Florida: Computer Science or Sports?

In what ordinarily might seem like a rather sensible decision, given declining state funding (Florida state legislators have cut the budget for by 30 percent over the past 6 years), the University of Florida has decided to save money by eliminating its computer science department. The department is perhaps just too expensive to maintain.

According to an article by Steven Salzberg at Forbes:

Wow, no one saw this coming. The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about $1.7 million. The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments.

Let’s get this straight: in the midst of a technology revolution, with a shortage of engineers and computer scientists, UF decides to cut computer science completely?

But, well, when you don’t have the money, you just don’t have the money. Oh but wait. Salzberg also reports that, “the athletic budget for the current year is $99 million, an increase of more than $2 million from last year.”

Granted, the athletic department and computer science are not actually funded out of the same pot of money, but come on. These are the priorities of the university. The budget increase for sports alone would more than offset the whole computer science department.

Meanwhile, Florida governor Rick Scott decided that that the state needs new public university,
Florida Polytechnic University, in Tampa Lakeland, because:

At a time when the number of graduates of Florida’s universities in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields is not projected to meet workforce needs, the establishment of Florida Polytechnic University will help us move the needle in the right direction.

No word yet on the plans for the football team at FPU.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer