Provost's letter to the faculty about the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing

The following email was sent today to the MIT faculty from Provost Martin Schmidt.

Dear colleagues,

As I trust you have seen, this morning Rafael wrote to the community to announce the creation of the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing. This is an historic day for the Institute.

The idea for the College emerged from a process of consultation the administration conducted over the past year. In that time, we consulted with many faculty members, both on School Councils and in some departments with significant computing activities. How to handle the explosive growth in student interest in computing, on its own and across other disciplines, has been an administrative concern for some time. As we’ve seen in the sharp rise in majors “with CS,” individual departments have worked hard to respond. But through more than a year’s worth of thoughtful input from many stakeholders, we came to see that if MIT could take a single bold step at scale, we could create important new opportunities for our community.

A central idea behind the College is that a new, shared structure can help deliver the power of computing, and especially AI, to all disciplines at MIT, lead to the development of new disciplines, and provide every discipline with an active channel to help shape the work of computing itself. Among those we have consulted so far, I sense a deep excitement for the power of this idea.

Opportunities for input

Today’s announcement has defined a vision for this College. Now, to realize its full potential, we are eager to launch a process that includes even more voices and perspectives. As a very first step, Rafael announced a set of community forums where we will share more detail on the vision and a process for moving forward. I hope you will join us for the faculty forum — October 18, 5:30–6:30 PM in 32-123 — so that we can learn from your feedback. The October 17th Faculty Meeting will also include discussion of the new College.

The search for the Dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing

One immediate step is the search for the College’s inaugural dean. I am grateful to Institute Professor Ronald L. Rivest for agreeing to chair the search, and I am in the process of finalizing a search committee; we will announce the membership soon. I will ask the committee to recommend a short list of the best internal and external candidates by the end of November. It’s important that we work efficiently together to appoint a dean in the coming months, so that the new dean will be able to participle fully in implementing all aspects of the College.

I invite you to share your advice with the committee, including your suggestions for candidates for this important position, by sending email to CollegeOfComputingImplementation@mit.edu. All correspondence will be kept confidential.

The process moving forward

The Chair of the Faculty Susan Silbey and I have discussed ideas for the best process moving forward. Even as we conduct a search for the new dean of the College, we can begin to make progress on several fronts.

At this point, we believe we could form a number of working groups to advise the administration on important details of creating the College, perhaps following the process MIT used during the 2008 budget crisis, which actively engaged all key stakeholders at the Institute. The working groups can evaluate options and make recommendations on issues like the detailed structure of the college, how faculty appointments will be made, and how we envision new degrees and instructional support that cut across the Institute. Again, we welcome your comments, questions, and insights as we move forward with this process. Please feel free to contribute any input via CollegeOfComputingImplementation@mit.edu.

We have much work ahead of us, and I look forward to the excitement and challenge of writing this new chapter of the Institute’s history. I welcome your feedback and advice.

With my best regards,

Marty



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