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Looking to the future

Susan Hockfield's letter to the community

To the Members of the MIT Community:

I write to share with you my decision to step down from the presidency of MIT. Over the past seven years, working together we have accomplished far more than I set out to do. The Institute is now moving forward on a new set of ambitious goals, and I have concluded that the powerful momentum we have built makes this an opportune moment for a leadership transition.

I came to MIT in December 2004 with a profound sense of the privilege and the responsibility of the president’s role. But nothing could have prepared me for this remarkable community of creative minds. Together, we have made tremendous progress in dozens of ways, strengthening MIT’s foundations and setting our sights for the future. We are designing the policy, technology and education required to address the global need for sustainable energy. We have accelerated MIT’s ability to synthesize the strengths of science and engineering to fight disease and to invent new powers of computation. We have expanded the Institute’s global connections. We are charting a course to a new future for American manufacturing. We have also built a framework for the future of our campus and neighborhood, fortified the Institute’s financial structures, strengthened MIT’s culture of inclusion and increased the number of undergraduates we can educate. With the recent introduction of MITx, we are changing the conversation around affordability, access and excellence in higher education. Through last year’s celebration of MIT’s Sesquicentennial, our community emerged reenergized and refocused on our mission of service to the nation and the world. And we achieved all this and more while steering the Institute through the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The momentum of all that we have accomplished has tempted me to stay on to see our many efforts bear their full fruit. But to support our ambitious goals for the future, MIT has begun the crucial work of planning for a significant new fundraising campaign. A campaign on this scale will require the full focus and sustained attention of the Institute’s president over many years. I have concluded that it would be best for the Institute to begin this next chapter with new leadership.

Presidential searches generally take time; I will serve until my successor is selected by the MIT Corporation and is ready to assume the role. I look forward to continuing to be a member of the MIT faculty.

The coming months will offer many opportunities to reflect on our work together, but for now, let me simply thank the faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends of MIT who have given of themselves to advance the mission of MIT. While I expect new intellectual adventures ahead, nothing will compare to the exhilaration of the world-changing accomplishments that we produced together.

Most sincerely,
Susan Hockfield

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