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Students ignored in dean choice

(Editor's Note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to Provost Mark S. Wrighton.)

I am writing to express my concern over the appointment of Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Arthur C. Smith as the dean for student affairs. Although I know nothing about Smith's suitability for the position, I am upset by the way he was chosen.

The fact that I know nothing about Smith's suitability is a symptom of the poor process that was employed in choosing him. No student input was taken on the subject, no other candidates were considered and no attempt was made to involve the MIT community in the decision.

Although the Undergraduate Association had an understanding with you that students would definitely be on the committee that chose the dean for student affairs, this committee was never formed, and so by necessity no student members were appointed.

You claim that student input has been "received in the level of enthusiasm" that has been heard for Smith. However, even if it is true that Smith has been receiving positive comments, these are not an adequate substitute for the input of representatives on a committee.

Representatives can canvass student opinion and represent it in a responsible way. Furthermore, no other candidates were discussed, or at least not by a search committee, so there is no way of knowing whether or not there might have been greater praise from students for some other choice.

It is shameful that a dean who will so profoundly affect student life at MIT was appointed single-handedly by an administrator and without the advice of a committee that includes students.

David Hogg '92->