Private universities are certainly not immune from economic hard times. Heck, Harvard has more money than any of its competition, and they're having to cut back. Stanford is putting $1.2B of construction on hold. Still, private universities usually have enough flexibility to avoid the draconian cuts that can hit public universities when state budgets contract massively. The University of Florida's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is planning to meet its required budget cut by evisceration of the Department of Geology. Obviously finances are a mess right now, but is it really smarter to pick one science department to cut off at the knees, rather than spreading the pain more evenly? Hat tip to PZ Myers.