Reports to the President 1994-95
After assuming this position on October 1, 1994, two activities shared center
stage for the rest of the year: revising and updating appointment, tenure, and
promotion sections of Policies and Procedures and assessing opportunities for
a more strategic approach to international initiatives. Work in each of these
continued into FY `96. The progress made in the past year is summarized
Broad faculty support exists for the following argument. MIT's core mission is
to foster education and advance knowledge. MIT is a national institution
rooted in American culture and tradition. It is also an international
university because of the substantial cross-fertilization our institution has
through students and faculty members from other parts of the world. Our core
mission requires that we maintain the preeminent leadership we have in science
and technology research and offer a first rate education to graduate and
undergraduate students that incorporates global perspectives. We aim to select
world class faculty, research staff, and students, and to support them fully in
the pursuit of their work.
If we are to maintain our leadership, it will be important for us to engage in
international activities in some of the many areas in science and technology
where we have leadership. We need to collaborate with universities committed
to such quality leadership, with governments and industrial sponsors who will
support us and with international science and technology organizations
committed to this pursuit of knowledge.
We believe that we can best advance our mission when we collaborate with peer
institutions in other parts of the world. These should be institutions of high
quality committed to the pursuit of ideas honestly, and committed to
supporting faculty and student initiatives. These institutions and other
sponsors should likewise be committed to assuring the appropriate protection of
intellectual property, respect for human rights, and the fair treatment of all
individuals regardless of race, sex, religion, or national origin.
Institutions should likewise be committed to the free exploration and
expression of intellectual ideas, including academic freedom for faculty,
staff, or students.
We expect in cooperating with other institutions, governments, and sponsors
that there are mutual benefits to be gained. Our agreements should incorporate
a consideration for mutual benefits and for reciprocity consistent with other
objectives. Activities undertaken by MIT in other countries shall be
consistent with US law and foreign policy though MIT will not serve or appear
to serve as an instrument of the US government or its agencies.
Access to MIT should be closely managed. MIT has a substantial investment in
place. This investment has been made by the American people, by the US
government, and private donors, and represent an important national resource.
The maintenance and renewal of this resource by those who take advantage of it
are important challenges.
The points noted above are not yet policy but areas of preliminary
agreement. Further work continues into 1995-6 to formalize and
institutionalize an oversight function for international initiatives.
- MIT is an open university. International agreements shall incorporate the
point that MIT will not agree to secret research. While appropriate
consideration may be given to the timing and framing of public announcements
and disclosure, the standard of openness applies to all work carried out under
- Faculty, students, and staff participation in international initiatives
abroad shall not be restricted based on race, sex, religion, cultural or
national origin, or sexual orientation.
- MIT faculty are entrepreneurial individuals. This has historically been
the case and has served us well. This feature also applies to international
settings where faculty maintain a number of individual consulting civic and
professional relationships. While faculty should take care to avoid the
appearance of involving or committing MIT in such personal relationships, this
agreement does not otherwise prevent faculty from undertaking those
relationships. Indeed, it is MIT's policy to encourage faculty participation
in the scholarly and professional worlds in which they participate.
- In developing international initiatives, faculty should explore whether a
prior agreement with a government, instititution, or company exists for a given
country or even specific institution or sponsor within the country. To the
degree possible, different initiatives in the same country should be
- Occasionally there may be conflicts between MIT's national and
international roles. While we attempt to minimize such conflicts, it should be
MIT policy that the conflict be resolved in favor of our national role and
responsibilities in the U.S. When there is a conflict between MIT's interest
and the interest of our faculty, students, and staff and the interests of
others in conflicts, these shall be resolved in favor of MIT interests and the
interests of their faculty, staff, and students.
- International initiatives are to be self supporting and contribute toward
improving MIT's financial status. Financial strength is critical in
maintaining and expanding the investment that makes the research we undertake
of such high quality. Schools and labs are encouraged to take a similar
investment approach in developing initiatives.
- Notwithstanding the previous point, MIT's role as a first rate university
imposes an obligation upon us to apply knowledge on the solution of problems in
the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Initiatives may be undertaken from time
to time with a specific public service agenda. This public service agenda is
not meant to suggest, however, that educational and research opportunities are
to be ignored, that the activity is not rigorous, or that it is to be done at a
financial cost to the Institute. The activities may be undertaken to reflect
the values and goals broadly shared by the MIT community to advance the well
being of people elsewhere in the world. Such initiatives should be supported
externally to cover the full cost. They should also be of sufficient depth and
duration to have a substantial impact to justify the diversion of faculty
resources and time. Such initiatives, while important, should not be done to
the extent that faculty time is diverted from other pursuits to advance the
academic and research mission of MIT.
The ideal attributes of any departmental faculty, taken as a group, are
scholarly achievement, creativity, professional competence and leadership,
ability and desire to teach, and willingness to cooperate with other
departments in promoting the work and welfare of the Institute as a whole. It
is the responsibility of the administration to ensure, within any department,
not only a proper balance among these activities but also the maintenance of
each at the highest level, together with suitable recognition of individual
achievement and service. It is also important that the process be well
understood by junior faculty and by departments and committees.
The sections under review outline the Institute's procedures for appointment,
promotion, and tenure for the members of its regular faculty and academic
staff. Each appointment or reappointment to the faculty should be based on the
reasonable belief that the appointee is an outstanding candidate among his or
her peers and that each such action advances the MIT's educational mission.
The aim of the process is to insure that candidates for appointment, promotion,
and tenure receive a thorough and fair review of their qualifications and
accomplishments. The process outlines the various roles of the candidate's
department, school and the Academic Council. Discussions with department
heads, deans and faculty committees began to revise section of the APT sections
to achieve several goals:
- review the clarity of procedures in light of a desire to give faculty a
clearer sense of the process and standards for appointment, tenure and
promotion to the faculty.
- define and revise leave policies to make them consistent with new federal
law and with institute goals for assisting faculty in meeting personal and
- clarify academic staff appointment process, ranks, rights, and
responsibilities associated with each appointment.
These discussions continue. Final revisions will be included in the new
Policies and Procedures scheduled for publication in early 1996.
Phillip L. Clay
Reports to the President 1994-95