MIT Reports to the President 1997-98
FACULTY POLICY COMMITTEE
This year the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) oversaw those aspects of educational and academic policy that are specific responsibilities of the Faculty and provided faculty input toward policy development at the Institute. The Committee met twice with President Vest and once with Provost Moses. It also met with the Deans of the five Schools and the chairs of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning. The FPC used these opportunities to convey faculty opinions on a variety of topics ranging from the quality of community interactions to teaching issues and campus facilities. The FPC Subcommittee on Faculty Work and Personal Life continued its work from last year, and in the spring, the FPC charged two additional subcommittees: the Subcommittee on the Bachelor of Arts and Science Degree Option and the Subcommittee on Exam and Term Regulations. The FPC also heard from and coordinated the work of the other Faculty committees and reviewed several changes in procedures and programs. In addition, the Committee reviewed several proposed degree programs; two of the programs were approved and forwarded to the Faculty for a vote, and two will be reviewed further during 1998-99.
Throughout the year, the FPC engaged in discussions concerning faculty priorities. The Committee identified three primary areas of concern: community interactions, quality of faculty life, and faculty governance; highlighted a number of concerns; and made several recommendations.
The FPC discussed the need for improved community interactions at MIT, particularly between faculty and students and between faculty in different departments. Members identified several themes that are conducive to increased and improved interaction among groups of people within the MIT community: a new liberal education (as defined by the Task Force on Student Life and Learning), a new paradigm for faculty life (possibly with an increased reliance on internal assessment in the tenure evaluation), technology and its use, and interdisciplinary research.
In addition, the FPC considered the current state of campus facilities and the impact of campus planning decisions on the quality of community interactions. The Committee supported continued commitment to classroom renovations, and undergraduate, graduate student, and faculty housing. Furthermore, members urged the administration to give careful consideration to expanded child-care facilities, undergraduate dining facilities, and public and community space.
Quality of Faculty Life
The Committee ennumerated issues that seem to contribute to faculty time pressures including: extensive travel mandated by research, pursuit of research funding, the demands of teaching responsibilities, and insufficient administrative and technical support. Since discussions about undergraduate and faculty interaction consistently identify faculty time as a problem, members agreed that some relief must be found if the situation is to improve. Furthermore, the FPC advocated placing stronger value on faculty contributions through teaching, advising, and Institute service and continuing to explore faculty housing, flexibility in the tenure clock, and other initiatives to relieve the stress on MIT faculty members. Fear was expressed taht faculty recruitment and retention, particularly of women faculty, will be adversely effected without careful attention to this issue.
The FPC discussed the shortcomings of the faculty governance structure and took steps to modify several areas:
These discussions were continued by some of the other Faculty Committees, notably the Committee on Faculty-Administration, the Committee on Student Affairs, and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program. In addition, the work of the FPC subcommittees addressed some of these issues in more depth.
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FACULTY WORK AND PERSONAL LIFE
During 1997-98, the subcommittee was chaired by Professor Leigh Royden. Other members included Professors John Grotzinger, Seth Lloyd, and Jeffrey Shapiro, and Chairman of the Corporation Mr. Alexander d'Arbeloff. The group identified tractable issues in four areas where change would have an impact on improving faculty morale:
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE BACHELOR OF ARTS AND SCIENCE DEGREE OPTION
In April, the FPC charged a subcommittee with exploring the possibility of creating a new undergraduate degree option at MIT, tentatively titled the bachelor of arts and science degree (BAS). The notion for such a degree came out of discussions with the chairs of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning and Provost Moses. The subcommittee's membership included Professor Samuel Allen as chair; two FPC members, Professor Jeffrey Shapiro and Mr. Dedric Carter; Professor Jeanne Bamberger from the arts; Professor Isabelle de Courtivron from the humanities; and Professor Paul Schechter from the sciences. In addition, three of the members, Professors Allen and Shapiro and Mr. Carter, were from engineering. The group was charged with three tasks: setting up a rationale for offering such a degree, sketching out some possible options, and looking at some of the potential issues that might arise.
The group's discussions highlighted three periods in an undergraduate's experience where the existence of the BAS might have a significant impact: 1) when a student chooses whether to enroll at MIT or at another institution; 2) when an undergraduate at the Institute is defining what her/his academic experience ought to encompass; 3) when an individual enters the work environment of the twenty-first century upon graduation from MIT.
Although the limited time frame prevented the subcommittee from recommending specific parameters for the degree, the group felt that the BAS would enrich undergraduate academic life at MIT and, therefore, strongly urged further consideration of the proposal. A follow-up group will be charged with further development of the BAS proposal.
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EXAM AND TERM REGULATIONS
In the spring, the FPC, concerned over the increasing number of reported violations, charged a subcommittee with reevaluating current faculty regulations governing the administration of quizzes, tests, and exams.
Subcommittee members include Professor Donald Sadoway as chair; Professors Paola Rizzoli and Arthur Smith, the chairs of CAP and COC; Associate Dean Alberta Lipson from the office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs; and Mr. Jeremy Sher, chair of the UA Student Committee on Educational Policy. One more student may be added. The subcommittee is focusing on both issues related to the end of term and those related to term time. The group is looking at the history behind the issues and reviewing current policies. It advocates fewer, more broadly agreed-upon rules that allow for sensible experimentation and has articulated several guiding principles with the goal of enhancing MIT's educational mission:
The subcommittee considers no topic taboo and is reviewing MIT's policies for take-home and evening exams, as well as considering creative scheduling ideas. The group feels that wide faculty acceptance of the regulations is critical to their success, and that raising awareness of the regulations would reduce some violations. Finally, the regulations should address violations and deviations with a complaint-handling mechanism that operates in a swift and logical manner. The group will continue to meet during the summer and hopes to report to the Faculty in the fall.
FPC member Professor Leigh Royden spearheaded an initiative seeking an Institute commitment to establish a centrally located child-care facility that could accommodate approximately 100 children, particularly infants. FPC members felt that the issue of child care is directly connected to faculty recruitment and, after discussing the initiative, the FPC resolved that:
The ability of research universities to survive and flourish into the twenty-first century will be determined largely by the quality of their faculty. Because the career demands on young faculty often compete with their shared family responsibilities, the availability of high-quality, proximally located child care is becoming increasingly important in MIT's ability to recruit and retain young faculty. Thus, the establishment of a high-quality, centrally located child care facility that includes infant care on the main MIT campus is a top priority in MIT's near-term planning for campus construction, for example within the new CIIS building or in the Media Lab extension. Identification of funds for construction of child care facilities is urgent and should be a top priority for the MIT administration.
The Planning Office has appointed a faculty committee to advise on child care needs. This committee, chaired by Professor Royden, includes eight other faculty members.
JOINT MIT/WHOI M.ENG. IN OCEAN ENGINEERING
In April, Professor J. Kim Vandiver and Dean Isaac Colbert came to the FPC to present a proposal to establish a joint MIT/WHOI M.Eng. in Ocean Engineering. The proposed program mirrors an M.Eng. that has been offered by the Department of Ocean Engineering for several years, but would allow for the full participation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). MIT and WHOI already offer joint S.M. and Ph.D. programs. Due to a variety of circumstances, this proposal had progressed partially through the approval process, but was never brought to the Committee on Graduate School Policy (CGSP), the FPC, the Faculty, or the Corporation. There were four students ready to graduate in June, approximately 10 more who were close to finishing the first year of the program, and others who had been admitted for the fall. The FPC voted separately on the granting of the degree to students currently enrolled and approval of the program as a whole. Both issues were approved. The Joint MIT/WHOI M.Eng. in Ocean Engineering was brought to the Faculty at the April meeting and approved in May.
MASTERS OF SCIENCE IN COMPARATIVE MEDIA STUDIES
Also in April, Dean Philip Khoury and Professor Henry Jenkins visited the FPC seeking approval for an M.S. program in Comparative Media Students. In presenting the proposal, Professor Jenkins spoke of the increasingly central role media technology plays in the global, digital revolution and of the need to understand its effects on families, work, education, law, etc. He stressed that industry thinks across media, e.g., film, television, and the Web, and this program will strive to address the social science questions around this trend in a way that is not medium specific. It is anticipated that the program will attract students with related professional experience and prepare them for further professional work or graduate studies. It will be overseen by a steering committee and result in a Course 21 degree.
FPC members inquired about the impact of the program on the undergraduate program, the development of new subjects, and the need for new faculty. Professor Jenkins indicated that several new subjects will be developed for the program, but a number of the courses included in the curriculum are already being offered. Initially, there would be no need for additional faculty slots; however, the ultimate goal is to build a core group of faculty who teach exclusively in media studies. FPC members approved the proposal and acknowledged the long-term potential of the program, which was presented to the Faculty at its April meeting and approved in May.
PROPOSED EVENING PROGRAM FOR A MASTERS OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
The FPC engaged in considerable discussion about the proposal to establish an evening MBA program, and the impact such a program would have on Sloan and the rest of the Institute. The Committee met with Professors Berndt and Yates, and later with Dean Urban about the proposal and conveyed concern regarding a variety of issues including allocation of faculty and space resources, undergraduate access to Sloan courses, and the viability and advisability of an evening program. Sloan received CGSP approval to continue to develop the proposal, and the FPC will review the proposal again in 1998.
INTERDISCIPLINARY DOCTORATE IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MATERIALS
Professor Linn Hobbs visited the FPC in the spring to discuss a proposal to establish an interdisciplinary doctoral program in archaeological materials. The initiative preserves and consolidates MIT's reputation in the area of archaeological materials. There is a strong feeling in the department of Materials Science and Engineering and the discipline that this area of study should be pushed forward. Although interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs are generally reviewed by the CGSP on an ad hoc basis and do not require a Faculty vote, the department is seeking to establish a formal program in an effort to attract NSF and foundation funding.
The curriculum includes Course 3 work, but extends to urban studies, archaeology, STS, geology, and engineering. It is anticipated that graduates will go on to work in museums or find academic jobs in archaeology or materials science departments. For this reason, the program has been intentionally balanced between the two fields and will be overseen by an auxiliary committee working in conjunction with a departmental committee. It is hoped that this structure will safeguard the elements of the program that fall outside Course 3 jurisdiction.
The department expects an enrollment of up to 10 students. Most of the inquiries regarding the status of the proposal have been from undergraduates with materials science majors and archaeology minors. However, Ph.D. candidates might also come from the pool of archaeology/anthropology undergraduates who seek a clear, rigorous, analytical, and scientific approach to the field. Applicants will need a background in science or engineering rather than an undergraduate degree in historical archaeology or anthropology.
In reviewing the curriculum, the FPC expressed concern that a number of core courses during the first year would be taken at Harvard. The Committee recommended establishing an MIT-based seminar to follow up on the Harvard subjects and strengthen the student cohort. The proposal was approved by the FPC and will be taken to the Faculty for a vote in the fall.
DIVISION OF BIOENGINEERING AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
In accordance with the recommendations of the Widnall Report for cases involving moving or restructuring academic departments and in consultation with the Faculty Chair, Dr. Vest appointed a committee to review the procedures concerning the shift of Toxicology to the School of Engineering. The committee was chaired by Professor Canizares and included Professors Murman and Rogers. In the spring, the FPC met with Dean Brown regarding the proposal to establish a Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health in the School of Engineering. At the same time, the FPC reviewed the report of the review committee. The Committee found the procedures to be appropriate and thorough in both cases. The proposal to establish the Division was discussed at the May Faculty meeting.
COMMITTEE ON THE UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM
The CUP reviewed recommendations brought forward in the spring of 1997 by the Subcommittee on Freshman Advising (chaired by Professor Linn Hobbs) and charged a follow-up group, chaired by Professor Stephen Benton, to direct the future of the Freshman Advisor Seminar (FAS) program. Professor Benton and others worked with Provost Moses to establish a pilot, one-time, scholarly allowance of $1,500 for faculty who elected to lead an FAS in the fall of 1998. Professor Benton's subcommittee, working with Ms. Donna Friedman and others in the Academic Services office, was successful in increasing the yield of faculty-led seminars for the coming year. Final recommendations for the future of the Freshman Advising program will be forthcoming.
The CUP reviewed several proposals brought forward by Professor Thomas Greytak, chair of the Subcommittee on the First-Year Program. A proposal was approved to flag the registrations of students who sign up for subjects without record of having taken the listed co-requisite or prerequisite subject; the Academic Services office has launched a series of pilots in this area. In response to a letter unanimously endorsed by members of the subcommittee which recommended that all freshmen be housed in MIT residence halls, the CUP entered the discussion begun by Professor Greytak's committee. Discussions on housing also touched on related areas, such as residentially based advising for first-year students. In another related area, Dean Kip Hodges reported on his efforts to revamp the freshman orientation program for Fall 1998.
The CUP approved an experiment to develop a degree program in Archaeology and Materials within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The curriculum, which had been approved by the Committee on Curricula but forwarded to CUP because of concerns about some aspects of the proposal, was discussed with members of the Materials Science and Engineering department at several CUP meetings during the fall term. The experiment will be reviewed within the next three years.
The CUP heard updates from two groups involved in experiments licensed by the Committee. The Subcommittee on Intermediate Grading, chaired by Professor Paul Lagace, made an interim report to the Committee that included data gathered by the Registrar's office and by surveys of faculty and students. Final results of the experiment will not be formally presented until Fall 1998 so that data from Spring 1998 may be included in the report.
Professors Gene Brown and Langley Keyes, chairs of the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement, presented highlights from pilot projects that were initiated by the subcommittee during the 1997-98 academic year.
The CUP collaborated with the Task Force on Student Life and Learning at a day-long retreat in January that focused on the theme of improving cross-institutional educational collaborations. Beginning with meetings in March, the CUP devoted six sessions to planning for a review of the undergraduate program that would begin in the next academic year and to hearing a variety of perspectives on what skills and information students might need for the twenty-first century. Guests included Dr. Marshall Lih from the NSF, Professor Paul Joskow, Dean Philip Khoury, and Professors Harriet Ritvo, Philip Sharp, and Paul Lagace.
CUP business in other areas included the following:
OTHER FACULTY COMMITTEE REPORTS
During the 1997-98 academic year, the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP) operated without one faculty member, i.e., with only five faculty members (including the Chair, who voted in case of a tie) and three student members.
The CAP acted on a total of 611 petitions, a decrease of 5% from the previous year. More than half of these petitions (357) were acted upon administratively by the Chair. The Committee saw an increase of 12% in the number of petitions for late registration due to financial hold. It is the Committee's hope that next year's implementation of the new Financial Hold Policy will greatly reduce the number of petitions for late registration. The number of petitions to complete incompletes was down 14% due to the new policy whereby a student only needs to petition to complete incompletes awarded prior to the Fall 1996 term. CAP received very few petitions to exceed the IAP credit limit of 12 units, probably due to increased publicity of the enforcement of the credit limit through memos to instructors, freshmen and their advisors, and ads in The Tech.
CAP actions voted at the end-of-term grades meetings resulted in a total of 58 Required Withdrawals (RW), up from 51 during the previous year; and in 413 Warnings, down from 446 during the previous year. However, the number of RWs for Freshmen was only five, down from the 16 RWs voted in 1996-97. The summary of CAP actions taken on undergraduates in 1997-98 is:
In Fall 1997, CAP finalized the policy on Financial Holds and Retroactive Registration, which had been initiated two years earlier. The revised policy was brought to the Faculty Governance working group and the CUP in Spring 1998 and was approved in April 1998. A memo was drafted to be distributed to future CAP chairs and committees to insure that the procedure for consideration of retroactive awarding for students on financial hold becomes part of the standard action of the Committee. The process of widely publicizing the new policy needs to be undertaken as soon as possible for the policy to become effective by spring semester of the 1998-99 academic year.
Following a series of meetings in the fall term on the abuse of the evening exam policy by faculty, the CAP and UA Student Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP) jointly initiated the design and administration of a short survey of undergraduates in the spring semester to elicit their opinions about evening exams for daytime classes. The survey was prepared by the CAP Chair, the Associate Dean for Educational Research, and student representatives from the UA, CAP, and SCEP. Paper copies of the survey were administered by SCEP members, and the survey was placed on Feedback Forum during the second week of May. The summary of the Evening Exam survey was provided by the Associate Dean during the second week of June.
Starting in Fall 1997, the CAP Chair worked closely with Ms. Mary Enterline to revise and finalize the so-called CAP Guide, the last printed version of which dates back to 1990. The revisions were completed by late spring, and the Academic Guide for MIT Undergraduates and their Advisors was put on the Web as a PDF file in the first week of June. The hard copy is expected to be ready by late Summer 1998. The URL is: http://web.mit.edu/academics/academic-guide/.
The Committee on Corporate Relations (CCR) met actively throughout the year to identify the issues facing Corporate Relations (CR) as MIT moves into a capital campaign and the new millennium. Committee members recognize that the landscape of corporate relationships is changing on both the domestic and international fronts. In order to satisfy the needs of the mission statement, it is recommended that CR seek a proper balance in applying its finite resources to its internal customers (administration and faculty) and external customers (local and global companies, major corporate partners, and international academic and government programs). It is essential that attention be given to motivation and retention of key CR personnel. There is a need to continue to enhance communication with faculty and expand the base of faculty involvement in corporate relationships. An increased involvement in large international initiatives that overlap with innovation in education and research programs places additional demands on CR resources, which need to be balanced with commitments to corporate clients. Expansion of our major corporate partnerships requires new and major efforts in stewardship of these relationships. There is a need to identify an employee metrics by which CR can measure its effectiveness in meeting its mission and advancing toward the goals of the capital campaign.
The Committee on Curricula (COC) met 16 times during the 1997-98 academic year. The Committee approved proposals for new, canceled, and revised subjects, and reviewed student petitions for substitutions for the General Institute Requirements, as well as approving substantive curricular changes and upholding policy.
The COC approved the following: a new S.B. in Archaeological Materials as recommended by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (Course III-C), which was approved by CUP on an experimental basis; major changes to Course 1-C that encouraged a project-based approach; a proposal to revise the Minor in Cognitive Science and rename it Minor in Brain and Cognitive Science; and minor changes to Course 15's undergraduate program.
The Committee on Discipline (COD) heard charges against two students this year. One charge was for academic misconduct, and one was for personal misconduct. Three other charges for academic misconduct remain to be heard. The sanction for the charge of academic misconduct was informal probation; the sanction for the charge of personal misconduct was formal probation with a notation on the student's transcript. The Committee also reviewed a number of petitions for a variety of requests: the granting of a degree, returning to the Institute, and removal of disciplinary notations from transcripts.
The COD, in conjunction with the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education (ODSUE), continued its policy of regularly reporting disciplinary actions at Faculty meetings. Members hope that this practice will alert faculty members to the need for consistent reporting of incidents to the COD or ODSUE, so that students may become more aware of the risks they run by engaging in academic dishonesty.
This year the Harold E. Edgerton Award Selection Committee reviewed six nominations, all of them outstanding, for the Edgerton Award. After considerable deliberation, the committee selected Professor Steven Leeb as the recipient of the Harold E. Edgerton Award. Professor Leeb of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was commended for his work on mechatronics and the medical applications of polymer gels. He was also cited for his strong commitment to both undergraduate and graduate teaching. In addition, the Committee worked with the faculty officers and the Academic Council to clarify the criteria for the award, which now state:
The Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award Selection Committee chooses one individual from among the junior (non-tenured) members of the MIT Faculty to be awarded the Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award. Faculty members are ineligible for this award in the year that their tenure decision is mandatory. The purpose of the Award is to recognize exceptional distinction in teaching and research or scholarship.
This year the Committee on Faculty-Administration (CFA) developed recommendations concerning leaves and part-time appointments. These included an untenured faculty career development leave to occur between the second and fifth years of service, expanded unpaid personal leaves with more emphasis on part-time leaves, and provisions for part-time professorial appointments after the age of 59.5 designed to encourage transitions into retirement and promote faculty renewal.
The CFA worked closely with the Strategic Review of Benefits Committee to encourage the reduction of the normal retirement date to 62 and to provide for the withdrawal of 401(k) contributions after age 59.5 in order to allow for earlier retirement and part-time service.
Further recommendations were made regarding facilities for retired faculty and ways they could continue to be involved in life at MIT. These included recommendations that a retired faculty member serve on the CFA and on the Strategic Review of Benefits Committee and that faculty holding the rank of Professor Without Tenure (Retired) be allowed to vote at faculty meetings.
The Committee also enthusiastically backed new initiatives for expanded child care on campus and recommended that some form of subsidy be considered.
In 1997-98, the James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Selection Committee implemented changes in the nomination procedures. Under the new procedures, solicitations for nominations made to the faculty-at-large, with several follow-up reminders. A short list of candidates was selected, and additional information requested from nominators. The choice was both difficult and pleasurable as the candidates were outstanding. At the May Faculty meeting, the Committee announced Professor Pauline Maier as the 1998 Killian Award winner. She has been called "an historian's historian" and is one of this country's most distinguished experts of early America.
In its first meeting of the 1997-98 academic year, the Committee on the Library System heard and discussed a detailed presentation by Director Ann Wolpert on the State of the Libraries. Data were presented on library operations and activities. Other agenda items concerned strategies for the Library System budget in the period FY98-02, and possible capital campaign initiatives. A reexamination of the current policy of access privileges for non-MIT-affiliated library users was also discussed. The second meeting was devoted to a discussion of the FY99 budget and of future space needs for the libraries. A proposed user survey, to be distributed to students and faculty, was also considered. The third meeting was primarily devoted to a demonstration of the electronic resources available in the libraries and a discussion of how these extensive resources might best be publicized within the MIT community.
At the April Faculty Meeting, the Committee on Nominations presented the names of faculty members to serve on the 14 Standing Committees of the Faculty as well as the names of the faculty members to serve as Chair of the Faculty and Associate Chair of the Faculty. At its May meeting, the Faculty approved the nominations for the next Chair of the Faculty, Professor Steven Lerman, and Associate Chair, Professor Leigh Royden, as well as the names of 42 faculty members to serve on the Standing Committees.
The Committee on Outside Professional Activities (COPA) had a relatively quiet year. The COPA advised in several situations involving potential conflicts of interest for faculty, students, or staff. In none of these situations, however, were serious problems or obvious violations of MIT policy reported.
The Committee on Student Affairs (CSA) met a dozen times over the year. Stimulated by discussions of the undergraduate residential system taking place throughout the Institute, the CSA focused its efforts on seeking to understand and, where possible, appraise, the role and effectiveness of the graduate resident tutors in the on-campus residences. It heard from graduate residents, housemasters, administrators, and others and concluded in its draft report to the Dean for Student Life that the graduate resident system is an excellent resource which, like any system, will benefit from judicious fine-tuning. The Committee also followed closely the actions stemming from the Institute Dining Review in which it had played a key role in previous years.
During the 1997-98 academic year the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA) addressed both operational and strategic issues. Throughout the year, a constant theme was the Institute's need to do more to invite qualified students to apply and encourage admitted students to enroll. MIT will need to create expanded services and opportunities in order to enroll the best students in an increasingly competitive admissions and financial aid environment.
CUAFA encouraged new efforts to increase the yield of admitted students. The Admissions Office set up a new web page for admitted students, cross-organizational teams of people were formed to address answers to prospective students' and parents' questions, and faculty were recruited to telephone students and encourage their attendance. The Committee reviewed and endorsed plans to link faculty members with science magnet high schools to encourage early awareness of the Institute and its offerings. CUAFA strongly endorsed the moderation of the self-help level for the prospective aid year, primarily to reduce the growing level of debt incurred by MIT aid recipients. The Committee lauded the 12% reduction in self-help for all classes that was approved by the Academic Council for the 1998-99 academic year.
In 1997-98 a number of MIT's competitors initiated significant changes in financial aid policies. These changes were designed to attract target populations to those schools. In response, CUAFA initiated the creation of a task group to study the effects of these changes as well as the overall effect of price on application and enrollment patterns. This group will make recommendations for action to the Academic Council in November 1998
In addressing strategic issues, CUAFA recommended that students become involved with the reading of prospective freshman admissions applications. The Admissions Office included undergraduate and graduate student participation in the process for the first time in 1997-98 and will continue in the future on a limited basis. The Committee reviewed the process by which final admissions decisions are made. As a result, procedures were implemented to review admission decisions to assure the reliability and validity of these decisions across the application matrix cells. Finally, the Committee strongly endorsed the proposal that financial aid and admissions processing schedules be modified so that aid decisions could be mailed to students at the time of the admissions decisions. This was implemented for the first time in the 1997-98 academic year.
The Committee on the Writing Requirement (CWR) continued to oversee the current Institute Undergraduate Writing Requirement. In addition, it coordinated its activities to support the CUP Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement's development of the communication-intensive experiments and pilot programs mandated by the MIT Faculty.
To provide students with sufficient incentive to participate in these experiments, the CWR allowed, on an experimental basis, specifically designated communication-intensive subjects to satisfy one of the two phases of the Writing Requirement. Students receiving a grade of B- or better in the Sloan experimental seminar "Communication in the Workplace" or in the communication-intensive component of the Integrated Studies Program's subject SP354 "Technologies in Historical Perspective," automatically satisfied Phase One. For the 1998-99 academic year, the CWR has also granted automatic Phase One credit to students receiving a grade of B- or better in pilot subjects designated as communication-intensive by the HASS Overview Committee. Students successfully completing communication-intensive activities in Biology and Physics have been granted credit for Phase Two. The CWR will be assessing these arrangements as substitutes for the traditional methods of completing the Requirement and considering the expansion of these experiments to other departments during the 1998-99 academic year.
The Committee, in collaboration with the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, is currently offering entering members of the Class of 2002 the opportunity to take the Freshman Essay Evaluation over the summer via the Web. This pilot Web-based test provides writing contexts that more closely resemble the writing situations students will encounter as undergraduates at the Institute. Furthermore, it will allow students and their advisors to receive detailed and specific written evaluations of the student's writing rather than just summary scores. Finally, by taking the test over the summer, students reduce some of the pace and pressure of Orientation. The preliminary results of this experiment are very promising: 61 students have already taken the first of the three administrations planned this summer, and over 200 additional students are expected to take the other two. This fall, the Committee will evaluate the experiment's overall potential as a replacement for the traditional essay evaluation.
This year, the Committee concluded that many students at the Institute are unsure and confused about the standard academic rules governing the appropriate use of the language, information, and ideas from outside sources. The Committee has charged Professor James Paradis, the Head of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, and Dean Leslie Perelman, the Director of the Writing Requirement, with developing a prototype interactive Web site that will instruct students in 1) the general standards for acknowledging outside ideas and information, 2) the rules for appropriately using another person's language, and 3) general guidelines citing Web-based sources of information. The Committee will review the prototype in the fall.
Sincere appreciation is extended to the following faculty members for their special contributions and service as appointed Chairs of the Standing and Special Faculty Committees during the past year: Paola Rizzoli (Academic Performance), Charles L. Cooney (Corporate Relations), Arthur C. Smith (Curricula), Stephen C. Graves (Discipline), Richard M. Locke (Edgerton Award), Roy E. Welsch (Faculty-Administration), Rafael L. Bras (Killian Award), June L. Matthews (Library System), Arnoldo C. Hax (Nominations), Robert T. Sauer (Outside Professional Activities), John P. de Monchaux (Student Affairs), Harold Abelson (Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid), Suzanne Flynn (Undergraduate Program) and Winston R. Markey (Writing Requirement). Many thanks to Steven R. Lerman and Samuel M. Allen for their service as Associate Chair and Secretary of the Faculty.
Lotte Bailyn, Anna Frazer
MIT Reports to the President 1997-98