TITLE: Tough Choices AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 26, 2004 1:11 PM DESC: objectivity in a professional network ----- BODY: Today I've been working on OOPSLA 2004. If you use or study object-oriented techniques and have never been to OOPSLA, then you should definitely try to make it to Vancouver in October. OOPSLA is an electric conference, and Vancouver is a great conference town. I'm chair of this year's Educators Symposium, which promises to be a lot of fun. Alan Kay -- who this year has won the Turing Award, the Draper Prize, and Kyoto Prize -- is giving our keynote address. We have a great line-up of papers and activities, too. Most of my work as chair is done, as the program is mostly set. With the help of my program committee, I have a few panels and activities to finalize yet. The last big task I face is the one I'm doing now: choosing among the many deserving applicants for Educator Scholarships. OOPSLA is a conference of SIGPLAN. Each year, SIGPLAN generously supports a number of scholarships to OOPSLA for educators, so that these folks can learn about the latest in OO technology and use that to improve the teaching of OOP in our colleges and universities. I think that the educators add to the conference, too, by bringing teaching ideas that help trainers and by bringing an excitement to the professional population. In OOPSLA's salad days of the late 1990s, SIGPLAN was able to offer a large scholarship fund. In recent years, OOPSLA has not been as profitable. Fortunately, SIGPLAN continues to support the scholarships, but with an understandably smaller pot of money. Low supply makes awarding the scholarships even harder than usual. The demand for scholarships hasn't gone down, and I find that nearly all of the applicants are deserving. This problem is tough enough, but it is complicated by a couple of other factors: The program committee has implemented a couple of ways to make the selection process more objective. But no set of rules can shield me from the selection process, as ultimately I have to sign off on the awards. As one program committee member told me in e-mail, "That's why they pay you the big bucks." I laughed then, but I don't feel like laughing right now. -----