Dr. Margaret R. Bates, who has held academic administrative posts at Duke University, The Claremont Colleges, and Harvard University, has been named dean for student life at MIT.
The appointment, announced by Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Rosalind H. Williams, completes a new alignment for the office.
"Dr. Bates has had a distinguished career in senior academic administration, and is particularly interested in innovation across preexisting organizational boundaries," Dean Williams said. "Because of this background and interest, she is a particularly appropriate appointment at a time when MIT is beginning the reengineering of student services. She also comes with high praise from those she has worked with (including former students) for her kindness, fairness and attitudes of respect and open communication. For all those reasons, I think we are fortunate to have her join us here at MIT."
With the appointment, the office takes on a new organizational structure with two key areas having separate deans-Professor Travis R. Merritt, dean for undergraduate academic affairs, a post he has held since 1993, and Dr. Bates, dean for student life. Both report to Dean Williams.
Dean Merritt is centrally responsible for the freshman advisory system, the Academic Information and Support Center, UROP, the writing requirement, IAP, curricular support to faculty in the academic departments, initiatives to improve teaching, educational studies and research, the Wellesley Exchange and the MIT Colloquium. His office will also be increasingly involved in building a collaborative network to link more closely the work of many Institute offices-including Admissions, Career Services, Academic Computing, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Registrar, and the other sections of the Dean's Office-which share with Undergraduate Academic Affairs a mission to enhance the whole intellectual/academic experience of undergraduates.
The new alignment of three principal deans is a welcome one, Dean Merritt remarked, because it sends a clear message that the academic program and the conditions of student life are equally important and complementary prime elements within the unifying sphere of undergraduate education.
Dean Williams said Dean Bates "will have special responsibility for outreach and coordination of undergraduate and graduate student life activities from a campus-wide perspective, especially since those activities may be reorganized within the process of student services reengineering."
Dean Bates's responsibilities will complement those of Margaret A. Jablonski, associate dean and head of the Residence and Campus Activities Section of the dean's office. Dean Jablonski, who joined MIT in 1993, is responsible for residence programs such as housemasters and graduate residence tutors, independent living groups, housing assignments, student activities and student governments, conflict resolution and student discipline, Mediation@MIT, the Public Service Center and the Graduate Student Council.
MIT's newest dean holds the AB degree summa cum laude with honors in political science from Duke University (1963), and the MA (1966) and PhD (1971), both from Harvard and both in political science. While she was getting her PhD, her husband was earning his doctorate, also in political science, from MIT.
From 1971 to 1975, she was at the California Institute of Technology, first as a lecturer in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, then as a research consultant in the Environmental Quality Laboratory and finally as a senior research fellow in that lab. She joined the Claremont Colleges in Claremont, CA, in 1975 as a Carnegie Administrative Fellow at what is now Claremont McKenna College. From 1976-79 she was associate dean of students and dean of freshmen at Pomona College. From 1979-82 she served as associate dean of students and dean of women, also at Pomona College. From 1982-84 she was associate vice president and executive officer of the Council of the Claremont Colleges and then, in 1984-85, was vice president for administration and planning at the Claremont University Center and executive officer of the council. At Duke, she was vice provost for academic programs from 1985-87 and vice provost for academic programs and facilities from 1987-93, when she took her current post at Harvard as an academic and financial planning officer.
The appointment of Dr. Bates brings to a conclusion the work of a committee formed last year to assist in the selection of a successor to Professor Arthur C. Smith as dean for undergraduate education and student affairs. The committee, headed by Professor Linn W. Hobbs, recommended that two deans be named-a dean for undergraduate education, who should be an MIT faculty member, and a dean for student life. The dean for student life will report to Professor Williams, as the dean for undergraduate academic affairs presently does. As of December 1, Professor Williams's title will change to dean for undergraduate education.
The Offices of Minority Education, Counseling and Support Services, and International Students, all of which deal with aspects of both residential and academic education, will report to Dean Williams, in linkage as appropriate with Deans Merritt and Bates, as will Senior Associate Dean Robert M. Randolph.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 1, 1995.