Welcoming a new OVC Chief of Staff

Welcoming a new OVC Chief of Staff

Dear OVC Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Kate Trimble as Senior Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Chief of Staff for the OVC, starting on March 14. Kate will continue her oversight of the Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) and build upon the excellent work of her predecessor, Mary Markel Murphy, who has taken on a new role at the Office of the Vice President for Research.

As many of you may know, Kate first came to MIT in 2016 to energize and expand the PKG Center’s mission of inspiring and preparing MIT students to address complex social and environmental challenges. During her time there, she and the Center staff crafted a new vision and strategic plan for public service at MIT and transitioned the Center from the Division of Student Life into the OVC. In addition to building partnerships with diverse campus units including Terrascope, the Office of Sustainability, and the Educational Justice Institute, during Kate’s tenure PKG launched new programming focused on climate change and the Navajo Nation. Thanks to these efforts and those of the PKG team, more and more of MIT students are engaged in meaningful local and global service.

I was so impressed by how she transformed and elevated PKG, that in December of 2018, I asked her to lead the newly reconfigured OEL, now composed of D-Lab, the Edgerton Center, PKG, and UROP. At the time, she said in an MIT News story, “the experiential learning landscape at MIT is a bit of a jungle, so I’m excited to think about how to make it easier for students to explore and choose programs that help them build the skills and knowledge they’ll need, here at MIT and later in life.”

Over the past few years, Kate has done just that, convening and connecting MIT’s exceptional experiential learning programs, both within OVC and around the Institute. She developed the new Experiential Learning Exchange (ELx), a central portal for students to find and apply for all types of Experiential Learning Opportunities at MIT, and is working to elevate and expand opportunities for social impact internships and global experiences. In addition she has collaborated on curricular innovations in experiential ethics within the new College of Computing. In short, experiential learning, what I have long called the “special sauce of MIT,” is now better connected, more ubiquitous, and more transformative than it ever has been.

At the same time, Kate has emerged as a recognized leader across the Institute, stepping up time and time again to help shape crucial policies and practices even when they fall well outside her formal areas of responsibility. For example, she lent her expertise to Team 2020, designing and implementing a series of charettes and other opportunities to engage the MIT community in planning for Fall 2020; contributed to the Institute’s strategic planning efforts through the Task Force 2021 initiative; and has played and continues to play a critical and central role in planning and managing the Institute’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The harder the problem, the more likely she is to step up and get engaged. I have come to rely on her judgment, her intellect, her ability to find clear paths through complex challenges. (I also greatly appreciate her good humor in the face of adversity!)

Before her role at PKG, Kate was the Deputy Director of the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, where she also served on the University’s Title IX Council. Prior to Brown, she was a non-profit executive director and funder in Pittsburgh and a senior research analyst at the Brookings Institution. Originally from Charleston, SC, Kate graduated from Bard College with a degree in philosophy and received her J.D. from Georgetown University.

Please join me in congratulating Kate! While she has huge shoes to fill, I am confident that she will thrive in her new role and we will benefit from her leadership. I am very much looking forward to working with her to advance MITs mission and find new and creative ways to empower MIT students, faculty, and staff.


– Ian

Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics