MIT President 2004–2012
Professor of Neuroscience
Susan Hockfield has distinguished herself in a career that has spanned advanced scientific research and the presidency of one of the premier institutions of science and engineering in the world. Dr. Hockfield served as the sixteenth president of MIT from December 2004 through June 2012, and was the first life scientist and the first woman to head the Institute. Under her leadership, MIT embarked on a campus-wide initiative to pioneer a clean energy future, and expanded its work at the interdisciplinary crossroads of the life, physical, and engineering sciences in fields as diverse as cancer research and novel battery technologies. Some of her notable accomplishments in her Presidency include:
MIT launched the MIT Energy Initiative in 2006, a $359 million effort to accelerate research, policy and education to achieve a clean energy future.
As the first life scientist to lead MIT, she championed breakthroughs emerging from the historic convergence of the life sciences with the engineering and physical sciences, in fields from clean energy to cancer, including the founding of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard.
Long an advocate for the research university as an engine of innovation and economic growth, Dr. Hockfield also worked to shape emerging national policy on energy technology and next-generation manufacturing. In June 2011, President Obama asked her to co-chair the steering committee of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.
In keeping with MIT’s entrepreneurial spirit and signature strength in working with industry, she actively fostered the burgeoning Kendall Square innovation cluster, which features both global giants and biotech, IT and energy start-ups with roots at MIT.
Dr. Hockfield argued forcefully for the value of MIT’s global engagement. She actively expanded the Institute’s existing engagements with nations from Abu Dhabi to China and built new relationships, in some cases incubating wholly new institutions, from the Singapore University of Technology and Design to the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.
Building on the striking success of MIT OpenCourseWare, in early 2012, Dr. Hockfield’s administration helped to change the conversation around cost, quality and access in higher education with the launch of MITx. This online learning initiative offered a laboratory for experimenting with the use of technology and will offer a portfolio of MIT courses, free, to a virtual community of learners around the world, allowing those who can prove mastery to earn a certificate of completion at a very low cost. Amplifying the impact, in May 2012, MIT joined forces with Harvard University to launch edX, a partnership in online education that will revolutionize learning on campus, offer first-rate teaching to learners around the globe and open unprecedented paths to learning about learning itself.
Dr. Hockfield continues to hold a faculty appointment at MIT as professor of neuroscience.