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June 12, 2020 - Recommendations of APART Concerning Academic Year 2020-21

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to provide you with a summary of the recommendations of the Academic Policy And Regulations Team (“APART”) with regard to the options under consideration for the upcoming academic year.  You will recall that APART was created in mid-April as a successor to the Emergency Academic Regulations (EARs) Team that developed the emergency regulations including the alternate grading scheme in effect for the spring.  The membership of APART is listed below and includes students, the Director of TLL, the Registrar, and 14 members of the faculty, including the current and incoming chairs of key Faculty Governance committees concerned with the Institute’s educational mission.

APART met several times over the past week to discuss the five options proposed by Team 2020.  Vice Chancellor Waitz provided us with briefings on the deliberations of Team 2020, and APART carefully reviewed the input from the community engagement orchestrated by Team 2020 as well as the report of the Undergraduate Association Committee on Covid-19.  Additional input was received from a number of individuals including Department Heads and Heads of House.  APART also carefully considered the results of the Undergraduate Student Preference Survey launched on June 6 in which students indicated whether they would enroll in classes under each scenario.

Below is summarized the results of the discussion of APART with regard to each option under consideration.  Note that for each option classes that can be remote would be taught remote; please see the Team 2020 Final Report for details concerning each option.

Option 1 (Invite 100% of undergraduate students to return to campus, access and operate instructional spaces in a physically-distanced way, with much of the curriculum being offered remotely over two semesters): While there was a range of views with regard to this option, overall APART considered this option as “conceivable, but with serious issues”.

Option 2 (Delayed start to subjects for all students (with students invited back in early January 2021), then hold two regular semesters (no IAP) and potentially stretch the academic year into mid summer 2021): APART viewed this scenario as less attractive than option 1, with half of the committee considering it “untenable” and urging that it not be considered at all.

Option 3 (Invite 60% of the undergraduates to campus in fall, 75% in spring; two semesters, start Sept 1 and end fall on-campus Nov 20): This was viewed as the most attractive option by APART, with people generally ranking it as at least “workable” and in many cases as “attractive though not perfect”.

Option 4 (Invite 25% to 50% of undergraduate students on campus in the fall, as part of a three-semester year ending in mid summer 2021; distribute typical fall and spring subjects taught over three semesters (fall, winter, and spring terms of equal length) and provide all undergraduate students with an on-campus experience for two of the three semesters): This option was rejected by APART and overall the committee scored it as low as option 2.

Option 5 (Undergraduate students are 100% remote in the fall, TBD for the spring): This option was ranked second by APART, with the consensus being that it is “workable, though with significant concerns”.

The recommendations of APART have been communicated to the MIT Academic Council and the Senior Leadership, and are also included in the Team 2020 Final Report.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.

Sincerely,

Rick Danheiser
A. C. Cope Professor and
Chair of the MIT Faculty

Academic Policy And Regulations Team

  • Rick Danheiser, Chair of the Faculty and Chair of APART (Science, Chemistry)
  • Arthur Bahr, Chair of CUP (SHASS, Literature)
  • Rebecca Black, Graduate Student Member of FPC 2019-20
  • Duane Boning, Associate Chair of the Faculty (Engineering, EECS)
  • Mary Callahan, Registrar
  • Daniel Frey, Chair of CGP (Engineering, MechE)
  • Martha Gray, Incoming Chair of CGP (Engineering, EECS, IMES)
  • Kelvin Green II, Undergraduate Member of FPC 2020-21
  • Jeremiah Johnson, Incoming Chair of CAP (Science, Chemistry)
  • Tami Kaplan, Faculty Governance Administrator
  • Anne McCants (SHASS, History, Director of Concourse)
  • William Minicozzi, Incoming Chair of CoC, Associate Head of Math (Science)
  • Kristala Prather, Chair of CAP, Executive Officer of ChemE (Engineering)
  • Krishna Rajagopal, Dean for Digital Learning (Science, Physics)
  • Janet Rankin, DIrector of the MIT Teaching and Learning Lab
  • David Singer, Secretary of the Faculty, Head of Political Science (SHASS)
  • Ezra Zuckerman Sivan, Deputy Dean of Sloan School (Sloan)
  • Larry Vale, Associate Dean of SA+P (DUSP)
  • Ian Waitz, Vice Chancellor (Engineering, AeroAstro)