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Bates to Leave Institute

By Douglas E. Heimburger

Dean of Student Life Margaret R. Bates announced Wednesday that she will step down from her post at the end of the academic year.

Bates, who was appointed to the position in October 1995, said that she is leaving her post to join her husband, Robert H. Bates Ph.D ’69, a professor at Harvard, on a year’s sabbattical.

“Margaret for four years has lead by example,” said Undergraduate Association President Matthew L. McGann ’00. “Rather than simply talking about ‘MIT Community,’ Margaret participates in it.”

Bates “has overseen major changes in organization in policy in student life at MIT,” said Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams in an e-mail announcing the decision. “She has responded to unrelenting challenges with wisdom, hard work, collegiality, and good humor.”

“I really liked her personally and professionally,” said Associate Dean and Director of Residence Life and Student Life Programs Andrew S. Eisenmann ’70. “The role she’s played ... has meant she’s been here a lot of evenings and weekends,” he added.

Search committee formed

Williams said that Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Linn W. Hobbs will chair the search committee to choose Bates’ successor. Hobbs also chaired the committee that picked Bates in 1995.

Williams said students, staff, and faculty would sit on the committee, which will also investigate the role of the position and how it has “evolved through reengineering, other managerial changes, and policy changes.”

The search will allow the Dean’s role within the general ODSUE organization to be refined, Eisenmann said.

Changes may “make it possible for MIT in the future to support even more effectively the residential and campus life of its students,” Williams said.

Bates said she is willing to advise the committee on its investigation, but said that others need to decide exactly how to refine the position over the long term.

Bates encouraged by changes

In reflecting on her time at MIT, Bates said, “I feel very encouraged by the directions things are going.” The level of dialogue between faculty, staff, and students has risen significantly in her four years, she added.

“You’ll never reach the city on the hill where everything is perfect,” Bates said, but MIT has improved during her time here.

During the remaining seven months of her tenure, there is a “great incentive to do as much as I can to move things along,” Bates said.

MIT has undergone many changes behind the scenes since 1995, including a restructuring of the dean’s office in fall 1996 that changed it from a 65-person office to a group of over 500.

Bates is the first person to serve as Dean of Student Life. The office was created when the role held by now-Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams in student affairs was increased and split. While Williams has focused primarily on education issues, Bates has taken the lead role on issues such as the review of campus dining.

Bates’ role has expanded significantly since her position was created, Williams said. “I personally have relied upon her for advice and judgment in a host of complicated situations.”