Update on progress of Task Force 2021 and Beyond recommendations
To the members of the MIT community,
In May 2020, President Reif charged Task Force 2021 and Beyond with creating “blueprints for building a better MIT” in a post-pandemic world. Led by co-chairs Professor Rick Danheiser and Professor Sanjay Sarma, the task force developed 16 recommendations and implementation action plans, which were outlined in a detailed report that President Reif shared with the MIT community in November 2021. President Kornbluth knows the importance of the task force’s goals in building a stronger MIT and fully supports the work to implement its recommendations.
We write today to provide an update on the progress made on these recommendations. Some have already been partially or fully implemented, while others – many of them longstanding issues at the Institute – will require additional time and consideration.
You can find a complete list of recommendations and progress updates on the Task Force 2021 and Beyond website. Here is a sampling of recent efforts:
- Implementing a stronger undergraduate advising structure: The Institute appointed a director of the new Undergraduate Advising Center in the Office of the Vice Chancellor. Advising Center staff, including professional advisors, will be hired this spring and a centrally located undergraduate advising hub will be created over the next 12–18 months.
- Providing support to postdocs: MIT raised the Institute-wide mandatory minimum salary/stipend levels for postdoctoral scholars to $65,000 per year as of January 1, 2023. New benefit programs help to ease the costs of child care for postdoctoral fellows and associates.
- Emphasizing employee development: The MIT Careers website has been updated to increase transparency related to opportunities for internal candidates; additionally, new tools for managers to support employee growth and a guide for creating local mentoring programs are now available.
- Supporting efforts to advance and improve our community and culture: The Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement, and Composition is generating new collaborations and localized actions among academic, administrative, and research units across campus. The plan will track progress on specific task force recommendations, including strengthening the network of pipeline programs, inclusive recruitment, hiring and onboarding, faculty development, and career support for research scientists and postdocs.
- Increasing experiential learning opportunities focused on social equity: The Office of Experiential Learning allocated funding to support the creation of new social impact–focused experiential learning opportunities (ELOs) for students in IAP, spring, and/or summer of 2023. Of the 20 social-impact ELO proposals submitted, eight were awarded funding, totaling nearly $500,000.
- Meeting the changing landscape of research sponsorship: The Institute has provided additional funds to cover under-recovery of indirect costs for research grants from foundations and other nonprofit sources. A working group is evaluating the Institute's approach to under-recovery and working to identify changes that will further mitigate a longstanding community pain point.
- Providing additional funding for graduate student support: MIT’s central budget is now taking on a larger share of research assistant tuition and absorbing the tuition shortfall for active National Science Foundation fellows. Increased budget allocations address funding needs for PhD students in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the School of Architecture and Planning.
- Modernizing our systems: The new Research@MIT app gives principal investigators one-stop access to information about their grants, and we continue to evolve Atlas Mobile to leverage the full range of mobile device offerings. We are working to advance structures and plans that will enable us to tackle larger systems projects, including modernizing our enterprise resource planning platform.
From its beginnings during the height of the Covid pandemic, the work of the task force has prompted us to re-examine teaching, learning, working, and conducting research at MIT. The progress we have made on these recommendations provides momentum to continue on this path and work together to ensure a vibrant future for MIT.
We will update the website to keep you informed of our progress on the task force’s recommendations. In the meantime, please reach out to the coordinating team with any questions you may have about this work.
Executive Vice President and Treasurer