The U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will have a new president next year in the wake of a decision by Charles Vest not to pursue a second, 6-year term.
A search committee has drawn up a short list of potential successors to Vest, a former president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Traditionally, the NAE governing board puts forward only one name for members to vote on. NAE bylaws prohibit anyone from serving more than two terms. Vest took office in July 2007.
Responding to a query from ScienceInsider, Vest explained that "I specifically asked that we not do a press release about 'leaving.' When I was asked [in 2006] to stand for election, I indicated that I would be pleased and honored to devote one 6-year term to the important work of the NAE, but I would not be open to a second term. Following 14 years as president of MIT and six years as president of the NAE, not to mention having crossed into my 70s, it is time to change gears."
NAE was formed in 1964 as a parallel organization to the National Academy of Sciences. In 1970, the Institute of Medicine became the third of three honorary societies that now make up the National Academies. The recent norm is for NAE presidents to serve two terms, although one, Harold Liebowitz, was ousted in 1996 after a tumultuous 1-year reign.