Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Author of "Computer-Oriented Onomastics" retires after more than 53 years at the Binghamton University


Few people have been actively involved with the Binghamton University community for as long as Michael McGoff ’69, MA ’74, PhD ’80, has.

McGoff’s journey with Binghamton spans more than 53 years, beginning with his time as an undergraduate student and culminating in his role as senior vice provost and chief financial officer of the University.


McGoff’s roots in the Binghamton area run deep. His grandparents came from Ireland in the early 1900s to work at the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, and his father was a Binghamton police officer. The eldest of nine children, McGoff started his college career at what is now known as SUNY Broome before enrolling at Binghamton University.

“I had a number of interests that ranged from anthropology to psychology, but I finally settled on linguistics. I fell in love with onomastics,” he says.

His interest in the field of onomastics, which explores the history of how things are named, led McGoff to study languages including Old English, Middle English, Old High German, French, Latin and Old Norse.

Working as a research associate in what was then-Binghamton University’s School of Advanced Technology (SAT), his interest in language merged with his interest in technology.

“I began to study computer languages early on, when people were still using punch cards,” he says. His PhD dissertation, Computer-Oriented Onomastics, was a “wedding” of his dual interests.

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