William J. Hecht, who came to MIT as a freshman in 1957 and went on to devote much of his life to serving the Institute, will retire as executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Alumni and Alumnae on June 30.
Elizabeth A. Garvin, managing director of the association and director of the Alumni Fund, will succeed Hecht as executive vice president. Hecht will serve as CEO emeritus until 2005.
"I regard this as good news both from an Association and a personal point of view," said Hecht, who has held both of his titles since 1980. "It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve MIT for so many years. This is a rare and wonderful place that deserves the support, criticism and affection of all alumni."
Hecht received an S.B. in management from MIT in 1961 and an S.M. in management as a Sloan Fellow in 1976. He received the Bronze Beaver Award in 1999, the highest recognition MIT gives to alumni for service to the Alumni Association and MIT.
"The association partnership between alumni volunteers and staff has served MIT and its alumni extremely well for generations," said Garvin, who has been at MIT since 1985 and joined the Alumni Association staff in 1988. "Like the campus, the alumni body is evolving and changing, and it's an exciting time to focus on increasing engagement with all alumni. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to help guide the direction of these efforts in the coming years." She was named an honorary member of the association last June.
Both decisions were announced Saturday by the association's board of directors.
Association President James A. Lash (S.B. 1966) praised Hecht for his "patient, thoughtful leadership" over 23 years. He said Hecht had built "one of the most highly regarded alumni associations in the country."
Noting that Garvin was a unanimous choice to move up, Lash said, "Her 17 years at MIT have given her strong working relationships with alumni, faculty and administrators. Her intimate understanding of the association's day-to-day operations provides a strong base for thinking about our long-term direction."
President Charles M. Vest also praised Hecht and Garvin. "It has been my distinct pleasure to work and travel with Bill these past dozen years," said Vest, who has been president since 1991. "Alumni have a deep and abiding affection for him, which is evident here on campus, across the U.S., and indeed throughout the world wherever MIT alumni gather."
Of Garvin, Vest said, "I have seen firsthand Beth's enthusiasm, commitment and effectiveness with MIT and our alumni. I'm looking forward to working with her to nurture and strengthen MIT's vital alumni relationships."
During Hecht's tenure, the Alumni Fund has grown from $5 million in 1980 to more than $30 million last year. Technology Review, which is read regularly by alumni for its MIT and class/course notes sections, has evolved into a highly successful commercial magazine as well, with a circulation of 300,000 non-alumni subscribers, and is now positioned as an MIT enterprise.
MIT became one of the first alumni associations in the country to launch a web site in 1995 and the association continues to be an industry leader in online alumni services. In the early 1980s, Hecht responded to the criticism of some alumni and championed the MIT Enterprise Forum as a service to the entrepreneurial alumni community. It now supports 24 chapters worldwide.
Garvin came to MIT as a research analyst in Resource Development in December 1985. She joined the Alumni Association in 1988 as director of major reunion giving. Under her leadership, the Alumni Fund set records in fiscal 2000 ($30 million) and 2001 ($33 million). In 2002, a reunion record of $90 million in gifts and pledges was announced. Garvin received an M.A. in education from Stanford University and a B.A. in English literature from the University of Cincinnati.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 12, 2003.