President Vest sent students a letter via email Monday, September 18, 2000, updating them on what has happened on campus since the Spring.
From: cmvest@MIT.EDU (Charles M. Vest)
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 17:00:00 -0500
Subject: Message from President Vest
To All MIT Students:
Welcome to the start of a new academic year. Some of you are new to campus altogether, some are just returning from summer jobs and vacations, and some have been here all along. Those of you who are familiar with MIT may have noticed that lots of changes have occurred on the campus since last spring. I would like to use this letter to bring you up to date on a number of them.
They are all part of our efforts to enhance the campus environment and to do a better job of integrating teaching, research and community on our campus &endash; which was one of the major recommendations of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning.ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
Two New Deans
I am pleased that we have found a worthy successor to Dean Rosalind Williams as the new Dean of Undergraduate Education. Professor Robert Redwine, Professor of Physics and former Director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science, is our new Dean for Undergraduate Education. Bob is the former Academic Officer in the Department of Physics and a frequent lecturer in both 8.01 and 8.02. He has a long-standing interest in undergraduate education and I believe is just the right person to continue the momentum created by Dean Williams.
Bob is joined in the Dean's office by Dr. Larry Benedict as our new Dean for Student Life. Larry comes to us from The Johns Hopkins University where he held the position of Dean for Student Affairs. Larry has already thrown himself into orientation activities with great enthusiasm. I am confident he will be a passionate and effective advocate for, and leader in, improving the quality of undergraduate and graduate student life at MIT.
Deans Benedict and Redwine have located their offices on the first floor of the Infinite Corridor, close to the Cashier's Office, in order to be more accessible to students. Dean Robert Randolph has moved into the suite with them.
I am pleased to announce that we have resolved the issues with the abutter so that we can move ahead with the construction of the new undergraduate residence on Vassar Street. Construction activity will begin on this project within the next few weeks. Last spring, the project was recognized by Progressive Architecture magazine with one of its prestigious design awards. This is the architectural equivalent of an Academy Award. The award citation noted the innovative way in which the design supports the creation of community within the dorm. Indeed, students and faculty were strong contributors to this design. This project will open in time for students arriving in the fall of 2002.
We have also begun work on two projects to address the needs of our graduate students for more housing. On Albany Street, we are renovating a former warehouse into loft-style apartments for 120 graduate students. This residence will also incorporate a housemaster suite and additional community space for graduate students. It is located approximately a block away from Edgerton House and should be open by the fall of 2001. I am delighted that Professor Steven Lerman, Chair of the Faculty, and his wife Laurie, have agreed to serve as housemasters for this new graduate residence.ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
We have also filed for permits with the city to begin construction of a 600-bed graduate residence at Sidney and Pacific Streets, adjacent to University Park. This residence will also incorporate a housemaster suite and additional community space and should be open by the fall of 2002.
Sports and Fitness Facilities
Similarly, this fall we will also begin construction on the new Sports and Fitness Center, to be located between the Johnson Athletics Center and the Student Center. Ground breaking is scheduled for October 27th. I believe this project will transform the western part of our campus and will become a magnet for students, faculty and staff alike. The project includes a 50 meter swimming pool, a health and fitness center, squash courts, a multi-activity space, locker and team rooms, offices for the Athletics Department, and a juice bar and sports shop.
This summer, in preparation for the construction of the new facility, we renovated the women's and men's locker rooms in duPont.
Also this summer we began work to replace both the indoor and outdoor tracks. The latter has been expanded from six lanes to eight lanes and new facilities have also been incorporated for field events. The new tracks will open this fall.
We have also made a number of improvements in the Student Center designed to enhance student life. The 24-hour coffeehouse has been completely renovated and doubled in size. We are also just completing a major renovation to the cafï¿½ previously known as Networks, in order to provide a more inviting environment for students, faculty and staff.
The Task Force on Student Life and Learning also recommended that faculty play a larger role in residential life. This year we are piloting a new residence-based advising program in McCormick Hall. First-year students living there will have faculty advisors who are affiliated with McCormick.
Similarly, Professor Kip Hodges is working with a group of freshmen on Mars 2004, a new freshman program designed to bring more hands-on learning into the freshman year, another recommendation of the Task Force.
Over the summer, we also formally inaugurated the Cambridge-MIT Institute. This innovative partnership between MIT and Cambridge University in England will support joint research, joint teaching, student exchanges and faculty exchanges. This year, a small number of MIT students will participate in a pilot exchange program. We expect to have at least 25 MIT students traveling to Cambridge next year and a like number of Cambridge students coming to MIT. In steady state, these numbers should increase to 50 students per year from each school. Professor John Vander Sande is heading this program. Keep your eyes open for more information about the program this fall.
The coming academic year promises to be an exciting one at MIT. I hope that you find it to be productive, enjoyable, and rewarding.
Charles M. Vestï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 2000.