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Letter regarding the new Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

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The following email was sent today to the MIT community by Provost Martin Schmidt.

To the members of the MIT community,

I am forwarding to you from the Deans of our five Schools an important update on the status of what we have been calling the New Entity, and which will now be called the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. Its first director, as has been previously announced, will be Professor Munther Dahleh. I'm thrilled by the fact that Munther will be leading this very exciting effort.

I thank all involved in moving us to this point, and look forward to continued progress.

You can also read an MIT News story about this announcement here.

Marty Schmidt


To the members of the MIT community,
In September 2014, Provost Schmidt announced MIT's plans to move forward with the recommendation to create a new entity that focuses on complex socio-technical systems, information and decision systems, and statistics. Since the creation of this entity constituted substantial reorganization of existing programs, President Reif in consultation with Professor Steven Hall, the chair of the faculty, tasked a committee to review the procedures followed in developing this recommendation. The committee recently concluded that an appropriate process was followed in reaching the decision on the reorganization. Today, we are pleased to announce the name of the new entity, and to provide an update on activities associated with it.
The new entity will officially launch on July 1, 2015 and will be named the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS). The name emphasizes the mission of this entity in addressing societal challenges using analytical tools from statistics and information and decision systems. The “institute” structure emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of IDSS spanning all five MIT Schools. Our excitement echoes the strong endorsement of this initiative by our faculty as stated in the Dahleh report: "As MIT continues to position itself as the hub for innovations that impact societies at large, it is becoming evident that the formation of this new Entity is critical to maintaining MIT's competitive edge in the broad field of mathematical, behavioral, and empirical sciences, and its impact on complex societal problems." We share this vision and believe that IDSS will create an excellent platform for research and education to address complex 21st century societal problems.
Since the Provost's announcement in September, many faculty colleagues have been engaged in creating the foundations for IDSS, led by the Director-designate Professor Munther Dahleh. These activities include developing plans for new academic programs such as an undergraduate minor in statistics and a PhD program in engineering and social systems, searching for and hiring new faculty members, reorganizing research activities to better support work in these areas across the five Schools, and finally, launching an external partnership program of industry, government, and academia.
We look forward to seeing IDSS interact with faculty members across MIT, and encourage interested faculty and staff to engage in the research and educational endeavors of this new and exciting organization. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to one of us, or to Professor Dahleh.
Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Hashim Sarkis, Dean of Architecture and Planning
David Schmittlein, John C Head III Dean of the Sloan School of Manangement
Michael Sipser, Dean of Science
Ian Waitz, Dean of Engineering

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