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Undergrad Ed. Dean Selection Committee Is Gathering Input

By Kelley Rivoire

The committee charged with identifying possible candidates for the next Dean for Undergraduate Education is currently seeking feedback from students and faculty members.

The committee hopes to gather most input by the end of the month, and then meet regularly throughout September to review and interview potential candidates before submitting a short, unranked list to Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 in October, said Professor W. Eric Grimson, chair of the committee. The dean must be a full professor.

Current Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert P. Redwine plans to step down at the end of this calendar year and resume teaching and research with the physics department.

Student feedback regarding potential candidates or issues the next DUE will face can be sent to

Input is actively sought

Student opinions, particularly with regard to issues that the next dean should address, will carry weight in the committee discussions, Grimson said. In particular, students on the committee are seeking input from student representatives of Institute committees, who see faculty “in settings outside the classroom,” he said. However, suggestions should not be restricted to these student representatives, and Grimson said he would “like to hear from the student body in general.”

Student committee member John R. Velasco ’06 said that he and the other student representative to the committee, Danielle A. Hinton G, would also speak individually with student leaders of groups such as the Undergraduate Association, Dormitory Council, and Association of Student Activities.

Committee members are talking with numerous faculty members as well, including all department heads, school heads, and undergraduate officers of departments, in addition to most other senior administration officials. Grimson said he has received tens of responses from faculty members to an e-mail sent by Chair of the Faculty Lorna J. Gibson soliciting input.

Additionally, the committee has contacted MacVicar teaching fellows and housemasters.

Teaching experience a must

Experience with undergraduate education inside the classroom will be crucial, Grimson said. It’s “clear to the committee that a candidate really ideally should have extended experience with undergraduate teaching and undergraduate educational innovation.” He would like the candidates to be “engaged in teaching core undergraduate classes,” he said.

The dean should be “sensitive to the current student body and how it’s been changing,” which is something “that you only get from being in the classroom,” Grimson said. Additionally, management experience will be a factor, but “we’re flexible in looking at it” and the job could be restructured to provide the dean with additional support, if necessary, he said.

Velasco said that his personal priorities for the next dean would be improving the freshman year experience and undergraduate advising and mentoring.

He cited the most important qualifications as classroom experience in teaching undergraduates and management skills.

The next dean will preside over the implementation of the recommendations of the General Institute Requirements Task Force, scheduled to release its report this fall. He or she should be a “voice for undergraduate education, not just at MIT, but around the country,” Grimson said.