MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The offices within Public Relations Services support the mission of the Institute by enhancing public understanding of MIT and of higher education and research more generally and supporting the community life of the Institute through communications and special events. The academic year 1997-98 was eventful for the Institute and for Public Relations Services on all these fronts.

Unquestionably the high point of the year was the 1998 Commencement exercises, which marked the first occasion on which a sitting President of the United States had spoken at MIT. Gayle M. Gallagher, Executive Officer for Commencement, showed extraordinary energy and talent in organizing the event, which involved the participation of staff from all areas of the Institute and placed exceptional demands on the staff of Conference Services, Events, and the Information Center, as well as the News Office. With the welcome cooperation of the weather, the day surpassed all expectations. Earlier in the year the Institute hosted the successful National Innovation Summit, sponsored by the Council on Competitiveness. Speakers at the Innovation Summit included the Vice President of the United States and leaders in business, government, and academia.

This marked the first full academic year of operations for the Publishing Services Bureau (PSB). PSB and the Communications Office moved to new office space shared with Campus Wide Information Systems (CWIS) in Building E28 in Kendall Square. Open for business in February, the office space provides an inviting professional environment for the staff to serve the needs of the MIT publishing community. Generous meeting space draws vendors and members of the MIT community for small and large group discussions regarding unique projects as well as publishing topics of broader interest. The new space has allowed the three offices to collaborate even more effectively on the design and delivery of information about MIT to a diverse range of audiences in a range of media.

During the year, Patrick K. Marx joined the Institute in the new position of Special Assistant to the President for Communications. Members of all the offices within Public Relations Services have been working with him in the development of strategies to bring the Institute's messages to the public, press, and government as vigorously and effectively as possible.

Kathryn A. Willmore


The Communications Office publishes official reference information on MIT's educational, research, administrative, and financial policies and programs that is current, accurate, and accessible, in print and electronic versions; distributes publications; and disseminates information available through the office. In conjunction with PSB, the Office advises and assists the MIT community regarding publishing policies and procedures.


In its role as customer of and partner with the bureau, the Communications Office continues to model publishing solutions with the Institute's key reference publications. This year, for example, the Office worked closely with PSB on the design of cover templates for the Reports to the President and Reports of the Treasurer, as well as the MIT telephone directories. This work underscores the importance of design in creating and strengthening a visual identity for MIT with its publications.

Over the past year, the staff in the Communications Office collaborated with the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education (ODSUE) on various communications projects. This work entailed supporting the development of publication plans for the former CAP Guide and a proposed student handbook; serving as team members on the ODSUE communications affinity team; developing the ODSUE web site; and contributing significantly to the team's final report to Dean Rosalind H. Williams. The focus of ongoing projects is on understanding and planning the next generation of publications (the "catalogue-of-the-future"), especially with regard to the relationship between information published in print and on the World Wide Web. Teams are conducting a communications audit of the course catalogue as well as rethinking the production of the IAP Guide (another one of four issues of the MIT Bulletin).

This year, in collaboration with Information Systems, the Office completed the delivery phase of its project to develop a web interface to the "blue pages" of the telephone directories. Information on MIT's offices and programs, stored in a FileMaker database, enables the Office to publish current information on MIT's web site as well as in print directories published annually. The site is located at


The Communications Office plans the following for the coming academic year:


The Communications Office was delighted to offer Shannon McCord a full-time support staff position beginning last November. With this additional support, the Office was able to complete projects long on its "wish list." Shannon contributed significantly to redesign of the web site, publication of the editorial style guidelines for the course catalogue, and achieving a major milestone with the "blue pages project." This strong support has enabled the Office's two administrative staff -- Barrie Gleason and Ruth Davis -- to contribute in larger measure to publishing collaborations across campus, especially with the Dean's Office and the Graduate Education Office.

More information about the Communications Office can be found on the World Wide Web at

Barrie Gleason


The mission of the Center is to meet the informational needs of the MIT community, visitors to the campus, and the public; to promote a sense of community within MIT; and to support conferences and events which enhance MIT's role in the broader academic community.


The Center continued to serve as an information and welcome point for visitors, as well as a central information source for members of the MIT community. Staff in the Center distributed over 41,000 pamphlets, brochures, maps, guides, and catalogues; answered and directed to other offices thousands of telephone and in-person inquiries; and served as a clearinghouse for mail addressed simply to MIT. Head guide for the campus tours was again Atif Chaudry, `97. Terri Priest Nash, staff associate in the Center, trained 24 student guides who conducted tours for 14,225 visitors, of whom 5,101 were prospective students, 1,706 international visitors, and the remaining guests visiting MIT. Terri arranged for 60 short-term visits which brought 943 guests to campus.

Donald Ferland, assistant to the Director, handled the arrangements for nearly 300 recruitment presentations by companies and other organizations that visit MIT under the auspices of the Office of Career Services and Preprofessional Advising.

The Director also managed the campus logistics of the National Innovation Summit in March, which included an address by Vice President Albert Gore.

Commencement activities began with the Hooding Ceremony for 400 doctoral degree recipients, held in Rockwell Cage the afternoon before Commencement. The ceremony was once again a success, with over 80 faculty members on hand to help celebrate, as Dean for Graduate Education J. David Litster and the relevant department representative presented each candidate with his or her doctoral hood.

The 132nd Commencement Exercises brought many firsts to campus. Dr. David D. Ho, renowned AIDS researcher, and President William J. Clinton spoke to the largest graduating class in MIT history on June 5, 1998. President Clinton was the first sitting President to speak at the Institute. The Exercises were broadcast live on the World Wide Web. The day also brought record numbers of alumni and alumnae, family, and friends to this year's Exercises.

Also in June, the Center assisted with the logistical arrangements for the Annual Retirement Dinner and the community farewell celebration for retiring Senior Vice President William R. Dickson.


The office of Conference Services manages the logistical arrangements for conferences and meetings sponsored by MIT faculty and staff. This past year, the Office coordinated 38 such events -- ranging in size from 10 to 2,000 -- which brought more than 11,000 visitors to campus.

These events included the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences Meeting, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Professionals Meeting, the Whitehead Institute Annual Symposium, the Senior Congressional Staff Seminar, and the Massachusetts Special Olympics Summer Games.

The Office's collaboration with the Industrial Liaison Program continued and included assistance with the logistics of the Modeling of Industrial Materials Conference, the AI and Business Conference, the MEMS: Research and Applications in Microelectromechanical Systems Conference, the Annual Research Directors Conference, and the Supply Chain Design for Strategic Advantage Conference.

In addition, the Conference Services staff has responsibility for the event registration process for non-student events; this year more than 200 applications were processed.


The Center, under the director of Gayle Gallagher, includes Kathleen Barrett and Terri Priest Nash as Staff Associates for information dissemination, tour operations, and short-term visits; Donald Ferland as Administrative Assistant to the Director; and Lee Corbett, who joined the Center in November to assist with general information and visitor services. The Conference Services staff are supervised by Cathi Di Iulio and include Marie Seamon, Joy Hubbard, and Eva Cabone. Joy and Eva joined the staff in October and January, respectively.

Gayle M. Gallagher


The mission of the News Office is to achieve the highest level of public interest in MIT by finding and reporting newsworthy stories and photographs about MIT and its people; encouraging and assisting reporters to develop their own stories here; publishing the official newspaper, MIT Tech Talk; monitoring internal and external developments that might bring favorable or unfavorable public attention; and handling them with integrity in the best interest of MIT.


The visit of President William J. Clinton to MIT to speak to the graduating seniors of 1998 brought a new level of media attention to the Institute, with more than 100 reporters and camera people attending Commencement and reporting on it. The speech was carried live on the Internet and on various broadcast media, and the entire ceremony-- including the speeches by President Clinton, AIDS researcher Dr. David D. Ho, and President Charles M. Vest -- was carried by the Media One cable television company, which serves Cambridge and many other communities. Another highlight of the year was the first National Innovation Summit, which was attended by more than 60 members of the media.

The News Office marked program milestones in working with MIT Video Productions to produce video news releases for the World Wide Web and sending to TV networks and stations full Beta tapes, including about 30 minutes of interviews and B-roll. The first two videos, on the Penguin boat and Cog, the humanoid robot from the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, were well received in the US and abroad. The use of color photography in its post-Commencement issue represented a new departure for Tech Talk.

Following Commencement, the influential French newspaper Le Monde published a very complimentary full page feature on MIT and the Infinite Corridor, titling the article: "MIT: The corridor of the future." In April, the Financial Times of London, recognizing the reputation of MIT, put this headline on a story about a $54-million corporate gift to England's Cambridge University: "Cambridge University aims to rival MIT."

Another event that garnered major attention for MIT was a good-humored series of articles about the false Internet rumor that Kurt Vonnegut had spoken at the 1997 MIT Commencement and had advised seniors to "wear sunscreen." The Institute and its real speaker, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, got a new round of publicity about an old speech. A hack by MIT students made national television when they lit up the windows of the Green Building in the image of an Oscar for the movie "Good Will Hunting." The movie won two Oscars for its story about a math genius from South Boston who, while working as a janitor at MIT, solves the most difficult math problem posted by an Institute professor.

MIT and its people received many awards. Three former MIT professors were honored with Nobel prizes in economics and physics. US News and World Report again concluded that MIT was number one in engineering, in seven engineering departments, and in economics and biology. MIT Professor Robert Langer, with more than 300 inventions to his credit, was awarded the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention and innovation, on the recommendation of an independent jury. Professor Wolfgang Ketterle won the Discover Magazine award for the development of the atom laser, with three other MIT-related inventions also receiving awards. Five MIT inventions won R&D Magazine Awards. World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, now of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science and the World Wide Web Consortium, won a $270,000 MacArthur Fellowship.

News stories that generated significant attention included many science stories; a best-selling book by historian Pauline Maier about the Declaration of Independence; and the tragic death of freshman Scott Krueger, which prompted intensive discussion of Institute policies with respect to the use of alcohol and first-year housing. Outstanding developments in science that generated major attention from the press included the atom laser; a new fuel cell; a new, more powerful battery, which substitutes inexpensive aluminum for most of the expensive cobalt; the intelligent room, which anticipates its resident's wishes; planetary observations that appear to prove Einstein's frame-dragging theory; and identification by biologists of the mechanism for aging.

Stories from past years that continued to generate news dividends included the BankBoston study, "MIT: The Impact of Innovation," the Penguin Boat, and the ever-popular RoboTuna, now in its fifth year of generating publicity for MIT.

Major Institute news included the appointments, effective August 1, 1998, of Professor Robert A. Brown to succeed Professor Joel Moses as Provost and of Professor Lawrence S. Bacow as Chancellor. Assistant Director David L. Briggs was named to succeed Walter E. Morrow Jr. as Director of Lincoln Laboratory.

Tech Talk produced a record number of pages of news. Traditionally an eight-page weekly newspaper (with supplements such as the job listings), it produced a 20-page issue this year. The News Office distributed 180 news releases and features to the news media. Media and publishers requested 350 News Office photographs of MIT people and events. The MIT Research Digest was published ten times, from September through June, and two special publications were published: the MIT Guide to Experts in Physiology, Medicine and Health, and, for the Washington Office, a third edition of the MIT Briefing Book.


This was an unprecedented year for new hires, with four full-time employees coming on board: Sarah Wright, senior writer; Denise Brehm, assistant editor of Tech Talk; Deborah Halber, science writer; and Patricia Foley, senior office assistant/receptionist. LaKeitha Evelyn resigned as senior office assistant/receptionist. The Hometown Bureau was started, utilizing an MIT student and a summer employee to get done in record time the hometown news about students who graduated from MIT.

In addition to the recently hired staff, the News Office staff are Associate Director Robert J. Sales; Assistant Director for Photography Donna M. Coveney; Administrative Assistant Myles P. Crowley; Editorial and Graphics Assistant Lisa Damtoft; Administrative Secretary Mary Anne Hansen; Assistant Director for Science and Engineering Elizabeth A. Thomson; and Assistant Director and Editor of Tech Talk Alice C. Waugh.

More information about the News Office can be found on the World Wide Web at

Kenneth D. Campbell


The Publishing Services Bureau's mission is to act as a single coordinated channel for publishing activities across the Institute, applying the principles of supplier consolidation, strategic planning, technological awareness, cost savings, excellence in design, continuous learning, and customer satisfaction.


PSB coordinated the production of over 1,300 jobs. With the help of its new database, PSB tracked all aspects of publishing activities for jobs passing through the Bureau, creating both a baseline for the analysis of design, production schedules, and printing costs as well as the creation of an archived job history.

Approximately $1.3 million was processed in print in fiscal year 1998 with an additional $1.5 million channeled directly to MIT/PSB interim print partners; an additional $200,000 in design was managed through PSB as well. Throughout the year, PSB worked with approximately 25 interim print partners, testing supplier consolidation assumptions and modeling best practice behaviors. Concurrently with the interim partnerships, PSB continued the process of evaluating, interviewing, and visiting print vendors to develop a partnership short list for the future.

PSB partnerships with both the Communications Office and Campus Wide Information Systems have led to the exchange of ideas and information about related business processes and aligned planning activities, providing seamless support interface for MIT customers in the area of electronic publishing and strategic print planning.

PSB has coordinated nearly 25 electronic publishing projects with CWIS and continued to collaborate on variations of the main MIT home page. Pursuing the concept of "offices with invisible walls," CWIS maintains an office in the Bureau space and shares computer and software resources.

Strategic alliance with the Communications Office has led to a relationship in which PSB plays a role as both a broker and a partner. In addition to advising Communications on their own publishing projects, both organizations have joined together to model and publicize effective publishing processes. Ongoing efforts include publication plan projects for Student Services, the Sloan School, the Alumni Association, the Graduate Education Office, and the Admissions Office. Other partners at MIT include the Copy Technology Centers, Mail Services, and Document Services, with PSB working to promote the services of these groups at MIT and establish smoother lines of communication and workflow.

After receiving funding from the Senior Vice President's Office, PSB began investigating and developing an identity system for the Institute to reflect MIT's mission and values as well as facilitate the operational handling of the Institute's communications. As part of its effort to establish equity in an MIT identity system, PSB has taken on several projects to design publications for high-level or high-visibility publishing efforts, such as the covers for the MIT phone directories and Reports to the President. Other projects have been recycled into templates for the entire MIT community. Future PSB work with the MIT identity will build on work on the freshman admissions package, the freshman admissions and financial aid application, various MIT Museum publications, invitations for departmental events in Ocean Engineering and Chemical Engineering, and a coordinated letterhead/business card system for several student services departments.



Marc Mancuso joined PSB last July, coming to us from the Cambridge teacher's volunteer program. In February, Kate Miller left PSB to move to Ireland. Monica Lee, a customer service representative from Charles River Publishing, succeeded her.

More information about the Publishing Services Bureau can be found on the World Wide Web at

Bruce Bernstein

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98