In the mid 1980s, when the provosts of more than half a dozen universities in the Pacific Northwest decided to partner with the Boeing Company, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and WICHE to establish a regional computer network, they turned to Bob Gillespie to coordinate the development and submission of a proposal to the National Science Foundation. Thanks to Bob’s outstanding work as a consultant, the funding was approved and in 1987 NWACC came into existence. It would be entirely fair to say that Bob is NWACC’s “founding father” (or at least its “founding midwife”).
A decade later, when the then-executive director of NWACC, Eric Hood, launched an effort to spin off and sell the networking component of NWACC, Bob was retained by the Board to facilitate the sale. Thanks to Bob’s depth of experience, NWACC successfully navigated some very intricate legal and financial complexities and eventually consummated the sale to World Net Access, Inc. (later Verio, Inc.), thereby creating the endowment that supports NWACC activities to this day. Following the sale of NorthWestNet, the Board drafted Bob to serve as NWACC’s President and Chief Operating Officer for three years, until his (nominal) retirement in 1999.
NWACC owes Bob a unique debt of gratitude, not only for helping to establish NWACC nearly a quarter century ago, but for ensuring, through the creation and stewardship of its endowment, that it will continue to be a resource for technology in education and research in the NorthWest for many years to come.