This has a lot of people (Forbes' Steve Salzberg, among them)
outraged that a school that has a $100 million nationally ranked
football program would gut/eliminate/eviscerate/filet/pick-your-word a core
part of the science curriculum. U.S. News and World Report ranked UF's CS
department 39th in the nation two years ago.
always, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It's true that the
school, like most across America, is under budget pressure. It's true
the dean of the College of Engineering has a proposal on the table to
reorganize the department. What happens is yet to happen.
Misguided priorities? But
the ruckus affords an opportunity for us to debate the role of athletics
in establishments founded (whenever they were founded) to educate young
men and women and advance research in the interests of society.
were not founded to teach students to hit a baseball farther, score
more points on the football fields or basketball courts. But over the
years, you'd be forgiven if you got the impression that academics was an
afterthought at many universities, smitten as they are by the almighty
revenue stream from ESPN, sporting-events gates, and apparel and foam-finger sales.
would be fine if the money supported academics but it doesn't. Most
athletic programs are run by associations not directly connected to the
academic programs. At UF, the association gives about $3 million a year
over the past two decades to academics. And often, sports-program donors
give money only to the sports programs and specify their donation is
not to be used for anything else. And like clockwork, donors routinely get called out or prosecuted for slipping money to "student"-athletes, who are taking up a space in a classroom that should be given to a student, not a semi-professional sports figure.
My take is that sports at the
college level should be intramural only. The NCAA, ESPN and the rest can
go pound sand. They'll figure out other ways to exploit young athletes
But that's just me. What do you
Should sports be divorced from academic institutions that receive
Should sports associations be required to fund academic programs
(not just the occasional scholarship but research programs?)
Sports do have a place. But not that much of a place. If it's just entertainment, then it should be separate - like in a different town from the school. If it's for prestige, then it should get equal billing with other prestigious activities like research or post graduation successes.
If it's for revenue, then why not also exploit college students by using them as sweatshop labor? You could create a manufacturing program where students would pay tuition to join the assembly line building things for commercial companies. The students would get paid in credits and the school in real dollars. It could even bring low cost manufacturing back to the U.S.
If that sounds ridiculous, then you can understand how I feel about the level of attention sports get at the university level.
Outstanding points, Duane. And if you think about, we DO use students as sweatshop labor, working lab experiments endlessly for professors who turn those ideas into startups that often enrich them. Yes, occasionally students get a piece of the action, but usually only graduate students who are wrapping up college.
NCAA-level sports needs to be severed from colleges, the NCAA dissolved and investigated (more thoroughly) and where concern arises about "well-rounded students," start intramural programs. Problem solved.
I made this case years ago to an acquaintance who's an athletic director. He hasn't spoken to me since. Oh well.
There are plenty of companies also offering internships, unpaid. The student pays tuition, the college gives credit and the company gets free labor. I was on a university career website the other day, for biology majors there were more "jobs" unpaid than paid.
I can't image there is no demand for Computer Science majors, I could see if they were cutting their creative writing or history department, but CS???
I totally agree with Duane. Sports have a place, but not much of a place. As far as prestige goes, my comment would be, what prestige? Are Hopkins, MIT, Stanford, Harvard, prestigious because they have fabulous teams? I don't think so.
Seems to me, if there's a reason that we need H1B visa workers in the US, it is largely because there's too much emphasis placed on college sports, by parents too, and not enough emphasis on what colleges are supposed to do. I don't buy any excuse U of F might have.
Sports are an extra curricular activity. That's supposed to mean "Optional." Plus let's get real here. College Football is just semi-pro's. There is no longer any affiliation with either the school or the area it inhabits. It is way past time when all sports supported by univerities be stripped out of the school. They only support a few and 99% of the players would not be in college if it were not for their football skills. I defy any large university to prove otherwise. Public money should go for education, not steroid enhanced freaks.
I actually think it starts earlier than that. In high school, athletes are given preferential treatment that doesn't prepare them for the real world. Our priorities are misguided when extra-curricular studies are viewed as being more important than math and science or job related skills.
This is quite interesting topic hear.
And from reading all the comments there's a good reflection... I've realized that high tech companies aren't spread all over the US but, let's say, at the corners... Washington north-west, California and at the east around New York, well at least in regards software development and the like. So... perhaps it's like Krajewski said, that UF is realizing the demand for CS graduates in that region isn't as high.
But I do think that sports are over-hyped in the US... and I gotta admit I like March Madness. But placing sports on top of academics it surely isn't good long term investment. Hope this is only an isolated case.
What is really going on here? The alumni are sending money and spending money on the football team. The recent graduates can't find jobs anyway so don't have much say in the (alma)matter. I couldn't agree more that major college sports like football must be forced to live off the donations for any more money than the "minor" sports get per participant in the college budget. If that can't be done, perhaps the feds should get involved with Title IX investigations in coed institutions (virtually all) with football programs.
Actually, it's not necessarily the alumni supporting the athletics programs. I had an opportunity to observe the nature of donations at a university. I observed that alumni were more likely to contribute to academics but people who had no affiliation with the university were much more likely to give to the athletics programs. Given the increasingly commercial nature of college athletics programs, maybe it is time to reexamine their 501(c)(3) status.
People wonder why the U.S. is losing ground to India and China. It's not evil teachers' unions, it's misplaced priorities.
Ah, come on, you all know football is going to cure cancer, feed the third world, and take us to the moon.
Computer science will just create geeks, and obviously we don't need any more of them than we already have.
I think we should address an issue we've only mentioned in passing - where is this $100 million for the football team coming from? Is it mostly donations and advertising revenue? Is $98M from the school's budget? If the athletics department is able to generate money independent of the school's allowance, then the American Dream says it should be allowed to keep it. If football is stealing bread from the CS department's mouth, then that's a different story.
I do believe that athletics programs should direct a significant portion of their income to academic pursuits. If conservative donators are leery about their charitable contributions not benefiting sports, there are plenty of ways that eggheads like us can benefit athletics. Sports and nutritional medicine, development of training programs, creation of algorithms to better predict and defeat opponents' plays - these are only a few things that would have a direct impact on sports, yet still be valuable to the rest of the world – and, more importantly, to the students graduating with that experience!
In summary, I believe it's not the money that sports generates that is the problem, but the pursuit of sports to the exclusion of academics.
Well, there's really 2 issues here: 1. what Florida is doing (diminishing their CS dept, while their athletic department makes money) and 2. Should universities have big-time money athletic programs to them.
On 1., the 2 halves of this are completely unrelated. Just because the University in general needs to cut some money from its general academic budget doesn't mean the related athletic department should be expected to take the full brunt of the cuts. And - sad but true - there are probably a LOT more people in Florida who care about the football team than the CS dept. The ranks of administration at universities are so bloated today, you could easily cut administrators to make up 10x the $1.7 million they "need" for the CS dept.
2. I think it's a more legitimate point about whether universities should even have major sports depts, and I say this as a football season ticket holder to a Big 10 school. But the fact is, sports departments - especially winners - drive donations to the universities. If you eliminated sports, you wouldn't have more giving to your beloved U, you'd have less. College presidents know this, and they know that alumni love sports and feel connected to their schools through them. It's great to hear that your U is doing great research or teaching or whatever, but there's no bleachers from which to cheer on a high-achieving budding software engineer.
Finally, Brian, just a general comment to help you out in life. If you insult someone's profession, you are effectively insulting the person. If you say or imply someone's job is worthless, the person will hear the same thought about himself. So if you wish to remain friends with people, hold your tongue before declaring their profession to be worthless, even if you personally don't see the value in it.
When I was in college, attending a football game was great entertainment. The students were given free tickets and the school made money. It seems good for everyone. The only problem was the players really did not go to class. When the school gives out a scholarship, they should be able to let the players concentrate on football for four years without going to other classes. The scholarship should include four years of classes after the four years of football.
Football--and sports in general--doesn't improve either productivity or the advancement of any body of useful knowledge. There's probably a reason why we don't have a Nobel prize in sports. U of F's loss will mean another university's gain. Students know the good schools that support education and where sports come second or even third, after academics. I don't know anyone who chooses a 4-year computer-science degree program based on a university's football prowess.
...ANY body of useful knowledge?
Sir, I must respectfully disagree. Sports has prompted serveral areas of research: aerodynamics in cycling and golf, avenues of physical therapy, nutritional analyses, mental effects of high-streess enviroments and effects of exercise on mental health (ok, so that last one is stretching a bit).
Sports doesn't need to be its own avenue of scientific advancement. We don't have a Nobel prize for business, either or excellent parenting - and I don't know anyone who would claim that those are not areas worth pursuing. Sports works just fine as a motivator, as a stress-relief for both players and spectators, and as a social rallying point.
I just graduated, and actually I know at least 3 of my friends who made intercollegiate sports a major factor in their decisions (and only one played even intramural sports). Collegiate sports is not only a culture for the players, but for the university as a whole. It allows bonding, it is a convenient outlet for the immense amount of stress (some) students are under, and it's a hell of a lot of fun to sit with 20,000 people all screaming for the same outcome.
The football program generates money for the school. The revenue is much greater than the cost. The computer science program apparently does not have enough enrollment (revenue) to cover the cost. How does getting rid of a money making program like the football team help the computer science department with its budget shortfall?
Sports should be prioritized above Women Studies, African American Studies, Latino Studies, choose-your-aggrieved-group Studies. At least many Division I sports generate revenue for a university, whereas the aforementioned courses of studies have no chance in Hades generating a dime for a school.
On the other hand, UF eliminating computer science is downright shortsighted. I thought this place was supposed to be in the Top 20 Public Universities in the country.
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IS NOT DROPPING COMPUTER SCIENCE. YOU SHOULD GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. THERE ARE TWO DEPARTMENTS AT UF THAT TREAT THE SAME MATERIAL: CISE AND ECE. THE ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT WILL REMAIN AND THE WASTEFUL DUPLICATION AVOIDED BY MERGING THE TWO GROUPS.
1) This article mentions that these were rumors. It also ends with saying that the CISE department might not be dismantled, but that the posiibility is enough for alarm.
2) Thanks for bringing this information to light - though it would help if you included links to corroborating articles (like http://www.forbes.com/sites/danbigman/2012/04/23/university-of-florida-responds-to-post-about-plans-for-computer-science-department/) instead of just denouncing the author. And speaking of your delivery....
3) DON'T TALK IN ALL CAPS. It makes you sound like a petulant 10 year old. And the Internet shall mock everything you say without exception.
You should get your facts straight instead. CISE conducts research in core computer science ( Databases, Computer Systems, Intelligent systems, Graphics and Human Computer Interaction, Computational Biology, Numerical Computing, Computational Mathematics, Algorithms and Complexity) while ECE has none of these. The overlaps are trivial.
Here is the latest news on this, from the Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/u-of-florida-dean-drops-plan-to-shift-faculty-focus-from-research-to-teaching/42748 From the article:
"Facing a backlash from students and faculty members, a University of Florida dean has backed away from her plan to shift the focus of a computer-science department from research to teaching. Cammy R. Abernathy, dean of the College of Engineering, this month proposed eliminating the department’s graduate teaching assistants and research support staff as a cost-saving measure. The plan would have reassigned tenured and tenure-track faculty to focus solely on teaching."
I'm with you on athletics, though. It's gotten out of its proper scale, which is to provide a little diversion for students who are studying hard and need some exercise away from the classroom. Doesn't take a billion-dollar stadium to do that, now does it?
As in almost all cases, what U of F is doing is rational if you just follow the money. In most large public NCAA division 1A universities the mens football and basketball programs fund all of the womens sports and all of the mens "nonrevenue" sports. These two programs must be successful in order to do this. And it takes money for those teams to remain competitive. If you don't have successful mens football and, or, basketball the money to maintain any sort of sports program has to come from somewhere else - and then it usually IS competing with academic programs for that same money.
These days most public universities are getting relatively little funding from the state. In my state the two flagship universities get less than 10% of their total funding from the state. I don't know the specific funding issues at U of F but I suspect it makes more sense for them to trim an academic program partly funded by the state than it does to cut a successful "self funded" athletic department that may even help fund intramural sports and some academic programs.
For those who are interested in the complete story, you can go to this website (http://saveufcise.wordpress.com) started by UF students/faculty for the latest updates as well as behind-the-scenes politics and power struggles.
This article is nothing but trolling. So the powers that be want to kill STEMs but keep athletics yet again. Well why not? Think about it, since time immortal society has respected the physical and not the mental. In the Bible (Ecclesiastes?) it mentions a poor wise man, using wisdom, saved a city and was not remembered. Yet, everyone remembers Goliath even though he lost. In Ancient China and Medieval Europe, scholars starved while they studied and possibly later during their career. Ancient soldiers got paid/feed well or wars tended to suffer. Only in recent history (WWI, WWII, Cold War, and. . . ) has it been considered prudent to feed the smart guys so they could make stuff. Even Stalin figured this out when he pulled the remains of his rocket engineers out of the gulags. Now that smart people are in plentiful supply around the world, why should the UF toss away good money on smart people when athletics bring in money, pay the bills, and makes the news? The UF has a $100 million nationally ranked football program while the UF's CS department was ranked only 39th in the nation two years ago (what is the CS budget? “A penny for your thoughts”). Yep, the powers that be have not decided yet what is to happen, but they are thinking (add sound effect of squeaky cart wheels) and they are always in the background “thinking”. Continued-.
-Continued. Back in the 80’s I was taught the names of inventors because they were considered important. Today is this the case? Do they have engineer/inventor collector cards? Do thousands pay hundreds, having tailgate party outside the engineering buildings, cheering, and placing bets? Do they televise the STEM Olympics? Give out metals afterwards (sometimes when they are old and forgotten)? See STEMs on cereal packages, advertisements, at wild parties with two women under each arm, or being paid? I can’t for the life of me figure out why athletics are more popular than STEMS? One place I worked a fat 5’ manager walked around in football jerseys and acted like a FB coach. He said we were all like a FB team (you mean the longer we play, the greater the chances of brain damage? (Kept that meeting comment to myself)). His solution to creating break throughs (“brake throughs”) was by using your head and break through (the wall using no helmets) or literally using your head to solve driving a nail. The engineers would suggest solutions like using ladders or hammers but that was not using their expendable heads in his brute force solutions and required spending money. Only recently has athletics started to worry about athletes brains when they had to start paying for them. So much for healthy mind and body. Here’s a thought, why do a lot of managers/business types use to play contact sports while many STEMS do not ;-)? I wonder if the people who figure out budgets have a STEM degree? Yep, certain people are thinking and society can safely sleep.
Yup. A good description of the dumbing down of America. And then people moan that H1B visas are given out.
You do notice that the world-class institutions are not similarly afflicted, however. Too bad more American kids are unqualified to go to those world class universities, thanks to all the hype put on athletic programs, even by their own parents.
Sports do placate a many (many I dare say) those that would (in all probability), be rampaging the streets causing trouble if not watching another form of violence on the mind-control box. Also it is a sad reality (I suspect), that many if not most people that graduate from Computer Science degrees have practically no chance of making a living from it let alone make any non-negligible (definition of non-negligible being quite relative obviously), contribution to the field. How many of these undergraduate CS degrees are little more than Arts degrees? Achieving an average of 50%-60% over a 4 year of a CS degree worth much if anything at all? Lastly Computer Science actually has little to do with computers, well the hardware at least (as we all probably know). The etymology of the term has been stagnate since the times when hardware was all important, any-ways the point being is that Computer Science may well be called Maths-too-challenging-unless-born-with-the-right-genes Science. The problem with US tertiary education (limited to the CS context if you must), is the source, that is the secondary education system.
Don't you need to be a millionaire to get into a decent university of there? Then practically immoral (or unethical at least), to work in a big U.S. (not them) corporation?
Are you just trolling, or do you really believe that? That's quite the slam against CS majors in general, considering it's in the top 5 in starting salaries for undergrad degrees. Companies, ethics aside, wouldn't be willing to pay those salaries if the talent wasn't worth it.
The thing I liked about where I went to school (nmt.edu) was the two most organized sports, both student clubs, were rugby and beer ball. The goal was the same, just different levels of violence.
Never made much of a difference for donations to the school.
Compare/contrast to UNM and NMSU. At UNM, the coaches (each) make much more than the university president.
I recently read an article on the privatization of education in America. State standardized tests are largely private enterprise big business. There's an organization working on creating a private GED program. I think that's right in line with the concerns about for-profit sports taking priority from academics at colleges.
I believe in free enterprise, but everything needs some constraints. Public funding for education is currently not sufficient. That's why all of these profit making activities are popping up. In my opinion, education should be primarily publicly funded.
Athletics are an important part of our culture, but the primary purpose of a school should be to educate people, not to deliver entertainment.
I think some commentators here are a bit (a large one) off track. Education is not only "business". There is (supposedly) a higher goal underneath. The question is not if Football makes more money than CS or Applied Physics (by the way - to say that football players are "applying Physics" in any academic sense is a faaar stretch). The question is: The professionals that are supposed to be educated at the university will make money and create usefull stuff AFTER finishing the college for their markets. If the University is applying more effort and men-hours to manage sports and make money, it should change its name and focus - instead of Miami University, it should change to Miami Sports Center. To make and sell food and soft drinks are great business also. So why don't we stop to teach at schools and start to sell hamburgers and Coke instead?
Follow the money. If athletics generates more profits for the school than CIS, the trustees will keep the athletics.
And in a heartbeat, they need to be blacklisted and expunged from the academic community. They are obviously more interested in saving their precious jobs than honoring their commitment to academic excellence. I would never be able to trust them to use good, sound judgment in their educational choices
Given that we are talking about the famous University of Florida, perhaps they could get rid of all of those hard programs and concentrate on the easy ones. There are lots of other schools where one can get a good engineering education, after all.
Perhaps it is time to stop doing what they don't do well. After all, not every school is a great engineering school.
Please note that this is a statement presented as one persons opinion. In the USA we are allowed to do that on some topics, so far the quality of universities is not out of bounds.
It is inappropriate for me, as an Australian, to criticize the priorities of US citizens but I did have these thoughts:
If you can get 20,000people to watch a football game, people who would probably pay well over $50 to go to a pop concert and wouldn't even notice that amount on their cell phone account, why can't a university collect that much from each of them each time.? Surely that would fund a few useful courses.
I also thought, having once watched the buildup to a game between two, not particularly well-known, universities in the USA, that the energy, dedication and organisational skills (not to mention the expense) involved in just the preliminaries - marching bands, singers and groups, fly pasts and whatever, shows an enormous and laudable capacity for achievement. What is needed surely is for this skill and effort (and money) to be applied in more useful directions, AS WELL, not INSTEAD. And if sporting events, casinos and rather dense TV programs are the only way to gain the interest of most of the population, why not put a substantial levy on all of these and pour it into (useful) educational programs. (You can do 'gender studies' or whatever in your own time and at your own expense.)
As far as the Australian manic obsession with sport is concerned, while our manufacturing capability dwindles to zero and our economic survival rests on digging ever larger holes in the ground, I think we are quite mad.
Unfortunately this is a reflection of priorities at this school, and society in general. The school makes money from their football program, but the Computer Science program doesn't grant them immediate benefits. Now, one can argue producing more CS graduates benefits society overall more than another college football team, but organizations (schools, etc.) aren't in it for the benefit of society, or the local / state / regional / national economy, they are in it for their own short-term benefit.
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