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Stanford's board of trustees yesterday appointed current provost and renowned computer scientist John L. Hennessy as the university's 10th president.
Hennessy will succeed Gerhard Casper on Sept. 1. Casper, who has held the presidency since 1992, announced last September that he would step down at the end of this August.
Hennessy has served as Stanford's provost since last June. Prior to that, he spent three years as dean of the school of engineering. He has taught at Stanford for 23 years.
In a press release, Hennessy said that he looks forward to working with the school's community of faculty, staff, alumni and friends.
"While Stanford certainly faces challenges, our future is primarily about opportunities," Hennessy said.
"These opportunities include building on the revolution we have accomplished in the undergraduate program...and expanding our excellence in science and engineering," he added.
Hennessy also said he hopes to build on the university's recent successes in the arts and humanities.
Robert M. Bass, chair of Stanford's board of trustees, said Hennessy is the "right person for the right time in Stanford's history.
"John's intelligence, experience and strength of character are a perfect match for the challenges Stanford will face in the coming years," Bass said.
Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine also praised Hennessy's appointment in a statement to the press yesterday.
"John Hennessy is a superb choice. He is widely respected as an exceptional academic, administrator and leader. I very much look forward to working with him in the future," Rudenstine said.
Dean of Harvard College Harry R. Lewis '74 called Hennessy a "great appointment."
Lewis, who is also McKay professor of computer science, wrote in an e-mail message that Stanford's well-respected engineering and computer science departments have developed largely under Hennessy's direction.
Lewis said that Hennessy has been pivotal to Stanford's integration with corporate and industrial enterprises in Silicon Valley, widely regarded as the center of the nation's technological boom.
Stanford senior Kristen A. Torres, who served as the undergraduate student search committee member, said Hennessy's technology-based background had no bearing on his selection.
"He's broadly intelligent. He has so much intellectual and physical energy that it's overwhelming," she said. "You might have to meet him to understand his passion for Stanford."
According to Torres, "the discipline of the president doesn't determine the direction of the university."
"We searched for an individual," she said. "John Hennessy has the capacity to make the university strong in all areas."
"He understands technology, and that's important....[But] he wasn't picked because of his computer science and engineering background."
Stanford student body president Mike Levin also said while Hennessy will bring a new focus to technology, he also has the ability to unite different people and academic areas.
"He's someone who isn't myopic and just focused on computer science," Levin said.
Hennessy's selection, Levin said, speaks to "what this university is all about," especially because Stanford's Silicon Valley location has placed it on the forefront of the technology boom.
Levin also praised Hennessy for his record of listening to students.
"His selection is a huge victory for students," Levin said. "He's willing to listen to student voice in making important decisions."
Hennessy, a 1973 Villanova University graduate, has both a master's and a doctoral degree in computer science. He is well known for co-founding MIPS Computer Systems, a successful Silicon Valley company based on research he started at Stanford in 1981.
However, Hennessy said his academic work has always drawn him back to Stanford.
"In my heart of hearts, I like being an academic, and I like working with students," he said.
Hennessy, the recipient of numerous national awards in his field, is the author of two computer science textbooks.
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