William R. Dickson '56

Former senior VP served MIT for nearly four decades

Jan 8, 2007

William R. Dickson ‘56, a retired MIT administrator praised for his genial manner and his wise management of building projects that tripled the size of the campus, died August 14 after a heart attack. “Bill was a bridge from the MIT of the 1950s to the MIT of the 21st century,” says MIT president emeritus Charles Vest. “We all benefited from his dedicated work, his straight talk, and his inherent wisdom.” ­Dickson, who earned his SB degree in building construction and engineering, began his MIT career as an assistant to the director of the physical plant. When he retired in 1998 as senior vice president, he was responsible for most of the Institute’s operations and much of its financial planning and activities. Dickson, a lifelong resident of Framingham, MA, was noted for his knowledge of and devotion to MIT, his sense of humor, and his respect for people. Upon retirement, he told the Tech that his proudest accomplishment was helping the Institute grow from 3.5 million square feet of built space in 1960 to 10 million square feet when he left. Building projects undertaken during his tenure include Kresge Auditorium, the Green Building, Eastgate, Westgate, McCormick, the Whitaker Building, Building 16, and the Stata Center. MIT’s award-winning cogeneration plant was named for Dickson.

William R. Dickson ‘56