Tag Archives: cammy abernathy

In Search of Administrative Transparency, Rationale and Accountability (and a recommended budget plan for UF Engineering)

Questioning  UF Administration’s Allocation of  Funds

During the May 29, 2012 “Open Faculty Forum about Budget Cut” called by the central administration, President Machen and Provost Glover were asked, among others,  several questions from this list,    based on an independent report on UF’s  reserves,  including those held by the University “proper” and  those held by the University’s various “discrete component units” including Shands;  including approximately half a billion dollars  categorized as “restricted expendable;” and over 100 million dollars held by the University “proper,” and characterized as “unrestricted net assets.”   Candid answers were not forthcoming.

Continue reading


Dean Abernathy’s Final Budget Cut Proposal

On May 11, Dean Cammy Abernathy, along with her administrative colleagues in other colleges, delivered their budget cut proposals to Provost Glover. You can find the 2012-2013 budget cut proposal for each of the University of Florida’s colleges at http://www.ufl.edu/budget-proposals/.

The College of Engineering’s “FY 2013 Budget Cuts” document lacks critical details necessary to judge the health and safety of any individual department. Engineering is not alone. Almost every budget cut proposal omits a department-level breakdown, a breakdown for which concerned parents, students, and alumni of affected units are anxiously awaiting.

We expect Provost Joe Glover would require his deans to produce publicly available, detailed reports. It is shocking that he accepts such minimalistic levels of detail for budget cut proposals. At the April faculty senate meeting, he acknowledged that these budget cuts will cause serious pain to the programs and offerings at the University of Florida.

On April 17, Florida’s Board of Governors declared, “Our Universities will continue to tap their reserves year-round in order to save course offerings, retain faculty and account for enrollment growth, among other critical demands.” President Bernie Machen has elected not to spend the University of Florida’s reserves and to instead interpret the one-time budget shortfall as recurring.

Spending of UF’s reserves is just one strategy to address these state-mandated one-time cuts. Another is by closing some of the 102 open faculty positions. If the university is in such dire financial straits, its administrators should carefully consider adjusting their hiring strategies before making permanent modifications to their colleges’ teaching, research, and services. In Florida, the university with the second-most aggressive hiring strategy in these delicate financial times is FIU. FIU has 2 open positions.

Nuri Yeralan
CISE Lead Coordinator

May 6 Dean Fact

A Culture of Fear

“They can and will do anything to your professional life.”  “No matter how irrational their decisions, watch out what you say: they don’t like it if you question their decisions, and they have ways of using the tiniest pretext to professionally harass you.”  “If your department speaks out collectively, then they will retaliate and harass your department.”  Statements such as this have become increasingly common among College of Engineering faculty as the tenure of the current Dean progresses. In the current limbo when the departments in the College prepare their 2.7% across the board cut (announced as the 3rd and hopefully final of Dean Abernathy’s proposals for the 2012 budget cut), this atmosphere of fear of retribution and retaliation is palpable. What does this say about academic freedom within the College of Engineering?

The following emails were “sunshined” as part of a public records request Continue reading

Today’s Dean Fact 4/29

Who decides What and How: Dean Abernathy’s Backroom

The “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!”  seeds of CISE destruction:

Mark Law proposes Continue reading

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.

Today’s Dean Fact 4/27

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 Continue reading

One Step forward (two steps back?)..

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.

CISE GATORS: A human chain around the earth to save CISE.

On Apr 15, we successfully built a human chain around the CISE building. Now, we plan to build a human chain around the earth to SAVE CISE. Please send the photo to gatorsmile@gmail.com and tell us where you are !

Our dear alumni just created an event called “A human chain around the earth to save CISE”, they plan to collect the photos with a “SAVE CISE” logo all around the world to create a photo WALL for showing their support.

The link to the facebook event is here, please check it out and Join!

“Abernathy Plan” off the Table

In an email to the UF community today, President Bernie Machen stated that in response to pressure from students, faculty and external supporters of CISE, the “Abernathy Plan” is decisively off the table. This was one of the primary demands of the SaveCISE community to the administration.

Thanks to the support we have gotten so far, we now have an improved atmosphere conducive to moving forward.

The administration (President, Provost, Dean and chairs of ECE and CISE) have laid out the broad parameters of an alternative proposal. Among other plans, the Faculties of both departments are seriously discussing the details, and hence feasibility, of a Berkeley-style model for ECE and CISE.

One of the stipulations of the CISE Faculty is that any alterations to the current CISE TA policy would be a deal breaker. Another stipulation is that CISE faculty, students and programs remain together as a unit.

We would like to reiterate that the only thing that is certain at this point is that Dean Abernathy’s plan is no longer in consideration. We rely on your continued awareness and support during this delicate time.

SaveCISE remains in solidarity with the broader SaveUF movement in response to university-wide budget-cuts.