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Hastings is Next Undergrad Education Dean

By Marie Y. Thibault

Daniel E. Hastings ’78, professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Director of the Engineering Systems Division, was named the next dean for undergraduate education late Thursday afternoon.

In an e-mail to the MIT community, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 and President Susan Hockfield said that Hastings will enter “an exciting time in the evolution of our undergraduate program, as the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons prepares to issue its report.”

Hastings will take office in January, replacing Robert P. Redwine, who has served as dean for undergraduate education for five years and plans to return to physics teaching and research.

Hastings said he feels delighted and challenged by the position. He said his long-term plans include working with the task force. Their report will be the “first serious look at the Undergraduate Commons in a long time,” and “not many people get the opportunity to contribute in this way,” he said.

In the short term, Hastings said he would like to learn more about the responsibilities of the Office of Undergraduate Education. He also plans to continue his research, and hopes to still teach in some form when he assumes office, he said.

Ten offices and about 250 people report to the dean for undergraduate education, including the Admissions Office, Academic Services, and the Registrar’s Office. Managing these offices makes up much of the dean’s everyday business, Clay said.

Hastings will work on several long-term tasks besides the Undergraduate Commons report, including monitoring the communications requirement, upgrading teaching facilities, expanding career education, and improving undergraduate advising and mentoring, Clay said.

An internal search to fill the position began in June with a review of all professors as potential candidates. Members of the Undergraduate Education Dean Selection Committee interviewed nominated professors and made a short list; Clay interviewed the remaining candidates and made the final selection.

To be able to take responsibility for such a large number of tasks, a prime candidate should have managed an enterprise, Clay said. Hastings’s experience as ESD director and head of the Technology and Policy Program is important in this respect.

Professor of Biology Graham C. Walker, a member of the selection committee, said that Hastings is compelling, intelligent, insightful, thoughtful, and seems to have a very strong understanding of the core issues of education.