Computing's Isbell Named Faculty Athletics Representative

President G.P. “Bud” Peterson has named Charles Isbell, senior associate dean and professor in the College of Computing, as the next faculty athletics representative (FAR) to the Georgia Tech Athletic Association.

The FAR serves as the liaison between the Institute and the Athletic Association on issues regarding rules compliance, developments at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and activities related to Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) membership. The position was previously held by Reginald DesRoches, the Karen and John Huff Chair and professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who is leaving Georgia Tech in July to assume the role of dean of engineering at Rice University.

“Charles is an engaged leader and innovator at Georgia Tech in numerous areas, and we are very fortunate that he has agreed to add the role as the Institute’s new faculty athletics representative to his responsibilities,” said Peterson. “On behalf of all of Georgia Tech, I would also like to thank Reggie DesRoches for serving us so well as our FAR for the past three years.”

Isbell has been a faculty member at Georgia Tech since 2002, but first came to Tech as a student to earn his bachelor’s degree in computer science. He also holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His first institutional service role at Tech was with the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, where he worked with student-athletes returning to finish their degrees.

“Since the very beginning of being here as a faculty member, I’ve been interested in the way student-athletes interact with the rest of the institution,” he said.

Isbell hopes to continue events that DesRoches organized to facilitate faculty and student-athlete interaction. He also hopes to serve as a bridge for faculty members to pursue more research endeavors with the Athletic Association.

“I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had with faculty members who have been interested in working with Athletics, but weren’t sure how to go about doing it,” he said. “I’m going to put energy into making those connections.”

For Isbell, understanding the experience of student-athletes is paramount to success in higher education. Athletic achievements can elevate a university’s profile to prospective students, and student-athletes’ relationship to the university is one that can be used as a model for the broader campus community.

“Anyone interested in higher education and how it has to grow and change has to understand how Division I athletics works at a university,” he said. “As higher education changes, we have to think of ourselves more as a community and consider what lets people build connections and keep coming back. It’s going to have to happen with all students, faculty, and staff, and athletics can be an example of how to do that well.”

While Isbell is a fan and frequent attendee of Georgia Tech athletic events, his support for student-athletes extends beyond the stands.

“I want the student-athletes to know I am here for them, and I intend to talk with them and be a resource for them,” he said. “I want them to know that and believe it, and know that I take it very seriously.”

Isbell’s research focuses on statistical machine learning and interactive artificial intelligence. He teaches several courses both to on-campus students and to students around the world in Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science program. His three-year term as FAR begins July 1.

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