MIT's Charm School, in its third year as a popular feature of Independent Activities Period, will offer more subjects than ever before and culminate with a commencement address by the nationally syndicated columnist, Miss Manners.
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, students may polish social skills and learn etiquette in an informal, festive atmosphere from noon-4pm in Lobbies 7 and 10. Miss Manners' address on "Remedial Social Engineering" will follow at 5pm in Rm 10-250. Both events are open to all members of the MIT community.
Topics such as How to Tell a Joke, Faculty and Student Communication, How to Ask For a Date, Table Manners, Clothing Statements, Impressive Interviewing, Network/E-Mail/Telephone Etiquette, How to Deal with Difficult People/Difficult Situations, Overcoming Shyness, Small Talk/Attentive Listening, Body Language, and Buttering Up Big Shots will be offered during Charm School, organized by the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Already committed to teaching are Dr. Paul Gray, chairman of the MIT corporation, and his wife, Priscilla; MIT first lady Rebecca Vest; Professor Lawrence Bacow, chair-elect of the faculty, and more than 60 other MIT faculty, staff and students.
One needs only an interest in the Charm School curriculum, a dash of expertise, and a sense of humor to teach at Charm School. Teachers create their own topics. For example, Travis Merritt, dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, will again offer Walking, Elevator, Doorway and Corridor Etiquette.
Dedicated students may earn a degree in charm: a bachelor's degree for six subjects, a master's for eight, and a PhD for 12. Degrees will be awarded at the Charm School Commencement.
In her etiquette column appearing three times per week, Miss Manners, also known as Judith Martin, answers questions not only on table and party manners, but also on the more complicated aspects of life-romance, work and family relationships.
Mrs. Martin has written the Miss Manners column since 1978. Before that she spent 25 years at The Washington Post, where she says she covered "social life at the White House, embassies, and the zoo" before becoming a film and drama critic. She is a graduate of Wellesley College where she majored in "gracious living," according to her publicity biography.
In addition to her column, she has written two novels and three etiquette books, the most recent of which is Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the Millennium.
Approximately 10 students will be selected to attend a dinner party with Miss Manners on the basis of the questions they submit in an "Ask Miss Manners" contest in Lobby 10 through Wednesday, Jan. 18.
To volunteer as a Charm School faculty member or receive additional information, get in touch with Dr. Alberta Lipson, assistant dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs and headmistress of Charm School, x3-8604 ,or
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 11, 1995.