Values Statement Committee

Charge

In recent years, various groups and individuals have examined MIT’s culture and considered MIT’s values, with many recommending that the Institute create a central statement of MIT values. Examples abound:

  • In 2013, a group led by Prof. Dick Yue created this statement.
  • Many departments, labs, and centers, including Physics, Biological Engineering, and Aeronautics and Astronautics have found that creating their own values statements was a powerful way to build a sense of shared purpose.
  • In his 2015 report, “Advancing a Respectful and Caring Community,” then ICEO Ed Bertschinger conducted an extensive review of MIT’s core values (pp. 35-45) and called for the creation of an MIT Compact.
  • The Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Outside Engagements proposed a list of MIT values, noting the opportunity “to guide our behavior and evaluate how it impacts the community.” (p.6)
  • Similarly, as part of their response to the National Academies’ report on sexual and gender harassment of women in academia, the Academic and Organizational Relationships Working Group also called for a unified values statement, observing that, “Our values govern our attitudes, decisions, actions, behaviors…values are the foundation upon which our culture at MIT is based.” (pp.5-6)
  • Many MIT community members feel that the actions of MIT in the Overlap case as well as the creation of OCW and the 1999 Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science (and the Institute’s response to it), were an expression of MIT values in action for which they are very proud.
  • Task Force 2021 is considering recommending an expansion of the MIT mission statement to reflect the goal of educating the whole student. The Task Force would benefit from the values statement committee’s consideration of the specific MIT values – existing or new – that support the goal of educating the whole student.

In short, while MIT has a mission statement, we do not have an Institute values statement; the quanitity and variety of these past efforts to define our values tell us plainly that we need one - and their thoughtful results give us a running start.

To build a sense of shared purpose, expectations, and accountability, an Institute-wide committee of staff, faculty, students, postdocs, and alumni will engage the MIT community this semester in the foundational work of developing a statement of shared values. It will be important that this statement is grounded in universal ideals but also speaks to MIT's distinctive character and culture.

As the committee members take on this assignment, we ask that they:

  • Consider and weigh the results of the prevous efforts cited above, and others they may find relevant, from MIT or elsewhere, as well as current initiatives that touch on developing values and community shared purpose.
  • Share a draft values statement for comment by May 31, 2021 and solicit feedback in a variety of ways from MIT community members - staff, students, faculty, alumni, and members of the Corporation.
  • After considering that feedback, submit a final recommendation by July 31, 2021.
  • Recommend practical short and long-term strategies for building the Institute values statement into our institutional habits, rhythms, rituals, and communications, and encouraging people to embrace it in their daily life and work.

Membership

The members of the Institute Values Statement Committee are:

  • Prof. Daniel E. Hastings, co-chair
  • Ms. Tracy Gabridge, co-chair
  • Ms. Robin Courchesne-Sato, support staff, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, staff to the committee
  • Ms. Fiona Chen ‘21, School of Science
  • Mr. John Dozier, ICEO
  • Ms. Martha Eddison, Special Assistant and Senior Communications Strategist to the President
  • Ms. Whitney Espich, CEO, Alumni Association
  • Ms. Dahlia Fetouh, Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Prof. Peter Fisher, School of Science
  • Prof. Amy Glasmeier, School of Architecture and Planning
  • Prof. Sally Haslanger, School of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences
  • Prof. Colette Heald, School of Engineering
  • Prof. Tim Jamison, Associate Provost
  • Prof. Ceasar McDowell, School of Architecture and Planning
  • Ms. Cadence Payne, graduate student, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Prof. Ray Reagans, Sloan School of Management
  • Prof. Armando Solar-Lezama, College of Computing
  • Dr. Tigist Tamir, postdoc, Biological Engineering
  • Ms. Marcia Tench-Mora, support staff, MIT Plasma Science & Fusion Center
  • Ms. Ann Warner-Harvey, Director of Administrative Services and Operations, Office of Executive Vice President for Finance
  • Ms. Jennifer Watson, Assistant Division Head, Lincoln Lab