Symposium on Software, Science and Society

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Friday, December 5, 2003




DICK'S ACCOUNT of CSE's early history

DIRECTIONS to World Forestry Center, 4033 S.W. Canyon Road, Portland, Oregon, including MAX information. Event is in Cheatham Hall.



Friday, December 5, 2003
Cheatham Hall • World Forestry Center • Portland, Oregon

President, Stanford University


John Hennessy received his B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University in 1973. He received his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from SUNY at Stony Brook in 1975 and 1977, respectively. Since September 1977, he has been a faculty member at Stanford University, where he is currently a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Prior to becoming President, Professor Hennessy served as the University Provost, the Dean of the School of Engineering and was Chairman of the Computer Science Department.

Professor Hennessy is the recipient of the 1983 John J. Gallen Memorial Award, awarded by Villanova University to the most outstanding young engineering alumnus. He is the recipient of a 1984 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, and in 1987 was named the Willard and Inez K. Bell Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In 1991, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is an IEEE Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is the recipient of the 1994 IEEE Piore Award, the 2000 ASEE R. Lamme Medal, the 2000 John Von Neumann Medal, the 2001 Eckert Mauchly Award and the 2001 Seymour Cray Award. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Villanova and an honorary degree of science from SUNY Stony Brook. In 2002, he received an honorary doctorate from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

Professor Hennessy initiated the MIPS project at Stanford in 1981; MIPS is a high-performance Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC), built in VLSI. Since the early 1980's, this technology has revolutionized the computer industry leading to the longest period of sustained performance growth in the past thirty years of computing. In addition to his role in the basic research, Hennessy played a key role in transferring this technology to industry. During a sabbatical leave from Stanford in 1984-85, he cofounded MIPS Computer Systems, a Silicon Valley company which specializes in the production of computers and chips based on these concepts.

He is the co-author of two internationally used undergraduate and graduate textbooks on computer architecture design.


Research universities have existed in the United States for about 125 years, but the growth and evolution of the modern research university largely came after the Second World War with the subsequent increases in the federal funding of research. Looking forward, we see a variety of challenges to maintaining the successful track record of the past 50 years, including new challenges in educating students, in meeting the growing expectations of society, and in the need for new funding models. At a time when scientific and technical leadership are more important to economic vitality than ever, the country's research universities must play a pivotal role both fostering new approaches to education and to discovery.