Origins and Leadership


The Institute admitted its first students in 1865, four years after the approval of its founding charter, and admitted its first woman student shortly thereafter in 1871. MIT’s opening marked the culmination of an extended effort by William Barton Rogers, a distinguished natural scientist, to establish a new kind of independent educational institution relevant to an increasingly industrialized America. Rogers stressed the pragmatic and practicable. He believed that professional competence is best fostered by coupling teaching and research and by focusing attention on real-world problems. Toward this end, he pioneered the development of the teaching laboratory.

Today, MIT is a world-class educational institution. Teaching and research—with relevance to the practical world and transforming society for the better as guiding principles—continue to be its primary purpose. MIT is independent, coeducational, and privately endowed.

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 and treasurer, vice president and secretary of the Corporation, associate provosts, deans of the schools and college, vice chancellor, vice presidents, chancellor for academic advancement, director of libraries, and Institute community and equity officer.

MIT’s academic departments and institutes—each under the leadership of a head or director—are organized within five schools and one college that encompass numerous degree-granting programs and interdisciplinary centers, laboratories, and programs whose work cuts across traditional departmental 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 73 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, CEO of the Alumni Association, and three representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Corporation also includes some 36 emeritus members. Approximately 70% of the members of the Corporation are MIT alumni.