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Alums urged to play more visible roles in education

While alumni are informally involved in many aspects of the MIT educational experience, a new office under the dean for undergraduate education would "assist faculty and promote greater alumni participation in the educational work of MIT," says a report by the Alumni Engagement Team.

A new office devoted to bolstering alumni engagement in educational efforts is just one of the suggestions of the six-member team created by the Council on Educational Technology last year. The team explored ways to draw alumni into the core educational experience of MIT undergraduate and graduate students.

"Many of our recommendations are moving forward," said Andrew Eisenmann, associate dean of the Office of Academic Services (OAS). "At the moment, the work of alumni engagement is centered in my office, under the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education."

The team envisions alumni playing a role in some classroom projects and serving as resources in campus orientation, academic advising and career exploration.

"We believe that the potential exists to significantly improve and enhance the core educational experience 'at home' and actively engage members of our community in learning, teaching, research and advising if we can capitalize on the knowledge, skills and resources of our alumni and of MIT," says the team's summary of recommendations.

"We are convinced that successful alumni engagement programs at MIT could be widespread in ways that help transform the role of alumni and the educational experience of our students at MIT," the report says.


Alumni are currently involved in two of the Educational Innovation Projects supported by the d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education. Eighteen alumni were matched with student teams taking "Mission 2004: The Search for Life on Mars" in the fall, and 13 alumni are mentors for BioMatrix, a spring 2001 pilot program that provides advice and guidance in fields related to the biological, biomedical and bio-engineering sciences.

Alumni will also be involved in "Factories and Laboratories," a Program in Science, Technology and Society freshman spring seminar, and alumni involvement figures prominently in d'Arbeloff Fund proposals for the coming academic year.

Faculty and others who would like to discuss alumni engagement projects or explore new possibilities are invited to contact Dean Eisenmann at x3-8444.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 21, 2001.

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