What’s next for MIT?
At MIT, momentum is a phenomenon we understand. It also defines us as a community. Earlier in the year, when I announced that I would be stepping down as president, an important responsibility was particularly clear to me: maintaining the momentum of the Institute through the transition to the next president.
Fortunately, a team of more than 200 MIT students, staff, and faculty provided us with a blueprint for doing just that. Early in the pandemic, Task Force 2021 began setting us up with an agenda — an action plan that we can implement as soon as the pandemic halts our lives.
The task force outlined the fundamental progress needed to ensure that as we move forward, all members of our community have the MIT they need. Proposals include expanding professional development and mentoring for graduate students. Reassess science, math, and engineering requirements. Create opportunities for social equality programs. Enhance online learning and certifications. All of this — and more — will give MIT’s 18th president a head start.
Even with our community scattered around the world, we can still advance urgent global priorities, like Big climate challenges. Of course, CGC’s flagship projects will make a profound contribution to accelerating the response to the existential challenge of climate change.
And we found a way to turn the limitations of the pandemic to our advantage: we quickly realized that having fewer people at MIT would make restoring our physical campus back to normal. should be easier with minimal disruption. We’ve turned Kendall Square into an open space and a brand new Welcome Center. We’re starting to revive the west campus, with New Vassar and a new home for theatrical arts. And we broke ground on a new musical building that will revitalize the heart of campus with fresh energy and creativity.
We’ve also elevated a less tangible but equally important central priority: making MIT a more humane, friendlier community where each of us can thrive. In a thoughtful, dedicated way Value Statement Committee drafted a statement that celebrates our longstanding values while inspiring us to set our sights higher. Meanwhile, the Institute’s Professor Penny Chisholm and former principal Phil Clay, PhD ’75, are leading a working group towards establishing a common understanding of freedom of expression at MIT.
All this work is extremely important. But I must admit that we are working on a concrete plan with the highest expectations: to get everyone together this spring to see off our recent graduates and celebrate the reunion. In addition to this year’s graduation and reunion classes, we’ll also be seeing two classes of the past 25th and 50th reunions and classes for 2020 and 2021.
I can’t wait to meet all of you in person at MIT.