Press Release

Birgeneau, Hennessy and Lucas to Receive Founders Awards From the Academy


SAN FRANCISCO – The leaders of three of the Bay Area's premiere higher education and creative institutions are being recognized for their contributions to California and the nation by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

On Saturday, March 18th, as part of a special program commemorating the 225th anniversary of the founding of the Academy, the three leaders – Robert Birgeneau, John Hennessy and George Lucas – are to receive special Founders Awards from the Academy. The presentations will take place at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio.

Academy President Patricia Meyer Spacks noted that the founders of the American Academy in 1780 were "thinkers and doers – leaders in their professions who embraced a commitment to public service for the good of society and the nation. We are proud to honor three exemplary models of that tradition who, each in his own way, has made a distinctive and positive impact on this region and well beyond it."

As the ninth chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, Robert Birgeneau has distinguished himself as one of the world's most cited experimental physicists and a relentless advocate for access to higher education. The Academy recognized Birgeneau for his "abiding commitment to excellence in teaching and research and a long-standing determination to uphold the principles of access and inclusion."

John Hennessy has been the president of Stanford University since 2000. He first came to Stanford as a faculty member in 1977 and has held a succession of key administrative and academic positions, including Director of Computer System Laboratory, Chair of Computer Science Department, Dean of the School of Engineering, and Provost. He is the father of RISC computer architecture and cofounder of MIPS Computer Systems. The Academy praised Hennessy for being "an innovative leader in the entwined development of Silicon Valley and Stanford University" and for working to "create knowledge, stretch boundaries, and broaden the educational enterprise."

As a writer, director and producer, George Lucas has pioneered the use of digital technology and revolutionized the movie industry. His films and television programs have received over ninety Oscars, Emmys and other prestigious industry awards. The George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization, uses technology to promote innovative learning in schools across the nation. The Academy honors Lucas for "conceiving universes of mythic proportions that have become part of our collective conciousness,"noting that his "fusion of art and technology has set an unsurpassed standard for cinematic excellence."

All three recipients are Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In recognizing Birgeneau, Hennessy and Lucas, Academy Chief Executive Officer Leslie Berlowitz said, "we also salute the institutions that they lead – Stanford University, Cal Berkeley (and the entire University of California system), and Lucasfilm. Each organization has made a profound and lasting impact on the region and the world."

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on: science and global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy's work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world. (