Mostly I have tried to be rather optimistic about the Economic Crisis, including in an earlier post in which I proposed that departments and other academic units may be more likely to try to hold on to tenure-track faculty at this time, as these positions might otherwise go away and not come back. Sometimes, however, data get in the way of a perfectly good hypothesis; e.g. see this post by PZ Myers about the elimination of an entire science department at the University of Florida.
Unless there is some obscure political issue involved, it is difficult to understand the reasoning for eliminating a geoscience department, particularly at a time when the physical sciences are so central to so many global (and local) issues involving the environment: e.g., climate, water, resources/energy.
I am not proposing that some liberal arts department be eliminated instead. The intellectual health of a university depends on the arts and sciences.
But eliminate a science department? Who will teach the youth of Florida about their environment? Who will teach them about water and climate and land and life and how they all interact? Who will teach them about volcano monitoring?
I am very sorry for the scientists and others losing their jobs in this department, and I'm sorry that there is a university that couldn't find a better way to deal with the economic crisis than get rid of a very relevant science department.
6 months ago