The Start to the New Year

The new academic year started with a new crop of eager excited students at MIT. Once again, I have a wonderful group of advisees. It also started with a hurricane which caused damage in Massachusetts but we came through mainly ok. As the students restart, I found myself in agreement with the editorial in the September 6th Tech about the need for the students to take on big national issues. We are heading into a presidential election season and we have possible nominees taking issue with the ideas of science.

A visit to the MIT SMART center in SIngapore

I recently visited the MIT Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Centre for the first time. It was very impressive to see groups of MIT faculty and students working together with the freedom to think creatively and address important topics such as the biology of infectious diseases and sustainable urban mobility. Singapore offers capabilities that are hard to replicate in Cambridge, MA. The Centre allows faculty and students, who may not have naturally come together at MIT, to collaborate.

Reflections on Commencement and the End of MIT150

It was a wonderful day last Friday when we celebrated the MIT commencement. The weather was great, the graduates were cheerful, the parents were happy and even the speeches were all very good. Could not have gone better. I marched in as usual at the head of the students and got to see the Class of 1961 (50 years ago) march in ahead of me. I recognized some of the Class of 1961. They have accomplished much. I am sure that the Class of 2011 will accomplish much.

Reflections on the MIT 150 Open House

MIT had the first Open House in many years on April 30, 2011. The campus was clean and shining, the day was partly cloudy and there were lots of families and kids wandering around experiencing MIT. I wandered around as well with my spouse, daughter and granddaughter. We saw the Blackhawk helicopters (ARMY ROTC), the blimp race and flying car (Aero/Astro), participated in a spontaneous flash mob in Lobby 7, explored Stata (EECS) and the Media Lab.

A wonderful celebration

I went to the MIT 150 Convocation at the Boston Exhibit and Convention Center. The celebration was great. William Barton Rogers, the founder of MIT, was a man of vision and drive. MIT started from tiny beginnings and has grown to have a major impact on MA, the US and the world. What a tribute to the man and the leadership he showed at that time. It made me proud to work at MIT.
 

Infinite History: An Interview with Dean Hastings

Staff

View the Interview with Dean Hastings

As part of MIT 150th Infinite History project, Dean Daniel Hastings was interviewed by Karen Arenson. He talks about his role as Dean for Undergraduate Education and his perspective on undergraduate education. He also shares his experiences as a student, professor, and researcher at MIT.

Highlights from this interview include:

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High Tuition, High Aid

Once again MIT announced a new tuition which is increased 3.9% from last year. We will see how it plays in the press. However, we also announced a 5% increase in our financial aid budget. This means that even though our tuition is high (but still nowhere near covering the cost of our undergraduate education), we are continuing to increase our financial aid to make MIT affordable for all who need it. We have students who attend MIT and pay nothing to be there since all costs are covered by our financial aid. Lets see if the press covers this.

The role of online learning in elite higher education

I have been co-chairing a study for MIT of what should be the role on on-line learning within the context of the kind of elite science and technology oriented residentially based education that we offer. We have run faculty and student focus groups as well as undertaken a site visit to Duke and had the committee engaged in it's own intense discussion.

A new era in student life and community at MIT

With the opening of Maseeh Hall next Academic Year, as well as the development of a dining plan in some dormitories, MIT will be returning to its historic size and for the first time will have half of undergraduates who live on campus participating in a range of dining plans. MIT will continue to offer choice in eating options for undergraduates who do not want to be on a dining plan and wish to cook for themselves. This new era will respect the traditional MIT values of diversity of choices while being financially sound.

Reinventing the University

I recently went to a New England Board of Higher Education one-day workshop on reinventing the university. Lots of talk from the for-profit, online providers about the markets they serve as well as their costs. Their growth rates are impressive and they are clearly serving people who would not get into MIT. They are also delivering what they do at much lower cost than we do by going to mainly online, focusing on student services, and being very agile in responding to the market. On the other hand, they have problems with the total student experience where we are much better. They characterized places like MIT as "guild" operations and themselves as "industrial" operations. It made me think again as to whether we are more like GM or like Ferrari. I am more inclined to the view that we are like Ferrari and there will still be a niche demand in the industrial age for us.

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