“I have always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception. True, but I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance.”
Pres. Charles M Vest, 1999.*
Among the numerous achievements of President Emeritus Charles M Vest (1941-2013) during his tenure as MIT’s fifteenth president (1990-2004), the Program in Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) would like to call special attention to his steadfast efforts to promote gender equity among faculty. The landmark Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT (1999), which was commended by Vest to the faculty, and the subsequent Report on the Status of Women Faculty across the five Schools of the Institute (2002), had a profound impact on women faculty at MIT, and on women in science and academia more broadly. These reports, in particular the first report released in 1999, have been hailed as a “wake-up call.” For President Vest, they were a call to action.
In commending the 1999 study to the MIT faculty, Vest said: "Please read it, contemplate its messages and information, and act upon it personally and collectively."* These words served as the inspiration for dramatic social change at MIT -- and beyond.
As noted in the MIT News Office story of December 13, 2013: “In 1998, Vest forthrightly acknowledged serious gender-equity problems cited by senior women faculty in the School of Science; he then supported corrective measures to address longstanding imbalances. A stunningly candid and publicly released report detailing gender inequity at MIT — and Vest’s subsequent leadership on the issue —stimulated examination of gender equality at universities across the country.” ("Former MIT President Charles M. Vest Dies at 72,” MIT News, December 13, 2013.)
Pres. Vest passed away on December 12, 2013. This site is our tribute to him.
This website is a work in progress, and will be updated. Please excuse all errors and omissions.
*Pres. Charles M Vest, "Preface,” MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 4, March 1999. (http://web.mit.edu/faculty/reports/sos.pdf)
** Image by MIT SHASS Communications. Photographs: L to R: Maggie Lloyd '12 (photograph courtesy of MISTI); Kristala Jones Prather, Theodore T. Miller Career Devevelopment Associate Professor at MIT; Catherine Drennan, Professor of Chemistry of MIT (photographs, by Len Rubenstein, courtesy of MIT Spectrum); R: Former MIT President Charles M. Vest. Used courtesy of MIT SHASS Communications.