Timeline of Events

May 10, 2012:

At a meeting of College of Engineering department chairs, Dean Cammy Abernathy unveils a new budget proposal that uniformly cuts all departments 2.93% of their budgets as of 2011-12. This amounts to a $190K cut to CISE.

From the standpoint of CISE, this still does not constitute a fair budget proposal. The department is losing 3 faculty members this year, for whom no replacements are being sought. This amounts to a recurring cut of $360,000. Moreover, the 2.93% is being calculated on a sum that included the incomes of these three faculty members. The budget proposal simply represents a strangling of the CISE department at a time when several other faculty lines are being kept open in the CoE.

May 1, 2012:

In the absence of Dr. Ritter, Associate Chair Steve Thebaut steps in to represent CISE at a meeting of Department Chairs of the College of Engineering. He is denied attendance by the Dean, leaving CISE without representation during a crucial budget meeting.

Later the same evening, Dean Cammy Abernathy sends an email stating that all previous proposals have been removed from consideration, and a new proposal is under consideration: the $1.4 million budget cut is to be shared across all Departments in the College of Engineering. Full details are to be delivered by May 11, 2012.


April 30, 2012:

Dean Abernathy delivers a MoU that strongly resembles an earlier proposal (which was unanimously voted down by CISE faculty) dated 28 April, 2011 for a CISE-ECE merger. An inspection of the MS Word document’s metadata (http://bit.ly/JWDI9g) reveals it to have been written solely by Dr. John Harris, who is the Department Chair for ECE.

Upon noticing that the MoU document originated from Dr. John Harris and not Dean Cammy Abernathy, CISE Interim Chair, Dr. Gerhard Ritter, threatens to resign. Dr. Ritter denounces Abernathy/Harris’s deception and MoU as a “hostile takeover” of CISE. Dr. Ritter suggests scrapping all plans of a merger, keeping both Departments independent, and sharing the $1.35 million cut with every Department in the College of Engineering.


April 27, 2012:

CISE faculty, after several hours of dedicated effort, come up with, and present to ECE and Dean Abernathy a Memorandum of Understanding for the principles governing the creation of a School of EECS at UF. The proposal seeks to maintain the autonomy of each Department while strengthening collaborative opportunities. Details at: http://bit.ly/IBcpzz .


April 25, 2012:

UF President Bernie Machen announces the scrapping of the “Abernathy Plan”. Among other plans, faculty from CISE and ECE are to explore the feasibility of a UC-Berkeley style system for the two departments. The other plans include a proposal to bring into concrete planning stage an independent college of computing with CISE at its core. This had met unanimous approval from CISE faculty during at Spring 2012 meeting.


April 23, 2012:

More articles appear in the media all over the USA including the NY Times, the Miami Herald, C|Net and Computerworld.


April 22, 2012:

The planned destruction of computer science research at UF appears in an article on the front page of the Forbes magazine website (http://onforb.es/JjpChd). Attention begins to spread to a national level.


April 18, 2012:

Dean Abernathy publicly announces the extension of the deadline for comments and inputs on the budget-cut proposal to May 7th, 2012 ( http://bit.ly/JdA7BC ).

The outcry over the proposal continues as letters from the CRA (Computing Research Association), Carl de Boor (National Academy of Sciences, 2003 National Medal of Science) and Prof. S.N. Maheshwari (former Dean of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India) all express outrage over the proposal.

An article on the cuts appears in the Huffington post: http://huff.to/HIKDl3.


April 17, 2012:

Protests enter their sixth day with CISE students organizing a “study-in” protest at the Dean’s office. 5 student representatives are invited to meet the Dean and Provost where they receive an explanation for the extension of the deadline for comments and inputs to May 7th, 2012. Media report at: http://bit.ly/HZ7CuY .

Zvi Galil, Dean of Georgia Tech College of Computing, former Dean of Engineering at Columbia University and past President of Tel Aviv University writes to UF President Bernie Machen denouncing the move as “catastrophic for UF and the State of Florida”.


April 16, 2012:

Student protests continue as they form a human chain around the CISE Department building and leave phone messages of dissent with the offices of the President, Provost and Dean.

A group marches to the Dean’s office where they are denied an interview with Cammy Abernathy.

Peter A. Freeman (Former) Assistant Director of NSF for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) writes to UF President Bernie Machen expressing his “(serious concern)” over Dean Abernathy’s proposal, terming it “hasty and ill-advised”.

April 15, 2012:

In a reply (http://bit.ly/IFcvuz) to the e-mail sent by CISE faculty, President Machen expresses his approval of Dean Abernathy’s plan terming it “thoughtful”, echoing the adjective used by Provost Glover to describe the same at his speech to the Faculty Senate on April 12, 2012.

The President also denies the faculty request for a deadline extension to 15th June for alternate proposals, terming it unworkable. He also states that the matter is to be treated as a College of Engineering-specific issue despite the university-wide ramifications of such a blatantly unconstitutional action.


April 14, 2012:

Dean Abernathy describes her plan on the College of Engineering website. Several misrepresentations from it are pointed out and published in a detailed rebuttal of the proposal located here: http://bit.ly/HJLlCu.


April 13, 2012:

Students meet to organize themselves into committees in preparation for the upcoming struggle.

CISE faculty send President Machen an e-mail voicing their concern over the breakdown in shared governance and detailing the unconstitutional nature of Dean Abernathy’s plan: http://bit.ly/HT22Kh.


April 12, 2012:

Dean Abernathy meets CISE Undergraduate and Graduate students at the Reitz Union to present the proposal. No numbers are offered. No information is put forward in writing. CISE students in coalition with Graduate Assistants United (GAU) protest the budget proposal. Members of the media (The Alligator) are present to capture the event : http://bit.ly/IO81N0.

A town hall meeting of students follows immediately after the presentation and a list of demands are agreed upon.

The University Faculty Senate passes CISE representative Joe Wilson’s motion to reaffirm the provisions of the UF Constitution as regards department restructuring, including a thorough revision of alternative options and a Faculty Senate vote.

Students protest the proposal silently during the Faculty Senate meeting.

Reporters from the “The Gainesville Sun”, also in attendance write the following http://bit.ly/Jmuu7z.


April 11, 2012:

Dean Cammy Abernathy announces her proposal. The CISE Department is the only one at the College of Engineering facing cuts. All CISE Computer Engineering students are to move to the ECE Department, 50% of faculty are to be chosen to move to BME, ISE or ECE and the other 50% will no longer conduct research. The CISE Department is to be relegated to a Teaching-only Department. TAs are eliminated entirely. 10 CISE staff members are to be laid off.

The proposal is to be finalized on April 19, 2012.

3 staff members are given notice, jump-starting the proposal’s implementation before any suggestions or feedback on the proposal are received.


March 12, 2012:

The Dean refuses both requests during a town hall meeting on March 12, 2012.


March 8, 2012:

Dean of College of Engineering, Dr. Cammy Abernathy, is requested by faculty to release her budget cut proposal and provide sufficient college budget data by which faculty can suggest viable alternatives.Jan 8, 2012:

The Dean unilaterally announces a new committee chaired by Dr. Herman Lam, including 3 ECE and 3 CISE faculty to oversee the undergraduate Computer Engineering program. This move again violates established governing procedures for the program adopted by ECE and CISE faculty as early as 2006.

She also states, falsely, that CISE’s program has problems with “loop closing” and had received the worst reviews in the recent ABET mock evaluator’s visit, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Oct 8-10, 2011:

During an ABET mock evaluation, CISE receives a decent review with no “deficiencies”  against its name (the most serious level of shortcoming in the ABET vocabulary), as opposed to other Departments in the College of Engineering which do record “deficiencies”.

Dean Abernathy’s past concern with regard to ABET accreditation of the Computer Engineering program has been centered around one metric measuring the extent to which feedback from past accreditors is used to improve a program (referred to as “closing the loop”).

          Evaluator Nick Tredennick, in his visit finds “good evidence of changes to program based on assessments”.


June 23, 2011:

CISE is denied replacements for two faculty members, recently laid-off. Funds released by their termination along with two other CISE staff members are re-allocated by the Dean to other parts of the College of Engineering. This amounts to a budget reduction of about 8% to CISE.


May 19, 2011:

In a meeting with the CISE Strategic Planning Committee, the Provost and Dean Abernathy state categorically that the potential merger is not a cost saving venture.


May 5, 2011:

At the University Faculty Senate meeting, representative James Klausner (Mech. Eng. Dept.) raises concerns over the lack of shared governance in the College of Engineering as evidenced by the large number of Interim Department Chairs being appointed without consultation of the concerned faculties.


April 28, 2011:

At her scheduled meeting with CISE faculty Dean Cammy Abernathy raises the following points, among others:

- All plans for a joint ECE-CISE Department are off the table.

- Her plan remains to house the Computer Engineering Department in one entity, since the current joint nature of the undergraduate CE program is incompatible with ABET accreditation standards.

- She will not start the search for a permanent chair while CISE’s boundaries remain unclear. She does, however consider ECE’s boundaries to be clear.

Dean Abernathy also makes it clear that no permanent chair shall be appointed to CISE until her vision for a single CE program is addressed. Meanwhile, the search for a permanent chair of ECE has been on since April 5, 2011.

CISE faculty record observations of the facts that:

           a) the bulk of Computer Engineering undergraduates and faculty are currently housed in the CISE Department, and

           b) CISE’s Computer Engineering program has existed for over 20 years with full ABET accreditation.


April 24, 2011:

Days before her scheduled meeting with CISE faculty, Dean Abernathy announces Gerhard Ritter as the interim chair of the CISE Department, openly violating policies of shared governance established by former Dean Khargonekar, during Cammy Abernathy’s tenure as Associate Dean of the CoE.

April 14, 2011:

Having received no response to the findings of the Joint ECE/CISE committee, CISE faculty send Dean Abernathy a collective e-mail requesting a meeting to address concerns over the future of CISE in general and in particular, its leadership given the imminent end to Prof. Sahni’s tenure. The Dean responds, agreeing to schedule a meeting on April 28th, 2011.


Mar 15, 2011:

After 4 rounds of discussions over Spring 2011, the Joint ECE/CISE committee presents its final report on the SIT proposal, summarized below.

- No proposal for a school is agreed upon.

- ECE members are by and large for the school, CISE members against it.

- CISE members explain their scepticism over projected benefits of the school, including increased research funding, improved overall ranking and better coordination of curricula.

- The committee does, however agree upon the potential for more collaborative research in the future and a reduced overlap of curricula.


Oct 7, 2010:

CISE department chair Sartaj Sahni initiates the process of establishing a Department Strategic Planning Committee through a combination of faculty nominations and a vote. The committee is to create a vision for the future of CISE and a roadmap on how achieve it.

The Committee is also entrusted with the responsibility of representing the interests of CISE during deliberations over the creation of the SIT. The Committee, comprising 5 faculty members is announced on Oct 26, 2010.


Sept. 30, 2010:

Despite the obvious opposition, at a meeting with CISE Faculty, Dean Abernathy presents a vision for the creation of a School of Information Technology (SIT) comprised of ECE, CISE and NIMET (Nanoscience Institute for Medical and Engineering Technology).

A committee, having equal representation from CISE and ECE, is to be formed to explore the feasibility of this school.

Assurance is given, and recorded, that the school shall not be created without a faculty vote to establish majority support in each unit affected by the proposal..

The Dean displays a list of top-ten Computer Science departments in the country and claims they are evenly split between stand-alone CS departments and departments merged with EE. The claim is demonstrated to be incorrect at the meeting by various CISE faculty pointing out errors in the list of Universities that are deemed as not having independent CS departments.


Sept. 8, 2010:

Based on comments by the newly-appointed Dean, Cammy Abernathy regarding a proposed merger with ECE, CISE faculty hold a blind vote on two motions.

1) “CISE should merge with ECE” – Tally: Yes; 1 No: 37 Don’t Care: 0
2) “CISE should form a school within Engineering with ECE” – Tally: Yes; 0 No: 36 Don’t Care: 2

May 8, 2008:

The College of Engineering’s mandatory annual report on shared governance (approved by Dean Khargonekar) includes a commitment to faculty driven appointment of permanent and interim Department Chairs. In both cases, the appointment is required to have a majority support of the faculty.

Nov 8, 2007:

The consensus of the previous meeting is extended to appointment of Interim Chairs, which is now required to include the majority support of faculty of the affected Department.

Oct 25, 2007:

The Dean of the College of Engineering Pramod Khargonekar, Associate Dean Cammy Abernathy and the College of Engineering Faculty Council come to a consensus that no Department Chair shall be appointed without the endorsement of the faculty of that department.


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