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Charles M. Vest

MIT President 1990 - 2004

MIT Corporation life member

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

MIT President 1990 - 2004

MIT Corporation life member

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Charles M. Vest
MIT President, 1990 – 2004
MIT Corporation life member
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
President, National Academy of Engineering, 2007 – 2013

Charles M. Vest was a professor of mechanical engineering and president emeritus at MIT and the former president of the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Vest served as president of MIT from 1990 until November 2004, during which time he brought issues of education and research to greater public attention. Dr. Vest emphasized enhancing racial and cultural diversity, broadening the undergraduate education, and utilizing new organizational forms to meet the emerging frontiers of research and education. He was the chairman of the US Department of Energy Task Force and the Future of Science Programs and vice chair of the Council of Competitiveness, and a member of the board of directors of IBM and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

Highlights of this interview include:

  • Challenges faced during his MIT presidency, including the end of the Cold War and aftermath of September 11.
  • Decision to recruit world-renowned architect Frank Gehry to design the Stata Center.
  • Successful defense of the Department of Justice’s claim that MIT violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.
  • Efforts to improve gender equity at MIT.
  • Support of the OpenCourseWare initiative, which allowed educational materials to be shared around the world. 

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