A Good Faith Effort by CISE

Thanks to outcry from SaveUFCISE supporters, on Apr. 25, President Bernie Machen wrote a letter to the UF community removing Dean Abernathy’s budget cut plan from consideration. In that letter, President Machen suggests an alternative proposal for a unit that comprises both ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and CISE (Computer and Information Science and Engineering) “that also would address issues raised during recent discussions, namely, clarify and enhance degree offerings while preserving the research mission in both computer science and computer engineering, achieve efficiency in teaching and bring faculty workloads in line with other departments of the college.”

The letter’s concluding statement: “I ask the faculty, students, and the administration of all colleges to work in partnership to identify the savings and keep the colleges on track in their quest for continued excellence in education and research.”

In keeping with this statement, CISE faculty agreed to put a few alternative budget cut plans forward, one of which would be for a joint CISE-ECE unit following the Berkeley-model.

Meanwhile, the CISE chair Gerhard Ritter communicated to the CISE faculty an extremely difficult Friday 5pm deadline for coming up with a MOU (memorandum of understanding) for the joint CISE-ECE unit.

In the face of this pressure, the CISE chairman and a committee of CISE faculty have worked amicably, in good faith, for several hours for the past 2 days, in consultation with chairman John Harris of ECE as well a parallel commitee of ECE faculty, to hammer out the details of a memorandum of understanding that would be agreeable to both faculties. ECE chairman John Harris, in the meantime, circulated a document written several months ago, for the governance of a joint CISE-ECE school.

Today, (Friday, Apr. 27), the CISE committee, after consultation with the CISE faculty released a document of their memorandum of understanding, incorporating all the requests in the president’s message, stipulations of the CISE chairman Gerhard Ritter, stipulations of ECE Chairman John Harris that he provided during his  meeting with the CISE committee 2 days ago, many requirements of the ECE faculty committee, and the requirements of the CISE faculty. Read the highlights of changes to the current structure.

Other alternative proposals are being prepared, including those that enjoy a high level of support from our external stakeholders, in time for the University-wide May 7 deadline for sending in all proposals to the central administration.

4 Responses to “A Good Faith Effort by CISE”

  1. One question many graduate students will have is “will TAs be cut in this plan?”. Let me be clear, in this plan, no TAs will be cut. While the funding from the college will be reduced (department and school budgets would come from the dean), this proposal *enables* a plan that the CISE tenure-track faculty have collaborated on to make up the difference. Thus the need for a CISE department chair to maintain autonomy in distribution of funds from the college is *critical* for this plan to be effective. If the CISE department chair does not control the budgets, the support for TAs beyond the first year (as in Dean Abernathy’s plan) can *not* be guaranteed.

  2. As an alumnus, I’m not directly affected by this, but after reading the MOU, I just had to ask:

    I notice that each department can veto the other’s choice of chair. CISE will need a new chair soon, thanks to the Dean’s refusal to allow a permanent chair before the merge. Does this mean that ECE will have a say in who is selected? By the same token, will CISE have a say in whether Harris is chair of ECE going forward?

    • In this proposed MOU, yes, ECE has some say in the CISE chair process, but the idea is to remove people from consideration who are the other department has significant reservations about. While any of these rules could be used to repeatedly “stick” the other department, the goal is to move towards a more collegial relationship. Dr. Harris has been ECE’s chair for already one year, so there is no nomination to vote on.

      • So ECE would have a say in the selection of the CISE chair or rather they have the ability to veto a nominee. But CISE will not have the ability to veto the ECE chair nominee till the next nomination is made, which is 4 years or so from now? And the MOU itself is only for 10 years. That doesn’t sound right if my understanding is correct! Either CISE should also ask to get a chance to veto once initially or ECE also be provided no chance to veto the first CISE nominee for the first 4 or so years.

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