Mudd Prize Awarded to Libeskind-Hadas

Ran Libeskind-Hadas, R. Michael Shanahan Professor of Computer Science and department chair, is the recipient of the 2015 Henry T. Mudd Prize, an award that recognizes extraordinary service to Harvey Mudd College.

Libeskind-Hadas received the prize from President Maria Klawe at the College’s 57th Commencement ceremony May 17. Awardees receive $4,000, $2,000 of which is designated for use within the College at the discretion of the recipient.

The Henry T. Mudd Prize is awarded each year at commencement to a member of the Harvey Mudd community whose service to the College and its mission is exemplary. Henry T. Mudd (1913–1990), the son of Harvey S. Mudd, was instrumental in the creation and early development of the College named for his father. Henry Mudd served as a founding trustee and chair of the board for 23 years.

Libeskind-Hadas joined the Harvey Mudd College faculty in 1993. In 1996, he was awarded the Iris and Howard Critchell Assistant Professorship, which honors a junior professor who has exhibited an unusual talent for mentoring and counseling students in all aspects of their lives. In 2005, he was the first to be named the Joseph B. Platt Endowed Chair for effective teaching. He received the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Educator Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his outstanding contributions to computer science education and for his work motivating computer science students.

During his tenure at Harvey Mudd, Libeskind-Hadas has supervised more than 40 undergraduate research students, 16 senior theses and 15 yearlong Clinic projects. He encouraged the formation of the Harvey Mudd student chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery and serves as the chapter’s advisor. His recent writing projects include the book Computing for Biologists: Python Programming and Principles, which he co-authored with Eliot Bush, associate professor of biology. In January 2014, he concluded a third three-year term on the Computing Research Association/National Science Foundation’s Computing Community Consortium Council, a national committee of 21 computer scientists tasked with helping shape a national agenda for computer science research. Libeskind-Hadas co-chaired the Computing Research Association Education committee, overseeing the group’s goal of doing research and developing resources to help improve the pipeline of domestic students in CS research.

As chair since July 2011, Libeskind-Hadas has helped to grow the Computer Science Department to nine tenure-track faculty members and three staff members, and was instrumental in helping implement innovative practices to attract women to the discipline. Harvey Mudd has more than tripled its percentage of women CS majors, resulting in a gender ratio that is also triple the national average. This year, for the first time, there are more graduating CS majors than engineering majors.

Libeskind-Hadas received his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard University in 1987 and his master’s and doctorate degrees in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989 and 1993, respectively. His current research is primarily in the area of algorithms for computational biology. In particular, he has been studying the cophylogeny reconstruction problem.

Following is the text of the citation awarded to Libeskind-Hadas by President Klawe:

“For his more than twenty years of service as a role model to students and peers and for demonstrating what it means to be a truly excellent member of the Harvey Mudd College community; For his patience, kindness and genuine care for students, generously making himself available officially through office hours and unofficially any time a student is in need; For his excellent and creative teaching, always ensuring his courses are stimulating, challenging and rewarding for all students; For his selfless commitment to the mission and quality of this institution, having been elected by his colleagues to a total of thirteen years of service on the Faculty Executive and Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure committees, and serving as an associate dean of the faculty as well as chair of his department; For his acclaimed research and professional expertise, including recently serving as the co-director of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site at Harvey Mudd, which afforded the College the opportunity to greatly increase the number of undergraduate research students during the summer, in addition to expanding cross-college interactions; For encouraging the students to form a student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery that has been successfully running since 2005; For being a central and enduring presence in the Computer Science Department’s transformation from a traditionally structured program to one with a nationally recognized, trail-blazing introductory computer science sequence; For being a man admired and highly regarded throughout the Claremont community; Ran Libeskind-Hadas, R. Michael Shanahan Professor of Computer Science and Department Chair, is hereby designated the 2015 recipient of the Henry T. Mudd Prize.”