University of Pittsburgh
April 18, 2016

Vinton Cerf, a “Father of the Internet,” to Address 2016 Pitt Graduates

Commencement ceremony starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 1

Joe Miksch


Cell: 412-997-0314

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PITTSBURGH—Vinton G. Cerf, one of the “fathers of the Internet” and vice president of and chief Internet evangelist for Google since October 2005, will be the featured speaker at the University of Pittsburgh’s 2016 Commencement Convocation on May 1. The ceremony, which will include the presentation of an honorary doctoral degree in science to Cerf, will begin at 2 p.m. in the Petersen Events Center, 3719 Terrace St., Oakland. 

Cerf is the codesigner of the transmission control and Internet protocols as well as the architecture of the Internet. In December 1997, President William J. Clinton presented the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation to Cerf and his colleague, Robert E. Kahn, for founding and developing the Internet. Kahn and Cerf were named the recipients of the ACM A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 2004 for their work on the Internet protocols; the Turing Award is sometimes called the “Nobel Prize of Computer Science.”Vinton G. Cerf

In November 2005, President George W. Bush awarded Cerf and Kahn the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their work; the medal is the highest civilian award given by the United States to its citizens. Cerf and Kahn received the prestigious Japan Prize in April 2008, and Cerf, Kahn, and three others received the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering in 2013. Cerf was made an officer of the French Legion d’Honneur in December 2014.

Cerf is the former senior vice president of technology strategy for MCI Inc., a telecommunications company. In this role, he was responsible for helping to guide corporate strategy development from the technical perspective. Previously, Cerf had served as MCI Inc.’s senior vice president of architecture and technology, leading a team of architects and engineers to design advanced networking frameworks including Internet-based solutions for delivering a combination of data, information, voice, and video services for business and consumer use. 

Prior to rejoining MCI Inc. in 1994, Cerf was vice president of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives where he worked on information infrastructure and digital libraries. As vice president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982-86, he led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial e-mail service to be connected to the Internet.

During his tenure from 1976-82 with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Cerf played a key role leading the development of Internet and Internet-related packet data transport and security technologies.

Cerf was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Science Board beginning in February 2013. He served as president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) from 2012-14. Cerf served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers from 2000-07. He also served as founding president of the Internet Society from 1992-95 and served a term as chairman of the board in 1999.

Cerf is honorary chairman of the IPv6 Forum, dedicated to raising awareness and speeding introduction of the new Internet protocol. Cerf served as a member of the U.S. Presidential Information Technology Advisory Committee from 1997 to 2001 and has served on several national, state, and industry committees focused on cybersecurity. Cerf sits on the Board of Directors for the American Registry for Internet Numbers as chairman, StopBadware (chairman), and the Marconi Society (vice chairman) and on the Science Advisory Board for CosmosID. Cerf also sits on the Board of Associates of Gallaudet University. 

He serves on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Advisory Committee and is a distinguished visiting scientist there; he is working on the design and implementation of an interplanetary Internet. He served as chair of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology during 2006-13. He also serves as treasurer of the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation. Cerf is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, ACM, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Engineering Consortium, the Computer History Museum, the Annenberg Center for Communications at USC, the American Philosophical Society, and the Hasso Plattner Institute and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. In 2011, he was made Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society. 

Cerf is a recipient of many awards and commendations in connection with his work on the Internet. In 2010, he received a Lifetime Webby Award. Cerf was named a Stanford Engineering “Hero” for his work on the Internet and received a lifetime achievement award from the Oxford Internet Institute in February 2011. In December 1994, PEOPLE magazine identified Cerf as one of that year’s “25 Most Intriguing People.”

In addition to his work on behalf of Google and the Internet, Cerf has served as a technical advisor to production for Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: The Final Conflict and made a special guest appearance on the program in May 1998. Cerf has appeared on television programs such as The NextWave with Leonard Nimoy and often cohosted World Business Review with Alexander Haig and Caspar Weinberger. In July 2014, he appeared on The Colbert Report

Cerf holds a Master of Science and PhD in computer science from UCLA and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Stanford University.

He also holds honorary doctorates from numerous universities including the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich); Marymount University; the University of Pisa; the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications; Tsinghua University in Beijing, China; the University of Zaragoza, Spain; the Technical University of Cartagena, Spain; Yale University; Gallaudet University; and University of St. Andrews, Scotland.