MIT is a place where if you want to raise the enrollment in a class, you make the assignments harder. This institution attracts enormously creative students and faculty who have earned us a place among the world’s great universities. Thirty-five faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, and 21 past and present faculty members have received the National Medal of Science.

Our faculty members have profoundly affected the course of modern molecular biology, shaped the evolution of the fields of linguistics and economics, served as pace-setters on the information highway, and planted the seeds of the biotechnology industry. In the past two decades alone, MIT has led American academia in internationalization through such activities as the MIT Japan Program; established a new paradigm for education and research involving industry interactions such as the Leaders for Manufacturing Program; and strengthened our deep commitment to educating the brightest, most promising students for leadership in a world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology.

Much has been accomplished, but much more remains to be done.

Few universities can match the dynamism of MIT’s innovations in teaching and research, but there is no guarantee we will continue to maintain this remarkable record. If we are to sustain our vision of excellence, we must maintain fiscal discipline and not only safeguard but increase our resource base. To do so, we must build public understanding and support, manage our assets and operations well, and expand our financial resources.

Increasing private support is absolutely essential if MIT is to maintain its excellence. Already it has inspired us to create unprecedented, increasingly fruitful partnerships with business and industry. (Industry financing already accounts for 20 percent of our research budget, while the typical figure at our rival institutions is three or four percent.) We also have achieved three consecutive record years for private fundraising. And our endowment has more than tripled, from $1.4 billion in 1990 to $4.3 billion in 1999.

From World War II to the World Wide Web, we’ve taught the world to depend on us–and now it is depending on us. It is our great challenge to solve the next generation of problems. In the coming years, MIT will seek a major expansion of our leadership role in the areas of neuroscience, the environment, entrepreneurship, bioengineering, computer science and artificial intelligence, media studies, and the arts.

As we weigh these challenges, we find ourselves in a fierce competition for resources–competition for Federal funds, competition for foundation monies, and competition with other institutions and the corporate world for great people–faculty members and students who need the facilities and infrastructure to live, learn, and work in a productive environment

Financing MIT in 2000 and beyond will require, above all, a dramatic new reliance on private support–not only through new partnerships with the private sector but also through those individuals who believe enough in MIT to make strong commitments to its future.

This fall, we will launch a capital campaign. We are planning to raise $1.5 billion. It is an ambitious goal, but based on the great generosity that our alumni and alumnae have shown in the past and the incredible importance of MIT’s role in the future, we believe that we can do no less.

In true MIT tradition, we have assigned ourselves no small tasks. But MIT is composed of great people. It is the dedication, ability, and effort of our faculty, staff, students, trustees, and graduates who have brought us to our current extraordinary position on the world stage. It will be our vision, values, and willingness to excel that will create the MIT of the 21st century.