The Chancellor's Office was reinstituted by Dr. Charles M. Vest, president, on August 1, 1998. In recreating the office, the president assigned a number of responsibilities to the Office of the Chancellor. These include broad oversight for undergraduate education, graduate students, student life, and international initiatives. The chancellor participates with the provost and other senior officers in resource and strategic planning, enrollment management, budgeting, and management of selected Institute large-scale initiatives.
The Chancellor's Office is committed to advancing the goals outlined in the 1998 Report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning. In the simplest terms, the report states our goal of advancing and enhancing the environment for learning, research, and community. In achieving this goal, we aim to explore new ways to support teaching and learning, improve campus facilities, enhance student life programming, promote new educational initiatives, improve the residential communities and support for student health and well-being.
This report outlines our continued efforts in meeting these goals. The reader will also want to review the detailed reports from the dean for student life, the dean for undergraduate education, and the dean for graduate students as well as the reports submitted by other major initiatives cited in this section.
In 2002-2003, we completed the first year of our new policy of having all freshmen on campus. We made further enhancements in first-year campus life in the effort to support a greater emphasis on helping students make a stronger connection to academic and campus life. Some of the key highlights include:
- Completion and occupancy of two new residence halls—Simmons Hall (for undergraduate students) and Sydney and Pacific (for graduate students)
- Opening the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center as a state-of-the-art facility for serious athletes as well as others who have fitness or recreational interests
- Implementation of the Communication Requirement and the renovation of classrooms, dining halls, and other facilities
- This past year was also the first year that we had set aside an additional $600,000 for student activities. These funds support increased programming for student life activities for both undergraduate and graduate students.
We continued the implementation of the Mental Health Task Force Report (2000), with support for additional staffing and programming in the Medical Department and new resident life associate positions in the Office of the Dean for Student Life.
By the spring of 2003, it was clear that strategic and financial planning would be critical to making continued progress as resources become more constrained. Budget planning and review started in spring 2003 featured an assortment of the programs and priority setting for 2003-2004 and beyond.
In the next sections, we have provide highlights of work in the areas for which the chancellor has line responsibility. We report on other activities in which the chancellor plays a role or took leadership.
The Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE) provides excellent leadership in making many enhancements in undergraduate education. The dean has advanced undergraduate academic services and student exchange services continues to work with the Office of the Dean for Student Life (DSL) and others in establishing community along with teaching and research as core elements of an MIT education. System improvements in financial aid and program review have been advanced. The dean chairs the Enrollment Management Group. This year a major focus was the arrival of first-year students in fall 2002 with preassigned and uncrowded rooms.
DUE continued its effective collaboration with the Committee on the Undergraduate Program on a number of important educational issues and opportunities. These included student advising and mentoring, the implementation of the new Communication Requirement, and the change in grading (to Pass/No Record) for freshmen. The implementation of the Communications Requirement continues to go well and represents a noteworthy collaboration between DUE, faculty, and the undergraduate proponents in each department. Most departments have created communication-intensive subjects that will be part of their requirements for majors.
Listed below are a few areas that represent major achievements.
- The Edgerton Center continues to serve as a wonderful connection to local science education and to service learning activities for MIT undergraduates. More than 2,000 local K-12 students visited the center to participate in special programs and in hands-on science activities.
- The MIT IDEAS Competition supports MIT students who work in teams to develop their creative ideas into products and processes that serve individuals and communities, locally, nationally, and internationally. The IDEAS Competition goes beyond the emphasis on developing business plans to building a venue to developing strategies for service and as such provides a wonderful venue for harnessing student creativity as well as passion for addressing community, national and international projects. The students get support from faculty, staff, and industry professionals as they work through a needs analysis, the product development process, and team-building.
- The Interphase Program is run by the Office of Minority Education. The program provides effective academic enrichment programs to enhance matriculation, promote higher retention and greater excellence in underrepresented minority (African American, Hispanic, and Native American) students' academic and general educational achievements, and to encourage their pursuits of higher degrees and professional careers. In response to a legal challenge, the Institute decided in 2002–2003 that the program would no longer be racially exclusive. Non-minority students were part of the program recruited in spring 2003 and enrolled in summer 2003. In addition to faculty and current students, MIT will consult with alumni and sponsors on further changes to improve the program which has been in place for more than 25 years.
- Terrascope is the newest freshman learning community. It is part of a larger new research focus on the earth as a system that we should better understand if we are to manage the environment in a sustainable manner. Terrascope provides an exciting and integrated first-year experience by emphasizing the role of interdisciplinary collaboration in tackling complex, real-world problems. In addition, the program uses the earth system as a context to explore the relationships among disparate concepts introduced in the rest of the first-year curriculum, particularly the science core. The theme for Terrascope in 2002–2003 was the Amazon rainforest. The program faculty leaders are Professors Sally Chilsom and Kip Hodges.
- The Cambridge-MIT Institute student exchange program continues to thrive. This past year, 45 students from each institution took part in the yearlong exchange. We have learned a lot about how best to support exchange students at both institutions, and we expect the number of students participating will stabilize at somewhat less than 50 per year in each direction. As anticipated, both institutions are learning important lessons about their educational cultures and traditions, and students are having the valuable experience of studying and learning in different modes and styles.
- The d'Arbeloff Fund for Educational Excellence and other resources continue to spur important efforts in educational innovation. During the past year, in addition to making decisions on many new proposals, the Dean's Office and faculty committees have paid special attention to encouraging sustainability for more mature projects that appear to be successful.
- The Enrollment Management Group, chaired by the dean, recommends class size and targets the undergraduates. The goals for 2002-2003 were to maintain a no-crowding situation for undergraduates while keeping enrollment levels consistent with our capacity to provide the type of education we value. The target was 1,020 for the Class of 2007. The group also recommended maintaining student financial aid at realistic and competitive levels in a constrained financial situation. This included making small adjustments in self-help and in self-help levels for freshmen.
The 2002-2003 school year was a very exciting and productive year for Division of Student Life. Several themes ran throughout the year: shared services, improved management and systems, and greater collaboration. The changes both improved services to students and increased their efficiency. We have been working hard to meet these goals and this report reflects the significant progress. Students have responded well to these changes.
This report contains the accomplishment or the advancement of many goals. I want to highlight a few key ones. The Division of Student Life:
- Oversaw the successful transition of all freshmen living on campus for the first time in MIT's history and eliminated overcrowding in the undergraduate halls at the same time
- Opened two new residence halls: Simmons Hall, including its new Dining Program, for undergraduates, and Sidney-Pacific for graduates graduate students
- Invested $5.8 million in maintenance and renovations of our other residence halls plus $2.5 million for the Next House dining renovation and $3 million to replace windows in Baker
- Opened and managed the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center and made renovations to other athletic facilities
- Implemented the recommendations of the Dining Board resulting in a major, new, multifaceted dining program on campus
- Completed the physical makeover of sections of the student center, including the opening of the new Latino Cultural Center
- Oversaw a new FSILG recruitment plan as well as the implementation of the FSILG financial transition plan
- Continued the BASICS program and began a normative marketing campaign on alcohol education
- Distributed $400,000 of the new Student Life fee monies to student groups and organizations on campus. These funds came with increased staff support for programming and evaluation.
- Continued the process of reforming our student discipline system
- Improved communications with students and student leaders by creating a DSL web site, expanding the number of advisory committees, and scheduling routine meetings with the various student governance groups
- Centralized responsibility for all DSL financial functions, and began the integration of these functions into a common "shared services center"
There is a new and shared sense of productivity and achievement throughout the division, as well as a heightened level of morale on the part of staff. This enhanced sense results from outstanding hires, staff development, and in improved communications with students, and leadership on the part of the dean and his senior staff.
These achievements, while important, are not as important as improved management and process enhancements. Each of the major units greatly improved the staffing for operations and support. Both student surveys and benchmarks for management underscore the tremendous progress. While there are some areas that remain to be improved and are part of our plan for 2003–2004, the progress in the past year has been excellent.
Another major point in this is improvement in process, especially in our communications. We are especially pleased with the effectiveness with which the division has managed communications with students, between the division and among student groups (culminating in a first spring retreat with student leaders.) The work done in 2002–2003 represents a solid foundation for creating even more progress in 2003–2004.
Finally, there is a sense of momentum building as we begin the 2003–2004 school year. Despite the strategic planning begun in spring 2003 to anticipate the more limited resources going forward, there is a sense that many of the goals identified in the past are being achieved.
Three initiatives from the Chancellor's Office augmented the work of the division. First, the Chancellor's Office provided a number of small grants to support student leadership development. The grants were both to student groups and to DSL offices that work closely with student programming. One of the grants was given to support work with student government committees and governance organizations (e.g., IFS, GSC, UA, DormComm, etc.) The aim of the initiative was to enhance leadership development as part of the student experience and assist student leaders in working with each other and with the administration.
Another major area for engagement in this year is the work with the fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. At the beginning of the year, the chancellor sent an open letter on the status of the groups, MIT's stake in their viability, and challenges for the future. President Vest appointed a task force to develop recommendations for improving the groups and insuring their continued strength as communities and as sources of housing. The task force—chaired by Professor Patrick Winston and senior associate dean Steve Immerman—is composed of faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
The Institute has set aside one million dollars over three years, starting with 2002–2003 to support the costs associated with transitional issues. What was also clear during this year was that the transition issues that these groups face are not entirely limited to the transition issues related to freshmen living on campus. Indeed, the challenges that groups face vary considerably, from a number of groups that are in a very strong position in on a variety of dimensions—connection to alumni, chapter leadership, relations with nation chapters, discipline, a strategic plan, effectiveness of their rush program, and their ability to present a positive role model to the rest of the campus. Other groups face varying degrees of challenge on these dimensions. Our goals are to help all FSILGs remain or become viable and thus continue the tradition of students having a broad range of choices for where to live.
Finally, 2002–2003 was the first year for a full implementation of the Housing Strategy Group established by the chancellor and chaired by deans Larry Benedict and Isaac Colbert. This group of administrators, staff, students, and faculty officers worked to explore the financial and operational issues associated with housing and made recommendations regarding setting rents, rules and regulations, selection criteria, and other matters. The group worked very effectively in advising on short-term budget and operational issues but also on long-term strategic issues including a new graduate housing lottery, a policy for allocation of housing between new and returning graduate students, refining the rent-setting policy, and schedule of rents among the various residence halls.
Dean of graduate students Isaac Colbert and his colleagues do an outstanding job in supporting graduate students and in managing some of the administrative issues associated with their experience at MIT. They do their job largely through collaborations with academic and administrative units, and by working with individual faculty. Highlights for the past year include:
- Working with the Association of Alumni and Alumnae, the dean planned and implemented a series of receptions and presentations around the country focused on graduate alums that are fast becoming a majority of the living alumni/ae of the institute.
- Working with the vice president for research and associate provost, the dean sought to improve the resources and quality of life for graduate students. Special focus in 2002-2003 was in stipends, housing, medical and dental insurance, and campus activities.
- The dean worked with selected departments in identifying new and more effective ways to recruit minority students. The result of efforts in 2002-2003 was to boost applications these departments. The lessons from these efforts will be shared with other departments.
- The Collaborative Leadership Network (c-network) organized by the dean is composed of offices across campus convened by the dean to explore how better to provide services and support to graduate students by better understanding the roles, approaches, and programs that exist across the member offices that touch upon the lives of graduate students.
- The dean for graduate students and the associate dean for international students assist international graduate students in dealing with the myriad of rules and other changes in the regulatory environment relating to visas. The office was effective in developing and conveying the right signals to the community about how to support international graduate students and maintain a sense of community. This effort was in close collaboration with the Committee on Community discussed below.
- The office oversaw the implementation of SEVIS (the database for federal documentation of international student enrollment). Together with the International Scholars Office, the dean's staff played a key in professional organization giving feedback on the system and advocating for openness in how we treat international students.
- The Dean's Office works with a variety of groups to advance graduate life. The Dean's Office partnered with graduate students leaders in a number of initiatives. A "GradPostDocFamily" group was formed to bring together the Institute services that support families. These include MIT Medical, Spouses&Partners@MIT.edu, the MIT Center for Work, Family and Personal Life (formerly the Family Resource Center), and the MIT Off-Campus Housing Office.
The Chancellor's Office, working with the Community of Community, appointed by the chancellor, took leadership in promoting a number of activities and initiatives to support community building and the enhancement of the Institute environment. The first activity was a remembrance of September 11. This included several events, speakers, and opportunities for remembrance held on September 11, 2002. The goal of the effort was not only to remember but to also bring closure to what had been a long and difficult year in which major questions were raised about the geopolitical environment. There were major challenges to our community based on changing rules and concerns about international students, openness, and security. Hundreds of members of the community participated in these activities, which also included the retirement of a temporary memorial.
The aftermath of September 11 created a number of concerns within the community about how we could effectively maintain the community in the wake of continuing tensions. The Committee on Community addressed some of these issues. The committee was composed of faculty, students and administrators. The committee met throughout the year starting during the fall term. Kirk D. Kolenbrander, assistant to the president and chancellor, and Francine J. Crystal, an organization development consultant in the Human Resources Department, ably staffed this committee and served as major resources in carrying out some of its day-to-day activities. One of the first items on the agenda was to address the concerns of graduate students about increasing difficulties with visa problems as well as a new registration requirement that affected students from 28 countries.
The committee organized a number of workshops to assist students in understanding the process and to support them as they went through the effort. The committee also sponsored an effort to make members of the broader MIT community aware of the issues international student faced and to emphasize our commitment to these students who were faced with a stressful process during a part of the year where there were the major academic responsibilities as well as the challenge of coping with holiday travel restrictions.
The other work of the committee focused on various activities to help the community anticipate the consequences of an impending war in Iraq on campus life. The community developed a web site, sponsored forums, held briefings for residential staff, and encouraged others to mount events. The committee also benefited from volunteer activities on the part of dozens of students, faculty, and staff who agreed to prepare for facilitation roles the committee had outlined as important. While the timing of the war and the limited period of the intense phase of the war made some of the anticipated activities unnecessary, the mobilization represents an infrastructure for ongoing efforts to maintain community.
The chancellor sponsored a leadership initiative to respond to a growing interest on the part of students in leadership development. A working group on leadership developed the goals for the program. A request for proposals was issued, and 10 small grants were awarded. The grants provided opportunities for students to:
- Gain knowledge about the importance and significance of leadership, the meaning of leadership, and why it is important to their personal and career development
- Build skills in particular ways of personal presentation, action, communication, reflection, etc.
- Reflect on the experience the students have in a variety of internships, student governments roles, athletic and cultural roles where they practice what they learn about leadership and need an opportunity to discuss and explore their experience with others
Most of the grants were for numbers the first two items mentioned above, and for an assessment of the needs that will inform future grants. With the new initiative in 2002–2003, much of what we did—exploring interests, identifying programs and interests; and planning—included the active involvement of student leaders, staff, and several faculty members.
Besides the chancellor's initiative, leadership was the theme in other parts of MIT—from the Sloan School, to the School of Engineering, to the Department of Athletics. The initiative underscored the strong interest of students in skill-building and the presence of many individuals in the community whose experience and skills ought to be more broadly available to students.
The Chancellor's Office along with the Provost's Office provides senior leadership to a variety of initiatives at MIT. The details of these initiatives are elsewhere in this report. The ones particularly associated with the chancellor are: Cambridge-MIT Initiative, the Ford-MIT Alliance, the Media Lab initiatives in Asia and Europe, and the Merrill Lynch Partnership, among others. Please refer to the specific section of each for the detailed activities in the past year.
Our main goal in 2002–2003 was to review the experience of our seven industrial partnerships. The chancellor along with the provost and the chair of the faculty appointed a committee of faculty to review industrial partnerships—Amgen, DuPont, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, Merck, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, and Nippon Telephone and Telegraph—and to address the following questions:
- Have there been problems or risks posed by these arrangements?
- What are the benefits of working with corporations through such partnerships?
- What recommendations would be appropriate for future agreements?
The committee, chaired by Glen L. Urban, professor of management of the Sloan School, with the support of Karl F. Koster, director of Corporate Relations reported on their work in the spring of 2003.
In the words of the committee:
"The partnerships have generated significant benefits for MIT. They have given MIT an alternative steady source of research funding for faculty, supplementing government funding and shorter-term industrial support. Agreements have followed existing MIT policies. Students have benefited from closer contact with corporate researchers, exposure to 'real problems,' as well as from fellowship grants provided through the partnerships. The research support has permitted an effective balance between theory and relevance, with the companies supplying challenges they face and managerial needs along with funds."
Finally, the report reinforces the efficiency of these initiatives because they highlight the strategic partnership between MIT and the companies and the mutual benefits that are part of the agreements. This is an enhancement over what would normally be available even for comparable amounts of money in the standard research contract. The enhancements include opportunities for faculty to do independent research as well mission oriented research, support for endowments, and fellowships, internships, access to laboratories and data for education, and engagement with industry leaders in the framing of important problems facing with industry leaders. While the report did not look at the benefit of these partnerships from the point of view from their companies, they do help us understand the contributions in a national context.