MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000



This year, the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) oversaw those aspects of educational and academic policy that are specific responsibilities of the Faculty and provided faculty input toward policy development at the Institute. The committee met twice with President Vest, twice with Chancellor Bacow, and several times with Provost Brown. The FPC used these opportunities to convey faculty opinions on a variety of topics including institutional partnerships, policies on intellectual property and outside professional activities, undergraduate life and learning, and campus planning. The FPC Subcommittee on Exam and Term Regulations continued its work from last year and brought forward recommended changes to the regulations, which were approved at the April Faculty Meeting. The FPC approved three proposed degree programs – one S.B. program, an S.M. program, and an M.Eng. program–which were forwarded to the Faculty for a vote. The FPC also heard from and coordinated the work of the other Faculty committees.

Subcommittee On Examination And Term Regulations

In Spring 1998, the FPC Subcommittee on Examination and Term Regulations, chaired by Professor Donald Sadoway, began a review of Faculty regulations governing the administration of quizzes, tests, and examinations during the term and those pertaining to the beginning and end of term. The subcommittee reported regularly to the FPC during the 1998—99 and 1999—2000 academic years and submitted its final report in March 2000. In the report, which can be found on the World Wide Web at, the subcommittee recommended that:

The recommendations resulted in revisions to Sections 2.10 and 2.50 of Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, which were presented to the Faculty at its March meeting and approved at the April meeting. The revised regulations took effect on July 1, 2000. The subcommittee also made recommendations with regard to governance, violations, informing faculty members of regulations, and recursion. Another subcommittee will be charged with conducting a similar review of the regulations governing graduate subjects with the intention of recommending revisions by Spring 2001.

Communication Requirement

In February, the FPC heard the final report of CUP Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement, and Professor Suzanne Flynn, chair of the CUP, conveyed the CUP’s endorsement of the subcommittee’s recommendations. As part of its final report, which can be found on the World Wide Web at, the subcommittee articulated a set of general principles for the new Communication Requirement:

The FPC endorsed the proposed requirement, which was presented to the Faculty at its meeting in February and approved in March. The Communication Requirement will go into effect beginning with the Class of 2005, which will enter MIT in the fall of 2001. A subcommittee of the CUP will oversee the implementation and monitoring of this new requirement.

Subcommittee On Institutional Partnerships

In response to concern over faculty input into the establishment and administration of institutional partnerships, the FPC established a subcommittee to serve as a consultative body to the senior administration on new strategic partnerships. The Subcommittee on Institutional Partnerships will provide a mechanism for the Faculty to be involved in the discussions before MIT makes a contractual commitment that obligates the faculty and students. The subcommittee is charged with reviewing the Institute’s ongoing partnerships and determining the goals, benefits, and costs of these relationships. The group will be informed of any ongoing or future negotiations, even if confidential, and members may be asked to enter into nondisclosure agreements during the period in which an agreement is under negotiation. Members of the subcommittee will be appointed by the Faculty Chair for staggered three-year terms and will include the Faculty Chair (ex officio), six other faculty members (only some of whom need be FPC members), and a research staff member; two students members–an undergraduate and a graduate student–will serve one-year terms.

Intellectual Property Policies

Over the course of the academic year, the FPC met several times to discuss intellectual property issues. In meetings with the Provost and the Vice President and Dean for Research, FPC members urged the administration to clarify policies regarding intellectual property, licensing, and conflict of interest, particularly in light of new technologies affecting the development and delivery of educational materials. The FPC will continue to be engaged in discussions on these matters through the coming academic year.

New Degrees Programs

During the 1999—2000 academic year, the FPC approved proposals to establish several degree programs: a new S.B. degree in Physics, an S.M. in Bioengineering, and an M.Eng. in Biomedical Engineering. After receiving the endorsement of the FPC, these proposals were presented and approved by the Faculty.


The Educational Design Project, charged by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) and co-chaired by Professors Kip Hodges and Stephen Benton, submitted its preliminary findings and recommendations in August 1999. The report found that "the current curriculum does not do enough to sustain student enthusiasm for learning or to leverage upon their enthusiasm and sense of academic direction to achieve better educational results." These findings established the theme for the committee’s summer retreat and were the inspiration for this year’s call for proposals for curriculum development support through the d’Arbeloff Grant funds. In addition, the report was the catalyst for discussions at three meetings among members during the fall term that resulted in the development of a formal statement from the CUP outlining the goals of the First Year at MIT.

In October, Professor Jean Jackson presented to the CUP the final report of the HASS Overview Committee (HOC). The HOC had been asked to review an experiment, begun in September 1995, that had allowed a regrouping of the HASS-D Requirement to incorporate the Visual and Performing Arts into one of the required categories. The CUP approved the recommendation that the HASS-D Requirement be simplified so that students would be required to take three subjects from three different categories, but without further constraint. Ultimately, the following language was approved by the Faculty: "To satisfy the HASS-D Requirement, students must take three subjects selected from three of the five HASS-D categories. Alternately, students may take two subjects from two categories and a Level III or IV foreign language subject."

In October, the CUP engaged in preliminary discussions about charging a review of Pass/No Record grading and AP credit. Professor Charles Stewart was asked to chair a subcommittee, and a charge was prepared in late November. Professor Stewart presented the preliminary findings to the CUP in April; a final report with recommendations will be presented in the fall of 2000.

Members of the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement visited the CUP on several occasions. In November, the committee heard the results of an experiment that modified the Writing Requirement by adding an additional component at entrance and altering slightly the Freshman Essay Evaluation. In December and, again, in January, the final report and recommendations of the subcommittee were presented. The CUP endorsed the general spirit of the report–i.e., that the Writing Requirement be replaced by a Communication Requirement effective with the freshman class entering in Fall 2001–and forwarded the recommendations to the FPC. A charge is being prepared that appoints a permanent subcommittee of the CUP to oversee the Communication Requirement and its implementation.

The CUP approved a proposal by Professor Kip Hodges to extend the freshman credit limit for his new freshman-specific offering for the Fall 2000 semester. "Mission 2004" is a 9-unit subject designed to explore the feasibility of a new freshman requirement in multidisciplinary, project-based learning; students enrolling in this subject will be allowed to exceed the first-year credit limit by 3 units. Professor Hodges also asked for and received approval for the subject to satisfy Phase 1 of the Writing Requirement; this approval will be in effect for at least the first year of the subject.

Committee business in also included:


Professor Paola Rizzoli continued to chair the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP) during the 1999—2000 academic year and, in this capacity, served on the FPC Subcommittee on Examination and Term Regulations. The CAP acted on a total of 547 petitions during the year, an increase of less than 2 percent from the previous year. Of this total, approximately 232 were reviewed administratively by the chair. As noticed in the previous year, the revised Incomplete policy has been very effective in reducing the total number of petitions.

Of continued concern is the number of petitions falling under the category of "administrative neglect," i.e., petitions for late adds/drops. In 1995—96, these petitions accounted for 29 percent of the total number. This number rose to 40 percent in 1998—99 and continued to increase in 1999—2000 to account for 42 percent of the total number of petitions received. Also of concern is the number of petitions submitted by students to exceed their Warning credit limit, which has more than doubled since last year in spite of the hard line taken by the CAP on such requests

The number of petitions (47) for late registration due to financial hold is still high, although slightly less than last year (54). In cooperation with the offices of Student Financial Services (SFS) and Counseling and Support Services (CSS), the CAP established a procedure to tighten the financial hold policy. In the future, the written recommendation of a committee formed by three members of SFS and CSS is required for the CAP to consider petitions for retroactive registration for the previous semester.

The CAP has taken action to improve the reporting mechanism for the grade of Incomplete. The previous Instructor’s Report form was often submitted with insufficient information and did not allow for a default grade should a grade not be obtained by the student’s graduation date–a situation that occurred frequently. A new Instructor’s Report form has been developed to address these issues.

CAP actions voted at the end-of-term meetings resulted in 381 Warnings, the same as in the previous year; and in 36 Required Withdrawals (RW), down 20 percent from last year. A possible reason for the decrease in number of RWs is the increase in the number of withdrawals due to medical reasons.

The summary of CAP actions taken on undergraduates in 1999—2000 is:



Required Withdrawals
















The Academic Progress Group, formed in Fall 1998, completed its study of freshmen who receive warnings or required withdrawls. A report comprising two parts was presented by the CAP chair to the Faculty Policy Committee. Part I looks at predictors of academic difficulties in the freshmen year, and Part II examines the trajectory of this group of students, identifying the best predictors of the trajectory.

During the first meeting of 1999—2000, the Committee on Corporate Relations (CCR) and Director of Corporate Relations Karl F. Koster reviewed the activities that had been conducted during the preceding year. This set the stage for the two areas on which CCR focused: implementation of the OCR Faculty Liaison Plan and the campaign to raise funds for graduate student fellowships.

The Faculty Liaison Plan was launched formally in January 2000 with the goals of communicating to the faculty the mission of the Office of Corporate Relations, including the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) and Corporate Development; increasing the number and range of faculty members working with industry by helping junior faculty make contacts through the ILP and ensuring that faculty can connect easily with member firms; systematically tracking the interests and expertise of the faculty in order to facilitate the dissemination of that information to the corporate community, as appropriate; and helping to identify potential funding contacts for research from ILP members and other companies.

To accomplish these objectives, an OCR Officer has been assigned to work with each School and department. To introduce the plan to the faculty, a new OCR Guide for MIT Faculty and Staff was developed and distributed to all faculty and staff members. Each Dean and department head was provided with an expanded version of the Guide, which included a listing of 1999 corporate support to MIT departments.

At the CCR meeting on April 26, OCR provided an update of work done to initiate a "mini-campaign" for corporate support of graduate fellowships. To learn of best practices from Departments that have corporate fellowship support already, and ascertain the interest of the department head in working with OCR to raise funds for this purpose, interviews have been conducted with the heads of 10 departments in the Schools of Engineering, Science, and Architecture and Planning.

The Committee on Curricula (COC) met 14 times during the 1999—2000 academic year. The Committee approved proposals for new, canceled, and revised subjects, and reviewed student petitions for substitutions to the General Institute Requirements, as well as approving substantive curricular changes and upholding policy.

The COC approved the following: a new S.B. in Physics, Course VIII-B; a request from Foreign Languages and Literatures to approve an exception to the minor requirements; minor changes to the undergraduate curricula in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Economics, Political Science, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering; and changes to the Core subjects in Mathematics and Chemistry.

Effective of March 3, 2000, the Committee implemented a policy limiting the number of S.B. degrees to two, which it approved the previous year.

The Committee on Discipline (COD) heard charges against eight students this year. Seven charges were for academic misconduct, and one was for personal misconduct. Three other charges for academic misconduct remain to be heard during the summer. In addition, one charge was dropped, while another was investigated and determined to be unfounded. The sanctions for the charges of academic misconduct were varied, ranging from informal probation, to formal probation with a notation marked on the student’s transcript, to the withholding of a degree. The sanction for the charge of personal misconduct was suspension from the Institute for one and a half years. The COD also reviewed a number of petitions involving the removal of disciplinary notations from transcripts.

As in the past, the COD, in conjunction with the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, reported on disciplinary actions at Faculty meetings. Committee members hope that this practice alerts faculty members to the need for consistent reporting of incidents to the COD or the Dean’s Office so that students become more aware of the ramifications of engaging in academic dishonesty.

This year, the Harold E. Edgerton Award Selection Committee reviewed 15 nominations for the award, which is given to an outstanding member of MIT’s junior faculty. After careful deliberation, the committee decided to award the honor to L. (Maha) Mahadevan, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who holds the Karl van Tassel Career Development Chair. He works in "classical nonlinear physics" and is distinguished by the range of peculiarly arresting topics that have attracted his attention – topics that raise issues in mechanics and physics, mathematics, and biophysics, and have applications in a still more extended set of specialties. He was also cited for his contributions as a teacher of MIT undergraduate and graduate students, and, through his carefully crafted contributions to journals such as Science and Nature, of a broader public audience.

The Committee on Faculty-Administration (CFA) continued its focus on issues arising at the time of faculty retirement and beyond. During the 1998—99 academic year, the committee’s focus was on clarification of Institute policies and faculty choices regarding retirement, and the appointment of emeritus faculty as Professor Without Tenure, Retired. In 1999—2000, this work was extended to include a review of services provided to retired faculty who do not hold such appointments. The purpose of the review was to gain an improved understanding of the ways that faculty relate to the Institute after retirement and to seek ways to increase the dignity attached to emeritus status as a contribution to retirement incentives and faculty renewal. In cooperation with the Provost’s Office, a detailed survey was carried out of Schools and departments concerning faculty behavior at end of career. Based on the committee’s analysis of these data, a memorandum was prepared for the Provost and Chancellor summarizing the current situation regarding services to retired faculty and recommended additions to these services.

Also, pursuing a recommendation by the 1998 Task Force on Student Life and Learning, which suggested strengthening faculty governance by streamlining its committee structure, the CFA carried out a review of both Faculty committees and committees to which faculty members are appointed by the President and the Corporation. This effort led to a recommendation to the Provost and Chancellor of small changes in the procedure for managing committees appointed by the President and Corporation. The changes would clarify the roles of these committees for the benefit of faculty and remove some faculty obligations that may no longer be needed.

The committee to select the James R Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award for 2000—01 had a number of meetings during the last academic year. Its conclusion, announced at the May meeting of the Faculty, was to present the 2000—01 Killian Award to Professor Jerome Friedman, Institute Professor and Professor of Physics, noting his very distinguished intellectual contributions to the field of physics and his outstanding abilities as a teacher, mentor, and colleague. The committee also welcomed the greater continuity provided by the implementation of the membership overlap of one of its members from one year to the next.

The Committee on the Library System (CLS) met seven times during the 1999—2000 academic year. After reviewing the state of the MIT Libraries, the committee concluded that the system is facing serious issues. The central issues are long-term underfunding of the library system, space master planning for the Libraries, and technology planning for the MIT system. Problems facing MIT’s Libraries include: the inadequacies of much of the Libraries’ physical space; MIT’s library staff are paid one-third less than their counterparts at peer institutions; MIT spends less than one-third as much per student on libraries as Stanford; and the Institute’s libraries house one-third of the collection in off-campus storage owing to lack of on-campus space, placing MIT in the bottom quartile among its peer institutions. At the same time, MIT’s heavily used collections are focused on the most expensive category of literature–science and technology–and the continuing growth of information technology adds to the Libraries’ cost of operation. The CLS members identified these issues as requiring serious attention and have recommended a substantial increase in MIT’s investment in its library system.

The Nominations Committee worked to develop a slate for the Standing Committees of the Faculty, replacing members whose terms had expired. In addition, the committee nominated Professor Jeffrey H. Shapiro to serve as Chair-elect of the Faculty. The committee emphasized identifying newly tenured faculty for committee slots, in the interest of introducing these colleagues to faculty governance. Emphasis was also place on offering opportunities to faculty members who had not served previously or recently. The committee’s slate was presented to the Faculty at the April meeting and approved without dissent at the May meeting.

During the 1999—2000 academic year, the Committee on Outside Professional Activities considered distance learning, first discussing some of the patterns currently in use both at MIT and elsewhere, and, then, expanding discussion to include issues relating to conflict of interest. The committee plans to continue its discussions of distance learning in the next academic year.

The Committee on Student Affairs (CSA) met on 12 occasions during the 1999—2000 academic year. Early in the term, the meetings focused on how to engage the Faculty more effectively in student life outside the classroom/laboratory and student life programming issues. Professor Paul Gray provided important retrospective insights to the committee, which were supplemented by interviews with Deans Margaret Bates, Katherine O’Dair, and Andrew Eisenmann, and Special Assistant to the Chancellor, Dr. Kirk Kolenbrander. In addition, the committee was updated on current capital projects by Ms. Victoria Sirianni, Director of Facilities, and reviewed the dining plan with Mr. Richard Berlin, Director of Dining.

During the second semester, a shift of direction for the committee came about as a result of the Strategic Advisory Committee’s (SAC) report to Chancellor Bacow. The Unified Proposal for the Residence System, which was commissioned by the Chancellor, revealed shortcomings in student governance structures as perceived by the students on the SAC. The report proposed the establishment of a Student Life Council with a purview that overlapped with that of the existing Committee on Student Affairs. To eliminate the possibility of redundant responsibilities, the Chancellor asked the CSA to consider the SAC proposal for a Student Life Council and conduct a self-assessment. The result was a unanimous proposal for a revised Committee on Student Affairs; the committee intends to present a motion to re-charter the CSA to the Faculty in the fall of 2000.

During 1999—2000, the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA) conducted a comprehensive review of the admissions process during 1999—2000, which was prompted by a large turnover in committee membership. The committee endorsed the procedures of the Admissions Office, which was judged to be fully competent and highly efficient, especially in the light of the dramatic increases in the numbers of applicants over the past several years without concomitant increases in staff. However, committee members agreed that a greater degree of faculty involvement is desirable and, to this end CUAFA, took steps to encourage greater participation by faculty in the entire admissions process. The result was the highest level of faculty participation in recent years, both in reading admissions folders and deciding whom to admit (so-called Roundup). This effort to involve faculty will be continued next year.

To a lesser extent, the operations of financial aid were studied by committee members. CUAFA discussed the growing level of merit aid being offered by other schools and the impact of this trend on MIT’s ability to attract the best students. CUAFA reaffirms MIT’s policy of need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid. However, CUAFA is uneasy about the growing cost disparity (now estimated to be in excess of $5000 per year) between MIT and its peer institutions. This has been further exacerbated by the decision on the part of some schools to exclude home equity when calculating of the family contribution. Accordingly, CUAFA supported the Dean’s Office request for a substantial increase in the amount of money allocated to financial aid by MIT.

In the coming year, CUAFA plans to confer with the newly appointed Director of Student Financial Services and her staff to develop a long-range strategy for MIT financial aid. Paramount in these discussions will be concerns over accessibility in the light of shifting demographics and quality, i.e., what effects the changing financial aid climate in the country are likely to have on the Institute’s continued ability to attract the best students. Also, CUAFA will take up the question of recruiting, i.e., what can be done to ensure that our applicant pool is richly stocked with students who are traditionally hard to attract to MIT.

The Committee on the Writing Requirement (CWR) was established by a vote of the Faculty in the spring of 1982 to oversee the undergraduate Writing Requirement. On March 15, 2000, the Faculty voted to replace the Writing Requirement with a new comprehensive Communication Requirement overseen by a subcommittee of the CUP. Consequently, 18 years after its creation, the Committee on the Writing Requirement is discharged by the Faculty, effective June 15, 2000. Members of the CWR supported the establishment of this new requirement and new governance structure. The committee is proud of its role in helping to develop this new curriculum that will provide all MIT undergraduates with substantial and sustained instruction and practice in writing and speaking.

During the final year of its existence, the CWR reviewed and endorsed the CUP Subcommittee’s proposal for the new Communication Requirement prior to the proposal being presented to the full CUP, the FPC, and the Faculty. The CWR also focused on activities to aid in the transition to the new Communication Requirement. First, a special subcommittee, constituted of CWR members and faculty from the School of Humanities and Social Science, evaluated the administration and efficacy of the online Freshman Essay Evaluation (FEE). After reviewing random sample essays and responses from over 30 freshman advisors, the subcommittee concluded that the online FEE was overall a valid and reliable instrument for assessing the writing abilities of entering students. The subcommittee did suggest several minor procedural changes, which have been implemented already.

The CWR also administered the two-year experiment, mandated by the CUP, requiring students receiving the score of Subject Required on the FEE to take a specified expository writing subject during their first year at the Institute. These students displayed significant problems in their ability to write clear and effective prose that are most sensibly addressed by an intensive writing subject early in their academic careers. The faculty of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Literature, aided by a special grant from the Chancellor, staffed an unprecedented number of sections, ensuring places both for students who were required to take one of these classes and others who simply wanted to improve their writing skills.

During the summer of 1999, the CWR formed a working group composed of Professors Winston Markey and Langley Keyes, Dean Bonnie Walters of the Office of Academic Services, Dr. Leslie Perelman and Ms. Madeline Brown of the Writing Requirement Office, and Ms. Jane Dunphy of the English as a Second Language Program. This group developed a straightforward and comprehensible procedure for reporting information on the revised Writing Requirement to freshman and their advisors. The committee is happy to report that there is nearly complete student compliance with this new requirement: of the 208 members of the Class of 2004 receiving a score of Subject Required, 204 completed a designated expository writing class during the 1999—2000 academic year.

Finally, the Committee compiled its policies and procedures for the governance of the current Writing Requirement as a reference for the new CUP Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement, which will now oversee the administration of the Writing Requirement and the transition to the Communication Requirement.

Sincere appreciation is extended to the following faculty members for their special contributions and service as appointed Chairs of the Standing and Special Faculty Committees during the past year: Paola Rizzoli (Academic Performance), Merton C. Flemings (Corporate Relations), Arthur C. Smith (Curricula), Stephen C. Graves (Discipline), Pauline R. Maier (Edgerton Award), Henry D. Jacoby (Faculty-Administration), Jean P. deMonchaux (Killian Award), John H. Lienhard (Library System), Triantaphyllos R. Akylas (Nominations), William L. Porter (Outside Professional Activities), Candace L. Royer (Student Affairs), Donald R. Sadoway (Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid), Suzanne Flynn (Undergraduate Program) and Winston R. Markey (Writing Requirement). Many thanks to Paul T. Matsudaira and Evelynn M. Hammonds for their service as Associate Chair and Secretary of the Faculty.

Steven R. Lerman, Anna Frazer

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000