MIT alumnus gives $24M to expand the Institute’s undergraduate student body

Published in MIT News: September 8, 2010

Fariborz Maseeh cites pressing need for MIT graduates

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus and his foundation have given the Institute $24 million to expand access to MIT’s world-class education.

The gift from Fariborz Maseeh and the Massiah Foundation will allow MIT to expand the undergraduate student body to 4,500 students, an increase of about 250 from today’s enrollment and consistent with its enrollment in the early- and mid-1990s.

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Meetings with New Students

Last week I met with new freshmen at MIT as well as the international exchange students we have from Cambridge University, Hong Kong University, Science Po and TU Delft. They were all eager to start at MIT and excited by the opportunity to be here. I shared with all of them the three things I have seen that are strongly associated with student success at MIT:

International Travels

In the past several weeks, I have visited with our students in Cambridge (part of the Cambridge MIT exchange), National University of Singapore (NUS) (part of the IROP exchange with NUS) and Hong Kong University (part of the Live, Learn, Intern in China program). I was struck by how much they are learning in these different environments, how energetic and enthusiastic they are and how well they interact with the local environment. In seeing these students, I realize that we are preparing young people with a global vision. I only wish that more of our MIT students would take advantage of these great experiences to grow.

DUE 2010 Infinite Mile Awards

By Heidi Demers, Human Resources Coordinator, DUE

The annual DUE Infinite Mile Award Ceremony and Reception was held on Wednesday, June 9, 2010. The DUE community came together to celebrate the many diverse achievements and contributions of our colleagues across DUE. Recipients were recognized for their unique contributions that exemplified leadership, creativity, ingenuity, and drive.

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Graduation Season

This is the season of commencements. One of the things I enjoy is marching in at the head of all the MIT students who are graduating for our commencement. I am always struck by the sense of joy among the students. While I know only some of them personally, it is a great pleasure to greet them and offer my congratulations. I get to meet the proud parents of these great students and it makes me feel that at MIT, we have done a good thing. I know that the education we have provided for these young people will serve them well for many years.

Reflections on online course evaluations

There was a recent Boston Globe article on the use of online course evaluations which noted that at some institutions (including MIT) the student participation in filling out these evaluations was lower than the old paper versions. While this is true for us, it is hard for me to understand.

The move to online systems allows us to accumulate data and comments in a much more effective way than previously. We want to use this information to offer more substantial and serious feedback to professors and departments about the courses they offer.

Raising self help expectations

Well, we have now seen a number of our peer schools announce their plans for tuition and financial aid for the next year. MIT has also announced its plan. All of us are coming in with tuition increases in the 3.5 to 4.5% range and in all cases announcing that we are still committed to need based financial aid. This is an important principle that works to ensure that needy students can access places like MIT, Stanford and Harvard.

Tuition changes are not related to inflation

In my last blog, I wrote about issues with financial aid. This and tuition are still on my mind. This is the season when various schools announce their tuition changes. Once again we are seeing tuitions changes in the range of 3.5-3.7% (Stanford and Princeton) and 4.5% (Cornell). What the papers have noticed is that these far exceed inflation which is –0.4% for 2009. Why do these tuitions keep going up so much.

Thoughts on the cost of higher education

Higher education is increasingly seen as a necessary good by many parents in the US (probably beyond what the facts might support). On the other hand, the growth of costs in the collective world of higher education has exceeded even health care over the last several years. Thus it has been much larger than the CPI and we have reached the position that the “average” family has seen it’s ability to pay for the “average” education drop over the last decade. This drives enormous middle class concern when this education is seen as necessary as opposed to a luxury.

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