Fundamental changes on MIT's horizon


MIT is facing a very fundamental set of changes that are affecting its long-standing relationship with the federal government.

The end of the cold war and the shift in federal priorities may mean fewer federal dollars for research at MIT and other research universities. In addition, the federal government is changing the way it will contribute to the indirect cost of research.

These changes will pose a major challenge for MIT.

As President Charles M. Vest put it in a message to the community last November:

"MIT-the Institute and its people-stands for excellence. That quality is being threatened by continuing budget deficits that cut into our ability to be the very best we can be in teaching, research and service. We have to come to grips with these financial trends now."

But the problem, Dr. Vest pointed out, cannot be solved by just tightening our belt, cutting expenses and "trying to do all that we do in the same way we have been doing it for decades."

What MIT must do, he said, is "take a fundamental look at how we operate, and reduce and realign our expenses on the basis of what makes sense for MIT, both in the short term of the next few years and into the future.

"Only in this way can we preserve the excellence that is MIT."

That announcement set the stage for the Institute's commitment to reengineering-an extensive examination of how it operates the basic support processes that undergird its academic and research mission.

Dr. Vest designated Senior Vice President William R. Dickson to head the reengineering effort, and Mr. Dickson appointed a Steering Committee consisting of MIT's other vice presidents, the executive vice president of the Alumni Association and the dean of MIT's largest school, the School of Engineering. Mr. Dickson has since spoken with dozens of people in the MIT community about reengineering and he has talked with alumni and others in industry, where reengineering is being widely used.

Earlier this month, the senior vice president announced the appointment of Professor James D. Bruce, vice president for information systems, as program manager for reengineering. Mr. Dickson also announced the appointment of a seven-member Core Team which will work with Professor Bruce to identify and map MIT's core processes and recommend two or three of them for the initial reengineering effort. And the Steering Committee selected CSC Index, Inc. to assist and advise MIT in reengineering. Index, an international management consulting group with extensive experience in reengineering, has named 1983 Sloan School graduate Walter Popper as engagement officer and Karen K. Temkin, a 1989 graduate of Sloan, as project manager for the MIT undertaking. Both will work closely with Professor Bruce and the Core Team.

MAINTAINING MIT PRIORITIES

"This major commitment of Institute human and financial resources is not just about budget cutting," Professor Bruce said. "It is part of an ongoing process to ensure the future vitality and excellence of MIT.

"Reengineering requires an understanding of why such extensive change is needed, and a clear understanding of the consequences of doing nothing. It is also very important that Institute goals be constantly in the foreground. As we move ahead, we will be guided by the MIT priorities set out by Dr. Vest and Provost Mark S. Wrighton," Professor Bruce said.

Those priorities include:

  • Maintaining and enhancing MIT's position as the leading academic institution focused largely on science and technology.
  • Providing flexibility to develop new educational and research opportunities.
  • Maintaining merit-based, need-blind admissions.
  • Moderating the rate of growth of tuition and self-help levels.
  • Compensating faculty and staff consistent with their high quality.
  • Increasing the use of MIT resources (rather than research funds) to support faculty salaries.
  • Building a more diverse faculty, staff and student body.
  • Improving the efficiency and value of the services we provide.

TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION VITAL

An absolute necessity for the success of reengineering, Professor Bruce said, is clear, unambiguous and credible communication from the administration and the reengineering team to the wider community, and communication channels the community can use to reach the Core Team and the administration on reengineering issues.

Professor Bruce announced that the reengineering team can be reached by voice mail at x2-1700 (this is correct, the first number is 2) and by e-mail at . The name of the sender is masked during transmission to the e-mail box to ensure privacy, Professor Bruce said. Correspondents may include their name in the body of the message if they wish. Anonymous questions received by e-mail will be answered in MIT Tech Talk, he said.

"We would like to hear from people who can tell us of work currently being done that they think does not contribute to efficiency of the process," Professor Bruce said. "It might be something that has been part of a process for longer than anybody can remember, and it might have been significant at one time, but its purpose now is obscure. We also would like to hear about what people would like to be able to do today in their work, but can't because the design of the process won't accommodate a visionary approach.

"We know there are many questions, concerns, fears and doubts about the course the Institute is taking," he continued. "I urge members of the community to make use of these channels of communication. And although I know that the members of the Core Team will be very busy for the next several months, they can be contacted individually."

Team MIT members are:

Katherine Cochrane, director, alumni information services and resources; Isaac Colbert, associate dean, Graduate School; Marilyn A. McMillan, director, information systems planning; Pamela A. Phillips, administrative officer, EAPS; Shirley M. Picardi, bursar; Steven D. Scarano, assistant to Vice President Simonides for information systems, and Anne H. Whealan , assistant director, finance.

Fundamental Changes... (3/30/94)

REENGINEERING FOCUS

Fundamental Changes On MIT's Horizon

By Robert C. Di Iorio

News Office

MIT is facing a very fundamental set of changes that are affecting its long-standing relationship with the federal government.

The end of the cold war and the shift in federal priorities may mean fewer federal dollars for research at MIT and other research universities. In addition, the federal government is changing the way it will contribute to the indirect cost of research.

These changes will pose a major challenge for MIT.

As President Charles M. Vest put it in a message to the community last November:

"MIT-the Institute and its people-stands for excellence. That quality is being threatened by continuing budget deficits that cut into our ability to be the very best we can be in teaching, research and service. We have to come to grips with these financial trends now."

But the problem, Dr. Vest pointed out, cannot be solved by just tightening our belt, cutting expenses and "trying to do all that we do in the same way we have been doing it for decades."

What MIT must do, he said, is "take a fundamental look at how we operate, and reduce and realign our expenses on the basis of what makes sense for MIT, both in the short term of the next few years and into the future.

"Only in this way can we preserve the excellence that is MIT."

That announcement set the stage for the Institute's commitment to reengineering-an extensive examination of how it operates the basic support processes that undergird its academic and research mission.

Dr. Vest designated Senior Vice President William R. Dickson to head the reengineering effort, and Mr. Dickson appointed a Steering Committee consisting of MIT's other vice presidents, the executive vice president of the Alumni Association and the dean of MIT's largest school, the School of Engineering. Mr. Dickson has since spoken with dozens of people in the MIT community about reengineering and he has talked with alumni and others in industry, where reengineering is being widely used.

Earlier this month, the senior vice president announced the appointment of Professor James D. Bruce, vice president for information systems, as program manager for reengineering. Mr. Dickson also announced the appointment of a seven-member Core Team which will work with Professor Bruce to identify and map MIT's core processes and recommend two or three of them for the initial reengineering effort. And the Steering Committee selected CSC Index, Inc. to assist and advise MIT in reengineering. Index, an international management consulting group with extensive experience in reengineering, has named 1983 Sloan School graduate Walter Popper as engagement officer and Karen K. Temkin, a 1989 graduate of Sloan, as project manager for the MIT undertaking. Both will work closely with Professor Bruce and the Core Team.

MAINTAINING MIT PRIORITIES

"This major commitment of Institute human and financial resources is not just about budget cutting," Professor Bruce said. "It is part of an ongoing process to ensure the future vitality and excellence of MIT.

"Reengineering requires an understanding of why such extensive change is needed, and a clear understanding of the consequences of doing nothing. It is also very important that Institute goals be constantly in the foreground. As we move ahead, we will be guided by the MIT priorities set out by Dr. Vest and Provost Mark S. Wrighton," Professor Bruce said.

Those priorities include:

  • Maintaining and enhancing MIT's position as the leading academic institution focused largely on science and technology.
  • Providing flexibility to develop new educational and research opportunities.
  • Maintaining merit-based, need-blind admissions.
  • Moderating the rate of growth of tuition and self-help levels.
  • Compensating faculty and staff consistent with their high quality.
  • Increasing the use of MIT resources (rather than research funds) to support faculty salaries.
  • Building a more diverse faculty, staff and student body.
  • Improving the efficiency and value of the services we provide.

TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION VITAL

An absolute necessity for the success of reengineering, Professor Bruce said, is clear, unambiguous and credible communication from the administration and the reengineering team to the wider community, and communication channels the community can use to reach the Core Team and the administration on reengineering issues.

Professor Bruce announced that the reengineering team can be reached by voice mail at x2-1700 (this is correct, the first number is 2) and by e-mail at . The name of the sender is masked during transmission to the e-mail box to ensure privacy, Professor Bruce said. Correspondents may include their name in the body of the message if they wish. Anonymous questions received by e-mail will be answered in MIT Tech Talk, he said.

"We would like to hear from people who can tell us of work currently being done that they think does not contribute to efficiency of the process," Professor Bruce said. "It might be something that has been part of a process for longer than anybody can remember, and it might have been significant at one time, but its purpose now is obscure. We also would like to hear about what people would like to be able to do today in their work, but can't because the design of the process won't accommodate a visionary approach.

"We know there are many questions, concerns, fears and doubts about the course the Institute is taking," he continued. "I urge members of the community to make use of these channels of communication. And although I know that the members of the Core Team will be very busy for the next several months, they can be contacted individually."

Team MIT members are:

Katherine Cochrane, director, alumni information services and resources; Isaac Colbert, associate dean, Graduate School; Marilyn A. McMillan, director, information systems planning; Pamela A. Phillips, administrative officer, EAPS; Shirley M. Picardi, bursar; Steven D. Scarano, assistant to Vice President Simonides for information systems, and Anne H. Whealan , assistant director, finance.

A version of this
article appeared in the
March 30, 1994

issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume
38, Number
27).


Topics: Administration, National relations and service

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