Names Behind UF's Brain Drain
David Figlio is among the professors who cite a shrinking budget as one reason they’re accepting offers elsewhere.
UF economics professor David Figlio does research that gets noticed. His public school accountability studies show how schools respond to accountability systems in non-instructional ways by, for example, removing “problem” students who bring down school grades and changing lunch menus during test time to provide foods that boost short-term performance.
Come fall, Figlio will no longer be making headlines for the University of Florida. He is leaving for Northwestern University in Chicago. Administrators say Figlio’s departure is part of a “brain drain” tied to campus budget woes. UF is operating with $69 million less than a year ago. In May, President Bernie Machen eliminated 430 faculty and staff positions, cut all colleges’ budgets by about 6% and announced plans to reduce enrollment by 1,000 students a year over the next four years.
Other star professors leaving UF and the state include Marc Hoit, an engineering professor who is also UF’s chief technology officer, and Barbara Bennett Woodhouse and Christopher Slobogin, both in law. “The cuts certainly made leaving Florida easier,” says Slobogin. “And they are definitely going to diminish the competitiveness of Florida on the job market.”
Figlio points out that few in his field would pass up the opportunity he has at Northwestern, a major private research institution with one of the best economics departments in the world. In the past, he says, he’s weighed other attractive offers but always decided to stay. This time, “UF’s uncertain budget future was clearly a contributing factor,” he says.