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Class funds aim to help undergraduate education

The MIT Class of 1951 Fund for Excellence in Education and the Class of 1955 Fund for Excellence in Teaching are offering monetary support for faculty projects that explore innovations in undergraduate curriculum and instruction.

At the same time, the Class of 1972 is celebrating its 25th reunion by establishing a Fund for Educational Innovation.

Proposals for the Class of '51 and '55 grants should be sent to Professor Kip V. Hodges, dean of undergraduate curriculum, by Friday, April 11. A letter from the department head should accompany each proposal. About $65,000 is expected to be distributed for projects to be undertaken during the 1997-98 academic year.

The deans of the five schools and representatives of each class will review the proposals and select the winning candidates by May 1. The Class of 1951 Fund has been providing grants for four years and the Class of 1955 for two. Both were established to commemorate their respective 40th reunions.

More than $700,000 has been given or pledged to the Class of '51 endowed fund. The Class of '55 endowed fund has received pledges or cash totaling $515,000.

"Without these funds, I would not have been able to begin this project," said Professor John W. Belcher of physics, whose project entitled "A Course in Electromagnetism Using Advanced Technology" received support this past year. "Such funds are crucial for new education initiatives at the Institute."

Said Professor Donald R. Sadoway of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, a MacVicar Fellow whose project "Industrial Ecology: A New Approach to Teaching 3.091" was supported in 1994-95 by the Class of '51 Fund: "These are hard times financially, so it's very gratifying when alumni continue to show their commitment to education by reinvesting in MIT."

Additional information about the Class of '51 and Class of '55 Funds may be obtained from Associate Dean Margaret S. Enders, x3-3561, .

The Class of '72 established a scholarship fund and a UROP fund to commemorate its 15th and 20th reunions. In creating the Fund for Educational Innovation, reunion gift chair Wendy E. Erb said the gift "will provide support that otherwise is not available to members of the faculty to enrich the undergraduate educational experience by developing and improving curriculum at MIT."

In a letter inviting her classmates to contribute to the fund, Ms. Erb wrote, "Each of us, in our own way, has built upon the experience we shared at MIT. Now I am writing to you about the importance of our MIT education in our lives. It helped shape our analytical processes and provided the core of knowledge that we have carried forward into our subsequent endeavors of work and continuing education. We are now enjoying the rewards of our education."

Ms. Erb said she is serving as chair of the gift committee "because I want to give something back to the Institute in recognition of the importance of the education I received, academically and otherwise, while I was there."

More than $200,000 had been raised through February.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 3, 1997.

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