MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


This year the Planning Office accomplished a wide range of Institute planning projects. Drawing on years of effort to create reliable data resources on MIT's demographic, financial, and physical resources, as well as access to comparative data from peer institutions, the office has been able to respond to requests for policy analysis, physical planning, land resource requirements, general information, and capital planning needs.

The Planning Office provided information and support to senior officers and Resource Development staff regarding the possible capital campaign, including an analysis and review of capital costs and financing alternatives. In addition, the office is conducting on-going research and analysis, as well as document preparation and production, for use in donor relations.

The Planning Office tracked MIT's campus design issues on a continuing basis as part of its responsibility to help the senior administration chart a course for the future. The major public improvements contemplated around the campus by city, state, and federal agencies and the possibility of a capital campaign all require a clear vision of the future of the campus. In addition, as we anticipate increasing scrutiny at both the local and federal regulatory levels, we have begun to identify the information and design requirements involved, as well as ensuring that up-to-date master plan materials are available.

Based on the pending availability of data from reengineered central administrative systems, the office worked to streamline procedures for accessing data from central sources, including financial expenditures, departmental budgets, personnel statistics, space data, teaching load calculations, enrollments, and majors. An analysis of past requests demonstrated a need to increase the level of detail and the quantity of current and historical information needed for specific studies. This was particularly important for studying a variety of issues including departmental or building space utilization and for projecting demand for diverse physical resources such as academic and research facilities, service access, and off-street parking.

Other activities included design and administration of surveys of the MIT community, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, parents, and alumni. The office also served as the central clearinghouse for responses to external surveys as it has for a number of years, completing more than 200 this year which included inquiries from NSF and other federal agencies, Congress (via the MIT Washington Office), national accreditation boards and commissions such as ASEE, peer institutions, national publications, and the press.

MIT currently faces a variety of pressures to increase the supply and quality of on- and near-campus housing and these pressures are expected to increase over the next five years due to the changes in the existing housing supply for students, both undergraduate and graduate, faculty, and staff including the impact of rent decontrol and a reaction to increasing commuter traffic through the city from the suburbs. The Institute's need for additional housing resources has been affected by demographic factors such as increased numbers of women students, increased competition for faculty and students, and general changes in the composition of the faculty, staff, and affiliate populations. These are trends which are expected to continue.

In conjunction with the increased demand on student housing, the office engaged in planning for new undergraduate and graduate residences, modeling the effects of various alternative policies governing student housing and enrollment strategy and developing alternatives which incorporate housing for faculty and distinguished visitors on the campus. The office maintained an inventory of housing sites suitable for both short-term and long-term development and has reserved these locations in the campus master plan to ensure that the land will be available when the program need calls for them.

The issue of land resources continued to be an important one during the year. The Planning Office tracked all MIT-owned land in Cambridge, as well as all other land currently in use or potentially dedicated to academic and research activities. The office also prepared an annual report for the senior officers which included an analysis of anticipated needs and current market opportunities, and which recommended acquisition priorities.

Once again, transportation and parking were of major concern to the Institute. The federal government, the Commonwealth, the MDC, the MBTA, and the City of Cambridge continued the process of making policy decisions on transportation and development near the campus which have profound implications for the Institute. Further, the office engaged in the planning for new garage facilities, campus shuttle services, and parking fees. Staff members supported the faculty committee on Parking and Transportation, and provided the analytical component of the parking permit allocation process.

The need for generating new and upgraded academic facilities continued in an environment of changing expectations and increased competition for faculty, students, and research funding. In anticipation of these needs, the Planning Office maintained a list of long-range facilities resource needs in an effort to ensure that adequate space resources are available to academic and research activities.

During the year, the office was involved in a number of building projects including the CIIS/Stata Complex, the proposed Teaching and Learning Center, the Media Lab expansion, the Sloan School Design Concours and its associated planning and program definition efforts, planning for a new neuroscience facility, and the ongoing program of classroom renovations.

Throughout the year, the level of demand on MIT's athletic and recreational facilities continued to increase. The quality and availability of these facilities has become a more important factor in recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students, and in demonstrating MIT's commitment to women students under Title IX. The office engaged in projects including the programming of the Central Athletics Facility Phases I and II (pool and additional phases), planning for satellite athletic and recreational facilities (e.g. in the residences), and needs assessments for the Pierce Boathouse expansion and the Sailing Pavilion renovation.

The organizational and operating changes brought about by reengineering have highlighted the Institute's need for identifying and implementing the most appropriate and efficient uses of space for administrative and support purposes. In that regard, the Planning Office continued to work with the Committee for Resource and Space Planning and the Space Administrator. During the year, initiatives included a review of users and priorities in Buildings E18 and E19, support for the space change program within the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (including Bursar, Registrar, and Career Services), site analysis and relocation priorities for materials handling activities, Physical Plant relocation, Information Systems consolidation, and child care facilities.

The importance of appearance and the quality of MIT's physical environment remained an important focus of the Planning Office again this year. The office provided direction on the preparation of an RFP for a landscape master plan, prepared a preliminary plan for renovating Vassar Street, and is working closely with the City on the renovation of Massachusetts Avenue.

O. Robert Simha

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98