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Task Force Coincides With Capital Campaign

The release of the report of the task force on student life and learning coincides with two key administrative initiatives: the reshuffling of the upper administration to include a newly appointed chancellor and the start of a major capital campaign that is intended to raise $1 billion.

"It's not an accident that we asked the Task Force to take a significant and searching look at MIT at the time we did," said Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow '72. "We knew at the time we commissioned the task force [that] we would be undertaking a capital campaign." Bacow, who also served as chair of the faculty, was one of the leading voices calling for the commissioning of what was to become the task force.

The task force report and an upcoming report of the president this fall will serve as the two documents that will form the basis of the upcoming capital campaign, said President Charles M. Vest. According to Vest, the goals of the capital campaign will be outlined by the end of this year.

The majority of the funds raised will go towards MIT's endowment but some fund-raising will also go toward immediate expenditures, Vest said.

Appointment fits recommendation

Perhaps lost in the sea of recommendations that are specific to education and student life is one major finding of the task force - the lack of support and the inherent weakness of interdepartmental activities.

"Without coordination, collaboration among groups and departments is difficult or impossible. Departments are not generally motivated to collaborate across units. Those who do engage in collaboration do so by their own initiative, making use of fortuitous contacts and friendships rather than long-term partnerships. Because initiatives tend to be entrepreneurial, they receive little or no central coordination,"the report stated.

It is in this vein, that Vest announced the appointment of Bacow as chancellor.

"My responsibilities as chancellor are to try and knit together the activities that cut across departments at MIT," Bacow said. "My job is very much to try and make the work of the task force a reality," Bacow said.

"The appointment of the chancellor came out of our description and discussion of interdepartmental programs not having a home nor having a structure base," saidRobert J. Silbey, professor of material science and engineering and co-chair of the task force. The appointment of a chancellor whose responsibility it is to oversee departments which cut across interdepartmental boundaries "may turn out to be an enormously important change," he said.

Bacow provides a home base for offices which cut across schools and departments at the levels of a senior administrator. The Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education, and the Office of the Vice President for Research are some departments which report to him.

Bacow will also take part in the shaping of the strategic planning committee as called for in the strategy and structure recommendations within the task force report. This committee would set long-range goals for the Institute.

This strategic planning group will be broadened to contain the deans of the five schools, the associate provost, the deans of graduate and undergraduate education, and the chair of the faculty, among others. In addition, a new student committee is also being formed to advise the chancellor.