The Outcry

We want to know what you think about Dean Abernathy’s proposal! Send comments, emails, articles, videos, pictures, or whatever else to Show your support for Computer Science at the University of Florida!

The following are several insightful comments from the petition:

I direct the Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering at Stanford. Computational mathematics, represented at your university by CISE, is *vital* for modern engineering: students gain critical knowledge, researchers meet to create interdisciplinary teams that are so important for innovation, and faculty advance the boundaries of computational math. Many universities in the US are looking into *creating* their own CISE. Do not destroy what is such a crucial part of engineering

M. Gerritsen – Director of the Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering at Stanford

I find it impossible to understand why a department known internationally for the quality of its research should be forced to cease its research activity. I very much doubt if the activity could be continued at the same level if the research faculty are moved to other departments so it seems to me that it is a big loss to the University.

I. Duff – Chair of the Board of SIAM

My group at Sandia National Labs has greatly benefitted from a research collaboration with Prof. Tim Davis and by hiring excellent PhD graduates of the CISE department. It would be a tragedy for this national resource to be lost.

B. Hendrickson – Sandia National Labs, Senior Manager

Software Development is the achilles heel of simulation science. This is one of the core competency of a CISE Dept. and needs to be strengthened,

C. Bischof – Director of the Center for Computing and Communication at RWTH Aachen University.

The proposal advanced by Dean Abernathy seeking to dismantle our stellar CISE program is in violation of fundamental shared-governance principles. This is a prime example of an authoritarian and non-inclusive administration style that does not take into consideration the opinion of the students and faculty that comprise our community of scholars.

O. Crisalle – Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor at University of Florida

“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the value and sophistication of the computer science discipline. It seems that after being unsuccessful in trying to merge CISE and ECE departments, Dean Abernathy has decided to make CISE irrelevant.”

T. Barr, Barr Systems

The following is a message Dr. Sahni (the former CISE department chair at UF) sent to several other Universities on learning of this proposal.

Dear Colleague,

The CISE (Computer and Information Science Department) at the University of Florida needs your help in its struggle to survive . In a nutshell, our Dean has decided to use the pretext of a budget cut to dismantle the department, something (actually, uniting CISE and ECE) she has been trying to do for the past 3 years but was unable to do because she couldn’t get the required votes. Now, she claims that with budget cuts, she doesn’t need anyone’s support. Given this history, it should be clear that the dismantling  is purely retribution for not  voting in favor of her earlier plan to unite ECE and CISE. Please see the information below for more details.

Please help by signing the petition ( and in any other way possible (e.g., email the UF president at pointing out the value/need for CS grads especially PhDs). Please inform your friends and ask them to do the same and spread the word. Keep in mind that if this dismantling is successful here, it could be tried by other Deans at other universities. Your department could be next!

Universities including  GATech, UIUC, Univ. California, Colorado, Rochester, and many others have responded:

“We’re all in shock with this horrifying news!  How can anyone argue about closing down a CS department where US leads in the software technologies in the world. Please let me know if there is anything we can do. “

“I just received this. I will sign the petition.
Let me know if there is anything I can do to help CISE.”

“I am thinking (with outrage) about your situation.  I have signed the petition, and our dean has circulated to all GT CoC faculty encouraging the same.   I hope the outcry will make a difference. “

“Is this true???  There are so many top folks in CISE at UF, I really hope this is not true…”

“Holy smokes … is this really happening there?”

“Is this for real ?”

“This is shocking.”


6 Responses to “The Outcry”

  1. William Klostermeyer Reply April 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Note that U Cincinnati, U Vermont, and U Central Florida all had very bad experiences with “mergers”: the former two since split and the latter has gone through a quasi-split.

  2. Parbati Kumar Manna Reply April 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    As per 2012 job report (, the #1 job in US is a “Software Engineer”. And this proposal is essentially killing the CISE department which produces those engineers. Talk about killing long-term growth just for meeting the short-term demands!!

    When did the Universities stop being places of education, and start functioning like companies?

  3. We should point this out in Reddit or Slashdot.

  4. There is another kind of grave and real danger. This plan is aimed directly at the ‘students’ in CISE, particularly the TAs and graduate students. For TAs, the university has made many commitments (through fellowships, and other means) to cover them for many semesters (in most cases for 4 years) and if these commitments are not fullfilled, then the students can sue the univ or dept to get their money, invested in the past or promised for the future.
    Further, students – current and former- in general can claim that they’ve been misled and that now their degree is devalued due to mismanagement and neglect by the admin., which would negatively affect (and cause harm to) their current and future employment and careers. Neglect can be proven by looking at records showing this could have been avoided by a 2% (uniform or non-uniform) cut across the board, freezing the hiring, freezing raises (through promotions, SPP, etc.), reducing extravagant spending at the dean’s office, or a combination thereof, among many other things.
    One can see all kinds of litigation triggered by enacting this plan.
    This can result in many millions of dollars to the whole university, many orders of magnitude than the alleged savings in the budget.

  5. Vlatko Milosevski Reply April 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I graduated from the CISE department of the University of Florida in 1999 with honors ( GPA: 4.0 throughout the studies). I worked from 1997 to 1999 as a teaching and research assistant at the CISE department. Since my graduation, I have worked at the top engineering and managerial position at the Royal Philips Electronics and NXP, in the Netherlands, Europe.

    In my career, I have met engineers with degrees from top engineering schools from all over the world via my contacts and professional engagements with Samsung, Sony, Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens, Google, Microsoft, etc… I can tell you that the quality of the education that CISE department provided me is at least on par, if not better than any of these fancy schools. I owe my professional career to the stuff that I have learned in Gainesville. For that, I will always carry UF in my heart and will be grateful to the CISE department until the end of my life.

    But aside from giving me the professional value, UF CISE department changed me as a person and expanded my horizons in different way. My graduate years were my first contact with the American culture and people. I fell in love in America instantly. I fell in love in Florida. I fell in love in the hospitality of the good people of Florida. Next to being Macedonian and Dutch, I became American in my mind as well. These two years spent in Gainesville have turned me into a passionate pro-American advocate. My stories about the Florida’s life and beauty have surely made at least 100 of my friend from Europe and Asia to spend their vacations in Florida, to visit Gainesville, to buy a Gators t-shirt, to support Orlando Magic or Miami Heat… I always believe that the education is the best way to win people’s hearts and minds. And UF CISE department has not done that for me only, but also for thousands of other international graduates who has spread the good word of American and Floridian beauty, hospitality and charm throughout the world.

    Nobody closes Computer Science Departments at the beginning of the 21st century. This is not the right way to save costs. I understand that everybody needs to cut costs. Over here, in Europe, every single country and nation is going through that painful process. But not even Greece or Spain or Portugal are closing University Computer Science Departments. Steve Jobs would probably use this famous word : “INSANE!” to describe this decision. I am writing this email with tears in my eyes and best intentions to the UF CISE department and to the people of Florida. Please do not commit a mistake and close this wonderful department which is a fantastic asset to the State of Florida.

  6. I predict that the dean’s job won’t be hers for much longer. This is a career killing blunder that she will soon regret.

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