Chair of the Faculty
In 2000-2001, 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 the President, once with the Chancellor, and several times with the Provost. The FPC used these opportunities to convey faculty opinions on a variety of topics including intellectual property policies, the proposal to establish OpenCourseWare, the status of women and minority faculty at MIT, research administration policies, and campus planning.
The FPC charged the Graduate Strategy Group, a subcommittee of the Committee on Graduate Student Policy, with reviewing examination and term regulations governing graduate subjects and approved the recommendations resulting from that review. The Task Force on Minority Student Achievement, which was charged jointly by the President and the Faculty Chair, reported regularly to the FPC on its progress. The committee reviewed and coordinated the work of other faculty committees. It approved the recommendations of the committee on the Undergraduate Program regarding pass/no record grading and advanced placement policies and considered proposals to re-charter the Committee on Student Affairs and the Committee on Corporate Relations. In addition, the FPC approved the establishment of one graduate degree program, which was forwarded to the Faculty for a vote.
In February 2001, the Graduate Strategy Group, a subcommittee of the FPC, concluded its review of exam and term regulations governing graduate subjects. As a result of this review, the FPC approved this addition to Section 2.54 of the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty:
When a student is unable to take a test that is held outside of scheduled class time owing to a conflict with another scheduled academic exercise or extracurricular activity, the student shall be allowed to take the test at another time.
This change was presented to the Faculty at its February Meeting and approved in March. The revised regulation took effect on July 1, 2001.
In the fall of 2001, the President and the Faculty Chair jointly charged a Task Force on Minority Student Achievement with assessing the performance of minority students at MIT and making recommendations on how their experience might be improved. The Task Force, chaired by Professor John Essigmann, met regularly throughout 2000-2001 and gathered extensive quantitative and qualitative data. The Task Force reported to FPC on its progress at several points during the year and is expected to present its final report and recommendations in Fall 2001.
In February, the FPC heard the final recommendations of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) on changes to pass/no record grading and advanced placement policy. Professor Robert Jaffe, chair of the CUP, conveyed the recommendations of the CUP and its subcommittee, which can be found online at http://web.mit.edu/faculty/reports/pnrap/. The recommendations addressed pass/no record grading, grading in the second year, prerequisites, and advanced placement credit. The FPC endorsed the recommendations of the CUP, which were then forwarded to the Faculty for approval.
In the spring, the FPC considered proposals to re-charter the Committee on Student Affairs and the Committee on Corporate Relations. The goal of these proposals is to reinvigorate the committees and ensure that their charge is relevant to the current administrative structure and the needs of the Institute. The FPC agreed that revisions to the charter of the Committee on Student Affairs (CSA) would strengthen its role in supporting the Office of the Dean for Student Life and respond to the restructuring of that office, but members felt that the specifics of the proposal warranted further discussion. The CSA will return to FPC in fall 2001.
With respect to re-chartering the Committee on Corporate Relations (CCR), the FPC agreed that the role of this committee in providing oversight for the Industrial Liaison Program was no longer relevant but felt that the proposal to disband the existing committee and establish an FPC subcommittee required further consideration. The Committee on Corporate Relations will continue discussion of its role in fall 2001.
The FPC approved a proposal to establish an S.M. in Science Writing, which was forwarded to the Faculty at its April meeting and approved in May.
The CUP Subcommittee on Freshman Pass/No Record Grading and Advanced Placement Policy submitted its report and recommendations to the CUP in late September 2000. The CUP engaged in extensive discussions with members of the faculty and student community throughout the academic year. The subcommittee, chaired by Professor Charles Stewart, made recommendations that formed the basis for four motions that were presented by the CUP to the Faculty in March 2001. In April, the Faculty approved a change in second-term freshman grading, to take effect in September 2002. Under the new policy, second-term freshman grades will be reported on the basis of A-B-C/No Record. Other actions taken by the Faculty in April included approval of a five-year experiment to allow sophomores to elect one "Exploratory Subject" each term, affirmation of the right of instructors to enforce prerequisite subjects, and recommendation to strengthen the oversight of advanced placement policy.
A permanent CUP subcommittee, the subcommittee on the Communication Requirement, was formed over the summer and began meeting in October 2000. The initial work of the subcommittee, chaired by Professor Steven Hall, was focused on implementation of the new requirement, particularly with respect to the administrative processes needed to support it. The subcommittee presented to the CUP its draft report to the Faculty in both January and February.
The CUP Working Group on Undergraduate Advising, chaired by Professor Mark Schuster, gave a preliminary report in March that called for CUP to take an aggressive role in undergraduate advising, and recommended the establishment of a set of standards. Throughout the spring term, the CUP worked to develop priorities for undergraduate advising and mentoring. In May, Professors Jaffe and Schuster met with all faculty undergraduate officers to discuss a draft position paper. Also in May, the Faculty approved a motion to include undergraduate advising as part of the formal responsibilities of the CUP as outlined in Section 1.73.2 of the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty. A draft charge to a CUP working group of undergraduate mentoring has been prepared; it is expected that this group will continue the work begun during 2000-2001.
CUP business in other areas included the following:
- The CUP heard presentations from 6.001 lecturer Professor Eric Grimson and Physics Professor Edmund Bertschinger about teaching innovations being introduced that eliminate some or all of the classroom lecture. In response to some concern about the elimination of face-to-face time between students and faculty, the chairs of the CUP, Committee on Curricula (COC), and FPC issued a letter to the faculty in April. The letter reminded faculty of the role of the COC in approving new subjects or changes to existing subjects, adding that the faculty committees intend to be especially careful in approving proposed subject changes when actual contact time is reduced.
- Members engaged in a series of discussions about the deliberations of the Council on Educational Technology and its Lifelong Learning Initiatives team. CUP discussions were influential in shaping the final form of the OpenCourseWare proposal.
- The CUP received several progress reports from Professor Kip Hodges as he launched a pilot freshman subject, "Solving Complex Problems (Mission 2004)." The CUP approved Professor Hodges' request that students enrolling in "Mission 2005" in the fall of 2001 be allowed to exceed the credit limit by three units.
- The CUP approved the continuation and expansion of the Visual Arts Cross Registration program with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Massachusetts College of Art.
- CUP members expressed enthusiasm for a proposal from Professor Alan Brody to create a Freshman Arts Program and asked that he return when the plan's fiscal aspects had been addressed.
- The CUP heard plans regarding the student exchange program of the Cambridge-MIT Institute.
Professor Leslie K. Norford chaired the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP), which reviewed 523 petitions during 2000-2001, a drop of four percent from the previous year. The change represents normal fluctuation: the 1999-2000 total of 547 was 2 percent higher than that of 1998-99. The number of petitions handled administratively by the chair and committee staff dropped from 229 to 161, in part because of the change in leadership of the committee. Although it was noted as a concern last year, the number of petitions in the category of "administrative neglect" decreased from 229 to 188. This year, fewer students (40) petitioned for late registration following a financial hold.
The other major form of Committee action consisted of reviews of end-of-term grades in January and June. These reviews led to 330 academic warnings and 38 required withdrawals. The number of warnings was 13 percent lower than the previous year and the number of withdrawals was six percent higher. As in the previous year, the number of warnings decreased monotonically from the first to the fourth year. Compared to the previous year, fewer seniors (six versus eleven) and more freshmen (nine versus five) were required to withdraw.
Table 1. End-of-Term CAP Actions (by Class Year)
The CAP chair worked closely with members of the CUP on two issues: implementation of the new Communication Requirement and a proposal to change the grading policy for second-term freshmen. The major issue with respect to the Communication Requirement was enforcement. It was agreed that when the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement determines that a student is behind in the expected progress of a single Communication-Intensive subject each year, it will enlist the help of the CAP in reviewing the student's record and taking appropriate action. For freshman grades, the major issue for the CAP was a review of those students in academic trouble at the end of the first semester and having the flexibility to keep what is expected to be a very small number of students on a second semester of pass/no record grading.
The Committee on Corporate Relations (CCR) was chaired by Professor Arthur B. Baggeroer. Formed at the same time as the Industrial Liasion Program (ILP), the CCR discussed in depth whether it has outlived its usefulness. The purpose of the committee was to provide oversight to the ILP, but in its maturity, that program no longer needs the help of the CCR. In meeting with the Chancellor and the FPC, it was concluded that faculty representation in industrial partnership negotiations might be better served through an FPC subcommittee. The details of the Subcommittee on Corporate Relations will be resolved in the 2001-2002 academic year.
The Committee on Curricula (COC) met 17 times during the 2000-2001 academic year. It approved proposals for new, canceled, and revised subjects, including 72 new undergraduate subjects, and was responsible for approving substantive curricular changes and upholding policy. The committee agreed to a revision of language regarding minors and thesis titles that appears on the student transcript and diploma.
The COC approved substantive curricular changes to the undergraduate curricula in Mechanical Engineering, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Political Science; the minor program in Music; a new version of the Physics General Institute Requirement, 8.02T Physics TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning)/Studio Project; and changes to the experimental capstone Institute Lab subjects in Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The COC reviewed student petitions to pursue second S.B. degrees and for substitutions to the General Institute Requirements. The committee upheld its policy, effective March 3, 2000, limiting the number of S.B. degrees to two and prohibiting graduate students from petitioning to pursue S.B. degrees.
Other committee business included:
- discussion and endorsement of the CUP's recommendations on pass/no record grading and advanced placement policy;
- clarification of the COC's role with respect to the new Communication Requirement including working with the HASS Overview Committee to understand the criteria and approval process for CI subjects and approve 83 Communication-Intensive (CI) subjects;
- interpretation of Faculty rule regarding the 3-subject HASS overlap with departmental major requirements;
- discussion of web-based instruction including approval of web-based subject, 8.224, Exploring Black Holes: General Relativity and Astrophysics; and
- determining credit allocation and equivalencies across curricula as part of the establishment of the CMI student exchange program.
The Committee on Discipline (COD) heard charges against nine students this year, eight of which were for academic and one for personal misconduct. In addition, one charge was withdrawn, and three remained to be heard during the summer. The sanctions for the charges heard were varied, ranging from the severe (withholding a degree, expulsion, and suspension) to informal (including strong reprimands and sanctions tailored to the specific charges and circumstances). The committee reviewed a number of petitions to remove disciplinary notations from transcripts, as well as a petition to be allowed to receive a withheld degree.
As in the past, the COD, in conjunction with the Office of the Dean for Student Life, reported to the Faculty regularly on the disciplinary actions. Committee members hope that this practice alert faculty members to the need for consistent reporting of incidents and increases student awareness of the risks they run when engaging in academic dishonesty.
The Harold E. Edgerton Award is given to an outstanding member of MIT's junior faculty. The selection committee reviewed 13 nominations this year and awarded the Edgerton Prize to Dr. Justine Cassell of the Media Laboratory and Dr. Seth Lloyd of Mechanical Engineering. The selection committee acknowledged that these two extraordinary candidates are possessed of complementary strengths, and it was decided to let them share the award in tribute to the breadth of Doc Edgerton's abilities. Dr. Cassell works towards developing the technology to permit natural forms of human communication and linguistic expression in the digital world. The interdisciplinary nature of her work is manifest in the interactions and support she has across several departments and schools, and it is also a feature of the courses she has designed and taught. Dr. Lloyd is the international leader in the field of quantum computing, as evidenced by his plenary presentations at critical conferences and his publications in the general and high-profile journals Science and Nature. Dr. Lloyd's stellar research record parallels his commitment to teaching and community.
The Committee on Faculty-Administration (CFA) explored a number of issues, some of which had arisen during the preceding year. Committee business included discussion of the Institute's standing committees and other issues of Faculty governance, intellectual property, faculty housing, the faculty reward structure, the impact of international partnerships on faculty priorities, and the possible restructuring of the MIT Faculty Club. The CFA did not form a final recommendation on the restructuring of the Faculty Club and will add this issue to next year's agenda.
One recommendation of the 1998 Task Force on Student Life and Learning was to streamline the Faculty committee structure. In 2000-2001, the CFA reviewed both faculty committees and Institute committees to which faculty members are appointed. The outcome of this effort was a set of recommendations to the Provost and Chancellor regarding reduction of faculty members' obligation to Institute committees.
The committee to select the James R. Killian, Jr., Faculty Achievement Award for 2001-2002 sent out a call for nominations in December 2000. It reviewed 12 nominations submitted over the past three years (many of them updated) and one new nomination. This year, the award was presented to Professor Erich P. Ippen, Elihu Thomson Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Physics. Professor Ippen is noted for his establishment of the field of femtosecond optics and for the breadth of the impact of his work on science, technology, and society. In addition, his abilities as a teacher, mentor, and colleague are held in the highest esteem. The overlap of one of the committee members from the previous year's committee again proved valuable.
The Committee on the Library System (CLS) met eight times during this academic year. In addition, the committee met with the Corporation Visiting Committee for the Library System and conducted extensive correspondence with members of the MIT community. Committee business included space planning and discussion of the impact of continued under-funding and information technology on the MIT Libraries.
The CLS continued to stress the need to increase substantially MIT's investment in its library system. The libraries must store 27 percent of the collection off-campus due to the lack of on-campus space and contend with the poor condition of much of the existing physical space on campus. The committee noted that MIT spends on libraries one-third as much per student and library staff are paid one-third less than librarians at peer institutions. Yet, MIT's collections are focused on the most expensive category of literature (science and technology) and are very heavily used by the community. The continuing growth of information technology in the libraries adds to the cost of operation but will not substantially reduce the space needs. After considering these various issues, the CLS has recommended to the administration that MIT build a new Science and Engineering Library with integrated facilities supporting student life and learning. This new library might be located on north of Vassar Street and east of Massachusetts Avenue. The committee also urges that the Hayden Library be renovated concurrently as an integrated Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Library. Construction of these facilities should begin within five to 10 years. The estimated cost of these two projects, $130 million, might be raised by setting these projects as priorities for the current capital campaign. The full scope of this committee's activities for 2000-2001 were documented in the collected proceedings.
The Committee on Nominations worked this year to restore the terms of service on faculty committees to two years. Several colleagues agreed to extend their terms by a year or two allowing for some continuity within each committee. At its May meeting, the Faculty approved 45 names for service in the faculty governance system.
In early December, the Committee on Nominations learned that Professor Jeffrey H. Shapiro, who had been confirmed as the Chair-Elect of the Faculty during the preceding spring, had been selected to become the Director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics. The committee was pleased when Professor Stephen C. Graves accepted its invitation to become the next Chair of the Faculty, and his appointment was confirmed at the March meeting of the Faculty. Professor Evelynn M. Hammonds agreed to continue in her role as the Secretary of the Faculty, and Professor Jacquelyn C. Yanch was elected the new Associate Chair.
During 2000-2001, the Committee on Outside Professional Activities (COPA) held discussions to reevaluate its role. COPA debated the best way to be of service to the MIT faculty, particularly in regard to coordinating its agenda with the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Intellectual Property and Conflict of Commitment. The other major topic covered in committee discussions was faculty supervision of theses and sponsored research projects under unusual conditions. COPA members discussed a situation wherein a thesis student was part of the sponsoring organization, and the faculty member's research is sponsored by an organization in which s/he has a substantial financial or managerial interest.
The Committee on Student Affairs (CSA) formulated a proposal to re-charter. In light of the recent focus on undergraduate life, the CSA proposed aligning itself with the Office of the Dean for Student Life in a way that would make it possible for the committee to focus on policy issues. In the past the CSA has functioned as a clearinghouse for student concerns, but it could play a more active and substantive role in improving student life. This topic was discussed at a meeting of the FPC in April, and the CSA will return to the FPC in the fall of 2001 with a revised proposal.
Administrative changes within the committee included appointing staff support; establishing a permanent, biweekly meeting time; and arranging regular meetings between the CSA Chair and the Dean for Student Life. These meetings led to the setting of the CSA agenda, based on the issues and priorities defined through discussion with the Dean.
One outcome of the committee's work was the formation of an ad hoc subcommittee of junior faculty since their perspective is not represented on the CSA. This subcommittee has three young and/or junior faculty members who meet with the CSA. The committee named liaisons to various other working groups and committees at the Institute that wanted faculty representation (e.g., the Campus Alcohol Advisory Board and the Committee on Dining). These faculty members need not be members of CSA, but they extend the reach of CSA by representing faculty perspective and reporting back to the committee when input and discussion are necessary. The CSA also focused on issues related to community building vis à vis student-faculty interaction as recommended in the report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning.
During 2000-2001, The Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA) conducted a comprehensive review of financial aid practices, particularly in regard to the cost disparity (now estimated to be in excess of $5,000 per year) between MIT and its competitors. Working with the Director of Student Financial Services and the Student Financial Services staff, CUAFA helped to implement a number of changes in the way MIT interacts with students in need.
In 1999-2000, CUAFA had renewed its commitment to helping MIT continue to attract the best students, this past year's discussions of financial aid practices were guided by concerns about accessibility and shifting demographics. Although funding has been increased to allow a reduction in the self-help level by about $2,000, the Institute's competitors have also intensified their efforts to attract top students from families with incomes in the $50,000-100,000 range. Accordingly, CUAFA continues to support the request for substantial increases in the level of financial aid that is made available.
CUAFA reviewed the facilities in the offices of Student Financial Services and found them to be inadequate for conducting private discussions of financial matters with families. The committee expressed concern that these facilities would project a negative or insensitive image of MIT. CUAFA urged that this situation receive immediate attention.
On the admissions front, CUAFA discussed the question of recruiting, particularly with regard to students who are traditionally hard to attract to MIT. CUAFA renewed its effort to encourage faculty to read freshman applications, with the result that 2000-2001 saw the highest faculty participation to date. For the second consecutive year, the admissions cycle saw a reduction of one percent in yield, to 58 percent. CUAFA will work with the Admissions Office to study the reasons for this decline.