“Father of the Internet” retires from U-M

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Douglas Van Houweling at his induction to the Internet Hall of Fame in 2014. (UMSI)

Douglas Van Houweling, UMSI professor of information, also known as the “Father of the Internet,” retired in April after a long, remarkable career at UMSI and U-M.

During his time at U-M, Van Houweling has served as UMSI associate dean for research and innovation; U-M dean for academic outreach and vice provost for information and technology; and U-M vice provost for information technology. But Van Houweling is perhaps best known for his work with early technology that led to building of the Internet. He has been inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his seminal work in the development of what became “the world-wide web.”

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have played a role in information technology here at the university and nationally over the last 33 years,” Van Houweling says. “The university has enabled me to serve in a diverse set of roles as the IT revolution has unfolded. I am deeply grateful for those opportunities.” While Van Houweling may be retiring, he isn’t planning to move to some island in the South Pacific. He says he will continue to conduct research and to be engaged in some university projects.

Thomas A. Finholt, UMSI dean, said of Van Houweling: “Doug has spent his career in key leadership posts spanning multiple universities, Internet2, and culminating here at UMSI.  We are very grateful to have had the benefit of his wisdom and experience on behalf of the school.”

Van Houweling was one of four UMSI faculty who retired this spring who have left their own technology-related legacies:

  • Karen Markey, UMSI professor of information, developed the BiblioBouts Project, which, as the UMSI website describes, “is an online social game that covertly teaches students how to conduct library research while they go about the business of completing their assigned papers.”
  • Francis (“Fran”) Blouin, Jr., professor of history and professor UMSI emeritus of information, was the long-time Director of Bentley Historical Library; he also led the Vatican archives project, a 20-year- long endeavor.
  • George Furnas, UMSI professor of information, focused his research on human-computer interaction. He helped found the then-new School of Information in the 1990s. He has served as UMSI associate dean for academic strategy, and is an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow. He helped pioneer collaborative filtering, invented latent semantic indexing and the theory of generalized fisheye views, among many other contributions.
Author: Sheryl James, School of Information

Sheryl is a public relations specialist with the School of Information. You can reach her at sherylvi@umich.edu.