During her seven years as president, Susan J. Hockfield oversaw an aggressive expansion of MIT’s global footprint. Her years as president have been markedly outward-facing. During her tenure, she skillfully advanced MIT’s long-term interests by engaging in parnterships overseas and by securing a variety of donations for the David H. Koch Institute on Integrative Cancer Research and Fariborz Maseeh Hall, among other things. Hockfield’s administration has raised over $3 billion, more money than any one president has made during his term. She has created a number of relationships in politics and abroad. From bringing Obama to campus to creating alliances with Singapore and Russia, Hockfield has brought MIT’s influence around the globe.
MIT’s global footprint
Obama came to MIT in 2009 for his address on energy, and was the first-ever sitting president to be given a tour of a lab at MIT. Abroad, Hockfield forged relations with Russia and China. On Oct. 26, 2011, MIT struck a partnership with the Russian Skolkovo Foundation, which encompassed a three-year contract to develop a new graduate research university, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology . “MIT and SkTech, working together, aim to create a new model for graduate education and research in science and technology,” Hockfield said in a press release from the MIT News Office last fall.
In China , Hockfield helped establish the China Scholarship Council Graduate Fellowship Program and a collaboration between MIT and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The fellowship program, which opened in September, is open to MIT graduate students who are also Chinese citizens. Each year, five masters students and five doctoral students will be selected by the Chinese Scholarship Council and be given funding to get their degrees by MIT (they must also gain admission to the Institute).
Hockfield has also made a point of engaging MIT in the national conversation about science and other current events. One of Hockfield’s first projects at MIT was the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), a campuswide program that looked to improve efficiency on campus and help tackle global energy problems. She announced the program during her inauguration in May 2005, and appointed an Energy Research Council that examined these problems.
In December of last year, Hockfield had MIT host a meeting for the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a White House Initiative that aimed to take laboratory achievements and turn them into new technologies to improve the economy. AMP, created by President Obama, will advise him on policy recommendation and manufacturing industries next spring. Hockfield, along with Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical, are co-chairs of the Steering Committee.
Another major development in Hockfield’s career was the recent unveiling of MITx, a new online learning system that will allow people around the world to access an MIT education. The program will grant certificates for a yet-to-be-determined fee, and is debuting for free this semester with 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics).
The $3 billion that Hockfield’s administration raised came through a number of channels. One notable example was the $24 million donation from Fariborz Maseeh ScD ’90 that enabled the renovations of W1 to finish. Reopened as Maseeh Hall this fall, W1 provided space for a larger freshman class, allowing MIT to expand its undergraduate class size by 10 percent.
“That project came out better than we could have ever anticipated,” Hockfield said of Maseeh Hall in an interview with The Tech yesterday. “It’s just exciting to be in Maseeh.…and feel that buzz of activity and enthusiasm.”
Hockfield’s presidency also saw a massive donation from David H. Koch ’62 for the new integrative cancer research center near the Stata Center.
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when the endowment shrunk by 21 percent, Hockfield guided MIT through a series of budget cuts, though she made a point to preserve the Institute’s need-blind admissions policy and refused a hiring freeze. By 2010, MIT balanced its budget for the first time in a decade.
At the same time, trimming the budget resulted in eight varsity sports being cut from the athletic department, which was very unpopular with students. Besides athletics, all departments had to cut parts of their budgets as well, resulting in layoffs and reductions in student-life amenities such as shuttles and printing.
The MIT 2030 framework, which Hockfield announced last year, will require renewed fundraising efforts. MIT 2030 will include a number of campus renovations and new construction projects, along with several real estate development projects at MIT and the surrounding area. In addition to a $750 million bond sale, MIT hopes to raise another $750 million through donations to finance MIT 2030.
Dining proved to be a controversial topic throughout Hockfield’s career at MIT. Hockfield’s administration pushed for an expansive dining program that required students who lived in dining dorms to purchase meal plans. Students countered the proposals with stiff opposition, but the dining plan was implemented this past fall with some flexible options.
Hockfield will continue to serve as president until her successor is appointed.