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Univ. of Florida Announces Plan To Save CS Department 112

Posted by timothy
from the could-turn-it-into-a-concept-and-then-an-Idea. dept.
New submitter WIGFIELD7458 writes "This appears to be a major change in plans that will save the Computer Science Department. Thanks to everyone in the Gator Nation and beyond for speaking out! The battle isn't over yet, but this is very encouraging news. I would urge the students, faculty, and alumni of UF to continue to express your support for the essential academic mission of your university."
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Univ. of Florida Announces Plan To Save CS Department

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  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @08:53AM (#39805569)

    If you are the Park Service, and your budget gets cut, one ploy is to close the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, not some campground in South Dakota, hoping to get a reaction and thus get the money back.

    Sounds like the University of Florida did the same thing.

    • by snarkh (118018) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @09:02AM (#39805659)

      The Statue of Liberty is not going to go to California, while the professors from the CS department might.

      • statue of liberty is not moving to calif.

        its too afraid of the mega-grope it might get from TSA should it attempt to travel...

        • by snarkh (118018)

          She may be a terrorist after all, you never know.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            She is an immigrant.

          • I'm surprise nobody has melted her down for the copper yet. The US has pretty much given up on the whole 'give us your poor, your downtrodden, etc...' thing which she stands for.

      • by DesScorp (410532)

        The Statue of Liberty is not going to go to California, while the professors from the CS department might.

        No one is going to California anymore. People are leaving California now. Witness the growth of the surrounding states. Most of it is from Californians leaving. Even the illegals from Mexico are beginning to pack up and head back. California is an economic hellhole, and it's not going to get better anytime soon.

        • Maybe that's true in SoCal, but in San Jose I would say it's anything but an economic hellhole. I just moved here a few months ago, there's job growth and improvement all over.
    • by Bigby (659157)

      They could have just closed the Department managing Journalism degrees. Instead, they picked the one most relevant to tomorrow's economy.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Right - which is exactly why the ploy worked.

    • UGA did this with the State Botanical Gardens last year. Massive protests and outrage from the alumni and the surrounding community made the state budget restore the funding, about three million dollars, back to the school.
    • Similarly if you are a school district, the first thing you cut is bus service, which irritates the hell out of parents, who now have to drive their brats to school.

      • Or they will will have Union sponsored adds, explaining how these budget cuts, will reduce books, or teachers... Not the Second Assistant to the Administrator Assistant to the Assistant Principal. Or cuts to Guidance Counselors who are basically the dumbest people in the world, who cannot figure out basic concepts like filling out a schedule, or the fact that there is are Middle Ground of colleges between Harvard Level schools and The Local Community Colleges.

        Well your grade are not straight A, you have onl

        • Hell, you Can get into Harvard with B+ averages. It takes a really good SAT and a bit of showing off, but its certainly doable. Very few doors are permanently closed just because you screwed up in High School, I hate the fact that Guidance Counselors and the media in general make adults think they can't get a good education just because they didn't do awesome when they were in high school.

          • by Surt (22457)

            Statistically they're right though ... you can't count on that, and you can't make it happen. You can work really hard, and you might be the one in ten-thousand applicant who catches their fancy. But don't mistake that luck for having made it happen, when you only made it possible.

          • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @12:05PM (#39808059) Homepage

            Hell, you Can get into Harvard with B+ averages. It takes a really good SAT and a bit of showing off, but its certainly doable. Very few doors are permanently closed just because you screwed up in High School, I hate the fact that Guidance Counselors and the media in general make adults think they can't get a good education just because they didn't do awesome when they were in high school.

            I understand the feeling. Guidance counselors were totally useless for my siblings and I (who end up choosing careers in CS, STEM and Health.) But I can understand them, their inability that is.

            The way I see it, college-level guidance counselors are an extension of the HS concept of daycare. We shove droves and droves of youth through HS without methodically and systematically exploring their options in a post-HS life. That is the type of discussion that should occur when nearing the end of Middle School (and that's what is done in many countries.) It should not be occuring when a 17-18 year old kid is out of HS asking himself for the first time "now what?".

            Guidance is a years-long process that starts early on. It cannot be pigeonholed into a 30-minute stop-by session with a counselor in college. That is too little and too late, in particular for kids who would have been better off *NOT* going to college. Some of the young people we see nowadays with useless degrees, they would have been much better off if they had just worked a lot and explore what the world had to offer (before committing to 4 years of grief and student loan debt.)

        • Or they will will have Union sponsored adds, explaining how these budget cuts, will reduce books, or teachers... Not the Second Assistant to the Administrator Assistant to the Assistant Principal. Or cuts to Guidance Counselors who are basically the dumbest people in the world, who cannot figure out basic concepts like filling out a schedule, or the fact that there is are Middle Ground of colleges between Harvard Level schools and The Local Community Colleges.

          Well your grade are not straight A, you have only maintained a B+ average grade, You should look into community college, or vocational schooling. As those B+ grade will not get you into Harvard, thus you will not succeed in life.

          Bro, the amount of grammatical mistakes seem rather anachronistic (for lack of a better word) when they occur in a message admonishing people for not getting straight As.

      • by Bigby (659157)

        In OH, they first cut buses and sports. Obviously, it worked.

    • This happens all the time imho.

      In my home state of NJ the education system is chock full of small school districts, each with their own set of administrators and highly paid superintendents. My hometown put on the ballot a tax increase to cover junior high sports, the Knowledge Bowl, and various and sundry interesting programs. It passed.

      Now, if they put on the list "a secretary we don't need and a huge raise for the principal" I doubt it would get passed.

      Cities also do this with threatening police and fire

    • by jd2112 (1535857)
      If that were the case they would have shut down the athletic department.
    • by Rotag_FU (2039670)

      I agree, it seems like UF was playing a game of chicken with the state legislature by using a key STEM program as a ploy in response to their frustrating cuts to the school's budgets by ~25% over the last 5 years. Hopefully some backroom deal was made with the legislature to stop further cuts, but on the face of it it just looks like UF flinched first. If there is no backroom deal then not only did UF fail at playing chicken but they also have severely damaged the institution's academic credibility in a f

    • If you are the administration and your goal is merge the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), and the Department of Electrial and Computer Engineering (ECE) and you know that poltics in both departments will resist your call for a merger you instead try a the football version of the statue of liberty play.

      With one hand, the administration fakes a "pass" proposing that both departments cut their CS funding causing the defenders for separate CISE and ECE departments to get ou

    • For comparison here's the statue of liberty [wikimedia.org] and here's a campground in South Dakota. [flickr.com]

      The parks service could turn the badlands into a parking lot and far fewer people would be upset about that than if they sold the statue of liberty for scrap metal, but there are other people, myself included, who are far more impressed with natural beauty than a statue. Better to save both than to cut one for something as stupid as "Congress wants to cut the budget and the parks service's lobbyists were the least effec
  • by pegr (46683) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @08:54AM (#39805581) Homepage Journal

    Why would you even consider getting a CS degree here now?

    • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @08:59AM (#39805635)
      Why not? A CS degree is almost the same as a math degree, and most good schools group it either with the math department or the engineering department (though, typically this is not a good idea, since CPEs/EEs look down on CS).

      They are simply doing what everyone else does already. UF is a good school in general, not one to simply wave away because of department restructuring.

      I'm a VT grad, btw. No bias for or against UF.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Where there is smoke ....

        A local "college" here was having issues for a few years, yet they sponsored a huge Xmas light show every year costing millions. There were rumors of accreditation issues for years, parole, then halfway through a spring semester, it folded. Teachers didn't get paid. Water and power didn't get paid and all the students were told that because the school was under parole, their credits would not transfer. This hurt the seniors most.

        Similar things have happened to high schools around

        • You do realize that UF isn't a local college or a highschool? When I was applying for schools, it was in competition for being in the ranks of the "public Ivy Leagues" with UVA. Your anecdotes aren't relevant.

          The CS program isn't going away (the program is accredited, not the department), it was just going under different management to reduce overhead costs.
        • no accreditation just list the school and tell people the full story that you did your classes and the school messed up. Also sue for a full refund.

        • Calling bullshit - here's why:

          High schools are governed and accredited by the state, not by an accreditation authority. If a school is failing to meet standards, the school is taken over by the district and the relevant staff and teachers are replaced. If an entire school district is that crappy, the state board of education usually comes in and takes over.
          In either case, students in such a situation still have to pass state-written tests and meet minimum state standards. Otherwise, they don't get the diplo

      • That is Ok because Math and CS majors look down on CPEs/EEs

        • Nonsense, the Math majors look down on everyone else, and the CS majors know they would have trouble existing if the EEs didn't pull their asses out of the fire from time to time.

      • ... the engineering department (though, typically this is not a good idea, since CPEs/EEs look down on CS).

        Reminds me of a joke my EE professor told us (our CS department is in the engineering school): Why is the CS department part of the engineering school? Every school has to have a special-ed program

        • Still? I saw EE contempt for CS 25 years ago. Engineers in general display contempt for, oh, the entire school of business, the law school, and all the art and half the science of Arts and Sciences, in particular, science such as History, and Library Science and other disciplines that sound like they attached "science" to the name to give it more legitimacy. EEs are the elite of the elite, sneering even at their fellow engineers, especially civil and agricultural. Possibly the contempt for CS stems fro

          • My various degrees were EE and Computer Engineering, but I have a CS minor. My first semester undergrad I took the CS Assemblers course before I could even take the EE courses (pre-reqs), since it looked interesting and was part of the minor.

            The course was excellent. The material was good. The professor was good. The TA was (IMHO) even better than the professor. The projects were cumulative and built on other in such a way that if you wrote crappy code that was hard to re-use you'd experience why that was b

    • Why would you even consider getting a CS degree here now?

      The curriculum from that university is decent; the pay to be received in the field is equally so, and tuition costs are relatively modest for FL residents. For North FL residents, it might be the best option in terms of location. It should not be the case that people living close to this flagship university having to move out of state or to central/south Florida just to pursue a STEM degree. It should never be the case in any state, to force its residents to pursue an education somewhere else (specially if

  • by busyqth (2566075) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @08:55AM (#39805599)
    The Plan:
    1) Triple the tuition for traditional students (i.e. nerdy males).
    2) Give full scholarships to nontraditional students (i.e. attractive females).
    3) Allow nontraditional students to earn extra credit by pretending to be interested in traditional students.
    4) Profit!
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday April 26, 2012 @09:10AM (#39805741)

    Univ. of Florida Announces Plan To Save CS Department

    Please tell me that a complex plot is involved, possibly involving George Clooney in disguise.

    • by mrmtampa (231295)

      Lots of politics and intramural rivalries involved. It's tied to the creation of Florida Polytechnic, the STEM school recently separated from USF.

      The chairman of the Florida Senate budget committee, JD Alexander, pushed hard for the conversion of USF Polytechnic (campus is in Alexander's district) to a separate university. At the same time he proposed cutting the USF budget by 58%. The budget cuts were significantly modified after it was discovered that USF was to suffer close to 80% of all the cuts to the

  • STEM is the future (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @09:22AM (#39805875)
    Science fiction writers (fundamentally artists) rarely write about a poem or some business major (businessman maybe but not an MBA) who changes the world. It is most often some cool technology. If you look back into history there are undoubtedly influential works of art, like it or not writings like the bible have had a profound effect. But the reality is that inventions like electricity, medicines, etc have changed the world for the better over and over. Right now the technology is computers and their related technologies like robots that are setting the world on fire.

    The primary focus of any healthy society should be to churn out the most skilled STEM students possible. We still need barbers and bankers but keep in mind that Taiwan churns out something like 55,000 Electrical Engineers a year. I have no idea if they are glorified electricians or the next Tesla but it certainly shows that they know where to focus their efforts.

    Plus look at what happened to the world economy when it had too many MBAs around?

    The mere thought of cutting the CS department shows the thinking of a group of weak minds. These are the sort of people who don't save any grain for the next spring's planting.
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @09:28AM (#39805935) Journal

      $70k/yr CS grads don't send multi-million dollar thank you checks to the University Fund, businessmen do.

      And most of the MBAs and Finance majors are doing just fine on Wall Street again. The market has almost doubled in 4 years, so big bonuses all around! The smart ones in the back room are trying to figure out how to pop this current bubble to they can take 2 quarters off without the obscene bonuses, and then have another 100% runup to skim another 10% off the top. Stability is not profitable, volatility is!

    • The mere thought of cutting the CS department shows the thinking of a group of weak minds. These are the sort of people who don't save any grain for the next spring's planting.

      Your post is filled with meaningless hyperbole and babble, and is way off base anyway. The university announced a restructuring of the CISE department so that computer engineering was moved in with other engineering disciplines and planned to eliminate doctorate-level and research-based CS work. The BS and MS programs were to remain as is. The post-grad and research work in computer engineering would continue in the engineering department.

      But, hey, none of that matters, right? What's important is churni

  • A computer is a very specific electronic tool. Why does it require its own department? Universities don't have a "Automobile Science" dept. They don't have a 'Radio Science" dept. They don't have a "Television Science" dept. They don't have a "Pharmaceutical Science" dept. If you want to enter those fields, you study mechanical, or electrical, or chemical engineering, etc. Isn't a good Computer Science degree an engineering degree consisting of mathematics and electrical engineering and some software engine
    • by eclectus (209883) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @09:42AM (#39806117) Homepage

      No. I speak as someone with a MS in CS, so I may be a little biased, but saying CS should just be Math & Engineering is much like saying Physics is just applied math, or chemistry is applied physics. While one is built on the other, there are basic tenets taught in CompSci that would never come directly out of Engineering or Math. While there is a lot of overlap, subjects such as Data Structures or Autonoma Theory (off the top of my head) are VERY different than anything that would be thought of as engineering or math. Core concepts such as these affect the very way that CS majors view the world. It is a different level than just applied math & engineering.

      • by Maclir (33773)

        .. like saying Physics is just applied math, or chemistry is applied physics.

        When I was at University, my Physics professor told us "chemistry is just outer orbital physics".

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Computer science isn't about computers. It's about computing. Computer science is not computer or software engineering.

      Many computer science departments teach some elements of software and computer engineering, and I've heard many in the US are actually software engineering departments, but that's not what CS actually is.

      Yes, computer science itself is very mathematical, but so is physics.

      • by Zenin (266666)

        This probably explains why so few people working in software engineering have a computer science degree and those that do typically aren't very good software engineers. Most real world software engineering really has very little to do with math or science. It's much more akin to digital carpentry.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Yes. Physicists are not civil or mechanical engineers. Computer scientists are not software engineers. They're separate disciplines, and shouldn't be conflated. But for some reason people like to do it when talking about CS.

          Think of it this way - first year physics students and first year engineering students both learn Newtonian mechanics. The civil engineering students then go on to learn about solving real world problems using Newtonian mechanics. The physics students learn other things, like relat

    • Tech / TV / CARs need a TECH / vocational school. The hard fact is that they really don't fit that well into a 2-4-6 year College plan. It is the relic of an older time that they try to fit into. Now it's real issues when you have places like TRIBECA FLASHPOINT ACADEMY that is a 2 year tech like school. Some of the class plans are Film + Broadcast, Recording Arts, ECT but the issues is that it's only 2 year (that should be good to get a job)

      But at one TV channel they want a 4 year degree in communications

      • Tech / TV / CARs need a TECH / vocational school.

        That depends on what you're trying to do with the "Tech / TV / CARs" -- if you're trying to repair existing ones, then a vocational school may be a good option. If you're trying to design new ones from scratch (or even design significant modifications to one that already exists) that I'm going to use, I'd kind of like at least one (ideally most) of the designers to have advanced engineering or science degrees.

        That's why the May 2011 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [bls.gov] (the first set of data I found;

    • A good programmer is a bit of a polymath. He (or she) needs a broad scope of knowledge, not just to do a specific task, but to analyze and discover ways to get that task done using a specific set of tools. The best comp sci schools don't just teach pure computer science, but also teach how to improvise, how to improve, how to manage, and how to think. Comp sci folks need to know not only how to fix a problem given a set of instructions under a specific scenario, but how to recognize the nature of the pro
      • Actually I find that Computer Science is one of the most narrow disciplines. Compare computer science, say to the curriculum that a Chemical Engineer gets:

        Physics 1 year
        Calculus 2 years
        Numerical Algorithms
        Control Theory
        Organic Chemistry 1 year
        Physical Chemistry 1 year
        Thermodynamics
        Mech and Electrical Engineering intro
        Separation Phenomena
        Unit Ops
        Process Economics

        etc.

        It can be used for many careers - some of the people I know who went through that are now in geology, or used it as pre med.

        • Actually I find that Computer Science is one of the most narrow disciplines.

          I disagree; having any sort of thorough knowledge about computers requires at least some education from almost all parts of the STEM curricula. Any person who actually gives a shit about computers should know (with at least some rudimentary level of competency) a whole spectrum of things from semiconductor theory to abstract models of computation. The set of sciences and fields of mathematics you need to now master to have a solid

          • Nonsense. I've looked at the curriculum in Computer Science. Absolutely minimal basic science. One semester of physics, chem and calc which if you were any kind of high school student you would be able to place out of anyway. How can you do more than lightly scratch the surface in something like semiconductor theory with one semester of physics and no physical chemistry or thermodynamics?

            • Let me get this straight because you're being kind of an ambiguous, which combined with your absolutist attitude, makes you a dick.

              Please tell me you have examined the curriculum of all computer science departments, worldwide, and made your determination that way?
    • by ledow (319597)

      Can't remember the last time a maths lesson covered the most efficient way to search for a string in a large body of text, or parallel programming techniques, or any of a million and one REAL COMPUTER SCIENCE techniques that have little relevance elsewhere.

      I did Maths & Computer Science. Coding Theory - mathematical base but almost 100% computer science applications. Graph Theory - 50-50. Logic - Almost entirely computer science.

      There really is a vast distinction there that, if you don't grasp, proba

    • Your post amply shows exactly why we *do* need CS depts. You have obviously no clue what CS is about, you think it is just math+engr with "a little" software thrown in. You think that "a computer is a very specific electronic tool". How quaint...

      The SCIENCE of computING, of creating ever more intelligent machines, of how to build better ARCHITECTED machines based on a better understand of the nature of data, its inherent structure, and methods to transform its usefulness (algorithms, etc) is far, far from

    • Universities don't have a "Automobile Science" dept. They don't have a 'Radio Science" dept. They don't have a "Television Science" dept. They don't have a "Pharmaceutical Science" dept. If you want to enter those fields, you study mechanical, or electrical, or chemical engineering, etc.

      Others have already pointed out the flaws in your other examples. I thought I'd offer a link that shows why the one I bolded is a spectacularly bad example for the argument you're trying to make:

      Pharmacology Departments World-Wide [meduni-graz.at]

      (You may also find the Wikipedia article on pharmacology [wikipedia.org] useful to understand why it's a rather large field of study.)

    • Let's see here...Computers are typically more complex than automobiles and radios. That's just the hardware. The programs themselves are another level of complexity, on top of that.

      "In reality it's just math and electrical engineering." -> And flying is just flapping your arms really fast.

  • Might have been a Boston high school or something, but it's kind of irrelevant to WHERE.

    The principal/school board were faced with big budget cuts, and so instead of cutting arts and sciences or liberal arts, they cut all the sports programs. They did this because they knew that parents would complain more loudly about the sports being cut than educational programs.

    Sad state of affairs, though our public education system is pretty dismal nowadays, at least in the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This was stated in the last front page article, but top schools (MIT, for example) have combined CS with other departments. Can't Florida be like these other schools?

  • When I first read about their CS department going away, I wondered immediately if there is more to the story than meets the eye. At my university we have a hugely dysfunctional CS department - many faculty blatantly abuse their tenure. They just got their MS program cut, in fact, but nobody's complaining because everyone knows it was a lousy program due to lousy faculty. I have to wonder if there are reasons for dismantling the program that go far beyond budgetary issues. If it were a healthy department I d

    • by ledow (319597)

      Then maybe being forced to FIX the problem (which is likely to be cultural and systemic rather than some random event) rather than just ignore it and sack people is a good thing.

      Now you have to tell people they are sacked because they do a crap job, not just "because we don't want a CS department any more". You can best do that by hiring better people and not renewing contracts.

      And "tenure" is really the most ridiculous concept I've ever encountered. It seems to be a US-only thing, too.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The primary problem is that this isn't the first round of budget cuts. Nor the second. Nor the third. Nor the fourth. It's the fifth year in a row that the budget has been cut by the state, and last year, the cuts were covered because the University was told it would be the last year of budget cuts, that next year the economy would be better and they'd get more money, so the University covered the cuts with the 'Reserve' fund. Instead, this year, the budget is cut even further than last year, and there's no
  • I hope the CS department teaches the students how to operate a burger joint, else they will be on the street as unemployable...
  • “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.”

    That statement sounds like contentless spin. I would like to know just what the misunderstanding is. Yes there still will be a CS *program*, but my (mis)understandin

  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @11:21AM (#39807463) Homepage
    but it seems like once a month that some redneck son-of-the-soil in the deep south decides they want to axe public funding for science or healthcare. The united states is starved for competence in the technology field; its a grande accomplishment for most people to add facebook and gmail to a cellphone. its shamefully ignorant to think you can axe the computer science department of any university and somehow improve budget conditions long-term in your state. Florida saved a few million dollars here, but in 20 years when programming and computer science hasnt dissipated as a form of economic prosperity and tax revenue for states, they can look back and salute the inbred geezers that stood by and watched this happen, and the hilbilly who pandered for a few more votes as his state swirled round the bowl. I liken this prof as a gandolf at the pass. lets hope he succeeds.

    on the bright side, states with academic technology programs like computer science can help to provide useful transparent voting machines for states like florida that simply pipe the voters choices to /dev/dsp. The occasional clicks they hear will serve to placate the elderly voter, as it succors a distant memory of when they used to elect george bush and approve things like axing public healthcare.
  • CS majors have to go through two-a-days and learn the finer points of being tackling dummies.

    10 Are you ready for some football?
    20 Go To 10

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