Elon University honors Internet pioneer Vint Cerf

Day 7Google Vice President Vint Cerf, known as the "father of the Internet" for his pioneering work in creating its basic networking protocols, was honored with the Areté Medallion this fall at Elon University.

Imagining the Internet, an initiative of Elon's School of Communications, hosted the September event in the McCrary Theatre in Elon's Center for the Arts.

Cerf, 73, worked with Bob Kahn in the 1970s to create the revolutionary TCP/IP protocol suite that led to the operational launch of the Internet on Jan. 1, 1983, followed by an explosion of innovation that led to systems for email, file-sharing, the World Wide Web, WiFi, mobile networks and millions of online and mobile applications. For the past 11 years Cerf has been a vice president at Google and its chief Internet evangelist as he works to promote better global access to the Internet and innovation in connectivity.

MCNC Chief Technology Strategist Mark Johnson (right) stands with Google Vice President Vint Cerf, known as the "father of the Internet" in September at Elon University. Also pictured is Janna Anderson, professor of communications and director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University.

Cerf's Sept. 30 visit to Elon offered insights into the evolution of Internet technologies and a glimpse of what lies ahead. He talked about efforts to increase Internet access globally and then walked through advances in machine learning during his lecture.

The Areté Medallion recognizes highly-distinguished innovators who have dedicated their lives to positively impacting the global future. Areté is a word used to describe people who live up to their fullest potential in a life embodying goodness and excellence. The Imagining the Internet Areté Medallion was established this year to recognize innovators, change agents and thought leaders who have dedicated their lives to initiating and sustaining significant contributions that have positively impacted the global future.

"The most important thing is working for the global good," said Janna Anderson, professor of communications and director of the Imagining the Internet Center, in introducing Cerf as recipient of the Areté Medallion. "It's not possible to list every good deed he's done."

Cerf is the recipient of dozens of honors and 25 honorary degrees. Highlights include the U.S. Medal of Technology, presented to him in 1997 by President Bill Clinton; the 1998 Marconi Prize; the 2004 Association of Computing Machinery Alan Turing Award – known as the Nobel Prize of computer science; the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented in 2005 by President George Bush; the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering; the Japan Prize; and his induction into the inaugural class of the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. He is past president of ACM, chair of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, has completed a term as chair of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was appointed to the National Science Board by President Barack Obama in 2012.

The mission of Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center is to explore and provide insights into emerging network innovations, global development, dynamics, diffusion and governance. Its research holds a mirror to humanity's use of communications technologies, informs policy development, exposes potential futures and provides a historic record. It works to illuminate issues in order to serve the greater good, making its work public, free and open.

This is the second time the Imagining the Internet Center has been featured in the 12 Days of Broadband. Take a look back to 2014 when NCREN Community Day was held at Elon to learn more about it. Read more.


(Editor’s note: Reporting for this story was captured from news releases, first-hand accounts from audience members on Sept. 30, and the Imagining the Internet Center website.)