Deutch plans restructureBy Edward Whang
John M. Deutch '61, who will replace Francis E. Low '57 as Provost effective July 1, has announced plans to institute a "major appraisal and improvement of undergraduate education at MIT" by reorganizing the Provost's Office.
The plan centers upon the establishment of an Office for the Dean of Undergraduate Education (ODUE), according to a press release issued by Deutch. The ODUE will conduct an intensive appraisal of undergraduate education at MIT and will implement advised changes.
"The reorganization permits one to focus upon all aspects of life in and out of the classroom," Deutch explained.
Deutch will appoint Prof. Samuel J. Keyser as associate provost for Educational Policy and Programs. Keyser is currently head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy and director of the Center for Cognitive Science.
Margaret L. A. MacVicar '65, professor of Physics and Green professor of education, will be named Dean for Undergraduate Education.
The newly created ODUE will consist of Keyser and MacVicar, as well as Dean for Student Affairs Shirley M. McBay and Dean of the Graduate School Frank Perkins '55.
MIT is not alone in evaluating undergraduate education, according to Keyser. Many universities, including Columbia and Stanford, are planning similar educational reforms, he explained.
"It is an idea whose time has come. At MIT it is clear the undergraduate education is too intense and its scope is too narrow," Keyser said.
"The basic notion is that if something is not broken, do not fix it," he continued. "We will begin by finding out what we do well, then we will find out what we don't do so well and how to fix it."
MacVicar believes that MIT needs to prepare its students to assume leadership roles in the world. "We're good -- we're very good. Now, it is time for us to mature."
MacVicar said that some ideas of how to improve MIT already exist. "There could be more synchronization and coordination of course content -- for example, math and physics. IAP could offer a greater emphasis on humanities and social science, since there is no competition with problem sets then. Also, more intellectual events could happen within the living groups," she said.
Students may begin to feel effects of the ODUE evaluations in as soon as a year, but the overall scope of the project will last five to ten years, Keyser said.
Both MacVicar and Keyser said they plan to begin their terms by visiting living groups to get feedback about student life at MIT.
"The college years should be a wonderful time; it is a time when society allows people to spend their time thinking. I want graduates to be able to look back upon their four years here as being richer," Keyser said.