Final update on Task Force 2021 and Beyond implementation progress

March 18, 2024
Cynthia Barnhart, Provost | Glen Shor, Executive Vice President and Treasurer |

To the members of the MIT community,

We write to share our final update on the progress made to implement Task Force 2021 and Beyond recommendations.

We encourage you to visit this website for more detail about ongoing implementation efforts. This important work, including the new Task Force on the Undergraduate Academic Program (TFUAP) that directly responds to Task Force 2021’s recommendation to consider improvements in all aspects of the General Institute Requirements (GIRs), will be on Wednesday's faculty meeting agenda (login required).

Background & Updates

In November 2021, President L. Rafael Reif released Task Force 2021 and Beyond’s recommendations and implementation action plans for “building a better MIT” in a post-pandemic world. Since then, community members from across the Institute have been reimagining how we teach, learn, work, and conduct research at MIT. Here are just a few examples of their efforts:

  • Implementing a stronger undergraduate advising structure: Work to strengthen our undergraduate advising structure so that students are supported by professional advisors is well underway. The new Undergraduate Advising Center (UAC) is up and running under the leadership of associate dean and director Dr. Diep Luu. Additional professional advising staff will be hired in the coming year, a strategic plan is being developed, and a centrally located undergraduate advising hub will open in 2025.
  • Task Force on the Undergraduate Academic Program (TFUAP): The TFUAP has been assembled and charged by Chair of the Faculty Mary Fuller and Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz. This fulfills a critical recommendation and will build on reports prepared by several foundational working groups, some focused on the current GIRs and others updating recent studies for the purposes of this review of our curriculum and pedagogy. The task force’s co-chairs, Professors Adam Martin and Joel Voldman, invite members of the MIT community to contact the task force at to share input.
  • Enhancing graduate student advising and mentoring: A new workshop for junior faculty focused on comprehensive advising and mentoring of graduate students will debut in May. Initially focused on the Schools of Engineering and Science, the goal is to expand the initiative to all schools. Vice Provost for Faculty Paula Hammond is working closely with the school deans and departments, labs, centers, and institutes (DLCI) leaders to encourage faculty participation, collect faculty feedback on areas where they would benefit from more information and guidance, and identify strategies for assessing and understanding faculty mentoring skill sets.
  • Emphasizing professional development: Task Force 2021 called for establishing clearer expectations and paths to advancement for research and instructional staff. New job titles and a career ladder have been created for research scientists, research engineers, and research associates. A working group is on track to complete a similar effort for lecturers and instructional staff later this year. Finally, to support the career development of postdoctoral scholars, MIT is now offering programs annually in grant writing and mentoring.
  • Meeting the changing landscape of research sponsorship: Last fall, the Institute allocated new central resources to DLCIs to assist with the under-recovery of indirect costs for research grants from foundations and other non-profit sources. Dubbed “the under-recovery pilot,” the effort increases local decision-making and streamlines administrative processes. In addition, a new app to facilitate requests, reviews, and reporting (part of Research@MIT) has been rolled out to an initial group of pilot users for feedback and suggestions. The app will be expanded to include additional DLCIs over the next several months.
  • Modernizing our IT systems and business processesWe appointed a chief officer for business and digital transformation in September 2023. Based on engagement with stakeholders from administrative, academic, and research areas, he is leading an effort to develop a multi-year plan to address Task Force 2021’s call for “transformational MIT-internal projects, enabled by new digitized data-sharing practices across DLCIs and a new cross-functional team.” The plan includes modernizing our enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform and other key enterprise systems in order to make it easier for our community to complete administrative tasks and access and analyze related data.  

In Closing

We have endeavored to be strategic in our approach to Task Force 2021 implementation, making considerable investments over the past three years where we saw the greatest need and potential for impact. Increasing central funding for graduate students and under-recovery to support MIT’s research enterprise; enhancing faculty, staff, postdoc, and graduate student compensation and benefits; and making improvements to our workspaces and technology to support more hybrid and collaborative work are just a few examples of the areas we’ve targeted.

There has been significant progress toward our shared goal of “building a better MIT” thanks to the blueprints for action provided to us by Task Force 2021. We are deeply grateful to the group’s co-chairs, Professors Rick Danheiser and Sanjay Sarma, and all of the members involved in crafting the recommendations and refining the implementation plans.


Cynthia Barnhart 

Glen Shor 
Executive Vice President and Treasurer