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Multiple faculty members named to ACM leadership positions

By Fran Broderick and Matt Noble

Recently, multiple faculty members in the Golisano College’s Information Sciences and Technologies (IST) department were elected to leadership positions in Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Groups.

IST Department Chair Steve Zilora has been elected Chair of the ACM’s Information Technology Education Group (SIGITE). In addition, Distinguished Professor Vicki Hanson has been elected Vice-President at Large for the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), while associate professor Matt Huenerfuth has been elected Vice-Chair for the Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing (SIGACCESS).

SIGCHI “is the premier international society for professionals, academics and students who are interested in human-technology & human-computer interaction (HCI)” according to the group’s site. Both Hanson and Huenerfauth are leading researchers in the field of accessibility – Huenerfauth’s research centers around American Sign Language (ASL) animations for use in accessible computing, while Hanson has been a pioneer in the accessibility field, founding IBM’s Accessibility Research Group.

“The strength of SIGCHI comes from its investment in its community through multiple innovative initiatives,” says Dr. Hanson.  “As the incoming Vice President at Large of SIGCHI, I will work to reinforce the organization's efforts in growing the international community, in supporting regional chapters, and in creating educational materials.” 

SIGACCESS “promotes the interests of professionals working on research and development of computing and information technology to help persons with disabilities,” according to their mission. The group organizes the international ASSETS conference, the leading venue for cutting-edge computing research on accessibility.  In addition to educational initiatives and a scholarship program, SIGACCESS also manages the selection process for major awards in the field, including the "Outstanding Contribution" award won by Dr. Hanson in 2014. 

“I have been involved with SIGACCESS since participating in a doctoral student event in 2004," says Dr. Huenerfauth. "For over a decade, this group has been hugely influential in my career: as a valuable source of mentoring relationships, professional networking, and publication venues.  I'm looking forward to giving back to this research community by serving in this leadership role."

SIGITE provides a forum for information technology (IT) educators worldwide. The organization has created a model undergraduate curriculum, helped create accreditation guidelines for IT programs, and is now defining and promoting IT research.

Incoming SIGITE Chair and IST Department Chair Steve Zilora sees exciting new opportunities for the group: “Compared to the other computing societies, SIGITE is relatively young. We are now entering our teen years and it is time to be bold and maybe even a little brash. I’m looking forward to helping the society step out into the world to make an impact.”

When asked why he thought three separate faculty members from the IST department had won leadership positions in ACM, Zilora added, “I think these election results reflect not only the personal reputations of the faculty, but also the reputation that RIT carries and the great work that is being done in IST.”