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Faculty discuss Athena changes

By Katherine Shim

Provost Mark S. Wrighton called for the formation of a new academic computing committee to make Project Athena self-sufficient at last Wednesday's faculty meeting. Wrighton also called for the formation of a committee to address gulf war issues. The faculty also discussed a timetable for the construction of a biology facility and a schedule of events for the inauguration of President Charles M. Vest.

In order to "move academic computing to a higher plateau," Wrighton called on Professor of Civil Engineering Stephen R. Lerman '72 to lead a group to "develop new initiatives for Project Athena by January of 1992 with the intent to make [Athena] self-sufficient."

The group will build on the work of the Committee on Academic Computation for the 1990s and Beyond, chaired by Margaret L. A. Mac Vicar '65, which ended its investigations last year. The new committee will consist of faculty members and will include the director of academic computing and the director of information systems.

Mac Vicar, who presented an overview of the findings of the committee, emphasized the need make the current computer system "more tolerant to DOS, Unix, and Macs."

She said that computing at MIT had an "insufficiency of user friendliness and efficiency," and that one challenge to the system was "its ability to work within the confines of finite [financial] resources."

Director of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Director of Project Athena, Earll M. Murman, reported that Project Athena will go through a "smooth transition" as committee recommendations are implemented.

Beginning in 1988, attempts were made to integrate the most frequently used Athena services such as Zephyr and e-mail with the Mac-OS and IBM DOS systems, Murman said.

Also, Athena will put increased emphasis on acquiring commercial software, Murman said.

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Vice President for Information Systems James D. Bruce '60 outlined three goals of Information Systems as it integrates Project Athena: to ensure no degradation of service, to continue to provide an academic focus to computing, and to extend Athena into Macintosh and DOS systems.

Bruce added that Information Systems will attempt to offset budget limitations by asking departments to pay for departmental Athena workstations.

In 1992, the Institute will contribute $3.7 million of the $9 million it costs to operate Project Athena.

Biology facilities to be built

Wrighton also announced a timetable for the construction of a new biology building on Ames Street, across from Building E17. The number of the building will be 68.

Ground will be broken on the site for the facility in March, and bids for construction contractors will go out in May. Construction should be completed by the end of 1993, Wrighton said.

Building 68 will have six stories above the ground and two underground. It will have 142,000 net assignable square feet, an area greater than the area of Buildings 16 and 56 combined, Wrighton said.

Construction costs will total about $70 million.

Wrighton also announced renovations for Buildings 16 and 56 to begin in 1994 and to end by 1996. The renovations will cost $40 million.

Wrighton described the costs of the project, to total $110 million, as "significant," saying though "we have some of the money in the bank, some funding sources are uncertain."

Wrighton hopes to obtain significant funds during the process of naming the building and some of the space inside.

Gulf crisis committee to form

Also at the meeting, Vest called on Institute Professor Francis E. Low to deal with the impact of the gulf war on MIT.

"The present international situation . . . has potential for divisiveness on campus. It is important to keep a civil discourse, with differing and opposing opinions expressed without destroying the atmosphere of congeniality and respect here," Low said.

"It would not be proper for MIT to get on about its business as if nothing of this kind were happening in the world. As an Institute we have an obligation to pay attention to what is going on. This group will serve this purpose," Low added.

The committee is to consist of faculty and student members.

Inauguration agenda announced

Claude R. Canizares, director of the Center for Space Research, announced a timetable of events to occur for the inauguration of Vest.

The festivities will begin on Saturday, May 4 at 10:30 am with the second Johnson Games and inaugural picnic. Registration deadline for the event is April 5.

On Thursday, May 9 at 8 pm an inaugural concert will be held in Kresge Auditorium. On May 10 at 10:30 am the inauguration procession and ceremony will be held in Killian Court, followed by a reception for the MIT community at 11 am in the Kresge Oval.

A presidential ball will take place in late September or early October.

Additional events will take place to "focus ongoing discussion on the future of MIT," Canizares said.

The theme of the events will be "MIT: Shaping the Future," and events will "concentrate on MIT's role as the quintessential research university," he added.

A colloquium will occur in mid-October to deal with the "partnership between education and research."

On May 23 or 24 a Vannevar Bush symposium on the "partnership between the research university and the nation" will occur, and next fall a symposium will occur dealing with the "partnership between the research university and the West."