Peter Freeman, head of NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate announced today that he’ll be leaving the post in January to take over a new position with the Washington Advisory Group. This isn’t a huge surprise as Peter’s term as Assistant Director of NSF was due to expire in early 2007. Hopefully this also means that the search for Peter’s replacement is nearing its completion, too.
The job of AD CISE is a pretty thankless one even in the best of times. [Updated…see below.] Peter has presided over a period in which the pressure on NSF funding for computing has probably never been greater. The field has grown significantly — both in breadth and in number of faculty — budgets have been relatively flat (on a constant dollar basis), and one historically key source of research funding for computing (DARPA) has scaled back its role significantly. For the duration of Peter’s term, NSF has essentially been the only game in town for fundamental computing research funding. Dealing with the corresponding rise in proposal pressure and decline in award rates can’t have been much fun. His reorganization of the Directorate helped provide some much needed flexibility.
Peter’s legacy as AD may be his drive to get the community to “think bigger and bolder” with projects like the proposed Global Environment for Networking Innovations (GENI) and the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) (which CRA is convening). It will also be his ardent belief in the need to increase the participation of women and minorities in computing. Under his watch, CISE established the Broadening Participation in Computing program, which is already making its mark on the field.
It’s good to know that Peter will remain here in Washington, putting to good use what he’s learned about how science policy works (or doesn’t) inside the Beltway. The community can surely use all the help it can get. We here at CRA World HQ wish him all the best in his new role!
Here’s Peter’s official announcement:
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Peter Freeman, Assistant Director of the NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), announced today that he will leave NSF in January to become a Director at the prestigious Washington Advisory Group. The Washington Advisory Group provides strategic counsel and management consulting to the leaders of companies, universities, governments and non-profit organizations. It was founded in 1996 by a group of leaders in national science policy and research funding, including Erich Bloch, former Director of NSF.
Dr. Freeman has led CISE since 2002, having come from Georgia Tech, where he was Founding Dean of Computing and continues as an emeritus professor. “Dr. Freeman’s tenure at NSF was filled with many valuable achievements” stated Dr. Arden Bement. Dr. Freeman led the Information Technology Research Program, oversaw a comprehensive reorganization of CISE, helped lead the elevation of cyberinfrastructure to a major activity across NSF, initiated the GENI Internet Research project, coordinated homeland security research across NSF, and substantially expanded cybersecurity R&D. He was instrumental in starting several key CISE programs, including Broadening Participation in Computing, Science of Design, Revitalizing Computing Education, and the Computing Community Consortium. He also served as co-chair of the NSTC Subcommittee on Networking and Information Technology R&D (NITRD).
In addition to consulting, Dr. Freeman will remain active in the computing community and with Georgia Tech. He will continue living in Washington.
We’ll have word on Peter’s replacement whenever we learn who it might be.
Update: (11/30/2006) — Peter Freeman wrote to take issue with my characterization of the AD job as “thankless.” Of course he’s right. I was being a bit glib while trying to thank him for the effort he’s put forth in a challenging, but apparently very rewarding position. With his permission, here’s some of what he wrote:
I want to take exception to your comment that the AD job is “pretty thankless.” I have actually received a lot of thanks over the past 5 years in the formal sense and even more in the informal sense of it being an extremely rewarding job. In many ways, it has been absolutely the best position I have ever had because of the opportunity to make a difference for our community, science, and the entire Nation. It also has been extremely invigorating intellectually, collegially, and just on a daily basis. Perks like a trip to the South Pole, many of the big science sites in this country, attending interesting functions in official Washington, and the opportunity to play on the international stage (meaningfully) only add to the personal rewards. Finally, of course, is the sense of having been able to give back at least as much as the field has given to me.