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In Search of Administrative Transparency, Rationale and Accountability (and a recommended budget plan for UF Engineering)

Questioning  UF Administration’s Allocation of  Funds

During the May 29, 2012 “Open Faculty Forum about Budget Cut” called by the central administration, President Machen and Provost Glover were asked, among others,  several questions from this list,    based on an independent report on UF’s  reserves,  including those held by the University “proper” and  those held by the University’s various “discrete component units” including Shands;  including approximately half a billion dollars  categorized as “restricted expendable;” and over 100 million dollars held by the University “proper,” and characterized as “unrestricted net assets.”   Candid answers were not forthcoming.

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United Faculty of Florida Questions UF’s Management of Reserves, May 2012

Dear Colleague,

In a message to you a couple of weeks ago I listed a number of questions to which I suggested members of the university community – faculty, staff, students – deserved an answer.

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Dr. Paul Gader

Current CISE Status

-[ Updated June 7, 2012 ]-

The current Acting Chair, Gerhard Ritter, is due to step down on June 30. On Wednesday June 6, 2012,  Provost Joe Glover and Dean Cammy Abernathy announced that Dr. Paul Gader will be CISE’s new Interim Chair. A process for selecting a permanent chairman for CISE was also discussed. See previous posts on the topic below.

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Latest Dean Fact

May 6 Dean Fact: A Culture of Fear

“They can and will do anything to your professional life.”  “No matter how irrational their decisions, watch out what you say: they don’t like it if you question their decisions, and they have ways of using the tiniest pretext to professionally harass you.”  “If your department speaks out collectively, then they will retaliate and harass your department.”  Statements such as this have become increasingly common among College of Engineering faculty as the tenure of the current Dean progresses. In the current limbo when the departments in the College prepare their 2.7% across the board cut (announced as the 3rd and hopefully final of Dean Abernathy’s proposals for the 2012 budget cut), this atmosphere of fear of retribution and retaliation is palpable. What does this say about academic freedom within the College of Engineering?

The following emails were “sunshined” as part of a public records request.

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Budget Cut a Check!

Any budget cut plan at the University of Florida is necessitated by President Bernie Machen’s interpretation of this $38 million one-time cut as a permanent reduction in state support. However, on April 17, the Board of Governors clarified their expectations of the state’s universities by remarking,

While this budget represents less direct funding for the universities, we appreciate the stated commitment of legislative leadership that the $300 million reduction will be restored to the baseline next year. Our Universities will continue to tap their reserves year-round in order to save course offerings, retain faculty and account for enrollment growth, among other critical demands.”

The University of Florida’s annual report as well as an independent audit reveal the financial health of the university. Conservatively, the University of Florida is sitting on a mountain of cash classified in many different yet equally accessible ways. It doesn’t matter whether we discuss the $1.015 billion total, the $111 million in “unrestricted net assets,” or the $540 million classified as “restricted expendable.” President Machen and Provost Joe Glover have decided to make permanent cuts to the university’s structure when cutting a check would suffice.

Several faculty, students, and staff have joined a university-wide coalition outraged at the disconnect between state lawmakers and university administrators. The SaveUF! Spend the Reserves campaign is actively protesting this unnecessary austerity.

On May 14, President Machen admited that spending the reserves may be a viable delay strategy but is an ill-advised longterm strategy. We disagree. We disagree because the Board of Governors as well as state lawmakers have repeatedly affirmed that the budget shortfall will be returned to baseline next year.

On May 23, the SaveUF! Spend the Reserves coalition led a teach-in where its members gave short speeches to the public, educating them about the budget cuts and the administration’s strategy. WUFT-FM interviewed members of the coalition as well as an official university spokesperson, Janine Sikes. The Gainesville Sun ran a webpoll and discovered that 69.7% of those polled are in favor of spending reserves to meet the budget shortfall, while only 21.4% favor making permanent cuts (8.9% argue that the university should raise funds through benefactors and other means).

On June 7-8, UF’s Board of Trustees meets to vote on President Machen’s university budget cut proposal.

Sample Front

Save CISE T-Shirt!

Do you want the Save CISE T-Shirt, but you’re not in Gainesville? No problem!

You can buy the T-shirt online and we’ll ship it to you.

For more information, please visit the Facebook page.


Pledge your Financial Support for a College of Computing at UF

The SaveCISE community invites you, as a stakeholder in the success of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Department at the University of Florida (UF), to pledge your financial support to a specific future vision of the SaveCISE at UF campaign.

One of the options that has gained the most backing from external supporters is for the CISE department to transition into an independent College of Computing at UF with CISE at its core. Here is the link to the Foundation of a Vision for the College of Computing. This transition will need a fund.

Here we are reaching out to individuals and organizations interested in contributing financially to maintain a nourishing environment for Computer Science at UF through  a College of Computing at UF with CISE at its core.

WE ARE NOT COLLECTING ANY MONEY AT THIS TIME, ONLY PLEDGES. Through this form, we are assessing the level of support available from external donors who would be willing to contribute financially to our cause, in a time of need. So please pledge to our cause in a manner you can honor if the College of Computing – with CISE at its core – becomes a reality.

Here is the list of people who have pledged financial support to the College of Computing and have agreed to have their names publicized (more or less up to date).

Time since the pledging started:

The total amount pledged so far is:

Here is the pledge form (It contains background and recent events information).

Dean Abernathy’s Final Budget Cut Proposal

On May 11, Dean Cammy Abernathy, along with her administrative colleagues in other colleges, delivered their budget cut proposals to Provost Glover. You can find the 2012-2013 budget cut proposal for each of the University of Florida’s colleges at

The College of Engineering’s “FY 2013 Budget Cuts” document lacks critical details necessary to judge the health and safety of any individual department. Engineering is not alone. Almost every budget cut proposal omits a department-level breakdown, a breakdown for which concerned parents, students, and alumni of affected units are anxiously awaiting.

We expect Provost Joe Glover would require his deans to produce publicly available, detailed reports. It is shocking that he accepts such minimalistic levels of detail for budget cut proposals. At the April faculty senate meeting, he acknowledged that these budget cuts will cause serious pain to the programs and offerings at the University of Florida.

On April 17, Florida’s Board of Governors declared, “Our Universities will continue to tap their reserves year-round in order to save course offerings, retain faculty and account for enrollment growth, among other critical demands.” President Bernie Machen has elected not to spend the University of Florida’s reserves and to instead interpret the one-time budget shortfall as recurring.

Spending of UF’s reserves is just one strategy to address these state-mandated one-time cuts. Another is by closing some of the 102 open faculty positions. If the university is in such dire financial straits, its administrators should carefully consider adjusting their hiring strategies before making permanent modifications to their colleges’ teaching, research, and services. In Florida, the university with the second-most aggressive hiring strategy in these delicate financial times is FIU. FIU has 2 open positions.

Nuri Yeralan
CISE Lead Coordinator

Performance: CISE, UF, Public Higher Ed

-[ Updated May 31, 2012 ]-

Towards a public discourse about Higher Education Performance  …  starting within UF colleges, on to the national level.

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Administrative Accountability

-[ Updated June 8, 2012 ]-

The SaveUFCISE community urges all stakeholders to demand accountability for  the events of the past 4 weeks that have caused severe damage to UF’s reputation among prospective students, parents,  concerned citizens, academics, alumni and industry partners, who might have considered joining or supporting the Gator Nation.  Start by calling for scrutiny of the sketchy  “final” 2012 budget cut proposal.

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