SIGGRAPH 2020 Distinguished Educator Award: Greenberg

  • ©2020, Donald P. Greenberg



    Distinguished Educator Award


    ACM SIGGRAPH is pleased to recognize Donald P. (Don) Greenberg with the 2020 ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Educator Award. The Distinguished Educator Award is given annually to a SIGGRAPH member for outstanding pedagogical contributions to computer graphics and interactive techniques. Award criteria include impact on research, practice of education as it relates to graphics and interactive techniques, cumulative contributions to the field, innovation in education, influence on the work and educational practice of others, and being active in the ACM SIGGRAPH Community. The awards committee felt that Prof. Greenberg has clearly made tremendous impact in all of these areas.

    Prof. Greenberg has been on the faculty of Cornell University since 1965, but his Cornell roots run deep: he received his BCE and PhD from Cornell as well. His original faculty appointments were in the Departments of Architecture and Structural Engineering, before there was a Computer Science Department. He is currently Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Graphics, and Director of the Program of Computer Graphics. He was the founding director of the NSF Science and Technology Center, a five university eleven year consortium, which educated many of the current U.S. graphics. As a reflection of the breadth of his interests and his influence, he also has joint appointments in the Departments of Architecture, Art, Computer Science, and the Johnson Graduate School of Management. He is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the ACM, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Don’s pioneering efforts in computer graphics started with the realization that computer graphics techniques would become instrumental in architecture and engineering disciplines, but his interests quickly spread to areas from computer animation to photo-realistic rendering, to color theory. His early animation Cornell in Perspective (1971) was one of the first color computer graphics animations made. However, even with all the amazing advancements that have come out of his lab, Don has said that it is his students and their impact on the field that is his proudest achievement. He is renowned not only as a graduate advisor, but for his interactions with undergraduate students. He is legendary for not leaving until the last student has left, talking and engaging with each and every one. And his success is also legendary: six of his former students have gone on to win the ACM SIGGRAPH Achievement Award, and two have won the prestigious Stephen A. Coons award for outstanding creative accomplishments in computer graphics – the same award that Don himself won in 1987. Fifteen of his former students have won Merit or Scientific and Technical Academy Awards.

    His engagement with the annual SIGGRAPH conference is also legendary. He has been a fixture at virtually every SIGGRAPH conference, having informal meetings with anyone who seeks him out, and again, staying until the last leave. In addition, six of his former students have served as the SIGGRAPH technical papers chair. Don himself perhaps said it best:

    “SIGGRAPH is my academic home! Without ACM SIGGRAPH I would never have enjoyed a half-century of teaching a multi-disciplinary subject mixing art, science and technology. Nor would I have benefitted from collaborating with my friends of varied backgrounds from around the world. How fortunate! I am forever indebted!!!”

    For his enduring legacy as a computer graphics pioneer, and especially as a pioneering computer graphics educator, ACM SIGGRAPH is proud to honor Donald P. Greenberg as the winner of the 2020 ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Educator Award.


    ACM SIGGRAPH Citation