June 25, 2020 - Declaration of Significant Disruption Enables Calendar Changes for AY2020-21

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Last week in a letter to the MIT Community President Reif provided a basic outline of the shape of the coming academic year.  Although we will maintain the basic two-semester structure of the academic calendar, we may need to start a week early (around September 1), end any in-person instruction before Thanksgiving, and finish the term remotely.

Rules and Regulations of the Faculty dictates specific requirements with regard to the academic calendar, and making calendar changes such as those above normally would require a 3/5 vote of the Faculty at an Institute Faculty Meeting.  Alternatively, however, such a change can be authorized by the Chair of the Faculty by invoking Section 2.102 of Rules and Regulations.  As set forth in that section, when a significant disruption of academic activities occurs, the Chair of the Faculty, in consultation with the Deans’ Group of the Academic Council and the chairs of the Committees on the Undergraduate Program, Graduate Programs, and Academic Performance, and the Registrar, may declare that emergency academic procedures are in effect and may promulgate temporary regulations related to academic activities.

I have consulted with the Academic Policy and Regulations Team (“APART”, membership listed below) and the Deans Group of Academic Council, and we are in agreement that the conditions engendered by the continuing Covid-19 emergency warrant the declaration of a “Significant Disruption”.  I am writing to inform you that a “Significant Disruption” will be in effect for the summer and upcoming fall and spring semesters.  

It is important to note that the declaration of a “Significant Disruption” does not imply that any particular emergency regulations will be instituted.  For example, this week the Academic Policy and Regulations Team has begun to discuss the important question of the grading system that will be in effect for the Fall semester.  To inform these deliberations we will be seeking input from both students and instructors and we aim to reach a decision by sometime in mid-July.  We will be announcing means by which the community can provide input on this and other questions in the coming week.

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


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

Sent to all Instructors, Academic Administrators, Undergraduate/Graduate Officers, the Registrar, and Staff to CAP, CUP/SOCR/SHR, CoC, and CGP.

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
  • Michael Cusumano, Deputy Dean of the Sloan School (Sloan)
  • 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)
  • Larry Vale, Associate Dean of SA+P (DUSP)
  • Ian Waitz, Vice Chancellor (Engineering, AeroAstro)

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