Mary Jean Harrold
IEEE Computer Society
SEP 23, 2013 11:37 AM
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Mary Jean Harrold, In Memoriam

March 12, 1947–September 19, 2013

Mary Jean Harrold

An extraordinary computer scientist, teacher, friend, and mentor, Mary Jean Harrold lost a hard-fought battle with cancer in the afternoon of September 19. She will be greatly missed by family, friends, colleagues, and students everywhere.

At the time of her death, Mary Jean was a professor in the School of Computer Science at Georgia Institute of Technology. Before joining Georgia Tech, she was on the faculty of Ohio State University and, earlier, the faculty of Clemson University. At Georgia Tech, she founded the Aristotle Research Group, which focuses on developing efficient techniques and tools to automate software system development, testing, and maintenance. Mary Jean's research on static analysis and testing of software is foundational. She was named an ACM fellow in 2003 and an IEEE fellow in 2011 for contributions to software systems. A 2007 CACM article ranked her as the top software engineering researcher in the world. She had a true passion for research and for collaborating with others, especially students, as is evident from the long list of her coauthors. Numerous researchers found it a pleasure to collaborate with her because of her never-ending energy, constructive and goal-oriented working style, sense of humor, and team spirit.

Mary Jean had a long record of service to the computing research community, including serving as a past Vice Chair and Secretary/Treasurer of ACM SIGSOFT, general chair of the 2008 SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, program cochair of the 2001 International Conference on Software Engineering, and program chair of the 2000 International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis. She frequently organized and spoke at doctoral symposia and early faculty mentoring workshops. She previously served on the Computing Research Association (CRA) Board of Directors.

Mary Jean was also a fierce advocate for women and minorities in computing fields. At Georgia Tech, she was the NSF ADVANCE Professor in the School of Computer Science from 2001 to 2011. She was also a member of the Leadership Team and Director of the Georgia Tech Hub for the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). Outside Georgia Tech, Mary Jean served many years — several of which as co-chair — on the Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), whose goal is to increase the number of women in Computer Science research and education at all levels. She was instrumental in establishing the biennial Software Engineering Educators' Symposium (SEES), which aims to forge ties between faculty at minority-serving colleges and software engineering researchers.

Above all, Mary Jean loved teaching, working with, and advising students. She always had an insightful comment to guide a student along a promising path and an encouraging remark to keep them engaged and focused on worthy goals. Throughout her long career, she mentored countless students and junior faculty, as well, many of whom have become leaders in their own right. Everyone who interacted with Mary Jean was touched by her kindness, enthusiasm, energy, and love for life, and remembers her fondly. She was a magnificent role model that many have emulated.

Mary Jean was one of those rare people who seemed to have it all — accomplished professionally, she nevertheless had a rich and full family life. She could not contain her pride and joy in her husband of 45 years, Tom (Fuzzy) Harrold; two sons, Tom and Marc; daughter-in-law, Linda; and five siblings, Marti Moore, Elizabeth Riley, Barbara Tomlinson, Christa Palmer, and Donald Tomlinson. She was especially devoted to her two grandsons, Tommy and Matt. She enjoyed every minute spent with them, especially when playing with them.

Mary Jean left us too early and will be sorely missed by far too many people to list. She will always be in our memories as the kind, smiling, positive person she has always been.

The family requests that donations in her name be made to the Emogene Dolin Jones Hospice House, Huntington, WV.

Service information can be found at

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