OSA | Living History

Charles M. Vest

OSA Awards & Distinctions



Charles M. Vest earned his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1963 and both his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1967, respectively. He is the recipient of ten honorary doctoral degrees.

Vest joined the Michigan faculty as an assistant professor in 1968. He became an associate professor at Michigan in 1972 and a full professor in 1977. In 1981, Vest became Michigan’s associate dean of engineering and eventually Dean of Engineering in 1986. He served as Michigan’s provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1989 until he became MIT’s president on Oct. 15, 1990.

Dr. Vest served as President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1990 through 2004. During this time, he placed special emphasis on enhancing undergraduate education, exploring new organizational forms to meet emerging directions in research and education, building a stronger international dimension into education and research programs, developing stronger relations with industry, and enhancing racial and cultural diversity at MIT.

Vest is the author of two books on higher education and research policy: Pursuing the Endless Frontier: Essays on MIT and the Role of the Research University (MIT Press 2004), and The American Research University from World War II to World Wide Web (University of California Press 2007). He is a Fellow of OSA and recipient of the Robert E. Hopkins Leadership Award.

Charles M. Vest died on 12 December 2013, please see OSA's memorial entry.



Document Created: 19 Dec 2019
Last Updated: 2 Jan 2020