Attack on tenure and academic freedom

Here is a letter from a faculty member concerning the proposal’s effect on tenure and academic freedom:

—————————————————————-

From: “Concerned Faculty” <>

April 16, 2012

Many of you have already heard about the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) department in the College of
Engineering at UF being singled out for cuts and massive restructuring. The Engineering Dean Cammy Abernathy began implementing her plan within hours of unveiling it, by giving provisional notice to at least 7 staff in the department.

THE SITUATION:

CISE is to take a 20% cut, which represents at most a 2% cut across the board in the College of Engineering. No other engineering department will be cut.

WHY IS THIS AN ATTACK ON TENURE AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM? Please read on.

ABOUT THE CISE DEPARTMENT:
The department currently has 32 tenure track faculty, approximately 610 undergraduate majors, 400 masters students and 130 PhD students. It maintains an international research reputation as befits its status as a research department in the flagship research university of Florida. It has 2 ACM, 4 IEEE, and 2 AAAS fellows, and 22% of all faculty in the College of Engineering who have received the prestigious NSF Career Award belong to the CISE department. The CISE
faculty engages in substantial interdisciplinary research, the majority of which takes place in collaboration with the College of Medicine and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences within and outside UF. The CISE department accounts for less than 10% of the College cost, and has the highest revenue/cost ratio of all the departments in the College.

RESTRUCTURING AS A DIRECT ATTACK ON TENURE AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM:

The sitting ducks:
Approximately 50% of the faculty, most of whom are actively funded researchers, fellows of professional societies and recipients of professional honors and  awards – and represent the most outspoken faculty – are slated to remain in the degraded CISE department. They will be expected to handle over 75% of the current teaching obligation of the department, without any office or computer systems support staff, or any of the current 80 TAs. This obligation simply cannot be met  – the programs will lose their professional accreditation. This degraded department, containing the faculty members who are the most outspoken, will have to be shut down – A DIRECT ATTACK ON TENURE AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM.

The disoriented ducks:
The remaining 50% of the faculty, picked by the Dean, will be given a choice to move to 3 incoherent other departments – Industrial Systems Engineering,  Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, units with different standards and quality measures, values and culture that they did not agree to when they joined the university — AN INDIRECT ATTACK ON TENURE AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM.

The victims:
Over 75% of the CISE (software) students will be moved to ECE (a hardware-oriented department), including all graduate students. (Software-oriented occupations expect a 30% growth in the next 10 years, 3 times average. Hardware-oriented occupations expect a 9% growth, lower than average). The best and brightest of these students will be dissuaded from entering academic occupations – their view of the standards and values of academia have already plummeted, having witnessed this debacle — AN ATTACK ON THE IMAGE OF TENURE AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM.

CONCLUSION:

If this formula for dismantling tenure and academic freedom turns out to be successful, your department could be next.

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