Final letter from the Institute Wide Planning Task Force

April 05, 2011

To members of the MIT community:

In December 2008, with the severity of the global financial crisis clear to all, we announced the impending creation of the Institute Wide Planning Task Force, a body we charged with identifying and assessing ways to reduce costs at the Institute in Fiscal Year 2011 and beyond--while preserving our most important values. We estimated that we'd need to trim between $100 million and $150 million from the General Institute budget, or between 10 and 15 percent, over two or three years.

Today, the Task Force's leaders--Vice President for Finance Israel Ruiz and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Associate Provost Martin Schmidt--have posted a final letter to the community about the work and results of the Task Force. We encourage you to read the letter.

The letter explains that the Task Force was a great success in three important ways. First, the Task Force proved the value of MIT's strong instinct for inclusiveness, two-way communication and diversity of thought. This was apparent both in the group's composition and in the way the group interacted with the greater MIT community. Composed of more than 200 members representing students, faculty, and staff, the Task Force benefited from the insight and knowledge particular not only to individuals, but also to the parts of MIT they call home. Once these volunteers organized themselves into working groups focused on a few broad classes of ideas and opportunities, they opened up their thinking to the MIT community--and actively solicited both new ideas and reactions to Task Force ideas through an online tool we called the Idea Bank. The Task Force was a superb example of collaborative structure, participation and practice.

Second, the Task Force achieved the goal it set for itself: to make a meaningful contribution to the Institute's overall budget-reduction goal. In March 2010, we announced that in order to maintain a balanced General Institute Budget, expenses in FY 2011 would need to be reduced by $61 million. That goal is well on its way to being met, and we are very happy to report that of those savings, $12 million can be attributed to the ideas generated by the Task Force.

Finally, the letter explains that though the work of the Task Force has come to a close, the benefits accruing from it have not. In March 2010 we asked the Task Force to take a further look at ideas in a variety of areas: employee benefits, the educational use of the campus, e-learning, printing and digital archiving, the use of space at MIT, and the cost of undergraduate and graduate education at the Institute. In the letter from the Task Force leaders, you'll find a link to updates from the groups charged with these inquiries. It's apparent to us that some of these ideas, when fully developed and implemented, will offer further ways for MIT to improve life on campus while at the same time either reducing costs or increasing revenue.

In closing, let us echo the Task Force leadership's words of gratitude to all of you for your participation not only in the conception of the Task Force's ideas, but also in their implementation. MIT is on firm financial footing today precisely because it reacted to the financial crisis in the best way it knew how: by tapping your collective intellect, imagination and determination. Thank you all for your service to the Institute.

L. Rafael Reif, Provost

Theresa M. Stone, Executive Vice President & Treasurer