William R. Dickson, senior vice president of MIT since 1982, has announced he will retire on June 30 after a 43-year association with MIT, beginning when he enrolled as a freshman in 1952.
In a note to his staff in late December, Mr. Dickson wrote, "Last summer I discussed my retirement plans with Dr. Vest. I informed him at that time that I was planning to retire on June 30, 1998. I have recently confirmed that date with him.
"As you know, I have had a long and rewarding run. Seldom does one get an opportunity to share a lifetime of service with such a dedicated and competent group of associates. I consider myself fortunate to have had that opportunity."
He added, "I plan to stay fully engaged until midnight on June 30 and I am looking forward to working with you as I enter the stretch."
President Charles Vest commented, "One cannot overstate the quality and importance of Bill Dickson's service to MIT. His down-to-earth style, decisiveness, concern for people, and broadly integrated view of MIT and its operations are valued in all corners of the Institute. Bill is a continual source of common sense, sound professional knowledge and invaluable advice. He has led the evolution of our campus and its buildings for many years. Like MIT itself, he is unique and very effective in what he does."
Mr. Dickson, 62, a lifelong resident of Framingham, began his association with MIT in 1952, when he entered as a freshman. He received the SB in building engineering and construction in 1956 and worked for Lincoln Laboratory for two years as a staff engineer. In 1958, he became an associate scientist at Avco Corp. in Wilmington, MA, working in the applied mechanics section on the advanced projects research staff.
From 1956-65, Mr. Dickson served in the US Army Reserve, attaining the rank of captain and receiving the Medal for Excellence of the American Society of Military Engineers.
He returned to MIT in 1960 as an assistant to the director of MIT Physical Plant and became director of Physical Plant in 1971. He was named vice president of operations in 1980 and became senior vice president in 1982.
As senior vice president, he is a key decision maker on construction and renovation projects, reengineering, the administrative budget, and a wide range of the operations involved in running a university community of approximately 20,000 people. Reporting to him are Physical Plant, the Planning Office, Management Reporting, Insurance and Legal Affairs, Purchasing, Campus Police, the Safety Office, the Copy Technology Centers, Audio Visual Services and Endicott House.
Last September, Mr. Dickson suffered a mild heart attack; he subsequently had bypass surgery and worked from home for several weeks.
In addition to his MIT duties, Mr. Dickson has served as the elected commissioner of public works in Framingham, as chairman of the Harvard Cooperative Society, and chairman of the board of (building) examiners in the City of Cambridge. He is also on the board of Phoenix Controls Corp. As chairman of Framingham Union Hospital, he played a key role in its 1992 merger with Leonard Morse Hospital, creating the MetroWest Medical Center, which he subsequently chaired.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 14, 1998.