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As president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 2012, Rafael Reif leads the institute’s pioneering efforts to help redefine the future of higher education. A champion for both fundamental science and MIT’s signature style of interdisciplinary, problem-centered research, he is driving initiatives to accelerate high-impact solutions to the urgent challenges of climate change and pursuing an aggressive agenda to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
In education, Dr. Reif has focused on the development of online learning. The findings of his Task Force on the Future of MIT Education spurred rapid adoption of blended learning models in MIT classrooms, inspired the creation of new forms of credentialing such as the MicroMasters, expanded educational access for learners around the globe, and equipped MIT to respond to covid-19 with a quick pivot to remote learning.
In May 2021 he and his leadership team mobilized the institute’s strengths to address the climate crisis through “Fast Forward: MIT’s Climate Action Plan for the Decade.” Distinctive elements include MIT’s Climate Grand Challenges, to accelerate breakthrough ideas for tackling and adapting to the impacts of global warming, and the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium, uniting companies in piloting and adopting climate solutions at scale and across industries.
Dr. Reif has made it a priority to equip the next generation of innovators with the tools to implement their ideas. In 2016 MIT launched The Engine, a firm that helps new ventures turn “tough technologies” into innovations that address humanity’s great challenges. Dr. Reif has led a suite of further activities to make MIT the most stimulating and supportive academic environment in the world for innovation, including campus makerspaces, a new minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, and the MIT Morningside Academy of Design. Under his leadership, MIT also spearheaded the decade-long transformation of Kendall Square into a central force in Greater Boston’s biotech and innovation economy.
To advance the frontier of human and machine intelligence, in 2018 Dr. Reif both announced the MIT Quest for Intelligence and, understanding the responsibility of technologists to understand the societal impacts of automation, launched the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future. Also that year, he announced the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, the most significant reshaping of MIT since the 1950s. In addition, he has led the creation of MIT.nano, a world-class facility for nanoscience and engineering research in support of the national strategy for reasserting US leadership in semiconductors and micro- and nanoelectronics.
A member of the MIT faculty since 1980, Dr. Reif was previously director of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories, head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and provost. He is an inventor on 13 patents. He earned his BS from the University of Carabobo in Venezuela, and his MS and PhD from Stanford University, all in electrical engineering.