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Making Guidelines into Details

Kolenbrander will Oversee Implementation of Housing Plan

By Kevin R. Lang

After months of design and debate, Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 presented MIT with a residence plan for 2001 and beyond. Yet one minor detail remained: turning some fifty-odd pages of goals and guidelines into bricks and mortar.

As outlined in the report, much of the responsibility for implementation falls on Associate Dean Kirk D. Kolenbrander, who served as Process Manager for the Residence System Steering Committee.

Bacow’s report states that Kolenbrander will “convene a meeting of the relevant parties to clarify the division of responsibility for the management and operation of the residence system.”

“It’s going to take some time to craft that meeting,” Kolenbrander said. The meeting will not consist solely solely administrators, but rather “those persons who feel that they contribute to the living and learning environment,” he said.

Kolenbrander said that although 2001 is fast approaching, the implementation process must be undertaken carefully.

“I think we remain in the very beginning steps. Our plan has been to use IAP as a time to think very carefully about proper and appropriate options,” Kolenbrander said. “At this point, very little action has been taken.”

Student input remains important

Students disputed the RSSC and other housing proposals throughout the design process, but Kolenbrander does not anticipate the same level of protest and dissent the RSSC faced.

“The work of the RSSC and the implementation process truly are apples and oranges -- they have completely different objectives.”

However, students will play a significant role in the process. “It’s something we take very seriously,” Kolenbrander said. Student input is even being sought in determining how to best seek out and use student input. Kolenbrander said that Bacow’s example of using student contributions -- notably the Strategic Advisory Committee to the Chancellor -- must continue.

“However, the decisions about what needs to be done, many of the important decisions,” have already been made by Bacow, Kolenbrander said. “I don’t anticipate a great deal of sitting around the table reaching decisions.”

Dean changes impact process

The recent resignation announcements of Dean for Student Life Margaret Bates and Dean for Undergraduate Education Rosalind Williams have had mixed impact on the implementation process. Bates’ resignation prompted Bacow to give Kolenbrander the primary responsibility for implementation.

“To bring clarity to the implementation process and to ensure that adequate resources are available to implement the recommendations, I have asked Dean Kirk Kolenbrander to serve as a Special Assistant to the Chancellor for the Residence System on an interim basis,” Bacow said in his report.

Williams’ resignation has had less effect. “There's no particular piece of the implementation that we have to completely rethink because of her departure,” Kolenbrander said.

Though Kolenbrander will coordinate the process, he believes that “RLSLP will have primary responsibility for most of the implementation.” However, orientation redesign will fall outside of Residential Life and Student Life Programs, as the Office of Academic Services currently handles orientation.

Specific plans yet to be determined

With the many changes outlined in Bacow’s report -- including October rush, summer residence selection, and capital outlays -- much specific planning remains. Currently, such planning has not yet begun. Regarding rush, Kolenbrander said that “we will work very closely with the IFC” Kolenbrander said that the process has not yet progressed to the point of financial planning.

While Kolenbrander has not selected a specific timeline for implementation, he noted that “we obviously all have the timeline of fall of 2001.”