MIT President L. Rafael Reif is the Institute’s 17th president, but he is almost surely the first MIT president to publicly dump a bucket of near-freezing water over his head.
Earlier today, Reif—and a few MIT friends—completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral social media campaign that has raised more than $40 million dollars for the ALS Association and brought awareness to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The challenge: dump ice water on oneself or donate $100 to the ALS Association. (According to The Tech, Reif will also make a donation to the ALS Association.) The successfully-completed challenge took place on Killian Court on Friday Morning. Reif’s soaking was a direct response to challenges from Harvard University President Drew Faust and the MIT Edgerton Center, both of whom had challenged the president earlier in the week.
Earlier in the week, after accepting the challenges, Reif asked the MIT community to participate and solicited water-dumping devices from aspiring makers. The contraption of choice? A near ten-foot wooden device design by the MIT fraternity Phi Delta Theta that rigged a five-gallon bucket to dump over the president’s head.
Because he was challenged twice, Reif took part in two drenchings. In the first, he was accompanied by members of the MIT community, including Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart SM ’86, PhD ’88 and Provost Marty Schmidt SM ’83, PhD ’88. The second was a solo splash.
Prior to completing the ice-cold splash, Reif dedicated the event to Karolina Fraczkowska ’01, whose husband, Thomas Phelan, passed away from ALS earlier this summer. He then challenged MIT Undergraduate Association President Shruti Sharma ’15, MIT Graduate Student Council President Kendall Nowocin SM ’13, Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks, and Brown University President Christina Paxson.