About President L. Rafael Reif


Rafael Reif has served as the 17th President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since July 2012.

In his inaugural speech, Dr. Reif outlined the threats and opportunities presented by the sudden rise of credible, low-cost online learning alternatives and challenged MIT to use the campus as a lab to explore the future of higher education. While fostering the rapid growth of MIT’s non-profit online learning platform edX – which has engaged 6 million unique learners from 196 countries – he has also launched an Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education. Issued in September 2014, the group’s final report spurred rapid adoption of blended learning models in MIT classrooms and the announcement (October 2015) of a new MicroMaster’s credential from MITx.

In keeping with MIT’s role as a wellspring of innovation, Dr. Reif was asked by the White House to co-chair the steering committee of the national Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP 2.0). In October 2013, to enhance MIT’s own innovation ecosystem and foster education, research and policy, he launched the MIT Innovation Initiative; its preliminary report came out in December 2014. In that same spirit, in the spring of 2014 MIT began work on “MIT.nano,” a major new facility at the heart of campus that will accelerate research and innovation at the nanoscale, and in November 2015 he announced the creation of the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node. In May 2014, Dr. Reif also launched an environment initiative – the new Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Laboratory. In October 2015, after a yearlong campus conversation about MIT’s most effective path forward against global warming, MIT issued its Plan for Action on Climate Change, centered on research, education, campus sustainability, and a strategy of industry engagement. To advance MIT’s academic mission and the interests of the broader community, while accelerating the growth of the innovation hub anchored by MIT, he is also leading an ambitious, decade-long redevelopment initiative in Kendall Square.

In his previous role as MIT’s provost (2005-2012), Dr. Reif helped create and implement the strategy that allowed MIT to weather the global financial crisis; drove the growth of MIT’s global strategy; promoted a major faculty-led effort to address challenges around race and diversity; helped launch the Institute for Medical Engineering and Sciences; and spearheaded the development of the Institute’s online learning initiatives, MITx and edX. For his work in developing MITx, he received the 2012 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award.

A member of the MIT faculty since 1980, Dr. Reif has served as director of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories, as associate department head for Electrical Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and as EECS department head. He was instrumental in launching a research center on novel semiconductor devices at MIT, as well as multi-university research centers on advanced and environmentally benign semiconductor manufacturing. He also played a key role in creating, within the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the national effort now known as the Focus Center Research Program and in launching its Interconnect Focus Center.

An elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Reif is the inventor or co-inventor on 15 patents, has edited or co-edited five books and has supervised 38 doctoral theses. He focused his most recent research on three-dimensional integrated circuit technologies and on environmentally benign microelectronics fabrication. In 2004, he was named the Fariborz Maseeh Professor of Emerging Technology, a title he held until he was selected as president.

In 1993, Dr. Reif was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) “for pioneering work in the low-temperature epitaxial growth of semiconductor thin films,” and in 2000, he received the Aristotle Award from the Semiconductor Research Corporation. An elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he also belongs to Tau Beta Pi, the Electrochemical Society and the IEEE, and is a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 2015, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Reif received the degree of Ingeniero Eléctrico from Universidad de Carabobo, Valencia, Venezuela, and served for a year as an assistant professor at Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas. He earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University, where he spent a year as a visiting assistant professor. After moving to MIT, Dr. Reif held the Analog Devices Career Development Professorship in the EECS Department and an IBM Faculty Fellowship from MIT’s Center for Materials Science and Engineering. He received a United States Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1984.