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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the Dean for Student Affairs records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0019

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Records (1961-1969) received in 1979, boxes 1-4: Records arranged alphabetically by subject consist of correspondence, memoranda and other papers documenting student activities and the activities of all MIT offices, committees and other bodies which affected undergraduates at the Institute.

Records (1975-1988) received in 1988, boxes 5-11: Records consist of correspondence and reports about the organization of the office and student activities issues including affirmative action, sexual harassment, and housing.

Records (1971-1988) received in 1990, boxes 12-14: Administrative records of Shirley McBay, who was dean of student affairs from 1980 to 1990, include material pertaining to the administrative aspects of improving the quality of student life in areas such as student housing, space for non-academic activities, and drug and alcohol programs. Also included are memoranda, correspondence, and reports about affirmative action and minority retention programs, and other minority issues.

Records (1956-1970) received in 1992, box 15: Dean Kenneth Wadleigh's files from the MIT Committee on Discipline, 1956-1970, consist of topical files dealing with major discipline issues concerning the student body, such as the use of marijuana and LSD; the Harvard strike and student activism; and fraud and theft. Individual student case files are included which detail the Institute's investigations of wrongdoing, hearings, administrative actions, and appeals.

Records (1945-1993) received in 1995, boxes 16-20: Administrative records of Dean Shirley McBay include material dealing with the formation of policies on such aspects of student life as academic honesty, harassment, the use of drugs and alcohol, discipline, and pornography. Reports dealing with minority and international student issues are also included. Records (1981-1995) received in 1997, boxes 21-22: Administrative records compiled by Betty Sultan, Program Administrator, Central Office, include materials relating to campus issues such as demographics, sexual harassment, and suicide. Records also include administrative files about staff meetings five-year plans, and Visiting Committee materials. The office's involvement with activities held outside of MIT is represented by files relating to community task forces and college meetings for administrators.


  • 1945 - 1995


Access note

This collection must be reviewed to identify any restricted material before access can be granted. Please submit your requests at least ten business days before your desired visit to allow time for this review. An archivist will respond within five business days to let you know whether your requested material is open. For complete information on this policy, see our Statement on Accessing Institute Records.

Intellectual Property Rights

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to Distinctive Collections. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the creating office.

Historical note

The Office of the Dean for Student Affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was established in 1902 as the Office of the Dean by a vote of the faculty. Alfred E. Burton was appointed dean and reported directly to the president. The dean was responsible for all students; his duties included cooperating with the president in all matters regarding discipline and the general welfare of the student body; acting as chair of advisors; generally overseeing first year instruction, student self government, social centers, residences, and supervising of first year students.

In 1920 the name of the office was changed to the Office of the Dean of Students with Burton's responsibilities including housing, freshman advising and activities, student government, and the Department of Physical Training. In 1921 Burton was succeeded by Acting Dean H.P. Talbot and the office was no longer responsible for the Department of Physical Training. The dean worked closely with the registrar's office and with the director of admissions; both reported to the ODS, and actively assisted in recruiting efforts throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1947 the registrar and the director of admissions began reporting directly to the president, but the dean continued to work closely with those offices and served as the chair for joint activities between ODS and the admissions and registrar's offices. The ODS was responsible for veteran enrollment as well as student life and activities, including student organizations, residences, fraternities, freshman activities, athletics, music clubs, the hobby shop, freshman camp, and student financial aid.

In the post war period the Institute made strides towards becoming a residential university, and the functions of the ODS changed to reflect these efforts. The ODS introduced professionally run programs in music and athletics and improved existing guidance programs to include mental health. The ODS was also involved in constructing new physical facilities to accommodate the changes in MIT student life as well as the growing academic programs. During the 1950s the campus was greatly enlarged with dormitories, athletic facilities, a non denominational chapel, and an auditorium.

In 1953 the Student Aid Center separated from ODS and became an independent unit under the director of student aid. The responsibilities of the ODS now included women's activities, as well as the traditional responsibilities of housing, athletics, student government, and student activities. In keeping with the Institute's move towards improving student life on campus, ODS pointedly de emphasized its disciplinary role and increased the emphasis on "community living." That same year the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) and the Graduate Student Council were established, and the following year both the Dean of Students Council and the Liaison Council were established. Also in 1955 the dean of students ceased to serve as chair of the Faculty Committee on Discipline and was replaced by a faculty member.

By 1957 the dean defined his role as "an administrative officer whose chief concern is for the development of all the facets of education which occur outside the classroom." In 1958 the ODS established the system of housemasters in the dormitories.

In 1962 the ODS began reporting to the vice president for academic administration. That same year the name of the ODS was changed to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs (ODSA) to reflect more accurately the expanding areas of responsibility which resulted from the rapid growth of the Institute's overall educational program during the previous few years. As housing and extracurricular activities became increasingly important, the ODS's responsibilities for the formulation and implementation of policies to further the development of extracurricular educational programs and to enhance their relationships with the formal academic aspects of student life also increased. As a result, the ODS became more involved in academic affairs. Throughout the 1960s the office worked to develop programs for minority and disadvantaged students and to improve its counseling programs. In 1967 ODSA's counseling responsibility was, on occasion, linked with its responsibility for discipline, which it exercised in conjunction with the Faculty Committee on Discipline.

Student unrest in the late 1960s and, in particular, tensions on the part of students over the U.S. military draft were keenly felt by ODSA in all of its capacities.

In 1969 the ODSA was renamed Office of the Dean for Student Affairs (also ODSA) and reorganized into six functional program areas, each headed by an associate dean: the Living Environment; Student and Community Activities; Athletics and Recreation; Counseling and Advisory Systems; Student Self Governance and Participation in the Institute Governance; and Information Dissemination and Communication.

The office reported to the dean for institute relations from 1969 to 1972. Fiscal Year 1986 for the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs (ODSA) was one of significant change. The year began with a change in reporting structure for the ODSA from the Vice President in the Office of the President to the Associate Provost in the Office of the Provost.

In the early 1970s the office worked to establish an Office of Minority Education (OME), but disagreements between minority groups on campus and the ODSA concerning such issues as placement of the OME in the administrative structure of the Institute caused implementation of the plan to be delayed until the 1974-1975 academic year. In 1986, there was a reporting change for the Office of Minority Education from the Associate Provost to the Dean for Student Affairs.

A review of the operations of the Faculty Advisory Committee in 1975-1976 led to a revision of its duties the following year. The FAC was to serve as an advisory council and its responsibilities were assumed by the newly created Office of Freshman Advising (OFA), whose director reported to the ODSA. In 1977 the OFA was restructured on the recommendations of the Rogers Committee, and the position of the director became the associate dean for student affairs.

Also in 1977, the vice president in the Office of the President, to whom the ODSA reported, undertook a review of the ODSA's organizational structure. In 1980 Vice President Constantine Simonides's suggestions were implemented and, as a result, the office was divided into five "service components" or sections: the undergraduate academic support office; student assistance services (SAS), which subsumed the International Student Office, which had previously reported to the Admissions Office; student activities; residence programs; and athletics. Athletics was not, however, to report formally to ODSA, but was to continue close program and staff relationships. The components were managed by section heads who held the rank of associate dean.

In 1982-1983 the residence programs and student activities were merged under the Office of Residence and Campus Activities. That same year the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (ODUE) and the ODSA undertook some joint activities. In 1988 the Public Service Center (PSC) was established to foster greater awareness and participation by MIT students in public service in the Boston and Cambridge communities. In addition, the Quality Education for Minorities Project was implemented to improve education for minority ethnic groups.

During the 1991-1992 academic year the ODSA and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education (ODUE) were merged to become the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs (ODUESA). The purpose of the new office was to coordinate efforts and bring new vitality to a number of programs that supported educational activities of the faculty and, at the same time, to be more effective in providing services to MIT students. Under the merger the ODSA Undergraduate Academic Support Office became the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office whose function was to oversee academic advising and support, curriculum support and innovation, teaching and faculty development, educational studies, and research. The ODUESA also assumed responsibility for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the Independent Activities Period (IAP).

By 1993 the merger of the two offices was complete. The office was organized under "sections" similar to the ODSA. The Central Section, also referred to as the central administration, provided administrative services and facilities support to the office as a whole and housed the Public Service Center. The other sections, each headed by a section head with the position of associate dean, included OME; Residence and Campus Activities; Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC); SAS; and Undergraduate Academic Affairs, which is responsible for both UROP and IAP.

Internal reorganization of the new office was still in progress, however, and in the 1993-1994 academic year, the head of SAS, Robert Randolph, was promoted to senior associate dean in order to focus on a number of tasks which included organizing a revised and comprehensive judicial and dispute system for students; exploring opportunities for raising funds to support the work of ODUESA; chairing a housing task force appointed by MIT Vice President William Dickson to create a viable long range plan for the Institute; seeking to establish better working relations with other departments and offices with whom ODUESA works; and acting as a resource to the section heads on particular problems that involve major interactions with other parts of the Institute or of the external community. Randolph maintained his former SAS responsibilities for overseeing the Institute's relations with the MIT chaplains and for the Institute's response to sudden death or other major tragedies involving students. Other SAS responsibilities were divided between two new sections: Counseling and Support Services and the International Student Office.

Associate Dean and International Students Advisor: In 1986 Eugene R/ Chamberlain retired from MIT following 32 years of service to the Institute, including 21 as International Student Advisor.

The ODUESA has been directed by the following deans: Alfred E. Burton, 1902-1921; H. P. Talbot, acting dean, 1921-1922, dean, 1922-1929; Harold E. Lobdell, 1930-1946; Everett Moore Baker, 1947-1950; Dana L. Farnsworth, acting dean, 1950-1951; E. Francis Bowditch, 1951-1956; John T. Rule, 1956-1961; Kenneth R. Wadleigh, 1961-1969; J. Daniel Nyhart, 1969-1972; Carola Eisenberg, 1972-1978; Robert L. Halfman, acting dean, 1978-1980; Shirley M. McBay, 1980-1990; Arthur C. Smith, acting dean, 1990-1991, dean, 1991-1995; and Rosalind Williams, 1995-present (as of 1995).

November 1995


20 Cubic Feet (19 record cartons, 3 manuscript boxes)

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Related Materials

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Distinctive Collections, Foreign Students Office records, AC 0264

Processing Information note

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Preliminary Inventory to the Records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, 1945-1995
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Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
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Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US