Charles M. Vest

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Charles Marstiller Vest
15th President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In office
Preceded byPaul Gray
Succeeded bySusan Hockfield
Personal details
Born(1941-09-09)September 9, 1941
Morgantown, West Virginia
DiedDecember 12, 2013(2013-12-12) (aged 72)
Arlington, Virginia
ChildrenKemper Vest Gay, John Vest[1]
Alma materWest Virginia University
University of Michigan
Scientific career
ThesisStability of natural convection in a vertical slot (1967)

Charles "Chuck" Marstiller Vest (September 9, 1941 – December 12, 2013) was an American educator and engineer. He served as President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from October 1990 until December 2004. He succeeded Paul Gray[2] and was succeeded by Susan Hockfield.[3] He served as president of the National Academy of Engineering from 2007 to 2013.[4]

Education and career[edit]

Vest was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1941.[5] He went to Morgantown High School.[6] He graduated from West Virginia University in Morgantown in 1963 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering, and earned a master of science in engineering degree in 1964 and a PhD in 1967, both in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan,[4][7] where he later served as professor of mechanical engineering, dean of the College of Engineering, and provost of the university, prior to his appointment as MIT's president. In 2004, a selection of Vest's speeches from his time as President of MIT was published under the title, Pursuing the Endless Frontier: Essays on MIT and the Role of Research Universities.[8]

Cambridge University awarded him an honorary doctorate in law in 2006. Harvard University has also given him an honorary degree in 2005. In 2011 Tufts University awarded him an honorary doctorate in science; the same year he delivered the Tufts University Commencement address.

Other activities[edit]

Vest served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and chaired the Task Force on the Future of Science Programs at the Department of Energy. At the request of President Bill Clinton, he chaired the Committee on the Redesign of the International Space Station, which revitalized the space station at a time when its future was in question.[9] On February 6, 2004, he was appointed to the Iraq Intelligence Commission by President George W. Bush.

He was appointed the president of the National Academy of Engineering in 2007 and served until 2013. Vest was a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[10] He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and served as co-chair of the Academy's Science, Engineering & Technology Policy Program.[11] In 2008, Vest was elected an honorary academician of Academia Sinica.[12]

On December 12, 2013, he died of pancreatic cancer, aged 72.[9][13][14]


  1. ^ A Celebration of Charles M. Vest's Life. Washington, D.C.: The National Academy of Engineering Council and the Vest Family. February 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "Presidents of the Institute", Office of the MIT President.
  3. ^ "MIT President Emeritus Charles M. Vest", Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  4. ^ a b "Dr. Charles M. Vest". National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Charles M. Vest". MIT News Office. December 5, 2003. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  6. ^ "MHS Distinguished Alumni - Morgantown High School". Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  7. ^ Vest, Charles Marstiller (1967). Stability of natural convection in a vertical slot (Ph.D.). University of Michigan. OCLC 30998797 – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ Vest, Charles M. (September 2004). Pursuing the Endless Frontier Essays on MIT and the Role of Research Universities (Overview & sample chapter) (Hardcover ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 318. ISBN 9780262220729. Retrieved 19 April 2015. Foreword by Norman B Augustine. Paperback ed. (September 2011) p. 318 ISBN 9780262516785
  9. ^ a b "Former MIT president Charles M. Vest died at 72". MIT News Office. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  10. ^ "USA Science and Engineering Festival" Archived 2010-04-21 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2010-07-05
  11. ^ "NAE Website - Charles M. Vest".
  12. ^ "Charles M. Vest". Academia Sinica. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  13. ^ Greene, Roy (December 13, 2013). "Former MIT president Charles Vest dies". Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  14. ^ Nick Anderson (December 16, 2013). "Charles M. Vest, innovative MIT president, dies at 72". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-12-14.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by 15th President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1990 – 2004
Succeeded by