MIT Reports to the President 1998-99
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. The Office of the Associate Provost worked on the following activities in the past year.
The Chancellor established a Working Group on International Relations and appointed the Associate Provost as Chair of that committee. The committee includes faculty representatives from each of the five schools (Alice Amsden, Suzanne Berger, Emilio Bizzi, Fred Moavenzadeh, Eleanor Westney) and replaces the International Council established three years ago by Provost Moses.
The mission of the committee is to advise the Chancellor and the senior administration on international initiatives and to document and disseminate practices which serve to advance MIT's educational and research missions. In the course of the year, the Associate Provost and the Council reviewed a number of proposed initiatives and participated in the monitoring of new initiatives, including the MIT-Singapore Alliance.
The Implementation Team continues work that follows up on the faculty vote of 1996 regarding MIT's continuing participation with ROTC. This past year we concluded discussions with the Air Force that resulted in their agreement to offer passive but positive engagement with us in a leadership development initiative. The team's goal was to find ways to advance MIT's two major objectives, advance national service, and provide an equal opportunity for participation of all students in educational activities on campus, irrespective of race, gender, or sexual orientation. The team decided not to initiate new programs but to bring stakeholders together who are directing activities on campus aimed at promoting leadership development and supporting these activities, including their outreach and coordination with each other. In the course of the year, the service branches, as well as student organizations, faculty and staff initiatives generated a substantial increase in leadership initiative and their accessibility to all students. The Academic Year 1999-2000 will find new courses and other activities with a higher degree of consciousness about the value of leadership. The Associate Provost also participated as an observer in the Army ROTC summer camp in Fort Lewis Washington and participated in Leadershape during the Independent Activities Period.
The Associate Provost chaired the Housing Task Force designed to generate a set of principles to guide residential development activities on campus. These principles were the basis for future activities associated with the design of undergraduate housing and campus planning. The principles focused not only on expectations regarding the quality of the residential environment, student participation and the development of community, but also the educational goals that might be achieved through strengthening residential communities, including faculty participation in those activities.
The Office of the Associate Provost undertook or supervised seven major investigations, involving cases where the complainants represented faculty, staff, and students. Toward the end of the year, the Associate Provost and others at MIT involved in investigations commenced a review of investigation procedures, complaint handling procedures, and the Guide to Harassment. At the end of the year, this evaluation was continuing, with the expectation that there would either be new materials or revisions in existing materials that update guidance to the community on how to conduct investigations.
The Associate Provost continued to develop and revise policies related to student information policy. Drafts were discussed with a variety of organizations and stakeholders on campus. The revisions are intended to clarify procedures for implementing federal law and for reconciling competing interests on campus related to administrative convenience, privacy, and effective use of technologies in teaching in administrative processes. We are especially grateful for the work of Helen Samuels and Mary Callahan not only for their work done on the policy, but also for developing an educational plan and an access model.
In addition to the above activities, the Associate Provost participated in a host of other activities. These activities included working with the Martin Luther King Committee, especially with the MLK Visiting Professors Program. He also sat on a number of committees, including Faculty Policy Committee and the Campus Committee on Race Relations. Along with sitting on committees, he chaired a committee searching for a senior person to serve as an Alcohol Coordinator. He also supervises other offices, including Equal Opportunity Programs and the International Scholars Office.
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 also engages in advocacy efforts to protect international educational exchange, prevent burdensome regulations, and clarify and improve related regulations and procedures.
The ISO served a total of 1369 international scholars who were affiliated with MIT during the period 7/1/98 to 6/30/99, and their accompanying family members. Compared with other U.S. institutions, MIT has the sixth largest international scholar population, contributing to the dynamic, global nature of MIT teaching and research. MIT scholars are a diverse group, representing 78 different countries and 68 departments, laboratories and centers. At any given time, the ISO is engaged in initial visa work to enable scholars to come to MIT for the first time, and extension of stay and change of status applications on behalf of scholars whose MIT appointments are being extended. During the 1998-99 period, 916 scholars were sponsored under MIT's J-1 exchange visitor program and 148 were sponsored by MIT on the H-1B visa. The ISO also submitted 18 permanent residence petitions to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on behalf of MIT faculty members and upper-level researchers; an average of 40 permanent residence applications are typically at various stages of processing at any given time.
The staff of the International Scholars Office devotes significant time and attention to advising MIT departments, laboratories and centers and the international scholars they host. Staff members remain well-informed about complex, frequently changing immigration-related regulations and policies, and coordinate that knowledge with an ability to develop strategies based on MIT's needs and the particular qualifications and circumstances of an incoming or continuing scholar. These circumstances can include prior immigration history, particular family issues, work eligibility considerations that extend beyond MIT, visa eligibility and timing considerations. The ISO maintains strong links with the MIT administrators responsible for international scholars in their areas, and holds periodic workshops to inform them about immigration basics and ISO procedures. A major accomplishment this year was the complete revamping of the ISO web site, made possible by the addition of a part-time student worker. The web site complements the extensive written information produced by ISO staff, including comprehensive pre-arrival and post-arrival booklets for international scholars and their families. The International Scholars Office sponsored another successful tax workshop to demystify tax season for international scholars, and co-sponsored another very well attended International Open House for newcomers with the International Students Office.
CHALLENGES AND ADVOCACY EFFORTS
The International Scholars Office balances serving this international population and their MIT hosts, helping to set and articulate related MIT and ISO policies, performing daily office operations, keeping up with new initiatives such as SAP, and engaging in advocacy efforts. The climate following the enactment of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA) remains one of continual change and challenge. The United States seems divided in its stance toward the role of foreign nationals in academic institutions and employment settings, embracing the importance of an international presence in this increasingly global era while simultaneously fearing perceived negative consequences to the United States labor market and/or security interests. Legislative and regulatory proposals relevant to MIT's sponsorship of foreign scholars mirror this tension, and require constant vigilance. The ISO coordinates with the associate provost and the director of the MIT Washington office in advocacy efforts. In order to remain informed, play a proactive role, and share knowledge with colleagues, ISO staff is active in NAFSA: Association of International Educators on the local, regional and national level, with senior staff members presenting at these conferences and serving on working groups. The director has continued membership in NAFSA's regional Government Regulations Advisory Committee, the Consortium on Higher Education Immigration Issues, and the American Association of Universities Immigration Advisory Group, and served as moderator at the annual meeting of the Ivy League Plus Three group.
Advocacy areas requiring attention over the past year include the following: preparation for "CIPRIS," a national system by which international offices will eventually be required to electronically track and report information on international students and scholars to the Immigration and Naturalization Service; changes in the B-1 visa; preparation for the merger of the United States Information Agency, the agency that oversees the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, with the Department of State; and legislation and regulations related to the H-1B visa for temporary workers. In all of these major areas of concern, the ISO has contributed significantly to strategy sessions, white papers and regulatory comments. Legislation was passed to temporarily increase the number of employees eligible for initial H-1B petition approvals each fiscal year. However, for the second year in a row, the "cap" was reached in the spring, rendering the H-1B visa option for some scholars impossible until October. ISO advisors have been carefully monitoring scholars needing H-1B visas, preparing applications as early as possible and pursuing alternate solutions to minimize disruption of MIT teaching and research efforts. The academic community must succeed in getting an exemption from the cap or a separate allotment of numbers if the H-1B is to remain a viable option for faculty and researchers.
The International Scholars Office has benefited greatly from minor office renovations, the addition of an advisor position for a temporary, two-year period, some upgrading of positions, and two internal promotions. Dana Bresee Keeth continues to serve as director. Penny Rosser (formerly Penny Sundberg) was promoted to assistant director, Jennifer Stephens continues as advisor to international scholars, part-time, Ivana Hrga-Griggs was promoted to advisor to international scholars, and Sharon Ralston was hired into the new advisor to international scholars position. Sirijit Lertkhachonsuk (Sandy Lo) was hired as administrative assistant when Fulgencia Lugira left the position of senior staff assistant.
More information about the International Scholars Office may be found on the World Wide Web at http://web.mit.edu/scholars/.
Dana Bresee Keeth
MIT Reports to the President 1998-99