GIS Educator from ESRI Wins 2008 Educator Award

Posted by GIS talk On Thursday, June 19, 2008
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Dr. Michael Phoenix, who dedicated his career at ESRI to educating people about and evangelizing for geospatial science and technology, will be presented next week with the 2008 University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) Educator Award.

Phoenix will accept the award during a ceremony at the 2008 UCGIS Summer Assembly, June 23–24, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The nonprofit UCGIS promotes multidisciplinary research and education in geographic information science (GIScience). The consortium's members include more than 60 universities, scholarly societies, and professional organizations such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Association of American Geographers.

"The UCGIS is pleased to honor Dr. Phoenix, whose unwavering commitment to GIScience education helped support the development of many academic programs around the world," said Steve Prager, UCGIS Education Committee chairman. "Mike's professional and personal contributions to geographic information science and technology education are highly regarded in academia and industry alike. His work has been crucial in advancing GIScience and technology education. With this in mind, we wish to recognize his important accomplishments and continuing contributions."

Phoenix worked for 15 years on ESRI's education industry solutions team, part of the Marketing Department. The education team's main goal is facilitating spatial literacy, and for ESRI, he traveled the world, promoting GIScience education. This included trips to Asia and Africa. He worked with more than 3,000 institutions of higher learning, providing needed resources, support, and advice as the schools built their GIScience and geographic information system (GIS) programs. Phoenix said he's deeply honored to receive the award. He's a strong advocate of geospatial education, having been inspired by ESRI president Jack Dangermond, whom he thanked for "allowing me to pursue my passion for geography and education in my work."

"I believe the award is as much for ESRI as it is for me," said Phoenix, who retired earlier this year but continues to work on special projects for the company on an occasional basis. "Everything that I was doing to promote GIScience was what Jack Dangermond wanted us to do. Our inspiration and direction all came from Jack. Jack was always clear that this was not about software training; it's about learning to think spatially. Jack wants to change the way the world works. He wants decision making to include a spatial or geographic component. He has created a company that builds the tools for spatial decision making, but he has always understood that behavior change is brought about not by technology but by education."

Phoenix also helped foster relationships between academia and private industry. ESRI has partnered with colleges and universities to support their efforts to obtain grants from the National Science Foundation and other government granting agencies. Many of these grants helped academic programs that turn out graduates trained in the latest geospatial technologies, who are crucial to the needs of businesses and government organizations.

"Mike pioneered an unprecedented partnership between private industry and many communities of researchers and educators," Dangermond said. "That partnership proved to be the wellspring for GIS being used to benefit people in need, care for our planet, and create knowledge that will be passed down for generations to come."

Past winners of the UCGIS Educator Award include Dr. Duane F. Marble, professor emeritus of geography at Ohio State University; Dr. Michael F. Goodchild, professor of geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Dr. Karen K. Kemp, founding director of the International Masters Program in GIS at the University of Redlands in California and editor of the new Encyclopedia of Geographic Information Science.

The goals of the UCGIS include expanding and strengthening GIScience education at all levels, promoting the ethical use of and access to geographic information, and fostering GIScience and analysis in support of national needs.

For more information about the UCGIS, visit www.ucgis.org.


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