Kempner Fund an Essential Resource in a Fast-changing Field

Thomas Kempner '75

Compared to traditional disciplines, which tend to grow through gradual and measured additions at the outer boundaries, computer science is something of a maverick. Barely seventy years old, this fast-moving field still grows in leaps and bounds, and key research areas can emerge with astonishing speed to redefine both the theoretical and experimental landscapes.

In such a volatile environment, reliable funding for innovative research is critical. Thomas Kempner ’75 understands this need, as evidenced by more than a decade of consistent and growing support of Yale’s Computer Science department. Kempner’s most recent gift, building on an endowment he first established in 1994, creates a fellowship fund that will be awarded to Ph.D. candidates to underwrite their research.

“Computer science is one of the most exciting and dynamic intellectual pursuits of our age,” said Kempner. “Recent breakthroughs, such as the Internet and search engines, have dramatically changed all of our lives. My hope is that the Kempner Fellowships will support research that brings even more breakthrough technologies.”

Department chair Avi Silberschatz, the Sidney J. Weinberg Professor of Computer Science, welcomes this support. “This new fellowship fund will help us to attract the world’s top Ph.D. students to our program and encourage them to pursue their research ideas. These young scholars are endlessly creative, and they are the ones who continue to push the envelope in the most promising areas of computing,” he said.

The eighteen faculty members and fifty-four Ph.D. students in Yale’s Computer Science department conduct research in a variety of areas, including algorithms and complexity theory, database systems, distributed computing, machine learning, networking, programming languages and compilers, scientific computing and applied math, vision and robotics, and security and cryptography.

Said Kempner, “Yale’s Department of Computer Science provides an individualized and personalized experience to all its students. While at Yale, I had the opportunity to study with Alan Perlis, then chair of the department. This was the most inspiring time of my academic career.”

Kempner is the executive managing member of Davidson Kempner Capital Management, LLC, a New York-based hedge fund. His son Nathaniel Kempner graduated from Yale in 2005 with a B.S. in electrical engineering, and his son Trevor is a theater studies major in the Class of 2009.

(November 1, 2007)

November 1, 2007