WILKES-BARRE — Martin Schmidt, a graduate of Bishop Hoban High School Class of 1977 and a former resident of Mountain Top, last week was named provost at MIT — Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Schmidt, an electrical engineering professor who has served as associate provost since 2008 and as acting provost since last fall, was named provost on a permanent basis, President L. Rafael Reif announced.
Schmidt’s appointment as provost, MIT’s senior academic and budget officer, is effective immediately.
Son of Dr. Arnold Schmidt and the former Eileen Henry, both deceased, Schmidt is married to the former Lyn Wall, whose parents were from the Wilkes-Barre area.
“I have fond memories of my home area,” Schmidt said. “Growing up in the Wyoming Valley was a good formative experience. I still have a lot of family roots there.”
Schmidt, 54, is a professor of electrical engineering. As associate provost, he has played key roles in the allocation of physical space on campus; in co-leading the Institute-Wide Planning Task Force, which shaped MIT’s response to the global financial crisis, and in developing MIT’s plans for the future of Kendall Square.
“Marty brings to the role of provost a powerful combination of skills and experience as a teacher, advisor, administrator, researcher, inventor and entrepreneur,” Reif wrote in his letter that was detailed in a news release from MIT. “Marty has cheerfully accepted and successfully handled a great many sensitive, difficult assignments for the MIT community. In the process, he has become well known, inside and outside MIT, for his clarity, integrity, strategic perspective and ability to bring people together to get hard things done.”
Reif said that in three months as acting provost, Schmidt proved himself “an indispensable member of our senior team, and I am delighted that he has accepted my offer to help lead MIT as provost.”
Schmidt says his tenure as associate provost — and as director of MIT’s Micro-systems Technology Laboratories from 1999 to 2006 — has broadened his appreciation of the institute, stoking an intellectual curiosity that attracts him to his new, more expansive role.
“I find great joy in learning about new fields,” Schmidt said. “What I find most exciting about the opportunity to serve as MIT’s provost is the intellectual stimulation that I know will come from engaging with all the diverse parts of this extraordinary institution.”
The Mountain Top native has been at MIT since 1981, when he arrived to pursue graduate studies in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He earned his SM in 1983 — largely for research conducted at Lincoln Laboratory — and his PhD in 1988.
“I’ve always been interested in making things — since my teenage years, when I would rebuild cars or build furniture,” Schmidt said. “When I came to MIT, the frontiers of my field were in microelectronics — the drive to make transistors smaller and smaller. But I soon became aware of the potential to apply miniaturization elsewhere.”
Schmidt arrived at MIT fresh from receiving his BS in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with a strong interest in integrated circuits. Schmidt holds more than 30 issued U.S. patents.
Schmidt and his wife of 27 years, Lyn, who is active in volunteer organizations, live in Reading, Mass. They have four sons: Derek, who works for State Street Corp.; Brian, a senior at the University of Connecticut; Kevin, a freshman at the University of Maine; and Danny, a senior at Reading Memorial High School.