Vinton Cerf, considered ‘a father of the internet,’ to deliver Case Western Reserve University commencement address as 2024 convocation speaker

Vinton Cerf reflected in a PBS Newshour interview in January how he and good friend Bob Kahn, while working with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) years ago, began developing how the whole world now communicates. 

 “It wasn’t like we woke up one day and said, ‘Huh, we’re going to build the internet,’” he said. “It was more like a problem that was posed to us: How do we figure out how to connect these different kinds of packet nets to each other?”

Photo of Vinton Cerf
Vinton Cerf

As part of the DoD’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 1972 to 1982, they did exactly that. He and Kahn invented Transmission Control Protocol, a communications standard that allows application programs and computing devices to exchange messages over a network—the foundation of the internet.

Cerf, widely considered one of the “fathers of the internet,” now holds the lofty title of vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google. And, on May 15, at the Veale Convocation Center, he will address Case Western Reserve University graduates as the 2024 convocation commencement speaker

“Our graduates have only known a world with the internet,” said Case Western Reserve University President Eric W. Kaler. “Dr. Cerf’s research shaped the way they learned to communicate and how they find and share information. We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Cerf to campus and honored that he will share his insights as our convocation speaker.”

An impressive string of honors

Cerf’s lifetime thread of credentials and achievements—including being awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom—reads like an almanac. 

A former Stanford University professor and former member of the U.S. National Science Board, he is past president of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Internet Society and serves as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, National Reconnaissance Office, DoD and NASA. He is a member of both the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering.

Cerf’s numerous awards for his work include: U.S. National Medal of Technology, the Marconi Prize and Lifetime Achievement Award, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Library of Congress Living Legend Medal, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Medal of Honor and the George C. Marshall Innovation Medal.

He holds 29 honorary degrees and is a member of the Internet Hall of Fame, Consumer Technology Hall of Fame and National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Despite such a staggering list, when asked whether he was proud of his achievements—and especially founding the internet—Cerf told PBS, “I don’t feel pride as much as I feel some gratitude to know that what Bob Kahn and I, and a mass of other people, have designed and built is still open to further revolution.”

All faculty, staff, postdocs and students are invited to gather along the Case Quad for the second annual university-wide clap out to applaud CWRU’s graduates as they proceed to convocation.

Immediately following convocation and Cerf’s address, the campus community can join the graduates on Freiberger Field for food, fun and music at the convocation barbecue.

For more information, contact Bill Lubinger at