Reif, L. Rafael , 1950-
- Existence: 1950 August 21
- Reif, Leo Rafael, 1950-
Rafael Reif, 1950-, served as the 17th president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 2012-2022. He lead MIT’s efforts to help redefine the future of higher education, with a commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Reif has launched initiatives to foster breakthrough research and pilot high-impact solutions to address the urgent challenges of climate change. A champion for both fundamental science and MIT’s signature style of interdisciplinary, problem-centered research, he is also pursued an aggressive agenda to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
In education, Dr. Reif’s central focus was the development of online learning. Early in his presidency, he charged the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education, which spurred rapid adoption of blended learning models in MIT classrooms and the introduction of the MicroMasters credential from MITx.
In May 2014, Dr. Reif launched the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative and the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Laboratory. In July 2020, he announced the Climate Grand Challenges, an initiative to accelerate breakthrough research on climate science, innovations and policy. He introduced a complementary effort, the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium, in January 2021, to spur the adoption of climate solutions at scale and across industries. In May 2021, he and his leadership team published “Fast Forward: MIT’s Climate Action Plan for the Decade,” a plan that mobilizes MIT’s strengths to address the climate crisis.
In October 2016, MIT launched The Engine, a venture firm specially geared to help new ventures turn “tough technologies” into innovations that address humanity’s great challenges. This marked the latest in a suite of activities to make MIT a more supportive academic environment in the world for innovation.
Additional efforts include the MIT Innovation Initiative, the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, a new minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund Program,. To advance the frontier of human and machine intelligence and to accelerate the invention of AI tools for every discipline, in February 2018, Dr. Reif announced the MIT Quest for Intelligence. That same month saw the start of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, which released its final report in November 2020. And in October 2018, in response to the ubiquity of computing and the rise of AI across disciplines, he announced the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, the most significant reshaping of MIT since the 1950s.
A member of the MIT faculty since 1980, Dr. Reif served as director of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories, as associate department head for Electrical Engineering, as head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and as provost. In 2004, he was named the Fariborz Maseeh Professor of Emerging Technology, a title he held until he became president.
*Prepared by the MIT Office of the President (Updated April 2023)