The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological research. MIT is one of two private land-grant universities and is also a sea grant and space grant university.
Founded by William Barton Rogers in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, the university adopted the German university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Its current campus opened in 1916 and extends over along the northern bank of the Charles River basin. MIT researchers were involved in efforts to develop computers, radar, and inertial guidance in connection with defense research during World War II and the Cold War. In the past 60 years, MIT's educational programs have expanded beyond the physical sciences and engineering into social sciences like economics, linguistics, political science, and management.
MIT enrolled 4,172 undergraduates, 6,048 postgraduate students, and employed 1,008 faculty members in the 2007/08 school year. Its endowment and annual research expenditures are among the largest of any American university. 72 Nobel Laureates, 47 National Medal of Science recipients, and 31 MacArthur Fellows are currently or have previously been affiliated with the university.
The Engineers compete in the NCAA Division III's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference and sponsor 41 sports, the largest varsity program in the United States. While students' irreverence is widely acknowledged due to the traditions of constructing elaborate pranks and engaging in esoteric activities, the aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT affiliates would make it the twenty-fourth largest economy in the world.
As early as 1859, the Massachusetts State Legislature was given a proposal for use of newly opened lands in Back Bay in Boston for a museum and Conservatory of Art and Science. In 1861, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved a charter for the incorporation of the "Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Society of Natural History" submitted by William Barton Rogers. Rogers sought to establish a new form of higher education to address the challenges posed by rapid advances in science and technology during the mid-19th century with which classic institutions were ill-prepared to deal. The Rogers Plan, as it came to be known, reflected the German research university model emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories. Rogers proposed that this new form of education be rooted in three principles: the educational value of useful knowledge, the necessity of “learning by doing”, and integrating a professional and liberal arts education at the undergraduate level.
Because open conflict in the Civil War broke out only weeks after receiving the charter, MIT's first classes were held in rented space at the Mercantile Building in downtown Boston in 1865. Though it was to be located in the middle of Boston, the mission of the new institute matched the intent of the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions "to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes." Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded what was to become the University of Massachusetts under this act, MIT was also named a designee and became one of only two privately-chartered institutions to be designated to receive land grants. Proceeds from these grants facilitated construction of the first buildings in Boston's Back Bay in 1866 causing MIT to be known as "Boston Tech." During the next half-century, the focus of the science and engineering curriculum drifted towards vocational concerns instead of theoretical programs. Charles William Eliot, the president of Harvard University, repeatedly attempted to merge MIT with Harvard's Lawrence Scientific School over his 30-year tenure: overtures were made as early as 1869 with other proposals in 1900 and 1914 ultimately being defeated.
The attempted mergers occurred in parallel with MIT's continued expansion beyond the classroom and laboratory space permitted by its Boston campus. President Richard Maclaurin sought to move the campus to a new location when he took office in 1909. An anonymous donor, later revealed to be George Eastman, donated the funds to build a new campus along a mile-long tract of swamp and industrial land on the Cambridge side of the Charles River. In 1916, MIT moved into the handsome new neoclassical campus designed by William W. Bosworth.
The new campus triggered some changes in the stagnating undergraduate curriculum, but in the 1930s President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush drastically reformed the curriculum by re-emphasizing the importance of "pure" sciences like physics and chemistry and reducing the work required in shops and drafting. Despite the difficulties of the Great Depression, the reforms "renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering." The expansion and reforms cemented MIT's academic reputation and it was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934.
MIT was substantially changed by its involvement in military research during World War II. Bush was appointed head of the enormous Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. MIT's Radiation Laboratory was established in 1940 to assist the British in developing a microwave radar and the first mass-produced units were installed on front-line units within months. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gun and bombsights and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper's Instrumentation Laboratory, the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind, and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, MIT employed a staff of over 4,000 (including more than a fifth of the nation's physicists) and was the nation's single largest wartime R&D contractor. In the post-war years, government-sponsored research such as SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo combined with surging student enrollments under the G.I. Bill contributed to a rapid growth in the size of the Institute's research staff and physical plant as well as placing an increased emphasis on graduate education. As the Cold War and Space Race intensified and concerns about the technology gap between the U.S. and the Soviet Union grew more pervasive throughout the 1950s and 1960s, MIT's involvement in the military-industrial complex was a source of pride on campus.
Following a comprehensive review of the undergraduate curriculum in 1949 and the successive appointments of more humanistically oriented Presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980, MIT greatly expanded its programs in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors, launching competitive graduate programs, and forming into the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and Sloan School of Management in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering.
In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and MIT's defense research. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research towards environmental and social problems. Although MIT ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests, the student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during the tumultuous era.
In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at the Project MAC, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s; Richard Stallman's GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab, the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology, the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, the OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 1,800 MIT classes available online free of charge since 2002, and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005. Upon taking office in 2004, President Hockfield launched an Energy Research Council to investigate how MIT can respond to the interdisciplinary challenges of increasing global energy consumption.
MIT was named a sea-grant college in 1966 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus, the Tang Center for Management Education, several building in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research, and a number of new "backlot" buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus continues to expand the Media Lab, Sloan's eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest.
MIT is chartered as a non-profit organization and is owned and governed by a privately-appointed board of trustees known as the MIT Corporation. The current board, comprised of 74 members drawn from scientific, engineering, industry, education, and public service leaders, is chaired by Dana G. Mead. The corporation approves the budget, new programs, degrees, and faculty appointments as well as electing the President to serve as the chief executive officer of the university and presiding over the Institute's faculty. Susan Hockfield is the 16th president and has served since December 2004. MIT's endowment and other financial assets are managed through a subsidiary MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo).
MIT is "a university polarized around science, engineering, and the arts. It has five schools (Science, Engineering, Architecture and Planning, Management, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) and one college (Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology), but no schools of law or medicine. The chair of each of MIT's 32 academic departments reports to the dean of that department's school, who in turn reports to the Provost under the President. However, faculty committees assert substantial control over many areas of MIT's curriculum, research, student life, and administrative affairs.
MIT students refer to both their majors and classes using numbers or acronyms alone. Majors are numbered in the approximate order of when the department was founded; for example, Civil and Environmental Engineering is Course I, while Nuclear Science & Engineering is Course XXII. Students majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the most popular department, collectively identify themselves as "Course VI." MIT students use a combination of the department's course number and the number assigned to the class to identify their subjects; the course which many American universities would designate as "Physics 101" is, at MIT, simply "8.01."
The university historically pioneered research collaborations between industry and government. Fruitful collaborations with industrialists like Alfred P. Sloan and Thomas Alva Edison led President Compton to establish an Office of Corporate Relations and an Industrial Liaison Program in the 1930s and 1940s that now allows over 600 companies to license research and consult with MIT faculty and researchers. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, American politicians and business leaders accused MIT and other universities of contributing to a declining economy by transferring taxpayer-funded research and technology to international —especially Japanese— firms that were competing with struggling American businesses.
MIT's extensive collaboration with the federal government on research projects has also lead to several MIT leaders serving as Presidential scientific advisers since 1940. MIT established a Washington Office in 1991 to continue to lobby for research funding and national science policy. In response to MIT and the eight Ivy League colleges holding "Overlap Meetings" to prevent bidding wars over promising students from consuming funds for need-based scholarships, in 1991 the Justice Department filed an antitrust suit against these universities. While the Ivy League institutions settled, MIT contested the charges on the grounds that the practice was not anticompetitive because it ensured the availability of aid for the greatest number of students. MIT ultimately prevailed when the Justice Department dropped the case in 1994.
MIT's proximity to Harvard University has created both a quasi-friendly rivalry ("the other school up the river") as well as a substantial number of research collaborations such as the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Broad Institute, Center for Ultracold Atoms, and Harvard-MIT Data Center. In addition, students at the two schools can cross-register without any additional fees, for credits toward their own school's degrees.
A cross-registration program with Wellesley College has existed since 1969 and a significant undergraduate exchange program with the University of Cambridge known as the Cambridge-MIT Institute was also launched in 2002. MIT has limited cross-registration programs with Boston University, Brandeis University, Tufts University, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
MIT maintains substantial research and faculty ties with independent research organizations in the Boston-area like the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as well as international research and educational collaborations through the Singapore-MIT Alliance, MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program, and other countries through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program.
Students, faculty, and staff are involved in over 50 educational outreach and public service programs through the MIT Museum, Edgerton Center, and MIT Public Service Center. Summer programs like MITES and the Research Science Institute encourage minority and high school students to pursue science and engineering in college. Project Interphase accelerates incoming freshman whose educational backgrounds did not fully prepare them for MIT coursework.
The mass-market magazine Technology Review is published by MIT through a subsidiary company, as is a special edition that also serves as the Institute's official alumni magazine. The MIT Press is a major university press, publishing over 200 books and 40 journals annually emphasizing science and technology as well as arts, architecture, new media, current events, and social issues.
MIT's Cambridge campus spans approximately a mile of the north side of the Charles River basin. The campus is divided roughly in half by Massachusetts Avenue, with most dormitories and student life facilities to the west and most academic buildings to the east. The bridge closest to MIT is the Harvard Bridge, which is marked off in a non-standard unit of length – the smoot (named for Oliver R. Smoot, later Chairman of the American National Standards Institute, the length of a Smoot is five feet and seven inches, equal to Oliver's height). The Kendall MBTA Red Line station is located on the far northeastern edge of the campus in Kendall Square. The Cambridge neighborhoods surrounding MIT are a mixture of high tech companies occupying both modern office and rehabilitated industrial buildings as well as socio-economically diverse residential neighborhoods.
MIT buildings all have a number (or a number and a letter) designation and most have a name as well. Typically, academic and office buildings are referred to only by number while residence halls are referred to by name. The organization of building numbers roughly corresponds to the order in which the buildings were built and their location relative (north, west, and east) to the original, center cluster of Maclaurin buildings. Many are connected above ground as well as through an extensive network of underground tunnels, providing protection from the Cambridge weather as well as a venue for roof and tunnel hacking.
MIT's on-campus nuclear reactor is one of the largest university-based nuclear reactors in the United States. The high visibility of the reactor's containment building in a densely populated area has occasionally caused controversy, but MIT maintains that it is well-secured. Other notable campus facilities include a pressurized wind tunnel and a towing tank for testing ship and ocean structure designs. MIT's campus-wide wireless network was completed in the fall of 2005 and consists of nearly 3,000 access points covering of campus.
In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency sued MIT for violating Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act with regard to its hazardous waste storage and disposal procedures. MIT settled the suit by paying a $155,000 fine and launching three environmental projects. In connection with capital campaigns to expand the campus, the university has also extensively renovated existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency. MIT has also taken steps to reduce its environmental impact by running alternative fuel campus shuttles, subsidizing public transportation passes, and a low-emission cogeneration plant that serves most of the campus electricity and heating requirements.
As MIT's school of architecture was the first in the United States, it has a history of commissioning progressive buildings. The first buildings constructed on the Cambridge campus, completed in 1916, are known officially as the Maclaurin buildings after Institute president Richard Maclaurin who oversaw their construction. Designed by William Welles Bosworth, these imposing buildings were built of concrete, a first for a non-industrial — much less university — building in the U.S. The utopian City Beautiful movement greatly influenced Bosworth's design which features the Pantheon-esque Great Dome, housing the Barker Engineering Library, which overlooks Killian Court, where annual Commencement exercises are held. The friezes of the limestone-clad buildings around Killian Court are engraved with the names of important scientists and philosophers. The imposing Building 7 atrium along Massachusetts Avenue is regarded as the entrance to the Infinite Corridor and the rest of the campus.
Alvar Aalto's Baker House (1947), Eero Saarinen's Chapel and Auditorium (1955), and I.M. Pei's Green, Dreyfus, Landau, and Wiesner buildings represent high forms of post-war modern architecture. More recent buildings like Frank Gehry's Stata Center (2004), Steven Holl's Simmons Hall (2002), and Charles Correa's Building 46 (2005) are distinctive amongst the Boston area's staid architecture and serve as examples of contemporary campus "starchitecture." These buildings have not always been popularly accepted; the Princeton Review includes MIT in a list of twenty schools whose campuses are "tiny, unsightly, or both.
Undergraduates are guaranteed four-year, dormitory housing. On-campus housing provides live-in graduate student tutors and faculty housemasters who have the dual role of both helping students and monitoring them for medical or mental health problems. Students are permitted to select their dorm and floor upon arrival on campus, and as a result diverse communities arise in living groups; the dorms on and east of Massachusetts Avenue are stereotypically more involved in countercultural activities. MIT also has five dormitories for single graduate students, and two apartment buildings on campus for families. MIT has a very active Greek and co-op system. Approximately one-half of MIT male undergraduates and one-third of female undergraduates are affiliated with one of MIT's 36 fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs). Most FSILGs are located across the river in the Back Bay owing to MIT's historic location there, but eight fraternities are located on MIT's West Campus and in Cambridge. After the death of Scott Krueger, a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, MIT required all freshmen to live in the dormitory system. Because the fraternities and independent living groups had previously housed as many as 300 freshmen off-campus, the new policy did not take effect until 2002 after Simmons Hall opened.
Although the difficulty of MIT coursework has been characterized as "drinking from a fire hose, the failure rate and freshmen retention rate at MIT are similar to other large research universities. Some of the pressure for first-year undergraduates is lessened by the existence of the "pass/no-record" grading system. In the first (fall) term, freshmen transcripts only report if a class was passed while no external record exists if a class was not passed. In the second (spring) term, passing grades (ABC) appear on the transcript while non-passing grades are again rendered "no-record".
Most classes rely upon a combination of faculty led lectures, graduate student led recitations, weekly problem sets (p-sets), and tests to teach material, though alternative curricula exist, e.g. Experimental Study Group, Concourse, and Terrascope. Over time, students compile "bibles", collections of problem set and examination questions and answers used as references for later students. In 1970, the then-Dean of Institute Relations, Benson R. Snyder, published The Hidden Curriculum, arguing that unwritten regulations, like the implicit curricula of the bibles, are often counterproductive; they fool professors into believing that their teaching is effective and students into believing they have learned the material.
In 1969, MIT began the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to enable undergraduates to collaborate directly with faculty members and researchers. The program, founded by Margaret MacVicar, builds upon the MIT philosophy of "learning by doing". Students obtain research projects, colloquially called "UROPs", through postings on the UROP website or by contacting faculty members directly. Over 2,800 undergraduates, 70% of the student body, participate every year for academic credit, pay, or on a volunteer basis. Students often become published, file patent applications, and/or launch start-up companies based upon their experience in UROPs.
In the 2009 US News and World Report (USNWR) rankings of national universities, MIT's undergraduate program was fourth. The MIT Sloan School of Management is ranked second in the nation at the undergraduate level and fourth among MBA programs by USNWR's 2008 rankings. MIT has more top-ranked graduate programs than any other university in the 2008 USNWR survey and the School of Engineering has been ranked first among graduate and undergraduate programs since the magazine first released the results of its survey in 1988.
Among other outlets in the world university rankings, MIT is ranked first worldwide by Webometrics, first in technology, second in citation, fourth overall, fifth in natural sciences, and eleventh in social science among world universities by the THES - QS World University Rankings, in the top tier of national research universities by The Center for Measuring University Performance, fifth among world universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2006 Annual Rankings of World Universities, and first by The Washington Monthly's rankings of social mobility and national service in 2005 and 2006. A 1995 National Research Council study of US research universities ranked MIT first in "reputation" and fourth in "citations and faculty awards."
In electronics, magnetic core memory, radar, single electron transistors, and inertial guidance controls were invented or substantially developed by MIT researchers. Harold Eugene Edgerton was a pioneer in high speed photography. Claude E. Shannon developed much of modern information theory and discovered the application of Boolean logic to digital circuit design theory.
In the domain of computer science, MIT faculty and researchers made fundamental contributions to cybernetics, artificial intelligence, computer languages, machine learning, robotics, and public-key cryptography. Professors Hal Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman wrote the popular Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs textbook and co-founded the Free Software Foundation with Richard Stallman. David D. Clark made fundamental contributions to the protocols and architecture of the Internet. Popular technologies like X Window System, Kerberos, Zephyr, and Hesiod were created for Project Athena in the 1980s. MIT was one of the original collaborators in the development of the Multics operating system, a highly secure predecessor of UNIX.
The physics faculty have described subatomic and quantum phenomena like elementary particles, electroweak force, Bose-Einstein condensates, positronium, neutron scattering, asymptotic freedom, weak localization, quantum field theory, super gravity, quark model, nucleus structure, Goldstone bosons, quantum optics, as well as cosmological phenomena like cosmic inflation and X-ray astronomy. Victor Weisskopf, in addition to his contributions to quantum field theory, worked as a researcher on the Manhattan Project and co-founded the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Members of the chemistry department have discovered number syntheses like metathesis, stereoselective oxidation reactions, synthetic self-replicating molecules, CFC-ozone reactions, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Penicillin was also first synthesized at MIT.
MIT biologists have been recognized for their discoveries and advances in RNA, protein synthesis, apoptosis, gene splicing and introns, antibody diversity, reverse transcriptase, oncogenes, phage resistance, and neurophysiology. MIT researchers discovered the genetic bases for Lou Gehrig's disease and Huntington's disease. Eric Lander was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project.
Faculty and researchers belonging to the economics and management departments have contributed to the fields of system dynamics, financial engineering, neo-classical growth models, and welfare economics and developed fundamental financial models like the Modigliani-Miller theorem and Black-Scholes equation.
In the domain of humanities, arts, and social sciences, linguists Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle authored seminal texts on generative grammar and phonology, Henry Jenkins is a prominent scholar of participatory culture, Sherry Turkle published influential books on online identity, John Harbison won the Pulitzer Prize for Music and MacArthur Fellowship for his operatic scores, Japanese historian John W. Dower and Dominican-American author Junot Díaz each won Pulitzer Prizes for their work. The MIT Media Lab, founded in 1985 and known for its unconventional research, has been home to constructivist educator and Logo creator Seymour Papert, Lego Mindstorms and Scratch creator Mitchel Resnick, Kismet creator Cynthia Breazeal, affective computing pioneer Rosalind Picard, and hyperinstrumentalist Tod Machover.
Given the scale and reputation of MIT's accomplishments, allegations of research misconduct or improprieties have received substantial press coverage. Professor David Baltimore, a Nobel Laureate, became embroiled in an misconduct investigation starting in 1986 that led to Congressional hearings in 1991. Professor Ted Postol has accused the MIT administration since 2000 of attempting to whitewash potential research misconduct at the Lincoln Lab facility involving a ballistic missile defense test, though a final investigation into the matter has not been completed.
Students' passion for their subjects is balanced by the perception that their classes are more rigorous than their "grade inflated" peer institutions — a love-hate relationship embodied by the school's informal motto/initialism IHTFP ("I hate this fucking place," jocularly euphemized as "I have truly found paradise," "Institute has the finest professors," etc.).
Current students and alumni wear a large, heavy, distinctive class ring known as the "Brass Rat." Originally created in 1929, the ring's official name is the "Standard Technology Ring. The undergraduate ring design (a separate graduate student version exists, as well) varies slightly from year to year to reflect the unique character of the MIT experience for that class, but always features a three-piece design, with the MIT seal and the class year each appearing on a separate face, flanking a large rectangular bezel bearing an image of a beaver.
MIT has over 380 recognized student activity groups, including a campus radio station, The Tech student newspaper, an annual entrepreneurship competition, and weekly screenings of popular films by the Lecture Series Committee. Less traditional activities include the "world's largest open-shelf collection of science fiction" in English, model railroad club, and a vibrant folk dance scene.
The Independent Activities Period is a four-week long "term" offering hundreds of optional classes, lectures, demonstrations, and other activities throughout the month of January between the Fall and Spring semesters. Some of the most popular recurring IAP activities are the 6.270, 6.370, and MasLab competitions, the annual "mystery hunt", and Charm School. Many MIT students also engage in "hacking," which encompasses both the physical exploration of areas that are generally off-limits (such as rooftops and steam tunnels), as well as elaborate practical jokes. Recent hacks have included the theft of Caltech's cannon, reconstructing a Wright Flyer atop the Great Dome, and adorning the John Harvard statue with the Master Chief's Spartan Helmet.
The student athletics program offers 41 varsity-level sports, the largest program in the nation. MIT participates in the NCAA's Division III, the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, the New England Football Conference, and NCAA's Division I and Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) for crew.
The Institute's sports teams are called the Engineers, their mascot since 1914 being a beaver, "nature's engineer." Lester Gardner, a member of the Class of 1898, provided the following justification:
The beaver not only typifies the Tech, but his habits are particularly our own. The beaver is noted for his engineering and mechanical skills and habits of industry. His habits are nocturnal. He does his best work in the dark.
MIT fielded several dominant intercollegiate Tiddlywinks teams through 1980, winning national and world championships. The Engineers have won or placed highly in national championships in pistol, taekwondo, track and field, swimming and diving, cross country, crew, fencing, and water polo. MIT has produced 128 Academic All-Americans, the third largest membership in the country for any division and the highest number of members for Division III.
The Zesiger sports and fitness center (Z-Center) which opened in 2002, significantly expanded the capacity and quality of MIT's athletics, physical education, and recreation offerings to 10 buildings and 26 acres of playing fields. The facility features an Olympic-class swimming pool, international-scale squash courts, and a two-story fitness center.
MIT enrolled 4,172 undergraduates and 6,048 postgraduate students in the 2007/08 school year. In 2007, women constituted 44.5 percent of all undergraduates and 30 percent of graduate students. The same year, MIT students represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia, three U.S. Territories, and 113 foreign countries.
The admissions rate for freshmen in 2007 was 11.9% with over 69% of admitted freshmen choosing to enroll. Although graduate admissions are less centralized, they are similarly selective: 19.7% of 16,153 applications were admitted with 61.2% of admitted candidates enrolling.
Tuition is $37,750 for nine months, although 64% of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid and 87% of graduate students are supported by MIT fellowships, research assistantships, or teaching assistantships.
MIT has been nominally coeducational since admitting Ellen Swallow Richards in 1870. Richards also became the first female member of MIT's faculty, specializing in sanitary chemistry. Female students remained a very small minority (numbered in dozens) prior to the completion of the first wing of a women's dormitory, McCormick Hall, in 1963. Between 1993 and 2006, the number of women undergraduates increased from 34 percent to 47.5% percent, women graduate students increased from 20 percent to 29 percent, and women currently outnumber men in 10 undergraduate majors.
A number of student deaths in the late 1990s and early 2000s resulted in considerable media attention to MIT's culture and student life. After the alcohol-related death of Scott Krueger in September 1997 as a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, MIT began requiring all freshmen to live in the dormitory system. The 2000 suicide of MIT undergraduate Elizabeth Shin drew attention to suicides at MIT and created a controversy over whether MIT had an unusually high suicide rate. In late 2001 a task force's recommended improvements in student mental health services were implemented, including expanding staff and operating hours at the mental health center. These and later cases were significant as well because they sought to prove the negligence and liability of university administrators in loco parentis.
MIT has 1008 faculty members, of whom 195 are women and 172 are minorities. Faculty are responsible for lecturing classes, advising both graduate and undergraduate students, and sitting on academic committees, as well as conducting original research. 25 MIT faculty members have won the Nobel Prize. Among current and former faculty members, there are 51 National Medal of Science and Technology recipients, 80 Guggenheim Fellows, 6 Fulbright Scholars, 29 MacArthur Fellows, 5 Dirac Medal winners, 5 Wolf Prize winners, and 4 Kyoto Prize winners. Faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to their research field as well as the MIT community are granted appointments as Institute Professors for the remainder of their tenures.
A 1998 MIT study concluded that a systemic bias against female faculty existed in its college of science, although the study's methods were controversial. Since the study, women have headed departments within the Schools of Science and Engineering, and MIT has appointed five female vice presidents, although allegations of sexism continue to be made. Susan Hockfield, a molecular neurobiologist, became MIT's 16th president in 2004 and is the first woman to hold the post.
Tenure outcomes have vaulted MIT into the national spotlight on several occasions. The 1984 dismissal of David F. Noble, a historian of technology, became a cause celebre about the extent to which academics are granted freedom of speech after he published several books and papers critical of MIT's and other research universities' reliance upon financial support from corporations and the military. Former materials science professor Gretchen Kalonji sued MIT in 1994 alleging that she was denied tenure because of sexual discrimination. In 1997, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued a probable cause finding supporting James Jennings' allegations of racial discrimination after a senior faculty search committee in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning did not offer him reciprocal tenure. In 2006-2007, MIT's denial of tenure to African-American biological engineering professor James Sherley reignited accusations of racism in the tenure process, eventually leading to a protracted public dispute with the administration, a brief hunger strike, and the resignation of Professor Frank L. Douglas in protest.
Alumni currently in American politics and public service include Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, New Hampshire Senator John E. Sununu, U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, MA-1 Representative John Olver, CA-13 Representative Pete Stark. MIT alumni in international politics include British Foreign Minister David Miliband, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, and former Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.
MIT alumni founded or co-founded many notable companies, such as Intel, McDonnell Douglas, Texas Instruments, 3Com, Qualcomm, Bose, Raytheon, Koch Industries, Rockwell International, Genentech, and Campbell Soup. The annual Entrepreneurship Competition has lead to the creation of over 85 companies that have, in aggregate, generated 2,500 jobs, received $600 million in venture capital funding, and have a market capitalization of over $10 billion. A 1997 study claimed that the combined revenues of companies founded by MIT affiliates would make it the twenty-fourth largest economy in the world.
Prominent institutions of higher education have been led by MIT alumni, including the University of California system, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, Tufts University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and Purdue University. Although not alumni, former Provost Robert A. Brown is President of Boston University, former Provost Mark Wrighton is Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, former Associate Provost Alice Gast is president of Lehigh University, and former Professor David Baltimore was President of Caltech.
More than one third of the United States' manned spaceflights have included MIT-educated astronauts, among them Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, more than any university excluding the United States service academies.
Noted alumni in non-scientific fields include Doctor Dolittle author Hugh Lofting, Boston guitarist Tom Scholz, The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, The Bell Curve author Charles Murray, United States Supreme Court building architect Cass Gilbert, and Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei.