Dean's News

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  • On May 12 and 13, we hosted the DUE Visiting Committee (VC) for their biennial visit.  Visiting Committees are a well-established system of external feedback coordinated by the MIT Corporation.  The 19-member DUE VC includes senior leadership from our peers (Stanford, Princeton, CalTech, Harvard, Columbia), members of the MIT Corporation, as well as MIT alumni nominated by the Corporation.  Their visit is an opportunity for DUE to gain independent, outside, expert critique and comment on what we do.  At the same time, in reporting their findings to the Corporation and MIT senior administration, the VC articulates and advocates for the priorities they feel are most critical to undergraduate education.

    The two-day visit began with Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart talking to the 14 VC members in attendance about “The Opportunity for Educational Change.”  With this context, I then shared an overview of DUE and what I see as our priorities:

    Enhancing the educational experience of undergraduates:

    • Strengthening the freshman year.
    • Expanding experiential learning.
    • Promoting global experiences.
    • Supporting educational innovation.

    Reducing barriers to help students succeed academically and personally:

    • Improving advising and mentoring.
    • Creating a supportive environment.
    • Addressing student stress.

    The Committee was interested in hearing more about new approaches to education...

  • Dean Denny FreemanDean Dennis Freeman was recently appointed a Chairperson of the Auditory System Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The Auditory System [AUD] Study Section reviews NIH applications on the structure and function of the auditory and vestibular systems.  The NIH uses a peer review system to ensure “grant appli

  • One of my priorities as Dean is to reduce barriers to the services, support, and opportunities that enable students to have an exceptional undergraduate experience. This priority was central as we planned the move of key DUE student services housed in Building 12.  As most of you know, Building 12 must be vacated by June 30th to make way for the new MIT.nano building, the future home of nanotechnology research at MIT. 

    The space planning for the move involved finding a new home for:

    • Global Education and Career Services, which students visit for career, global, and prehealth advising as well as on-campus interviews.
    • Office of Faculty Support, which students visit for HASS and Communication Requirement advising.
    • Office of Minority Education Tutorial Services Room, which students visit for tutoring sessions and as a study/meeting space.
    • DUE Desktop Support, which provides support to staff in both DUE and DSL.

    The resulting plan places these services in more visible and convenient locations.  Where possible, we also looked for opportunities to improve services.

    First, we are creating a Building 5 student corridor, which co-locates offices that provide student services...

  • Since the October announcement that Eric Grimson was assuming a new fundraising role and Chris Kaiser was returning to a faculty role, DUE had been anxiously awaiting the announcement of the new Chancellor and Provost. Earlier this month, we got the news that Cindy Barnhart and Marty Schmidt were named to these roles. While DUE interacts with many of the senior-most leaders of MIT, we work very closely with the Chancellor and the Provost, who shape the direction of the work we do through priorities and budget.

    I was pleased at the appointment of Cindy Barnhart as the new Chancellor.  As Associate Dean in the School of Engineering, Cindy chaired the School of Engineering Education Council. I had the opportunity to work with her in my role as the EECS Education Officer and Undergraduate Officer. My impression of her was that she was deeply interested in addressing educational issues and compassionate to the needs of the students. This was evident last week as we worked with the UA to address the closing time of CPW student-led events. She was eager to hear the UA’s perspective and develop a policy that was consistent with Institute policies yet responsive to student preferences.

  • MIT Infinite CooridorAs part of the initial MIT 2030 priorities, MIT will be building a new Nano-Materials, Structures  and Systems facility (nMaSS). By consolidating the Institute’s nanoscale research activities into a state-of-the-art facility, nMaSS will facilitate accelerated scientific discovery. MIT President Emeritus Susan Hockfield called the construction of nMaSS the “highest academic priority of the MIT 2030 campus development plan.”

    The Institute considered several sites around campus for nMaSS. Given the need for a location with low levels of vibration and electromagnetic interference, which can interfere with sensitive equipment used in this type of research, it was determined that the most suitable location encompassed the footprint of Building 12. The MIT Executive Committee has fast-tracked this major project and construction will begin in summer 2014. As a result, all Building 12 residents need to move out of the building by July 1. This has major implications for DUE, since we occupy a significant amount of square footage in the building, including Global Education and Career Development (GECD), Office of Faculty Support (OFS), DUE Desktop Support, and the Tutorial Services Room (TSR).

    Space planning is always a challenge at MIT. We could choose to relocate residents of Building 12 and leave it at that. However, this would be a missed opportunity to improve the use of space across DUE. Instead, we have initiated a comprehensive process that will consider all DUE space and result in a plan where space and strategy are better aligned. The planning is guided by the DUE space principles developed by the DUE Leadership Team in 2006 (listed at the end of article) and five strategic goals:

  • Denny FreemanI am very happy to have taken on the role of Dean in DUE. I have spent the last two months getting a more detailed understanding of the scope of the DUE offices and programs as well as their priorities.  As a faculty member, I have always had a keen interest in undergraduate education and served on several undergraduate-focused faculty committees.

  • An effective Learning Management System (LMS) enables faculty to organize and manage the many aspects of teaching a class, for example:

    • sharing and updating class materials and assignments
    • managing class membership
    • tracking student performance
    • facilitating course-based collaboration and information exchange.

    An effective LMS is also scalable and adaptable and evolves to support the diverse and advancing pedagogical models used by the faculty.

  • Dennis Freeman, professor of electrical engineering, has been appointed as MIT’s next dean for undergraduate education, effective July 1, Chancellor Eric Grimson announced today. Denny FreemanFreeman succeeds Daniel Hastings, the Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, who has served as dean for undergraduate education since 2006.

  • Daniel HastingsThis is my last column as Dean. It has been a challenge and a pleasure to lead the DUE community.  I have learned much from my interactions with the fine people in DUE. Your commitment to the mission of MIT and DUE is impressive.

  • Once again we are admitting a new class. I am always amazed at the quality and energy of the students. They are what attract the excellent faculty here. We have a virtuous cycle where high quality students attract high quality faculty who attract high quality students. Every year at this time I have parents ask me if their student should come here or go to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford or Yale. My answer is the same every year. They should go where they feel they will fit the best. We want students to fit best here.

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