Tech Pioneer and Beloved NYU Professor Dies at 88

By Ben Fractenberg and Aidan Gardiner  on August 27, 2013 9:56am

 NYU professor Red Burns, dubbed the "godmother of Silicon Alley," died in her home Friday.
NYU professor Red Burns, dubbed the "godmother of Silicon Alley," died in her home Friday.
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Courtesy NYU

MANHATTAN — The New York University professor Red Burns, who led the university's innovative telecommunications program and is credited with fostering the burgeoning New York City tech community, died in her home Friday, the school announced.

Burns, who was 88, founded NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program in 1979, which focused on digital innovation and earned her the nickname the "mother of Silicon Alley," referring to New York's version of California's tech epicenter.

"[Burns] believed that in inviting the most exciting students from a mix of disciplines, the department could form the core of a vibrant creative community in which the unexpected can happen," NYU dean Mary Schmidt Campbell wrote in a statement.

Her students went on to found the social media platform Foursquare, create the city's ubiquitous MetroCard kiosk and develop an app used in Sudan and Uganda to find lost children.

Burns is survived by her three children Michael, Barbara and Catherine, and three grandchildren.

NYU has established the Red Burns scholarship fund and plans to organize a memorial for the beloved educator in the coming weeks.

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