In Memoriam: Renowned Worldwide, William Wulf’s Love for Computer Science and Teaching Grounded Him at UVA

March 16, 2023
William Wulf smiling in his classroom

William Wulf pioneered numerous computer science technologies, helped steer policy and National Science Foundation research priorities in the emerging field of computer science, and was renowned for his leadership in engineering while president of the National Academy of Engineering. (Photo by Tom Cogill)

William Allan Wulf, the first recipient of a doctorate in computer science from the University of Virginia and University professor emeritus in the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science, died March 10 at age 83.

He leaves behind his wife, Anita Jones, also a University professor emerita and former chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Wulf, who received his doctorate in 1968, helped establish the computer science department at UVA, which was among the first U.S. universities to do so. After receiving his degree, Wulf joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, where he became known for his programming languages, software and computer architecture designs. He left Carnegie Mellon to start a software company that was later bought by Texas Instruments.

Wulf returned to UVA in 1990, retiring in 2012 as the AT&T Professor of Computer Science Emeritus, and was an influential leader in the department’s undergraduate and graduate programs in education and research. He gained international renown as director of the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering research directorate and for his leadership as president of the National Academy of Engineering for 11 years.

“I remember Bill for his towering intellect, his open and always-friendly manner, his immense dedication to public service, and his conviction that all computer science faculty have gifts to offer both our educational community and the general public,” Alfred “Alf” Weaver, professor emeritus, said.

UVA Engineering Dean Jennifer L. West said Wulf’s impact has been incalculable.

“Bill Wulf’s contributions not only to the field of computer science, but also to engineering research, education and practice, have made the world a better place.”

Wulf’s full obituary can be viewed here on the UVA Engineering website.