Newsweek Story Missed FactsBy Stacey E. Blau
Several administrators have expressed concern about errors printed about MIT in an article in the April 29 issue of Newsweek.
Entitled "Want to Chop?," the article discusses the costs and budget-cutting efforts of colleges and universities. It mentions MIT's re-engineering efforts and the effects of the new early retirement program, which offers a number of benefits to eligible faculty members who choose to retire early.
"MIT is planning something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago: It has announced a corporate-style downsizing," the article said. "It hopes that 1,400 employees, including nearly 300 tenured professors, will take a buyout at the end of the month." The comment was made in reference to MIT's retirement program.
President Charles M. Vest sent electronic mail to a number of administrators and department chairs to clear up confusion about the errors.
The figure of 1,400 staff members actually "refers to the number of faculty and staff who are eligible for this generally well-received program," Vest said.
Contrary to Newsweek's figure of 300 possible retiring faculty members, only about 150 faculty are actually eligible under the plan, said Chair of the Faulty Lawrence S. Bacow.
Faculty and staff must be at least 60 to be eligible for the program, Bacow said.
"When we announced the program, our expectation was that about one third of those eligible would take the option, including as many as 50 faculty members," Vest said.
"Right now, it appears that somewhat fewer than 400 staff membersŠ and about 40 faculty members have indicated a strong interest in the program," he said.
"The purpose of the faculty program is intellectual renewal, not reduction of the size of the faculty," Vest said.
The number of faculty members will remain constant because junior faculty will replace tenured professors who retire, Bacow said.
Some concerned over perceptions
Bacow expressed concerns that since admitted students will be making their decisions whether or not to attend MIT this week, the errors in Newsweek could make a negative impression on potential students and their parents.
"We would hope that pre-frosh would not be confused by the Newsweek article," said Bacow.
"I don't think that it's really a big factor in 18-year-olds' decisions," said MIT spokesperson Kenneth D. Campbell.
The article also contained an error about MIT's plans to renovate Building 20. "They confused what was termed Œrelocation' costs with what are actually costs of renovating spaces for Building 20 occupants in Buildings 16 and 56 and in other facilities."