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Vest, leader in higher education, had connection to NC State

Dr. Charles Vest was not only a president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and national leader in higher education in the United States. He held an honorary degree from North Carolina State University and a scholarship program the university takes part in bears his name.

Vest died Dec. 12 in Arlington, Va. He was 72.

Touted as a “Reverse Rhodes Scholarship,” the Vest Scholarships were created in 2013 to bring international graduate students to the U.S. to further their research.

NC State is one of eight American colleges and universities participating in the Vest Scholarships program.

Participating universities are conducting research toward addressing the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges of Engineering, 14 “game-changing” goals with the potential to dramatically improve life in the 21st century, as identified by a blue-ribbon committee of leading technological thinkers and doers.

After teaching and serving as Dean of the College of Engineering, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Vest was named MIT’s 15th president in 1990.

“During Vest’s presidency — the third-longest in the Institute’s 152-year history — MIT renewed its commitment to education and research through major innovations in both areas; developed strong ties with academic, government, and industry partners around the world; broadened the diversity of its people and programs; and transformed its campus with dramatic new buildings. MIT’s endowment nearly quadrupled during Vest’s tenure, growing from $1.4 billion to $5.1 billion,” the school said in a story on its web site.

He later served as president of the National Academy of Engineering from 2007 to 2013.

Vest received an Honorary Doctor of Sciences degree from NC State in 2002.