MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXVII No. 4
March / April 2015
Global Issues Confront Us All
Campus Conversation on Climate Change
Why MIT Faculty Should NOT Sign the Petition to Divest from Fossil Fuels
Review Conference on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to take Center Stage
A Guide to Proposing, Revising, and Terminating Curricula
Advancing a Respectful and
Caring Community
In Support of the ICEO Mission Statement
Let's Get to Work in "Advancing a Respectful and Caring Community"
The Faculty Role in Building and
Sustaining Community
Supporting the ICEO Report
Advancing a Caring Community Through Enhanced Student-Faculty Interaction
Graduate Student Perspective
on the ICEO Report
ORCID Researcher Identifiers to be Integrated into MIT Systems Beginning this Summer
Humanities and the Future of MIT Education
MIT Campus Research Expenditures
Printable Version

Advancing a Caring Community Through
Enhanced Student-Faculty Interactions

Shruti Sharma ’15, Billy Ndengeyingoma '15

The Undergraduate Association (UA) is the student government of MIT and represents over 4,500 undergraduate students to faculty, administrators, and the Corporation to enhance student life at MIT. The UA is made up of an officers team and an executive team that includes the chairs of 14 committees such as the Committee on Student Support and Wellness, Committee on Education, and the newly formed Committee on Innovation. Student representation works widely across the Institute, and the UA’s Nomination Board is responsible for nominating students to faculty and presidential committees. Interior to the UA, the officers and executive team regularly interface with the UA Council comprised of the Dormitory Council, the Panhellenic Association, the Interfraternity Council, and the Living Group Council. The structure of the UA enables a representative and efficient student leadership.

In its efforts to enhance student life, the UA continues to advocate for a supportive and inclusive community. We will once again stress the importance of harnessing strong student-faculty relations to provide students the mentorship needed for a successful undergraduate career.

Academic and professional guidance is crucial, but students can hugely benefit from personal mentorship. Results from the Undergraduate Enrolled Survey from the Provost's Institutional Research show that 60.2% of students rarely or never talk to faculty, only 5.0% of students talk with faculty for personal concerns, and only 10.8% have engaged with faculty in an informal, social, or networking environment. On the other hand, over 88% of students have done or plan to conduct research with a faculty member. [2011 ESS:, pg 6.] This indicates that programs such as UROPs that create academic communities do not necessarily bridge the communication barrier between students and faculty. We appreciate the myriad of avenues for academic growth offered to students, but hope these avenues can also become clear paths for personal growth.

The Undergraduate Enrolled Student Survey also reveals that 28.9% of students are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with academic advising. We find that the current platform for advising does not reach its full potential as advising meetings are too infrequent and tend to be limited to course selection. We recommend advising take the form of individual development programs for undergraduate students that incorporate broader discussions of long-term goals and ambitions. In addition, we emphasize the importance of creating an academic community for undergraduates, and the significance of faculty interaction and positive feedback to students. Such interactions would not only elevate student confidence, but also foster a stronger sense of belonging to a caring MIT community. We students look up to you as role models and cherish our interactions with you. Caring and holistic mentorship from faculty is undoubtedly a crucial component in advancing a respectful and caring community, as recommended by ICEO Ed Bertschinger in his MIT report of that title. [Bertschinger, E. Advancing a Respectful and Caring Community: Learning by Doing at MIT.]

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