DUE’s Strategic Themes: Develop a Holistic Approach to Education

By Anna Babbi Klein, Communications Officer, DUE and Julie Norman, Senior Associate Dean, Director of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming

DUE’s Holistic Theme is focused on a holistic approach to the education of our students. While students do not consciously differentiate between learning inside or outside the classroom, a holistic approach ensures that MIT is consciously helping students make the connections between living and learning.

Julie Norman, Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming (UAAP), leads the Holistic Theme Team and the team is comprised of staff from DUE, DSL as well as academic departments/programs. The team includes:

Barbara Baker, Associate Dean, Student Life Programs
Kim Beamon, Associate Dean, Office of Minority Education
Stephanie Dalquist, Instructor, Edgerton Center
Rae Goodell Simpson, Program Director, Parenting Education and Research, Human     Resources
Maryanne Kirkbride, Clinical Director for Campus Life, MIT Medical
Amy McCreath, Episcopal Chaplain, MIT Chaplaincy
Tracy Purinton, Special Assistant for Student Leadership Development, Student Life Services
Chris Resto, Administrative Director, UPOP, School of Engineering
Carrie Sampson Moore, Director of Physical Education, DAPER
Timothy A. Slauenwhite, Visiting Professor, Aerospace Studies
Susan Wilson, Manager of Donor Relations, Student Financial Services
Marilyn Wilson, Career Development Counselor, MIT Careers Office

Since its inception, the team has been very active in developing both short-term and long-term initiatives with a focus on enhancing advising and mentoring, providing more opportunities for leadership development, providing more opportunities for faculty-student engagement as well as developing programs that integrate student life and learning. Some of these initiatives require close collaboration between DUE and DSL which is critical to the success of a holistic approach. Many of these initiatives are implemented via UAAP.

Recent accomplishments and future initiatives include:
Advising and Mentoring

  • The UROP Supervisor electronic newsletter was launched in January 2007 to keep supervisors better informed and connected to student issues
  • UAAP completed an Undergraduate Advising Best Practices Review in spring 2007. One initiative resulting from the Best Practices Review is the inclusion of undergraduate advising in three Advisor Training programs scheduled for fall 2007
  • The pilot of the UA Mentorship program was launched in fall 2006 which paired 50 freshmen with an upper-class mentor. The intention was to facilitate a peer-to-peer relationship that would complement the faculty advising that MIT provides. Due to its success, this program may be institutionalized via UAAP.
  • 5000 copies of the SCEP Advising Brochure were distributed during spring Registration Day

Leadership Development

  • Implementation of “Engineering Life and Leadership”, a program designed by DAPER that supplements the existing Ropes Course. This initiative is sponsored by both DUE and DSL and will be built in summer of 2007 for program implementation academic year 2007-08.
  • “Leadership Today: Lessons and Applications” a 3 day IAP course for ROTC cadets
  • Developed Leadership program for orientation coordinators and orientation leaders; the phase 1 training occurred April 2007 and will be followed up with a second phase during the August orientation leader training
  • Developing a Leadership program for Resident Associate Advisors and Associate Advisors as part of August 2007 training Student-Faculty Engagement
  • Class ’08 Faculty Dinners in which 34 faculty and 153 students participated
  • Developed “a guide to Faculty-Student Opportunities at MIT” for faculty
  • Launched the New Faculty Dinner on January 24th to highlight faculty-student engagement
  • Re-assessing and re-energizing the House Fellow Program
  • Establishing a Holistic Faculty Advisory Board for strategic input and direction of the UAAP

Integrating Life and Learning

  • Financial Management for Students, a SFS led IAP 2007 program
  • Based on the Theme House report, focusing on strengthening connections and relationships between residences and academic units. One such connection is developing a first year “curriculum” which will be piloted in two residences in fall 2007. The curriculum will include seminar topics such as communications skills, research ethics, time management, nutrition, career exploration and many more
  • Pilot of “Composing Your Life” modules in fall 2007 which will incorporate self assessment and life skills into 12 Freshman Advising Seminars

While the team continues to develop and implement new initiatives, it was agreed that a better understanding of student development was needed to inform long-term initiatives. As such, the DUE partially funded a study by Rae Simpson, Program Director, Parenting Education and Research and Co-Manager, Center for Work, Family and Personal Life, called the Young Adult Development Initiative. The focus of this project is the analysis of recent research on young adult development, in order to identify some of the key insights it offers for creating effective programs for students. This includes not only understanding the developmental changes students are experiencing but also how to influence healthy development. Electronic and print materials, as well as a final report will be prepared in academic year 2007-08.