Students want transparency and collaborative approach in new vice president of IS&T

IS&T Vice President John Charles retired after six years

Information Systems and Technology is searching for a new vice president after former IS&T Vice President John Charles retired at the end of 2018.

The search committee’s highest priorities for attributes of the new vice president are that the candidate is a good communicator, has ideas that are aligned with MIT’s mission, has a vision for the future, and will manage IS&T with transparency, according to Robin Elices, executive director of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer, in an email to The Tech.

Elices shared responses prepared by Deputy Executive Vice President Tony Sharon and Associate Provost Krystyn Van Vliet with input from Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz. Sharon and Van Vliet are chairs of the search committee.

Students submitted their suggestions to the search committee through an anonymous form. They wrote that the vice president should emphasize exploration and support for student projects, be eager to engage with students and student computing groups, and increase transparency about IS&T’s operations and decision-making, Elices continued.

“We believe the next VP of IS&T should develop transparent channels for incorporating student feedback into important decisions,” Angel Alvarez ’20, Student Information Processing Board chair, wrote in an email to The Tech.

“SIPB has not had opportunities to give input on recent IS&T decisions before they were finalized. In the future, we would love to work more closely with IS&T leadership and committees to provide student perspectives on decisions before they are finalized,” Alvarez wrote.

Students also wrote that the vice president should focus on evolving Athena and updating legacy systems.

Charles served as vice president from 2013–2018 and led a major restructuring of IS&T during which many employees resigned — 20 percent instead of the usual annual eight or nine percent between February 2016 and 2017. Many were longtime employees and MIT alumni. The restructuring was part of a long-term strategic plan to be realized over 2014–2020.

The IT industry faces changes to its business models as IT moves to cloud-based services and as its vendors switch from campus-wide licensing models to consumption-based models, Elices wrote. IS&T will have to adjust its budget accordingly.

The new vice president will lead IS&T during the launch of the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, which will increase computing activities on campus.

The hiring process should be complete around April, according to Elices.