Faculty Disputes CMRAE ClosureBy Jeremy Hylton
The faculty meeting ended Wednesday afternoon with a short but fiery discussion of the administration's decision to close the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology. Other items discussed were a new graduate degree in Sloan, disciplinary reports, and ROTC policy.
Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Stephen L. Chorover and Institute Professor Emeritus Herman Feshbach PhD '42 criticized the review process that led to the decision to close the center.
According to a pamphlet written by Professor Heather N. Lechtman, director of the CMRAE, Provost Mark S. Wrighton decided to close the center on Aug. 20.
Chorover said that Lechtman's description of the review process "deserves serious consideration and deliberation by the faculty."
At the faculty meeting, Professor Robert L. Jaffe, chair of the faculty, said he and President Charles M. Vest would create a committee to examine the way the decision was made.
Chorover and Feshbach expressed concern about a jointly-appointed committee. "Since the faculty really should ... consider this very carefully, I would recommend to you [Jaffe] that this committee would be a faculty committee and not a presidential committee," Feshbach said.
Chorover asked other faculty members to join him in submitting a resolution to discuss the closure at the next faculty meeting. He also asked that Lechtman's pamphlet, titled "An Institute in Ruins," be distributed along with the minutes of the meeting.
Vest declined, saying, "I'm not sure that it is appropriate to expend our funds for a private publication."
Jaffe said he would not officially distribute the document either, but would make copies available in his office in Room 4-237.
MBA approved for Sloan
In regularly scheduled business, the faculty voted to approve a new Master of Business Administration degree with an optional thesis for the Sloan School of Management. A Master of Science degree, with a 24-unit thesis, will still be offered.
The new degree, one of two graduate degrees at MIT that has no thesis requirement, is "a major departure" in that respect, according to Frank E. Perkins '55, dean of the graduate school.
Professor Paul M. Healy, deputy dean of the Sloan School, said that most Sloan classes involve substantial research projects during the semester, and that the degree would still emphasize research more than similar degrees at other universities.
Sloan School Dean Glen L. Urban said he originally opposed the degree, but changed his mind after talking with his colleagues. "Many of our students go out as general managers or consultants, and they need to develop their skills across a range of projects," he said.
Perkins added that it was important to recognize that Sloan students typically plan to get only a master's degree, while students in other departments typically pursue PhD's. "The culture that operates within the program is that it is a terminal degree and it prepares people to go out and get a job in professional management," Perkins said.
There was no discussion after a brief presentation, and the faculty approved the degree by voice vote.
Later at the meeting there was some debate about the way the vote was held. Two professors contended that changes to the rules and regulations of the faculty required discussion at two meetings before approval.
Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, said that degree requirements were in a particular section of the rules and regulations that could be changed at a single meeting.
But the Master of Engineering degree created in Course VI two years ago required discussion at two meetings, according Professor Paul L. Penfield Jr. ScD '60, head of the department.
"I'm expressing my disappointment that this appears to have been railroaded through," Penfield said.
Discipline cases presented
Smith and Committee on Discipline Chair Triantaphyllos R. Akylas PhD '81 presented a report on the disciplinary cases handled by the Dean's Office and by the COD over the last three years.
Smith explained his decision to give the report. "For some time a lot of us have been concerned about the lack of information or misinformation that gets out in the community about what kinds of decisions are made and what kinds of sanctions are taken."
Smith and Akylas documented the kinds of cases they dealt with. Smith generally described what kinds of people filed complaints with his office, the nature of the complaints, and the actions taken. The list was only a representative sample of cases handled, however.
Akylas listed each of the 88 cases heard by the COD in the last three years. Most of the cases involved academic dishonesty; 61 of the cases stemmed from charges of copying problem sets in Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving (1.00).
Sanctions imposed by the COD ranged from letters of reprimand to expulsion. One student was expelled for selling drugs, and another was expelled for breaking and entering and falsifying records.
Report on ROTC
Wrighton reported on the activities of a working group created by the faculty in 1990 to convince the Department of Defense to change its policy banning homosexuals from military service.
Wrighton said the committee had hoped that President Clinton would end the ban when he took office. Instead, Clinton eventually decided on a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
As a result of the new policy, ROTC recruiters can not ask about the sexual orientation of applicants.
"The new Department of Defense policy on sexual orientation is a step in the right direction," Wrighton said. But "there are many questions that remain."
"We concur with the direction that the policy seems to be headed," Wrighton continued. "And we would continue our efforts to change the official policies."
Wrighton said MIT will continue to work with other schools in the Boston area and with Congress to effect a change in the policy.
Highlighting the efforts of the last two years, Wrighton noted that Vest had endorsed a bill proposed by Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Col.) that would have ended the ban. Vest also joined 100 national leaders in opposing the ban in an advertisement in The New York Times.