John L. Hennessy, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, served as President of Stanford University from September 2000 until August 2016. In 2017, he initiated the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, the largest fully endowed graduate-level scholarship program in the world, and he currently serves as Director of the program.
Hennessy, a pioneer in computer architecture, joined Stanford’s faculty in 1977 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering. In 1981, he drew together researchers to focus on a technology known as RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer), which revolutionized computing by increasing performance while reducing costs. Hennessy helped transfer this technology to industry cofounding MIPS Computer Systems in 1984. His subsequent research focused on multiprocessor systems, including the DASH and FLASH projects, both of which pioneered concepts now used in industry. He was appointed as the inaugural Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1987. He has been chair of Computer Science (1994-1996), dean of the School of Engineering (1996-1999), and university provost (1999-2000) before being appointed as Stanford’s 10th president in 2000. As president he focused on increasing financial aid and on developing new initiatives in multidisciplinary research and teaching. He was the founding board chair of Atheros Communications, one of the early developers of WiFi technology, and has served on the board of Cisco and Alphabet (Google’s parent company). He is the coauthor (with David Patterson) of two internationally used textbooks in computer architecture.
His honors include the 2012 Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the 2017 ACM Turing Award (jointly with David Patterson), the 2001 Eckert-Mauchly Award of the Association for Computing Machinery; the 2001 Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award, and the 2004 NEC C&C Prize for lifetime achievement in computer science and engineering. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Royal Academy of Engineering, and the American Philosophical Society. Hennessy earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science from the Stony Brook University.