Charles M. Vest was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1990 through 2004. Dr. Vest earned his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1963 and both his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1967, respectively. He was the recipient of ten honorary doctoral degrees.
During his tenure as president, he 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 MIT.
Dr. Vest 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 served 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 DOE Science Programs, was vice chair of the Council on Competitiveness for eight years, and a chair of the Association of American Universities. Dr. Vest served as a member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction and of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. He also served on the Department of State Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Transformational Diplomacy and the Rice-Chertoff Secure Borders, Open Doors Advisory Board Subcommittee. In July 2007 he was elected to serve as president of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering for six years.
Dr. Vest was the author of two books on higher education and research policy: Pursuing the Endless Frontier: Essays on MIT and the Role of the Research University (2004) and The American Research University from World War II to World Wide Web (2007). He was a Life Member of the MIT Corporation, the Institute’s board of trustees.