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Vest ends tenure as 15th president, remains at the Institute as faculty member

Charles M. Vest
Charles M. Vest

Charles M. Vest will step down from his service as the 15th president of MIT effective Monday, Dec. 6. He will remain at the Institute as a member of the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, although he will be on sabbatical during 2005. He and his wife, Rebecca Vest, will continue to live in Cambridge. Vest has indicated that he is looking forward to spending more time with his family-especially his two grandchildren.

He also looks forward to traveling, writing and continuing his work at the national level on issues in higher education and the development of science and technology policy. He has accepted invitations for visiting lectureships at a number of universities here and abroad, and will continue to serve on the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and on the boards of IBM and DuPont.

His new office address and phone number at MIT are Room 32-G618, 253-8774. His e-mail address will remain the same,

Several recent publications examine and summarize the Vest years at MIT. Vest authored a book, "Pursuing the Endless Frontier: Essays on MIT and the Role of Research Universities" (MIT Press 2004), exploring controversial and significant issues facing academic institutions through the prism of his own presidency. MIT's Academic Media Production Services (AMPS) recently taped a video interview, "Conversation with Charles M. Vest," in which Vest discusses his 14 years at the Institute and those that lie ahead. The interview is available online at the AMPS web site. An online timeline of the Vest presidency compiled by the MIT News Office can be viewed at

And finally, the News Office published a small booklet earlier this year commemorating the Vest years. The introduction by Vest follows.

"Serving as president of a major research university is not a sandbox ambition for any child-I remain frankly astonished at the road that led me here. But looking back at that road-the bends and dips, the forks and unintended shortcuts-I'm struck by how little one can predict at the journey's outset and by how much of life comes down to how one handles the points where the roads cross. I am also overwhelmed with the sense of how much I owe to the insight, imagination, inspiration and judgment of the many, many gifted people I have been lucky enough to work with at MIT," wrote Vest.

"In the past 14 years, the Institute has encountered many provocative forks in the road. In keeping with the passionate values of this place-openness and fairness, integrity, rigor, irreverence and fearless creativity-we have tried each time to choose the right way. Not surprisingly, ours has often been the road less traveled. And it has indeed made all the difference.

"The sweet part of saying goodbye will be the pleasure of seeing what path MIT chooses next."

Goodbye President Vest. Hello Professor.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 1, 2004 (download PDF).

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