Charles M. Vest has been president of MIT since 1990. During this time he has 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. He also has devoted considerable energy to bringing issues concerning education and research to broader public attention and to strengthening national policy on science, engineering and education.
In this latter capacity, Vest chaired the President's Advisory Committee on the Redesign of the Space Station and has served as a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the Massachusetts Governor's Council on Economic Growth and Technology, and the National Research Council Board on Engineering Education. He chairs the U.S. Department of Energy Task Force on the Future of Science Programs and is vice chair of the Council on Competitiveness and immediate past chair of the Association of American Universities (AAU). He sits on the board of directors of both IBM and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.
Vest was born in Morgantown, W.Va., on Sept. 9, 1941. He 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.
As a member of the mechanical engineering faculty at MIT, Vest has research interests in the thermal sciences and the engineering applications of lasers and coherent optics.
A partner in Vest's presidency is his wife, Rebecca McCue Vest, who is active with national and international MIT alumni/ae events, student affairs and the service-oriented MIT Women's League. The Vests have two children and two grandchildren. Their daughter, Kemper, is a defense analyst who lives in Arlington, Va., with her husband John Gay and their two children. Their son John is a fellow in cardiology at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. He and his wife Christina live in New York City.