MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XX No. 5
May / June 2008
Financing Undergraduate Education
MIT Faculty Survey: It's About Time
Berwick, Lee, and Orlin Elected to
FNL Editorial Board
Reconsidering the Value of Service to MIT
Confidentiality in Recruitment, Promotion, and Tenure Reviews
Provost Announces Faculty Renewal Program
Endowment Spending Policy at MIT
A New Approach to MIT's Financial Planning
A Primer on Indirect Costs
Changes in Engineering Education
Anthropologists Express Concern Over Government Plan to Support Military-Related Research in Universities
Reflections on Nominations and Elections for Faculty Officers and Commmittees at MIT
Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity: Research Team and Effort Launched
The Man I Killed; Lise
Creating a Culture of Communication: Assessing the Implementation of the Undergraduate Communication Requirement
The Vision Thing
Lerman Now Dean for Graduate Education
The Spellings Commission Backs Off
Who Should Be Allowed to Speak
at Faculty Meetings?
from the 2008 Faculty Survey: Reasonableness of Workload
from the 2008 Faculty Survey:
Satisfaction with . . .
from the 2008 Faculty Survey:
Sources of Stress
Printable Version

The Vision Thing

Alison Alden

I have been at MIT a full year now, enough time to experience and appreciate the full depth of your, the faculty’s, commitment to MIT’s world-class teaching and research. You may wonder, what is the link between that and the head of Human Resources? In my view, we all live in the MIT work space. If our employees – who are crucial to keeping the wheels moving in your departments – are trained, engaged, and valued, we all benefit and MIT’s mission can be further attained. My vision is to have a world-class work community that parallels and supports the larger MIT mission.

Today, our work community has many strengths, but there are always opportunities for improvement. Diversity among the faculty ranks continues to be a challenge. Having the resources to attract junior faculty remains a key goal. Providing support for faculty who transition to administrative roles is another area that needs more attention. Retaining excellent administrative and support staff is critical. Providing support in your role as managers could make your life easier.

With a year under my belt, I will continue to reach out to broad groups across the campus, the better to understand their needs. HR has progressed beyond the “personnel office” to a group that is building relationships with faculty, deans, department heads, and assistant deans. Our focus is on improving service, solving problems through strategic program development and consulting, and responding to community feedback. I am happy to share some of these tangible efforts.

We have enhanced our benefits program based on feedback from faculty and staff. In line with maintaining our family-friendly structure, a new Adoption Assistance Program is now available at MIT. We are also beginning to look at ways to extend our childcare benefits, another issue important to faculty. Last January, we addressed rising health care costs by offering new coverage tiers, and we are currently exploring a lower-cost health plan for 2009. We are also investigating homeowner and car insurance to be offered at bulk premium rates. Finally, we have increased our benefits communication so you receive the information in a timely manner, through multiple means. Our goal is to facilitate your decision-making so you can move quickly to your work at hand.

Going beyond benefits, we are focusing on remaining competitive for faculty and staff salaries. To do this, we periodically review market data to help us both retain and attract the top talent.

Another issue HR is tackling is filling jobs quickly, with the highest quality candidates. By better coordinating candidate information among different areas, we have reduced the number of open positions and placed staff more promptly. We are increasingly collaborating with faculty in the hunt for executive directors, administrative officers, and program coordinators. We have also focused on hiring administrative assistants in the DLCs – another position pivotal to a smooth running workplace. By pre-qualifying candidates, the number of open jobs is down by 50 percent.

Lastly, as you know, administrative officers (AOs) are invaluable in supporting your research. To show our commitment to their professional development, we have piloted an AO Users Group. The AO Development Program, which will begin next fall, has evolved from this pilot program. The Program will target support and administrative staff who are interested in becoming an AO – with the goal of building our AO pipeline and thereby strengthening departments across the Institute.

I look forward to discussing how we are building a vibrant and diverse work community in upcoming issues of the Faculty Newsletter. In the interim, feel free to e-mail me with any questions or comments.

Back to top
Send your comments