MIT Reports to the President 1995-96



The past year witnessed significant change in the structure and operation of the Graduate School. Following twelve years of service as the Dean of the Graduate School, Professor Frank E. Perkins officially retired from the position at the end of August, 1995. His announcement in the prior academic year of his intention to step aside provided the Institute an opportunity to examine the existing administrative structure for undergraduate and graduate services in a coordinated manner. Accordingly, a faculty committee was established to undertake that review as a part of larger consideration of administrative services for all students. Deliberations were completed in May and the committee recommended that the Graduate School Office be retained as a separate operation and strengthened. The objective of this continuation was to establish a coherent structure representing the interests of graduate education at MIT.

During the following months, senior officials considered alternative ways in which to implement the committee's suggestions. In that period, Dr. Isaac M. Colbert was appointed as Acting Dean of the Graduate School and provided ongoing leadership for the work of the office.

As of January 1, 1996 the organization formerly known as "The Office of the Dean of the Graduate School" was renamed the "Graduate Education Office (GEO)." Several major personnel changes were also implemented, and the office was restructured to enhance its graduate mission:

These changes have simplified the structure by administratively moving serveral organizations that came into the Graduate School Office with Professor Perkins when he was originally appointed as Dean. The new orgnization has brought greater coherence to the central administrative functions supporting graduate education at MIT.


In addition to Professor Perkins' retirement, the office also said farewell to Jacqueline Sciacca, who retired at the end of September from her position as Fellowships Coordinator, and after more than thirty-five years of service. Ms. Sciacca's efforts established firm and trusting relationships between MIT and many Federal, foundation and corporate sources of financial support for graduate students. Mr. Brima Wurie is now serving on a part-time basis as the new Fellowships Coordinator, assisted by Mr. Edward Ballo and Ms. Julia Kent, both also on a part-time basis.

Also new to the office is Mr. George Brennan, who coordinates financial review and maintenance for the four hundred accounts overseen by the Graduate Education Office and its direct reports. Mr. Brennan came to the office with many years of experience in the private sector, as well as with significant experience in mainframe computing.

Finally, Mr. Daniel Langdale, formerly of the Financial Aid Office, was appointed as the new Assistant Dean for Recruitment, a significant staff addition to the human resources committed to the important task of recruiting women students and members of under-represented minority groups.


Several trends discussed in earlier Reports to the President have taken on added urgency during the past year. High among them is the continuing trend of funding agencies to replace full tuition payments with "cost-of-education allowances" that provide for far less than full tuition. This practice now appears to have become the general rule, placing a signifiant additional strain on internal financial resources because tuition shortfalls are typically subsidized via partial research assistantships.

Moreover, at least one major program, the AT&T Bell Labs Special Programs, has discontinued its fellowships while the parent company reorganizes into new configurations and then re-examines it corporate philanthropy programs. Additionally, Federal cost containment and deficit reduction concerns continue to place enormous pressure on programs supporting graduate education in non-science areas. A number of smaller programs administered through the Department of Education (i.e., Jacob Javits, Patricia Roberts Harris, and Grants in Areas of National Need), have highly uncertain funding for the coming year and may be eliminated outright in the anticipated budget authorization legislation. At best, we may hope for continuation of students who are currently funded through these programs but no new fellowships for the future. The impact on graduate education in humanities and social science areas at MIT may be devastating, unless new sources of revenue are developed.

While it remains too early to tell, these shortfalls may be offset in the long run by new revenues from a growing number of professional degree programs being designed and implemented throughout the Institute. It is not clear whether any of these dveloping new resources will be allocated to subsidies for research and teaching appointments, but that remains a possibility.


At the beginning of the past academic year, a reengineering team was established to undertake the training of graduate administrators and others in MITSIS functions. The team established an aggressive schedule, worked cooperatively with departments to implement training and quickly made appropriate program changes to improve MITSIS performance to produce the necessary functionality. By September, the team achieved a long awaited milestone, when each department and degree granting program became fully responsible for entry of graduate research and teaching appointments and of fellowship awards. During the past year of operation in this new mode, we observed the high degree of efficiency and accuracy with which departments have entered these actions. We have also confirmed our long-standing expectation that only a very few actions require intervention by Graduate Education Office staff. We remain delighted at this fundamental improvement in the administrationof graduate fellowships and assistantships, and we have every indication that departments are similarly pleased.


With the change in leadership of the graduate education function, Dean Colbert chaired the CGSP for the academic year, while Dean Litster sought faculty input about ways to improve the committee's structure and operation. To assist in the operation of the committee, and to improve operations, Dean Colbert appointed an Executive Committee of the CGSP, comprised of three senior members. This group met as needed to discuss potential agenda items and achieve consensus on which items warranted discussion by the full CGSP and which could be acted on with power by the Acting Dean. The Executive Committee remained active throughout the academic year, provided valuable input, and reduced the amount of time that CGSP members needed to spend in meetings.

During the past year, the CGSP reviewed and recommended approval of five new Master's Degree programs. In addition, the School of Management, recognizing important market trends, received CGSP approval for students in its Master's program to opt for receiving the MBA Degree rather than the traditional MS in Management.

Having reviewed and commented during the previous Spring Term on an "informal" proposal from the Schools of Engineering and Management for a joint Master's program in System Design and Mangement (SDM), the CGSP formally considered and approved the program during the Fall Term. Approval was granted for an initial one-year experiment, to begin with a pilot group in the Fall Term 1995 and follow with a full student compliment in the Spring Term 1996.

The CGSP also review and approved a proposal for a new Master's of Engineering program in Nuclear Engineering, which was also initially reviewed informally during the previous Spring Term and revised to address several issues and concerns.

The Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences proposed a very significant new Master's program, which represented the first professional program of its type offered within the School of Science. The CGSP reviewed and approved the Professional Master's Degree Program in Geosystems.

The CGSP reviewed and approved a Master's program in Medical Informatics within the Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

The CGSP reviewed and approved a Master's of Science program in Media Technology within the Program in Media Arts and Sciences.

As a part of its usual review of degree lists and end-of-term grades, the CGSP authorized a number of Dean's warnings and denials of further registration.

Finally, in an attempt to further adjust its operations in the direction of efficiency and greater effectiveness, members of the CGSP suggested a variety of ways to save time, make meetings more effective and identify key items that would engage the intellectual activity of the entire group. Deans Litster and Colbert hope to implement many of them during the coming academic year.


With the addition of Daniel Langdale to the Graduate Education Office, we have been able to expand our outreach efforts and initiate some new activities. The GEO remains committed to developing and implementing strategies to increase the representation of African American, Mexican American, Native American, and Puerto Rican graduate students at MIT. Despite an anticipated leveling or decrease in MIT's graduate population beginning as soon as AY98, we plan to sustain efforts to achieve a full 6% representation of minority students. This goal reflects the recognized national need for universities to develop and demonstrate a capacity to produce scientists, engineers and faculty from under-represented groups. Given recently publicized efforts to dismantle affirmative action outreach and to scale back regional if not national commitments to full inclusion, achieving this goal seems even more imperative.

Information Technology

During the past year our project to develop an interactive, multi-media recruitment tool was completed, and the tool, Graduate World at MIT, underwent it first serious "road test." When used in an appropriate setting, the application has already proven to be effective in garnering attention and in showcasing graduate activities of interest to potential majority and minority graduate students. We are in the process of adding material to the multi-media resource to make it more complete, and expect that it will be used heavily for the AY98 recruitment season.

Also, we have nearly completed a new Graduate Education Office home page on the World Wide Web. The organizational and personell changes that occurred mid-year resulted in a complete re-design and expansion of our home page, to include the International Students Office and the Graduate Student Council.

With the multi-media application and a home page, the GEO now has two important tools with which to expand its electronic outreach. We plan to place electronic versions of the application for the Minority Summer Research Program (MSRP) on the web, are exploring the possibility of putting the Practical Planning Guide in that format, and have already linked our MSRP web page with a national network of similar programs already linked together.

In addition, group distribution lists for national student organizations (National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, American Indian Students in Science and Engineering, etc.) and campus nets (Black Student Unions at MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Georgia Tech, etc.) are being used to widely disseminate information. Our 1995 pilot of this approach proved it to be successful enough to use more extensively, if it is followed by an aggressive program of personal calls. It is now a standard part of recruitment outreach, although the lists are obtained at a significant cost to the GEO. These activities will all be coordinated with the GEO Homepage directory that will inform interested students about relevant departments and laboratories, so that they can explore on their own.

MIT Summer Research Program

The MSRP completed its eleventh summer of operation, with a cadre of nineteen interns working in many different laboratories throughout MIT. Using funds from the first year of a three-year grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the program was successful in attracting students into a number of science departments. However, much the of funding for MSRP is earmarked for students in the chemical sciences, and more effort will be expended to expand the number of summer interns in those areas.

Student Involvement

Current Students participate in efforts to recruit new students. They are engaged in activities that capitalize on their intimate knowledge of the MIT experience and their ability to relate to and encourage those within their age cohort. Specifically, they are sponsored by the GEO to return to their alma maters for graduate school forums and seminars, attend national conferences as exhibitors or presenters, and participate in campus outreach activities including recruitment and yield telethons, graduate school forums, and undergraduate student mentorship.

We have recently installed additional telephone lines in the GEO main office specifically to support a new, year-long telephone outreach project. Current graduate student volunteers commit one or two hours at specified times in the evenings and on weekends to contact potential applicants and discuss their interest in MIT's graduate programs. Even in its pilot phase, this initiative appears to be highly successful in both reaching students and in motivating them to follow through with completed applications.


The ISO continues to provide an expanding set of services to international students. A significant and growing use of the ISO is for counseling students on a wide range of problems, especially as rumors abound about possible changes to U.S. immigration policy. Maintaining cognizance of potential and emerging issues, and translating appropriate information to international students who are uncertain about their future status, keeps ISO staff occupied.

As in prior years, the ISO provided two tax workshops for students and served a a distribution and information point for relevant IRS forms. While the seasonal impact of this service is significant, students continue to approciate the assistance they receive in complying with Federal regulations.

The Host to International Students Program, in cooperation iwth the Alumni Association, supported a number of parties to welcome new international students and to congratulate graduating students.

With the administrative reassignment to the Graduate Education Office, the ISO was able to update its technology base. The addition of new computers and related equipment has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of document production and access to necessary information. It has also increased the morale of staff. We hope to further improve ISO technical capacity with network installations and acquisition of new software to enhance the production of immigration forms.

Isaac M. Colbert

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96