If you had the pleasure of attending the most recent ISR Forum, on May 31st, you heard me announce that I am retiring from the University of California, effective July 1st. You also heard me say that I am continuing as Director of ISR for the coming year.
The retirement is indeed in place. My official university title is now “Professor Emeritus”. The great thing about UC’s retirement system is that it allows faculty to continue to participate in the life and mission of the university, to the extent that they desire. It is a set of opportunities, rather than a list of obligations.
The “opportunities” that I am going to pursue will come as no surprise to those who know me well: continuing to write, continuing to lead research projects, and continuing to serve as Director of ISR. These are all things I enjoy, and care about deeply.
Retirement is an occasion for parties, though, and have them I did. I want to tell you about one party in particular, because it surfaced a key value for ISR, and indeed one that I think all of us should treasure and nurture. The party was focused around my former Ph.D. students: 28 in all, now scattered around the state, the nation, and abroad. I am extremely proud of them, and it was a great joy to hear of their many and significant accomplishments. Just as a small sample, two of my alumni are or were chairs of their computer science departments; two more are currently serving as associate chairs of their computer science departments. Others have started companies (two have in fact started many companies!). Others have gone on to achievements in large companies, others are just beginning their careers. But overall the theme was one of success — success in many dimensions.
What has led to such success though? I think a critical ingredient has been community. ISR has held the development and nurturing of community as a key value since its inception. While academics and academic institutions often give pre-eminence to the individual and individualism, I think that the software community that ISR has promoted has enabled these students, indeed all our ISR alumni, to achieve far more than they would have, had they “grown up” in a typical university setting. Community benefits our non-university partners as well. The cross-pollination of ideas, the exposure to new directions, the making of new colleagues – all these come from a conscious effort to build community.
Community does not come easily, however. It requires mutual commitment, frequent shoulder-rubbing, humility, and patience. The returns on such investments, though, are many. Community provides a basis for substantive early feedback on ideas, leveraging of the expertise of others, and the development of meaningful collaborations.
I hope that this coming year will see the creation of yet-additional collaborations, whether between graduate students, research groups, or best of all, with our partner companies. The resulting work is so much fun, you just can’t leave it behind. Even when you retire!
ISR Director Richard N. Taylor