“Freshmen” AdministratorsBy Eun Lee
The start of this fall term marks a new beginning not only for most students but for administrative members as well. This year, four members of the administration, Larry G. Benedict (Dean of Student Life), Robert P. Redwine (Dean for Undergraduate Education), Katherine G. O’Dair (Assistant Dean for RLSLP), and Tracy F. Purinton (Student Activities Coordinator) occupy new positions of importance to the student body. Although they come from a wide range of backgrounds and each have different affiliations within the MIT community, they cumulatively carry years of experience and have a plethora of fresh new ideas to improve the quality of student life at MIT.
Robert Redwine is the Dean for Undergraduate Education. Redwine has been at MIT for 21 years as a member of the Physics faculty, and has served as the Director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science for the last eight years.
His role as Dean for Undergraduate Education entails both an administrative and policy making aspect. Dean Redwine oversees a wide range of administrative offices including the Office of Academic Services, Career Services, Admissions, and the Office of Minority Education. He also collaborates with departments and programs to promote and support the overall quality of undergraduate education.
“I really look forward to working with the faculty and students and being able to make a difference in the quality of the undergraduate education and experience,” Redwine said. “It is paramount in a place like this.”
He is optimistic about future educational opportunities available at MIT through increased technology and new learning resources that will improve and enhance undergraduate education. One of his major goals is to increase faculty involvement beyond the classroom. This commitment to enhance the undergraduate experience outside of the classroom environment is also shown through his involvement with student leaders of the Undergraduate Association, living units, housemasters, and Benedict.
Larry Benedict is the Dean for Student Life. A Massachusetts native, he comes to MIT after serving as Dean for Student Life at Johns Hopkins University for the past eight years. “This is an exciting time in the history of the Institute ... It is an exciting opportunity for me to be here to be part of the whole process,” Benedict said In the coming years, the Institute will be making major investments to improve the quality of student life.
Some of Benedict’s major objectives include improving the dining program, developing new housing and residential programs, working on a strategic plan for the athletic program, and collaborating with Redwine to explore various academic programs in residence halls. One of his biggest goals is to improve communication among and between the different constituents on campus.
In addition to building new facilities such as the new athletics center, Benedict hopes to improve existing facilities and dorms that are in desperate need of renovation. Other projects include building closer ties with FSILGs and seeing if RLSLP (Office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs) and FSILGs can work closer on programs and policies as well as providing more service and support.
Benedict is not only working to improve student life for undergraduates, but for the graduate student community as well. He hopes to provide more support for the GSC through support networks, possibly providing a limited health insurance, and increasing stipends for fellowships. According to Benedict, the best way for students to be happy with their college experience is to “get involved in your university.”
Residential Life and Student Life Programs
Katherine O’Dair is the Assistant Dean for the Office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs. She has been at MIT for four years and previously served as the Assistant Dean for Student Activities. As Assistant Dean of RLSLP, O’Dair will be working on numerous projects, including improving and developing the current residential system and programs, working with the Graduate Resident Tutor program, and working on a new project to make systematic an information network between all residence halls.
Her goals for the coming year deal with a number of issues facing the MIT community and its residential system. She currently serves on several Institute committees such as the Committee on Discipline and the Committee on Campus Race Relations and also oversees Charm School. Besides her position as Assistant Dean of RLSLP, O’Dair is a good resource for students, whatever the issue.
“I have an open door policy,” O’Dair said. “Students can come to me with literally any issue, and I can help them figure out the best place or person at MIT to address it.”
Tracy Purinton is the new Program Administrator for Student Activities at MIT and works in the RLSLP office. As Director of Student Activities, she is responsible for the overall support of student activities at MIT and is working with the other members of her office to find new ways to better support student organizations on campus. Some specific activities that she works with include the Undergraduate Association, the Association of Student Activities, and the Graduate Student Council.
Her office hopes to promote the level of RLSLP’s service to student organizations and to increase the visibility and use of the resources that are provided to these groups.
Purinton worked at MIT from 1993 to 1997 as the Assistant Director of the Public Service Center. She left in June of 1997 to pursue a Master’s degree and now returns after spending two years at the Student Activities Office at Boston University. “I enjoy MIT’s commitment to student initiative and student involvement” said Purinton.