MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The Chancellor’s office was reinstituted by the President on August 1, 1998. In recreating the office, the President transferred a number of responsibilities from the Office of the Provost to the Office of the Chancellor. These include broad oversight for graduate and undergraduate education, student life, research policy, strategic planning, campus development, and the management of the Institute's large-scale institutional partnerships.

Planning for implementation of President Vest's decision to house all freshmen on campus continues. The Residential System Steering Committee (RSSC), chaired by William Hecht, Executive Vice President of the MIT Alumni Association, submitted its final report to the Chancellor in the fall. A group of student leaders submitted a counter proposal to the Chancellor entitled Unified Proposal for the MIT Residence System. Based upon the input received from both the RSSC as well as the student report, the Chancellor issued a final report on the redesign of the residence system (available on the web at The Chancellor's report incorporated the best ideas from both the RSSC and the student report. The Chancellor presented this report at a public forum in early December. The Chancellor appointed Dean Kirk Kolenbrander to take responsibility for implementation of the plan described in the Chancellor's report.

Planning for the new undergraduate residence continued throughout the academic year. Steven Holl Architects completed a design for the new residence which has been recognized by Progressive Architecture with a prestigious PA Design Award. The City of Cambridge issued the necessary approvals for construction of the new residence. However, construction has been delayed pending appeal of these approvals by an abutter to the site. Given that the start of construction has been delayed by this appeal, President Vest announced that the decision to house all freshmen on campus would be similarly delayed until additional dormitory capacity becomes available. This is anticipated to occur in the fall of 2002.

The tight Cambridge and Boston housing market has made it difficult for MIT graduate students to locate suitable housing in proximity to campus. In some cases, the tightness of the housing market is making it difficult for the Institute to attract the very best graduate students. Accordingly, the Institute initiated two projects this year to provide additional housing for graduate students. A warehouse on Albany Street, adjacent to the Edgerton House, is being converted to 120 units of loft-style graduate housing. This new residence will incorporate a housemaster suite and additional amenities for the occupants. It is intended primarily for single graduate students. It is expected to open in the fall of 2001.

In addition, a larger graduate residence is being planned for the corner of Sidney and Pacific Streets, adjacent to University Park. This residence is expected to provide housing for between 600 and 700 graduate students. It will also include a housemaster suite, community space and some ground floor retail facilities. It is intended for both single and married graduate students. It is expected to open in the fall of 2002.

This past year, Dean Rosalind Williams announced that she intended to return to full-time teaching and research after five years of service as Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education. Dean Williams has had a profound effect on student life and learning at the Institute. During her tenure, the Institute's writing requirement was overhauled and replaced by a new communications requirement, orientation was completely restructured, five new pre-orientation programs were instituted for freshmen, funding for student activities was dramatically increased, the residence system was completely restructured, a plan for renovating classrooms throughout the Institute was initiated, major capital improvements were made to both the residence system and to our athletic facilities, and a large series of educational experiments were launched, underwritten by a major gift from Alex and Brit d’Arbeloff. Few deans in the history of MIT have had as large an impact on the life of our students. The Institute owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Dean Williams for her service and that of her colleague, Dean Margaret Bates, who also announced her retirement this year as Dean of Students.

Prompted by the resignation of Dean Williams and the retirement of Dean Bates, the Chancellor instituted a modest reorganization of Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education. Under the previous structure, the Dean of Students reported to the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, who reported to the Chancellor. As a result of this structure, the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education often found that her time was dominated by crises arising in the student life area. Consequently, it was difficult to focus on issues of curriculum development, educational reform, and pedagogy. Accordingly, the Chancellor reorganized the offices so that the newly named Dean for Student Life will report directly to the Chancellor, in parallel with the Dean for Undergraduate Education. The Dean for Student Life was also made a member of Academic Council, thus giving further voice to student life issues at the highest levels of the Institute. As part of this reorganization, the offices of Residential Life and Student Life Programs; Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation; Counseling and Support Services; Campus Activities Complex; and the MIT Card Office will report to the Dean for Student Life. The offices of Academic Services, Admissions, Career Services and Preprofessional Advising, Student Financial Services, Minority Education, and Student Services Information Technology will report to the Dean for Undergraduate Education. In addition, the offices of both the Dean for Student Life and Dean for Undergraduate Education were relocated to the Infinite Corridor to promote greater access to students.

This past year MIT entered into a major partnership with Cambridge University. This partnership will support joint research, joint curriculum development, joint teaching, and student and faculty exchanges. It is designed to create a new form of academic enterprise, bringing together two of the world's great universities. The formation of this partnership was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain in November at a press conference attended by President Vest and the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, Sir Alec Broers. The partnership formally came into being upon the signing of incorporation documents in early summer. It is formally known as the Cambridge-MIT Institute. The Chancellor coordinated MIT's role in the negotiations leading to the creation of the Cambridge-MIT Institute. Professor Daniel Roos played a major and instrumental role in helping to establish this partnership. Professor John Vander Sande will be the MIT Executive Director of the Cambridge-MIT Institute. The British government and UK industry are providing $135 million in funding over five years to support the partnership.

The Committee on Resources for Space Planning, chaired by the Chancellor, spent $24 million to renovate classrooms, lab space, and office space on campus. Major projects funded this year include renovations for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the Center for Technology Policy and Industrial Development, the Center for Learning and Memory, the Astrophysics section of the Department of Physics, and renovations to library space in Building 14. In addition, Music and Theater Arts was relocated to renovated space in Buildings 4 and 10, thus freeing up additional space for expansion of Humanities in Building 14. Additional investments were made to upgrade space in the student life area, including a new indoor and outdoor track for Athletics and an expansion of the 24-hour coffeehouse in the Student Center. Through resources made available by the Department of Facilities, the Institute is continuing its program of upgrading the life safety systems in the undergraduate residences. The new process for prioritizing space change requests instituted last year appears to be operating smoothly.

Last year the Chancellor, together with the Dean for Research, created a Research Council consisting of the Directors of a number of major labs and centers. The Council provides guidance and advice to the Chancellor and the Dean for Research on a variety of issues related to research funding and administration. This year the Council began discussions about potential changes by which the Institute supports research administration in departments, labs, and centers.

The Chancellor co-chairs the Council on the Environment with Professor David Marks. The Council coordinates Institute-wide environmental education and research. This past year the Institute hosted the Annual Meeting for the Alliance for Global Sustainability, a collaboration between MIT, the University of Tokyo, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The Council also administers the Martin Family Society of Fellows and the Wallenberg Fellows Program.

The Chancellor coordinated the Institute's reaccreditation review of the New England Association of Schools & Colleges. The review was organized largely around the Institute's response to the Report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning. The Institute was reaccredited for another ten years as a result of this review. The report of the accreditation team and the Institute's response can be found at The Institute's report provides a detailed description of our progress to date in responding to the recommendations of the Report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning.

Lawrence S. Bacow

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000