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Univ. of Florida Announces Plan To Save CS Department

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the could-turn-it-into-a-concept-and-then-an-Idea. dept.

Education 112

New submitter WIGFIELD7458 writes "This appears to be a major change in plans that will save the Computer Science Department. Thanks to everyone in the Gator Nation and beyond for speaking out! The battle isn't over yet, but this is very encouraging news. I would urge the students, faculty, and alumni of UF to continue to express your support for the essential academic mission of your university."

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112 comments

As a member of the faculty of UF (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39805517)

FP!

Re:As a member of the faculty of UF (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806595)

Perhaps they should had closed the CS department if their faculty is trolling Slashdot all the time. Why aren't you trying to get grants, or teaching undergrads?

Re:As a member of the faculty of UF (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806745)

Perhaps they should had closed the CS department if their faculty is trolling Slashdot all the time. Why aren't you trying to get grants, or teaching undergrads?

If you don't get 30 FPs in the first seven years, no tenure.

Re:As a member of the faculty of UF (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808597)

What skill is more valuable for the practical man working in the computer field than expertise in slashdot multi refresh and first post technology?

Their plan was sheer elegance in its simplicity (2)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808757)

Media attention seems to have saved the CS department whereas their researching and teaching did not.

Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805569)

If you are the Park Service, and your budget gets cut, one ploy is to close the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, not some campground in South Dakota, hoping to get a reaction and thus get the money back.

Sounds like the University of Florida did the same thing.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (4, Insightful)

snarkh (118018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805659)

The Statue of Liberty is not going to go to California, while the professors from the CS department might.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807935)

statue of liberty is not moving to calif.

its too afraid of the mega-grope it might get from TSA should it attempt to travel...

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (0)

snarkh (118018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808023)

She may be a terrorist after all, you never know.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39809223)

She is an immigrant.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809309)

I'm surprise nobody has melted her down for the copper yet. The US has pretty much given up on the whole 'give us your poor, your downtrodden, etc...' thing which she stands for.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (2)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808275)

The Statue of Liberty is not going to go to California, while the professors from the CS department might.

No one is going to California anymore. People are leaving California now. Witness the growth of the surrounding states. Most of it is from Californians leaving. Even the illegals from Mexico are beginning to pack up and head back. California is an economic hellhole, and it's not going to get better anytime soon.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805669)

They could have just closed the Department managing Journalism degrees. Instead, they picked the one most relevant to tomorrow's economy.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806535)

Right - which is exactly why the ploy worked.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806111)

UGA did this with the State Botanical Gardens last year. Massive protests and outrage from the alumni and the surrounding community made the state budget restore the funding, about three million dollars, back to the school.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806495)

Similarly if you are a school district, the first thing you cut is bus service, which irritates the hell out of parents, who now have to drive their brats to school.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806701)

Or they will will have Union sponsored adds, explaining how these budget cuts, will reduce books, or teachers... Not the Second Assistant to the Administrator Assistant to the Assistant Principal. Or cuts to Guidance Counselors who are basically the dumbest people in the world, who cannot figure out basic concepts like filling out a schedule, or the fact that there is are Middle Ground of colleges between Harvard Level schools and The Local Community Colleges.

Well your grade are not straight A, you have only maintained a B+ average grade, You should look into community college, or vocational schooling. As those B+ grade will not get you into Harvard, thus you will not succeed in life.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806851)

Hell, you Can get into Harvard with B+ averages. It takes a really good SAT and a bit of showing off, but its certainly doable. Very few doors are permanently closed just because you screwed up in High School, I hate the fact that Guidance Counselors and the media in general make adults think they can't get a good education just because they didn't do awesome when they were in high school.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806993)

> I hate the fact that Guidance Counselors and the media in general make adults think they can't get a good education just because they didn't do awesome when they were in high school.

Agreed.

I think Guidance Counselors are kind of useless, myself... If I had listened to my Guidance Counselor, I probably would have been flipping burgers at McDonalds instead of having an undergrad degree in Computer Science, a masters degree in Software Engineering, and a rather successful career in IT at present...

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807715)

Statistically they're right though ... you can't count on that, and you can't make it happen. You can work really hard, and you might be the one in ten-thousand applicant who catches their fancy. But don't mistake that luck for having made it happen, when you only made it possible.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (3, Insightful)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808059)

Hell, you Can get into Harvard with B+ averages. It takes a really good SAT and a bit of showing off, but its certainly doable. Very few doors are permanently closed just because you screwed up in High School, I hate the fact that Guidance Counselors and the media in general make adults think they can't get a good education just because they didn't do awesome when they were in high school.

I understand the feeling. Guidance counselors were totally useless for my siblings and I (who end up choosing careers in CS, STEM and Health.) But I can understand them, their inability that is.

The way I see it, college-level guidance counselors are an extension of the HS concept of daycare. We shove droves and droves of youth through HS without methodically and systematically exploring their options in a post-HS life. That is the type of discussion that should occur when nearing the end of Middle School (and that's what is done in many countries.) It should not be occuring when a 17-18 year old kid is out of HS asking himself for the first time "now what?".

Guidance is a years-long process that starts early on. It cannot be pigeonholed into a 30-minute stop-by session with a counselor in college. That is too little and too late, in particular for kids who would have been better off *NOT* going to college. Some of the young people we see nowadays with useless degrees, they would have been much better off if they had just worked a lot and explore what the world had to offer (before committing to 4 years of grief and student loan debt.)

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807959)

Or they will will have Union sponsored adds, explaining how these budget cuts, will reduce books, or teachers... Not the Second Assistant to the Administrator Assistant to the Assistant Principal. Or cuts to Guidance Counselors who are basically the dumbest people in the world, who cannot figure out basic concepts like filling out a schedule, or the fact that there is are Middle Ground of colleges between Harvard Level schools and The Local Community Colleges.

Well your grade are not straight A, you have only maintained a B+ average grade, You should look into community college, or vocational schooling. As those B+ grade will not get you into Harvard, thus you will not succeed in life.

Bro, the amount of grammatical mistakes seem rather anachronistic (for lack of a better word) when they occur in a message admonishing people for not getting straight As.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807973)

In OH, they first cut buses and sports. Obviously, it worked.

Great Insight (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806943)

This happens all the time imho.

In my home state of NJ the education system is chock full of small school districts, each with their own set of administrators and highly paid superintendents. My hometown put on the ballot a tax increase to cover junior high sports, the Knowledge Bowl, and various and sundry interesting programs. It passed.

Now, if they put on the list "a secretary we don't need and a huge raise for the principal" I doubt it would get passed.

Cities also do this with threatening police and firefighters. Even the most die-hard libertarian sees the need for police and firemen. They never give you the option to cut all the waste you wouldn't mind doing without.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807379)

If that were the case they would have shut down the athletic department.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

Rotag_FU (2039670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808015)

I agree, it seems like UF was playing a game of chicken with the state legislature by using a key STEM program as a ploy in response to their frustrating cuts to the school's budgets by ~25% over the last 5 years. Hopefully some backroom deal was made with the legislature to stop further cuts, but on the face of it it just looks like UF flinched first. If there is no backroom deal then not only did UF fail at playing chicken but they also have severely damaged the institution's academic credibility in a fruitless effort.

On a related note, I agree with President Machen that there were misunderstandings about what was actually being done and I think the original Forbes blog post was embarrassingly inaccurate and insufficiently informative. The bottom line is there would still have been a CS program at UF, it just would have been severely scaled back by eliminating research, the doctoral program, and several faculty and staff positions. While I do not like those changes, they are a far cry from cutting CS entirely as the Forbes post was claiming.

Or maybe the football version... (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809869)

If you are the administration and your goal is merge the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), and the Department of Electrial and Computer Engineering (ECE) and you know that poltics in both departments will resist your call for a merger you instead try a the football version of the statue of liberty play.

With one hand, the administration fakes a "pass" proposing that both departments cut their CS funding causing the defenders for separate CISE and ECE departments to get out of position as they scramble to cause outrage that their funding for CS will be cut. While everyone is looking at the "passing" hand, then with your back hand you toss the ball to people in the department more sympathetic to merging the departments who have been moving on this proposal all along hoping that they can now outrun the opponents defending the original play who are now caught out of position.

Re:Sounds like a "Statue of Liberty Play" (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39810773)

For comparison here's the statue of liberty [wikimedia.org] and here's a campground in South Dakota. [flickr.com]

The parks service could turn the badlands into a parking lot and far fewer people would be upset about that than if they sold the statue of liberty for scrap metal, but there are other people, myself included, who are far more impressed with natural beauty than a statue. Better to save both than to cut one for something as stupid as "Congress wants to cut the budget and the parks service's lobbyists were the least effective."

Turning back to the situation at UF, sure they could have taken the cuts and eliminated the theater department and scaled back some construction of new labs or dorms, and maybe fewer people would have objected. Then Rick Scott could get back to cutting taxes in peace and easily get re-elected. [typepad.com] It might be that lowered corporate taxes ($458 million from the budget last year) will do more good than the theater department would have, but as a crazy liberal, I'd rather take a chance on students.

Damage is already done (5, Insightful)

pegr (46683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805581)

Why would you even consider getting a CS degree here now?

Re:Damage is already done (5, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805635)

Why not? A CS degree is almost the same as a math degree, and most good schools group it either with the math department or the engineering department (though, typically this is not a good idea, since CPEs/EEs look down on CS).

They are simply doing what everyone else does already. UF is a good school in general, not one to simply wave away because of department restructuring.

I'm a VT grad, btw. No bias for or against UF.

Re:Damage is already done (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39805805)

Where there is smoke ....

A local "college" here was having issues for a few years, yet they sponsored a huge Xmas light show every year costing millions. There were rumors of accreditation issues for years, parole, then halfway through a spring semester, it folded. Teachers didn't get paid. Water and power didn't get paid and all the students were told that because the school was under parole, their credits would not transfer. This hurt the seniors most.

Similar things have happened to high schools around here. They were on probation, then lost their accreditation. No colleges would accept students from that school system - yes, an entire school system.

I'd bet that UF CS department will lose accreditation soon and then what will the students have? I might go their 1 semester, if I didn't have any other choice, but you'd be damn certain that I'd transfer ASAP. There are lots and lots of CS programs that aren't being threatened in any way. No need to risk your future over this.

UT grad here in ASE, but I've worked as a software engineer at some pretty great places (I'm positive you've seen and been very proud of my work).

Re:Damage is already done (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805879)

You do realize that UF isn't a local college or a highschool? When I was applying for schools, it was in competition for being in the ranks of the "public Ivy Leagues" with UVA. Your anecdotes aren't relevant.

The CS program isn't going away (the program is accredited, not the department), it was just going under different management to reduce overhead costs.

no accreditation just list the school and tell peo (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805983)

no accreditation just list the school and tell people the full story that you did your classes and the school messed up. Also sue for a full refund.

Re:Damage is already done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806437)

Where there is smoke ....

A local "college" here was having issues for a few years, yet they sponsored a huge Xmas light show every year costing millions. There were rumors of accreditation issues for years, parole, then halfway through a spring semester, it folded. Teachers didn't get paid. Water and power didn't get paid and all the students were told that because the school was under parole, their credits would not transfer. This hurt the seniors most.

Similar things have happened to high schools around here. They were on probation, then lost their accreditation. No colleges would accept students from that school system - yes, an entire school system.

I'd bet that UF CS department will lose accreditation soon and then what will the students have? I might go their 1 semester, if I didn't have any other choice, but you'd be damn certain that I'd transfer ASAP. There are lots and lots of CS programs that aren't being threatened in any way. No need to risk your future over this.

UT grad here in ASE, but I've worked as a software engineer at some pretty great places (I'm positive you've seen and been very proud of my work).

Does this happen to be in a city northwest of Atlanta famous for a big bird on top of a restaurant?

Re:Damage is already done (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39807461)

Get a LIFE.

Re:Damage is already done (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806445)

Calling bullshit - here's why:

High schools are governed and accredited by the state, not by an accreditation authority. If a school is failing to meet standards, the school is taken over by the district and the relevant staff and teachers are replaced. If an entire school district is that crappy, the state board of education usually comes in and takes over.
In either case, students in such a situation still have to pass state-written tests and meet minimum state standards. Otherwise, they don't get the diploma.

As for colleges not accepting graduates from a given high school? There are far too many commercial colleges (e.g. University of Phoenix) and community colleges who will accept anyone as long as they pass some basic entrance exams and the checks clear, so really, that's bullshit as well. Now if you meant state or highly reputable colleges, then it's more likely that such kids would fall off due to the entrance competition. I suspect that UF is one of those schools, where they have more students applying than they have seats, so naturally the competition would kill them off.

PS: I'm pretty sure that the University of Florida isn't having problems renewing/keeping its accreditation.

Apples and oranges. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806549)

A program that fails to properly educate != a program being cut for budgetary concerns.

This is a matter of having a fine car but not affording the monthly payments as opposed to having a clunker car that's breaking down. One gets repo'd, the other gets you a ticket.

Re:Damage is already done (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806727)

That is Ok because Math and CS majors look down on CPEs/EEs

Re:Damage is already done (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808949)

Nonsense, the Math majors look down on everyone else, and the CS majors know they would have trouble existing if the EEs didn't pull their asses out of the fire from time to time.

Re:Damage is already done (2)

brendank310 (915634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808169)

... the engineering department (though, typically this is not a good idea, since CPEs/EEs look down on CS).

Reminds me of a joke my EE professor told us (our CS department is in the engineering school): Why is the CS department part of the engineering school? Every school has to have a special-ed program

Re:Damage is already done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806307)

When you're there to play, you've still got to major in something!

Re:Damage is already done (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808235)

Why would you even consider getting a CS degree here now?

The curriculum from that university is decent; the pay to be received in the field is equally so, and tuition costs are relatively modest for FL residents. For North FL residents, it might be the best option in terms of location. It should not be the case that people living close to this flagship university having to move out of state or to central/south Florida just to pursue a STEM degree. It should never be the case in any state, to force its residents to pursue an education somewhere else (specially if they live near its flagship university.)

For out-of-state students, I wouldn't go there if I were an out-of-state student... but then again, I wouldn't go to an out-of-state university at all. Unless it were an Ivy Leage university, it would be financially stupid. It always have been financially stupid.

Let me guess... (4, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805599)

The Plan:
1) Triple the tuition for traditional students (i.e. nerdy males).
2) Give full scholarships to nontraditional students (i.e. attractive females).
3) Allow nontraditional students to earn extra credit by pretending to be interested in traditional students.
4) Profit!

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39805681)

You're really just in your own little world aren't you? Good for you son, good for you.

Re:Let me guess... (3, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805777)

I guess I should have known better than to post something that would cause 90% of slashdot readers to vividly relive very painful memories.

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39805833)

Georgia Tech did that when I was there in the 1990s. They gave strong preferential treatment to attractive females in the admissions process in order to try to break their reputation of being a 4:1 school where the :1 were all fugly.

Fourth and long: my guess is a sandlot play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39805739)

A couple bright CS profs drew up a play on the palm of their hands, and presented it to the UF board.

"Our CS students should gain practical work experience while studying at UF, by developing and enhancing a web site to bring together the community of fans of Gator football and (men's) basketball. This will be no run of the mill web site, but will feature the latest in interactivity, wikis and forums, video clips, and inside access to coaches and athletes..."

Everybody else go deep!

Does it involve a heist, con, or scheme? (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805741)

Univ. of Florida Announces Plan To Save CS Department

Please tell me that a complex plot is involved, possibly involving George Clooney in disguise.

Re:Does it involve a heist, con, or scheme? (2)

mrmtampa (231295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807605)

Lots of politics and intramural rivalries involved. It's tied to the creation of Florida Polytechnic, the STEM school recently separated from USF.

The chairman of the Florida Senate budget committee, JD Alexander, pushed hard for the conversion of USF Polytechnic (campus is in Alexander's district) to a separate university. At the same time he proposed cutting the USF budget by 58%. The budget cuts were significantly modified after it was discovered that USF was to suffer close to 80% of all the cuts to the Florida University system. Someone doesn't like USF! It might be because the upstart school is now tied with Florida State among research institutions.

IMO; JD Alexander, who is a lame duck due to term limits, is trying to create a new home for himself after retirement from the senate. Have you noticed how much public university presidents earn?

Re:Does it involve a heist, con, or scheme? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39808501)

Univ. of Florida Announces Plan To Save CS Department

Please tell me that a complex plot is involved, possibly involving George Clooney in disguise.

Double points if he has to pose as a woman.

too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39805847)

damage to credibility is already done.. just keep your stupid football team.. no one in their right mind would go there for a CS degree now

Re:too late (2)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805891)

Nobody really went there for one before...

Re:too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39807427)

damage to credibility is already done.. just keep your stupid football team.. no one in their right mind would go there for a CS degree now

Considering the football team costs ~$20 Million a year and directly brings in ~$65 Million a year (Not including indirect income from logo licensing, additional Alumni donations, et cetera), and the athletic department as a whole is run as a non-profit who donates all 'excess' money to the general university fund, something which last year helped avert situations just like this one (before the state cut funding futher still, for the fifth year in a row)...

Yeah, I think they'll keep the football team.

STEM is the future (3, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805875)

Science fiction writers (fundamentally artists) rarely write about a poem or some business major (businessman maybe but not an MBA) who changes the world. It is most often some cool technology. If you look back into history there are undoubtedly influential works of art, like it or not writings like the bible have had a profound effect. But the reality is that inventions like electricity, medicines, etc have changed the world for the better over and over. Right now the technology is computers and their related technologies like robots that are setting the world on fire.

The primary focus of any healthy society should be to churn out the most skilled STEM students possible. We still need barbers and bankers but keep in mind that Taiwan churns out something like 55,000 Electrical Engineers a year. I have no idea if they are glorified electricians or the next Tesla but it certainly shows that they know where to focus their efforts.

Plus look at what happened to the world economy when it had too many MBAs around?

The mere thought of cutting the CS department shows the thinking of a group of weak minds. These are the sort of people who don't save any grain for the next spring's planting.

Re:STEM is the future (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805935)

$70k/yr CS grads don't send multi-million dollar thank you checks to the University Fund, businessmen do.

And most of the MBAs and Finance majors are doing just fine on Wall Street again. The market has almost doubled in 4 years, so big bonuses all around! The smart ones in the back room are trying to figure out how to pop this current bubble to they can take 2 quarters off without the obscene bonuses, and then have another 100% runup to skim another 10% off the top. Stability is not profitable, volatility is!

Re:STEM is the future (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806869)

70% of Fortune 500 CEOs are engineers, let alone STEM in general. They're the ones sending those multi-million dollar thank you checks.

As has already been said, STEM is the future. You said nothing to refute that, though it seems you think you did.

Re:STEM is the future (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807261)

Just so you are aware, Wall Street bonuses have little to do with the market being up.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/29/business/29bonus.html [nytimes.com]

It is the investors who generally gain the most from the market being up, the largest investors typically being pension funds, university endowments or 401K accounts belonging to individuals.

So learn a little before shooting off your mouth.

Mod parent down... (1)

NoGenius (976447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39810695)

Honestly, Slashdot...how does crap like this get a score of 5?

Re:STEM is the future (1)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806867)

The mere thought of cutting the CS department shows the thinking of a group of weak minds. These are the sort of people who don't save any grain for the next spring's planting.

Your post is filled with meaningless hyperbole and babble, and is way off base anyway. The university announced a restructuring of the CISE department so that computer engineering was moved in with other engineering disciplines and planned to eliminate doctorate-level and research-based CS work. The BS and MS programs were to remain as is. The post-grad and research work in computer engineering would continue in the engineering department.

But, hey, none of that matters, right? What's important is churning out at many STEM-related students as possible, even if they are but "glorified electricians".

Re:STEM is the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39807219)

"What's important is churning out at many STEM-related students as possible, even if they are but "glorified electricians"."

What's the point of this line? I was with you until you decided to sneak in some unnecessary snark. Especially when you've offered absolutely no alternatives yourself. He claimed it would be better if CS wasn't cut. You.. seem to think otherwise? Not really sure what point you're trying to make here, unless it's a point that has absolutely nothing to do with what he said.

But do we really need a separate CS dept anymore? (0)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 2 years ago | (#39805923)

A computer is a very specific electronic tool. Why does it require its own department? Universities don't have a "Automobile Science" dept. They don't have a 'Radio Science" dept. They don't have a "Television Science" dept. They don't have a "Pharmaceutical Science" dept. If you want to enter those fields, you study mechanical, or electrical, or chemical engineering, etc. Isn't a good Computer Science degree an engineering degree consisting of mathematics and electrical engineering and some software engineering principles thrown in? I'm not sure Computer Science needs it's own department. A computer science department is really a relic of an older time when people thought computers were made of pixie dust and performed magic. In reality it's just math and electrical engineering.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806087)

Actually, there are plenty of "pharmaceutical science" programs out there. Oh, and Computer Science is not just math and electrical engineering - for one thing, there is nothing "engineering" about computer science; for another, the focus of computer science is on a very narrow part of mathematics (mostly theory of recursive functions and category theory) and the sort of courses required for a real math major, like analysis or analytical geometry, would be relevant to less than 1% of all programmers.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806269)

Actually, there are plenty of "pharmaceutical science" programs out there. Oh, and Computer Science is not just math and electrical engineering - for one thing, there is nothing "engineering" about computer science; for another, the focus of computer science is on a very narrow part of mathematics (mostly theory of recursive functions and category theory) and the sort of courses required for a real math major, like analysis or analytical geometry, would be relevant to less than 1% of all programmers.

15+ credits of mandatory I/II/III advanced math courses in a CS degree that are "relevant to less than 1% of all programmers"...doubtful there has ever a more pointless credit filler associated with a degree.

I was on the path of CS until I hit that rather pointless math brick wall, and chose an MIS degree instead. Figured I find value in the MIS business courses a hell of a lot easier in the real world than CS math courses I would (literally) never use again that would cost me thousands.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39807273)

I honestly cannot imagine a CS job that wouldn't benefit from at least a working knowledge of Calculus.

Helpdesk monkey or entry level perl developer, sure. But not actual CS. But then again, you can get those jobs without a degree. You've essentially wasted 4 years of your life.

I'm thinking you're confusing CS with.. something else. Not sure what, but your idea of what CS majors do seems to be way off from reality. It's probably better you switched when it got difficult.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (4, Insightful)

eclectus (209883) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806117)

No. I speak as someone with a MS in CS, so I may be a little biased, but saying CS should just be Math & Engineering is much like saying Physics is just applied math, or chemistry is applied physics. While one is built on the other, there are basic tenets taught in CompSci that would never come directly out of Engineering or Math. While there is a lot of overlap, subjects such as Data Structures or Autonoma Theory (off the top of my head) are VERY different than anything that would be thought of as engineering or math. Core concepts such as these affect the very way that CS majors view the world. It is a different level than just applied math & engineering.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39807133)

Yeah, you're biased.

There's a reason most of the top engineering schools have merged the Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science departments. That reason directly contradicts just about every claim you have made.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (2)

KramberryKoncerto (2552046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808715)

But they don't then combine all the degrees and ditch "pure" CS, which was the point.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809081)

There's a reason most of the top engineering schools have merged the Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science departments.

It's called "compromising for budgetary reasons". That doesn't mean it's the ideal approach.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809125)

"There's a reason most of the top engineering schools have merged the Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science departments." -> Yes, they want them to work together. Electrical Engineers are the bottom of the pyramid, Computer Engineers the middle, and Software Engineers / Computer Scientists the top. Were it not for the people "below" us, actively developing things, typically in conjunction with us, we'd still be programming computers with vacuum tubes.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

Maclir (33773) | more than 2 years ago | (#39810951)

.. like saying Physics is just applied math, or chemistry is applied physics.

When I was at University, my Physics professor told us "chemistry is just outer orbital physics".

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806127)

Computer science isn't about computers. It's about computing. Computer science is not computer or software engineering.

Many computer science departments teach some elements of software and computer engineering, and I've heard many in the US are actually software engineering departments, but that's not what CS actually is.

Yes, computer science itself is very mathematical, but so is physics.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

Zenin (266666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39810095)

This probably explains why so few people working in software engineering have a computer science degree and those that do typically aren't very good software engineers. Most real world software engineering really has very little to do with math or science. It's much more akin to digital carpentry.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806171)

They don't have a "Pharmaceutical Science" dept.

Actually, they do. It's called a pharmacy college.

http://www.cop.ufl.edu/

They have it because they recognize that certain things, like chemical reactions and computers, but unlike a television, have a great deal of theoretical knowledge as well as practical knowledge. A chemical engineer or chemist would make a poor pharmacist, just like an electrical engineer would make a poor computer scientist or network administrator.

Tech / TV / CARs need a TECH / vocational school (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806181)

Tech / TV / CARs need a TECH / vocational school. The hard fact is that they really don't fit that well into a 2-4-6 year College plan. It is the relic of an older time that they try to fit into. Now it's real issues when you have places like TRIBECA FLASHPOINT ACADEMY that is a 2 year tech like school. Some of the class plans are Film + Broadcast, Recording Arts, ECT but the issues is that it's only 2 year (that should be good to get a job)

But at one TV channel they want a 4 year degree in communications to work master control? Now I think that master control is a very tech job and communications is not a tech class plan and you can learn all you need and more as well likely other parts of the tech side of the back end and how it works.

Re:Tech / TV / CARs need a TECH / vocational schoo (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808523)

Tech / TV / CARs need a TECH / vocational school.

That depends on what you're trying to do with the "Tech / TV / CARs" -- if you're trying to repair existing ones, then a vocational school may be a good option. If you're trying to design new ones from scratch (or even design significant modifications to one that already exists) that I'm going to use, I'd kind of like at least one (ideally most) of the designers to have advanced engineering or science degrees.

That's why the May 2011 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [bls.gov] (the first set of data I found; I didn't dig for more recent data) indicates that "automotive service technicians and mechanics" (occupation code 49-3023) made an average annual salary of $38,560 while "mechanical engineers" (17-2141) made an average of $83,550.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806273)

The think that made CS departments exist is the great body of the knowledge that involves it and good part of it is specialized.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806455)

A good programmer is a bit of a polymath. He (or she) needs a broad scope of knowledge, not just to do a specific task, but to analyze and discover ways to get that task done using a specific set of tools. The best comp sci schools don't just teach pure computer science, but also teach how to improvise, how to improve, how to manage, and how to think. Comp sci folks need to know not only how to fix a problem given a set of instructions under a specific scenario, but how to recognize the nature of the problem in the first place and tackle it in the right direction. That is why computer science is considered a four or six year degree program, instead of a vocation like a PC technician is.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806921)

That a good programmer is a bit of a polymath is exactly the reason why a separate CS-department is bull, think about it, what the CS-department does is take good programmers and separate them from the actual problems their programming is supposed to solve and *BANG* you have a linux distro without any reason for existence growing from your university basement and people arguing if the screen should be blue or red.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807033)

No, that's the reason that CS departments are incorporated into larger universities instead of being stand alone institutions.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807409)

Actually I find that Computer Science is one of the most narrow disciplines. Compare computer science, say to the curriculum that a Chemical Engineer gets:

Physics 1 year
Calculus 2 years
Numerical Algorithms
Control Theory
Organic Chemistry 1 year
Physical Chemistry 1 year
Thermodynamics
Mech and Electrical Engineering intro
Separation Phenomena
Unit Ops
Process Economics

etc.

It can be used for many careers - some of the people I know who went through that are now in geology, or used it as pre med.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809425)

Actually I find that Computer Science is one of the most narrow disciplines.

I disagree; having any sort of thorough knowledge about computers requires at least some education from almost all parts of the STEM curricula. Any person who actually gives a shit about computers should know (with at least some rudimentary level of competency) a whole spectrum of things from semiconductor theory to abstract models of computation. The set of sciences and fields of mathematics you need to now master to have a solid understanding of the operation of a computer is mind boggling.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806763)

Can't remember the last time a maths lesson covered the most efficient way to search for a string in a large body of text, or parallel programming techniques, or any of a million and one REAL COMPUTER SCIENCE techniques that have little relevance elsewhere.

I did Maths & Computer Science. Coding Theory - mathematical base but almost 100% computer science applications. Graph Theory - 50-50. Logic - Almost entirely computer science.

There really is a vast distinction there that, if you don't grasp, probably means you are neither a mathematician or a computer scientist.

But that account, we should merge CS into EE and Maths. And Chemistry is really just applied physics, so merge that into Physics. And then merge Physics into Maths.... and what you end up with is a) Maths and b) Art. And then some git comes up with a course on mathematical fractals, or a chemical explanation of the arrangement of pigment on paper and you just end up teaching "University" as one large course.

Please, go look through a decent uni's CS-only courses in the later years. If you see anything there marked as a CS-course that a mathematician would have more than a passing interest in, shout.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39809573)

and what you end up with is a) Maths and b) Art.

To add to what you said, why not just merge everything under "education"? Because when a given subset of a category becomes large enough, that subset becomes its own category. CS is an example to a specialization becomes popular enough to not just be a 'option' under a category, but to become its own category.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39808021)

A computer is a very specific electronic tool. Why does it require its own department? Universities don't have a "Automobile Science" dept. They don't have a 'Radio Science" dept. They don't have a "Television Science" dept. They don't have a "Pharmaceutical Science" dept. If you want to enter those fields, you study mechanical, or electrical, or chemical engineering, etc. Isn't a good Computer Science degree an engineering degree consisting of mathematics and electrical engineering and some software engineering principles thrown in? I'm not sure Computer Science needs it's own department. A computer science department is really a relic of an older time when people thought computers were made of pixie dust and performed magic. In reality it's just math and electrical engineering.

That's like saying that astronomers are nothing more than opticians who have taken some astrophysics courses.

Re: need a separate CS dept? Econ, Physics, Stat (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808081)

Your post amply shows exactly why we *do* need CS depts. You have obviously no clue what CS is about, you think it is just math+engr with "a little" software thrown in. You think that "a computer is a very specific electronic tool". How quaint...

The SCIENCE of computING, of creating ever more intelligent machines, of how to build better ARCHITECTED machines based on a better understand of the nature of data, its inherent structure, and methods to transform its usefulness (algorithms, etc) is far, far from "just math+engr" with a little software. It is definitely a field of its own that has continued and will continue to grow in importance to our lives, economy and survival.

Computing is a very specific form of math and computing engineer is mostly about implementation, not the underlying theory of computing and information representation and processing. Every university has separate (and powerful, well-developed) Economics depts as well even though a major fraction of economic is also "just math". Same with Statistics depts... Same with much of theoretical physics, "just math"....

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39808373)

I'm stuck trying to think of how one might explain to a TV repairman that their work is similar to know how to optimize code for GPU processing.

I think your analogies are like comparing a chemical specialist to an car-engine design specialist because they both work with oil.

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39808793)

Universities don't have a "Automobile Science" dept. They don't have a 'Radio Science" dept. They don't have a "Television Science" dept. They don't have a "Pharmaceutical Science" dept. If you want to enter those fields, you study mechanical, or electrical, or chemical engineering, etc.

Others have already pointed out the flaws in your other examples. I thought I'd offer a link that shows why the one I bolded is a spectacularly bad example for the argument you're trying to make:

Pharmacology Departments World-Wide [meduni-graz.at]

(You may also find the Wikipedia article on pharmacology [wikipedia.org] useful to understand why it's a rather large field of study.)

Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809077)

Let's see here...Computers are typically more complex than automobiles and radios. That's just the hardware. The programs themselves are another level of complexity, on top of that.

"In reality it's just math and electrical engineering." -> And flying is just flapping your arms really fast.

COLLEGE = Fraud And Racketeering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806157)

Arrest them

Reminds me of a story I heard... (2)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806217)

Might have been a Boston high school or something, but it's kind of irrelevant to WHERE.

The principal/school board were faced with big budget cuts, and so instead of cutting arts and sciences or liberal arts, they cut all the sports programs. They did this because they knew that parents would complain more loudly about the sports being cut than educational programs.

Sad state of affairs, though our public education system is pretty dismal nowadays, at least in the US.

Why have a CS department? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39806285)

This was stated in the last front page article, but top schools (MIT, for example) have combined CS with other departments. Can't Florida be like these other schools?

Re:Why have a CS department? (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809337)

Because MIT probably did it for other reasons than trying to save some money? It's MIT.

What is really going on there? (1)

Orp (6583) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806463)

When I first read about their CS department going away, I wondered immediately if there is more to the story than meets the eye. At my university we have a hugely dysfunctional CS department - many faculty blatantly abuse their tenure. They just got their MS program cut, in fact, but nobody's complaining because everyone knows it was a lousy program due to lousy faculty. I have to wonder if there are reasons for dismantling the program that go far beyond budgetary issues. If it were a healthy department I doubt it would be on the chopping block in the first place. But, I speculate.

Getting rid of a department doesn't mean you get rid of all the courses being taught, nor does it mean you even get rid of the degree. I suspect many if not most faculty will be absorbed into other departments if they do end up deleting the department. For instance, many CS faculty could end up in engineering or math.

All I'm saying is these situations are generally more complex than they appear on the surface. Yes, public universities are in bad shape these days, but one thing I've noticed having watched this happen around me is that situations like this really bring to light some of the existing problems that were there all along but were manageable until the axe came down.

Re:What is really going on there? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806625)

Then maybe being forced to FIX the problem (which is likely to be cultural and systemic rather than some random event) rather than just ignore it and sack people is a good thing.

Now you have to tell people they are sacked because they do a crap job, not just "because we don't want a CS department any more". You can best do that by hiring better people and not renewing contracts.

And "tenure" is really the most ridiculous concept I've ever encountered. It seems to be a US-only thing, too.

Re:What is really going on there? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39809179)

The primary problem is that this isn't the first round of budget cuts. Nor the second. Nor the third. Nor the fourth. It's the fifth year in a row that the budget has been cut by the state, and last year, the cuts were covered because the University was told it would be the last year of budget cuts, that next year the economy would be better and they'd get more money, so the University covered the cuts with the 'Reserve' fund. Instead, this year, the budget is cut even further than last year, and there's no more reserve fund to cover the cuts.

And to give you an idea of how severe the problem is, last year, there was talk of dozens of departments being cut if the funding to partially cover the budget cut (I think they had to cover about 30% of the cuts to save the departments) couldn't be met. The reserve fund was just enough to save them from the chopping block. Now the budget has been cut even further...

And no, at UF, the CISE department is actually top notch. The problem is entirely one of budget. UF has has financial problems for a long time now, and they're just now being noticed from the outside.

Ya want fries wizzat? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806569)

I hope the CS department teaches the students how to operate a burger joint, else they will be on the street as unemployable...

misunderstanding? driving away CS research (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39806977)

“As many of you know, the proposal has been met with overwhelming negative response, much of which I believe has been based on misunderstanding. Nonetheless, it is clear that the University of Florida must figure out a way to make it through these financially difficult times in a productive manner. I am optimistic we can do that.”

That statement sounds like contentless spin. I would like to know just what the misunderstanding is. Yes there still will be a CS *program*, but my (mis)understanding is that the university has started a restructuring that will drive away the best CS researchers and experts, leaving only perfunctory instructors. And it is quite likely that the damage has been done. The best, well-funded CS researchers have now gotten the message of the lack of institutional support and are by now seeking jobs elsewhere -- the best always have somewhere else to go. The rest will comprise a CS program based on mediocrity. I didnt hear the prez or dean take a stand against mediocrity in cutting edge CS research.

call me ruthless (2)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39807463)

but it seems like once a month that some redneck son-of-the-soil in the deep south decides they want to axe public funding for science or healthcare. The united states is starved for competence in the technology field; its a grande accomplishment for most people to add facebook and gmail to a cellphone. its shamefully ignorant to think you can axe the computer science department of any university and somehow improve budget conditions long-term in your state. Florida saved a few million dollars here, but in 20 years when programming and computer science hasnt dissipated as a form of economic prosperity and tax revenue for states, they can look back and salute the inbred geezers that stood by and watched this happen, and the hilbilly who pandered for a few more votes as his state swirled round the bowl. I liken this prof as a gandolf at the pass. lets hope he succeeds.

on the bright side, states with academic technology programs like computer science can help to provide useful transparent voting machines for states like florida that simply pipe the voters choices to /dev/dsp. The occasional clicks they hear will serve to placate the elderly voter, as it succors a distant memory of when they used to elect george bush and approve things like axing public healthcare.

Downside (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39809405)

CS majors have to go through two-a-days and learn the finer points of being tackling dummies.

10 Are you ready for some football?
20 Go To 10
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