Jerome Bert Wiesner, 1915-1994, B.S. 1937, M.S. 1938, and Ph.D. 1950 in electrical engineering, University of Michigan, was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1971 to 1980. In 1940 he was appointed chief engineer for the Acoustical and Records Laboratory of the Library of Congress, where he assisted in developing facilities and equipment and traveled through the South and Southwest with folklorist Alan Lomax, recording regional folk music. He came to MIT in 1942 to work in the Radiation Laboratory, where he helped refine radar and develop ionospheric high frequency radio transmission. In 1945 Wiesner joined the staff at the University of California’s Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico but left the following year to return to MIT, where he became assistant professor of electrical engineering in 1946, associate professor in 1947, and full professor in 1950. From 1946 to 1961 he was associated with the Research Laboratory for Electronics, directing the lab from 1952 to 1961. From 1959 to 1960 he was also acting head of the Department of Electrical Engineering.
In 1961 Wiesner took a leave of absence from the Institute to serve as special assistant to President John F. Kennedy for science and technology and chairman of the President’s Science Advisory Committee. He returned to MIT in 1964 as dean of MIT’s School of Science, having been named an Institute Professor in 1962, and in 1966 he was appointed provost. When he retired from the MIT presidency, he became a life member of the MIT Corporation.
The focus of Wiesner’s research was in the fields of microwave theory, human and machine communications, scatter transmission techniques and engineering, signal processing, radio and radar propagation and phenomena, and military technology.
For more about Wiesner, see Jerry Wiesner, Scientist, Statesman, Humanist: Memories and Memoirs, a collection of writings by Wiesner and reminiscences by friends and colleagues, edited by Walter A. Rosenblith (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003).
Prepared by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries
November 1995; updated September 2005