Faculty Committee Activity: Spring 2012 Update
At the beginning of each semester, the chairs and staff of the Standing Committees of the Faculty meet to discuss key issues on their committees’ agendas. In particular, these gatherings provide the opportunity for committee leadership to collaborate on topics that cut across the faculty governance system and require close consultation and coordination. In an effort to promote transparency and to engage the faculty more openly about committee business, the Office of the Faculty Chair will write a biannual piece for the Faculty Newsletter summarizing these discussions.
Among the issues on the committees’ agendas for the spring semester, the Committee on Curricula (CoC), the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), and the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) are collaborating to review a three-year experiment that the CUP licensed in May 2009. The experiment, which was authorized in conjunction with the approval of the new Energy Studies minor, was undertaken to determine the feasibility of an alternative to the current governance model for interdisciplinary minors. As part of that experiment, the Inter-School Education Council (ISEC) was established to provide oversight for this new minor, whose curriculum spans five Schools. As the experiment nears its conclusion, the committees are working to determine the best approach for long-term oversight of Institute-wide interdisciplinary minors.
Several of the committees have been engaging the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences as the School refines its plans for reorganization of several units within Course 21. In the coming months, the committees will continue to review the School’s proposal to understand and advise on any implications within the purview of faculty governance, including those for the educational programs.
A number of committees have an interest in the development of MIT 2030, the Institute’s framework for planning for the future of the MIT campus. Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz, Associate Provost Martin Schmidt, and Mr. Steven Marsh, Managing Director of Real Estate, will join the FPC later this semester for a discussion about the planned development of the campus and Kendall Square. The FPC has engaged in several discussions about MIT 2030 over the last two years. The committee is looking for ways to ensure broad faculty input as the plans take shape. In addition to the FPC’s interest, the framework being established as part of MIT 2030 will impact issues under the purview of the Committee on the Library System (CLS) (e.g., space planning for the libraries) and the Committee on Student Life (e.g., dining and housing).
The CLS remains focused on continuing to keep scholarly materials accessible to MIT faculty and students. Especially in recent years, the CLS has devoted much of its effort to finding creative ways to openly disseminate the faculty’s scholarly research and writing and to ensure access to the work of their peers. The committee has charged the Open Access Working Group to continue to strengthen Open Access, and remains committed to building partnerships with other libraries. In January, the Libraries announced that they have joined with a number of peer institutions’ libraries as part of the Borrow Direct Library Partnership, an agreement that provides Institute community members access to materials from other schools’ libraries.
The Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA) is working closely with the Office of Admissions to incorporate faculty input more comprehensively into the admissions process. The committee is encouraging the Office of Admissions to engage faculty in conversations about the kinds of students who have the greatest intellectual impact on the Institute.
The introduction and planned expansion of MITx is a topic of great interest to the faculty committees. Throughout the academic year, the Provost has met with the FPC, both to keep the committee informed and to solicit advice in determining the next steps for the initiative. The FPC will continue to meet with the Provost to offer guidance as MITx moves past the experimental phase and becomes incorporated further into the residential learning model.
The IAP Subcommittee of the FPC has started its work to review the changes that IAP has seen since its introduction 40 years ago. The subcommittee in particular is looking at issues of governance with respect to the sharp increase in the number of for-credit and required subject offerings. The subcommittee is soliciting feedback from a wide cross section of the Institute and hopes to present a preliminary report to the FPC at the end of the spring semester.