The mission of the Office of the Associate Provost is to assist the Provost and other academic officers in carrying out academic and program support functions. The Office of the Associate Provost worked on the following activities in the past year.
The Office of the Associate Provost worked with the Ombudspersons, representatives from the Human Resources Department, and the offices of the Graduate and Undergraduate Deans to develop a protocol that will improve our grievance process and provide guidance and assistance to those who conduct investigations. We made considerable progress in drafting the guidelines, and the group will continue its work in 2001-2002, with the goal of developing a simple handbook, the Investigation Guide, and a concise process that will clarify how different areas of the Institute will conduct investigations.
The Child Care Committee, chaired by the Associate Provost, recommended the selection of Bright Horizons as the child care provider for MIT. This provider will operate the child care at Stata as well as the existing Technology Children's Center, Inc. (TCC) operations. The recommendation came during the summer and will be presented to the Academic Council for formal approval in the fall. The child care center in Stata represents a significant commitment to enhance child care and goes a long way to providing the 150 additional slots recommended by the Faculty Committee in 1999 chaired by Professor Leigh H. Royden. In addition to Stata, other sites are under consideration, but none yet has been chosen as a location to develop additional day care space.
Associate Provost reported to the faculty on the areas associated with implementation of the faculty vote on ROTC. No new progress was reported in our efforts to change the national policy or to improve the advocacy for changing that policy. There were no incidents where students were denied financial aid associated with any termination from ROTC. The Associate Provost pointed to a number of leadership initiatives that were started across the Institute, but as yet there was no formal program. These included initiatives where ROTC commanders played an active or leadership role.
A faculty committee chaired by the Associate Provost explored a set of issues related to intellectual property in the digital era. After consulting with faculty and various committees, the group generated a set of principles that should guide MIT's policies. The committee recommended that there be no change to policies and that the principles serve simply as guidelines for how faculty members in departments and laboratories consult and collaborate with each other, imposing upon them an obligation to seek permission from their department head when exceptions to these principles could occur. The committee will make recommendations for faculty review and action on this recommendation in the fall.
The Associate Provost investigated or supervised the investigation of five special cases this year. These cases involved both faculty and senior staff and included two cases carried over from previous years.
The Associate Provost along with Provost Robert A. Brown and Professor Nancy H Hopkins co-chaired the Faculty Diversity Council. The council was formed to identify ways of promoting increased recruitment, hiring, and retention of women and minority faculty. The committee organized its work in several areas including improving the search process by expanding the pipeline of potential candidates, improving retention, and improving faculty quality of life. The Associate Provost served as a member of the Quality of Life Committee, which pursued a number of proposals regarding faculty leave.
The Associate Provost collaborated with the faculty in generating a proposal for policy to provide a paid leave for junior faculty members between their second and sixth year. The aim is to provide a concentrated period of time when junior faculty members might pursue their work. The Institute will cover expenses associated with this program. Because some departments and programs already provide some relief to junior faculty in this regard, this new policy should be viewed as the minimum for all untenured faculty in the Institute. Some departments may want to provide a greater benefit than the one semester provided under this program.
The International Scholars Office (ISO) enables MIT faculty and staff to bring international researchers and professors to campus for a variety of purposes. The ISO advises on immigration matters, issues visa documents, and provides guidance, workshops, information booklets, and flyers on a wide range of issues relevant to the international scholar population. Weekly orientations are held for incoming scholars and family members. The ISO also engages in advocacy efforts to protect international educational exchange, prevent burdensome regulations, and clarify and improve related regulations and procedures. For the past six years, the ISO has benefited from the extremely helpful oversight of the Associate Provost, with invaluable assistance from Charlene Placido, Assistant Dean for Research. As Professor Phillip Clay moves from Associate Provost to the Chancellor position at MIT, ISO staff members are filled with gratitude for his excellent guidance.
MIT's International Scholar Population
The ISO served a total of 1672 international scholars who were affiliated with MIT during the period July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001, up from 1464 last year and 1369 the year before. The ISO also served these scholars' accompanying family members and other members of the MIT community. Over 60 percent of MIT's postdoctoral associates and fellows are foreign, as are over 50 percent of "visiting"; appointees. International scholars are fundamental to the global scope of MIT's research and teaching efforts, and represent a dynamic and diverse group. During the past year, international scholars came to MIT from 84 countries, with the highest numbers coming from People's Republic of China (194), Germany (179), Japan (168), Republic of Korea (112), France (96), India (89), Canada (80), the United Kingdom (72), Italy (67), and Spain (50). MIT is among the United States institutions hosting the most foreign scholars, ranking sixth nationally. More information can be found in the ISO's annual report. In the past year, the ISO worked closely with administrators in 73 departments, laboratories, and centers, and prepared the appropriate visa documents or petitions for incoming and continuing scholars and their families. The areas hosting the largest number of scholars are the following, in descending order: Chemistry; Biology; Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; Sloan School of Management; Mechanical Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Research Laboratory of Electronics; Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Center for Cancer Research; Brain and Cognitive Sciences; and the Laboratory for Computer Sciences. The majority of MIT's international scholars are sponsored on MIT's J-1 exchange visitor program. There were 1057 scholars under MIT's J-1 program sponsorship during the 2000-2001 period, and an additional 82 here through other J sponsors. There were also 224 scholars who were sponsored by MIT on the H-1B visa, reflecting a steady increase over 185 H-1B scholars in 1999-2000 and 148 in 1998-1999. The rest of the scholar population had other sponsors or nonimmigrant categories. (Note that some of the 1672 scholars held more than one visa status over the course of the reporting period.) The ISO also submitted 13 permanent residence petitions to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on behalf of MIT faculty members and upper-level researchers.
Primary Activities and Accomplishments
In order to advise the MIT community and this vibrant group of scholars, ISO staff members must be knowledgeable about complex, continually changing immigration laws and regulations and must coordinate MIT's needs, the scholar's unique qualifications and visa history, and regulatory realities. In addition to advising, preparing immigration documents, running a weekly orientation program, and providing extensive written and web-based information, the ISO again sponsored an annual tax workshop, using a new presenter who was well-received, and sponsored the annual fall International Open House for newcomers in partnership with the International Students Office. The ISO held workshops for new administrators and Human Resources, and further streamlined internal procedures.
Central to the ISO mission is ensuring that international researchers and faculty members are able to be affiliated with the Institute on a timely basis, in the desired capacity, and for the length of time desired by all parties. Each year, there are more variations in the kinds of affiliations individuals have with the Institute. This is a result of the increase in partnerships between MIT and industry, MIT's general increase in international partnerships and collaborations, and other factors. The ISO's goal is to be responsive and seek the best possible fit between somewhat archaic immigration regulations and current realities, while advocating for changes that would reduce unnecessary barriers and delays. The Institute is subject to increasing delays on the part of agencies involved in immigration-related processing, particularly the Immigration and Naturalization Service and Department of Labor. In addition, the J Exchange Visitor Program's transition to its new home in the Department of State continues to be incomplete, and many regulations and procedures need modernizing.
The ISO has many channels for remaining informed, discussing policies and procedures with colleagues within and outside MIT, and influencing federal legislation, regulations and policies relevant to MIT's international scholar population. Jack Crowley, Vice President for Federal Relations, remains key to furthering MIT's legislative efforts, and he and the Associate Provost provide critical guidance for a wide range of issues. The director has continued membership in the Consortium on Higher Education Immigration Issues, and both this group and the Ivy League Institutions Plus Three group provide helpful forums for discussion of common issues. ISO staff participation in monthly local meetings is supplemented by active involvement at professional conferences and working groups of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Dana Bresee Keeth, Director, was appointed to NAFSA's national Committee on Immigration Policy and Practice, and in that capacity serves as Chair of the Working Group on Exchange Visitor Issues. She contributed to a major proposal, now under review by the Exchange Visitor Program, to expand the time limit for exchange visitors and increase flexibility for intermittent visitors. She and Penny Rosser, Assistant Director, have also been proactive in attempting to influence H-1B related legislation and regulations. In a victory for the academic community, the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act was signed into law in October 2000. This act established important exceptions for institutions of higher education and certain other entities and increased flexibility for H-1B employees moving from one employer to another. Most notably, MIT and other institutions are finally exempt from the numerical limitation on the number of new H-1B petitions that can be filed annually. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor regulations published in December 2000 have created a number of new obstacles and have aggravated the long-standing mismatch between H-1B requirements and academic realities. In addition to mastering a complex body of new information, ISO advisors revised all H-1B related processes and checklists, seeking to ensure institutional compliance, minimize the burden on administrators, and enhance efficiency.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service continues to develop a statutorily mandated national system by which international offices will eventually be required to electronically track and report information on international students and scholars to INS. The "SEVIS" program (previously called "CIPRIS" and then "SEVP") is controversial, and MIT and peer institutions are closely monitoring related developments. INS will soon issue a rule imposing a fee on incoming students and exchange visitors, and the new bureaucratic hurdles are likely to add to delays already experienced by those seeking visas for entry to the U.S.
The ISO is continuing its efforts to implement a new computer system (for its database, issuance of government forms, and reporting purposes), update the office web site, and review and update intake forms used by administrators and incoming scholars. Another focus of attention, in conjunction with the International Students Office, is better delineating criteria for sponsorship of individuals who are engaged in degree programs overseas and who will be affiliated with MIT. Space is another concern. The Institute is converting the adjoining MIT conference room in 4-109 into office space, and the ISO is now using the new conference room in 12-196 for weekly orientations, in addition to using classroom space at peak times. The Associate Provost received a request that the ISO be moved to another location, in order to facilitate unification of other administrative offices. This request is still under consideration.
The ISO benefits from a dedicated staff. Continuing without change from last year are Dana Bresee Keeth, Director; Penny Rosser, Assistant Director; Jennifer Stephens, part-time Advisor to International Scholars; Sharon Ralston, Advisor to International Scholars; and Michael Welch, Administrative Assistant. At the end of February, Ivana Hrga-Griggs left for another position, and in April the ISO welcomed Mary Schrot as the newest Advisor to International Scholars.
More information about the International Scholars Office may be found online at http://web.mit.edu/scholars/.