Society is more and more technology-driven. We hear how America lags other countries in math and science education. We’re in a prolonged recession with half of all college graduates unable to find jobs. So what does the University of Florida do for its over 40,000 students?

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 save about $1.4 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?

Students at UF have already organized protests, and have created a website dedicated to saving the CS department. Several distinguished computer scientists have written to the president of UF to express their concerns, in very blunt terms. Prof. Zvi Galil, Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech, is “amazed, shocked, and angered.” Prof. S.N. Maheshwari, former Dean of Engineering at IIT Delhi, calls this move “outrageously wrong.” Computer scientist Carl de Boor, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the 2003 National Medal of Science, asked the UF president “What were you thinking?”

Read more here.

However, one benefit of being too busy to blog, is that things keep happening. Seems like the outcry made Florida change its mind:

University of Florida officials have dropped a controversial plan to dismantle the computer science department after mounting opposition from students and others.

“The proposal has been met with overwhelming negative response, much of which I believe has been based on misunderstanding,” UF President Bernie Machen told students in an email Wednesday. “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.”

Still, you kind of have to wonder – what were they thinking?