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Hansford W. Farris

1965–1967 | Chair of Electrical Engineering
Hansford W. Farris Enlarge
Hansford W. Farris.

Hansford W. Farris received his B.S. in Math and Physics and M.A. in Math and Education at Eastern Kentucky State College in 1941 and 1942, respectively. He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps for four years before returning to school at the University of Illinois where he earned his M.S.E. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1948.

Farris joined U-M’s Department of Electrical Engineering in 1953 as a Research Associate with the Electronics Defense Group (EDG). In 1958, he was appointed Director of the Cooley Electronics Laboratory (formerly the EDG), which would later become the Communications Laboratory.  From 1963 to 1965, he was Associate Director of the U-M Institute of Science and Technology and served as the first Director of its Industrial Development Division.

After serving as Chair of EE for a relatively short time, Farris was named Associate Dean of the College of Engineering. He was primarily responsible for the College’s research programs during his five years in this position. Twice during his tenure at Michigan, Prof. Farris served as Acting Dean for the College.

Among his major projects at Michigan were the initiation of the College of Engineering’s Instructional Television System, an off-campus interactive, distance learning television network. During the mid-70s, he wrote and narrated Future Without Shock, a series of half-hour programs on the role of the engineer in modern society. These programs have been aired widely and were presented in Gainesville, Florida as a lecture series in the early 2010s.

Farris received the HKN Outstanding Teacher Award in 1961-62, and the Amoco Outstanding Teacher Award in 1976. His alma mater, Eastern Kentucky State University, awarded him the Distinguished Alumnus Citation in 1974.

He served IEEE in many official capacities, including Chair of the Southeastern Michigan Section, Chair of the National Electronics Conference, and Chair of the Educational Activities Board.

After his retirement, Prof. Farris moved to Gainesville, Florida. He was later asked to initiate the Electrical Engineering program at the University of North Florida, which offers an electrical engineering scholarship in his name.

Prof. Farris passed away in December of 2014.

References and Further Reading

Hansford Farris on University of Michigan Faculty History Project

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