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Faculty hears updates on Task Force, residence system and capital projects

Three topics that will have a profound effect on the MIT of the future occupied center stage at the first faculty meeting of the year last Wednesday.

Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow opened the meeting by reviewing steps taken to implement the recommendations of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning. He was followed by Associate Dean Kirk D. Kolenbrander, who briefly outlined key recommendations made by the Residence Systems Steering Committee.

Executive Vice President John R. Curry followed with an update on capital projects, including the Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences and the undergraduate residence hall.


Chancellor Bacow discussed the Task Force on Student Life and Learn-ing's recommendations point by point, noting steps that had already been taken. "Candidly, there's still a fair amount of work to do," he said.

The recommendations and responses:

Expand UROP and Institute Freshman Advisory research subjects
Professor Kim Vandiver has been appointed dean for undergraduate research.
Educational Design Project has been implemented.
UROP is a capital-campaign priority.

UROP recognition
Note participation on transcripts.
Undergraduate research journals, including those already established in biology and physics, are being created and supported.

Collaborative advising teams
Pilot program for alumni/ae advisors has been initiated.
ODSUE will establish a Freshman Office by 2000.
The Office of Career Services and Preprofessional Advising is establishing school-based teams.
Enhance MIT's premedical program.
Expansion of Freshman-Alumni/ae Summer Internship Program, directed by Professor Arthur Steinberg. This program doubled in size last summer to 60 and is expected to double again next year.

Continuous review of undergraduate program
Enhanced ODSUE evaluation system.
Specific analysis of poor performances in first-year subjects is planned.
Develop new evaluation tools by the Educational Studies Working Group.
Encourage educational experiments, especially in areas of General Institute Requirements.
Created Education Design Project.
Developing media arts and sciences alternative freshman curriculum; support from the D'Arbeloff Fund is available.

Distance learning and educational technology
Created Council on Educational Technology.
Learn from Singapore, System Design and Management program and other educational initiatives that use distance learning.
D'Arbeloff Fund support is available.
"We're looking for ways to use distance learning educational opportunities in 02139," said Chancellor Bacow.

Make management subjects available across campus
Sloan School of Management Dean Richard M. Schmalensee and Provost Robert A. Brown are developing a plan. A proposal in the works would lead to discussion of management minor with Sloan School.

Recognize student/faculty community involvement
Dr. Kolenbrander has been appointed associate dean in ODSUE.
Continued support for LeaderShape.

Make residence system an integral part of the education program
Integrate housing, dining, the first-year program and orientation.
Residential System Steering Committee (RSSC) report.
Founders Group created for new undergraduate residence.
Actions by Committee on Student Affairs to stimulate new initiatives.
Orientation revised around the "Navigating the Freshman Year" theme.

Phase in a system to house all undergraduates in residence halls during the first year
Decision to house all freshmen on campus in 2001.
Planned construction of a new undergraduate residence.
Creation of the RSSC.

Involve undergraduates, graduate students and faculty in shared experience during orientation
Pre-orientation programs expanded.
First-night welcoming dinner.
Residence Midway.
Killian Court freshman picnic revived.
Create groups of 10 freshmen with upperclass orientation leaders.
Upgrade academic expo.

Encourage better faculty-student interaction in housing system
Incorporate five faculty units in new undergraduate residence.
A commitment to develop faculty housing adjacent to west campus over time.
New initiatives to be brought forward by the Founders' Group.

Encourage community interaction through the dining system
Richard Berlin named to newly created position of dining director.
Commitment to upgrade facilities.
Central role planned in new residence.
Revive "Take a Professor to Lunch" program.

Attractive and convenient sites needed for community interaction
Enhance spaces in new facilities.
Coffee/juice bar adjacent to exercise area in planned sports and fitness center planned.
New performing arts facilities planned for Wiesner Building.
"Student Street" included in Stata Center plans.
Artificial turf field completely refurbished.

Fund activities that encourage community interaction
Student activities funding tripled.
Request process streamlined.
Funds expanded for graduate student orientation.
Expanded planning for large-scale Institute functions.

Education and research on campus
Focus international and distance learning activities on enhancing educational opportunity at MIT.
Created Office of the Chancellor to focus high-level attention on integration of educational, research and student life activities across schools and departments.

Information technology and the library system
Expand technology-related library staff.
Expand digital resources available through the libraries.

Create strategic planning group involving the president, provost, chancellor and those they may designate
Group formed and has been meeting regularly with the Executive Vice President since last year.
Process for departmental planning sharpened by chancellor and provost; budget process separated from strategic planning.

Strengthen faculty governance by streamlining committee structure to support educational triad
Continue closer coordination between ODSUE and Committee on the Undergraduate Program.
Continue tighter coupling between faculty governance initiatives and administration financial planning.


Dean Kolenbrander reviewed the process followed by the Steering Committee from the design contest last January through the final report issued this month. He said the report and minutes from subsequent public discussions of the proposals will be presented to Chancellor Bacow on October 1.

"You can't say the students feel one specific way, or the faculty feels this way," he said. "There is a wide range of opinion."


Vice President Curry reviewed the progress and status of projects in progress, related projects and projects in development.

Undergraduate residence -- Target occupancy date: 2001. Architect: Steven Holl. Site: Vassar Street. To house 350 students and include suites for five housemasters and/or visiting faculty.

Stata Center -- Target date: 2003. Architect: Frank O. Gehry. Site: Building 20. Halfway through design development. 300,000 square feet. Site work underway.

Sports and Fitness Center -- Target date: 2002. Architect: Kevin Roche. Site: behind Stratton Student Center. New swimming pool, exercise facility. Construction drawings in works.

Media Laboratory extension -- Target date: 2003. Architect: Fumihiko Maki. Site: south of Wiesner Building. Will include significant space for performing arts. Schematic design underway.

Related projects include a central utility plan expansion to provide chilled water, improvements to Vassar Street, a new Albany Street garage and Campus Plan 2000. Projects in programmatic development include a graduate student residence, a neuroscience complex and a new building for the Sloan School of Management.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 22, 1999.

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