Who could be Ghost-Writing Dean Abernathy’s Misrepresentations of CISE?
This email was sunshined as part of a public records request. It is from the current Chairman John Harris of ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering), to Dean Abernathy. ECE is the department with which CISE is supposed to make a decision about forming a school today (4/27). The faculties are currently being forced to rush this decision through in 2 days. John Harris is slated to be the first director of this school consisting of over 70 tenure track faculty members.
The email was written 2 days after the announcement of the Abernathy plan to destroy CISE. It responds to a petition concerning CISE’s plight posted by one of CISE’s faculty members on a national computer science listserve. John Harris provides the Dean with talking points on how to justify her plan to the media and students. At best, the email reveals John Harris’ ignorance of even the basic nature of computer software engineering and research in computer science; at worst, the email reveals intentional misrepresentations of CISE that the Dean repeats.
John Harris amazingly says: “You [the dean] did not destroy PhD research in CS, the CISE had already eliminated the PhD program in CISE by their own choosing, by focusing on the applied research in Computer Engineering” Clearly CISE has not eliminated its PhD program: CISE has about 130 PhD students (getting a CE software degree) doing research in core computer science. : Databases, Computer Systems, Intelligent systems, Graphics and Human Computer Interaction, Computational Biology, Numerical Computing, Computational Mathematics, Algorithms and Complexity. CISE is the only department at UF that offers a CE doctoral degree, and the content of the degree is core computer science. Under the Abernathy plan, this CE software program would have been removed from the CISE department.
John Harris seems to think It’s all about Acronyms: “The PhD degree in CISE is computer engineering which is what we in ECE also do, it is in our name.” In fact, the CE degree at UF is a software degree (at masters and PhD levels), administered solely by CISE. The overwhelming majority of (CE) PhD students in CISE are working on core computer science and software research areas that are not normally housed in ECE departments.
John Harris misleadingly states: “It is not so crazy to put Computer Engineering in the ECE department, this is where computer engineering is, at most top ranked institutions such as Georgia Tech” — Harris is referring to CISE’s software track (CEN) and the graduate software degrees (CE, whose content is computer science, administered solely by CISE) – these are NOT in the ECE department at Georgia Tech. They are in their College of Computing (see a student’s response). The Dean seizes on this argument in her special announcement of 4/14″: “The proposal to house computer engineering in ECE is not an uncommon practice. This is already the case in other highly ranked Electrical & Computer Engineering departments, such as Georgia Tech.”
John Harris says without justification: “There are tremendous overlaps in research and teaching, which we cannot afford.” The Dean has repeatedly used this argument, for example in the special announcement of 4/14: “The proposed restructure allows for elimination of duplication” This is unjustified.