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Office of the MIT Chancellor

Chancellors of MIT

Julius A. Stratton 1956-1959
Paul E. Gray 1971-1980
Lawrence S. Bacow 1998-2001
Phillip L. Clay 2001-2011
W. Eric L. Grimson 2011-2013
Cynthia Barnhart 2014-2021
Melissa Nobles 2021-

The Office of the Chancellor of MIT is a position created at the discretion of the president and Executive Committee. Institute by-laws state that “the Chancellor shall have duties as the Executive Committee shall from time to time confer upon him.”

The first chancellor, Julius A. Stratton, was appointed in 1956 under President James R. Killian, and he served as chancellor until he became MIT president in 1959. The chancellor position was created when Killian took on additional national responsibilities away from MIT and there was a need for greater delegation and sharing of administrative responsibilities of the Institute. Dr. Stratton, as chancellor, was responsible for the administration of the Institute’s academic program in all its parts, serving as deputy to the president for all Institute affairs, and in the absence of the president, holding the powers and performing all duties and functions of the president.

The position of chancellor was reinstated in 1971 when Paul Gray was appointed to the position under President Jerome B. Wiesner, with authority to serve as deputy to the president on all matters. He served in the position until he became MIT president in 1980. Dr. Gray had general management responsibilities for all Institute programs and operations, and continued his work in undergraduate education and other student matters.

As academic administration became increasingly complex, the position of chancellor was again reinstated by President Charles M. Vest who appointed Lawrence Bacow as the third chancellor of MIT.  He served from August 1998 to June 30, 2001 and was succeeded by Phillip L. Clay who served from July 1, 2001 to February 28, 2011.

Effective March 1, 2011, W. Eric L. Grimson became the fifth chancellor of MIT.  His duties are to coordinate undergraduate and graduate education, manage and develop programs with institutional partners in industry and in the international arena, and have a major responsibility for long-range strategic planning for MIT.  In fall of 2013 Grimson assumed the new, ad hoc position of “Chancellor for Academic Advancement,” reflecting his role in making the case for MIT’s fundraising priorities with alumni and donors around the world. The new position is to exist for the duration of the Institute’s capital campaign.  Cynthia Barnhart was named chancellor in February 2014 and served in the position for seven years. Melissa Nobles was named chancellor in June 2021.

Prepared by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries