In late March, Team 2020 was charged with rigorously evaluating options for the upcoming academic year to inform the final decisions by President L. Rafael Reif and other members of the senior administration. Team 2020 is not a decision-making body, but rather an enabling one and has drawn heavily on the expertise and opinions of MIT community members and other local, national, and global leaders. What follows is a synthesis of our work and the inputs we have received to date.
Hello and welcome.
In late May, Team 2020 asked the MIT community to “join us in thinking about the fall and beyond at MIT.” And wow, did you ever, reflecting on values and principles, wrestling with potential options, and considering a wide range of resources.
By the numbers alone, the collective campus effort was impressive:
- 425 charrette (design) participants in 69 different breakout sessions, and another 90 volunteering to serve as facilitators and notetakers;
- 900 completed and 900 partial responses to an online form, comprising 27,000 text comments; and
- 17 self-organized group discussion sessions, including undergraduate students, parents, Sloan Fellows, MechE faculty, staff from the Libraries and Registrar’s Office, and more.
The above, however, were just some of many engagement opportunities that took place over the past three months., Undergraduates, including the incoming class, were surveyed to better understand their preferences for fall; more than 3,511 (or 76%) responded. President Reif and the deans hosted Institute-wide and school-level Town Halls” to solicit feedback, field questions, and note concerns. Department heads led vibrant local-level discussions, and several departments and sections provided direct feedback including Biology, EAPS, History, and Mathematics. The Division of Student Life and student government held online events for students and the heads of house convened their residents. Community members completed numerous short “pulse” surveys to help hone in on key issues.
All of this, and 50+ 8 a.m. Zoom briefing calls since March 10 (with 169 attendees on average), thousands of emails, and contributions from the other Covid-19 working groups ultimately shaped our definition of options for MIT and our assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of these options relative to different future scenarios. (For a comprehensive list and more specific and detailed information, visit the Community Perspectives page).
In addition to these community inputs, we have continued to seek advice from public health and medical experts, have had ongoing conversations with local and state government officials, and consulted with peer institutions.
A campus-wide effort
Thanks and kudos to everyone who participated and shared their thoughts, suggestions, concerns, and hopes with us. Special gratitude to the staff, student, and faculty leaders who helped engage their respective stakeholder groups.
Analyzing, consolidating, and synthesizing the mountains of feedback would not have been possible without our amazing and talented colleagues in Institutional Research, the Teaching + Learning Lab, the Admissions Office, the Division of Student Life, and the Chancellor’s Office, among others.
We invite and encourage you to review this website. (You may also find the downloadable summary presentation to be helpful.) Initially serving as background, the site has evolved as new information and analysis have become available.
For each option, we have presented a “best” version that has been informed and improved by community engagement and external inputs, and that describes its advantages and disadvantages relative to other scenarios for the coming academic year.
Keep in mind, these are not truly the best versions of each option. Once the general direction is set, more work will be required to refine the way forward. This site also contains our guiding principles and values, a compendium of community inputs, key considerations for the decision, and selected background materials.
President Reif and the senior management team are reviewing these options, along with our analysis, community inputs, and other sources, to help inform their final decisions about the upcoming academic year, due in the coming weeks. Further actions may be required by the Institute Faculty and/or the Faculty Officers, depending on the option that is ultimately pursued.
It’s taken a tremendous amount of hard work to get here, so again, thank you. Once we have a decision, the hard work really begins. Implementation and execution of any option will continue to require the collective wisdom and unparalleled problem-solving of the MIT community.
But that’s the MIT way: to tackle hard problems together and to bring out the best in one another.