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New Administrators Join MIT Community

New Faces in the Administration Hope to Bring About More Student-Faculty Interaction

By Jing-Helen Tang

Everyone at MIT knows the name “Charles M. Vest,” but how many people know who Barbara A. Baker is? How about Claude R. Canizares, or Kim R. Beamon? These administrators can be just as important to students as the President, Provost, or Chancellor, but most students probably do not even recognize their names.

Baker is the new Associate Dean and Director for Student Life Programs. Canizares was recently named Associate Provost, replacing Professor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75, who now serves as Chancellor. Beamon is the new Associate Dean and Director for the Office of Minority Education.

Students often do not know the new faculty members on campus, but anyone who wishes to plan an event, voice an opinion regarding space allocation, or get help on an assignment should know the administrators who are available to help.

Baker wants students to reach out

Baker hopes to work closely with students to build a “sense of support and trust ... and a sense of community on campus within both the residential and the FSILG system.”

The Office of Student Life Programs, which operates under Dean Larry G. Benedict’s Office for Student Life, works to encourage and support student participation in activities outside of classrooms and to provide assistance to student concerned with their living options.

“Our focus is to help students appreciate all the learning outside the classroom and laboratories,” Baker said.

With the upcoming changes in orientation and housing selection in 2002, the office is busy planning for next year’s freshmen orientation, especially with FSILGs.

“We have a wonderful opportunity for FSILGs to think through what they are offering to the students at MIT ... what’s special and unique about them to attract students to live there. We will help them out in sorting through their questions,” said Baker.

Baker oversees the five main branches of Student Life Programs: Public Service Center, Student Activities, Residential Programs, FSILGs, and Finance. Prior to MIT, Baker worked at Duke University as Dean of Student Development and Residential Education.

Other new members to Student Life Programs include David N. Rogers, new FSILG Dean and Director, Lisa M. Walsh, new FSILG Operations Coordinator, Linda Noel, new Program Coordinator for Student Activities, and four new Residential Life Associates, Anthony E. Gray PhD ’01, Chandra L. Mincher, Gabrielle Pardo, and Aaradhana Prajapati.

Canizares tackles space issues

Canizares, who is currently Director of the Center for Space Research, takes great interest in MIT’s own space problems.

“Space is the hardest problem. No matter what we do, space is limited, residential and non-residential. We try hard to do space planning and renovation to fit well with goal of the Institute and promote more interaction between faculty, student and staff,” Canizares said. “The best conversations are ones that are spontaneous and casual ... like chemical reactions.”

Canizares currently chairs the Institute’s Committee on Resource and Space Planning. This year, he also takes on the new responsibility of maintaining good communication between Washington and the Institute.

“MIT has a very important role in being a spokesperson for research universities in this country and playing a role in shaping science policy. People in Washington do not really understand the connection between education and research, and we need to make sure they do not hamper free exchange of information on campus,” Canizares said.

In the past, Canizares has had extensive contact with Washington, NASA and the National Science Foundation. He believes his experience in dealing with Washington’s agencies makes him well-suited for this new responsibility.

“When every senior official is elected, the job reflects what is needed and what their skill and experiences are,” Clay said.

“I've lived through five directors. I think Claude has been the most effective and will do a fantastic job. It's unfortunate that he's leaving the center because he's irreplaceable,” said Professor of Physics Walter H. G. Lewin.

Taotao Fang G, a postdoctoral associate at the Center for Space Research said that Canizares has given good insight and has been encouraging as an associate advisor.

“[There is] a steep learning curve to climb. I’m a freshman in my job, starting my first semester, and have a lot to learn and look forward to,” said Canizares.

A recognized Bruno Rossi Professor of Physics, Canizares said that, in addition to his new responsibility, he will continue his current positions as the associate director for the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, and, until a new appointment has been made, as the director for the Center for Space Research.

Before coming to MIT to work as a postdoctoral fellow in 1971 and later becoming a faculty member in 1974, Canizares received BA, AM, and PhD degrees from Harvard University.

Beamon brings experience to OME

Beamon noticed a great problem at the Office of Minority Education. “One of the things I think is important is how the community viewed our office. Sometimes people put a boundary round the office ... thinking that’s not for me. They should come and see our office instead of deciding beforehand who they think we are. We are here for the students, the faculty. We are not unlike the other offices. Our focus is to help, academically, socially and emotionally,” Beamon said.

The OME offers tutorial, counseling, internship and Seminar XL. Hoping to broaden the sense of community around the office, Beamon invites student to take advantage of the resources her office offers. Even if one is not considered under-represented, she said that they should still come and tutor.

“Kim brings a lot of experience, pragmatically and socially,” said Leo Osgood, Director of Office of Minority Education. According to Osgood, Kim Beamon came ahead of the other candidates after a yearlong search conducted with “due diligence” by students, administrators and faculties.

Beamon previously worked as the clinical supervisor for the Boston Public School’s Comprehensive School-Age Parenting Program.