Distinguished Fellows

Joyce Currie Little
Towson University


Dr. Joyce Currie Little is Emeritus Professor, Computer & Information Sciences, at Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland, having retired in February 2011. She taught first in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, then became the Founding Chair of the new Department of Computer and Information Sciences in 1984.

Dr. Little has a B.S. from Northeast Louisiana University 1957, a M.S. from San Diego State University in 1963, and a Ph.D. from University of Maryland, College Park in 1984. She has been in computing for over fifty years, starting by being hired as a “test engineer” to do data analysis on aircraft and missiles, using some of the earliest computers available in aerospace work at the time. Ask her about watching Sputnik overhead in San Diego with her crew, and about their work with NASA on the Atlas Missile, and about the WWII German scientists who worked with them.

Joyce became an advocate for the creation of college courses in computing, starting by creating and teaching the first credit course in FORTRAN programming at San Diego State College in 1962 while in her MS program. She joined the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in the 1960’s during this time, then joined the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA, now AITP) in the 1970s while at Baltimore Jr. College. She became a link between the two organizations, promoting cooperative endeavors in curriculum development. She joined the IEEE-Computer Society in the 90s, working with a team to establish Software Engineering as a Profession. Ask her about taking the first Registered Business Programmer (RBP) examination of the to see if her COBOL students could pass it!

Joyce moved to Baltimore Maryland in 1963, and worked as the Assistant Director of the first “computer center” at Goucher College. She left Goucher College to become both a teacher and a computer facility administrator at Baltimore Junior College, where she could enjoy both types of challenges – computing and management of academic and administrative computer services. In the late 1970s, while still at the two-year college, she participated in the ACM Education Board curriculum updates to Computer Science ’68, which became Curriculum ’78. Soon after, with a grant from ACM SIGCSE, she headed the first ACM Two-Year College Education Sub-Committee, leading the publication of the first Associate Degree Curriculum reports of the ACM. Meanwhile, she also became a participant in work for the first Associate Degree Curriculum development work of the AITP. Ask her about others who were early participants in the DPMA’s pioneer curriculum work.

In the 1970s, the Presidents of the two organizations, ACM and DPMA, worked together to create the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals (now the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals), By the late 70s, they were working to reorganize and enlarge their purpose. Joyce was appointed by the ACM to participate in a re-organization, which resulted in her joining the first Certification Council for the new Certificate in Computer Programming (then, the original CCP). In 1983, the ACM recommended her to serve as one of their Directors on the ICCP Board, a position she still holds, now serving as Past President. Meanwhile, Joyce became a volunteer in the Baltimore Chapter of DPMA, to teach “review courses” for the ICCP’s Certified Data Processor(CDP) certification.

Joyce has taught many courses but emphasized her favorites: systems analysis and design, software engineering, and societal, ethical, and professional issues. In the last twenty years, she has published a number of papers, with others, to support the creation of courses in Societal, Ethical, and Professional Issues for the computing workforce. She has lectured on computer ethics, professionalism in software engineering, and women in computing. Ask her about serving on three respective committees for the development of professional Codes of Ethics and Standards of Good Practice: first for DPMA (now the AITP Code of Ethics), next for ACM (code of ethics), and lastly for IEEE-CS (Software Engineering Code of Ethics).

Among the honors Joyce has received are these: a 1972 Outstanding Educator in America award; the DPMA EDSIG 1986 Educator of the Year; the Baltimore Chapter AITP Outstanding Information Sciences Professional in 1991; the annual ACM Distinguished Services Award in 1992; a Fellow of the ACM in 1994; a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1995; a recipient of a 1997 Woman Pioneer Award in 1997, given by the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, Towson University President’s Distinguished Service Award in 2000, and the annual ACM SIGCSE Lifetime Service Award in 2006. Joyce holds the RBP, CDP and CCP credentials of the ICCP.