Vice President Al Gore will be the speaker at MIT's 130th commencement on Friday, June 7, President Charles M. Vest announced last week.
"We are delighted that Vice President Gore can be with us on this happy occasion," Dr. Vest said. "It is always exciting to have someone of his stature with us, but his role as Commencement speaker is particularly appropriate at MIT because he has been a leader as congressman, senator and vice president in the areas of science, space and technology policy.
"Having coined the term 'information superhighway' 17 years ago-a program which will rely heavily on fiber-optic networks being developed at MIT-he is now the recognized public leader of the National Information Infrastructure.
"In addition," Dr. Vest said, "Al Gore's commitment and leadership on environmental issues is unparalleled. He has said repeatedly that the protection and preservation of the earth's environment is one of the most important issues facing this generation-a position that reflects the concerns of so many of us at MIT."
This will be Mr. Gore's second appearance at MIT in a year. He visited the campus in October for a speech to the Society of Environmental Journalists.
Mr. Gore's Congressional career began when he was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1976 where he served eight years representing what was then the 4th District of Tennessee. He was elected to the Senate in 1984 and was re-elected in 1990, becoming the first candidate in modern history-Republican or Democratic-to win all 95 of Tennessee's counties. A candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988, Mr. Gore won more than 3 million votes and Democratic contests in seven states.
Within two months of taking office, President Clinton asked Mr. Gore to do a comprehensive survey of the entire federal government. The result was the "National Performance Review: Creating a Government that Works Better and Costs Less." It included specific recommendations and cost savings reforms to improve the federal government. When President Clinton signed into law the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, he designed the vice president as chair of the act's Crime Prevention Council.
Vice President Gore also established the GLOBE program to increase the environmental awareness among children around the world.
Mr. Gore, the son of former US Senator Albert Gore, Sr., and Pauline Gore, received a degree in government with honors from Harvard University in 1969. After graduation, he enlisted in the US Army and served in Vietnam. Returning to civilian life, he became an investigative reporter with The Tennessean in Nashville. He attended Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Vanderbilt Law School and operated a small homebuilding business.
Vice President Gore is married to the former Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Aitcheson. They have four children.
Earlier this month, when Mr. Gore spoke to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Baltimore, he invoked the name of President Vest in his appeal for continued federal funding of research. He specifically referred to Dr. Vest's most recent annual report, which focused on the many critical problems whose answers remain unknown to scientists.
Concluding his speech discussing the role of science in American society today, he said:
"Last year. Chuck Vest, president of MIT, decided to present his annual report as a series of questions his faculty told him were the most urgent in their fields. What he told us in that report underscores the need to deliver on these crucial investments in science and technology.
"He reminded us that we don't know `which aspects of climate change are predictable.' And we need to know.
"We don't know `how best to use our information infrastructure and new media to promote learning among children.' And we need to know.
"We don't know `how to produce materials with no waste by-products.' And we need to know.
"We don't know `how to extract all the energy from existing fuel sources.' And we need to know.
"We don't know `how and why cells die.' And we need to know.
"We don't know `how old the universe is, what it is made of, or what its fate will be; we do not understand what mechanism generates mass in the building blocks of matter.' And we need to know.
"We need to know these things. We need to understand these things. "We need to discover these things.
"We need to create a learning society, a society that harnesses the power of distributed intelligence and uses it to lift our lives. And as the very embodiment of that ideal, you have an obligation to help make it happen.
"As always in America, it's possible-but it's up to us. As always in America, it's possible-because it's up to us. Let's get to work."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 6, 1996.