Friday, February 15, 2013

#UVa CS Cuts Reveal Lack of Science & Engineering Strategy

The University of Virginia engineering school just announced that it will restrict admissions to its Computer Science (CS) majors and minors programs. This being done not to improve selectivity... but because the engineering schools lacks the faculty to deliver the courses:

Sadly, the faculty declines were easily forseeable; I and many other faculty raised concerns many years ago. And the response to Commonwealth cutbacks, post 2008, was simply to pile on more students. There was no commensurate increase in investment in faculty.

These and related developments at UVa have been painful to watch. The University truly  has ~zero strategy within the science and engineering departments to address declines in faculty numbers, salaries, and morale. Most galling, UVa leaders appear complacent due to favorable undergrad rankings... but those are strongly backward-looking and give little indication of where an institution is headed.

The great irony, of course, is that CS is a very marketable degree... it delivers one of the very highest returns on educational investment in all of STEM:

UVa should take a hard look at what UConn is doing, with its strategic faculty expansion:

And then there is Connecticut's $1.5 Billion commitment to STEM:

...which, in light of the recent UVA Board fracas, begs the obvious question: would it even be possible for UVa and the State to work together toward such an important investment?

Unfortunately, UVa's CS department is certainly not alone in struggling with insufficient faculty resources. The Chemical Engineering department and several others are barely able to support student needs, and the undergraduate thesis program has been greatly diluted in recent years due to declining faculty resource and involvement.

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