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Remembering Alex d’Arbeloff ’49

October 20, 2008

On October 17, the MIT community paused to honor the life of former MIT Corporation chairman Alexander Vladimir d’Arbeloff ‘49, who died at 80 on July 8.

President Emeritus Paul Gray ‘54 recalls d’Arbeloff as one who always “thought otherwise.” Early on, that habit got d’Arbeloff fired from three jobs in 10 years. But his rocky start was the prelude to a great career.

In 1960 d’Arbeloff cofounded Teradyne, which makes automatic test equipment, with Nick DeWolf ‘48. Under d’Arbeloff’s watch, Teradyne’s annual sales jumped from $13 million to more than $1 billion.

As MIT Corporation chairman, d’Arbeloff oversaw a capital campaign that funded research at the intersection of life sciences and engineering and transformed the campus with such facilities as the Zesiger and Stata centers. He and his wife, Brit, SM ‘61, created the Fund for Excellence in MIT Education, supported a professorship, and established the d’Arbeloff Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where Alex taught as a professor of the practice.

“Alex properly and productively challenged the ways in which academia functions,” says President Emeritus Charles Vest. “He radiated energy, loved to challenge ideas, and was as at home in a classroom as in his boardroom.”

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