|After a decade in the post, L. Rafael Reif has announced he will be stepping down from his role as MIT president at the end of 2022. His leadership and vision has not only made lasting impacts on the university, but also Kendall Square. Reif has believed in the neighborhood’s potential since he arrived in Cambridge in 1980 as a member of the MIT faculty and encouraged MIT leaders, faculty and students to take advantage of the innovative community in its backyard.
When he became provost in the early 2000s, Reif recalls, there was interest in bringing the tech boom happening at the time in Silicon Valley back to the East Coast.
“But I remember feeling very clearly that it was time to say, ‘What we lost, we lost! Let’s make the most of the unique strength of this place: Biotech!” he wrote in a blog post last spring. “If someone wants to do theater at the highest level, they go to Broadway! If they want to do software, they can go to Silicon Valley. But if they want to do biotech – let us be the place!’”
That vision came true. Both as provost and as president, Reif has contributed to making Kendall the biotech hub of the world, including helping to spearhead the Volpe Redevelopment Project and leading MIT’s investments on Main Street. From his perspective, he told Kendall leaders at last year’s annual meeting of the Kendall Square Association, the neighborhood is only in its third inning — with a long trajectory of growth and continued success ahead of it.
“I would like Kendall Square to be a place that never forgets the source of its strength: a great system of mutual inspiration, support, and collaboration, stretching from fundamental science all the way to practical impact — a system that embraces absolutely everyone in this room today,” Reif said at the meeting.