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Daniel Hastings to step down as dean for undergraduate education

Following seven years of administrative leadership, Hastings will return to the MIT faculty.
Daniel Hastings will return to his role as a faculty member in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Engineering Systems Division.
Daniel Hastings will return to his role as a faculty member in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Engineering Systems Division.

After seven years as dean for undergraduate education at MIT, Daniel Hastings will step down from the post, effective July 1. Chancellor Eric Grimson made the announcement today in an email to the MIT community.

Hastings will take a “well-deserved” sabbatical, Grimson wrote, before returning to his role as a faculty member in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Engineering Systems Division.

“Dan has provided great leadership for DUE,” Grimson wrote, “streamlining its operations, guiding it through the challenges of the budget crisis of 2008-2009, initiating and supporting educational experiments in teaching and learning, leading efforts to enhance mentoring and advising processes, establishing the [Global Education and Career Development] office and creating a number of global opportunities for students, and championing the diversity of our student community. I am confident that the next Dean will be able to build on Dan's successes in moving DUE forward.”

The dean for undergraduate education reports to the chancellor, and works to support innovations in student learning — both inside and outside the classroom — as well as promote global educational opportunities and student diversity. The position oversees many offices at MIT, including the Admissions office, the Office of Minority Education, Student Financial Services, the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Faculty Support, and the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology.

“Dean Hastings came to the job with a passionate commitment to enhancing MIT’s distinctive undergraduate experience,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif said. “Since 2006, as he steered DUE through the wake of global financial upheaval and the start of the online learning revolution, his thoughtful, steady leadership helped us attract exceptionally talented students and present them with compelling new educational options, on campus and around the world. I am grateful for his service to our students and the Institute.”

Looking back on his seven-year tenure, Hastings said the dean’s office has made significant progress in giving MIT students global opportunities.

“I am most proud of the work we did in enabling more of our students to have global educational experiences; in moving us to online grading, registration and course evaluation; and in building a much better understanding of how to help all our students thrive,” Hastings told MIT News. “We also made major improvements in our financial aid sustainability, and in thinking about teaching and learning for faculty and [teaching assistants].”

Hastings says that a major challenge for his successor will be to determine how best to integrate online-learning platforms such as edX into the classroom.

“I hope our education will move to be more modular and flexible, with appropriate mixes of online and residential education that enable each student to have a more personalized, first-rate educational experience,” said Hastings, the Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems. “Online learning and how we use it has the potential to move us there.”

Hastings said he looks forward to returning to both AeroAstro and the Engineering Systems Division, where he hopes to continue working to improve education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Hastings joined the MIT faculty in 1985 and became a full professor in 1993. He has taught seminars and courses in plasma physics, rocket propulsion, aerospace policy and space-systems engineering. From 1997 to 1999, Hastings served as the U.S. Air Force’s chief scientist, leading influential studies of Air Force investments in space and of preparations for a 21st-century science and technology workforce.

He became director of the MIT Technology and Policy Program in 2000, director of the Engineering Systems Division in 2004, and dean for undergraduate education in 2006.

“I feel strongly that the DUE offices are run by excellent people,” Hastings said. “They are a first-rate team, and I could not have done anything without them.”

In the coming weeks, Grimson will assemble a search committee to find the next dean for undergraduate education. Grimson encouraged members of the MIT community to share their thoughts on the DUE and their expectations for the next dean by sending comments to‬.

“I greatly appreciate Dan’s thoughtful leadership in guiding and integrating the many units of DUE,” Grimson wrote. “I look forward to celebrating Dan’s achievements with him and his colleagues during the spring term, and we wish him good luck as he plans the next stage of his career.‬‬‬‬”

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