In an email sent April 25, 2012, the President of the University of Florida, Bernie Machen, stated that Dean Cammy Abernathy’s restructuring plan is now off the table.
In spite of this promising announcement, the future of CISE is uncertain.
Several proposals are being generated supporting CISE autonomy, but an official position has not yet been reached. On April 25, we were cautiously optimistic.
President Machen has however strongly favored one alternative proposal that involves some form of conjoining of ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and CISE. This proposal is supposed to address the College of Engineering’s budget cut.
In this climate of anxiety and uncertainity, CISE faculty have been working hard with ECE faculty to explore the details and hence the feasibility of such a proposal. They have been forced to arrive at a decision in just 2 days. Their guiding principles include a preservation of CISE’s unity (of faculty, students and programs), core identity, culture and freedom to grow in its chosen direction.
Here is a history of previous attempts at merging/forming school of ECE and CISE at UF. Here is an analysis of the structures for these departments at 61 AAU universities. The CISE department at UF has consistently demonstrated its excellence.
All alternative proposals exist ostensibly solely because President Machen interprets these budget cuts as recurring. A successful proposal should include two key features. First, the proposal must emphasize the long term importance of Computer Science and Engineering. Second, the proposal must address permanent budgetary constraints.
We trust in the wisdom of the State Legislature and the Board of Governors that the budget cuts are one-time cuts, and that the University of Florida should, “continue to tap their reserves year-round in order to save course offerings, retain faculty, and account for enrollment growth.” UF has at least $111 million in unrestricted reserves.
Now is the time for our supporters to call for robust support and autonomy for Computer Science and Engineering at UF. By doing so, the University as a whole will gain significant collaboration opportunities, the City of Gainesville will vastly improve its edge in the competition to become the Silicon Valley of the South-East, and the State of Florida can make a shining example of its flagship Computer Science research institution.
Please, join us in this call.