William Barton Rogers founded MIT on a bold educational vision, one that would help transform the industrial prospects of the United States and the teaching of science and engineering around the world. Most of all, however, it would transform the Institute’s students. An MIT education prepared students to face the most daunting challenges with a confidence stemming from their ability to apply their minds and their hands to any task. MIT students would learn to probe the farthest reaches of intellectual theory and to use theoretical foundations to solve stubborn practical problems. Through the interplay of discovery and innovation, they would invent the future.
In short, through hands-on, problem-based education, President Rogers’ new Institute helped its students learn how much they were truly capable of — and then sent them out to serve the world. Today, 150 years later, MIT performs the same kind of educational transformation in a more complicated time. This spring, as we approach the June 30th conclusion of the Campaign for Students, we celebrate our students and express our gratitude to the many generous donors who provide the resources to guide their education.
MIT kicked off its Campaign for Students in the fall of 2008 in the dark early days of the global financial downturn, an inauspicious moment to start raising money for anything. Yet, thanks to the undaunted generosity of almost 49,000 alumni and friends, by mid-May 2011, the Campaign had raised nearly $555 million, exceeding its $500M goal by more than 10 percent.
Designed as a present for MIT’s 150th birthday, the Campaign for Students focused directly on student needs. For undergraduates, it greatly enhanced our ability to offer an MIT education to the most qualified students, regardless of their families’ ability to pay, helping to safeguard MIT’s longstanding commitment to need-blind admissions and need-based aid. At the same time, the Campaign funded important improvements to student life, including the renovation of Maseeh Hall and The Howard Dining Hall, which will allow us to offer an MIT education to more students by restoring our undergraduate enrollment to 4,500, where it stood in the mid-1990s. The Campaign supported an array of curricular innovations, and it magnified educational experiences that occur outside the lab and classroom, from the arts, athletics and religious life, to global experiences and public service.
The Campaign also achieved unprecedented success in securing support for graduate students, raising more than $228 million for new fellowships — more than double our goal — to help us attract breakthrough thinkers from around the world. And when those students come to MIT, they now join a thriving graduate community strengthened and united in a neighborhood of new graduate residence halls.
I want to thank the many members of the MIT community whose unwavering generosity made the Campaign for Students such an unqualified success. In particular, I am enormously grateful to the Campaign’s five devoted co-chairs: Lawrence Fish; Thomas Gerrity, ‘63, SM ‘64, PhD ‘70; Mark Gorenberg ‘76; Martin Tang SM ‘72; and Barrie Zesiger HM. I extend my most profound gratitude to former Chancellor Phillip Clay, who magnificently led the Campaign, beginning at its initial design and carrying its message to the worldwide MIT community. As the Campaign now heads toward its conclusion, I also thank MIT’s new Chancellor, Eric Grimson, who will continue to champion the cause of student support.
In this issue of SPECTRVM, you will meet just a few of our remarkable students. In their intellect and ingenuity, passion and compassion, they represent all the students, present and future, who will leave MIT better equipped to serve the world, thanks to your generosity.