Following is the e-mail that President Vest sent to all MIT faculty and staff on Dec. 5.
This morning at the Corporation meeting, I announced my intent to step down as MIT's president by the beginning of the 2004 fall term or when my successor is appointed.
In my view, the invitation to this position in 1990 was a call to national service, and I have approached it in that manner to the best of my abilities. After almost 14 years of working with you, I am ready to spend a little time reflecting, writing and considering what I can most productively do next. More time with Becky, our children and grandchildren is very much in the picture.
This is a move that I have been considering for some time, and I believe that MIT will benefit from the renewal that comes with selecting a new president and developing the next stage of its vision and programs. The time to begin this transition is right, now that the strategy and planning are in place to see MIT safely through the near-term financial pressures that we, along with the rest of higher education, face in the coming year. I am confident that as a team we have set the right course and established its implementation.
Together, we have maintained and enhanced MIT's excellence and our national and international leadership, stature and service. The MIT faculty and staff have accomplished an astounding agenda in research, education, campus transformation, student life, diversity, and national policy and affairs. But the beauty of a great university is that our work is never done. Our agenda must evolve to shape the future, and to respond to new challenges and opportunities. Every accomplishment is but a way station along the path toward what Vannevar Bush famously termed "the endless frontier."
Becky and I are privileged beyond measure to live and work at MIT--an extraordinary community comprising distinguished faculty who blaze new trails of knowledge, Nobel laureates, dedicated teachers, the people who create and maintain our facilities, those who do the administrative work that makes it possible for our faculty and students to realize their dreams, those who look after our safety and health, and above all, the wonderful young men and women who study here.
There is a lot to do over the coming months, and I look forward to doing it with you.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 10, 2003.