The latest draft of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation's strategic plan--detailing how services will be distributed among intercollegiate athletics, physical education and recreation in the future--has been posted on the department web site, along with an online survey form for community feedback.
"This plan is going to guide how the department provides service well into the future," said Director of Athletics Candace Royer, head of the department. "We're seeking as much input as possible from all community members as to their feelings about the plan. The feedback we get will help us get this right before we proceed with implementation."
The plan establishes priorities among the three areas of the department: intercollegiate athletics, physical education and recreation (including club and intramural sports and casual recreation). Among other items, the plan details how services provided by the department will be distributed to each constituent group, and sets up a feedback loop for evaluation.
"We are seeking a better balance of what we do," Royer said. "We are not attempting to make all things equal, but the plan does address the need we feel to be more equitable to the three different areas."
Much of the plan's focus is on a technology-based management system. A need to establish a better system of communication across the campus, including a real-time, online system for facility scheduling, has been named as a priority. In addition, the plan proposes a feedback mechanism that will let users immediately report any maintenance problems in the department's facilities.
A second phase of the document relates to a human resource plan for staffing the department. Guidelines for recruiting a highly competent staff are included, as well as an emphasis on how the department can both retain and renew staff members once they have been hired.
A key component of the plan relates to re-emphasis on the physical education program. Under the guidelines in the plan, physical education would be shifted from the strictly activity-based program the department currently sponsors to a more balanced health, fitness and lifestyle orientation. New courses would emphasize nutrition, basic fitness principles and stress management. Sport skill acquisition courses would continue to be offered.
"The shift in the paradigm of our current physical education offerings will provide opportunitites for students to relate their interest in sports to their academic pursuits," Royer said. "MIT Medical, biomechanical engineering, materials science and the Center for Sports Innovation are all potential partners" with physical education courses in the the future.
The intercollegiate athletics program also has been studied. The plan outlines specific guidelines for adding or dropping a varsity sport, including a six-year burden-of-proof process. The first burden of proof rests with the department and its ability to support a team by meeting each point of "acceptable standards of support." The second rests with each varsity team and its ability to prove it can continue to satisfy each point of "sport sponsorship criteria" included in the plan.
The Strategic Plan Committee comprises department personnel, Visiting Committee members, students and staff who have worked on the plan for more than a year.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 24, 2001.