Moving Forward in Uncertain Times

By Daniel Hasting, Dean for Undergraduate Education

As anyone who has watched the financial markets knows, these are uncertain times. Some of you in DUE may be wondering how the economic crisis may affect us. I will give you my best estimate as I see it now.

We should first note that DUE’s mission places us at the educational center of MIT. If the mission-critical work in DUE were to stop then MIT as we know it would stop. MIT itself is in a strong position. Under the leadership of President Hockfield, this year we have a balanced budget. As she noted in her recent message to the community, our new spending policy will provide a more consistent return to the MIT operating policy. That being said, I believe we should expect leaner times in the MIT budget in the next few years as the economy recovers from the present crisis.

Within DUE, we might see effects of the economic crisis in several ways. These observations are mainly based on what has been observed in previous downtimes. One might expect Admissions to see a reduction in applications as families wonder how they will afford to send their children to college. However, while applications to liberal arts colleges tend to decline in a bad economy, the kind of education MIT provides is more relevant than ever. Our science and technology-based education should continue to have high perceived value and practical applications, and therefore to potentially lead to employment at a time when jobs are scarcer for recent graduates. This is a time when we need to make our message of need-based financial aid stronger. In Student Financial Services, we may see an increased number of families asking for financial aid if jobs are lost. In careers, we will probably see more students deciding to stay in school until the economy picks up, considering a broader range of options than they had anticipated and facing tougher career choices than previous classes. In UAAP , OME and throughout all parts of DUE that support students, more students will be seeking advice as they see the turbulence in the economy.

DUE offices can play an important role in helping to reassure students and families during these tough times. Your efforts are critical to continuing to move MIT forward for the good of our students and we rely on all of you to do the best job you can. We have a great team and I am proud of all that you do. Thank you for all your hard work.