Connect to share and comment

Rafael Reif named Massachusetts Institute of Technology president

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has named Rafael Reif, an electrical engineer born in Venezuela, as its 17th president.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2012 5 17Enlarge
The Rogers Building on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Joe Raedle/AFP/Getty Images)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has named Rafael Reif, an electrical engineer born in Venezuela, as its 17th president.

MIT News described Reif, 61, as "a distinguished electrical engineer whose seven-year tenure as MIT’s provost has helped MIT maintain its appetite for bold action as well as its firm financial footing."

Reif is a pioneer of semiconductor research and an early advocate of nanotechnology, according to the Boston Globe.

He has 15 patents and five books to his credit, and previously chaired MIT’s department of electrical engineering and computer science.

He was elected by a vote of the MIT Corporation and will assume the MIT presidency of one of the America's most-prestigious universities — based in Cambridge, Massachusetts — on July 2, MIT News wrote.

More from GlobalPost: Harvard, MIT team up to offer free online courses

The Globe wrote that Reif was first courted as a postdoctoral scholar in 1979 but so put off by the university’s image as "this cold place where nobody talks to each other" that he repeatedly refused a job interview. 

He finally relented, saying: "I interviewed with all these big names. They were down to earth, the nicest people that give you their time and are clearly interested in you... When I saw that, I said, 'This is it.' "

Reif replaces Susan Hockfield, the first female president of MIT, who announced in mid-February that she was stepping down, Reuters wrote.