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New Requirement Moves Still Closer

By Brett Altschul
and Shang-Lin Chuang
Staff Reporters

At their Wednesday meeting, the faculty passed a resolution which would commit the faculty to create a new undergraduate communication requirement by 2000.

They also approved a new master of engineering degree in logistics, over objections by some faculty members.

The motion on the communication requirement states that "the faculty believes that the ability to communicate clearly should become a fundamental part of the MITundergraduate curriculum."

The resolution then directs the Committee on the Undergraduate Program to conduct a series of experiments and pilot programs to help design a new communication requirement.CUP is to then report back to the faculty with a recommendation by the spring of 2000.

The motion, proposed by Chair of the Faculty Lawrence S. Bacow '72, provoked debate at last month's faculty meeting because of its wording. Since its introduction, the resolution had been edited by Professor of Literature David Thorburn.

"One of my objections to the original proposal stemmed from the fact that it was horribly written," Thorburn said. "The changes were not substantive and were only verbal improvements. Wordy resolutions were made into shorter ones with more clarity."

Thorburn's changes to the proposal were accepted as amendments to the resolution.

"Something important has happened with this proposal," Thorburn said. "This is the first time in MIT history that communication skills are recognized as fundamental, and that the existing requirement is inadequate by the entire MIT community and not just the writing department."

"The only real question is how strong the commitment really is and how much the faculty are willing to change their course requirements to fit a new communication requirement, and that remains to be seen," he said. "With the passage of the proposal, the implication is that they are ready to commit to it. I am hopeful, but I am also reserving judgment."

Logistics degree approved

Director of the Center for Transportation Studies Yosef Sheffi PhD '77 introduced a resolution proposing a new MEng degree in logistics. The program would be administered by CTS. Logistics involves studying how to move goods over time and space.

Professor of Nuclear Engineering Ian H. Hutchinson summarized opposition to the resolution. Even regular departments were not allowed to have an MEng degree with a name different from that of the department, so a less important interdisciplinary center should not be allowed to do otherwise, Hutchinson said.

Bacow responded to this by saying that any disputes over the use of the name "logistics" had been discussed with the other departments and schools that might lay claim to the discipline; in particular, the Sloan School of Management had no objections.

Bacow added that departments would now be allowed to have degrees with more creative names.

However, Hutchinson and others still felt that it was inappropriate to take this action without a specific new policy on degree names in place.

Several professors suggested temporarily changing the name of the degree to transportation studies.

However, Sheffi spoke forcefully against this idea, saying it would be preferable to change the name of the center to the Center for Logistics.

"To the people this degree targets, transportation is old hat, passe," he said. In addition, all the material for the degree was ready for publication, and a change in name could be disastrous.

After Sheffi's speech, the faculty voted down a motion by Hutchinson to table the resolution by a margin of 33 to 13, then approved the new degree with only two dissenting votes.

Edgerton Award bestowed

The Edgerton Award Committee named Assistant Professor of Architecture Julie Dorsey as the 199798 award winner for her work combining computer graphics and architectural design at the meeting. The award goes to a junior faculty member of significant promise, and is named after Harold E. "Doc" Edgerton SM '27, former professor of electrical engineering.

Bacow also proposed some minor changes to the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, a standard procedure for the April meeting.

The faculty committee on nominations presented their recommendations for faculty to hold positions and sit on committees next year.

Among those nominated was Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Steven R. Lerman for the position of associate chair of the faculty.

These two proposals are scheduled to come to a vote at the next faculty meeting in May.

Provost Joel Moses PhD '67 then briefed the faculty on a new plan being prepared to allow faculty members to receive pay or research funding for all three summer months. Currently, faculty receive pay for only two months.