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STANFORD -- A new endowed professorship in information systems technology is being established at Stanford University's School of Engineering with funding from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, a leading manufacturer of networking systems and software.
Named the Leonard Bosack and Sandra K. Lerner Professorship to honor the company's two founders, it will support a faculty member working at the forefront of information systems technology in computer science, electrical engineering or a related field.
According to John Morgridge, president and chief executive officer of Cisco, the professorship was established in part to repay the debt that the company owes to the university: like a number of Silicon Valley companies, Cisco's entrepreneurial roots can be traced to Stanford.
Jim Gibbons, dean of the School of Engineering and a member of Cisco's board of directors, said that the "gift is a well-deserved acknowledgment of the contributions that Len and Sandy have made to Cisco and to networking technology. It is also a tremendous acknowledgment of the relationship between Cisco and the Stanford School of Engineering - a relationship that began when Len and Sandy were students at Stanford, and one that continues to thrive to this day."
The husband and wife team both hold Stanford degrees (Bosack earned a master's in computer science in 1981 and Lerner received a master's in statistics in 1981). The couple met while managing departmental computer networks located in different corners of the Stanford campus. Faced with the challenge of linking the two networks to one another and to larger networks like NSFnet (the predecessor of the Internet), they developed a device that allowed disparate computer networks to talk to one another.
After receiving numerous requests from other universities for their new technology, Bosack and Lerner left Stanford in December 1984 to launch Cisco Systems. In the early days, the couple ran the company from their Atherton home. They purchased a used mainframe computer, which they installed in their garage, and they took their initial orders over the Internet. The company grew rapidly.
Donald Valentine, partner in Sequoia Capital and chairman of the board of Cisco, said that "Cisco's growth and success is paralleled only by the other really great Silicon Valley entrepreneurial company that had two Stanford student founders: Hewlett-Packard. It is extremely rare for a company, any company in any business, to achieve a $2 billion sales run rate by their tenth anniversary."
The company has become a leading global supplier of hardware and software that links geographically dispersed local area networks, wide area networks and IBM networks.
The Bosack and Lerner Professorship is the 37th endowed professorship at the Stanford School of Engineering. The first holder of the professorship will be announced in January 1995.
In 1991, Cisco made a gift of cash and routing equipment that enabled the campus to connect all its dorm rooms to Stanford's computer network, which is also linked to the Internet.
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