Feb. 17, 2012
BOSTON — Susan Hockfield, the first woman president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced on Feb. 16 that she plans to step down.
She hasn't been alone in the region: Drew Faust leads Harvard, and Gloria Larson is the president of Bentley University in Waltham
Gloria Larson said that when she took the Bentley job in 2007, Hockfield was both a mentor and an inspiration.
"I do think that her having served as the first woman president of MIT was in and of itself an incredibly important thing," Larson said. "All of us looked to Susan Hockfield, obviously to Drew Faust also, as genuine, genuine leaders in this field."
That leadership has made a real impact, Larson said: "There are a number of women now running different colleges and universities. Probably a higher percentage than most other parts of the country and even the world. And I think having Harvard and MIT have women at the top shows that the glass ceiling not only can be cracked but that it can be broken wide open."
Hockfield’s departure comes as MIT takes on a multi-billion-dollar fundraising campaign. She is the institute’s 16th president, having served since December 2004. MIT's endowment has grown 65 percent during her tenure from $5.9 billion to $9.7 billion as of June 2011.