Neurons that can multitask greatly enhance the brain’s computational power, study finds.
Provost Mark S. Wrighton has announced a major reorganization in the administration of undergraduate education and academic support under which those activities, as well as graduate education, will report directly to the provost. Professor Wrighton also established and will chair a new Education Committee that will be a unit of the Academic Council.
In connection with the reorganization, Professor Wrighton also announced several appointments, effective February 1. The reorganization and new appointments have been approved by the Corporation's Executive Committee.
Professor Sheila E. Widnall was named Associate Provost with responsibilities in several areas, including academic integrity, federal relations, faculty retirement, promotion and tenure policies, and international educational programs. Dr. Widnall, the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has spent considerable time in Washington as a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Scientific Responsibility and the Conduct of Research and as past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Professor Wrighton said the new associate provost will work closely with President Vest and himself as chair of a new Council on Federal Relations, composed of faculty and administrators, which will provide guidance on matters of interaction with the federal government and the activities of MIT's Washington Office. Professor Widnall will also lead an MIT study of the issues involved in the suspension of mandatory faculty retirement in 1994 and review MIT's Policies and Procedures with respect to academic promotions and tenure. She will also develop plans for implementing the recent report by the faculty group headed by Professor Eugene Skolnikoff which examined MIT's international relationships.
Professor Arthur C. Smith, who has been Dean for Student Affairs or acting dean since July 1990, was appointed Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs. His expanded responsibilities include curriculum support, ROTC, UROP and the writing requirement. He is a professor of electrical engineering.
Professor S. Jay Keyser, who has been Associate Provost for Educational Programs and Policy since 1985, has been appointed Associate Provost for Institute Life with a broad charter to build collegiality at MIT. He will focus on the quality of life at MIT, the provost said, addressing, among other issues, the policy aspects and educational programs on how to deal with harassment. He will also organize and direct special studies and educational activities on sensitive community issues and he will be a facilitator in human-relations areas that include new faculty orientation, faculty/administration relations and faculty/student relations. Dr. Keyser is the Peter de Florez Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Professor J. David Litster, who has served as interim Vice President for Research since January 1991, has been appointed Vice President and Dean of Research and will continue his supervision of many of the university's major interdisciplinary research centers, the Technology Licensing Office and, as dean, the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the Center for Environmental Health Sciences and the Division of Toxicology-all in Whitaker College. He is a professor of physics.
Professor Wrighton said a search will begin for a new director of the Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory, which Dean Litster has led since 1987.
Professor Wrighton said the goal of the reorganization he announced last week is to elevate education in MIT's organizational structure with a direct reporting line from the deans of undergraduate and graduate education to the provost. Professor Frank E. Perkins, Dean of the Graduate School, will continue in that post. The staff and offices which formerly reported to the dean for undergraduate education will continue in the new organization, he said, and the combined sum of staff and resources should strengthen the Institute's activities in undergraduate education.
"I am confident that the programs begun and nurtured by our late colleague, Dean Margaret L.A. MacVicar, will continue to flourish under the direction of Professor Smith, the new Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, and that new initiatives will be developed," the provost said.
The Education Committee the provost has established within the Academic Council will parallel the existing Research Committee. The Academic Council, which is responsible for the overall administration of the Institute, consists of the senior officers, the vice presidents, the deans, the chair of the faculty and the director of the libraries. The Education Committee will be concerned with the allocation of resources for new and continuing programs, Professor Wrighton said. Dean Smith and Dean Perkins will be members of the Education Committee, Professor Wrighton said.
A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 18).