Dear Undergraduate Students,
I am now four months into my freshman year as the Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE). If you don’t know, the DUE reports to the Chancellor and oversees everything from admissions, financial aid and registration to UROPs, freshman advising, and career services. My job is to help make your educational experience a great one. This means providing a supportive learning environment with many opportunities for you to learn and explore both inside and outside the classroom.
So, you may be wondering how things will be different with a new Dean. Over the next few years, I hope to focus on several important initiatives.
I am very concerned about student stress. I wonder if the academic pressure is too extreme at times. Last December, The Tech did a great job providing a snapshot of student stress. I want go deeper and more clearly understand the sources of stress and how it is affecting learning. Ultimately, I would like to identify and implement strategies that mitigate stress and help students find balance.
I would also like to work on reducing barriers between students and the services and opportunities that help them succeed both academically and personally. For example, I would like to reduce physical barriers, such as the proximity of critical offices to primary student pathways, and financial barriers, such as having financial support for a global educational experience. I would like to continue to strengthen faculty advising and mentoring to reduce the perceived barriers between faculty and students.
While we have exciting, project-based subjects as part of the curriculum, I would like to see hands-on, educational experiences become a fundamental part of the first year. Students arrive at MIT wanting to work with smart people to solve important problems but for much of the first year, freshmen attend large classes. I believe that supplementing these critical subjects with opportunities to work on real problems will motivate the understanding of core concepts. This could take different forms and enable students to explore their interests, such as design, entrepreneurship, public service, working with industry, or UROP-like research.
- The Task Force on the Future of MIT Education will continue to move us forward in our thinking around online learning and the residential experience. We will be considering some bold, new experiments that will reimagine residential learning.
I am excited about my new role and working with students, faculty and staff on these initiatives. I will be establishing a DUE Student Advisory Group composed of fifteen undergraduates. I will look to this group for feedback on ideas and will ask them to highlight student issues and concerns. The advisory group will be formed through invitations to a random group of undergraduates. Beyond the advisory group, I am interested in hearing ideas and suggestions from all students. Please feel free to contact my office anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck completing this semester. The last few weeks of the term can be a stressful time. Please reach out to your peers, advisors, faculty, residence hall staff, and Student Support Services if you are feeling overwhelmed or need some help.
Dean for Undergraduate Education
Professor of Electrical Engineering