John S. Reed ‘61, SM ‘65 was recently nominated to chair of the MIT Corporation by the Executive Committee. Pending his election to the Corporation on June 4, Reed will succeed Dana G. Mead PhD ’67, who is stepping down as Corporation chair at the end of June.
Reed — retired CEO and chairman of Citigroup and former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange — earned joint S.B. and B.A. degrees from MIT and Washington & Jefferson College. He then served as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for two years and returned to MIT to earn a master’s degree from the Sloan School of Management.
As the MIT Corporation Chair, Reed will serve as a member of the Executive Committee and Investment Management Company Board, chair the Corporation Development Committee, and conduct all Corporation meetings.
Reed also participated in the governance of numerous corporate and academic institutions including Philip Morris, United Technologies, Monsanto, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. He is currently a director of MDRC (a nonprofit organization for education and social policy), a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and is an overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
As a life member of the Corporation, Reed currently serves on the visiting committees for the Engineering Systems Division and Sponsored Research and chairs the Corporation Development Committee and Membership Committee.
“John Reed would bring tremendous strengths to the role of MIT Corporation chair. He understands and appreciates deeply the values of the Institute, and through his career he has demonstrated a degree of breadth, creativity, foresight and global scope that will be enormously useful to MIT in the years ahead,” said MIT President Susan Hockfield in a statement to the MIT News Office.
During an interview with The Tech, Reed spoke of his enthusiasm for MIT as he looks forward to becoming more involved with the MIT community.
John Reed: We are responsible for the total Institute in a legal sense. The Corporation has the legal responsibility to make sure the Institute is well-managed and financially solvent and fulfills its mission. The Corporation is made up of...people, many of whom were students at MIT. We have the ultimate responsibility to make sure MIT fulfills its mission.
TT: What do you think is the most important role of the Corporation chair?
JR: The most important thing is to make sure the Institute is functioning well. We have an elaborate set of visiting committees...one for each department and one for the major laboratories and things like student life and so forth. That’s a mechanism for the Corporation to be informed about what’s going on...how happy are people, how effective is the teaching, and so on....
I’m just going to be a part of the conversation...and work very closely with the Corporation and... the president.... My role is simply to make sure that everything is working smoothly. There are always little problems that you have to deal with and you have to make sure you respond properly to them.
TT: What is your mission for MIT and the MIT community?
JR: I don’t have any specific plans. I’m going to get engaged. Hopefully I’ll be elected in June and then I’ll start participating in the management. Things are pretty quiet over the summer so I’ll have a chance to get oriented and talk to a lot of people and meet a lot of people. Come September, when school starts again, it becomes more active.
TT: How important do you think student involvement is?
JR: I think it’s important because it’s vital to the Institute that the corporation function properly and that the meetings be productive and that the visiting committees do their job...Students are actually quite involved. First of all, they participate with the visiting committees, which are very important. When the committees have their meetings, they always meet with both undergraduate and graduate students...That input is extremely important to the whole process.... Then we have on the corporation some recent graduates, because obviously someone like myself...isn’t very current with what life’s like for the existing students.... [We] make sure that all of the voices from the community are heard, but we do care an awful lot about the current students.
TT: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing MIT?
JR: Right now my guess is the challenge in one way is how to cope with the fact that the world is changing. The frontiers of science and engineering are moving...and we have to make sure we’re right at the forefront.... We have to understand what globalization means in terms of research and education.
And then, there’s always the financial challenge. Having enough money so that MIT can provide the right kind of environment for both education and research.
TT: What do you look forward to the most for serving as the Corporation Chair?
JR: What I really look forward to is being more deeply engaged with the Institute. I was an undergraduate there 50 years ago and that’s a long time. I love the place. It’s a wonderful institute, and it made a big difference in my life. I’m looking forward to being more engaged and more involved and useful.