed for reappointment one year before the end of their initial appointment. Each department establishes a process for this review to determine whether the individual's teaching and research accomplishments show sufficient progress, as well as the promise of eventually meeting the standards of tenure, to warrant a reappointment. The department either recommends reappointment to the dean or makes a decision not to offer reappointment, in which case employment ends with the current appointment. All promotions are reviewed at the school level and by a subgroup of the Academic Council.

The tenure review process is vital to ensuring that the faculty has the ability to fulfill the Institute's educational and research missions within a strong culture of academic freedom. When tenure is awarded, the department and school, as well as the Institute as a whole, join in making a career commitment. A single standard of tenure is applied across the Institute: all faculty members awarded tenure must be judged by distinguished peers to be first-rank scholars who hold promise of sustaining intellectual leadership in their disciplines, through a combination of research, teaching, and service to the Institute and their profession. While adhering to this single standard of excellence, the Institute recognizes that, based on the culture of a particular discipline or the mode of intellectual inquiry, different factors also may be considered evidence of scholarly achievement.

Cases that do not result in promotion or tenure are discussed with the candidate and the dean. The candidate may appeal decisions at the department or school level through prescribed channels. When necessary, a one-year notice of the nonrenewal of an appointment is provided.

In February 2009, a special faculty-led task force was created to review existing policies and practices related to faculty promotion and tenure. This was partly in response to indications from the 2008 MIT Faculty Quality of Life Survey (http://web.mit.edu/ir/surveys/faculty2008.html) that a significant number of faculty may not fully understand the Institute's policies in these areas. This task force is charged with (1) assessing the current procedures leading to promotion and tenure decisions, including mentorship of junior faculty, and (2) making recommendations to strengthen these practices where necessary. The task force also will examine the process by which grievances related to promotion and tenure decisions are addressed. Maximizing the transparency of Institute policies among all faculty will be a primary goal of this effort. The task force expects its deliberations on these issues to last approximately one year.

The continuous benchmarking of faculty salaries by rank and discipline—including the use of data from all 61 members of the Association of American Universities (recorded by the MIT Office of Institutional Research)—informs faculty compensation decisions. In addition, ongoing competition among peer universities to retain the best faculty sometimes provides market-based indicators of faculty quality and, by extension, the success of MIT's academic programs. These data and market forces also help the Institute determine prevailing salary levels by discipline.

Back to Top

Other instructional staff

The Institute appoints several types of nontenure-track instructional staff who complement the efforts of the faculty or meet unfilled or temporary needs. These staff members include lecturers, senior lecturers, adjunct professors, professors of the practice, visiting professors, professors without tenure (retired), instructors, and teaching assistants. The responsibilities and privileges of these appointments are described on MIT's Policies and Procedures website, and some departments and schools have developed local policies regarding appointment terms that fill specific disciplinary needs.

Appointments as adjunct professor, professor of the practice, adjunct associate professor, and associate professor of the practice are limited to 10 percent of the full-time faculty in each department of the School of Architecture and Planning and to 5 percent of the full-time faculty in each department in the other schools. While appointments to other instructional positions are not formally limited by central policy, deans typically monitor the numbers of such appointments to ensure an appropriate balance with the regular faculty appointments in a given department

Through the Teaching and Learning Laboratory and the Graduate Student Council programs, graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are trained to improve teaching skills. While TAs serve as classroom and laboratory instructors, test graders, discussion leaders, and tutors, they rarely serve as primary instructors of subjects. TA training efforts are more fully described in the section on the graduate program in Chapter 4.

Back to Top

 

II. FACULTY RESPONSIBILITIES

The size of MIT's faculty has remained constant for several decades, although it took several years to fully replace 79 faculty who elected to take a retirement incentive offered in 1996. The current ratio of undergraduate students to faculty is approximately 4:1. During 2008–09, 64 percent of classes at MIT enrolled 20 or fewer students, and the number of classes with enrollments greater than 50 was comparable to the number of large classes at peer institutions.

Distribution of faculty positions among departments reflects the teaching and research demands of the disciplinary areas. To address changing academic demands, deans generally have the authority to reallocate faculty slots among departments within a school. In the School of Engineering and the School of Management, normal policy calls for all unfilled faculty positions to be managed and allocated centrally by the dean's office. On behalf of departments, deans may petition the provost for increases in faculty slot allocations in cases of demonstrated need or special opportunity, although as Chart 5A demonstrates, the distribution of the faculty among schools remains fairly constant. 30  In their meeting with departments, MIT's visiting committees sometimes provide outside input on faculty size.

Chart 5A

Generally, faculty duties include teaching, research, departmental and/or institutional service, public service, and contributions to professional organizations. Student advising, at both the undergraduate and the graduate level, forms a substantial part of typical faculty effort and is described in fuller detail below. Faculty workloads can vary in type by discipline. The humanities faculty, for example, tend to teach more subjects but have smaller enrollments than other faculty. In the science and engineering programs, managing the demands of laboratory-based teaching is of the utmost importance.

Faculty have a primary role in designing and monitoring the effectiveness of the Institute's educational program, in part through their participation in standing Institute committees. These include the Committee on Curricula (COC), the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), and the Committee on the Graduate Program (CGP). The ongoing efforts of these committees are periodically supplemented by the work of special task forces that focus on particular issues of critical and often widespread importance to the educational program. Recommendations from such groups that affect Institute policy are normally brought to the full faculty for review and approval. More information can be found in Chapters 3 and 4.

Back to Top

Support for teaching

As discussed in Chapter 4, the MIT Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL) offers the MIT community a comprehensive range of programs and services to improve the quality of instruction and, thus, student learning at the Institute. TLL staff members consult with faculty, administrators, and students on many topics, including the use of different teaching methodologies (e.g., lecturing, discussion teaching, active learning); the improvement of student learning; and the design of assessment studies. Consultations can be as short as one meeting, but TLL staff have also engaged in multiyear, faculty-led initiatives. For example, TLL directed an 18-month collaboration with Cambridge University called the Teaching for Learning Network. This project involved over 20 MIT faculty from six departments. When participants were surveyed about their experience with TLL, they strongly agreed that "identify learning objectives was helpful" and "working with an educationalist was helpful." TLL also offers a teaching orientation for new faculty, a series of lunchtime seminars during the January Independent Activity Period called Better Teaching @ MIT, and department-based workshops on teaching and learning. Chart 5B shows how many faculty members and staff TLL have worked with since 2000.

Chart 5B: Number of Faculty, and Administrators Served by TLL, 2000-09

Client

Extended Engagement*

Shorter Engagement**

School of Architecture faculty

1

1

School of Engineering faculty

40

15

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences faculty

22

9

Sloan School of Management faculty

***

1

School of Science faculty

12

6

Administrative staff

11

13

Subtotal

86

45

Total number of faculty and administrators = 131

* "Extended engagement" indicates that the project on which TLL collaborated was at least one semester long. In some cases, TLL-faculty collaborations have continued over several years.
** "Shorter engagement" indicates TLL staff member had between two and six meetings stretching over a period of several weeks.
*** The Sloan School of Management has its own educational developer.

Since 2000, TLL has been closely involved in a number of faculty-led initiatives to develop and implement innovative curricula, pedagogy, and educational technology. Over 50 such projects in educational innovation have been implemented in this way at the Institute. Chapter 4 provides a fuller description of MIT's work in curricular development, assessment, and educational innovation.

Faculty members are encouraged to develop innovative or experimental teaching methods aimed at improving educational quality. To help support such innovations, several recurring programs offer financial resources to faculty (notably, the d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education, described in Chapter 4, and the Class of 1960 Endowment for Innovation in Education). In addition, the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program, now in its 18th year, recognizes sustained contributions to undergraduate teaching. The fellowships provide an annual scholar's allowance to assist each fellow in developing ways to enrich the undergraduate learning experience. MacVicar Faculty Fellows serve 10-year terms, and each spring they are honored at MacVicar Day – MIT's annual recognition of undergraduate education.

MIT's Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT) is a further resource for faculty. As noted in Chapter 4, the office engages in exploratory activities to identify technology-based solutions for new modes of collaboration, production, and the sustainable delivery of educational resources and experiences. OEIT not only acts as a conduit to communicate the availability of educational innovations more widely to faculty, but also facilitates the adoption of these innovations, to help improve teaching and learning at MIT. OEIT's work over the past two years has involved 120 faculty and 110 courses and is described in Chapter 7.

To aid in assessing the effectiveness of instruction, the Institute regularly collects undergraduate students' evaluations of faculty teaching. A current pilot of online subject evaluations, described in Chapter 4, is intended to allow greater ease and flexibility in charting teacher development over time in different subjects and types of classes. In addition, the faculty promotion and tenure process typically includes an assessment of the candidate's teaching and advising effectiveness, informed in part by peer observation of classroom performance.

Back to Top

Advising

MIT sees advising as a critical component of a student's education. We provide numerous venues for students to get both specific topical advice and more general guidance to help them become contributing members of society. The academic environment is challenging for undergraduates and graduate students alike, and advising must provide accurate information about the Institute, its expectations, and its resources if each student is to make wise decisions. Advising must be nurturing and still direct, offering students clear choices as they make their way through the Institute. MIT has Institute-wide services and offices that provide professional advising and counseling (primarily described in Chapter 6, "Students"), while faculty offer guidance on academics and post-college options. In combination, these two levels and types of advising help students make good course selections as well as good life choices.

Undergraduate advising

MIT recognizes that the transition from high school to university life is a potentially stressful and challenging step for all undergraduates on their journey to personal independence and adulthood. Therefore, MIT places particular emphasis on resources and support for first-year students. The Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming (UAAP) functions as the academic department for first-year students. This office manages the freshman advising system, academic support programming, and study sessions, and it coordinates the first-year instructors with respect to scheduling and support.

Approximately half of first-year students participate in freshman advising seminars, whose leaders serve as their academic advisors. The more than 60 advising seminars offered each year cover a wide range of topics, from Exploring the Arts at MIT to Case Studies in Forensic Metallurgy. MIT encourages first-year students to keep an open mind when selecting a seminar, and not base their choice simply on expected major. Whether or not they join an advising seminar, all freshmen work with a faculty or staff advisor and an upperclass-student associate advisor, who together help them design an effective program of study. Freshman advisors are developed through an ongoing educational program.

Freshmen typically declare a major at the end of the first year or in the fall of their sophomore year. The UAAP and departments sponsor exploration programming in the late fall, during the January Independent Activities Period, and into the spring (with departmental open houses). A sophomore transition program includes discussions related to joining a department, communicating with faculty, and identifying mentors and mentoring relationships, as well as the responsibilities of developing a successful advising relationship.

Once a student selects a major field of study, upperclass advising and mentoring is addressed at the department level. Each department has a process that is managed or coordinated by an undergraduate administrator or academic officer. With slight variations, each department communicates with its new and current students and faculty advisors, and engages them throughout the year with activities and honor societies. In addition, departments have modest resources to hire tutors for upperclass students. They may also encourage students to contact the Tutorial Services Room (TSR) for free, private tutoring; the TSR is an institutional resource available to all students at no charge.

Since the last accreditation visit, new online sites have been designed to help students and their advisors navigate the undergraduate program more effectively. The U-Info site (http://web.mit.edu/uinfo/) gives an overview of undergraduate academic-planning resources, based on input from students and advisors about their needs. The site features comprehensive information on academics, advising and mentoring, research opportunities outside the classroom, and careers. At the same time, it serves as a well-organized portal to more specialized MIT websites and other academic support resources.

MIT believes that faculty advising and mentoring of students is necessary and important to the educational experience. We routinely ask students to provide feedback on their experiences with advising, and we track broad measurements of advising through surveys that are shared with visiting committees. Recent surveys 31  indicate notable progress in advising, but continuing room for improvement. In 2008, 65 percent of respondents were generally or very satisfied with pre-major advising, compared with 54 percent in 2002. With regard to advising in their major, 71 percent were generally or very satisfied in 2008, up from 61 percent in 2002. When compared with our peers, MIT's rates of satisfaction for advising in the major are about the same, but our students are more satisfied with pre-major advising. The trend upward over time is fairly consistent among institutions.

A best-practices review of undergraduate (major) advising was completed in 2006–07. The review indicated that most departments strive to educate and inform faculty advisors to ensure a good advising experience. However, there were several recommendations for improvement:

In response to the survey, the Institute has already taken a number of steps. In 2008, the Earll M. Murman Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising was established to annually recognize and reward a faculty member for outstanding undergraduate advising and mentorship. Four departments have established an associate advisor program modeled after the freshman advising systems, and several departments have initiated a required midterm meeting with advisors. In addition, the UAAP has opened its advisor training programs to upperclass students and begun offering programs more relevant to them. Further steps will be taken on a department-by-department basis.

The Institute seeks to strengthen its undergraduate advising efforts by continuing its move toward an integrated approach to student life and learning. For example, members of the faculty live in most undergraduate halls and graduate residences, where they play a range of advising and counseling roles. Our increasingly holistic approach is explored in Chapter 6, "Students." As discussed there, the Division of Student Life has engaged a consultant to review and assess advising and support structures and make recommendations for future years.

Back to Top

Graduate advising

Advising for graduate students is handled by departments. Graduate students give feedback both through the biannual visiting-committee process and through regular feedback surveys conducted by MIT's Office of Institutional Research. From those surveys, departmental comparisons are made and shared with the provost, the school deans, and department heads. Some of this data can be found in the E and S Schedules and in the accreditation team room. Data from exit surveys of doctoral students over the past three years indicate that although 75–82 percent rated overall program quality as excellent or very good, only 44–51 percent rated the quality of academic advising and guidance as excellent or very good, and only 49–58 percent considered the relationship between faculty and graduate students to be excellent or very good

The Academics, Research, and Careers (ARC) Committee, part of the Graduate Student Council, has worked for several years to help improve the quality of graduate advising and alleviate problems in advisor-advisee relationships. During the summer of 2004, the ARC Subcommittee on Better Advising and Research Ethics identified recurring difficulties related to advising, based on anonymous anecdotes from graduate students and some corroboration fom Ombuds Office staff. To implement proactive solutions, the ARC Committee:

Despite MIT's many efforts, the 2008 report of the Corporation Joint Committee on Institute Affairs (CJAC) states that "at the graduate level, there is great variability in the advising/mentoring experience. Some departments consistently do a very good job in this area, while in other departments students' experiences vary widely depending on their individual advisor" (p. 6). The CJAC report pointed to the need to promulgate the good practices that are working in various parts of MIT. As one example, the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics has adapted some of the practices of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering that were highly praised in the ARC report. The Resources for Easing Friction and Stress (REFS) program a further example of a successful department-based advising project that has expanded. Through REFS, graduate students receive mediation training and support their fellow students during times of uncertainty, stress, or conflict, often identifying concerns at an early stage. These peer advisors act as a conduit for information, make referrals to MIT resources, and warn departments of systemic issues in a way that keeps sources confidential. The REFS model was developed in 2002–03 in the Department of Chemistry; five more departments/centers have since adopted it with plans to expand it to three or four more. Although there has not been a systematic analysis to date, anecdotal evidence suggests the program works well.

To facilitate more such changes, the Graduate Student Council will establish a Task Force on Advising that will develop an updated survey on advising. The survey, planned for August 2009, will be administered in collaboration with the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education and the Office of Institutional Research.

Back to Top

 

III. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

MIT has historically viewed teaching and research as inseparable parts of its academic mission. Therefore, the Institute recognizes its obligation to encourage faculty to pursue research activities that hold the greatest promise for intellectual advancement. MIT maintains one of the most vigorous programs of research of any university (see Chart 5C). 32 

Research activities range from individual projects to large-scale, collaborative, and sometimes international endeavors. These activities are integrated into MIT's educational mission and are described in Chapters 2 and 4. Peer-reviewed research accomplishments form a basis for reviewing the qualifications of prospective faculty appointees and for evaluations related to promotion and tenure decisions.

The Institute provides the faculty with the infrastructure and support necessary to conduct research, much of it through contracts, grants, and other arrangements with government, industry, and foundations. The Office of Sponsored Programs provides central support related to the administration of sponsored research programs, and it assists faculty, other principal investigators, and their local administrators in managing and identifying resources for individual sponsored projects. In addition, a Research Council—which is chaired by the vice president for research and associate provost and composed of the heads of all major research laboratories and centers —addresses research policy and administration issues. The Resource Development Office also works with faculty to generate proposals for foundation or other private support.

The Institute allows the faculty to devote an average of one day per week during the academic year to outside professional activities, such as consulting, which may be paid or unpaid. Faculty report their outside professional activities annually through their department heads and deans. Procedures are in place to examine any activities that may appear to conflict with the faculty's primary obligations to the Institute.

Given the complexity of modern research and the volume of MIT's research activity, in 2008 the provost appointed two faculty-led committees—the Committee on Managing Potential Conflicts of Interest in Research and the Committee on Technology Transfer in the 21st Century—to review and recommend improvements to the Institute's policies. Their work is ongoing and described more fully in Chapter 11, "Integrity."

Chart 5C

Back to Top

Leave policies

Sabbatical leaves are intended to enable a period of focused research or study. Following six years of full-time service, tenured faculty members are eligible for sabbatical leaves of either a full academic year at half-salary, or a half-year at full salary. Faculty members must apply to their department heads a reasonable time in advance and present proposals for the use of their leave. In considering whether to recommend a sabbatical request to the dean, department heads must take into account the commitments for teaching, research, and student advising in their departments. The final allocation of sabbaticals is made by the provost.

All untenured faculty are entitled to a junior-faculty research leave. This consists of a one-semester leave with pay, to enable concentrated research effort devoted to career advancement. The leave must be taken within years two through six of the probationary period, and it does not stop the tenure clock.

Faculty members also may request professional and personal leaves. Professional leaves allow faculty members to undertake professional-development or public-service opportunities; they typically are included in calculating years of service for tenure decisions. Personal leaves allow faculty time to address urgent medical, personal, or family matters that prevent full attention to academic and scholarly duties. Personal leaves are generally not included in the determination of years of service before tenure. Leaves are granted by department heads with the approval of the dean.

Faculty members, regardless of gender, who wish to care for a newborn child, a newly adopted child, or a new foster child may be released from teaching and administrative duties for one semester at full pay. However, they are expected to fulfill their thesis-advising responsibilities and sustain their research programs. In recognition of the effects that pregnancy and childbirth can have on a woman's ability to perform all the tasks necessary to achieve tenure, a woman who bears a child during her tenure probationary period has that period automatically extended by one year. Upon request, the provost may grant a second one-year extension for the birth of an additional child. In all cases, two years is the maximum extension allowed by this policy. As in all tenure cases, a tenure review may take place before the end of the probationary period; that possibility is assessed annually.

Traditionally, tenured faculty members, regardless of gender, who need time for family care (of children, partners, or elders) may request a reduced-time (but not below half-time), reduced-pay appointment for one or more semesters for up to five years, with possible renewal. Details of the arrangement require the consent of the department head and the approval of the dean of the school.

Back to Top

 

IV. FACULTY DIVERSITY

MIT is committed to attracting more women and underrepresented minority (URM) faculty and to improving their career-development opportunities and quality of professional life. In the 2008–09 academic year, the faculty included 35 African Americans (25 men and 10 women), 29 Hispanics (27 men and 2 women), and 3 Native Americans (2 men and1 woman). Asian American faculty numbered 125 (97men and 28 women); however, Asian Americans are not considered a URM group.

The Office of the Provost began a program in 1991 to provide both resources and new faculty slots to encourage the hiring of women and URM faculty. The program (the details of which are provided in the accreditation team room) has proven effective over the last decade. From fall 1999 through spring 2009, 186 faculty were hired under this initiative (133 women and 82 minority faculty, with some overlap between the two categories).

The provost reports annually to the faculty on recruitment and retention of URM faculty, as mandated by a 2004 faculty resolution that set a goal of doubling the percentage of URM faculty at MIT by 2014. In nearly every year since 2004, the Institute has hired both underrepresented minorities and women faculty at percentages higher than those of its current population of faculty in each group. The percentage of URM faculty increased from 4.5 percent in 2004 to 6.2 percent in 2008–09, indicating that the Institute is reasonably on track to meet its goal of 9 percent by 2014.

In 2007, the provost established the Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity ("the Race Initiative") to conduct a rigorous study of how race affects the recruitment, retention, professional development, and institutional experiences of underrepresented minority faculty at MIT. The Race Initiative is intended to be similar in scope, and in impact, to MIT's earlier studies of gender equity, which began in the School of Science in 1999 and were extended to include all other schools the following year. The Race Initiative team, which is composed of faculty from across the Institute, issued a preliminary report in July 2007 (http://web.mit.edu/provost/reports/RaceInitiative07162007.pdf). The report provided a detailed plan for carrying out the study, along with some early, practical recommendations for aiding minority-faculty recruitment and making academic departments more aware of the career-development needs of junior minority faculty already at MIT. The team has collected quantitative data on key parameters related to minority-faculty appointments and has held a series of faculty forums designed to encourage candid discussions on the impact of race on faculty life at MIT. Goals of the Race Initiative include a final, comprehensive report in fall 2009 that recommends ways for departments, schools, and the Institute as a whole to increase the number of minority faculty recruited, retain current minority faculty, and enhance the experiences of minority faculty at MIT. Plans for carrying out the recommendations will also be specified, including ways to measure and evaluate the extent to which the implementation succeeds at the various institutional levels.

To address faculty diversity and gender issues at the highest levels of leadership, MIT in 2007 created the Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Equity. Two faculty members were selected to share this office, and as members of the Academic Council, they coordinate efforts across the Institute related to the recruitment, retention, promotion, and career development of minority and women faculty. The associate provosts for faculty equity focus on strengthening efforts to hire and retain women and URM faculty, working with the school deans and other groups involved with these processes. As a result, the School of Engineering and the School of Science have modified their search procedures with promising results. The School of Science hired four women and one URM among 10 new hires in 2008-09; two more women will be among nine hires joining in 2009-10. The school also has two offers to women outstanding. The School of Engineering hired two URMs among 13 new hires in 2008–09; 16 new faculty are expected to join the school in 2009-10, including one male URM male and eight women. An offer to a ninth woman is pending. In addition, another male URM has accepted a faculty offer with a 2010-11 start date.

The associate provosts for faculty equity also ensure that junior women and URM faculty have teaching schedules, committee loads, and access to laboratory space and equipment that are conducive to long-term success at the Institute. In addition, the associate provosts hold ongoing discussions with groups of URM faculty, particularly junior faculty, in order to develop more effective career support and guidance structures.

The Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Equity also works closely with the standing Gender Equity Committees that are based in each of the five schools (http://web.mit.edu/gep/about.html#overview). Those committees, which include both male and female senior faculty, were established soon after a landmark analysis of women faculty in MIT's School of Science. 33  The Gender Equity Committees share a common goal of strengthening the institutional processes that promote equity for women faculty as measured by salaries, resources for research, laboratory space, and similar metrics. Each committee focuses its efforts according to the particular culture and concerns of the school it represents.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor/Scholar Program, established in 1995, continues its mission of increasing the presence of minority scholars on campus and encouraging individuals of any underrepresented group, especially African Americans, to share their scholarly, professional, and teaching achievements with MIT faculty, staff, and students. A 2006 review found that the MLK program was poorly understood and underutilized. The review committee pointed to the absence of a senior point person for the program, too little funding, and too little integration of the program with departmental activities. MIT began to address these issues with the creation of the Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Equity, which now has oversight and management responsibility for the program. This shift has drawn increased attention and funding to the program. Each year since 2007, it has supported approximately 10 visiting professors and scholars, normally for one or two academic terms. Selection is based on candidates' professional achievements and their potential for significant contribution to the intellectual life at MIT. We will continue to monitor the MLK program's impact, with the goal of developing additional ways to strengthen it.

Back to Top

 

V. PROJECTIONS

MIT's faculty have considerable responsibilities, ranging from teaching and research to governance and advising. For this reason, we periodically survey the faculty to understand their views of workload, mentoring, the tenure and promotion process, and balance between work and personal/family life. In early 2008, faculty were invited to respond to the Faculty Quality of Life Survey. This survey was an extension of the core survey developed by the Association of American Universities Data Exchange. The overall response rate was 69 percent, comparable to that at peer universities. Over 80 percent of responding faculty reported being somewhat or very satisfied with being on the MIT faculty—there was very little change from the last time this question was asked, in 2004. The overall data from the survey indicate that faculty tend to be quite satisfied with their home department and the quality of their students. Full results can be viewed at http://web.mit.edu/ir/surveys/faculty2008.html. For those areas identified as needing additional attention, such as the transparency of tenure and promotion processes and issues of diversity, MIT has appointed faculty-led committees to examine the issues and produce recommendations in the months ahead.

Future directions for the research enterprise are largely faculty-driven. As discussed in Chapter 2, we are increasingly pursuing cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional, and international collaborations. To the extent that faculty spend more time on research and educational activities overseas, departments will increasingly need to monitor the effects on faculty members' teaching and service obligations at the Institute and ensure that campus staffing needs are fulfilled. The MIT administration is developing procedures for addressing these concerns through the work of the International Advisory Committee.

Faculty renewal continues to be a significant issue for MIT. There is broad consensus about the importance of enabling academic departments to undergo continual intellectual renewal through the recruitment of new faculty. Given financial constraints on the growth of the overall faculty, coupled with the absence of a mandatory retirement age, MIT in 2008 introduced a special faculty renewal program designed to ease the transition to retirement. Under this program, which is in effect for three years, faculty who meet certain age criteria may elect to retire with a choice of incentives. The first year of this program has been reasonably successful, with 19 faculty members, or 26 percent of eligible faculty, electing to participate. In addition, MIT maintains a preretirement option for faculty who wish to reduce their level of effort in the years leading to retirement. Under this option, faculty of a certain age may choose to work at half-time effort for up to five years in return for an agreement to relinquish tenure at the end of this period. The Institute values the contributions to the academic program that many faculty members continue to make after they formally retire. By mutual agreement with their departments, retired faculty may hold part-time, nontenured appointments for the purposes of actively participating in research or instructional programs. Such appointments must be less than half-time and normally may not exceed five years. MIT will monitor the success of these programs and continue to identify the best incentives and methods to ease senior faculty's transition to retirement, thereby providing opportunities for academic departments to recruit junior faculty members into tenure-track positions.

Back to Top


Footnotes

30 In addition to the faculty shown in the chart, there are six housed within the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and technology.
31 MIT recently completed a comparison of graduating seniors in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.
32 Excluding faculty from the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation.
33 A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT, March 1999. The report is available at http://web.mit.edu/fnl/women/women.html.