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The MIT Corporation And You

By Satwiksai Seshasai

The MIT Corporation acts as the governing body of the Institute, responsible for issues such as tuition and approving new degree programs. The corporation conducts most of its work through its various committees. Its 78 members meet as a whole only four times a year, primarily to hear the reports of the committees and President Charles M. Vest.

According to Chairman of the Corporation Alexander V. D’Arbeloff ’59, visiting committees in each department provide the best way for students to get involved in the decisions of the corporation. Corporation visiting committees exist in every academic department and other related areas such as the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education and the Athletics Department.

The 17 member committees consist of corporation members as well as distinguished individuals from the field. Each corporation member is usually on two visiting committees. They meet for one and a half days every two years to discuss and examine areas of potential improvement within the departments. “We make sure there’s time allotted with students and junior faculty without department members [present]” said Associate Secretary of the Corporation Susan A. Lester. The committees provide students with “a direct line of reporting to senior administration.”

A schedule for departmental visiting committees can be found on the corporation’s new website, <>. Students are encouraged to contact their individual departments to participate in the committee sessions, says Lester. “If a committee chair goes to bat for a department, change can be made.”

The only corporation committee with student members is the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee on Institute-Wide Affairs. “CJAC was set up to have a standing committee structure that is ready to tackle issues that are creating difficulty between students, faculty and the administration,” said D’Arbeloff. Of the 18 members, six are students.

CJAC member and GSC President Luis Ortiz G said, “I think the corporation members are largely shielded from the students and in that view CJAC serves to involve interested students.” In the past two years CJAC has changed its focus from “general exposure” to identifying specific issues, said Ortiz.

“The corporation should make a better effort at outreach,” said UA President Matthew L. McGann ’00, also a member of CJAC. “It remains relatively mysterious.”

One of the ways the corporation intends to involve students is the website, released this week. “We could use student input for possible improvement of the information presented,” said D’Arbeloff. CJAC is also planning a social event at Baker House in March, where students can meet corporation members and other student leaders.

The corporation elects one graduating student each year for a five year term. “It is a fabulous opportunity for people launching their career to be involved with experienced senior people from industry, government and academia” says D’Arbeloff. “The amount of interest in this process is very low and only a few vote.”

In addition to the five recent graduates, the corporation consists of approximately 73 other members. The four ex officio members are D’Arbeloff, Vest, Treasurer Allan S. Bufferd and Vice President and Secretary Kathryn A. Willmore. Additionally, there are no more than 25 life members at any given time. The rest of the members are elected for five year terms: 15 from the Association of Alumni and Alumnae and 25 elected by the Corporation.