MIT Faculty Newsletter  
contents Vol. XVIII No. 1
September/October 2005

This issue of the Faculty Newsletter features the initial "From The Faculty Chair" by Lorna Gibson, an article by Ernst Frankel on the impact of homeland security restrictions, and a primer on classroom scheduling by the registrar, Mary Callahan.

L. Rafael Reif
So, Just What Does an MIT Provost Do?
New MIT Provost Rafael Reif shares some secrets about his new job.
Update from the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons
Task Force Chair Bob Silbey discusses the how's and why's of similar past committees and offers insights into current thinking.
Computation for Design and Optimization: A New SM Program in the School of Engineering
Jaime Peraire and Robert Freund outline the parameters of the new CDO program.
So, Just What Does an MIT Provost Do?
L. Rafael Reif
Many of you (including a dean or two!) have recently asked me: "So, what does an MIT provost do?" And, "What does the word 'provost' mean, anyway?"
Taking Responsibility
MIT and other research universities have a particular responsibility to bring clarity and truth to the technical issues underlying national policy decisions, whether military, . . .
From the Faculty Chair
An Agenda for the Year Ahead
Lorna J. Gibson
Over the last year, a number of colleagues have asked me "What does the Chair of the Faculty do?" I'd like to begin by describing some of the main duties of the position.
Teaching this fall? You should know . . .
the faculty regulates examinations and assignments for all subjects.
Impact of Homeland Security Restrictions on
U.S. Academic Institutions
Ernst G. Frankel
Increasingly strict interpretations of so-called U.S. security requirements and subsequent imposition of barriers to entry of foreign nationals is affecting both . . .
Expedition to "Mars on Earth"
Matthew R. Silver and Olivier de Weck
There will always be some disagreement about the ideal place to summer. While many note that Cape Cod combines convenience and style, others insist that a . . .
An Update from the Task Force on the
Undergraduate Educational Commons
Robert J. Silbey
The Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons has been working for over a year-and-a-half on its charge to review the General Institute Requirements . . .
Computation for Design and Optimization:
A New SM Program in the School of Engineering
Jaime Peraire and Robert Freund
Jonathan Birge is running a simulation of a femtosecond laser cavity on his computer in RLE's Ultrafast Optics and Quantum Electronics Laboratory. Birge, now in his . . .
MIT Poetry
Why Didn't They Hear the Sea Calling?; Here; The Searchlight Leaves Home; The Searchlight Burns; The Searchlight Awakens
Kim Vaeth
I was there riding in my mother's
car with father who was
driving. We got lost
The Fund for the Graduate Community
Ike Colbert and Barrie Gleason
A bold new idea has evolved from exciting community-authored initiatives.
Newsletter to Unrestrict Website
The Editorial Board of the Faculty Newsletter has decided to unrestrict the Newsletter Website (, making it available to anyone with an Internet connection . . .
A reputation for integrity
Hugh Gusterson
In his response to Professor Ted Postol's allegations of scientific misconduct at Lincoln Laboratory, Provost Bob Brown writes . . . that MIT has been unable to . . .
A Letter to President Hockfield
John Ahearne, Richard Garwin, Frank von Hippel
President Hockfield's Response
Susan Hockfield
Classroom Scheduling 101
Mary Callahan
For years the urban legend at MIT regarding the assigning of classroom space has been that there is a secret algorithm that is applied. In this article I will attempt to . . .
MIT Professors Make Top 100 (Worst) List
What do Profs. Noam Chomsky and Nancy Hopkins have in common with talk show host Jerry Springer, professional basketball player Latrell Sprewell, rap music star . . .
Academic Computing: An Equilibrium of Services for Education
M. S. Vijay Kumar
MIT faculty, with their dedication to teaching, their desire to excel, and their willingness to be pioneers, have inspired, and often led educational technology . . .
M.I.T. Numbers
Distribution of Faculty by Age [October 2004]
M.I.T. Numbers
2005 Graduate Admissions and Yield by School