Smith appointed acting head of ODSA
By Reuven M. Lerner
Arthur C. Smith, a professor of electrical engineering and former chairman of the faculty, will take office next week as Acting Dean for Student Affairs.
The current dean, Shirley M. McBay, announced in April that she would step down from the post on June 30. She will take a two-year paid leave of absence from MIT to head the Carnegie Foundation's Quality Education for Minorities network.
Appointing a permanent Dean for Student Affairs will be the responsibility of newly elected president Charles M. Vest and the new provost. Smith was appointed to the position for one year, but said on Monday that he would be willing to stay on until the search for a new dean was complete. He added that he does not intend to stay at the post permanently.
Smith said that he will not "sit around for a year," although he admitted that "I've got a lot to learn about what goes on." He emphasized a commitment to increasing contact with students, something for which McBay had often been criticized.
Dean for Undergraduate Education Margaret L. A. MacVicar '65 was "delighted" to know that Smith had accepted the position. "No one has more experience and sensitivity than Arthur Smith about what's been happening with our undergraduates," she added.
Another one of Smith's priorities is to take "a serious look at how the offices that deal with students are organized." He declined to describe the nature of the changes.
Smith thinks the Dean's Office should "try to make it possible for students to achieve what they came to MIT to do," he said. Thus role encompasses housing, counseling, and acting as an interface between the Institute and students, he added.
This is not the first time Smith has been called on to take a temporary administrative role. In the early 1980s, he was called in as acting director of the Office for Minority Education. He is also the graduate officer of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Smith said that he and McBay were "old friends," and that "I've met with her many times" about his new position. McBay recently said that Smith "brings
a wealth of experience" to the position.
The MIT News Office quoted Smith as saying that "I want to continue and strengthen the relationships between ODSA and students, undergraduate and graduate, and to explore ways in which the office can be more effective in making students' experiences at MIT all that they should be."