iSchool recognized Richard Thompson, Professor Emeritus, on the occasion of his retirement


On Friday, November 2, the iSchool hosted a retirement celebration for Richard Thompson, Professor and former chair of the Telecommunications Program. The University Club was the venue for this lighthearted…but heartfelt….tribute to Dr. Thompson and his many accomplishments. Dean Ronald L. Larsen was host for the evening: remarks were offered by many iSchool faculty members including Prashant Krishnamurthy, David Tipper, Martin Weiss, and Taieb Znati. Dr. Thompson, who has had a distinguished 23-year career here at Pitt, was recognized for his teaching and research, but perhaps even more for his dedication to his students and his leadership in the iSchool’s Telecommunications and Networking Program.

In 1963,  Professor Thompson joined Bell Laboratories as a part-time member of the technical staff in the  Local Switching Center.   While  there, he earned  his MS in Electrical Engineering  from Columbia University in 1966.   Professor  Thompson then  joined  Litton Industries as a Senior Research Engineer  in the Royal Typewriter Division  (1968 -1969), developing  experimental hardware designs  and prototypes of an electronic adding machine, solid-state line printer, and a magnetic-tape controller for a word  processing system.  Dr. Thompson completed his PhD in computer science at the University of Connecticut in 1971, at which  time  he joined  the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department at Virginia  Polytechnic Institute. He was promoted to the rank of Associate  Professor  with tenure in 1976.   From 1977- 1993,  Professor  Thompson worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the  Digital  Systems Research Department, focusing  his research  on digital switching.

In 1989, Dr. Thompson joined  the University of Pittsburgh as a full professor in the Department of Information Science and Telecommunications, where he developed and taught courses in Electronic Communication, Switching Systems, Intelligent Networks, Digital Transmission, Photonic Communication, and designed a novel  course  on Designing  Computer  & Networking Services.   Professor  Thompson has excelled  as a teacher and scholar, inspiring and mentoring many students.    

He also chaired and co-chaired Pitt's  graduate program in telecommunications for 17 years (1991- 2008). The Telecommunications Program (as well as the industry as a whole) grew out of the divestiture of AT&T in 1983. As the industry changed in response to this event, the need arose for professionals who could build, analyze and manage voice and data telecommunications systems that met users' needs. With other faculty, Dr. Thompson worked diligently to create one of the first professional Master’s programs in the United States.  The program has evolved over the years as faculty joined the program, a PhD concentration was added to the iSchool’s academic programs, and as the Internet and other technological advances changed the face of the industry.

The iSchool faculty, staff and students thank Dr. Thompson for his many years of service and leadership!