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MIT Names Provost Reif Its New President

L. Rafael Reif smiles as he addresses a news conference after he was announced as the 17th president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday. (AP)

L. Rafael Reif smiles as he addresses a news conference after he was announced as the 17th president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday. (AP)

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has named its 17th president.

On Wednesday, the school’s governing body named L. Rafael Reif to the position. The 61-year-old electrical engineer has been provost at MIT for seven years.

Reif succeeds Susan Hockfield, the university’s first female president, who announced her resignation in February after seven years in the position.

The Venezuelan-born Reif (pronounced “rife”) has been on the MIT faculty since 1980.

As WBUR’s Curt Nickisch tweets:

Interesting, if inside, choice for new MIT prez. Rafael Reif electrical engineer, faculty since 1980, yet strategic thinker on ed’s future.

Indeed, according to MIT, as provost Reif “led the development of MITx, the Institute’s new initiative in online learning; and led MIT’s role in the formation of edX, the recently announced partnership between MIT and Harvard University.”

Reif will assume the presidency on July 2.

Hockfield resigned as MIT begins a multibillion-dollar fundraising campaign. Hockfield told the school community that the effort will “require the focus and sustained attention of the Institute’s president over many years.”

Update at 11 a.m.: Before becoming provost, Reif led MIT’s electrical engineering and computer science departments.

MIT said Reif, who holds 15 patents, “is internationally recognized as a leading microelectronics researcher.”

Update at 11:05 a.m.: MIT reports that the school’s search committee generated a list of more than 100 candidates. Said James Champy, the search committee chair, to MIT:

As a hundred became dozens, and dozens a small handful, one name kept coming up. … [W]e heard not only about Rafael’s impressive record of achievement in service to the Institute, but also about people’s enthusiastic support for him as a leader fully engaged with the MIT community.

Update at 1:45 p.m.: WBUR’s Curt returns from the news conference with this quotation from the school’s first Latin American president:

I cannot tell you that this is a dream come true. Because it’s a dream I never dared to imagine.

Radio Boston will speak with Reif during their show.

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