Elections were held for officers as well as for members of the standing committees as the faculty gathered in Kirsch Auditorium for their last meeting of the academic year on May 18.
The meeting also included reports on both the proposed faculty housing program and on the advising and mentoring of undergraduates. Institute Professor Isadore Singer was named MIT's James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award winner for 2005-2006, and retiring faculty members were recognized.
Associate Professor Bruce Tidor was elected associate chair and Associate Professor Diana Henderson was elected secretary. Professor Lorna Gibson, who has been serving as chair-elect this year, will become chair effective June 15. The slate for the officers and for all but three of the standing committees was approved by voice vote.
Because additional nominations for three of the committees were submitted after last month's presentation of the slate by the Nominations Committee, the election for these committees was done by ballot. Although the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty allows for balloting, this was the first time in memory that that provision was used. Please see the faculty meeting web site for more details, which will be available by June 6.
Professor Hazel Sive presented the report on advising and mentoring on behalf of the Committee on Student Life, which she chairs, and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program.
She used a fabric metaphor to describe the current state of upperclass undergraduate advising and mentoring. "The fabric of the system is a little thin," she explained. While there is some excellent advising going on at MIT, she said the system as a whole could be strengthened and the faculty could "weave in stronger threads and new colors."
The report recommends advisor training on both the Institute and department level, and suggests the faculty "think about advising in formal and informal ways," said Sive. Additionally, departments may wish to consider limiting the number of advisees per advisor to allow for better relationships.
On the Institute level, the committee recommended advising periods--times when students would be encouraged to meet with their advisors--and more recognition for those advisors who go above and beyond for their students. "Presently, advising and mentoring are not taken into account in the tenure review process," said Sive. The faculty accepted the report and will hear during next year's May meeting about the steps taken and progress achieved in improving advising and mentoring.
Later in the meeting, Associate Provost Claude Canizares gave an update on the faculty housing program presented during the March 16 meeting. This program is intended to help faculty purchase homes in the Greater Boston area. The program is not limited to a particular period of time.
Since the March meeting, a number of faculty members have offered advice and comments on the proposed program, said Canizares. Based on those comments, the plan will now offer a 10-year Contingent Interest Mortgage Program for junior faculty up to $100,000. Additionally, faculty hired or tenured after July 1, 2000, who were first-time homebuyers will have two years of special eligibility to refinance using one of the options.
Canizares noted that three-quarters of MIT faculty using the current Housing Assistance Loan Program (HALP) will qualify for the new program. For the remaining quarter, there is a refinance option. The changes were based on the feedback from the past two months. "It was very helpful to have the faculty comments," said Canizares. The Corporation Executive Committee will now review the plan.
Attendees applauded the following colleagues who are retiring this year: Professors Paul L. Penfield and Henry I. Smith of electrical engineering and computer science; John B. Vander Sande of materials science and engineering; Kenneth Keniston of science, technology and society; William B. Watson of history; Lotte Bailyn of management; A. Nihat Berker, Jerome I. Friedman and Jeffrey Goldstone of physics; Alan Davison of chemistry; Robert D. Rosenberg of biology; and Jeffrey Hamilton and Gordon Kelly of athletics, physical education and recreation.
Ex officiis faculty
The faculty also approved the following individuals as ex officiis members for 2005-06: Jeffrey A. Meldman, associate dean in the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education; Robert M. Randolph, senior associate dean for students; Mary P. Rowe, special assistant to the president and ombudsperson; and Alan F. White, senior associate dean at the MIT Sloan School of Management.