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Exam changes proposed; retired faculty keep vote

The Faculty Policy Committee's subcommittee on examinations and end-of-term regulations has recommended a series of reforms regarding administration of undergraduate quizzes, tests and examinations during the regular term and regulations governing the end of term.

The proposed changes were outlined in a report circulated by mail by Professor Lotte Bailyn, chair of the faculty, and explained at the May 19 faculty meeting by Professor Donald R. Sadoway, chair of the subcommittee. The report is also posted on the faculty web site.

Professor Sadoway said the subcommittee would solicit faculty reaction during the 1999-2000 academic year in various ways, including scheduled meetings with departments. The faculty is expected to vote on the new regulations before the 2000-2001 academic year, when they will go into effect.

Among the key proposals are:

  • ������Provide students with a description of assignments by the end of the first week of classes and a schedule of tests and due dates for major assignments by the end of the third week.
  • Have no tests after the Friday preceding the reading period, with all end-of-semester tests given during the final exam period.
  • Have no scheduled academic activities between 5pm on Friday and 8am on Monday, and give no evening exams on Monday. Evening exams should not start before 7:30pm.
  • ������Allow short-term (1:30-7:30pm) ex camera exams under specified conditions for subjects that can benefit from a different kind of final.

In other business, the faculty voted to allow professors without tenure (retired) to have voting privileges at Institute faculty meetings, and approved the establishment of an SB in linguistics and philosophy, a PhD in chemical engineering practice, and the slate of nominations for faculty officers and members of standing committees in 1999-2000.

Five administrators received ex oficiis faculty status for 1999-2000. Professor Sheila Widnall reported for the FPC subcomittee on changes in the retirement plan and Associate Provost Phillip L. Clay reported for the ROTC implementation team. In addition, the deaths of Professors Henry W. Kendall and M�rten Landahl were observed with moments of silence. At the end of the meeting, nine retiring faculty members were recognized, followed by a reception in their honor.


Professor Bernard Burke of physics argued successfully against a proposed change to Rules and Regulations of the Faculty that would have given professors without tenure (retired) speaking but not voting privileges in Institute faculty meetings. He urged that the wishes of this "small but rather dedicated group" be honored.

Institute Professor Hermann A. Haus and Professor Paul L. Penfield Jr. supported his position. Stripping them of voting rights would be "an unneccessary insult to our retired colleagues," said Professor Penfield. The motion was amended to reflect Professor Burke's sentiment and was approved. "Faculty democracy in action," observed President Charles M. Vest.


In reporting on ROTC activities in the past year, Professor Clay noted that a joint ROTC/Leaders for Manufacturing IAP program had been a success and the Sloan School had scheduled a leadership course for next semester. ROTC commanders "have been active participants and leaders" in developing these programs, Professor Clay said.

After his presentation, Professor Emeritus Robert M. McKersie, chair of the ROTC Oversight Committee, which reported at the April meeting, wondered whether introducing a minor in leadership had been considered. While acknowledging that the subject had been discussed, Professor Clay suggested that more activities would be needed before a judgment could be made.


Professor Widnall discussed changes in the retirement plan, including lowering the normal retirement age from 65 to 62 until December 31, 2003, the increased flexibility now available, and other more technical matters. The subcommittee supported the process used to select Fidelity Investments to manage the plan and charging account expenses to participants' accounts. It also said a sound procedure was used to mark fixed income accounts to market and the appropriate index and corridor were chosen for the 5 percent account.

Participants were advised to review their investment goals and tax and estate planning issues, seeking professional advice as necessary. Details about the changes to the plan are available on the Benefits Office web site at The report of the faculty subcommittee is available on the faculty web site. The Benefits Office continues to be available for counseling. Phillip Lima of the Benefits Office said a list of about 200 additional mutual funds now available through Funds Net would be mailed to participants in June.

Three members of the dean's office and two ombudspersons/special assistants to the president were voted ex oficiis faculty status for 1999-2000. They are Associate Dean Jeffrey A. Meldman of academic services, Senior Associate Deans Robert M. Randolph of undergraduate education and student affairs, and Alan F. White of the Sloan School. The ombudspersons/special assistants to the president are Mary P. Rowe and Clarence G. Williams.

Professor Lawrence Rosenson read the resolution commemorating Professor Kendall, representing Professors Jerome I. Friedman, Francis E. Low and himself. Professor Kendall died on Feb. 15 while scuba diving in Florida.

Professor Widnall read the resolution honoring the memory of Professor Landahl, representing Professors C.C. Lin, Wesley L. Harris, Earll M. Murman and Edward M. Greitzer. Professor Landahl died on March 4.

Professor Bailyn, presiding as faculty chair for the last time, called the roll of retiring faculty members: Professors Stephen L. Chorover and Alan V. Hein of brain and cognitive sciences; Loren R. Graham of the Program in Science, Technology and Society; Kenneth L. Hale of linguistics and philosophy; Judith T. Kildow of ocean engineering; Kerson Huang, Earle L. Lomon and Irwin A. Pless of physics; and Dietmar Seyferth of chemistry. "I hope you all will continue voting," said Professor Bailyn.

A version of this article appeared in the June 2, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 32).

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