MIT Team 2020 releases report informing 2020-21 academic options

June 12, 2020

To the members of the MIT community,

As you are likely aware, MIT’s senior administration charged Team 2020 in April with examining and evaluating options for the upcoming academic year to help inform the final decisions by President Reif and other members of the senior administration. In late May, the team asked all of you to join us “in thinking about the fall and beyond at MIT.”

First and foremost, thank you for your enthusiastic and thoughtful responses: 425 people participated in 69 charrette sessions; 1,800 submitted nearly 27,000 comments through an online form; and 17 small self-organized groups, from library staff to parents to students, held discussions. This engagement was just one part of a broader effort to shape academic options for returning to campus, seek feedback on those options, and help Team 2020 complete their charge.

Thanks to your input, as well as the expertise and hard work of our colleagues in Institutional Research, the Teaching + Learning Lab, the Admissions Office, and the Chancellor’s Office, among others, Team 2020 is pleased to be able to release our report to the MIT community.

The report, published in the form of a website, synthesizes our assessment of options for next academic year and what we have heard from the MIT community with many other inputs (from Town Halls to pulse surveys); expertise from public health and medical experts; guidance from local and state government officials; and consultations with peer institutions.

We encourage you to explore the site, while keeping in mind that you will not find “the decision” anywhere. Instead, the team offers analysis to help MIT’s senior leadership decide about the fall and beyond. For each option, Team 2020 has presented a “best” version that has been informed and improved by community engagement and external inputs, and that describes its advantages and disadvantages relative to other scenarios for the coming academic year. However, even once a general direction has been set by MIT’s senior team, we expect to further refine our approach.

Some key takeaways that we found notable:

  • The incredible level of community engagement and the community’s appreciation of the complexities the global pandemic poses for decision-makers. This is one of the hardest challenges we have faced in MIT’s history.
  • The importance of ensuring our values and principles guide this work, particularly the shared sense by our community that advancing MIT’s mission and protecting community health and welfare are paramount, as is prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion when making decisions that will impact all of our community members in different ways.
  • Uncertainty, and what we do not know, are perhaps the most important factors right now, and in looking ahead.
  • Any option for the fall will require non-negotiables (e.g., the need for physical distancing and testing) and be subject to constraints (e.g., available student housing, and the academic calendar).
  • Community members value personal choice, but also care deeply about one another and seem willing and ready to adapt for the sake of others’ well-being. Success will require shared responsibility and sacrifice.
     

President Reif and the senior management team are reviewing these options, along with our analysis, community inputs, and other sources, to help inform their final decisions about the upcoming academic year, due in the coming weeks.

Ultimately, any decision will require significant changes in the ways we teach, learn, work, and live together as a community, whether we are on campus or off. This decision is an enormously challenging one, and implementing it will be equally complex, if not more so.

Given the amazing response of our community and the dedication of all of those working so hard to find a path forward, we are confident that we will do what MIT does best: tackle problems together with rigor, determination, innovation, and optimism.

Thank you for engaging in this important work.
 

Sincerely,

Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Tony Sharon, Acting Deputy Executive Vice President
on behalf of Team 2020