The Computing Research Association has selected Charles L. Isbell, Dean and John P. Imlay, Jr. Chair of the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing, as the recipient of the 2023 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, in recognition of his substantial impact on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the computing community.
Over the course of three decades, Isbell has been a persistent force in broadening participation in computing. He launched the Diversifying LEAdership in the Professoriate (LEAP) Alliance, an innovative initiative to increase the diversity of the computing professoriate as an important pathway to increasing student diversity in computing. In addition, his work on the online Master’s degree at Georgia Tech produced an exceptional new way to train more CS graduate students, which has brought more non-traditional students into the computing field.
Isbell has developed wide-spread support across communities for meaningful action on broadening participation. During his service on the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee (CISE AC) of the National Science Foundation (NSF), he worked to envision and realize a transformative strategic plan for broadening participation in computing which has had tremendous impact. The plan has served as a guiding document for CISE’s efforts to move the needle on diversifying the computing research community. In his role as Chair of the CISE Education & Workforce subcommittee, Isbell provided insight and guidance on the Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) Plan initiative where CISE Principal Investigators (PIs) include meaningful project BPC plans in proposals submitted to a subset of CISE’s research programs. Isbell also served on NSF’s Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering and helped lead a report to Congress that made a compelling argument for establishing shared accountability for PIs, institutions, and NSF.
As his nomination letters attest, Isbell has demonstrated substantial ability to lead, influence important people, and have tangible impact. He has changed the landscape of computing locally, nationally, and internationally, particularly for those minoritized in computing.
About the Award
This award honors the late A. Nico Habermann, who headed NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate and was deeply committed to increasing the participation of people from groups that have been minoritized in tech. This award recognizes work in areas of government affairs, educational programs, professional societies, public awareness, and leadership that has a major impact on advancing these members in the computing research community.