MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXII No. 2
November / December 2009
Retirement Planning
Changes in MIT's 401(k) Plan
What Else (Besides the Syllabus) Should Students Learn in Introductory Physics?
Holiday Readings and Reflections
Memorial Resolution for David B. Schauer
The MIT150 Symposia: A Call for Proposals
Request for Proposals for Teaching
and Education Enhancement
MIT Professional Education: Call for
Summer 2010 Short Course Proposals
Allocating Faculty Time
OpenCourseWare (OCW)
Expenses and Funding
OpenCourseWare (OCW)
Monthly Global and MIT Visits
Printable Version

From The Faculty Chair

Holiday Readings and Reflections

Thomas A. Kochan

I hope everyone takes time to enjoy the upcoming holidays with family and friends. As you do so, I’d encourage you to take a few documents home with you and use them to reflect on where we are going as a community. The reports capture much of the hard and thoughtful work our peers have put into helping shape the future of MIT.

I would put the report of the Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity at the top of your list. This committee has conducted a two-year comprehensive review and assessment of MIT’s efforts to attract and retain minority faculty. Committee Chair Paula Hammond summarized the report at the November faculty meeting and it will be available in mid-January on the Institute’s new “Inventing Our Future” Website: The report will demonstrate that MIT has made some progress in this area but still has much work to do to meet our objective of attracting and retaining a more diverse faculty. This cannot and will not be a report that is issued and then put on the shelf. All of us from the chair of the faculty, to deans, department heads, to individual faculty members need to use this report as a working guide for how to redouble our efforts to obtain the benefits in education and research that flow from diverse faculty. I welcome your ideas on how we can put this report to work.

The final report of the Institute-wide Planning Task Force should also be available for holiday reading. This is a remarkable document both for its substantive ideas and for the process that generated it. This is our report – generated by over 80 faculty and another 120 or so staff, student, and administrative contributors. Now we need to sort through the ideas in the report, test their costs and benefits more completely, modify and sharpen them as necessary, and then implement those that can both help address our budget problems and make MIT stronger for the long run.

Some of this is already underway. A very hardworking faculty and staff advisory group is looking at the alternatives posed for reducing benefit costs. Watch for more information coming from this group soon.

The Sloan School has launched a very promising “talent bank” experiment to expand opportunities for current staff and reduce reliance on temporary and contract help. Others are working on modernizing our travel and procurement systems. Still others will process ideas for new revenue generation. This is MIT at work.

Let’s keep it up. Read the report and find some ideas that interest (or concern) you and get engaged in taking them to their best logical conclusion.

To satisfy your global interests, look carefully at two recent reports on MIT’s international linkages. There is no doubt that our global reach will continue to grow in the years ahead. The real question is how can we shape and control this process. The report of the International Advisory Committee, Mens et Manus et Mundus outlines a set of suggested criteria for assessing opportunities and proposals as they either come to us from outside of MIT or from an internal faculty or administrative group. Another report, prepared by the MIT Global Council summarizes the growing number of international educational opportunities available to our students. Together these reports give us a roadmap for assessing proposals that come to MIT and for being more proactive in developing opportunities that advance our mission.

Reading these reports will demonstrate the range of faculty members working on key strategic issues, and perhaps encourage you to get involved in the year ahead.
But the holidays are a time to reflect not just on our professional but also on our personal lives. So let me end with my best wishes to you and your families for the holidays and the new year.

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