John Hennessey – Disrupting the Economics of Education

Some people believe that education is limited from birth to college credential. Others consider it to be a lifelong process. United States is home to some of the best colleges and faculty members in the world. However, high quality education is only limited to a few students as majority of top colleges and universities restrict admission to only a few hundred students per year. College education is expensive as well. An average undergraduate degree from a public university costs $12,804, which includes tuition, room and board. A similar degree from a private university will set you back by more than $32,000. Most students take up student loans to pay for the bills, and begin their career with large financial debt. Many educators, however, want to make a difference by using the economics of the internet. John Hennessey, President of Stanford University, is one of them.

John L. Hennessey joined Stanford University in 1977 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering. He went on to become director of the Computer Systems Laboratory in bu1993. He was named the Dean of the School of Engineering in 1996. He became the President of Stanford University in October 2000. He is also the first recipient of the Bing Presidential Professorship. Several awards and citations have been bestowed upon him to recognize his contribution to the field of computer sciences and engineering such as:

  • 2000 IEEE John von Neumann Medal
  • ASEE Benjamin Garver Lamme Award in 2000
  • 2001 ACM Eckert-Mauchly Award
  • 2001 Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award
  • NEC C&C Prize for lifetime achievement in computer science and engineering in 2004
  • Founders Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005

He is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Hennessey has written several books and published hundreds of articles and research papers in scientific journals and publications.

Hennessey has also contributed significantly to the field of online education. Under his leadership, Stanford University introduced its first online classes in engineering. The tremendous success of the program has motivated the faculty members to try “flip classrooms,” during which the faculty members offer a 10 to 15 minute video lecture that is accessible to anyone with computer and internet. They spend the rest of class hour helping students design innovative solutions to real world problems.

While Hennessey acknowledges the importance of college degree and credentials, he wants people to differentiate between learning and credentials. The Stanford University’s online classes by Hennessey and his colleagues is a big step towards creating a love for learning among students and professionals, and to help them look beyond credentials. It is also an attempt to improve accessibility to high quality education, especially among the underprivileged students across the globe. Many small universities and colleges may also benefit from such classes from top universities. Hennessey also believes that it will also help high school students to start preparing for college education.