One of the most celebrated alums in Stevens history returned for a campus event recognizing both his generosity and the great potential of a new faculty member. David Farber ’56 M.S. ’61 Hon.Eng. ’99 – internet pioneer, emeritus trustee and member of the Stevens Hall of Achievement – spoke at a December 5 investiture ceremony welcoming Dr. Giuseppe Ateniese as the David and GG Farber Chair in Computer Science.
In addition to holding the Farber chair, Ateniese leads the computer science department, a program ranked 9th in USA Today’s 2016 rankings. Before coming to Stevens in January, Ateniese taught at Sapienza University of Rome and Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include cloud security and machine learning, and he has received awards from Google, IBM and the National Science Foundation.
Farber spent his career working as a researcher at Bell Labs and as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware and UC-Irvine. He wrote several computer languages that helped develop the early web and btaught many who went on to contribute their own innovations. Farber’s admirers today refer to him as the “Grandfather of the Internet.”
Farber has also served as chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission and on the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee and consulted for Samsung, HP, IBM, Intel and other companies. In 2013, he was honored with induction into the Pioneers Circle of the Internet Hall of Fame.
More than 50 faculty, alumni and others attended the investiture, held inside the Bissinger Room. Serving as emcee, Provost Christophe Pierre highlighted the importance of endowed chairs and the strength of the computer science program, and, with President Nariman Farvardin, presented Farber and Ateniese with ceremonial medallions.
Keith Sheppard, Interim Dean of the Schaefer School of Engineering & Science, which includes the computer science department, touted Ateniese’s impact on the department. “In the short time that Giuseppe has been here, he’s transformed the environment in the department,” Sheppard said. “With his vision, energy and wisdom, he’s really started the department on a strong upward trajectory.”
Sheppard also mentioned a recent report that found Ateniese has been cited 12,000 times in academic contexts, and that he is ranked as the 32nd-most influential computer scientist for security.
Faber spoke about why he made a gift to establish a chair at his alma mater. Having held a chair at the University of Pennsylvania, Farber recognizes them as one of the highest honors a professor can achieve, rewarding holders with extra resources and prestige within academia and beyond. In turn, chaired professors drive research and inspire students, strengthening the university. With those opportunities, Stevens was able to recruit Ateniese because it was able to offer him the Farber chair.
“I felt Stevens has the potential for being a great institution, especially in my field,” Farber said. “I found a computer science department that needed to be sparked, and I thought the best way to do that was to endow a chair.”
Calling Ateniese an “intellectual giant” and praising his interests in security and other issues, Farber said Ateniese fits his vision for the Stevens computer science department. “It’s important that we churn out good people, get the best faculty we can get, and establish ourselves as a place where good science is done, and where good people reside.”
In accepting the Farber chair, Ateniese presented his personal hopes and his hopes for the computer science department and Stevens.
“My dream would be to accomplish even a small percentage of what David has accomplished so far. This title means a lot to me, as it would to any computer science professor.
"I have a strategic plan, with just one line: to rise in the rankings,” Ateniese continued. “My goal is to hire top-notch faculty, focus on research so that we provide substance to our growth, and build bridges with other successful units here at Stevens.”