MIT Dean Wants to Start a New, Radically Different University in Massachusetts

With no majors, lectures, or classrooms, Christine Ortiz's new school could prove mighty interesting.

Since the founding of Harvard University in 1638, the number of colleges and universities in Massachusetts has grown to a staggering 114. Professor Christine Ortiz, a dean for graduate education at MIT, wants to add another to the list.

Ortiz is taking a one-year leave at the end of the 2016 academic year to found a brand-new university, the first in Massachusetts since Olin College of Engineering opened its doors in Needham in 1997, The Tech reports.

Here’s what we know about Ortiz’s non-profit research university. There will be no lectures, majors, or classrooms, and no distinction between undergraduate and graduate students. Instead, the university will place a focus on “project-based learning.”

Students will “come in and leave at different levels, after they come in and complete a project that they…deem completed. [We hope to think] outside of the degree system totally,” Ortiz told The Tech.

Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart credits Ortiz with helping increase MIT’s minority graduate student population by 30 percent since taking the job in 2010. The success of her new school will determine whether she will return to her material sciences professorship in 2017.

Ortiz is currently finalizing her founding team and beginning the legal process for establishing a university.