The Legacy of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
By Naval Historical Foundation Membership Director – Sean Bland
When I was a student at Yale, it was announced that two new residential colleges would be built on campus to expand the size of the student body. Immediately, my fellow students began to petition for these new colleges to be named in honor of particular Yale alumni who had made an impact on the world.
One of these petitions was for Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. I had never heard of Admiral Hopper before, but her name and life quickly became common knowledge for the Yale student body as the petition in her honor gained more and more attention.
On July 1st, 2017, an older Residential College was rededicated as Grace Hopper College, forever commemorating the life of a remarkable sailor.
Click the video above to watch the dedication ceremony of Grace Hopper College at Yale, with remarks from then-Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, after earning a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale University, served as an Associate Professor at Vassar College. Following this, she made breakthrough strides in improving computer accessibility, laying the foundation for modern data-processing by developing the first computer program language akin to English, instead of the unintelligible machine code that was standard at the time.
Hopper continued to serve in U.S. Navy Reserve as an expert in the field of computer science, continuing to improve computing languages and information capabilities. After she was retired due to statutory age limits, she was recalled to Active-Duty. When she eventually retired (again), she was one of the oldest active-duty commissioned Navy officers to have ever served, and was one of the Navy’s few female flag officers of the era. She was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for her many years of achievement and service in the U.S. Navy.
The above video is a segment of 60 Minutes’ interview with Rear Admiral Grace Hopper near the time of her retirement.