Celebrating Black History Month: Spotlight on Frank S. Greene, Ph.D. '70 (1938-2009)
Researcher, innovator, entrepreneur, teacher, mentor…we celebrate Frank S. Greene, electrical engineering Ph.D. 1970.
Frank Greene was among the first black students to earn a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He then earned his master’s at Purdue University and served four years in the U.S. Air Force, reaching the rank of captain, before joining Fairchild Semiconductor’s R&D Labs as a memory chip and system designer. Considered one of the pioneers of semiconductor technology, Greene broke new ground for black engineers as he helped break the color barrier in Silicon Valley in the 1960s. A consummate innovator, he developed and held the patent for the integrated circuit that made Fairchild a leader in the semiconductor industry.
Greene went on to create two software firms before founding NewVista Capital in 1986, through which he launched numerous start-up companies, with a particular focus on women and minority entrepreneurs.
In 2009, Greene was featured in an exhibit at Palo Alto City Hall as one of the 50 most important African-Americans in technology. He told the Palo Alto Times, “Success in life is not about ‘me,’ but about what you can do to help others.” He put this philosophy into practice over the course of his life, launching the GO-Positive Foundation and his VRE (Vision, Relationships and Execution) Leadership Model, through which he mentored and served as an inspiration to high school students and young business professionals. He also served as a Trustee and adjunct lecturer at SCU. For his many contributions to engineering and society, Greene was awarded the School of Engineering’s highest honor, the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award, and was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame by the Silicon Valley Engineering Council in 1991.
Dedicated to fostering excellence through leadership training and education, Frank Greene helped countless individuals realize their dreams by lending his time, his knowledge, and his support. In 2001, the Dr. Frank S. Green Scholars Program (GSP) was established to develop 21st century leaders with strong science and mathematics backgrounds. GSP provides long-term support for students from grades 3 through 12 through hands-on math, science, and technology experiences and workshops; science fairs and engineering competitions, and entrepreneurial/leadership programs. The program boasts an enviable success rate: 100 percent of its scholars go to college, 90 percent graduate in four years with BA or BS degrees, and 60 percent of those earn their degrees in STEM fields.
As we celebrate Black History Month, we celebrate Dr. Frank S. Greene, remembered by colleagues and students at SCU not only for his accomplishments in the technology sector, but as a dedicated and caring mentor and teacher, and aspirational role model.