John L. Hennessy

For other people named John Hennessy, see John Hennessey (disambiguation).
John L. Hennessy
President of Stanford University
In office
Preceded by Gerhard Casper
Succeeded by Marc Tessier-Lavigne
Provost of Stanford University
In office
Preceded by Condoleezza Rice
Succeeded by John Etchemendy
Personal details
Born (1952-09-22) September 22, 1952
Huntington, New York
Citizenship American
Residence Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover House, Stanford, California, United States
Alma mater Stony Brook University (M.S., 1975; Ph.D., 1977)
Villanova University (B.S., 1973)
Known for MIPS Technologies, Atheros
Awards IEEE Medal of Honor (2012)
Computer History Museum Fellow (2007) [1]
National Academy of Engineering Member
National Academy of Sciences Member
American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow
ACM Fellow
IEEE Fellow

John Leroy Hennessy (born September 22, 1952) is an American computer scientist, academician, and businessman. Hennessy is one of the founders of MIPS Computer Systems Inc. as well as Atheros and served as the tenth President of Stanford University. Hennessy announced that he would step down in the summer of 2016. He was succeeded as President by Marc Tessier-Lavigne.[2] Marc Andreessen called him "the godfather of Silicon Valley."[3]

Early life

Hennessy was raised in Huntington, New York, as one of six children.[3] His father was an aerospace engineer and his mother was a teacher before raising her children.[3]

He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University, and his master's degree and Ph.D. in computer science from Stony Brook University.[4] He is married to his high school sweetheart, Andrea Berti.[3]


Hennessy became a Stanford faculty member in 1977. In 1984, he used his sabbatical year to found MIPS Computer Systems Inc. to commercialize his research in RISC processors. In 1987, he became the Willard and Inez Kerr Bell Endowed Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.[4]

Hennessy served as director of Stanford's Computer System Laboratory (1989–93), a research center run by Stanford's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments. He was chair of the Department of Computer Science (1994–96) and Dean of the School of Engineering (1996–99).[4]

In 1999, Stanford President Gerhard Casper appointed Hennessy to succeed Condoleezza Rice as Provost of Stanford University. When Casper stepped down to focus on teaching in 2000, the Stanford Board of Trustees named Hennessy to succeed Casper as president. In 2008, Hennessy earned a salary of $1,091,589 ($702,771 base salary, $259,592 deferred benefits, $129,226 non-tax benefits), the 23rd highest among all American university presidents.[5]

In 1997, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).[6]

Hennessy is a board member of Google,[7] Cisco Systems,[8] Atheros Communications,[9] the Daniel Pearl Foundation.[10] and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.[11]

In 2007, he was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum "for fundamental contributions to engineering education, advances in computer architecture, and the integration of leading-edge research with education".[12]

On October 14, 2010, Hennessy was presented a khata by the 14th Dalai Lama before His Holiness addressed Maples Pavilion.[13]

In December 2010, Hennessy coauthored an editorial with Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust urging the passage of the DREAM Act;[14] the legislation did not pass the 111th United States Congress.

In 2012, Hennessy was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor.[15] The IEEE awarded Hennessy their highest recognition "for pioneering the RISC processor architecture and for leadership in computer engineering and higher education".[16] In 2012, Hennessy received an honorary doctor of mathematics degree from the University of Waterloo (Canada), in celebration of his profound contributions to modern computer architecture and to post-secondary education.

In June 2015, Hennessy announced that he would step down as Stanford president in summer 2016.[17]

In fall 2016, Hennessy will serve as the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program's inaugural director; this is a $750 million endowment to fully fund graduate students for three years.[18]


Hennessy has a history of strong interest and involvement in college-level computer education. He co-authored, with David A. Patterson, two well-known books on computer architecture, Computer Organization and Design: the Hardware/Software Interface and Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach,[19] which introduced the DLX RISC architecture. They have been widely used as textbooks for graduate and undergraduate courses since 1990.

Hennessy also contributed to updating Donald Knuth's MIX processor to the MMIX. Both are model computers used in Knuth's classic series, The Art of Computer Programming. MMIX is Knuth's DLX equivalent.

Noted publications


  1. "John Hennessy".
  2. "Stanford University President John L. Hennessy to step down in 2016". Stanford News. Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Auletta, Ken (April 30, 2012). "Get Rich U.". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 6 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 "Curriculum Vitae". Office of the President. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  5. "Million-Dollar College Presidents". The Daily Beast. November 14, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  6. "ACM Fellows - H". Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  7. "Board of Directors". Google Investor Relations. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  8. "Governing Board". Cisco Systems.
  9. "Governing Board". Atheros Communications.
  10. "The Daniel Pearl Foundation.". Daniel Pearl Foundation.
  11. "Board of Trustee". Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
  12. "John Hennessy". Computer History Museum. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  13. "President Hennessy salutes the Dalai Lama, and is honored in return". Stanford University Report. October 14, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  14. "Deserving of the DREAM". Politico. December 8, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  15. "Stanford President Hennessy wins IEEE's highest honor".
  16. "IEEE Medal of Honor Recipients" (PDF).
  17. "Stanford University President John L. Hennessy to step down in 2016".
  18. Frequently Asked Questions | Knight-Hennessy Scholars Stanford, Retrieved 15 August 2016
  19. 1 2 Patterson, David; Hennessy, John H.; Arpaci-Dusseau, Andrea C. (2007). Computer architecture: a quantitative approach. San Diego: Morgan Kaufmann. ISBN 0-12-370490-1.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to John L. Hennessy.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Condoleezza Rice
Provost of Stanford University
Succeeded by
John Etchemendy
Preceded by
Gerhard Casper
President of Stanford University
Succeeded by
Marc Tessier-Lavigne
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