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!