The 10th president of the university, and the first leader with an engineering background, said that he decided to leave his role in order to focus on “what brought me to Stanford – teaching and research”.
Addressing Stanford’s faculty senate, where he received a prolonged standing ovation, Dr Hennessy said: “The time has come to return to what brought me to Stanford – teaching and research. Maintaining and improving this university is the work of many people, and I am deeply appreciative of the dedication of so many colleagues to Stanford and its students.”
Since becoming president in October 2000, Dr Hennessy placed an emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching and research that was reflected in a physical transformation of the campus, designed to heighten opportunities for intellectual collaboration between faculty and students.
Steven Denning, chair of the board of trustees, said that Dr Hennessy “modelled what it means to be a visionary higher education leader for the 21st century".
“He has guided Stanford to be an exemplar of what a modern university must aspire to be. On behalf of the entire Stanford community, we thank him for his contributions as an energetic and dedicated Stanford faculty member, dean of engineering, provost and president,” he said.
“It has been a remarkable run, one of the greatest not only in Stanford’s history but also in the annals of American higher education.”
Dr Hennessy said that Stanford provost John Etchemendy will not be a candidate for the position of president, although he has agreed to stay at the university for up to one year with the new leader “to ensure a smooth transition”.
Dr Hennessy, a computer scientist and professor of electrical engineering, did not reveal his future plans, but expressed interest in ongoing engagement in teaching, research and higher education.