President Charles M. Vest and his wife Rebecca received a special tribute at the Institute Awards Convocation on May 4 for their work on behalf of MIT students over the last 14 years.
R. Erich Caulfield, president of the Graduate Student Council, noted the many financial and physical improvements to MIT during President Vest's tenure. But more important, Caulfield said, is "an investment which strikes at the very core of the Institute's character is the one that has been made in people."
"By not only acknowledging, but embracing the observations made in the Study on Women Faculty in Science at MIT, President Vest has pushed the door open just a little farther for an entire generation of young women who might now find it a bit harder to believe that smart girls don't do math and science," he said.
"When affirmative action was challenged, he ensured that MIT continued its proud tradition as a world leading institution by championing the right and need for institutions of higher learning to view diversity as a critical part of the educational experience," said Pius Uzamere II, president of the Undergraduate Association.
"Dr. Vest has served with a steadfast passion and led with honesty and integrity. He has taken MIT towards a new and brighter future, ensuring that the legacy that William Barton Rogers left the world near a century and a half ago will continue to live and grow," Uzamere said.
Caulfield presented a bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Vest and MIT baseball caps to both Vests as "small tokens of our appreciation."