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Smith, Perkins will step down; Dean's Office reorganized

By Christopher L. Falling

New students arrive each fall and seniors and graduate students leave with their degrees each spring, but changes among the deans directly responsible for these students are rare. Yet last fall both Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith and Dean for the Graduate School Frank E. Perkins '55 announced their resignations, both effective after the end of the academic year.

The announcements were among the most prominent of many changes that took place within the various deans' offices last year.

Perkins plans to return to teaching and research in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering after a short sabbatical. He will also manage the new Master of Engineering program offered by that department.

In a Dec. 14 Tech Talk article, Perkins said that as dean he was foremost concerned with the quality of the graduate student experience. "I tried to make the Dean's Office a place where [students] felt they were welcome," he said.

Smith integrated UE, SA

Smith, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, was named dean for student affairs in 1990. In 1992, he took on the responsibilities of the offices of undergraduate education, becoming the Institute's first dean for both undergraduate education and student affairs.

President Charles M. Vest said that "bringing about the integration of the offices following the death of Margaret L. A. MacVicar '65, dean for undergraduate education, was a major accomplishment."

While Smith served as a faculty member and administrator, he "was also concerned about issues important to students," said J. Paul Kirby '92, former Undergraduate Association vice president. "He brought fairness, circumspection, understanding, and generosity to students," Kirby said.

"Art has brought a very insightful and effective advocacy on behalf of students to the Academic Council discussions," Vest said. "He always forced us to see things through the students' eyes." The Academic Council, composed of the president, vice presidents, provost, vice provosts, deans of the schools, and other high-level administrators, is the highest policy-making body at the Institute.

Smith said he hopes to continue to "influence in some way the course of the Institute." He said he may return to teaching.

Two of Smith's subordinates were promoted to new positions as part of a broad reorganization of his office last spring to reduce overlap between different sections, Smith said.

Travis R. Merritt, formerly an associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs, was promoted to dean of UAA. Robert M. Randolph, former associate dean in charge of student assistance services, was named senior associate dean for UESA. Randolph has worked in the Dean's Office since 1979 and Merritt, a former professor of literature, since 1987.

Merritt now oversees activities such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, Independent Activities Period, Residence and Orientation Week, and the Wellesley Exchange Program.

Not all of the changes in the Dean's Office were administrative: Margaret A. Jablonski began her tenure as associate dean for residence and campus activities last February. Jablonski replaced James R. Tewhey, who left MIT in 1993 after an affair with a financial aid administrator led to charges of harassment.

Osgood new OME dean

In September, Judy Jackson, an associate dean in UESA and director of the Office of Minority Education, left MIT to pursue a doctoral degree in higher education at Harvard University.

During her more than four years at MIT, Jackson expanded many of OME's programs, including tutorial services, Project Interphase, and Project Excel according to Vest and Smith.

She also worked for improved industrial relations through the Industrial Advisory Council on Minority Education and increased financial support for, and the number of internships offered to, minority students.

Jackson's replacement, Associate Professor of Athletics and Dean-on-Call Leo Osgood Jr., took office this month after a three-month search process.

In the interim, retired Professor of Mechanical Engineering David Gordon Wilson served as OME director.

"I have worked with minority students on an array of issues and concerns," said Osgood, who is also the head basketball coach. "I think that this will be a good opportunity to work more closely with minority students."