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Help Save University of Florida's CISE Department
Hello CD community!
I'm not directly affiliated with the University of Florida, but my friend is studying CS there. He reached out to some of his friends who he knows is into CS and STEM in general.
In a nutshell, the dean at UF is trying to close their CISE (Computer Information Science Engineering) Department, but politicking it as a "restructuring." Effectively, it will merge the CISE and ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) department and fire most of the CISE faculty. Supposedly, it's due to budget cuts, which would be reasonable justification were it not that the CISE programs offered actually bring in more revenue for the school than its costs.
They have a petition going, and you can sign it here:
Florida teams! I'm not sure how possible it is to take action on this, but please look into it! A lot of my teammates are going into STEM careers at the University of Washington, so I assume these changes might have far-reaching consequences for your students a few years down the line.
I apologize if this was a repost. I did a quick search and found nothing on this. Thanks for reading!
Here was my friend's full message:
Hey friends, I know a bunch of you (or us) are computer science/computer engineering/that kind of stuff nerds, so I hope you will be sympathetic.
The University of Florida dean dun goofed and is trying to get rid of the CISE (computer information science engineering) department and merge it with the ECE (electrical and computer engineering) department (which is kind of dumb because CISE is software oriented and ECE is hardware oriented).
Even worse, to do this, she is going to fire about half the staff from the CISE department and move the other half to various random departments. She is also going to get rid of all CISE UF research and fire all TAs, which essentially removes the graduate program at UF.
Even more worse, she has already begun to fire faculty members and has already fired the head of the CISE department...
Anyway, I'm not asking for much, I just want you to sign this petition which takes like, less than a minute (left side of the site):
And if you want to know more, you can read about it here:
Thanks a lot guys!
UPDATE April 16, 2012
Today there was a pretty big rally in the middle of campus where everyone walks by. Probably about 400-500 people consisting of both students and faculty members showed up to the rally. Everyone was wearing "SAVE CISE" signs.
After the rally, all the students formed a giant chain around the CISE building chanting "Save CISE" and other various chants.
After that, we all walked to the dean's office (who is the one who proposed the budget cuts to the CISE department) and chanted some more. After a few minutes had passed, the secretary of the dean came out and everyone asked her questions about the future, but her questions were really hazy and didn't give anything concrete. Everyone was chanting for the dean to come out, but the secretary said that she was busy.
Note that in the second picture, there were more people across the road too.
Information update too:
Apparently the CISE department makes more money for UF than it costs to maintain the CISE department, so it doesn't really make any sense to merge the CISE department with the ECE department. However, the dean has been trying to merge the two departments for three years now. Each time there was a vote though, a large majority of the college chair members voted to not merge the two departments (votes were along the lines of like 37-0 and 36-1). Now that UF is trying to cut budgets, she says that she doesn't need anyone's approval to merge departments to cut budgets.
Also, the dean only opened up about a week (9 days) to discuss the situation, so after the week, the discussion for the merging will be closed, which is definitely not enough time. In fact, the announcement of this actually opened up on about April 11 last week, so discussion of the closing of the CISE department closes on Wednesday (that's 2 days).
One of the proposals the dean is making is moving the database facility to the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering... How does that even make any sense at all??!
There's a scheduled rally tomorrow to speak with the dean. I'll update more when I get more information.
UPDATE April 17, 2012
There was a big "Study In" in front of the dean's office as a protest against the budget cut proposal. Basically, tons of CISE students just sat outside of the dean's office and did their homework/whatever they wanted.
The final decision got extended to May 7th, so that's good, but there is still a long way to go.
The dean is being pretty snaky calling this a "restructuring" of the CISE and ECE department to mask the fact that it's going to effectively eliminate the CISE department.
She is also talking about how she's receiving lots of positive feedback from companies like Harris Corp and Lockheed Martin which apparently are more hardware oriented companies than software companies. But she doesn't say anything about the software side.
For instance, Google Public Relations sent her an email. Although it wasn't released to the public; it was most likely against her proposal though. Microsoft sent down a representative to express concerns to the dean. The CTO and co-founder of Grooveshark, Josh Greenberg, spoke against the proposal. Barr systems and a lot of other software companies and Universities spoke out against the proposal too.
Also, if anyone is wondering, we're doing more than just protesting. We're also trying to inform UF alumni, spread the news, get outside companies and Universities to oppose this, etc.
Re: Help Save University of Florida's CISE Department
New post due to 5 picture restriction per post. This is a continuation of my friend's message.
A few days ago, in the CISE building, CISE students told stories of how they came to be CISE majors, what they accomplished, etc. Then they posted some these stories to windows around the whole CISE building.
Unfortunately, just a couple hours ago some jerk started ripping down some of the posts.
But a lot of students pass by the CISE building, so we got a lot more exposure out to people.
Re: Help Save University of Florida's CISE Department
I attend the University of Florida and while I'm not a CS I am a ME/ECE. I ask everyone remember that there is a legitimate arguement on the other side. If you are going to protest something you had better have an alternate solution. Here is an email we recieved from the Dean's office the other day:
Dear University of Florida Student:
Every college and administrative unit across campus has been engaged over
the past few weeks in identifying $38.2 million in spending reductions
necessary to meet our FY 2012-13 budget. $@#After five years of cuts, we
have lost almost 25 percent of University of Florida�s state support.
Finding the necessary cost savings has been increasingly difficult each
year. This year is the most challenging yet as we work to do more with
less and make the cuts in such a way as to preserve the quality of
education at the University of Florida.
The key to educational quality is our faculty. In the past, we have on
occasion relied on across-the-board spending reductions distributed among
all the colleges and their departments, as well as administrative units.
If we tried this approach again this year, the result would be significant
faculty layoffs in several colleges.
With a goal of maintaining educational quality, Dean Cammy Abernathy and
Provost Joe Glover developed a plan for the College of Engineering that
would have preserved our excellent teaching faculty.
As many of you know, the proposal has been met with overwhelming negative
response, much of which I believe has been based on misunderstanding.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the University of Florida must figure out a
way to make it through these financially difficult times in a productive
manner. $@#I am optimistic we can do that.
This week, the chairmen of the departments of Computer $@#and Information
Science and Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering have come
forward together with a framework of a new proposal that would help meet
the college�s budget target. $@#It also would address issues raised during
recent discussions, namely, clarify and enhance degree offerings while
preserving the research mission in both computer science and computer
engineering, achieve efficiency in teaching and bring faculty workloads in
line with other departments of the college.
"We are currently working on a plan for a joint organization of these two
departments into a larger unit. I feel strongly that this is the best
opportunity for the two departments moving forward," said Gerhard Ritter,
interim chair of CISE.
John Harris, chairman of the department of ECE, said he is encouraged by
the long-term possibilities.
$@#"I believe that successful implementation of this plan would be
beneficial not only to the future of computer science but also to
electrical and computer engineering," Harris said.
Engineering Dean Abernathy has agreed to set aside the previously
announced proposal as the department chairmen of CISE and ECE continue to
flesh out details of a new proposal in consultation with students,
faculty, staff, alumni and industry partners. The college has no plans to
close any departments.
"I applaud the leadership and vision of Dr. Ritter and Dr. Harris and am
dedicated to reaching a resolution as expeditiously as possible to ensure
the best opportunities are before us for our college," Abernathy said.
Dean Abernathy has worked tirelessly on this very difficult budget
challenge, and I commend her for her dedicated efforts to find the best
Some have suggested that the university use its "unrestricted assets" or
"reserves" to cover the reductions. That is not a viable option for the
University of Florida.
We spent nearly $30 million of reserves last year to avoid having to make
difficult budget decisions. We were optimistic in an economic recovery
that would stave off reductions this year. Unfortunately, we are facing
even larger cuts now because we failed to make needed budget adjustments
At the same time, a severe backlog of facilities maintenance caused by the
elimination of state support has the university on the precipice of
crisis. We must maintain sufficient reserves to manage unexpected expenses
associated with air conditioning system failures, roof leaks or other
major outages that could put buildings out of commission and cost millions
Additional budget reduction proposals are expected to be brought forth in
other colleges in coming weeks. I know finding the necessary savings after
years of budget cutting will be difficult.
I ask the faculty, students, and the administration of all colleges to
work in partnership to identify the savings and keep the colleges on track
in their quest for continued excellence in education and research.
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