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

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

People briefs

For immediate use

July 10, 2007

Photo: For a photo of Brooks and an image of Semonche’s book cover, visit:

Brooks honored with Harvard Centennial Medal

Frederick P. Brooks, who founded UNC’s computer science department, recently received the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal from Harvard University.

Brooks, a Kenan professor of computer science at UNC, was one of four 2007 recipients. The medal honors contributions to society deemed to have emerged from a graduate education at Harvard. Brooks earned his doctorate in applied mathematics (computer science) from Harvard in 1956.

A pioneer in computer science, Brooks worked as a graduate student under Howard Aiken, inventor of the early Harvard computers. He later joined IBM, where he worked during the 1950s and 1960s. He was project manager for the development of IBM’s System/360 family of computers and the Operating System/360 software. For this work, he received a National Medal of Technology in 1985, jointly with Bob O. Evans and Erich Bloch of IBM.

Brooks founded UNC’s computer science department in 1964 and chaired it for 20 years. His principal research is on virtual reality: real-time, three-dimensional computer graphics. Brooks’ work has helped biochemists solve the structure of complex molecules and enabled architects to virtually walk through structures still being designed.


Book examines censorship of images, information about sex

In a new book featuring Elvis Presley on the cover, UNC legal historian John Semonche examines censorship in American media of images and information about sex from the 19th century to the present.

“Censoring Sex: A Historical Journey Through American Media” (Rowman & Littlefield, July 2007) is replete with colorful characters including Anthony Comstock, Mae West, Theodore Dreiser, Judy Blume, Jerry Falwell and Hugh Hefner.

For each type of media – books, magazines, fine art, movies, music, dance, radio, television and the Internet – Semonche explains with abundant examples how and why censorship took place. Covering the history of censorship of sexual ideas and images is one way of telling the tale of modern America, Semonche writes. He argues that the censorship that continues in the United States poses a challenge to the constitutional right to free expression that is part of the foundation upon which the nation is built.

Library Journal calls the book “an engaging scholarly study as well as something of a witty rejoinder to those who would seek to impose their own personal values on the creativity of others. The combination of accessible writing and solid research make it equally useful for intellectual pursuits and weekend reading. Highly recommended …”

Semonche, who came to the history department in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1961, is an authority on American constitutional and legal history. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including “Keeping the Faith: A Cultural History of the U.S. Supreme Court” and “Religion and Constitutional Government in the United States.”

Note: Brooks can be reached at (919) 962-1931 or; Semonche, at (919) 962-8079,

2007 Centennial Medal Web site:
Computer science department contact: Kelli Gaskill, (919) 962-1790,
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr, (919) 962-4093,
News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589