Past presidential visits to MIT


President Barack Obama's visit to MIT this week will be only the second time a sitting U.S. president has appeared at the Institute, and the first such visit that is not for a Commencement speech. President Bill Clinton was the Commencement speaker in 1998.

MIT has also hosted these other visits by past or future presidents:

  • Harry Truman was scheduled to speak here while he was in office at MIT's mid-century convocation, but canceled the appearance because he was afraid he would be upstaged by the appearance of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He did appear for a speech years later, in 1956, as an ex-president.
  • Franklin Roosevelt made an appearance at MIT long before his presidency, in 1916, for the dedication of MIT's campus, when he was assistant secretary of the Navy.
  • George H. W. Bush appeared at MIT in 1981, to address the annual dinner meeting of the MIT Sustaining Fellows in DuPont gymnasium, when he was vice-president.
  • John F. Kennedy made a taped appearance, which was played during MIT's centennial celebrations in 1961.
  • There is an unconfirmed report that Calvin Coolidge visited MIT and drank tea at Walker Memorial, but no information about when this might have taken place.

Topics: President Obama, Special events and guest speakers

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