Comment by Michael Thorpe, Foundation Professor

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University

To say that one of the most important technological areas (computer science) at the flagship university in Florida is to become a “teaching unit” certainly sends a message. Unless you think that Florida can survive by selling oranges, this is probably not the right message to be sending around the world.

3 Responses to “Comment by Michael Thorpe, Foundation Professor”

  1. Though I am outraged to hear this, I would like to say that UCF is more of Florida’s flagship school now, especially in the field of Computer Science. I’m a UCF Computer Science student (about to graduate), but seeing cuts to these sectors just makes no sense to me. It’s been an area of rapid development, and more and more jobs are opening up in this field. There is plenty of research going on that isn’t pure CS, but also merges other fields (such as Computational Biology, Quantum Computing, etc.). While I hope UF resolves this issue, I would like to point out UCF’s growing stance in this area (one of our notable CS Alumni includes Alan Eustace, a Senior VP at Google) and that UF’s decisions are not representative of all of Florida. Students and researchers will simply move more to UCF and other schools that still care about moving forward, but current and former UF students will see a loss in value from their degrees.

  2. Florida doesn’t have a flagship university.

  3. Even if you do believe Florida can survive by selling oranges, you will still need computer science professionals. Huanglongbing (HLB), also called “Citrus Greening” disease, threatens the livelihood of Floridian citrus growers today. Computer science is a vital skill necessary on the interdisciplinary teams of botanists, genomicists, agronomists, chemists and informatics practitioners who study and work to overcome this deadly 21st century pestilence threatening Florida.

    Even anthropologists, who have been criticized by Gov. Scott in the past, have made contributions to the impacts of these kinds of plant diseases on society, civil health and human settlement patterns (Armelagos & Cohen on Neolithic societies; Diamond on the Rapanui tribe). Who is going to teach the anthropologists that make today’s observations, and report on their informed counsel, not to mention the computer scientists who must implement the information systems and data curation for such studies?

    If these educational cuts continue, Florida will have to look to Georgia, Alabama, and the rest of the Union for it’s salvation. It may even be beyond the reach of America, as some of the best research into HLB is currently taking place in Brazil and Latin America. Will we need to call on the countries of Latin America for assistance, unable to help ourselves?

    If a cut like this hasn’t struck your university or program, yet–it will. Although, I wouldn’t be so quick to criticize your institution’s administrators. Calling for 30% funding cuts across the board, it only stands to reason (statistically) that 30% of those cuts will be made to STEM programs Gov. Scott had wanted to promote. The more outlandish the proposed cuts, the greater the chance that national attention is drawn to this disturbing trend. A leadership policy that is against anyone’s chosen field of higher education is a policy against everyone’s opportunities for growth and development.

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