Networking Pioneer James Morris Named New Dean of School of Computer Science

BY Byron Spice - Tue, 1999-06-01 12:00  Printer-friendly version

James H. Morris, the Herbert A. Simon professor of human computer interaction and head of the Computer Science Department since 1992, has been named dean of the School of Computer Science (SCS), effective July 1.

Morris, the developer of Carnegie Mellon's Andrew system in the early 1980s, succeeds Raj Reddy, the Herbert A. Simon professor of computer science and robotics and founder of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. Reddy will return to research and teaching after seven years at the helm of SCS.

"Jim Morris's deep knowledge of Carnegie Mellon and the School of Computer Science makes him an outstanding choice to succeed Raj Reddy as dean," said President Jared L. Cohon. "Jim's leadership of one of the most important computing initiatives in the university's history, the Andrew networking project, and his leadership of the Computer Science Department make him extremely well qualified to meet the challenges facing the school."

In announcing Morris's appointment to the university community, Provost Paul Christiano praised him for reshaping the Computer Science Department in the light of rapidly changing technologies and their impact on society. He also has contributed significant, broader changes to the School of Computer Science, for example, by leading in the creation of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

"Jim clearly understands SCS, its shining tradition and the vision to which it must aspire as the school continues to chart the future for itself and for those many other leading institutions that look to SCS for leadership," Christiano said. "Jim brings a wealth of experience and creativity to this task," Dean Reddy added. "I have no doubt that SCS will thrive and will be an exciting environment."

Morris received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon in 1963. He was a member of the Tartans' varsity football team and was president of Delta Upsilon fraternity. He earned his master's and doctor's degrees in management and computer science, respectively, from MIT.

After receiving his doctor's degree in 1969, Morris became an assistant professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley. There, he developed several important underlying principles of programming languages. He also was a co-discoverer of the Knuth-Morris-Pratt string search algorithm, a fast method for locating a phrase inside a large body of text.

In 1974, Morris joined the Xerox Corp. research staff at its Palo Alto, Calif. Research Center, where he was promoted to principal scientist and research fellow over an eight-year span. During that time, he helped to develop the Alto System, the first distributed personal computer system. He returned to Carnegie Mellon in 1982 as a visiting fellow of Xerox and founding director of the Information Technology Center (ITC), a joint venture with the IBM Corp. As head of the ITC (1983-88), he helped to conceive and engineer Andrew, one of the world's first university-wide computing and communications networks.

Morris became a full professor of computer science in 1983 and has since taught courses and conducted research in areas of programming languages, networking and computing environments, as well as various computing applications.

He served as acting director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) from 1994-96. The HCII was established in 1994 to foster interdisciplinary research and education in human-computer interaction, focusing on the technological, sociological and design aspects of developing user-friendly computer interfaces. Morris was awarded the Simon Chair of Human Computer Interaction in March 1997.

Christiano thanked the search committee, specifically co-chairs Randy Bryant, professor of computer science, and Charles Thorpe, principal research scientist in the Robotics Institute, who worked to bring the search to a successful conclusion. "We owe them a great debt of gratitude," he said.

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