Letter to Students

February 25, 2010

Dear Students,

Welcome back to campus for MIT's spring term. There are lots of opportunities awaiting you during the coming weeks and months, even as you plan for summer. These include the usual ones related to research and service, as well as new opportunities to work with members of the community to frame useful ways for addressing the great problems in the world.

Two current realities call for our attention. First is the urgent new challenge of disaster relief following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Here at MIT, we are working to identify opportunities and marshal resources. To learn more about these efforts and how you might participate, visit the Public Service Center's website and follow recent developments on the MITnews website.

Second, in my September letter, I called attention to a reality closer to home by requesting your comments on the Report of the Institute-wide Planning Task Force. Many of you have weighed in with reactions and suggestions. Both the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council captured student sentiment on the recommendations that most concern students. Your input was reflected in some of the task force working group reports and in my own decisions about how to follow through on many of the recommendations. To clarify the status of these recommendations, I have posted my response to them in a document on my website, which will be updated on a regular basis.

The decisions that MIT faces in responding to the financial downturn are not easy ones. However, for each recommendation, there is a thoughtful process in place for further consideration and for translating the proposal into action. Please be assured that I — together with the Dean for Undergraduate Education, Dean for Graduate Education, and Dean for Student Life — have a continued commitment to listening to your views and keeping you informed as we go forward.

Also in September, I introduced plans for more engagement between students and senior administration. Last semester, the three deans and I hosted four informal gatherings; published monthly letters to students; invited your feedback via the Chancellor's Comment Box; and continued to work closely with the UA and GSC leadership. This new level of engagement offered wonderful opportunities to share ideas and to hear student views.

We are planning to continue these dinners and discussions this spring and welcome additional invitations from student groups on campus. I look forward to a great semester working together.


Phillip L. Clay