Task Force 2021 and Beyond enters next phase, begins refining and planning to implement first phase proposals

16 Refinement and Implementation Committees charged to develop proposals on various aspects of Institute

“Task Force 2021 and Beyond will be entering its second phase, focused on refining and planning implementation of ideas proposed during its first phase,” task force Co-Chairs Rick Danheiser and Sanjay Sarma wrote in an April 12 email to the MIT community.

The second phase of the task force will be carried out via 16 Refinement and Implementation Committees (RICs), which will each develop specific proposals and define implementation plans for the proposals.

Most of the RICs are expected to provide reports to the task force co-chairs mid-June 2021. 

While the first phase of the task force included four overarching workstreams (academic, administrative, finance and data, and community and culture) divided into several groups, the RICs are smaller, with five to 12 members each. The RICs include members from the first phase’s groups who are “well-versed in the earlier consideration” of the groups’ ideas and members whose roles at MIT involve them in the implementation of the ideas.

The undergraduate program RIC will review the undergraduate academic program, particularly General Institute Requirements, resuming work done by the chair of the faculty and the vice chancellor for undergraduate and graduate education prior to the pandemic.

The social responsibility RIC is tasked with advancing ideas related to MIT’s social responsibilities and considering how the Institute can support students, faculty, and staff in fulfilling those responsibilities. 

The graduate student professional development RIC will focus on ideas relating to a holistic graduate education by potentially introducing professional development opportunities for graduate students, fostering research collaborations with companies, and exploring non-research careers through teaching experiences.

The graduate student advising and mentoring RIC will appoint an Ad Hoc Committee on a Strategic Plan for Graduate Advising and Mentoring and define a timetable for the committee’s work on a report describing how MIT can improve graduate advising and faculty mentoring by May 1, 2021.

The undergraduate experience RIC will work to propose an implementation plan for enhancing undergraduate advising, such as by strengthening the UROP program and expanding advising networks.

The under-recovery RIC is charged to study under-recovery funding levels and processes and to make proposals to increase transparency and efficiency for identifying sources of under-recovery funds. Under-recovery refers to the difference between the negotiated finance and accounting rate that MIT charges to a sponsored research product and the rate the sponsor is willing to pay.

The career support for postdocs, research scientists, and instructional staff RIC will develop proposals meant to support the groups the committee is named for. These proposals may include providing multiple advancement paths or creating systems to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

The campus working spaces RIC will consider how new technologies and changing work practices affect MIT’s space requirements.

The work succeeding RIC will, alongside the campus working spaces RIC, plan and pilot flexible work practices, by including options for hybrid working schedules and implementing pilots to evaluate physical spaces and best practices for different kinds of work.

The employee development, strategy, and career pathways RIC will develop plans for MIT to establish opportunities for MIT employees to develop skills for mentorship, team management, and career advancement.

The lifelong learning/postgraduate education RIC will evaluate ideas on how MIT can enhance education delivery, particularly for postgraduates via online programs, and propose an implementation plan for an Institute-wide unit focused on postgraduate education.

The collaborations RIC will provide recommendations supporting research collaborations across MIT’s schools, as well as with corporations and international entities.

The RIC focused on strengthening the pipeline of underrepresented and minority researchers will create an implementation plan for establishing a stronger mechanism in hiring young researchers from underrepresented groups and providing a more supportive environment at MIT for these researchers.

The One Agile MIT RIC will provide plans to improve the efficiency of work at the Institute by building a cross-functional project management team to modernize administrative processes and developing new practices for sharing digital data across departments, labs, and centers.

The student funding RIC will work with Provost Martin Schmidt PhD ’88 to focus on graduate student funding, high rate of graduation tuition, and other issues facing graduate students. The committee may also consider ideas proposed regarding undergraduate financial aid and student debt, if time permits.

The undergraduate and graduate living and learning RIC will address ideas related to learning and residential spaces, including digital learning technologies, community and outdoor spaces, and design of classrooms and other academic settings.

Task Force 2021 and Beyond was first charged by President L. Rafael Reif to build a “better” post-COVID-19 MIT in May 2020 and completed its first phase of identifying ideas to implement in December 2020.