MIT Reports to the President 1997-98
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. In the past year the Office has focused on several major areas. In addition to the areas discussed below, the office reviewed alcohol policy review and produced an analysis of the housing policy.
The Associate Provost chairs the Implementation Team that President Vest established to carry out the April 1996 vote of the faculty on ROTC. Other members of the team include: Professors William Watson and Kim Vandiver, Dean Margaret Bates, and Ms. Sarah Gallop of the President's Office. Col. Rutley who commands the AFROTC unit collaborated with the team.
The faculty voted that MIT should pursue a series of actions to broaden access of students to campus ROTC programs, to support students who are disenrolled from ROTC due to sexual orientation, and to continue to advocate for national change. The desire to pursue these actions was based on two important principles which informed the vote and framed the Implementation Team's work. First, MIT is committed to a policy of non-discrimination in educational and other campus programs. Second, MIT is committed to preparing students for national service and for effective leadership. ROTC plays an important role both at MIT and on a national level. MIT recognizes that the leadership skills derived from the ROTC Program are valuable and believes that these benefits should be available to all interested civilian students.
Subject to further review, the faculty voted that continued participation in ROTC was appropriate on the understanding that MIT will seek the eventual end to discriminatory policies and, within the limits of the law, develop modifications in the ROTC program that would expand the educational benefits of ROTC to all MIT students.
Based on the Faculty Resolution, the following actions framed the team's agenda in 1997-1998. The Team explored the development of a program that might more closely tie ROTC activities to the educational mission of MIT. It identified leadership development as the area where an MIT initiative might be a relevant venue for taking advantage of the substantial contributions ROTC has to offer.
The idea was explored with colleagues across the campus, and it was concluded that the creation of an MIT leadership development program be proposed. The Team explored with the Air Force their willingness to participate in this activity, and the Air Force indicated that it would be willing to work with MIT on the program. Related to this, all of the military detachments on campus (e.g. Air Force, Navy and Army) made a presentation to the Committee on Undergraduate Policy to explore other ways of bringing the MIT military training mission more closely in touch with undergraduate educational initiatives.
The Team reviewed various legal cases as they moved through the courts and settled on the Able Case as the one which best represented our view that discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military was wrong and ought to be ended. The Able Case addresses whether the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy violates the Constitution by its restriction on free speech and expression. The U.S. District Court concluded that there was such a violation and that the policy gave voice to illegal biases.
The Team proposed to the American Council on Education (ACE) that they, on behalf of the higher education community become an amicus in the Able Case as it moved towards the Appeals Court review. The ACE Board agreed. MIT offered to support them with counsel and to use our efforts to identify other schools who would participate in this amicus appeal to the U. S. Court of Appeals. In the end, ten other schools joined with MIT and the ACE. In addition, there were more than a dozen associations from the higher education community who joined as well. The case was argued in April 1998.
The Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid further reviewed the reinsurance policy and made changes that guaranteed the students who were involuntarily disenrolled from ROTC because they were gay or lesbian would be held harmless in their financial situation. Loans and grants would be available, and a public service opportunity would be available to waive loan repayment.
STUDENT INFORMATION POLICY REVIEW
We continued an Institute-wide review of student information policy and procedures. The review resulted in the development of a policy to address both individual and institutional needs regarding the collection, use, and dissemination of information about students. Faculty, students, and staff participated in this review and in the end resulted in a policy that greatly clarified the Institute's position on a variety of information and privacy issues for students. The Policy will be incorporated in Policies and Procedures when the legal review and editing are complete. We also initiated efforts to develop an implementation strategy on how to provide timely access and to frame the education of the community about the requirements incorporated in the new policy.
The Associate Provost chairs the International Council which is composed of 15 faculty from across the Institute. The Council considered what approach we should take to expand the geographical reach of our faculty's international activities and how best to make these activities more coherent and reflective of the research and educational mission of the Institute.
Over the course of the year, the council explored various approaches to:
The council also received briefings on major international initiative and reviewed data on the scope of activities. The Associate Provost regularly reviewed and signed off on international proposals.
Towards the end of the year, the Council began a series of meetings that would explore activities and interests of the faculty in various parts of the world - Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East to supplement our present concentration in Asia. The first meeting in this series focused on Europe. The plan for 1998-99 is to continue this process.
Phillip L. Clay
The International Scholars Office (ISO) assists MIT faculty and staff in bringing international researchers and professors to campus for a variety of purposes. The ISO advises on immigration matters, issues visa documents, and provides guidance, 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 served a total of 1,404 international scholars who were affiliated with MIT during the period 7/1/97 to 6/30/98. These scholars represented 71 different countries and 70 departments, laboratories and centers. Most of the scholars, 951, were sponsored under MIT's J-1 exchange visitor program, and 151 were sponsored by MIT on the H-1B visa. 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; an average of 30 permanent residence applications are typically at various stages of processing at any given time.
The primary activity of the ISO is to provide ongoing assistance to these international scholars, their families, and their MIT hosts before and after the scholars' arrival to the US. This includes advising MIT departments, laboratories and centers regarding eligibility and the appropriate immigration status for incoming and continuing international scholars and their family members, and handling related requests for initial visa sponsorship, extension of stay, and change of immigration status. To facilitate this process, the ISO regularly provides and updates informational booklets and flyers, sponsors periodic meetings for MIT administrators to address the role and procedures of the ISO and the basics of relevant immigration regulations, and offers an annual workshop on taxes. The ISO prepares customized annual reports for the United States Information Agency, the Institute for International Education, and MIT. In addition, the ISO co-sponsors the International Open House for newcomers with the International Students Office.
CHALLENGES AND ADVOCACY EFFORTS
It is important for the ISO staff to remain informed about changing regulations and engage in advocacy efforts to clarify, prevent and/or ameliorate burdensome regulations and protect international educational exchange. There is nationwide consensus among international student and scholar offices that this has been the most challenging year ever in terms of the complexity of current policies, proposals and regulations emanating from the Department of State, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Department of Labor (DOL), and the United States Information Agency, which oversees the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Much of this stems from the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), enacted on September 30, 1996. Although some related regulations have not been finalized, the relevant government agencies are implementing many provisions of the law on an interim basis. The ISO continues to inform scholars about the relevant provisions and to attempt to shape final regulations.
Monthly meetings between ISO staff and the associate provost provide the ISO with guidance on MIT policies, procedures and advocacy efforts related to the international scholar population. ISO staff is also active in NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Senior staff members participate in monthly meetings, regional conferences and the national conference, present at these conferences, and serve on working groups pertaining to J-1 and H-1B visa issues. The ISO director has continued as a member of NAFSA's regional Government Regulations Advisory Committee as well as the independent 25-member Consortium on Higher Education Immigration Issues. Members of the latter group communicate internally and meet with relevant government officials in attempt to interpret and influence regulations applicable to international students and scholars on our campuses.
The H-1B visa for temporary workers, used for some MIT faculty members and researchers, has been under tremendous assault throughout the year. The annual "cap" on the number of initial H-1B petitions the INS will accept was reached in early May, so that additional petitions cannot be effective until October. This is problematic for scholars already in the US, some at MIT, whose permission to work expires in the interim, and for new scholars, including faculty members, who need to join MIT prior to October. In addition, satisfying DOL's requirement that the employer justify the wage being offered to the H-1B employee continues to be an enormous challenge. Although DOL finally released a regulation recognizing a distinction between wages in industry and those in academic settings, this did not occur until May, and it only somewhat offsets the inaccurate survey material DOL refers to when issuing prevailing wage determinations. Legislation has been pending in both the House and Senate to address H-1B issues, in particular the H-1B cap problem. ISO efforts in this area have been greatly assisted by Jack Crowley, Director of MIT's Washington office, and the ISO director's membership in the American Association of Universities Immigration Advisory Group. Under the guidance of the Washington office and the associate provost, the ISO has also written letters to relevant members of congress regarding pending legislation.
Dana Bresee Keeth continues to serve as director. Marjorie Gooding, on leave from the University of Colorado at Boulder, served as acting director while Dana was on maternity leave during the fall semester. Penny Sundberg continues as advisor to international scholars, Jennifer Stephens continues as advisor to international scholars, part-time, and Ivana Hrga-Griggs continues as assistant advisor to international scholars. Katherine Linton, senior staff assistant, moved to California, and was replaced by Fulgencia Lugira, formerly of the Alumni Office.
More information about the International Scholars Office may be found at http://web.mit.edu/scholars/
Dana Bresee Keeth
MIT Reports to the President 1997-98