Internet pioneer makes $2.2 million gift to the University of Delaware

Always looking for the most interesting thing to do.

That’s how David Farber describes the motivation behind his accomplishments, from pioneering telecommunications research and serving as chief technologist at the Federal Communications Commission, to his trailblazing work on early online networks that earned him the nickname “grandfather of the internet.”

Now Farber, a Distinguished Policy Fellow in the University of Delaware’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), is adding another entry to the list of “interesting things” —  lending a helping hand to young faculty.

Farber recently signed a $2.2 million commitment to establish the Dave and GG Farber Early Career Professor of Computer Engineering Chair, an endowed professorship that will be sustained through Farber’s estate.

The fund will help ECE attract, recognize and retain early-career faculty who exhibit extraordinary technical knowledge in computer engineering and a keen understanding of the societal impact of technology. In addition, a portion of the gift will be used to immediately support the department’s efforts in faculty hiring and retention.

“I’ve always been impressed by the University of Delaware,” says Farber, “especially the spectacular students. As faculty, I’ve been able to watch this institution transform dramatically, and I’m happy to help support the evolution of [ECE] into a first-rate engineering program by establishing a foothold for young faculty.”

Farber’s gift, which represents one of the largest donations ever to the department, was announced during ECE’s 125th anniversary celebration, held May 19-20.

“Dr. Farber’s contributions to the field of computer engineering are matched only by his passion for advancing education and research,” says Kenneth E. Barner, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “His gift will not only attract and keep rising stars at UD, but foster mentorship and scholarship across the next generation of computer engineers.”

“The academic field lends tremendous freedom to young researchers and innovators,” Farber adds, “but they need help getting established. We want to inspire the next generation while making things feasible for them. Investment will absolutely pay off.”

Farber’s renowned career includes two intervals as a UD faculty member, from 1977-88 and from 2011 to present. His pioneering work in programming languages and computer networking helped develop the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) and the Computer Science Network (CSNET), both predecessors to today’s modern internet. Farber was inducted into the Pioneers Circle of the Internet Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Delaware was a very important part of my career,” Farber says, citing his work on CSNET as one of his proudest accomplishments. “UD was a keystone for CSNET. In a way, our research put both the University and the internet on the map.”

Farber served at the Federal Communications Commission from 1999-2000 and as Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

About the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Established in 1891 as the Electrical Engineering Department and renamed in 1996 to reflect the importance of computer engineering within the field, UD’s ECE department is among the oldest and most innovative in the discipline.

Areas of student and faculty research strength include: computer engineering and cybersecurity; signal processing, communications and controls; nanoelectronics, electromagnetics and photonics; clean and renewable energy; and biomedical engineering.

About Carillon Circle

The Carillon Circle was established to recognize, honor, and thank loyal supporters like David Farber, those who have continued the generous legacy of alumni and friends by remembering the University of Delaware in their estate plans. Carillon Circle members are honored at an exclusive annual event acknowledging their dedication to the University of Delaware.

For more information on Carillon Circle, click here.