The themes of collegiality and collaboration were unavoidable as colleagues and friends reflected on the news that Thomas W. Doeppner, Associate Professor (Research) and Vice Chair of the Computer Science Department, had just received Brown University’s President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Governance. He joins previous winner John Savage of the Department, who was honored in 2009. “Tom is one of the elders of BrownCS,” explains Department Chair Roberto Tamassia, “and this award really celebrates his vision. He has a tremendous understanding of Brown’s educational and research mission, and it’s led him to work individually with hundreds of students every year, getting to know their goals and ensuring that they’re successful.”
Over decades of service, Tom’s commitment to students has inspired him to work with colleagues on numerous councils, committees, and boards, including the Information Technology Advisory Board (he served as Vice Chair), the Committee on Academic Standing, the College Curriculum Council (two two-year terms as Vice Chair), and the Academic Code Committee, which he chaired. The award, which is accompanied by a research stipend of $2,500, recognizes this outstanding effort. It was established by President Simmons in 2007-08 to celebrate faculty contributions, past and/or present, to the University through service on faculty committees and advisory boards.
“Winning this award is humbling, and it comes as a surprise,” Doeppner comments. “I just see myself as someone who enjoys new ideas, regardless of which Department they come from. I’m interested in the undergraduate program in general, and working on these committees has helped me get a better understanding of what’s going on across the entire university.” Longtime colleague, Andries van Dam, praised Tom’s concern for undergraduates as well as other members of BrownCS: “Tom is a tireless mainstay of both the physical and human ‘plant’ of the Department. Few people are aware of everything he does to keep us going.”
If history is any indication, this award represents just another milestone as Doeppner continues onward to the next challenge. Citing just one example, he says, “I’m immensely proud of our undergraduate teaching assistant program. It gets students involved, and it teaches them an entirely different set of skills. I’d like to see the rest of the university adopt what we’ve done.” Department Chair Tamassia finds this pride to be completely justifiable: “If you ask an undergraduate who’s running BrownCS, they might pick Tom! I hope he never retires, because I can’t imagine the Department without him