Skip to content
MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ORIGINS AND Leadership


The Institute admitted its first students in 1865, four years after the approval of its founding charter. The opening marked the culmination of an extended effort by William Barton Rogers to establish a new kind of independent educational institution relevant to an increasingly industrialized America.

Today MIT is a world-class educational institution. Teaching and research—with relevance to the practical world as a guiding principle—continue to be its primary purpose. MIT is independent, coeducational, and privately endowed. Its five schools encompass numerous academic departments, divisions, and degree-granting programs, as well as interdisciplinary centers, laboratories, and programs whose work cuts across traditional departmental boundaries.

Presidents of the Institute

L. Rafael Reif, 2012–

Susan Hockfield, 2004–2012

Charles Marstiller Vest, 1990–2004

Paul Edward Gray, 1980–1990

Jerome Bert Wiesner, 1971–1980

Howard Wesley Johnson, 1966–1971

Julius Adams Stratton, 1959–1966

James Rhyne Killian, Jr., 1948–1958

Karl Taylor Compton, 1930–1948

Samuel Wesley Stratton, 1923–1930

Ernest Fox Nichols, 1921–1922

Richard Cockburn Maclaurin, 1909–1920

Henry Smith Pritchett, 1900–1907

James Mason Crafts, 1897–1900

Francis Amasa Walker, 1881–1897

John Daniel Runkle, 1870–1878

William Barton Rogers, 1862–1870, 1879–1881

Administrative Organization

The Institute’s chief executive officer is the president. Senior academic and administrative officers include the provost, chancellor, executive vice president, chancellor for academic advancement, associate provosts, deans of the schools, vice presidents, dean for graduate education, dean for undergraduate education, dean for student life, dean of digital learning, director of the MIT Libraries, and Institute community and equity officer. The Institute’s academic departments and divisions—each under the leadership of a head, director, or associate dean—are organized within the five schools. In addition, numerous interdisciplinary laboratories and centers have been organized to facilitate research in fields that extend across traditional boundaries.

The MIT Faculty determines the Institute's educational policy. The Faculty meets monthly and conducts much of its business through elected standing committees.

The Institute's board of trustees, known as the Corporation, includes 70 distinguished leaders in engineering, science, industry, education, and other professions, and (ex officio) the MIT chairman, president, executive vice president and treasurer, secretary of the Corporation, president of the Alumni Association, and three representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Corporation also includes approximately 35 emeritus members. Approximately 80 percent of the members of the Corporation are alumni of MIT.