Office of Academic Services

The Office of Academic Services (OAS) provides services supporting MIT's academic mission. OAS is organized in three working groups: Academic Information and Communication (AIC), the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and Faculty and Alumni Support (FAS).

Academic Information and Communication

Academic Information and Communication collaborates with others in DUE to ensure the accuracy of academic information and to improve its delivery using technology, primarily web-based. AIC also supports the technology that underlies many of the programs offered throughout OAS. During 2001–2002 AIC worked with the ARC to enhance the freshman database and to develop the online freshman advising folder and the new electronic Advanced Placement/Transfer Credit system (described under the ARC below). With FAS, AIC is documenting and improving the subject evaluation process (described under FAS below).

New Initiatives

AIC developed and maintains the Academic Index for Undergraduates. This is a first step in building an umbrella site for all undergraduates about academics at MIT. Topics from the index were incorporated as links into the redesigned MIT homepages.

Staff members in AIC worked with colleagues in the Registrar's Office and SSIT (Student Services Information Technology) to develop a new web-based subject proposal system.

Staff members from AIC served on the Institute-wide Knowledgebase Discovery Project Team.

AIC helped develop and implement policies and procedures for sophomore exploratory subjects, an initiative of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program.

The staff coordinated projects with the Provost's and Registrar's Offices to use the Who's Teaching What system to identify and collect data on instructors.

AIC worked with the Committee on the Undergraduate Program and the Committee on Student Life to determine and prioritize information needs for a proposed network of mentors for undergraduates.

Functional Enhancements

With ARC and SSIT, AIC improved the online system by which incoming students apply for freshman programs and advising options.

Staff members gained expertise through training on Eyes and Hands software for Subject Evaluation process. Upgraded system and tested new version.

Members of the AIC team contributed to the redesign of DUE web site.

Academic Resource Center

MIT's Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides student-centered services specifically for freshmen and for other undergraduate students to enhance their academic success, social adjustment, and assimilation as MIT students. ARC programming encourages access to Institute resources and related services that recognize the many needs, diversity and uniqueness of students at the Institute. This office is responsible for all freshman programming including Orientation, Academic Advising, Choice of Major programming, Learning Strategies, and other academic support. Additionally, the management, operation and oversight of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is an ARC responsibility. ARC organizes and coordinates the Independent Activities Period (IAP) and provides staff support to the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP).

New Initiatives

The ARC implemented an online freshman advising folder. Included in folders were: tentative credit and placement recommendations; results on Advanced Placement and advanced standing exams, Freshman Essay Examination (FEE), and math diagnostic; math transfer credit; Freshman Advising assignments; Mission 2006 acceptances; HASS-D lottery results; and links to relevant sites.

The ARC developed a new CAP database to record CAP actions and to continue tracking students in upperclass years as is done in the freshman database. Reports can be generated on subpopulations like UROPers, athletes, ethnic groups, and FSILG pledges/members.

Staff members worked with colleagues in SSIT to develop a new electronic Advanced Placement/Transfer Credit transfer and tracking system, and moved the AP/Transfer Credit/IB/A Level processes from Admissions to the Academic Resource Center.

With the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) and the Registrar's Office, the ARC developed new process for tracking and reminding upper class students who have not completed their PE requirements.

The staff worked with the Registrar, the Card Office, and Herff Jones to devise a process whereby photographs from the freshman picture book could be used for ID cards and class lists. For the first time ID cards were available, with appropriate meal plans and credit, when the freshmen checked in for orientation.

Functional Enhancements

The freshman Filemaker database, which includes data on fifth-week flags, end-of-term outcome, CAP actions, advisor, advising seminar, and provides reports on sub-populations was expanded. Data are being used to develop intervention strategies and programming to ensure end-of-term success.

The staff worked with RLSLP, housemasters, Learning Communities, academic departments, OME, Athletics, ROTC, Registrar's Office, student representatives and other stakeholders to finalize a new orientation schedule for fall, 2002—a schedule that meets all programmatic needs and facilitated all freshmen living on campus.

The staff continued a comprehensive professional development program for freshman advisors, including special workshops for new advisors. Sixty-five faculty and 96 administrators advised 979 freshmen; this included 69 freshman advising seminars.

This year saw the completion of the third year of the Residence-based Advising (RBA) program with all freshmen living in McCormick and Next House. For 2002–2003, RBA included 246 freshmen, 16 seminars, and 11 traditional advisors. Twenty-two advisors served as house fellows within their assigned residence.

The ARC collaborated with Admissions and DAPER to modify programs within Campus Preview Weekend. The academic and athletic/club sports programs are now organized and overseen by ARC and DAPER. In addition, enhancements were made to the early admit homepage that is coordinated with Admissions.

During the Independent Activities Period (IAP), 628 different noncredit activities were available to the MIT community. Eighty-seven for-credit subjects were taught during this period. Additionally, DAPER offered 56 activities for either PE points or noncredit participation.

The ARC expanded UROP's IAP Research Mentor Program. In the four-week program, 61 experienced UROPers (48 percent increase over prior year) provided guidance to 138 freshmen (68 percent increase) while working on their ongoing projects. Additionally, 3 faculty members participated as mentors for the first time.

During summer 2002 and academic year 2002–2003, a total of 2,014 students conducted UROP projects, 181 more students (9.8 percent) than in the previous year. The UROP office allocated $1,844,000 (a 4.24 percent increase) to students. Faculty allocations to students through sponsored research or departmentally managed funds totaled $4,538,000. This represents a 22 percent decrease in faculty support of undergraduate research.

In AY2003, 64 percent of UROP research was conducted for pay (an 8 percent decrease from prior year), 33 percent was conducted for credit (a 7 percent increase), and 3 percent was conducted on a strictly voluntary basis (a 1 percent increase).

In summer 2002, 889 undergraduates participated in research (a 13 percent increase over prior year). Ninety-eight percent of the research was conducted for pay, with the remaining 2 percent conducted for credit or on a voluntary basis.

UROP's book-value endowment is presently $9.1M; the Paul E. Gray Fund for UROP remains the largest of the program's individual endowment funds. Other major sources of endowment income include the Ralph Evans '48 Endowment, the Robert Muh '59 Fund, the Meryl and Stewart Robertson UROP Fund, and the UROP Endowment Fund.

During the past three years, freshmen received the following CAP and ARC actions:

Academic Year Required Withdrawals CAP Warnings ARC Letters Total Actions

*Additionally, 7 freshmen were put on Warning-CI; warning, with a 60 unit limit, for failure to complete the freshman Communication Intensive Requirement.

Faculty and Alumni Support

Faculty and Alumni Support provides services to support educational initiatives of faculty and to draw alumni into the education of our students. FAS contributes to several d'Arbeloff-funded educational initiatives designed to enhance the undergraduate experience. FAS also partners with the Alumni Association in Volunteers In Education (VINE). The mission of VINE is to harness the experience and intellectual curiosity of alumni by developing with faculty and students educational partnership opportunities that improve the education of our enrolled students. Due to budget constraints, OAS alumni engagement efforts will involve fewer new initiatives in the future.

New Initiatives

FAS reviewed the Subject Evaluation form and developed draft revision intended to clarify the questions, find common items across programs, and gather more usable information regarding teaching and learning in the subjects. Discussion across Schools is continuing about next steps.

FAS helped develop the name, Volunteers IN Education (VINE), to more clearly identify alumni engagement in education. VINE was publicized through handouts, poster design and participating in the Educational Technology Fair.

The staff provided support as Mission 2006 became part of the new Terrascope freshman program, including assistance for recruitment and web site development.

Functional Enhancements

Written documentation was developed for the entire Subject Evaluation process and expanding knowledge and involvement among staff.

FAS improved the brochure and web site for publicizing Alumni-sponsored Educational Funds, resulting in 50 percent increase in the number of Requests for Proposals for these grants (22 vs. 15).

Staff members identified 700 alumni participations in education programs. Alumni were recruited for various educational roles in subjects and programs, including 2.009 The Product Engineering Process (alumni project ideas and mentors), 6.002 Circuits and Electronics (alumni volunteer tutors), 12.000 Solving Complex Problems: Mission 2006 (project mentors), the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (internship hosts), and the IDEAS Competition (project mentors). In addition, FAS cosponsored two alumni panels with Careers Office and our staff members participated on a panel.

FAS worked with the Alumni Association to expand the Infinite Connection and Institute Career Assistance Network to students in fall 2002 as well as to more alumni.

The staff continued to improve identification and selection process for Phi Beta Kappa scholars. Eighty-two members of the class of 2003 were elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa this year, a significant increase over past years mostly due to the increase in the number of students double-majoring.

Staff members provided administrative support and oversight to a number of scholarship and fellowship programs.

They also assisted Professor Kip Hodges with the administration of Mission 2006, including recruitment of freshmen and alumni mentors, managing final presentation, creation and upkeep of the Mission 2006 web site. With the help of the Teaching and Learning Laboratory, surveys of alumni and Undergraduate Teaching Fellows who have participated in the Mission subjects were developed.

FAS staff provided budget monitoring and projections for FY2003 and FY2004 to manage OAS programs during challenging budget times, including supporting nonbase positions. This work included developing an expanded role in supporting the Edgerton Center finances and budgeting.

Staffing Changes

Sonia Brathwaite, Nancy Kelly, and Cindy Pacheco joined the OAS staff this year. Maria Shkolnik, who holds a temporary position as a staff associate for educational initiatives, went on maternity leave and will come back part time.

J. Kim Vandiver
Dean for Undergraduate Research
Professor of Ocean Engineering

More information about the Office of Academic Services can be found on the web at

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