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Re-engineering Open House Looks for Student Input

By Shang-Lin Chuang
News Editor

The student services re-engineering assessment team has been taking its findings to students as it prepares its final recommendations for delivery to the steering committee on March 12, said team member Anthony J. Ives '96.

The recommendations will include a proposal detailing future changes to student services like career assistance and orientation. It will also describe the structure of future redesign teams and the project's schedule, Ives said.

An open house held yesterday was part of the team's effort to display its findings, share its conclusions, and get student input, said Associate Director of Admissions and team member Marilee Jones.

"We are still in the process of gathering feedback," said team member and Associate Planning Officer Michael K. Owu '86. "They will be incorporated into the final report."

The input will also be used to guide the work of the future redesign teams, Ives said. It will help them identify what areas require more work and input. Up to now, the team has held more than 50 interviews, 12 focus group meetings, and 75 open or department meetings, according to an open house poster.

Students concerned with issues

The student services re-engineering effort "is very important and will change the fundamental ways in which student services are done," said one student who stopped by the open house, Shin-I A. Wang '96.

Before the open house,"I didn't know what was happening," said Michael A. Spitznagel '99. "Since I didn't have class and there was free food, I decided to see what was going on."

Students had various problems with the current state of the so-called "processes," or general areas of student life marked for redesign, that were presented at the open house.

"Upperclassmen advising is not centralized," Wang said. "Every department is different; there is no continuous support, and students learn more from other students instead of from their advisors."

"Advising is very vague," said Michelle D. Green '96. "It is not a two-way experience. The support, information, and benefit could be much better if we had a good advising system."

"The open house presented many ideas but there were no actual recommendations. I'd like to see more concrete goals," Wang said.

"The main thing to keep in mind is that what we have been presenting is our preliminary proposals," said team coordinator Anand Mehta G. "They are not set in stone yet. We have some ideas, but we need to have input before we know what will work."

"The ideas presented were very good," Green said. But implementation will be tough and relatively slow because of the size of MIT's bureaucracy, he said. The Institute "doesn't like change," he said. "Change has always been met with a lot of opposition."

Processes marked for change

The four processes recommended for redesign are co-curricular support, career assistance, orientation, and educational program support. The processes of supplies, housing, and personal support have been recommended to go through a set of changes that include re-organization and training.

These were chosen for redesign using criteria like importance to the student, level of dissatisfaction, opportunity to complement the educational mission, cross-functional interaction, ease of implementation, cost, and volume.

The provision of supplies and materials, which covers things like room allocation, has also been recommended for change. Process owners would be established to coordinate access to goods, appoint undergraduate and graduate students to the supplier consolidation re-engineering team, and emphasize student needs in administrative decisions related to these processes.

In addition, the housing process has been recommended to be reorganized by first combining the Offices of Housing and Residential Life, and then bringing most of housing management under Physical Plant's purview.

In the process of personal support, the team recommended establishing coordinators at the senior level to organize, train and support service providers across varied offices, and information dissemination.

The assessment team, whose purpose is to review administrative and educational support processes and to identify and recommend areas where changes are needed, is made up of Stephen D. Immerman and Jennifer D. Dougherty of the Office of the Senior Vice President, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Margaret S. Enders, Associate Director of Career Services Jeannette L. Gerzon, Ives, Jones, Mehta, Owu, team captain and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Marty F. Schlecht ScD '82, and Weber.