Phillip Leroy Clay is an eminent scholar of urban life who served as Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A native of Wimington, North Carolina, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with honors in 1968. He went on to earn a doctorate in city planning at MIT in 1975, and joined that institution’s faculty shortly thereafter. Rising through the ranks, he became head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in 1992, Associate Provost in 1994, and Chancellor in 2001, a role in which he oversaw the Institute’s academic programs, student life, and research policy until 2011.
Clay is widely known for his work in housing policy and community development, particularly in the United States. In a pathbreaking 1987 study, he identified factors contributing to a decline in low-income housing and made recommendations that were implemented nationally through the Housing Act of 1990. He has chaired the Board of Directors of The Community Builders, the nation’s largest nonprofit developer of affordable housing, and is currently Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. He was a founding director and Vice Chair of the MasterCard Foundation and currently serves on the boards of the Kresge Foundation and the Aga Khan University, among others.
Clay served as a Trustee of UNC-Chapel Hill (2007-2014) and led the committee that supported our university’s enhanced focus on promoting innovation.