President Vest sent an e-mail letter to students yesterday afternoon, welcoming them to a new academic year with the news that construction activity will begin on the Vassar Street residence hall project within the next few weeks.
"We have resolved the issues with the abutter so that we can move ahead with the construction of the new undergraduate residence," Dr. Vest said in the letter. "This project will open in time for students arriving in the fall of 2002," he said.
The 350-student project was recognized last spring by Progressive Architecture magazine. "This is the architectural equivalent of an Academy Award," Dr. Vest said. "The award citation noted the innovative way in which the design supports the creation of community within the dorm. Indeed, students and faculty were strong contributors to this design."
Dr. Vest noted that the many changes on campus since last spring "are all part of our efforts to enhance the campus environment and to do a better job of integrating teaching, research and community on our campus -- which was one of the major recommendations of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning."
Dr. Vest noted that the two new deans, Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert Redwine and Dean for Student Life Larry Benedict, and Senior Dean Robert Randolph have moved to Rm 4-110, close to the Cashier's Office, to be more accessible to students.
"MIT has also begun work on two projects to address the needs of our graduate students for more housing," he said. "On Albany Street, we are renovating a former warehouse (NW 30) into loft-style apartments for 120 graduate students," which should be open by the fall of 2001.
"I am delighted that Professor Steven Lerman, chair of the faculty, and his wife Lori, have agreed to serve as housemasters for this new graduate residence.
"We also have filed for permits with the city to begin construction of a 600-bed graduate residence at Sidney and Pacific streets, adjacent to University Park. This residence will also incorporate a housemaster suite and additional community space and should be open by the fall of 2002."
SPORTS AND FITNESS CENTER
Ground breaking is scheduled for October 27 on the new Sports and Fitness Center, to be located between the Johnson Athletics Center and the Student Center.
"I believe this project will transform the western part of our campus and will become a magnet for students, faculty and staff alike. The project includes a 50 meter swimming pool, a health and fitness center, squash courts, a multi-activity space, locker and team rooms, offices for the Athletics Department and a juice bar and sports shop.
"This summer, in preparation for the construction of the new facility, we renovated the women's and men's locker rooms in duPont.
"Also this summer we began work to replace both the indoor and outdoor tracks. The latter has been expanded from six lanes to eight lanes and new facilities have also been incorporated for field events. The new tracks will open this fall.
"We have also made a number of improvements in the Student Center designed to enhance student life. The 24-hour coffeehouse has been completely renovated and doubled in size. We also are just completing a major renovation to the cafï¿½ previously known as Networks, in order to provide a more inviting environment for students, faculty and staff.
"The Task Force on Student Life and Learning also recommended that faculty play a larger role in residential life. This year we are piloting a new residence-based advising program in McCormick Hall. First-year students living there will have faculty advisors who are affiliated with McCormick.
"Similarly, Professor Kip Hodges is working with a group of freshmen on Mars 2004, a new freshman program designed to bring more hands-on learning into the freshman year, another recommendation of the Task Force.
"Over the summer, we also formally inaugurated the Cambridge-MIT Institute. This innovative partnership between MIT and Cambridge University in England will support joint research, joint teaching, student exchanges and faculty exchanges. This year, a small number of MIT students will participate in a pilot exchange program. We expect to have at least 25 MIT students traveling to Cambridge next year and a like number of Cambridge students coming to MIT. In steady state, these numbers should increase to 50 students per year from each school. Professor John Vander Sande is heading this program. Keep your eyes open for more information about the program this fall."
Dr. Vest concluded, "The coming academic year promises to be an exciting one at MIT. I hope that you find it to be productive, enjoyable, and rewarding."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 2000.