16th President of MIT
Over the course of the spring semester, we celebrated MIT's 150th anniversary with a remarkable cascade of symposia, performances, exhibitions, and landmark events. Thanks to the extraordinary, sustained, distributed effort of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends, we told the story of MIT to the world — and to ourselves — more clearly and more confidently than it may have been told in decades.
When I arrived at MIT in the winter of 2005, the Institute was brimming with ideas and energy. But I also heard, in voices from across the Institute, a yearning for a greater sense of community and common purpose, a desire so striking that I called it out in my inaugural remarks:
"The world offers us limitless opportunities for important work. But for MIT to help build a better world, we must be able to build on the strength of our own community. We need to do everything we can to make sure that MIT becomes an even more inspiring, welcoming, and enriching place to work and to live. Community springs from shared experience. It grows out of values held deeply and in common. It cannot be manufactured on demand, but it can be fostered. That is our challenge now."
Through the shared experience of MIT150, we gained a fresh sense of the deep values we hold in common, and we recommitted ourselves to MIT's distinctive mission and motto. We have, as we hoped, turned the exploration of our past into fuel for our future. In the process, we have strengthened the foundations of community we need to face the challenges ahead, in service to the nation and the world.
With MIT's legacy of distinctive strengths comes a profound responsibility to use them. The activities of the semester have illuminated several important directions:
Officially, this spring's celebrations ended on the evening of June 4, when "Toast to Tech" lit up Killian Court. I am confident that the brilliant, confident spirit of MIT150 will animate MIT for a long time to come — raising our ambitions, sparking new collaborations, and inspiring a new generation of young people to help us invent the future.
The remarkable events and ethos of the sesquicentennial celebration sprang from the minds and hands of hundreds of people. On behalf of MIT, I offer them and everyone who played a part in these celebrations a most enthusiastic thank you.
Sixteenth president of MIT