Lazowska’s service record is ‘off the charts’

  Ed Lazowska
Ed Lazowska

(Editor's Note: Ed Lazowska, chair of Computer Science and Engineering, is the 1998 recipient of the Public Service Award, which includes $3,500. Lazowska will be honored along with other annual award winners at the University-wide recognition event at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11 in Meany Hall.)

Like a proud parent, Ed Lazowska gets more excited when a student or faculty member in his department earns an award than when he wins recognition himself. Nevertheless, personal accolades keep pouring in for the energetic chairman of the UW's Computer Science and Engineering Department.

Well known for his accomplishments on campus, the spotlight now falls on his off-campus achievements. Lauded by community leaders such as Seattle Superintendent John Stanford and State Rep. Tom Huff for his tireless volunteer work, Lazowska has been selected to receive the 1998 UW Outstanding Public Service Award.

“The range and impact of his public service is simply off the chart,” said a group of top University administrators who nominated Lazowska for the award. “His record of achievement is almost unbelievable. We are convinced he never sleeps.”

Employing his signature style for problem solving—mastering the topic, devising new and sometimes unexpected solutions, recruiting key players to help carry them out and championing the cause with evangelical zeal — Lazowska has made his presence felt from the halls of local schools to the halls of Congress.

Two years ago, Lazowska was called in to advise the Seattle Public Schools in their efforts to connect students to the Internet. He led the development of district-wide technology standards and helped raise funds to begin installing school-based networks. Thanks to the NetWorks project, more than one-third of Seattle's schools are now online.

In addition, Lazowska helped recruit nearly 100 UW faculty and staff to host a 1996 inservice day on teaching, learning and technology for Seattle teachers. In 1997, the Alliance for Education gave Lazowska its first-ever A+ Partnership Award for his contributions to Seattle schools.

“The volunteer work that Dr. Lazowska has donated on behalf of the 47,500 students of the Seattle Public Schools is invaluable,” says Stanford in a letter recommending Lazowska for the public service award.

At the state level, Lazowska has been a key player in the planning and implementation of the K-20 network that will ultimately link all the state's educational institutions. He also has been active in focusing the attention of community leaders on the opportunities and problems of the region's burgeoning high-tech industry and was a driving force behind the formation of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce's Technology Alliance.

“The consequences of Ed's substantial work is nothing less than helping to create an economic legacy for Washington,” wrote Kathleen Wilcox, president and executive director of the Washington Software Alliance.

Adds Huff, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, “The scope and quality of (Lazowska's) service in support of economic development, education programs and policy, telecommunications policy, land-use policy and tax policy is unprecedented in my experience.”

But Lazowska's volunteer work hasn't stopped at the state's borders. He is a member of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council, where bolstering the federal investment in computing research to preserve the nation's current world leadership is his latest cause.

All of these endeavors, Lazowska is quick to point out, are team efforts. He has been fortunate, he says, to be able to find willing and able collaborators at the UW to make his public service work both successful and enjoyable. That said, it's still a ton of work. So why does Lazowska extend himself so far beyond what many would see as the call of duty for a university professor and administrator?

Simply put, he sees public service as an integral part of his job. Providing leadership in tackling public sector problems is one of the important ways in which UW officials can and should demonstrate the University's positive impact on the state, Lazowska believes.

“It comes with the territory,” he says. “Not every person or every department needs to be engaged in every form of service, but as an institution we need to be out there. Computer science departments have unique opportunities and responsibilities because so much of the action, now and for the foreseeable future, revolves around information technology.” ¶

Greg Orwig, News and Information

University Week
The faculty and staff publication of the University of Washington
May 7, 1998