University of Florida Drops Computer Science Department. Really.

23 Apr

According to UF’s Dean Abernathy, cutting computer science will save nearly $1.7 million. But at what cost?

Technology is changing. Jobs are changing. And the students that emerge from the University of Florida are going to be less prepared than their peers. This decision makes absolutely no sense. Steven Salzberg makes this interesting comparison:

The athletic budget for the current year is $99 million, an increase of more than $2 million from last year.  The increase alone would more than offset the savings supposedly gained by cutting computer science.

Now, I’m not saying that UF has chosen football over science. Actually, the real villains here are the Florida state legislators, who have cut the budget for their flagship university by 30% over the past 6 years.

Fortunately, UF students aren’t taking the decision lightly. They have launched a website dedicated to saving the department, organized protests, and many computer scientists have written to UF’s president.

If you’re thinking that this couldn’t get more ridiculous, it does. Last Friday, Florida governor Rick Scott approved the creation of a brand-new public university, Florida Polytechnic University, announcing:

“At a time when the number of graduates of Florida’s universities in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields is not projected to meet workforce needs, the establishment of Florida Polytechnic University will help us move the needle in the right direction.”

Note to Scott: Cutting the computer science department from your flagship university makes it seem like STEM education is not exactly a priority. And students deserve better.

One Response to “University of Florida Drops Computer Science Department. Really.”

  1. Joe H. April 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    it’s more of an extreme realignment of faculty to teaching and shifting research oversight to alternate departments. Not really “dropping” the department or completely shutting it down as some have said. Ars Technica did a fairer summary: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2012/04/university-of-florida-guts-computer-science-department-in-budget-cutting-move.ars

    It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a bad idea, will lead to faculty jumping ship in order to continue research focus, and that the Florida lege is completely misguided in their funding allocations (cough*football*cough)

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