Internet pioneer to be commencement speaker

Vinton Cerf | TNS

Pitt announced on Monday that one of the “fathers of the Internet,” Vint Cerf, will give this year’s commencement address.

Pitt will host Cerf as the featured speaker as well as present him with an honorary doctoral degree in science at the Commencement Convocation, which begins at 2 p.m. May 1, in the Petersen Events Center. Cerf currently works as the vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google.

Cerf, alongside his colleague Robert E. Kahn, has won multiple prestigious awards for his work in the computer science and computer engineering fields, including the Turing Award, often called the “Nobel Prize of Computer Science.” In November 2005, former President George W. Bush awarded the pair the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Charles Bolden, the top administrator at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, gave last year’s commencement address. Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg gave the address in 2014 and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher spoke in 2013.

Pitt spokesperson Joe Miksch could not say why the University chose Cerf to speak or whether it would pay Cerf a fee, a common practice at other schools. Pitt did not pay Bolden for his address last year.

Under President Barack Obama, Cerf also served on the National Science Board, according to a release.

Among his most well-known accomplishments is Cerf’s work for the Internet, where he helped designed the transmission control, protocols and architecture. Between 1976 and 1982, while he was working at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Cerf helped lead the development of the packet data transport and security technologies for the Internet and Inernet-related areas.

From 1982 to 1986, Cerf worked as the vice president of MCI Digital Information Services, where he engineered MCI Mail, the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet.

Cerf also served as the founding president of the Internet Society, a group that promoted the further development of the Internet from 1992 to 1995, and later served a term as chairman of the board in 1999.

He earned his Bachelor of Science from Stanford University and his Master of Science and doctorate in computer science from University of California, Los Angeles.

He also has previously received honorary doctorates from universities around the world, including Pitt’s sister school, Tsinghua University, as well as Yale University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

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