L. Rafael Reif

President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rafael Reif has served as the 17th President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since July 2012. Before taking on the presidency, Reif served for seven years as MIT’s Provost. In that role, he 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 latest experiment in online learning, MITx and edX.

In his inaugural speech, he 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. His first year as president included both the launch of an Institute-Wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education and the rapid growth of edX, which engaged more than 900,000 students from 196 countries in its first 13 months. He also worked actively to strengthen the MIT community, in a year whose dramatic events tested its resilience.

A member of the MIT faculty since 1980, 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 early champion of MIT's engagement in micro- and nanotechnologies, 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.

In 1993, 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. For his work in developing MITx, he received the 2012 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award.

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, 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.