Vice President for Open Learning (Interim) and Chancellor for Academic Advancement

Photo of Eric Grimson

W. Eric L. Grimson

Office Phone 617-253-5415
Room 3-221


W. Eric L. Grimson, the Bernard M. Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering and professor of computer science and engineering, is the interim vice president for open learning and has served as the chancellor for academic advancement at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since fall 2013. As one of the Institute’s most senior academic officers, he is a central advisor to President Sally Kornbluth on the Institute’s fundraising campaign’s shape and strategy.

Grimson previously served as chancellor of MIT. In this role, he had oversight responsibility for graduate and undergraduate education at MIT, student life, student services, and other areas that impact student experience. Together with the provost, he acted as advisor to the president in areas of strategic planning, faculty appointments, resource development, and Institute resources and buildings.

A member of the MIT faculty since 1984, Grimson was head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 2005 to 2011, associate department head from 2004 to 2005, and education officer from 2001 to 2004. 

Grimson is internationally recognized for his research in computer vision, especially in applications in medical image analysis. He and his students have applied computer vision methods to medical image analysis, built systems used to help neurosurgeons plan and execute minimally invasive surgeries, and designed methods to measure changes in brain structures caused by diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

Grimson has been actively engaged with students throughout his career. For 25 years, he lectured 6.001 Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, and for the past 10 years, he has co-lectured 6.0001 Introduction to Computer Science and Programming and 6.0002 Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science. He has also taught undergraduate subjects in computer architecture, software engineering, computer vision, and signal processing. Since 2013, he has been engaged in teaching 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, an MITx online MOOC with roughly 2,000,000 registrants. In all, Grimson has taught more than 20,000 MIT undergraduates and served as the thesis supervisor to almost 50 MIT PhDs.

Grimson is a native of Saskatchewan, Canada. He received his BSc degree with high honors in mathematics and physics from the University of Regina in 1975 and his PhD in mathematics in 1980 from MIT. He is a recipient of the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching in the School of Engineering at MIT. He is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He holds a doctor of letters honoris causa from Dalhousie University, a doctor of science honoris causa from the University of Saskatchewan, and a doctor of science honoris causa from the University of Regina. In 2011, the University of Regina honored him with the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an alumnus who has distinguished himself or herself on a regional, national, or international basis.