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MIT community reacts to Vest's announcement

President Vest at the announcement of MIT OpenCourseWare in 2001.
President Vest at the announcement of MIT OpenCourseWare in 2001.
Photo / Donna Coveney

"The life motto of Karl Taylor Compton, MIT's ninth president, was: 'Leave every campground better than you found it.' Chuck has done just that here, with style, with extraordinary energy and with integrity."
-- Paul E. Gray, MIT president, 1980-90

" Chuck Vest has been among the nation's most influential and inspiring voices for science and technology, a wise leader guiding MIT with a gentle hand, and a dear friend to the entire MIT community. I feel privileged to have been able to work closely with him."
-- Thomas Magnanti, dean of the School of Engineering

" Chuck Vest has been a terrific leader who has enhanced education, research and community at MIT throughout his time as president. In particular, his support of the School of Science has been enormously important in maintaining MIT as one of the best places in the world to do science. In addition, his leadership on higher education and science on the national scene has been enormously important."
-- Robert Silbey, dean of the School of Science

" Chuck has been an exceptional leader, displaying an extraordinary strength of character and an unusual ability to listen."
-- Richard Schmalensee, dean of the Sloan School of Management

" Chuck Vest has always taken a capacious view of MIT's core mission by helping to advance the integration of the humanities, arts, and social sciences into that mission. His dedicated commitment to the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences all these years has only helped to strengthen and sustain MIT's leadership among research universities. It's been a privilege to work in Chuck's administration all these years. I may be accused of bias, but I honestly cannot think of another university president in the past decade who has done more for his institution or for higher education and research in this country."
-- Philip S. Khoury, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

" Women faculty at MIT and at other institutions benefited enormously from the very public and unambiguous support that President Vest gave to the pioneering report on women in the School of Science, and the other school reports that followed. His leadership on issues of diversity and inclusiveness, more generally, is widely appreciated."
-- Terry Knight, acting dean of the School of Architecture

" I believe Vest's greatest impact on the world outside MIT may prove to be the extraordinary sentences he wrote in 1999 to accompany the Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT. He wrote: 'I have always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception. True, but I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance.' It took great courage and conscience to say this at that time. Even today, it is not universally accepted or understood.

"But this comment changed the lives of women scientists nationally and even internationally by greatly increasing awareness of this issue. It led to changes that have improved the lives of female and also male scientists, both at MIT and at many universities outside MIT.

"I can still remember the shock and joy I felt when these words appeared on my computer screen. I had not thought that anyone in a position of power would come to understand this reality in my lifetime. That the president of MIT had understood it was life-changing for me. Later, it turned out to change many other lives as well."
-- Nancy Hopkins, professor of biology

" I will never forget a day in 1994, when Chuck Vest came to visit my labs. A few hours before he arrived, we had a catastrophic failure of our equipment, and we couldn't show him ultracold atoms live. Still, my students and I enjoyed his interest and attention, and a few months later, the experiment became a major success."
-- Wolfgang Ketterle, professor of physics and 2001 Nobel laureate

"The Vest presidency was marked by vision, courage, integrity and an extraordinary sense of service to MIT and to the nation. He has had a transforming influence on the Institute and is a powerful champion of the importance to our country and the world of science, technology and research."
-- Dana Mead (Ph.D. 1967), chairman of the MIT Corporation

" Over the years, Dr. Vest became not only a leader but a fixture of MIT student life as well. For many undergrads studying through the night, the sign that tomorrow had arrived was not sunlight or birds chirping, but our president's daily morning jogs along the Charles."
-- Peter Shulman, Undergraduate Association president, 2001-02

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 10, 2003.

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