Dear Graduate Students,
By now, you’ve likely been welcomed or welcomed back to MIT at least a dozen times, by deans, department heads, office heads, and some of your fellow student leaders. Some of you have already heard from the two of us, or even met us, as well.
This is because we are genuinely excited, each and every year, to witness the campus filling up with new and returning students. The vibrancy and energy you bring to our corridors and across the Institute inspire us to do our best work.
We are also excited because we are implementing ambitious plans for enhancing graduate student life and learning at MIT, from the top down and the bottom up. Here’s what we wanted you to know is in the works…
- Enhancing advising and mentoring. Strengthening this important aspect of the graduate student experience has long been a priority at MIT. Examples of recent progress include making excellence in mentoring and advising a criterion of tenure review and implementing the recommendations from the landmark 2018 National Academies report on gender and sexual harassment in academia. Last year, Professor Paula Hammond and Associate Provost Tim Jamison co-chaired the ad hoc committee on graduate advising and mentoring to elevate graduate advising and mentoring as an Institute-level priority.
- Expanding support for professional and personal development. Task Force 2021 recommended the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Student Professional and Personal Development. Chaired by professors Martha Gray and Dave Darmofal, the student-staff-faculty committee will explore opportunities beyond technical training and disciplinary degree requirements. (Contact the GSC if you would like to be involved!)
- Offering new financial education support. Erica Aguiar has joined Student Financial Services as associate director of financial education and is connecting with departments, labs, and centers (or DLCs, as we call them) across campus to offer training and advice. OGE also has a host of training and resources.
- Creating a more inclusive and welcoming community. MIT’s first ever Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement, and Composition was announced last week. The plan is designed to create “more positive experiences for those who have been marginalized in our community” and to unleash the creativity, breadth, and volume of our research, teaching, and learning while enhancing everyone’s experience.
We also hope the newly designed Office of Graduate Education website, with dedicated content for grad families and peer-to-peer advice via the Grad Blogs, will be a go-to resource, as well as the DoingWell, the new wellbeing hub.
All of you will also hear from us through the quarterly Grad Update, periodic community letters and Zoom calls, open office hours, and in more informal ways, like waving hello as we walk across campus.
We are here—and here for you. Best of luck getting settled, connected, and reconnected in the coming weeks.
Blanche and Ian
Blanche E. Staton, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education
Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education