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Will Craig, GISP


Dr. William J. Craig is widely regarded to be one of the pioneers of urban and regional information systems and GIS.  He began as system manager and project director of one of the world’s first State-wide GIS—the Minnesota Land Management Information System. Since then he has become internationally known for his work of almost 40 years with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and for his dedication in promoting major national and global initiatives associated with data sharing, multipurpose cadastres, census data, spatial data infrastructures, public participation GIS, and the GIS code of ethics.

Professionally, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in geography from the University of Minnesota and is a certified GIS Professional. He began his career at the University of Minnesota in 1967 and continues there today as the Associate Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. He co-founded University of Minnesota’s Master of GIS professional degree program in 1997.

He has been extremely active in the promotion of geographic information and he has held numerous key appointments including: President of URISA (1986-87); President of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (1997); President of the National States Geographic Information Council (2009-10); Chair the inaugural national GIS/LIS Conference (1988); Chair of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Geographic Information (1992-93); Chair of the MetroGIS Coordinating Committee (2000-02); member of the Mapping Science Committee of the National Research Council (2000-2005); and member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Land Parcel Databases (2006-07).

Will Craig has been a tremendous source of momentum and guidance on the development of ethics standards for the GIS professional community.  The GIS Certification Institute’s Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct are very much a product of his early work and consistent activity in this area.  He has contributed to countless conferences and seminars over the past 40 years as both a committee member and participant, not only in North America but also as an invited keynote speaker in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

He has been a champion of Public Participation GIS (PPGIS), starting with Citizen Access Day at the 1994 URISA Conference and culminating in his 2002 book Community Participation and Geographic Information Systems.  Between those dates and subsequently he produced numerous research articles on the nature of PPGIS.  He has inspired others to take up and extend that work in their conferences and research.

His outstanding dedication and professional service have been recognized by his peers with the URISA Leadership Award in 1989, the URISA Horwood Distinguished Service Award in 1993, the Minnesota State GIS Honor Roll Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, the University of Minnesota Academic Staff Award in 1998, and the Outstanding Service Award from the National States Geographic Information Council in 2007.

In summary, Will Craig has made an outstanding lifetime contribution to the promotion and application of geographic information to deliver better outcomes for society. Over the past four decades his activities have been such that he has developed a network of professional colleagues around the world who hold him in the highest regard. He has always had the ability to provide insightful and thoughtful comments when offering his views and he is considered to be a true gentleman of our discipline. For young professionals there could be no better role model than Will Craig and as such he is a thoroughly deserving nominee to the URISA GIS Hall of Fame.

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