Even though he has been interviewed hundreds of times, President Vest says that he has managed to guard one secret about himself — until now.

Recently two workers from the MIT Facilities Department were working in the basement of Vest’s MIT house, spotted a huge pile of MAD magazines, and laughing, asked him, “What’s the story?”

The story, he says now, is that before he left the tiny town where he grew up, he packed the stack of magazines that he began collecting when he was in junior high school.

“I just couldn’t bear to throw those magazines away,” Vest says, adding that his brother even still owns the first issue of MAD ever published. “MAD had a kind of irreverence and a kind of humor that for some reason appealed to me. It’s probably why I appreciate the undergraduates here so much. Despite the fact that we’re a few decades apart, deep down we share a little commonality.”