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John Hennessy

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John Hennessy with Stanford flags in background
An Oral History Interview with

John Hennessy

John L. Hennessy, a Turing Award-winning computer scientist and entrepreneur who served as president of Stanford University from 2000 to 2016, reflects on his family background and education, his research and teaching contributions, and his leadership as the dean of the School of Engineering, provost, and president. Hennessy recalls his upbringing as part of a large Irish Catholic family, his undergraduate and graduate years, and the circumstances that led him to pursue a career in academia. He describes the technology underlying MIPS, as well as the joys and challenges of starting a company. Turning to his university leadership roles, Hennessy speaks of the opportunities he sought to realize, the challenges he encountered, and the importance of his working relationship with Provost John Etchemendy. Additional topics include planning for interdisciplinary research, the Stanford Challenge campaign, undergraduate education and financial aid, and the 2008 financial crisis. Hennessy concludes by speaking about the establishment of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. The interview includes an excerpt from a 2007 interview with Hennessy conducted by John Mashey for the Computer History Museum.

Interview Excerpts

Graduate work at Stony Brook University.

Joining the Stanford Engineering Faculty; Donald Knuth

DARPA-funded VLSI Program, RISC Technology, and the Founding of MIPS.