Fall Welcome Letter to Students

September 28, 2010

Dear Students,

In any community, open communication is important.  As Chancellor, one of my goals is to work with student leaders and the student community-at-large to enhance MIT as a great place to live and learn. We will succeed by engaging student leaders and organizations, by having ways for individual students to contribute to the dialogue, and when we are viewed as open to input from all quarters.

Please know that the student deans and I are committed to keeping you up-to-date and involved in the discussions and initiatives on campus. At the same time, we are always interested in hearing what's on your mind. Back in 2008, at the urging of students and colleagues, we took steps to strengthen our two-way communications with students. We made good progress last year. I want to advance this effort even more in the coming year.

What we're doing:

  • This is the first in a series of monthly letters from me or one of the student deans that will address topics of importance to students related to life and learning at MIT. These letters will both inform and invite input.
  • We will repeat a successful practice from last year and host several events during the year--including "Dinners with Dialogue" and "Cookies with Conversation"--and invite 30 or so students randomly selected from across the Institute to join me and the three deans for an in-person conversation. The agenda for each of these events, some for undergraduates and others for graduate students, is driven by the students' interests and questions.
  • We are working with the UA and the GSC to strengthen student engagement in Institute committees. Much of the work of the Institute is done in these venues. A deeper engagement invigorates the community.
  • Working with the MIT News Office, we are exploring how we talk with the student community--from email to video to social media--to make sure that there are no barriers to communication. Student input will be invaluable as we enhance our ability to communicate to and with you.
  • We will continue to work closely with the UA and GSC and other student groups to prioritize student concerns and make joint progress in these areas. We meet regularly with the student government leadership and sponsor joint projects each year, such as the Student-Faculty Dinners.
  • Over the next few months, letters from the deans will outline how we integrate Maseeh Hall as it comes online; where we are in the ongoing process of renewing the House Dining program and supporting the cook-for-yourself communities; how we will assess and plan for additional resources associated with the increase in undergraduate enrollment; and other aspects of long-term campus planning.

What you can do:

  • Send your ideas and thoughts to one of the student deans via the Dean's Comment Box; they would love to hear from you.
  • Invite the deans/chancellor to your residence/group or set up a meeting with one of the student deans. We welcome the chance to sit with you in your residence hall or FSILG to talk/listen in an informal setting.
  • Encourage your student government representatives (for example: UA, GSC, DormCon, IFC, Panhel, ILG) to provide you with updates. Let them know about your ideas or concerns and give them feedback about their work.
  • Get involved in an issue you care about through faculty committees or student government committees. As you become involved, make your engagement known to other students so they give you input to share in these venues.

During the coming year, we will continue to explore and expand communication mechanisms to strengthen two-way communication and enable us to work together to shape our future. Please feel free to send me your thoughts, ideas, and questions at any time via the Chancellor's comment box. The student deans and I wish you all a very successful school year and look forward to future conversations.

Phillip Clay
Professor of City Planning