Vest to Hold Town Meeting TomorrowBy Stacey E. Blau
President Charles M. Vest will hold the third annual town meeting tomorrow to address general questions from all members of the MIT community.
Unlike the two previous years' town meetings, this year's meeting has no set focus.
"I do not have a particular topic that is important to discuss, as I did in the past," Vest said.
The town meeting will take place from noon to 2 p.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico.
Re-engineering may be focus again
Both of the previous town meetings were presented as a chance for the community to ask about re-engineering.
Although re-engineering is not officially the topic of this year's meeting, "I think that [it is] very much on people's minds," Vice President for Human Resources Joan F. Rice said.
People want to know how re-engineering will change their workloads, since it involves reducing the number of people working at the Institute, Rice said.
People may have similar questions about the effects of MIT's new retirement plan, which offers a number of benefits to eligible faculty members who choose to retire early, she said.
Many staff members will be leaving now and during the summer, and because of budget constraints, they cannot all be replaced, Rice said.
People would like to know if a large number of retirements will mean that others will not be laid off, an anxiety for many who fear losing their jobs because of the re-engineering process, Rice said.
"The whole premise behind re-engineering is that you don't need the same number of people to do the job as you had before you went into the process," Rice said.
About 400 staff members - including about 40 faculty members - of the 1,400 eligible staff have ex-pressed interest in the program.
Rice, along with several other administrators, will be at the meeting to field questions that Vest refers to them.
Some may focus on budget
People may also have other questions about budgetary concerns, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Glenn P. Strehle '58 said.
"An important issue for MIT is the very slow growth in revenues which seems unlikely to exceed even the modest rate of inflation during the next few years," Strehle said.
A number of factors, including the flat or declining revenues from campus sponsored research due to "the widely publicized slow-up in government funding of university research" will contribute to the slack revenue growth, Strehle said.
Re-engineering is part of the effort to cut expenses and keep spending in line, and will help during leaner funding periods, he said.
MIT must always be looking at the outcome of the federal budget, Rice said. The budget, which is currently under discussion in Congress ,may have some negative consequences for MIT.
Many graduate students are concerned that less federal funding and potential in-creases in overhead rates could mean cuts in funding for teaching and research assistant stipends, Rice said.
People may also ask questions about issues of diversity, particularly what MIT has been doing to accommodate the growing numbers of women at the Institute, she said.
ROTC may also be a topic at the town meeting, Rice said. The faculty recently approved a plan to create a pilot ROTC program that will try to incorporate gays into all of its aspects.