Chair of the Faculty

Faculty Policy Committee

In 2001–2002 the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) oversaw those aspects of educational and academic policy that are the specific responsibilities of the Faculty, and provided faculty input toward policy development at the Institute. This year the committee met twice with the president and used these opportunities to convey faculty opinions on a variety of topics, including campus security and other campus responses to September 11, faculty quality of life, status of the capital campaign, faculty diversity, and family leave policies for faculty.

The FPC heard from and reviewed the work of several faculty committees and task forces. This included updates from the MIT Mental Health Task Force, the Council on Family and Work, the Task Force on Campus Security, the Committee on the Protection of Human Life and Infrastructure, and the Committee on Access to and Disclosure of Scientific Information. The FPC met with members of the Committee on the Library System to review the proposal for a new library; similarly, the chair of the Committee on Faculty Administration (CFA) came before the FPC to discuss the CFA's work on exploring the feasibility of a new faculty club. The FPC met with the chair of the Committee on Student Life to discuss community building at MIT. The FPC met twice with members from the Council on Faculty Diversity; first to review the council's proposed family leave policies for faculty, and second, to discuss the council's efforts and plans regarding faculty hiring.

The FPC approved a resolution on the importance of undergraduate mentoring, which was brought forward by the Committee on Undergraduate Program. The faculty approved the resolution in May.

The FPC reviewed a name change from the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health to the Division of Biological Engineering, and reviewed the dual master's degree program being offered jointly by the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology program (HST) with the Management of Technology program (MOT) at Sloan.

In the fall of 2001, the FPC considered the proposal to re-charter the Committee on Student Affairs (CSA). The proposal reflected a desire to reinvigorate the CSA by expanding and clarifying its charge and to realign the Faculty committee structure with the reorganization of the dean's office into two areas—the Office of the Dean for Student Life and the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education. As a result, the FPC approved renaming the committee to the Committee on Student Life, and changes were made to Section 1.73.6 of the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty. These changes were brought to the September Faculty meeting and were approved by the Faculty in December.

Professor Graves, who chaired the ad hoc Committee on the Faculty Newsletter, invited its other members to speak with the FPC. The ad hoc committee was charged with reviewing the need for a newsletter, its staffing and organization, and what kind of improvements, if any, the newsletter might have in the future. They discussed these issues with the FPC, as well as with the Faculty Newsletter editorial board and other members of the MIT community. The ad hoc committee delivered its report to the president in May.

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Committee on the Undergraduate Program

Mentoring Undergraduates at MIT

Building on the activity started by the Working Group on Undergraduate Advising during 2000-2001, the CUP devoted a substantial portion of its meeting time this past year to review undergraduate advising initiatives and to shaping its statement, "Mentoring Undergraduates at MIT," in collaboration with the Committee on Student Life. This preliminary report, presented to the Faculty in December 2001 (see mentoring_undergraduates.html), recommended "the Institute begin the process of developing a more effective approach to the advising of undergraduates through the development of "mentoring networks."

CUP chair Kip Hodges, asked for a sense of the Faculty to confirm the role that mentoring plays in the lives of undergraduates. The Faculty endorsed the CUP report in May 2002 and has directed the committee to "develop a comprehensive plan for the design and implementation of new undergraduate mentoring guidelines in collaboration with the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and the Committee on Student Life." These guidelines will be developed and presented to the Faculty in the next academic year.

Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement

Developing and approving Communication Intensive Subjects in the Major (CI-M) was the major focus of the CUP's Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR) during 2001–2002. Based on input from the committee, the SOCR co-chairs, Professors Suzanne Flynn and Paul Penfield, worked closely with the undergraduate officers in each department to identify and develop appropriate CI-M subjects for each undergraduate major. These subjects must provide instruction and practice in the modes of communication appropriate to their disciplines. SOCR members reviewed and approved 115 subjects for designation as CI-M for MIT's 53 undergraduate degree programs. CI-M subjects will include laboratory classes, in which students write, revise, and present laboratory reports; seminars, in which they prepare and lead discussions; and senior theses and independent research projects. After being reviewed by the SOCR for content and structure, the CI-M subjects were forwarded to the Committee on Curricula for final approval.

In the spring, the SOCR further reviewed the CI-M subjects for pedagogical effectiveness, their administrative feasibility, and the fiscal responsibility before making recommendations on resource needs to the dean for undergraduate education. The subcommittee considered several policy issues and established procedures for approving substitutions to CI-M subjects and CI-M subjects for individually tailored undergraduate programs, and a process for handling petitions seeking retroactive CI-M credit. The SOCR reaffirmed the policy outlined the previous year regarding CI-M subjects for double degrees. The SOCR is charged with interim responsibilities related to the transition from the Writing Requirement and, in this capacity, considered several petitions from students regarding completion of this requirement. Members engaged in preliminary discussions regarding the assessment of the Communication Requirement and will focus more closely on this process during the coming academic year.

The CUP reviewed the recommendations of the CUP Subcommittee on Pass/No Record Grading regarding the five-year experiment that will introduce "exploratory subject" grading options for second year students. Following a discussion that provided new members with the original goals of the proposed experiment and some of the issues associated with implementing the experiment as proposed, the CUP revised the terms of the experiment in a way that preserved the original intent but that also facilitated its implementation.

CUP business in other areas included the following:

The CUP reviewed the report and recommendations of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering regarding the future status of the experimental SB degree in archaeology and materials (III-C). The III-C degree has been an undergraduate degree option within the department since the fall term of 1998. Based on its review of the program, the department has recommended that the III-C option be continued on a non-experimental basis. CUP members supported this recommendation, although there remained reservations about whether degree programs of such small size should be allowed to exist indefinitely, particularly if departmental support diminishes over time. The CUP has made recommendations to the COC on this matter.

Professor Deborah Fitzgerald chaired the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP), which reviewed 507 student petitions during 2001-2002, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. The largest category of increase was in petitions to late-drop a class (from 136 to 228). Fewer students attempted to change from grades to/from P/D/F, or to exceed their warning credit limit, which may indicate that students are learning that such petitions are not often granted. Due to a change in leadership, more petitions were taken to the committee than last year.

The end-of-term actions taken by the committee were largely consistent with actions last year. The committee put 329 students on warning, the majority of them freshmen (131). Warnings were distributed to the different classes in much the same ratios as last year, but for a second year sophomores received fewer warnings than two years ago, when the figure was 104. Students who were required to withdraw numbered 32, down from last year's 38. Compared to the previous year, more seniors (nine versus six), fewer sophomores (six versus eleven), and fewer freshmen (six versus nine) were required to withdraw.

End-of-Term CAP Actions (by Class Year)

Required Withdrawals
Required Withdrawals
Year 4
Year 3
Year 2
Year 1

The committee worked with the SOCR and the CUP to figure out how to administer two new initiatives that will affect the CAP next year: the SHASS-CI requirement, and the sophomore exploratory subject. Because of the timeframe requirements of the CI requirement, the CAP agreed to put students on warning who do not make adequate progress towards completing this requirement by the third semester. Concerns about grade shopping and petition overload led to the CAP's request that students designate their sophomore exploratory subject only in the first week of the term, and that such decisions not be petitionable except in dire circumstances. This seems in keeping with the spirit of the initiative, and will reduce possible pernicious side effects.

The committee also discussed the shift from P/NR to A/B/C/NR for freshmen. Because the number of freshmen who are possible candidates for required withdrawal is very small, the committee felt that the number of students who might be placed on a second term of P/NR would also be small. After discussion, the committee was of the opinion that extending P/NR to freshmen who did poorly in fall semester next year would probably do more harm than good. All three of these initiatives will be implemented in 2002-2003.

The Committee on Corporate Relations (CCR), chaired by Professor Arthur B. Baggeroer, continued to examine the possibilities for changing its charter following discussions last year with the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC). There was consensus that the current charter for the committee was no longer appropriate. After examining several possibilities, the CCR recommended that it be disbanded. The chair of the Faculty will appoint a member of the FPC to maintain contact with the Office of Corporate Relations as needed. The appropriate modifications to the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty were voted on at the May Faculty meeting.

The Committee on Curricula (COC) approved proposals for new, canceled, and revised subjects, including 103 new undergraduate subjects, and was responsible for approving substantive curricular changes and upholding policy. This year, much of the committee's work centered on approving and implementing the new Communication-Intensive Major (CI-M) subjects. With the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement, the COC approved 109 CI-M subjects.

In reviewing CI-M subjects for Course 5, the COC requested that the Chemistry Department reevaluate the required units for subjects 5.32 Intermediate Chemical Experimentation, and 5.33 Advanced Chemical Experimentation. The request was based on student evaluations indicating that they spend more than the required number of hours on these subjects. The reevaluated subjects will be reviewed by the COC next year.

The COC approved substantive changes to the undergraduate curricula in Course 10, Chemical Engineering; Course 13, Ocean Engineering; Course 22, Nuclear Engineering; and Course 8, Physics. The committee reviewed and approved the new School of Engineering Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP), and approved a new interdisciplinary minor in astronomy. Using the established criteria for interdisciplinary minors, the committee requested that existing subjects be modified to join the concepts of the various disciplines. The committee also approved a new SHASS minor in Chinese.

The committee worked throughout the spring to consider a proposed interdisciplinary major in Comparative Media Studies. The committee considered how the approval of a new interdisciplinary major might impact future proposals for similar majors. The committee expects to establish guidelines and criteria for interdisciplinary majors.

The COC reviewed student petitions to pursue second SB degrees, and for substitutions to the General Institute Requirements. The committee is working to establish one contact in each department to review second SB petitions.

In order to abate petitions for second SB degrees from MEng graduate students, the committee requested that Course 6 inform these students of the deadline for filing petitions; students must file a petition to the COC immediately upon acceptance into the MEng program, and at least two terms before they intend to receive their first SB degrees. Petitions submitted by MEng students during the fifth year will not be considered by the COC.

The Committee on Discipline held hearings against nine students on charges of plagiarism, cheating in requesting re-grading of work, and embezzlement. The respondents were five men and four women; three sophomores, two juniors, and four seniors; neither graduate students nor freshmen were included. The sanctions imposed included formal probation for two or three years, suspension for one semester, suspension for seven years, and expulsion.

In addition, faculty members sent the Office of Student Conflict Resolution and Discipline warning letters for 25 students, creating a record of their academic misconduct, in case of future misconduct, but not initiating disciplinary action against them for the current incident.

There appears to be reluctance among the faculty to bring charges against freshmen and a prevailing willingness to give them one more chance. Of the upperclassmen charged with academic misconduct, 75 percent received warning letters and 25 percent faced hearings, while all of the freshmen received warning letters.

The Harold E. Edgerton Faculty award is given to an outstanding member of MIT's junior faculty. The selection committee awarded the Edgerton Prize to Professor Peter H. Seeberger in recognition of his fundamental contributions to the sciences of biochemistry and synthetic organic chemistry. His work holds enormous promise for the development in the future of vaccines against a number of infectious agents, more specifically those causing parasitic infections. Dr. Seeberger began his attack on the problem of the synthesis of complex oligosaccharides as a postdoctoral fellow at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York and continued this research agenda after his arrival as an assistant professor at MIT in 1998.

While piloting this extraordinary research and development effort over the past four years, Dr. Seeberger has played a significant role as lecturer in the classroom and mentor of doctoral students. He has taught a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses in the Chemistry curriculum and been recognized for the high quality of his teaching. Beyond this, he has developed a new course, Bioorganic Chemistry, which draws in part from his own research and from the new research field in which synthetic organic chemistry is used for the creation of a wide range of biological molecules. It is for these many reasons that the MIT faculty recognizes Dr. Seeberger's achievements over the past four years by conferring on him the 2002 Edgerton Award.

The Committee on Faculty Administration (CFA), chaired by Professor Ronald Latanision, extended its deliberations on the concept of a renewed faculty/community club. With shared fiscal commitments from all of the academic deans and the president, an architectural firm and a hospitality planner will undertake a feasibility study during the summer of 2002. The club concept includes fine dining for faculty and staff, provisions for social activities and professional meetings, conference facilities, and overnight guest accommodations. With appropriate service, a central location on campus, and planning, it is anticipated that an operationally self-sustaining club could be developed. The club is expected to add to the quality of life among the faculty, as well as to build a sense of community at MIT among professional colleagues. Finding suitable space and capital for renovation/construction are obvious challenges, and discussions will continue during the fall semester of the 2002-2003 academic year.

The committee to select the James R. Killian, Jr., Faculty Achievement Award for 2002-2003 sent out a call for nominations in December 2001. It reviewed 11 nominations submitted over the past three years (many of them updated) and one new nomination. This year, the award was presented to Professor Ann Graybiel, Walter A. Rosenblith professor of neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. The committee members unanimously chose Dr. Graybiel from the 11 nominees because they felt strongly that the top-level research she is doing is some of the most interesting and important work being carried out at the Institute. Ann Graybiel's research focuses on normal and abnormal behaviors associated with the basal ganglia and their relationships to dopamine regulation. Disorders in this region have been implicated in Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, and in neuropsychiatric disorders such as Tourette's syndrome, obsessive/compulsive disorder, depression, and also addiction.

The Committee on the Library System (CLS) studied the MIT Libraries in the digital age and how the libraries can improve the quality of student life. The report results identified the severe lack of library space as a serious impediment to education and research at MIT. The committee's report discussed the role of well-designed and contemporary library facilities in enhancing the productivity of faculty and students. Such facilities serve as centers to create, manage, use, and share information; they support new educational technology; they prepare students for life-long learning; and they provide services to users with disabilities.

Digital technology will not reduce the need for library space in the near future because of a variety of issues including changing hardware standards, vendor instability, copyright and licensing requirements, the library's archival responsibility, lack of acceptance of electronic books, the need for space to browse, to study, and obtaining librarian help in proximity to library materials. The report recommended the construction of a new combined Science and Engineering Library and the renovation and expansion of an integrated Humanities and Social Science Library in Building 14. The Academic Council, the Undergraduate Association, the Graduate Student Council, the Library Visiting Committee of the Corporation, and the Faculty Policy Committee supported the recommendations of the report, and the next phase in planning will include conversations with the MIT community.

Other notable subjects discussed include: the report of the SHASS ad hoc committee on the Humanities Library; the Libraries' budget and the support for electronic resources and new educational and research program needs; outreach to alumni through library services; an update on the DSpace project; and the support needed from the Committee for the Review of Space Planning for critically important short-term facilities improvements. These improvements might include the renovation of the Institute Archives, a renovated preservation center in the Libraries, and construction during the summer of 2002 of a 24-hour study space for students in the Hayden building.

This spring, the Committee on Nominations persuaded seven of our colleagues already serving on our standing Faculty committees to extend their terms by a year or two for enhanced continuity, and otherwise it recruited another 32 colleagues, including 10 who had never served on any of these committees, as fresh nominees.

In addition, we were very pleased to recruit Professor Rafael Bras as the next chair-elect of the Faculty in the year 2002-2003. Professor Bras will assume the main role in 2003 once Professor Stephen C. Graves concludes his term. All these nominations were confirmed at the May meeting of the Faculty.

Paul Lagace continued as chair of the Committee on Student Affairs/Life (CSA/L). The committee's motion to re-charter was approved by the Faculty in December and the committee's name officially changed to the Committee on Student Life (CSL).

The committee served as a source of reflection and input for other Institute groups and offices dealing with issues related to student life. Of particular note are the following:

The committee drafted a white paper on "Community" and shared this with Institute leaders including the chancellor, the dean of graduate students, the dean of undergraduate education, the Faculty Policy Committee, and the leaders of the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council. A small subgroup of the committee is finalizing the changes to the white paper over the summer.

Housing dominated much of the agenda of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA) this year. As members of the Enrollment Management Group, CUAFA representatives expressed concerns that the overcrowding of undergraduates, most of whom are freshmen, was having a negative impact on yield. Accordingly, the CUAFA offered strong support of the decision to eliminate crowding in the coming academic year. Housing factored prominently in the decision to reduce the size of the incoming class to 1,000, a number that includes transfer students.

In spite of the administration's injection of funds last year to allow a reduction in the self-help level by ~$2,000, some of our peer institutions have also intensified their efforts, with the result that MIT remains at risk of not being able to attract top students from families with incomes in the $50,000–$100,000 range. The CUAFA's recommendation that the self-help level be reduced another $700 to $4,900 was not acted upon. The impact of this decision on the demographics of our entering class will be studied.

Lastly, the committee observed that little has been done to improve the offices of Student Financial Services, in which the space remains inadequate. In particular, the staff offices are incapable of seating a typical family for a private discussion of delicate financial matters. The CUAFA is concerned about the possible negative impact on our yield and the dispiriting effect on morale of Student Financial Services staff.

This admissions cycle saw a reduction in yield to 57 percent, which represents the third consecutive year with a 1 percent drop. Another negative trend is the drop in yield among those offered financial aid. This cycle the yield for this group was 58 percent, a mere 1 percent enhancement over the yield as a whole. In the past this differential has been as high as 8 percent. The CUAFA will participate with the Admissions Office and the Financial Services Office in conducting a study to understand the reasons for the observed trends.

Stephen C. Graves, Chair of the Faculty
Lily Burns, Staff Associate


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