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Grace M. Hopper


Mr. President, I have the honor and pleasure to present to this venerable audience a citation for Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper, pioneer, inventor, and scholar.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College and received a master’s degree in mathematics and physics and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale. She returned to Vassar as a faculty member and taught mathematics for twelve years. During World War II, she joined the United States Naval Reserve. She trained briefly as an apprentice seaman and midshipman; then commissioned as a lieutenant, she was ordered to report to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project in Boston, where mathematicians were needed. Here she became one of the original programmers on the first large-scale digital computer in the country.

Later, Admiral Hopper joined Eckert-Mauchly Corporation in Philadelphia as a senior mathematician. This company, later merged with the Sperry Corporation, was building the UNIV AC I, the first commercial electronic computer. Realizing that computer instructions should be written in plain English and then translated into machine code, Grace M. Hopper wrote the first compiler that was based on the English language. This led to the language COBOL, which remains the most widely used of all languages in business.

Admiral Hopper has published more than four dozen articles and papers on computer software and programming languages. She has received some 80 awards. She is a member of 67 associations, organizations, and marine and historical societies. She is a recipient of the Navy Legion of Merit and the Navy Meritorious Service Medal. This is only the beginning of a long list of achievements by this remarkable woman.

As a pioneer, Grace M. Hopper was instrumental in clearing unchartered territory. As a mathematician, a computer engineer, and a rear admiral, she is an unusual, unique model for women. As an educator and trainer, she has enlightened and inspired countless young minds.

Grace M. Hopper found words such as hopeless, impossible, and unattainable to be a personal challenge. Because of her fortitude, she has made a difference to each and every one of us, and for that we thank her.

Mr. President, on behalf of the trustees, faculty, students and staff of Clark University, I request the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, be conferred upon Grace Brewster Murray Hopper.