Dean Jablonski Looks Back at Her First YearBy Christopher L. Falling
Associate News Editor
After being associate dean for residence and campus activities for just over a year now, Margaret A. Jablonski said she thoroughly enjoys being at MIT.
"It is an incredible challenge," Jablonski said. "MIT is extremely different from the other colleges I have worked at."
Jablonski came to MIT after working at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She replaced James R. Tewhey who left MIT in April 1993.
Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith said Jablonski "very quickly caught on to the way MIT students are different in what they need and want." He described her as being "energetic and able" and "knowing how to do the right things to get things done."
Jablonski said she is impressed by student initiative at the Institute. "I did not expect to turn on the computer and find lots of e-mail" from students, she said. "I think that student access to the administration is a positive thing."
Students are more involved in residence hall management than they were at the other colleges she has worked at, Jablonski said. This involvement ranges from house government to selection of graduate tutors, she said.
"I perceive MIT students to be more assertive and much more involved in the life of the campus," Jablonski said. She pointed to student activism in the Strategic Housing Planning Committee situation as an example. "MIT students want to be involved in the decisions that affect them."
The report of the Senior House-East Campus Action Committee would not have happened at most other campuses, Jablonski said.
Still, the challenges that undergraduate students face are the same, Jablonski said. "Finding friends, developing relationships, having to think about alcohol and drugs, and choosing a career," are some of these challenges she said. "I think I can relate to students" on these issues, she said.
Communicating with students
In an interview last year Jablonski said that she wanted to "open lines of communication with students" and "to improve her department's effectiveness in delivering service to students."
"I think we have made some progress," Jablonski said yesterday. "I did visit almost every residence hall and several independent living groups."
Jablonski has tried to establish connections with the Dormitory Council by having more regular contact and including council members on committees. "I have also worked on a more regular basis with the Undergraduate Association," she said.
One sign of improvement is that the residence and campus activities office has not had a single student complaint for mishandling a discipline case, Jablonski said.
Jablonski described her best accomplishments over this past year as working "to stabilize RCA and helping to make students want to come [to the RCA] for advice rather than having them look at it as a place of discipline." The office has done some good work over the last year, but there is still work to be done, she said.
Jablonski said she also worked to make the Public Service Center more visible.
One disappointment that Jablonski has is "not having enough time to spend in the residences or with student groups." She said that she would like to have regular contact with students throughout the week.
In the next year Jablonski would like to see a functioning complaint resolution system and more faculty interaction with students in the residence halls. She would also like to work through the housing issues so that people will feel included in the process.
"Art Smith has been an excellent mentor and one of the wisest people I have had the pleasure to work with," Jablonski said. "I am disappointed to have him leave so soon into my tenure."