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Strong opinions, weakly held

How the University of Florida spends its money

This is the sort of thing I’d normally just tweet about, but hey, I have a blog, so I can add stuff to the permanent human knowledge base by posting it here.

People are justifiably outraged that the University of Florida is eliminating its computer science department. As Alex Tabarrok notes at Marginal Revolution, this is an example of how the institutional incentives for universities are not well aligned with what society most needs from those universities. This story is complicated. The state government is cutting funding for existing institutions even as it creates an entirely new polytechnic university carved out of the University of South Florida.

Cutting the computer science department will save the University of Florida $1.7 million. Many people have noted the size of university’s athletic budget, and that that budget went up by $2 million this year. The athletic budget, managed by the University Athletic Association (Inc.), is available online. UF’s athletic department is financially independent from the rest of the university and in fact pays the university for general services that it uses. So while it has a huge budget, it’s not as though Florida could cut athletics to save the computer science department.

Obviously we justifiably argue that it’s a shame that people care so much more about sports than they do about sustaining important academic programs. But you can’t say that UF is funding sports over computer science.

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