About MIT  |  Contact

One community - Together in service


Inauguration Ceremony

MIT celebrated the inauguration of L. Rafael Reif as its 17th president on Friday, September 21, 2012, in a ceremony in Killian Court on the MIT campus.

An inauguration ceremony is not just the investiture of a president: it is the participation by an institution in the traditions of academe. Delegates from the worldwide academic community joined MIT faculty, students, staff, alumni, and trustees in the procession. Participants in the inauguration heard greetings from the Academy, Professor Reif’s inaugural address, and performances by MIT musicians, including a piece composed for the occasion by John Harbison, Institute Professor. The ceremony was followed immediately by a reception for the whole community.

Watch the inauguration address | Read the prepared remarks


The word “inauguration” dates from the mid-16th century, and is defined as a rite of passage that marks a formal induction to an office. An inauguration often brings a new stage or phase of life to an institution. Official collegiate presidential inaugurations in this country originated in colonial colleges during the 17th century, and they established the custom of acknowledging formally a change in leadership at an institution’s highest level.

The earliest roots of the word “inauguration” derive from ancient Roman culture and the Latin word auguratio, prediction of the future by the reading of what were thought of as signs or omens in nature. In ancient Roman times, official acts or civic enterprises were always preceded by an augury, the sacred ritual of observing patterns in the flight of birds. The priest conducting the ceremony would interpret the birds’ flight patterns as they related to the future of the enterprise.

During the inauguration ceremony, the essential components are the installation and the address by the new inductee. Representatives of government, church, and other institutions may make additional addresses preceding the inaugural address.

MIT Inauguration 2012 will begin with a procession led by the chief marshal and composed to honor MIT’s place in the Academy and to highlight the breadth of our community. The principals and guests of honor, senior officers, and School deans are followed by members of the MIT Corporation, delegates from academic institutions and learned societies, the MIT Faculty, the Lincoln Laboratory Steering Committee, staff, alumni, and current leaders from among MIT’s students.




MIT recognizes the tremendous effort of the many faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of MIT who applied their minds and hands to the inauguration planning. Their creativity, energy, and spirit engineered this celebration for our one community, together in service. Thank You.

Inaugural Planning Committee

Chair: Duane S. Boning ’84 SM ’86 PhD ’91, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Marc Bernstein, Associate Director, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Thomas A. Kochan, George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management

Leslie Kolodziejski, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Sara Seager, Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science and Physics

Susan S. Silbey, Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities; Professor of Sociology and Anthropology; Head, Anthropology Program

Gayle M. Gallagher, Senior Director of Institute Events and Protocol

Ted E. Johnson, Managing Director of Institute Events

Rebecca Tyler, Events and Communications Associate, Institute Events

Inaugural Symposia Committee

Arundhati Banerjee, Director of Global Initiatives

Duane S. Boning ’84 SM ’86 PhD ’91, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Mary C. Boyce, Ford Professor of Engineering and Head, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Charles L. Cooney, Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering

Rebecca Cassler Fearing SM ’06 MBA ’06, Special Assistant to the Dean, Strategic Initiatives, School of Engineering

W. Eric L. Grimson PhD ’80, Chancellor and Bernard Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering

Philip S. Khoury, Associate Provost and Ford International Professor of History

Richard M. Locke PhD ’89, Class of 1922 Professor of Political Science and Management and Head, Department of Political Science

Leslie K. Norford, Professor of Architecture

Jason Pontin, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Technology Review

David C. Schmittlein, John C. Head III Dean, Sloan School of Management

Ian A Waitz, Dean, School of Engineering and Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Victor Zue, Delta Electronics Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science