CS.dept == EMPTY;

Meltsner, Kenneth Kenneth.Meltsner@ca.com
Fri, 4 Jan 2002 15:16:42 -0500

I suspect most of the problem, if there is one, is pipeline turbulence.  A bunch of ABDs and PhDs were diverted into dot coms, dot com funding for existing faculty members (in the form of sponsored research or outside work) increased the demand for faculty members by decreasing the number of mouths at the public funding trough, and ??  

Did we have more than a handful of tenure-track faculty jumping to startups?  Judging from the faculty web sites I've read recently, most of them hedged their bets and didn't leave entirely (leave of absence, sabbatical, external activity).  It does look like the dot-com boom drew on the migrant workers of academia -- instructors, staff scientists, etc. who figured a startup was no more a risk than continuing in a soft money position.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Whitehead [mailto:ejw@cse.ucsc.edu]
Sent: Friday, January 04, 2002 12:51 PM
To: fork@xent.com
Subject: RE: CS.dept == EMPTY;

> One of the downsides (upsides?) to the dot-com boom is that it gutted most
> computer science/EE departments.

Please back up this assertion with solid facts. You are incorrect.

> One of the things I take notice of is the career pages in the back for
> Communication of the ACM (which is where you go looking for CS
> PhD's) every month. What was once a few pages every other month,
> is now 45+ pages of tiny fonts every month.

This can be caused by (a) the need to replace existing faculty who have
left, or (b) an general expansion of CS education.

My experience is the number of ads is overwhelmingly caused by (b), though
causes certainly do vary across universities.

> So from this, I conclude a couple things (feel free to disagree):
> - The .edu exit function is a one way function. Even tho the boom
> went bomb over a year ago, the faculty have not chosen to return.
>(who can blame them)

This was the case before the .com boom as well. It's more the case that,
once people decide to make a career change, they tend to commit to it.  It's
a very big step to leave a post of guaranteed employment (once you have
tenure), so it doesn't surprise me that, having achieved a level of
commitment that causes them to leave academia, they don't return.

> - With all the desireable-to-raid faculty now gone, we shouldn't have to
> worry about too many super-genious graduates from CS departments anytime
> soon. If the faculty with all the nifty projects are gone off to work at
> corps, why get a masters/PhD at all, just go work with them?

I think you're making far too great an extrapolation from your experience
with Stanford. I suppose it's probably hard for you to accept this fact, but
most academics *like* academia, and prefer it to other forms of employment.
You do have incredible freedom in academia to pursue your own ideas, and
that is seldom found elsewhere -- big $$ carry big expectations. So, again,
your claim that all the desirable-to-raid faculty are gone just doesn't fit
the facts. It may hold for Stanford, but your claims are for all academia.
Where are your facts? Your assertions are entirely contrary to my personal

- Jim