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Mark Named Sidney-Pacific Housemaster

By Jennifer Krishnan


Distinguished Professor in Health Sciences and Technology Roger G. Mark ’60 and his wife Dorothy will be the housemasters of the new graduate student dormitory at Sidney and Pacific Streets.

“Where Roger stuck out was that he had a real enthusiasm to work with students,” said Shunmugavelu D. Sokka G, a member of the search committee.

“We like students, particularly grad students,” Mark said. He and his wife decided “living in a student community [would be] fun” and rewarding.

Sokka noted Mark’s history in mentoring graduate students, which has earned him multiple awards.

Mark has also been “a strong advocate for graduate student issues,” Sokka said. “Much of [the housemaster’s job] is advocating for students.”

“I’m a lifer,” Mark said. He received an SB degree from MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1960 and a PhD from the same department in 1966. He also earned an MD from Harvard Medical School.

Housemaster has plans for dorm

Sidney-Pacific is “a huge place with no students, no government, and no traditions,” Mark said. “The first thing that has to be done is ... to pull together a core group of student leaders” to start making some decisions.” Mark indicated that some such students had already been identified.

The northwest sector of campus, which includes Edgerton House, The Warehouse, and Sidney-Pacific “has to be put together as a major focus of graduate student life on campus,” Mark said. He suggested activities such as a Sunday frisbee league.

“The broad objective is to make the residence a place where [graduate students] make friends, where they can feel at home,” he added.

Mark supports Senior Segue

Mark agreed that crowding in dormitories was a problem, but said that “Trying to solve it on a crash basis” may not result in a good solution.

“From the grad students’ point of view, developing graduate housing is a significant goal” that the administration “bought into years ago, and taking away 140 beds ... is unfortunate,” Mark said.

“On the other hand, I also think that undergrads in some buildings are pretty badly crowded,” he said. “Putting four or five people into one room is an excellent way of whittling down the class size by flunk-outs,” because of the added stress of living under crowded conditions.

Sokka said Mark independently came up with a solution nearly identical to the Senior Segue plan drafted by graduate students.

“My suggestion was that we should offer a room to seniors who are applying or plan to apply to the MEng program,” Mark said. “We [EECS] admit ... roughly 200 students, twice a year ... and the timing is such that when you apply for MEng, you know that you’re going to apply by spring term” of junior year.

Since by that time, “we can find out with a fairly high degree of certainty who’s likely to get in,” it would make sense to assign these students in graduate student dormitories, Mark said.

Mark stressed that he expected seniors would be “spread out over several dorms” and would “have to be willing to assume role of a grad student. ... and in terms of academic work, this is consistent” since students would be beginning what is essentially a two-year Masters program.

Some issues still hanging

Sokka said the search committee was still working on choosing an associate housemaster.

He added that rents for Sidney-Pacific are not officially set yet, despite the fact that the deadline to enter the lottery is Feb. 28.

Sokka said he hoped Mark would help push the rent-setting process forward.

Another issue that remains to be resolved is whether or not married students will be allowed to live in Sidney-Pacific, Sokka said.