Appointed MIT’s 13th provost in March 2022, Cynthia Barnhart serves as the Institute’s chief academic officer. Prior to her appointment as provost, Barnhart served as MIT’s chancellor from 2014 to 2021. In that role, she reimagined student life and learning at MIT to meet the needs of today’s students and oversaw a significant expansion in student health and wellness programs; launched a multifaceted campaign to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct on campus; and focused on new efforts to enhance undergraduate and graduate education.

A member of the Institute’s faculty since 1992, Barnhart has a distinguished record of service to her students and community. She is a Ford Foundation Professor of Engineering and a professor of operations research in the Sloan School of Management. She previously served as associate and acting dean of the School of Engineering and co-directed both the Operations Research Center and the Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Her teaching and research are in the areas of large-scale optimization, airlines operations, the global airline industry, and transportation operations, planning, and control. She has supervised scores of graduate and undergraduate theses across a range of disciplines and has published widely in the flagship journals of her field.

Barnhart came to MIT in 1984 to pursue graduate work in transportation and operations research, earning her SM in transportation in 1986 and her PhD in 1988. An INFORMS Fellow and elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, she has received honorary doctorates from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (2014) and the University of Toronto (2016).