Stuart Lynn, who led the creation of CENIC — now among the world’s most heavily used research and education networks — has been selected by CENIC as a recipient of the 2017 Founders Award.
“Since its founding, in collaboration with technology leaders from the CENIC community, the CalREN network has continuously evolved in order to provide the innovators among our members at vital public-serving institutions with a network environment that is commensurate with their ambitions in research, education, and health care,” said CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox. “This is largely due to Stuart Lynn’s vision of what CENIC could become and his passion to see this vision executed. His distinguished career in computing and information technology spans four decades and is extraordinary.”
CENIC was formed by the University of California, the California Institute of Technology, the California State University, Stanford University, and the University of Southern California. In 1998, CENIC designed and deployed the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-performance broadband network to meet unprecedented demands for increased network capacity, reliability, and capability as students and faculty turned to the network as a basic tool for education and research. In addition to being the catalyst for the formation of CENIC, Stuart served as principal investigator for a multimillion-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide start-up funding.
“Stuart recognized that higher education institutions in California needed a place to work on new technologies and to advance technology in the future,” said David Wasley, then with the University of California, Berkeley. “With his characteristic diplomacy, Stuart met with the CIOs of Caltech, Stanford, USC, and all the UC campuses. Out of those meetings came the important decision that we should submit a proposal for one of the NSF’s high-speed networking matching grants, using the grant to help build a California network. This grant became the catalyst for the remarkable collaboration CENIC represents.”
Stuart’s colleagues attribute much of his success to his quietly persuasive personality as well as his far-reaching vision for the potential of an organization like CENIC. Speaking of the months leading up to the founding of CENIC, Stuart noted, “We knew we didn’t want California to be an island. We wanted to be part of something that was happening worldwide, and we knew that wasn’t going to happen with the commodity Internet. The commodity Internet has to satisfy many individual interests, so it averages out. We didn’t want to be average. We wanted to be excellent. We wanted to be ahead of the curve. If you had told me in 1996 that what we were starting would become what I see today, I would have said, ‘Well, that’s a little far-fetched.’ But it was always our goal to break down the barriers of distance and time to facilitate effective research and educational collaboration across the state of California, with the rest of the nation, and around the world, too, by building the right kind of linkages into national and international networks. We always had that goal in mind.”
The CENIC community is only one of the many beneficiaries of Stuart’s talent and vision. He served as the CIO for the University of California’s Office of the President, as well as president and board chair of CENIC until his retirement in 1999. Emerging from retirement in 2001, he took on the role of president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), where he initiated a “programme of reform” of that somewhat-dysfunctional organization known primarily for “endless policy debates and lack of responsiveness,” and culminating a distinguished career in computing and information technology spanning more than four decades.
In addition to ICANN and UCOP, he has held positions at Cornell University, UC Berkeley, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, IBM, and Chevron. Over the course of his career, he has been active in several professional organizations including the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the American Federation of Information Processing Societies. In 1994, he was elected a Fellow of the ACM. He has also served on numerous boards of directors and advisory committees and as a consultant to academia, government, and industry.
CENIC presents the Innovations in Networking Awards at its annual conference to highlight the exemplary innovations that leverage ultra-high bandwidth networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to transform how instruction and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas.
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