210 Pittsboro Street
Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-6210

T 919-962-2091
F 919-962-2279

News Release

For immediate use

April 30, 2007

Note: For a photo of Weiss, see end of story.

Computer science professor Weiss receives UNC’s Thomas Jefferson Award

CHAPEL HILL - Dr. Stephen F. Weiss, professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been honored by his peers with the 2007 Thomas Jefferson Award.

The annual Thomas Jefferson Award recognizes a UNC faculty member who, through personal influence and performance of duty in teaching, writing and scholarship, has best exemplified the ideals and objectives of Thomas Jefferson. UNC faculty members nominate candidates for the honor, which carries a cash prize; a faculty committee chooses the recipient.

Chancellor James Moeser presented the award at a Faculty Council meeting on April 27.

Dr. Frederick P. Brooks Jr., Kenan professor of computer science and former department chair, wrote the citation honoring Weiss.

“Jefferson was committed to liberal education, to liberty and to a democracy based on recognizing the worth of each person and the wisdom of the common man,” Brooks said. “Steve Weiss’ manner and daily actions demonstrate his valuing of each person. His ethical standards are the highest, his motives consistently honorable. He has consistently fought to keep our major and graduate curricula from becoming narrow and over-specialized – he believes in education, not just training.”

Weiss joined Carolina’s faculty, in the College of Arts and Sciences’ department of computer science, in 1970. He was associate department chair between 1981 and 1987 and served as chair between 1989 and 2004. During this time, Weiss developed several teacher-mentoring initiatives. He coached new faculty members on their teaching techniques and developed a Teaching Tune-Up Committee in which teams of four – two faculty members and two students – regularly visited classes of both experienced and new faculty members.

Weiss has been recognized for his commitment to teaching on the university and state levels.

In 1983, he received Carolina’s Tanner Award for excellence in teaching. In 1995, the Computer Science Graduate Students Association selected him as the first recipient of its teaching award, although most of Weiss’ teaching was at the undergraduate level. In 1997, he received the UNC System Board of Governors’ Award for Teaching Excellence. That same year, he was named North Carolina Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

A member of the UNC Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, Weiss served on the academy’s board from 2003 to 2006. He was elected to the executive committee of the university’s Faculty Council between 1997 and 2003 and has been a faculty mentor for the Carolina Teaching Fellows Program since 1990.

Between 1991 and 2003, Weiss served on the Committee on Student Conduct and was committee chair from 2001 to 2002. In 2003, he received the Robert Byrd Award for Support of Academic Integrity in recognition of his work with this committee to oversee the operation of the University’s Honor Code.

With research interests in information storage and retrieval, natural language processing, communications and distributed systems, computer-supported cooperative work and hypertext, Weiss has served on the technical review panel for the National Science Foundation and has reviewed textbooks for various academic presses including Oxford University Press, Academic Press and Harper and Row, Publishers.

He received doctorate and master’s degrees from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree from what is now Carnegie Mellon University.


Photo URL:

College of Arts and Sciences contact: Dee Reid, (919) 843-6339 or
News Services contact: Lisa Katz, (919) 962-2093 or