Skip to content ↓

FY 94 gap narrowed Provost Wrighton says

Budget reductions and income reallocations in academic areas for FY94 have narrowed by $5 million the projected MIT operating gap of $20 million, Provost Mark S. Wrighton has reported.

A review of administrative and support programs is still under way and will be the subject of a report in the spring, he said in a special report to faculty and staff, the first of several he will make on the fiscal situation.

(The provost is also scheduled to report on financial matters at today's meeting of the MIT faculty.)

Budget projections beyond next year show declining deficits, Professor Wrighton said, "but only if we continue significant efforts. These first steps, while not easy, will prove to be easier than subsequent steps."

Professor Wrighton stressed that the budget planning is being done with key institutional goals in mind.

"The first of to enhance MIT as a world class

academic institution focused largely on science and technology. It goes without saying that we must sustain the core strengths and the excellence of the disciplinary bases of all five schools at MIT.

"Beyond that, we must support and enhance the innovative

interdisciplinary programs that are critical for leadership in contemporary science and engineering."

Professor Wrighton cited these specific objectives as among those supporting the overall goal of institutional excellence:

  • Moderating the rate of growth in tuition.
  • Continuing need-blind admissions.
  • Maintaining salary levels that will attract and keep outstanding faculty and staff.
  • Attracting more women and members of minority groups to the faculty.
  • "Hardening" a greater proportion of faculty salaries by paying them with Institute funds, rather than research funds.
  • ������Supporting important new faculty-initiated academic programs.

In the four-page letter mailed to members of the faculty and staff, Professor Wrighton said that the review of the academic area's budgets "relied heavily on program plans and possibilities initiated by the department and section heads."

After submitting five-year plans for their areas, the

individuals reporting to the provost met with Professor Wrighton, President Charles M. Vest and Vice President William R. Dickson. Professor Wrighton then met "collectively and individually" with the academic deans to discuss "how best to proceed and to negotiate changes."

He said that everyone involved in the process "has worked hard and effectively on the issues, and I am grateful for the collegial spirit that has pervaded the thoughtful evaluation of the five-year plans and the resulting actions."

Professor Wrighton said the review of the five-year plans in the academic areas has led to these actions:

Budget reductions that total $3.5 million.

A $2.4 million reallocation to general funds from the interest earned by departments and centers which hold Pool C accounts.

Pool C is an MIT investment account made up of funds that are usually gifts to academic areas. It currently earns 7.5 percent interest. Under the reallocation, Professor Wrighton announced, the holders of Pool C accounts will receive 4.5 percent interest. The rest of the interest will be used to support the institutional goals the provost outlined in his letter.

While no current faculty member is affected, the number of faculty openings across the Institute has been reduced by 14. The salaries and benefits budgeted for these positions have been reallocated for net budget reductions, for the hardening of faculty salaries or to support program expenses other than salaries.

Programs to recruit and retain faculty who are women or

members of underrepresented minority groups remain in force and fully funded.

All faculty openings will be budgeted at the assistant

professor level. Offers for associate or full professors can

still be made, with approval from the dean and the provost, with resources coming from the following year's allocation of $1.5 million for new academic programs.

The salaries of retiring faculty will not be retained in

department budgets at the level of the retiring faculty member. Rather, the salary of a beginning assistant professor will be retained by the dean of the school and the difference returned to general Institute funds.

The full academic year salary for all new faculty appointments will come from department funds, continuing efforts to more fully support faculty salaries from Institute sources.


"Even though we are in an era of financial constraint," Professor Wrighton said, "we will continue to provide $1.5 million annually to support new faculty-initiated academic programs."

These include the introduction of the biology requirement for undergraduates, the five-year Master of Engineering program in Course 6, the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, "and a sizable commitment for the purchase of new hardware for the Athena computing environment," the provost said.

"While not as generous as the proposals merit, the budget commitments for new academic programs are ones we are fortunate to be able to make," Professor Wrighton continued. "The health of the academic enterprise remains strong, and the departments can be proud of their achievements in education and research."


Moderating the growth in tuition, a key revenue source, is one of the objectives of the FY94 financial plan, the provost said.

"Obviously, tempering the growth in tuition has the consequence of tempering growth in our revenue, but it is clear that large increases in tuition cannot be sustained. Our tuition increase of $1,000 yields an additional $8 million to be used for educational activities."

Professor Wrighton said the volume in sponsored research is expected to grow by about 6 percent this year, "including a projected growth of almost 14 percent in support for research from industry. While these are still projections, we can only view the early data as being a very positive sign of continued excellence in our programs."

The provost also reported that the spendable income from endowment is expected to increase by about 5 percent in the coming year. He said Resource Development activities continue to play a meaningful role in building the resource base.

"These are all good signs, but unfortunately, the growth in

revenue projected for FY94 is not adequate to fulfill all of our institutional goals and to maintain all of our current

activities," he said.

The FY94 budget plan will be completed by May. Beyond that, the provost said, "we will rely heavily on input from the work of the task forces being led by members of the Academic Council."

They are considering addressing complex issues that require

thorough study and their efforts will grow in importance "as we proceed to develop our comprehensive long-range plans."

The suggestions from the community that have come to the provost from the anonymous e-mail address have been forwarded to the task forces for consideration, he said.

"We have received about 35 ideabank messages, some with multiple thoughtful ideas and suggestions (that) have been timely and useful. There is still ample time to make additional suggestions, since there remains room for improvement in all that we do."

The provost also noted that a committee headed by Professor Robert Weinberg is continuing to work on issues surrounding changes in how MIT supports graduate students. A preliminary report is expected in the spring.

In conclusion, Professor Wrighton said that he deeply appreciates "the collegial spirit that has gone into the planning process to date. It is a strong foundation for the hard work and the creativity that we will need in years to come.

"I would be pleased to have your response to the information contained in this letter, either on paper or electronically, via ."

A version of this article appeared in the March 17, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 26).

Related Topics

More MIT News

The book cover has bright yellow lights like fireflies, and says, “The Transcendent Brain: Spirituality in the Age of Science; Alan Lightman, best-selling author of Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine.” On the right is a portrait of Alan Lightman.

Minds wide open

Alan Lightman’s new book asks how a sense of transcendence can exist in brains made of atoms, molecules, and neurons.

Read full story