Faculty members considered reports on undergraduate mentoring and family care at the Dec. 19 faculty meeting.
They also voted to hold Commencement on a Monday in 2003 and 2006 to avoid a conflict with the Jewish holiday Shavuot; to recharter the Committee on Student Affairs as the Committee on Student Life; and to add the TEAL Project physics subject 8.02T to the choices of core science subjects required to earn an S.B.
Professor Kip Hodges, chair of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), noted that a 1998 Task Force on Student Life and Learning stressed the important role faculty mentoring can play in the educational process.
He urged more faculty members to become involved in mentoring and introduced a CUP report on "Mentoring Undergraduates at MIT" that notes students swiftly become disenchanted with the advising program. "After the first semester of the freshman year, things appear to go precipitously downhill," Hodges said.
He urged the faculty to endorse a resolution that calls for the Institute to create mentoring guidelines by the end of the spring term.
The resolution, to be voted on at the February faculty meeting, says, "We anticipate that these guidelines will be developed with sufficient flexibility to accommodate the special circumstances of each academic department, but nonetheless will help shape the development of new departmental mentoring policies as well as broader institutional policies."
FAMILY CARE FOR FACULTY
Professor Lotte Bailyn said a Council on Faculty Diversity subcommittee had developed Institute-wide policies for faculty members, which have been approved by the Academic Council. These include:
A release from teaching and administrative duties for one semester with pay for faculty members whose families have a newborn or newly adopted child. The leave, which must be taken within one year of the child's arrival, is available to faculty members who will spend the majority of their time caring for the child. Both male and female faculty may take advantage of this policy, which formalizes existing policies within each school.
A five-year experiment that would extend the tenure clock by one year for women who bear one or more children during their tenure probationary period. If circumstances warrant it, the provost may grant this extension to adoptive parents or partners of a woman who has borne a child.
Faculty may arrange a reduced-time, reduced-pay tenure appointment lasting from one semester to five years to care for a child, a partner or elders. These arrangements would be coordinated with the department head and approved by the dean of the school involved.
The council, in consultation with the chair of the faculty, will appoint a committee of senior faculty to oversee the implementation of these policies. This committee will report annually to the Faculty Policy Committee and the Academic Council.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 9, 2002.