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Charles Vest will deliver principal address at MIT's 141st Commencement

MIT president emeritus is new head of National Academy of Engineering
MIT President Emeritus Charles Vest will speak at MIT's Commencement on June 8.
MIT President Emeritus Charles Vest will speak at MIT's Commencement on June 8.
Gary Cunha of Facilities tightens cables that hold up the sail, which protects faculty, administrators and guests from sun and rain at Commencement.
Gary Cunha of Facilities tightens cables that hold up the sail, which protects faculty, administrators and guests from sun and rain at Commencement.
Photo / Donna Coveney
Rhododendrons bloomed near the President's Courtyard, welcoming the Institute community to Commencement.
Rhododendrons bloomed near the President's Courtyard, welcoming the Institute community to Commencement.
Photo / Donna Coveney

MIT President Emeritus Charles M. Vest will deliver the principal address at MIT's 141st Commencement exercises, to be held Friday, June 8, at 10 a.m. in Killian Court.

During the ceremony, 2,135 undergraduate and graduate students are scheduled to receive 1,083 bachelor's degrees, 1,015 master's degrees, 279 doctorates and 10 engineer degrees.

In making the announcement, MIT President Susan Hockfield said, "I am very pleased that Chuck Vest has agreed to give the 2007 Commencement address at MIT. During his 14 years as MIT's president, he quietly put his stamp on almost every aspect of the Institute and its life. At the same time, he achieved national and international recognition for his thoughtful insights into the crucial issues facing higher education and research in the United States and in our globalizing world. As he anticipates the next chapter of his career in Washington, it is the perfect moment for him to share with our graduates his reflections on the role of MIT in the world."

In April, Vest was elected to a six-year term as president of the National Academy of Engineering, effective July 1.

Vest earned his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1963 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1967, respectively. He is the recipient of 10 honorary doctoral degrees and is a life member of the MIT Corporation, the Institute's board of trustees.

As president of MIT from 1990 through 2004, Vest placed special emphasis on enhancing undergraduate education, exploring new organizational forms to meet emerging directions in research and education, building a stronger international dimension into education and research programs, developing stronger relations with industry and enhancing racial and cultural diversity at the Institute.

Vest has also worked to bring issues concerning education and research to broader public attention and to strengthen national policy on science, engineering and education. He chaired the President's Advisory Committee on the Redesign of the Space Station and serves on the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. He chaired the U.S. Department of Energy Task Force on the Future of Science Programs at the DOE, was vice chair of the Council on Competitiveness for eight years and is a past chair of the Association of American Universities.

Commencement speakers

Hockfield will deliver the traditional charge to the graduates. Other Commencement speakers will include Eric Weese, president of the Graduate Student Council, and Susan J. Shin, president of the Class of 2007.

The Rev. Johanna Kiefner, MIT Lutheran chaplain, will deliver the invocation.

Hockfield will also present the following degrees: bachelor of science, bachelor of science/master of science, bachelor of science/master of engineering and advanced degrees in the School of Science, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology.

Provost L. Rafael Reif will award advanced degrees in the Schools of Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Admission for ticketed guests begins at 7:30 a.m. Graduates will robe and assemble on the first floor of Johnson Athletic Center beginning at 7:30 a.m. Between 8 a.m. and the beginning of the academic procession, families and guests may enjoy a live view of the graduates robing and assembling via television feed to Killian Court.

Following the exercises, a reception will be held for graduates and their guests on the West Campus Plaza.

Time and venue

A special hooding ceremony for Ph.D. and Sc.D. recipients will take place on Thursday, June 7, at 11 a.m. in Rockwell Cage. Admission for guests begins at 10 a.m.; tickets are not required. Chancellor Phillip L. Clay will preside.

Commencement exercises require complex and precise planning and the comings and goings of guests must be free of obstruction or interference.

In accordance with this policy, Killian Court will only be accessible to members of the graduating class, faculty, stage assembly and ticket-holders. Access to Johnson Athletics Center will also be limited. In both Killian Court and Johnson, everyone will be electronically scanned as they enter.

For more specific details, please see the Statement by the Chancellor's Committee on Protocol for Demonstrations at Commencement and Other Academic Exercises. Questions regarding locations for demonstrations may be directed to Gayle Gallagher, executive officer for Commencement, at

For those unable to get into Killian Court, a live online webcast of the Commencement exercises will be available on and after June 8.


For guests attending the Commencement exercises on Friday, complimentary parking will be available in the Albany Street Garage on Albany Street.

Members of the MIT community who normally park in the Albany Street Garage should review campus changes that are in effect during Commencement time.

Paid parking will also be available in the Marriott Hotel Parking Garage (entrance at corner of Ames Street and Broadway) and the Technology Square Parking Garage (entrance on Broadway) on Thursday and Friday.

In the event the Commencement exercises in Killian Court are canceled due to severe weather conditions, the speeches will be held in Rockwell Cage for the stage assembly and graduates only. Guests may view the speeches on closed-circuit television in viewing locations throughout the campus.

Complete Commencement information is available at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 6, 2007 (download PDF).

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