L. Rafael Reif to step down as MIT president | MIT Information


L. Rafael Reif introduced at the moment that he plans to step down as president of MIT on the finish of 2022, after greater than 10 years within the function.

Reif has guided the Institute via a decade of dynamic progress, vastly enhancing its world stature and magnetism. Below his watch, MIT advanced into one of many world’s most potent engines of innovation and launched into pathbreaking efforts to redefine each on-line training and the sphere of computing.

As president, Reif catalyzed pioneering efforts to prioritize the well being and well-being of scholars, and stood up publicly in protection of all members of the MIT neighborhood. He oversaw a revitalization of MIT’s bodily campus and neighboring Kendall Sq., and steered MIT safely via each political turmoil and the Covid-19 pandemic. As he steps down, the Institute is positioned for a thriving future, with each the sources and expertise to comply with via on its aspirations.

“Due to the distinctive efforts and affect of the folks of MIT in analysis, training, and innovation, the Institute constantly ranks among the many very prime universities on this planet,” Reif wrote in a letter to the MIT neighborhood saying his plans. “We will all be pleased with these collective achievements; I’m grateful to everybody whose creativity, imaginative and prescient, and laborious work made them attainable. I’ll all the time be pleased about the pleasure and privilege of working with such an amazing vary of individuals whose abilities, judgment, and character I respect and admire.”

Earlier than turning into MIT’s seventeenth president in 2012, Reif served for seven years as provost. He has been at MIT since 1980, when he joined the college as an assistant professor {of electrical} engineering. After stepping down as president, Reif will take a sabbatical, then return to the college of the Division of Electrical Engineering and Pc Science.

A local of Venezuela, Reif first got here to the USA to earn his doctorate in electrical engineering at Stanford College, the place he realized English. His mother and father had been Jewish refugees who fled Jap Europe prematurely of the Nazi regime. Regardless of very modest circumstances, three of the household’s 4 sons would go on to earn PhDs in the USA — together with one who earned a PhD at MIT.

“MIT has seen great progress and improvement throughout Rafael’s decade-long tenure as president,” says Diane Greene SM ’78, chair of the MIT Company. “At a time of accelerated change, MIT’s relentless give attention to excellence has expanded the boundaries of the essential and utilized sciences that may advantage of our world for years to come back. MIT has attracted the globe’s best school who passionately attempt to advance understanding and alleviate modern issues, and equip college students with the instruments crucial to maneuver humankind ahead. Rafael’s years of dedication, dedication, and sacrifice have helped make attainable these appreciable achievements, and he has earned the appreciation and gratitude of all members of the MIT neighborhood.”

Constructing an innovation ecosystem round MIT

Beginning when he was provost, Reif labored to engineer a uniquely potent innovation infrastructure at MIT. He additionally took steps to develop a world-class innovation ecosystem within the Kendall Sq. neighborhood adjoining to MIT’s campus — an space that has been described as “essentially the most progressive sq. mile on the planet.”

In a 2015 op-ed within the Washington Submit, Reif first publicly outlined the necessity for a brand new form of group — which he known as an “innovation orchard” — to assist make sure the success of startups in “powerful tech”: breakthrough concepts, in sectors corresponding to biotechnology, robotics, manufacturing, medical units, and vitality, which are based mostly on new science and subsequently take time to commercialize.

The next yr, MIT responded to this problem by saying The Engine, a brand new form of enterprise incubator designed to assist startups engaged on scientific and technological innovation with the potential for transformative societal affect. The Engine provided startups entry to “affected person” capital, reasonably priced workspaces, specialised gear, streamlined enterprise providers, and a neighborhood of like-minded entrepreneurs.

“If we hope for critical options to the world’s nice challenges, we’d like to ensure the innovators engaged on these issues see a sensible pathway to {the marketplace},” Reif stated on the time.

Up to now, The Engine has $670 million in property underneath administration, together with investments by MIT. It has used these funds to assist 38 portfolio corporations tackling points as diverse as local weather change, human well being challenges, and pioneering superior techniques.

“MIT has lengthy been synonymous with know-how; due to Rafael’s management, it’s now often known as one of the exceptional engines of perpetual innovation, throughout a number of fields,” says Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering and a member of the MIT Company from 2016 to 2021. “As provost after which as president, Rafael has pushed MIT relentlessly ahead; via difficult occasions in larger training and past, he by no means overpassed the optimistic affect that MIT’s training, analysis, and innovation might contribute to humanity. His legacy will likely be felt far past the campus, as analysis nurtured at MIT interprets into merchandise and insurance policies that create a greater world.”

Presenting a brand new imaginative and prescient of computing

In that spirit of fostering a greater world, MIT in 2018 introduced a $1 billion dedication to handle the worldwide alternatives and challenges offered by the rising prevalence of computing and the rise of synthetic intelligence. The initiative marked the only largest funding in computing and AI by a U.S. educational establishment, serving to place MIT and the USA to guide the world in making ready for the fast evolution of computing and AI.

“As computing reshapes our world, MIT intends to assist make sure that it does so for the great of all,” Reif stated on the time. “In line with the scope of this problem, we’re reshaping MIT.” 

On the coronary heart of this endeavor was essentially the most important restructuring of MIT in 70 years: the creation of the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman Faculty of Computing, made attainable by a $350 million present. The MIT Schwarzman Faculty of Computing reoriented the Institute to convey the facility of computing and AI to all fields of examine, permitting the way forward for computing and AI to be formed by insights from different disciplines; it additionally promised to teach college students in each self-discipline to responsibly use and develop AI and computing applied sciences to assist make a greater world.

Selling well being and well-being

Displaying management in one more area, Reif led MIT to take decisive motion to handle sexual assault and psychological well being on its campus, placing the Institute within the nationwide vanguard of coping with these points proactively and forthrightly.

In 2014, Reif requested then-incoming Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart to discover the affect of sexual assault on MIT college students and the broader neighborhood after The Tech, MIT’s scholar newspaper, revealed a younger alumna’s account of her assault as an undergraduate. All MIT college students obtained a questionnaire on sexual assault, two days earlier than a White Home job drive known as on the entire nation’s faculties and universities to survey their college students on the subject. In releasing its outcomes publicly, MIT introduced a collection of concrete steps to handle and assist forestall undesirable sexual conduct on campus.

The subsequent yr, Reif tasked the chancellor with growing a complete plan to advertise neighborhood well-being. The Institute unveiled a collection of quick and long-term steps to extend scholar entry to psychological well being counseling and different kinds of assist. This included establishing the MindHandHeart coalition to advertise neighborhood and caring with distinctly MIT approaches, including “coronary heart” to MIT’s motto of “mens et manus” (“thoughts and hand”). 

“Rafael Reif is an individual of nice humanity,” Institute Professor Ann Graybiel says. “This high quality informs his each resolution, his each effort to assist these within the MIT neighborhood — and others throughout the globe — obtain a way of function. The span of his generosity, from serving to particular person college students and celebrating achievements throughout the neighborhood to serving to our whole MIT household via wrenching experiences, is exceptional. President Reif has had such monumental affect partially as a result of his outreach is unmistakably real and heartfelt, fostering wonderful creativity, productiveness, resilience, and energy of willpower — in addition to MIT-grade enjoyable and quirkiness. In brief, President Reif has had a transformative affect: MIT has develop into a extra optimistic and caring neighborhood than ever earlier than, and we’re lucky certainly to have had his management and that of his workforce.”

Championing MIT’s worldwide neighborhood

Defending members of the neighborhood from a really totally different set of risks, Reif steered MIT via a interval of home political turmoil in the course of the second half of his presidency, with the Institute typically appearing to defend its worldwide college students and researchers towards new federal insurance policies affecting immigrants and worldwide journey.

In early 2017, for instance, 5 members of the MIT neighborhood had been briefly stranded overseas after a sudden government order restricted residents of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from getting into the U.S. Reif instantly started pursuing motion on behalf of affected college students and researchers — a complete of greater than 100 folks at MIT who had been residents of the seven nations cited within the journey ban.

Reif was outspoken in his assist of the Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; in 2017 MIT joined different establishments in submitting an amicus temporary in a federal lawsuit difficult its repeal. In an op-ed in The Boston Globe, Reif known as on the president and Congress to protect DACA. He famous that just like the “Dreamers” — because the beneficiaries of DACA are generally recognized — he himself is an immigrant.

“I’ve the actual patriotism of an immigrant, rooted in deep gratitude and appreciation for a rustic based on a dream of equity,” he wrote. “I urge President Trump and the Congress to discover a sound, secure legislative path to maintain that promise of equity for the Dreamers, too.”

Standing as much as coverage and authorized challenges

In response to different threats, Reif led MIT in difficult a pair of high-profile authorized actions through which the Institute stood up for members of its neighborhood.

In 2020, MIT and Harvard College filed a lawsuit difficult a brand new coverage that will have barred worldwide college students on F-1 scholar visas from the U.S. if their lessons had been absolutely on-line as a consequence of Covid-19. The coverage, issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Division of Homeland Safety, was rescinded shortly after the lawsuit was filed.

The day the coverage was withdrawn, Reif authored an op-ed in The New York Occasions, saying that it mirrored “a stark misreading of our nationwide curiosity,” undermining America’s means to attract the very best and brightest from everywhere in the world.

“Why is overseas expertise so vital to the USA?” Reif wrote. “For a similar motive the Boston Purple Sox don’t restrict themselves to gamers born in Boston: The bigger the pool you draw from, the bigger the provision of outstanding expertise.”

In January 2021, mechanical engineering Professor Gang Chen was arrested on allegations of federal grant fraud. The case emerged from the U.S. authorities’s China Initiative, began in 2018 to crack down on purported financial and scientific espionage by China. Chen was on paid depart whereas he fought the fees, and MIT paid for his authorized bills.

Final month, the federal authorities requested the courtroom to dismiss all expenses once more Chen. In a letter to the MIT neighborhood sharing the information, Reif wrote: “Having had religion in Gang from the start, we are able to all be grateful that a simply consequence of a harmful course of is on the horizon.”

Stewarding MIT’s sources and revitalizing its campus

To advance the Institute’s efforts to handle a few of the world’s most urgent issues, MIT publicly launched the Marketing campaign for a Higher World in 2016. The marketing campaign in the end raised $6.24 billion from 112,000 people and organizations, far surpassing its authentic objective of $5 billion and vastly growing philanthropic assist for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships at MIT.

“In every single place I traveled all through the marketing campaign, I used to be struck by the vitality and enthusiasm of our alumni and associates and by how deeply the ‘higher world’ theme resonated with them,” Reif stated on the marketing campaign’s conclusion in 2021. “They understood instinctively that that is what MIT was made for.”

Throughout Reif’s tenure, the Institute’s endowment grew from $10.3 billion to $27.4 billion — reflecting each sturdy fundraising and the endowment’s spectacular funding efficiency.

Amongst different priorities, MIT put these added sources to work in revitalizing its campus: The 2017 premiere of the Theater Arts Constructing marked the Institute’s first facility devoted to the performing arts; the 2018 opening of MIT.nano, the most important constructing of its form, promised a brand new age of nanoscale developments; and the New Vassar residence corridor, which opened in 2021, provides undergraduates a contemporary residential choice. Building tasks now underway embrace the headquarters of the MIT Schwarzman Faculty of Computing, scheduled to open in 2023, and a new music constructing, focused for completion in 2024, that may consolidate many actions of MIT’s conservatory-level music program underneath a single roof.

Main renovations of current buildings have included the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel, now essentially the most superior educational wind tunnel within the nation, and a metamorphosis of Hayden Library and the Constructing 14 courtyard. Constructing 2, dwelling of the Division of Arithmetic, and Constructing 52, an Artwork Deco landmark that’s the headquarters of the Division of Economics, had been each restored and renovated. And the historic Metropolitan Storage Warehouse is now slated for conversion into a contemporary hub for interdisciplinary design analysis and training, a brand new dwelling for the College of Structure and Planning, and the location of the most important makerspace on MIT’s campus.

Bringing MIT-caliber pondering to training

Bringing related vitality to reimagining a core part of the MIT mission, Reif entered his presidency with a selected give attention to on-line studying, foreseeing the facility of huge open on-line programs (MOOCs) to convey an MIT training to learners worldwide. Two weeks earlier than he was named president, he participated as MIT’s provost within the public launch of edX, an bold partnership between MIT and Harvard College that aimed to ship on-line training, freed from cost, to learners anyplace on this planet.

Each edX and MITx, an earlier on-line training initiative that Reif championed as provost, additionally aimed to complement on-campus training by making use of classes realized about efficient on-line instructing strategies, in addition to instruments created for on-line lessons. 

“Throughout my presidency at Harvard, it was my privilege to work with Rafael on collaborations that strengthened not solely MIT and Harvard, however larger training and scientific discovery extra usually,” says Drew Gilpin Faust, former president of Harvard College and a member of the MIT Company. “From the creation and nurturing of the Broad [Institute], the Ragon [Institute], and edX to efforts on behalf of federal funding for analysis, Rafael has represented a mannequin of visionary and humane management.”

EdX has since been acquired and reorganized as a public profit firm, a transfer spurred by shifts within the online-learning market as Covid-19 prompted a surge in distant studying. The transaction permits edX to proceed in its founding mission, with web proceeds funding a nonprofit that may discover the following era of on-line training. 

In saying that information final June, Reif famous that edX had by then engaged 160 accomplice establishments, reached 39 million learners, and exceeded 110 million course enrollments. “All of us can take satisfaction in what edX has completed, together with — and maybe most important — edX’s function in serving to create a thriving marketplace for on-line studying,” he wrote.

Navigating tough moments

Together with its successes, MIT has confronted its share of adverse occasions and points over the previous decade. Reif’s tenure included the 2013 killing of an MIT Police officer; the Institute’s painful reckoning over its engagements with a convicted intercourse offender; and the novel disruption to campus operations that adopted the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reif was 9 months into his time period as president when Officer Sean Collier was killed within the line of obligation, surprising the MIT neighborhood even because the area reeled from the assault days earlier on the Boston Marathon. Hundreds of police from throughout the nation traveled to MIT for a ceremony paying tribute to Collier, becoming a member of members of the MIT neighborhood in a service the place they heard from Reif, then-Vice President Joseph Biden, and different dignitaries.

“Officer Collier didn’t simply have a job at MIT — he had a life right here,” Reif stated in his remarks. “MIT is a spot that celebrates passionate curiosity. And Sean Collier match proper in.” 

In 2019, the MIT neighborhood was rocked by revelations that the Institute had accepted donations from Jeffrey Epstein, even after his conviction as a intercourse offender, and that Epstein had visited campus on a number of events. The engagements with Epstein, who had gained worldwide notoriety as an accused pedophile, led to specific scrutiny of the MIT Media Lab.

Shortly after the problem erupted, MIT established two committees to look at its exterior engagements and evaluation its insurance policies and processes on soliciting and accepting presents, the suggestions of which at the moment are being applied. A management transition happened on the Media Lab, permitting it to chart a path ahead. And an unbiased evaluation of the matter concluded that Reif was not concerned in approving MIT’s resolution to just accept the Epstein donations. But the occasions shocked the MIT neighborhood and brought on some to name into query the establishment’s values, resulting in a 3rd committee to develop a values assertion for MIT — work that’s nearing its completion.

Then, in March 2020, MIT — like a lot of the nation — was pressured into an abrupt shutdown by the sudden world unfold of Covid-19. Reif led the Institute neighborhood to know the necessity for this fast shift and unprecedented disruption, after which he and his workforce guided it via a phased reopening first of the Institute’s analysis operations, then of its in-person instructional enterprise, and at last of most administrative operations.

All through the pandemic, MIT’s cautious, analytical strategy and the extraordinary efforts of college and employees helped decrease the on-campus unfold of Covid, permitting the Institute to maintain its mission of analysis, training, and innovation. Due to MIT’s early adoption of vaccination and booster necessities, few members of its neighborhood have been significantly sickened by Covid.

Planning for MIT’s future

Even within the early days of Covid, Reif continued wanting ahead. Anticipating a wave of change to brush throughout establishments and societies within the wake of the pandemic, he convened Process Pressure 2021 and Past in Might 2020 to “discover how MIT may invent a thriving new future.”

Greater than 200 MIT school, employees, and college students in the end participated within the job drive throughout its 18 months of labor. This previous November, the group launched its ultimate report, providing 17 suggestions to strengthen and streamline MIT, and make the investments wanted to enhance its instructing, analysis, and innovation enterprises whereas turning into extra nimble and adaptable.

The sturdy efficiency of MIT’s endowment in 2021 got here at an ideal second, enabling Reif to make sources out there to advance a spread of clear neighborhood priorities, together with these outlined by the duty drive, and setting the Institute on a robust course into its future.  

“Rafael Reif is a pioneer whose improvements at MIT have set new world requirements in analysis and training,” says Shirley Ann Jackson ’68, PhD ’73, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a life member of the MIT Company. “He has been an vital spokesperson for larger training, and for assist of the critically vital work of analysis universities. He has constantly stood up for the MIT neighborhood, and articulated powerfully the worth of attracting expertise from each nook. I vastly respect Rafael’s management, and have lengthy valued him as a buddy.”

Supply hyperlink


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here