Charles Vest's appointment brings to the commission an individual with a strong
background in science and engineering.
Born on Sept. 9, 1941 in Morgantown, W.Va., Vest decided to major in mechanical
engineering at West Virginia University, moving on to the University of Michigan
for both his Masters of Science and Ph.D. degrees. He stayed on at Michigan,
joining the faculty as an associate professor of mechanical engineering, and
later became associate dean for academic affairs, then took the helm as dean
of the College of Engineering.
Vest's went on to serve as Provost at Michigan before leaving in 1990 to assume
his current post as president at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As president, Vest has instituted a number of reforms, including pushing for
more racial and ethnic diversity at MIT and enhancing national policy on science,
engineering and education.
Vest is also actively involved
in researching and writing about the thermal sciences and engineering. He
a book, "Holographic Interferometry," and
has edited the Journal of the Optical Society of America. Vest is a fellow
of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy of Arts
and Sciences and is a member of Sigma Xi.
He also led a U.S. Department of Energy task force on the future of science
programs in 2002-2003 and chaired a presidential advisory commission on the
redesign of the International Space Station in 1993-1994, and served as a member
of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1994
In addition to six honorary degrees from institutions such as the University
of Notre Dame, he is the recipient of several awards, including the Arthur
M. Bueche Award from the National Academy of Engineering in 2000 and the ABET
President's Award from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
Vest filed a brief in support of affirmative action in college admissions,
and lauded the Supreme Court decision upholding the University of Michigan
Law School's right to consider race as a factor in the admissions process.
Vest is married to Rebecca McCue Vest, who is active in national and international
MIT alumni events, student affairs and the MIT Women's League.
Compiled by Diana M. Alvear for the Online NewsHour