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IBM Icon and Alumna Frances Allen Delivers Keynote Address at UAlbany's Winter Commencement

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150



University at Albany-SUNY alumna France Allen, '54

UAlbany-SUNY alumna and IBM pioneer Frances Allen, '54, delivers the keynote address at the 2008 Winter Commencement. (Photo courtesy IBM)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 2, 2008) -- Alumna and IBM pioneer Frances Allen, '54, will deliver the keynote address at the University at Albany's Winter Commencement on Sunday, December 7 at 1 p.m. at the SEFCU Arena on the uptown campus. Allen's pioneering career in computing research focused on developing innovative, high-performance systems that virtually rewired the computing industry and earned her the 2006 A.M. Turing Award, considered the "Nobel Prize" in computing.

Allen will also be honored with an Honorary Doctor of Science degree in recognition of her long and distinguished career.

After graduating in 1954 from the Albany State College for Teachers, a precursor of the University at Albany, Allen earned a master's degree and went to IBM. Early on, Allen recognized the opportunity to address the challenge of high performance computers: delivering performance potential without exposing the underlying computer infrastructure. She pioneered the field of optimizing compilers (sets of programs for translating computer languages), and has been widely recognized for her essential and fundamental work on the theory of program optimization.

UAlbany-SUNY soon-to-be graduates at commencement

Jubilant grads are among the 535 bachelor's degree and 442 graduate degree recipients at UAlbany's Winter Commencement. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Allen's influence at IBM was recognized in 1989, when she was named the first female IBM Fellow, the company's highest technical honor. She has also been president of the IBM Academy of Technology. She was named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1994.

In addition to Allen, Joshua Sisskind of Manlius, N.Y., who is receiving his master's degree in geography and received his undergraduate degree at UAlbany, will deliver an address to graduates, their families and friends.

The University at Albany will award 535 bachelor's degrees and 442 graduate degrees, including 289 master's and 72 doctoral degrees. The undergraduate class' cumulative GPA is 3.0. Psychology and English were the top majors for undergraduate degree candidates. Eighteen undergraduates participated in the Presidential Scholars program, which recognizes and nurtures students with distinguished high school academic records.

The undergraduate commencement class hails from eight states and 25 foreign countries. Women comprise 51 percent of the class, which includes 11 military veterans. The youngest graduate is 19, while the oldest is 63.

Find out more about UAlbany's Winter Commencement.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 18,000 students. An internationally recognized research university with 58 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit

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UAlbany Faculty

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