President Charles Vest gave an overview at last week's faculty meeting of the myriad ideas, buildings, finances and people behind the next decade, "MIT's most intense period of change since the post-war years."
The next 10 years will see extraordinary intellectual ferment, widespread initiatives and innovations in education, changes in campus life and $900 million worth of expenditures for new construction, renovation and support of graduate students.
Examining the trends of the past decade, Dr. Vest displayed charts showing that research revenues have dropped as a percent of campus operating expenses, going from 66 percent in 1965 to 51 percent in 1990 to 38 percent in 2000.
That 13 percent drop since 1990 has been offset by gifts, endowment and other income, which have jumped from 25 percent in 1990 to 37 percent in 2000. Tuition has remained at about the same proportion: 24 percent in 1990 and 25 percent in 2000. Projections out to the year 2010 forecast 36 percent of revenues from research, 40 percent from gifts and 24 percent from tuition.
"These are real sea-changes, and we have tried to deal with them in such a way that we don't grow too dependent on tuition revenues. That leaves only gifts and endowment income," Dr. Vest said.
In the past year, gifts and pledges totaled $357 million. Dr. Vest commended Vice President for Resource Development Barbara Stowe for the success of the Campaign for MIT, which reached commitments of $978 million, 65 percent of the $1.5 billion goal, as of June 30.
Dr. Vest said that the four years of increases in endowment, compared to the operating budget, is what "gives us hope that this financial plan can keep us excellent, and help us thrive going into the future." In 1990, the total operating budget was just over $1 billion and the market value of the endowment securities portfolio ("Pool A") was $1.4 billion. In fiscal year 2000, which closed in June, the total operating budget was $1.38 billion and the market value of the Pool A portfolio had more than quadrupled to $6.3 billion.
"This is an absolutely dramatic response due to the incredible economic period we have had in the last half of this decade. While nobody would predict that this [endowment] curve would keep on going at its present slope, we hopefully will build the underlying financial strength to realize our aspirations," he said.
Dr. Vest praised Treasurer Allan Bufferd for managing an extraordinary 57.7 percent increase in this endowment portfolio in the past year. The net assets of all funds, buildings and equipment -- a more comprehensive measurement -- increased 49.6% this past year, from $5.5 billion to $8.2 billion.
Executive Vice President John Curry said the endowment portfolio increase "provides a buffer, an extra comfort" as MIT gradually scales up its operating expenditures -- $30 million in 2001, more than $100 million by 2005 and a 10-year total of $900 million -- for the changes that will transform MIT: new construction, renovation and deferred maintenance, and graduate education support. Mr. Curry noted, however, that an endowment fund restricted to, say, a professorship cannot be used to pay for new construction.
Renovation and deferred maintenance will grow from a current level of $4 million to about $35 million a year from 2003 to 2010.
Other major outlays in the years 2001 to 2010 include approximately $8 million a year in presidential fellowships to graduate students; $10 million, growing to $15 million a year for remission of graduate summer tuition in order to be competitive with other institutions; and $8 million, growing to $35 million a year in new construction.
The construction boom includes the Simmons Hall undergraduate residence under construction on Vassar Street; the restoration of Baker House; future facilities for more than 700 graduate students in the renovated NW30 on Albany Street and the residence hall at Sydney and Pacific streets; the Sports and Fitness Center; the Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences; the Aero/Astro Learning Lab for Complex Systems; the Media Lab expansion; the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the related neuroscience complex for the Center for Learning and Memory and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences faculty; and a new building for the Sloan School of Management.
In addition, major renovations are being done on the chemistry building and classrooms, the life safety systems in undergraduate and graduate residences, duPont locker rooms, the indoor and outdoor tracks, and the Student Center coffeehouse and ground floor restaurant.
Mr. Curry said that the core needs -- for graduate education support, new construction and deferred maintenance -- were parts of the long-range financial plan that were built into the capital campaign and the financial plan. Dr. Vest noted that extra efforts would have to be made in areas such as support for graduate students, where it is more difficult to raise funds.
Dr. Vest identified some of the major academic priorities being pursued by the faculty as information technology and intelligence sciences; neuroscience and brain and cognitive science; the interface of basic biology, bioengineering and medicine; 21st century business and entrepreneurship; and visual and performing arts and new media.
In the past year, he said, significant progress had been made in these fields. He cited more than a dozen projects, including the building projects plus the Oxygen Project at the Laboratory for Computer Science, the Hewlett Packard partnership, the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health, the duPont partnership in biological materials, Sloan's E-business track, a partnership with Merrill Lynch, the Comparative Media Studies program, and plans for a laboratory for the performing arts in the Wiesner Building.
In the learning environment, the ideas of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning -- exploring the integration of academics, research and community -- have resulted in a number of innovations in teaching, fellowships, mentorship, technology-enhanced learning, and in residential campus life.
Technology-enhanced learning initiatives underway include the Cambridge-MIT Institute, the Singapore-MIT Alliance and the Electronic Media Creation Center, enabled in part by the Educational Technology Council, Microsoft I-Campus and the d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in MIT Education.
Campus life changes include the residential system redesign, improved freshman orientation, Institute-sponsored social events like the Millennium Ball, and more than a tripling of funds for campus-wide student events.
Changes in financial aid are occurring on the undergraduate and graduate level. At the graduate level, summer tuition has been eliminated and presidential fellowships are being instituted.
Diversity of faculty, students and staff has been advanced by the "catalytic report" of the women faculty in the School of Science, the new Council on Faculty Diversity and the Task Force on Minority Student Achievement, Dr. Vest said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 25, 2000.