DUE’s Strategic Themes: Champion and Increase Pipeline Diversity

by Elizabeth Reed, Senior Associate Dean, Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education

The diversity theme recognizes the importance of a diverse student body in fulfilling MIT’s mission and more broadly, in helping to position the nation for continued global participation and leadership. Consistent with initiatives aimed at faculty issues, this theme focuses on actions to ensure minority students are well represented at every level of the educational pipeline at MIT. It also aims to empirically advance the notion that diversity and quality are congruent. The diversity theme has critical interactions with the Graduate Student Office (GSO.)

Karl Reid, Associate Dean and Director of OME, leads this theme. Team members are Gregory Che (SFS), Donna Friedman (UAAP), Christopher Jones (GSO), Deborah Liverman (MITCO), Gabrielle McCauley (OME), Bryan Nance (Admissions), Janet Rankin (TLL), Ri Romano (Registrar’s Office) and Karina Vielma (OME.)

The team and OME staff have created several new initiatives to advance the theme. Two which have already been launched this academic year are described below:

The Mentor Advisor Program (MAP) pilot began in September with 42 protégés and five mentors. MAP is a mentoring program intended to increase persistence and achievement of minority students. At the heart of the program are one-to-one holistic relationships between each student and an MIT staff or faculty member. These relationships are meant to continue through the undergraduate years and to complement freshman and academic advising. Mentors meet with their students several times each semester and discuss academic, social, professional and personal aspects of life. They may also refer their students to other valuable resources. The students take and are guided in using results of the Strong Interest Inventory, an assessment tool that may help them explore majors and careers that match their interests and personal style. The OME plans to expand the program to include 100 new freshmen protégés in the fall

Laureates and Leaders: The first cohort of MIT Laureates and Leaders has been selected! On April 17, they participated in an orientation dinner where they shared thoughts about academic and career directions they plan to explore. These ten sophomores have demonstrated interest in advanced studies coupled with a strong academic record at MIT. This new program, being piloted this semester, will prepare undergraduate students for graduate school. Students are identified as early as freshman year by their interest in advanced study and their academic success at MIT. In the ensuing undergraduate years, the Laureates and Leaders Program will provide mentoring, informational workshops, and financial assistance for research, technical presentations and exam fees that ensure each student’s preparation to pursue a graduate degree. The program is central to achieving the DUE goal of tripling the number of underrepresented students who immediately matriculate to MIT graduate programs by 2009.

Diversity team members have had a significant role in shaping MAP and Laureates and Leaders and will help to monitor their progress. The team is also taking the lead on creating solutions to Task Force recommendations on diversity and has published a Faculty Newsletter article describing how MIT’s research, education and community triad benefits from greater diversity. In addition, the team has developed new questions for the Careers Office annual survey of graduates, to assess impacts of student debt on post-graduate decisions.

DUE’s six strategic themes support important Institute goals. Thus, they aim to improve the educational experience of all our students.