The ACM Banquet
Tonight (June 27) was the annual ACM Awards Banquet. This event is where various awards and recognitions are made, although most are announced well in advance. Among other things, this is when the Turing Award is officially given (this year, to Professor Barbara Liskov), and when the new class of ACM Fellows is inducted.
Also annually, the Computing Research Association (CRA) awards a Distinguished Service Award "...to a person who has made an outstanding service contribution to the computing research community. This award recognizes service in the areas of government affairs, professional societies, publications or conferences, and leadership that has a major impact on computing research."
I was this year's recipient of that CRA award. And as this is one of the "off years" when the CRA Snowbird Conference is not held, they needed a venue for presentation. They chose the ACM Banquet.
Peter Lee, the current chair of CRA, made the presentation, as the closing award of the evening. He was gracious in his comments about why I got the award. Then I had a minute to make some brief remarks. This is approximately what I said (and meant it!):
I am still a bit surprised that I received this award, as it is in recognition of things I can't imagine I could stop doing!
There are several reasons that organizations give awards. One is certainly to recognize great achievement. Another is to set examples and encourage others to strive for similar heights. Certainly, tonight we have heard of great achievements, and there are many others recognized by awards in previous years, as listed in the booklets at our tables.
But I'd like to take advantage of this moment to be that example. Not all of us have the opportunities or wherewithal to make incredible discoveries and advance the field. But every one of us has the on-going opportunity to make a difference in the world. We are working in a field that changes the world every day. Each of us can add to those changes in a positive way. Spread the word. Go out and change the world, through discovery, education, mentoring, or engagement. Make the world a better place.
I believe the best is yet to come, but we all have to work to achieve it.
The event was fun and well attended. I got a chance to see and talk with people I have not seen in person in over 20 years, as well as some I had seen as recently as a few weeks ago. And I got to meet people in person for the first time but with whom I have corresponded for decades. That was certainly worthwhile.
And how often does one get to claim to have spoken with a half-dozen Turing Award winners in a weekend, and almost as many current & former ACM Presidents?
I dressed in my tux and black tie. No one was particularly impressed, although a few commented that I looked less rumpled than usual.
And kudos to Kelly Gotlieb who was co-chair of the Awards Committee and is celebrating his 60th anniversary as a continuous member of ACM. The man is amazing....but so were so many of the people present.
If you are in computing and not a member of ACM, you should be. There are also special rates for students.