Speeches

“Science, math and engineering can give you the exhilarating power to become not mere spectators or consumers, but the active explorers, makers and doers who will help invent the future.”                 - Susan Hockfield

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March 23, 2009
As President of MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I bring a perspective from America’s research scientists and engineers. We’re focusing today on clean energy and the truly historic investment in clean energy research, development and technology that President Obama is advocating for the nation. Through the Stimulus bill, President Obama and Congress made a major commitment to new...
February 05, 2009
Good morning, and welcome to a beautiful new day. On MIT’s annual calendar, this celebration of Dr. King’s legacy continues to be an important landmark and a personal inspiration for each of us to help realize his ideals. I want to express my thanks and admiration to Matt Gethers [’09] and Joy Johnson [G] for their presentations and for the extraordinary standard they set as members of this...
December 03, 2008
We come together at a time of acute contradictions: a time of deep concern about the global economic scene, but also a moment full of the hopeful energy of a new administration. Those of us involved with the life sciences and their federal funding are experiencing a parallel contradiction: We have, and we should have, grave concerns about future funding after years of stagnant research budgets....
November 18, 2008
I am delighted to welcome MIT’s student, staff and faculty leaders to the Diversity Leadership Congress. I am very grateful that you’ve made this Congress a focus and a priority. I also want to add a particular welcome to those of you participating via webcast. As you will hear, the success of our efforts depends on the broadest kind of shared leadership, so we are very pleased to have all of you...
September 17, 2008
All of us on this panel are here because we believe that America’s future depends on its ability to spark an energy revolution. To power such innovation, our nation urgently needs to make a broad, coordinated commitment to energy research – a commitment of historic proportions – led by aggressive federal funding for basic energy research. In the search for new energy answers, the scope of the...
September 16, 2008
It’s hard to imagine a group more central to the urgent question of how to transform our energy landscape, and I’m pleased to join you in this vital conversation. Given the topic of your conference, “Investment Opportunities in Clean Energy Businesses,” it may seem odd that a university president was asked to speak. But as many of you may know, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is...
September 10, 2008
Thank you, Chairman Markey, Congressman Sensenbrenner and Members of the Committee. On behalf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I am grateful for this chance to highlight the overwhelming importance of funding basic energy research. As you know, since before World War II, MIT has served the nation as an honest broker on complex technical issues, and as a source of breakthrough...
August 24, 2008
Good morning, and welcome, MIT class of 2012. Welcome also to your friends and family who have come to see you off, as you begin your MIT adventure. Let me start by explaining the purpose of this Convocation. From the Latin, ”Convocation” means, literally, a “calling together.” Given the uncontainable energy of any group of 1,000 MIT students, we don’t get to call you together very often. Frankly...
June 06, 2008
Graduates of MIT: This day is for you. Here, in the stately embrace of Killian Court, we gather to celebrate your success. You have distinguished yourselves in courses of study that stand among the most demanding in the world. For all that you have accomplished, you have our deepest respect. Of course, each of you has had a little help along the way. None of you would be here this morning...
February 21, 2008
Thank you, Tarick Walton, for that magnificent performance of the words of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We all carry his phrases around in our heads, and they thread through the background of our thoughts all the time. But hearing them spoken aloud, passionately sung out to us, reawakens their power. To hear them transports us to an absolutely riveting moment in American history. But...
February 14, 2008
When I first learned the theme for this year’s AAAS meeting, “Science and Technology in the Global Age,” within about a minute I thought of a dozen important dimensions I could explore. I could have chosen a David Letterman approach – the Top Ten Ways Science and Technology Will Transform Our World, starting with number 10, the new line of iPods: the Pico and the Femto. Instead, however, I am...
February 04, 2008
At the February 4 annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) in Washington, D.C., President Hockfield discussed the value of higher education in a speech to more than 400 college and university leaders. As many of you may have noticed, yesterday in Phoenix, a certain contest held the attention of much of the nation. This contest of athletic prowess...
November 20, 2007
I am honored to be here with the members of the Confederation of Indian Industries. As leaders of arguably the most dynamic and inspiring economy in the world, you are in many ways writing the story of the future, and it’s a privilege to talk with you. The MIT delegation has been in India since Sunday, and we have been overwhelmed by the warmth of our welcome. It’s the kind of greeting one would...
August 26, 2007
Good morning, and welcome, MIT class of 2011. And welcome also to the families and friends who have come to help launch a new chapter in our students’ lives. Each academic year begins with the excitement of formally welcoming our new students into the MIT community at this Freshman Convocation. Convocation – a calling together – is a chance to offer words of introduction, and also some – but I...
June 08, 2007
I want to speak to those of you graduating today about your path here at MIT and the path that leads from MIT into the world. Of course, before you arrived at MIT, each ofyou had already demonstrated significant talents – that is why we invited you to join our community. Once you arrived here you took up MIT's challenges, and – working, I am certain, harder than you ever have before – you have...
February 16, 2007
This past January 15, on the national day of celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King, part of my own, personal reflection for the day was to reread the words of Dr. King in his now iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech never fails to move me, as it did when I first heard it, and as it has moved and inspired millions of others in the nearly 45 years since it was delivered on the steps...
December 13, 2006
The Energy Challenge Welcome to MIT, and to this first-ever Massachusetts Energy Summit. MIT is delighted to partner with Ranch Kimball and the Commonwealth’s Department of Economic Development, to host this historic event. I am particularly delighted that Governor-Elect Deval L. Patrick will be joining us later in the morning. And I am also pleased to welcome, from the City of Cambridge, City...
August 27, 2006
Good morning. Welcome, families. Welcome, friends. And most of all, welcome, members of the Class of 2010! It is a great privilege to greet you at the beginning of your time at MIT, at this Freshman Convocation. Convocation is a gathering to welcome you into the MIT community – to give you some words of introduction, and also some – but I hope not too many – words of advice. I am joined by some...
August 08, 2006
I have spent much of my academic career in a medical-school environment, and that experience has left me with a deep appreciation for the enormous contributions modern pharmaceuticals have made to human health and wellbeing. Since coming to MIT, I have made it one of my personal priorities to accelerate our institution's work at the convergence of the life sciences and engineering, and to further...
June 09, 2006
You, our graduates, are exceptional individuals. Even before you arrived at MIT, you had already demonstrated your great talents, and your willingness to work hard. But at MIT we raise the bar for ourselves and for one another. We challenge every member of our community to reach farther and to dream larger than ever before. Fortunately, along with MIT’s challenge come its inspiring teachers and...
May 03, 2006
I am pleased to welcome you to the MIT Energy Forum. This is an important day for MIT. Today, in the culmination of a year’s work, the Energy Research Council will outline how MIT can offer leadership on one of the most urgent challenges of our time: finding clean, affordable energy to power up the developed and the developing world. Of course, many of MIT's faculty and students are already at...
April 28, 2006
Innovation and Its Organization I would like to begin with an insight from one of MIT's most distinguished economists, Robert Solow. Professor Solow was the first of the growth economists, challenging the static model of classical economics and its explanation of economic growth as derived from capital supply and labor supply. He found – and perhaps this was not surprising from someone working...
March 20, 2006
This testimony appears as submitted to the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education in advance of its Boston field hearing on March 20, 2006. As President Hockfield noted at the hearing itself, "Since the end of World War II, American higher education has increasingly become available to those with the ability and ambition to draw on this valuable resource. At its...
February 09, 2006
As we meet this morning, it is hard not to be reminded of the passing, just last week, of Coretta Scott King. Some of you here today will remember her speaking at MIT in 1994 at our 20th Martin Luther King Celebration. MIT was honored, and I am sure inspired, by her presence and her observations on that occasion. In one sense, Mrs. King’s passing marks the end of an era and compels us to reflect...
January 15, 2006
Today, universities all over the world face great challenges. Like businesses and governments, we must meet the needs of a new, global age. While universities must adapt to the times and be alert to new opportunities, I do not believe we should forsake our longstanding mission. As research institutions, universities seek to advance knowledge for the benefit of society, and as teaching...

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