Mathematician has been a member of the faculty since 1980 and department head since 2004.
President Charles M. Vest's annual report surveying what MIT faculty seek to know was being widely read on three continents last week.
The Washington Post printed a 1,000-word adaptation of the Vest report in the Outlook section of the newspaper on Sunday, Jan. 14. Under a headline "And We Think We're So Smart: An Agenda of Ignorance for the Next Generation of Geniuses to Chew On," Dr. Vest's op-ed column concluded:
"These represent the thoughts of only a handful of faculty at one institution. As we consider the nature of universities, we would do well to remember that the ultimate rationale for supporting a university system derives more from the unknown than the known."
The Washington Post article prompted a number of readers to call the President's Office and ask for a full copy of the 6,000 word report.
The column was distributed on the Washington Post-Los Angeles Times News Service and was reprinted last week in both the International Herald Tribune, based in Paris and distributed throughout Europe and Asia, and by the Japan Times, an English-language daily newspaper in Tokyo. Dr. Vest, in Tokyo for an Alliance for Global Sustainability conference, spotted the article in the two newspapers on the Tokyo newsstands.
In addition, La Stampa, a 600,000-circulation newspaper in Turin, Italy, saw the Vest annual report on the World Wide Web site for President Vest's speeches:
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 24, 1996.