This article is published in the June 2018 issue.

Jan Cuny Receives 2017 ACM Distinguished Service Award

CunyRecently ACM announced that former CRA and CRA-W board member Jan Cuny has been named the recipient of the 2017 ACM Distinguished Service Award. She received the award for the establishment and tireless promotion of projects that have nationally transformed computer science education by increasing and diversifying access to high-quality CS education.

From the announcement:

When she joined the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2004, Cuny initiated the Broadening Participation in Computing Program (BPC), which aimed to significantly increase the number of college students earning degrees in computing across the country. The BPC program sought to increase the participation in computing of traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, minorities and persons with disabilities. BPC seeded a number of alliances—large-scale efforts that are continuing to work at the national level to increase diversity in the computing field.

In the K-12 arena, Cuny built on the work of one of those alliances, Into the Loop, that successfully introduced a new high school course, Exploring Computer Science, designed with equity as a core consideration.  Cuny worked with the College Board to develop a new national Advanced Placement (AP) computer science course and exam with similar goals of attracting traditionally underrepresented groups. One challenge the planners faced was that of the 23,000 public high schools in the United States, only 2,000 offered computer science education. Creating new NSF programs, Cuny launched an effort to catalyze a movement to add 10,000 new well-trained CS teachers throughout the country in 10 years. This ambitious professional development effort was dubbed “CS10K.”

While the milestone of 10,000 new CS teachers has not quite been reached yet, Cuny’s vision of a new, more inclusive CS course is a reality. AP Computer Science Principles was launched in the 2016-2017 academic year. More than 2,500 schools offered the course and more than 50,000 students took the exam—the biggest launch in the AP’s history. CS10K became the forerunner to today’s CSforAll movement that is transforming CS education for grades preK-12.

Cuny at Snowbird

Jan has led several efforts to increase the participation of women and minorities in computing research for many years. Before joining NSF, she was a vice chair of CRA and a long-time board member of CRA-W, where she organized Career Mentoring Workshops, co-founded the Grad Cohort program with Mary Lou Soffa, and served as co-chair and on the steering committee. For her work in this area, Jan has also received an ACM Presidential Award in 2006, the 2007 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, and the 2009 Anita Borg Institute’s Woman of Vision Award for Social Impact. More recently, she organized a session at the 2016 CRA Conference at Snowbird called “Finding a Role for Your Department in the Computer Science for All Initiative.”

Congratulations to Jan on this much-deserved award!