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Fred Terman

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Fred Terman — School of Engineering dean, provost and early Silicon Valley advocate


Fred Terman (1900-1982) was dean of the School of Engineering at Stanford from 1944 to 1958 and university provost from 1955 to 1965. He and President Wally Sterling are credited with putting Stanford among the ranks of the world’s top universities.

Terman earned his bachelor’s and ENG degrees at Stanford before leaving for MIT to get his PhD. In 1925, he returned to Stanford to begin a career that would span the next four decades.

As dean of the School of Engineering, Terman recognized that two forces — graduate study and government support of basic research — would reshape the workings of universities. The four editions of his Radio Engineering textbook was the electronics bible for more than two decades of students. He also foresaw that the local high-technology industry could provide financial assistance, intellectual support and professional stimulation for faculty and students alike. That helped create a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that sparked the rise of Silicon Valley.