Adviser. Charles M. Vest (left) testifying before Congress earlier this year.

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Charles Vest, Prominent U.S. Science Policy Leader, Dies

Charles M. Vest, a prominent player in U.S. science policy and a former leader of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), has died. Vest died last night of pancreatic cancer at his home in Washington, D.C., according to a story posted on the MIT website. He was 72 years old.

Vest served as MIT’s 15th president, from 1990 to 2004. He led NAE from 2007 until this past June.

“Chuck” Vest was a regular visitor to Capitol Hill and the White House and was often called upon to serve on blue-ribbon advisory panels, where he was known for offering sometimes droll counsel. While serving on a 2005 Department of Education panel, for instance, he schooled his colleagues on how to say the name of another prominent science policy maven, Vannever Bush, a White House adviser considered the father of the National Science Foundation. “Now you can all be insiders and say Vuh-NEE-ver,” he told the panel, correcting their pronunciation.

“Chuck's wise counsel was sought by the nation at the highest levels from government to industry to universities and the non-profit sector, all of which he served selflessly with distinction," said C. D. Dan Mote Jr., NAE’s current president, in a statement.