Daniel Atkins receives Edward Law Emeritus Outstanding Service Award

Atkins’ achievements have been many as he has worked to digitally transform the College of Engineering and the University. As an emeritus, he has continued to advise leaders and promote Michigan.

Daniel E. Atkins III, Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Emeritus W. K. Kellogg Professor of Information, has been selected to receive the College of Engineering’s Edward Law Emeritus Outstanding Service Award for 2021-22. 

Daniel E. Atkins III
Prof. Daniel E. Atkins III

In a notable career that has spanned over 50 years, primarily at the University of Michigan, Prof. Atkins’ achievements have been many as he has worked to digitally transform the College of Engineering and the University.  After becoming emeritus in 2015, Prof. Atkins has continued to serve and support the college.

An elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, Prof. Atkins has as emeritus been instrumental in promoting the election of a number of Michigan faculty to the Academy. An important task, and one that has brought significant reflected recognition to the college, was his selection by the academy to chair a multi-academy committee from the National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Medicine to report on current efforts to develop advanced and automated workflows for scientific research. On campus, Prof. Atkins has continued in retirement to serve as an advisor to college leaders, sharing his experience and perspective. 

Prof. Atkins joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1971 as an assistant professor of EECS after receiving his doctorate in computer science from the University of Illinois in 1970. In 1981, he was appointed associate dean for research and graduate studies at the college; in this capacity, he helped lead the establishment of CAEN, which provided workstation computing labs for students and faculty in the college. He served as interim dean of the college from 1989-1991. In 1992, he became the founding dean of the School of Information, transforming the former School of Information and Library Science into one of the first modern iSchools in the world.

Following his deanship, which ended in 1998, Prof. Atkins chaired the National Academies Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel Commission, which helped to shape initiatives in cyberinfrastructure-enabled science and engineering research. He then served as the inaugural director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure for the National Science Foundation (2006-2008).

Prof. Atkins returned to the university as the Associate Vice President for Research Cyberinfrastructure (2008-2013), supporting access to leading-edge cyberinfrastructure environments. 

Among his other contributions, he served as project director of the Space Physics and Aeronomy Collaboratory (1998-2001) and the University of Michigan Digital Library Research Project (1992-1997), which helped position the university to take on the large-scale provisioning of digital library resources such as the Google Books Library Project. He helped to pilot the Mellon Foundation’s JSTOR project (1992-1995), used by millions for research, teaching, and learning. 

In a recent comment, James J. Duderstadt, University of Michigan President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering said, “Few faculty members have had more impact both on the University and society more generally than Dan’s leadership in the acquisition and use of information technology.”

Amongst his recognitions, Prof. Atkins has been commended by the National Science Foundation for his leadership in creating a cybersecurity initiative and stewarding it for the science and engineering community, and he is a recipient of the Paul Evan Peters Award, which recognizes the most notable and lasting international achievements related to high performance networks and the creation and use of information resources and services that advance scholarship and intellectual productivity. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering.