Letter: Hostile takeover

Actions taken recently against the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics by the administration of the College of Engineering have left many people appalled at how education is being handled at a top university such as the University of Illinois.

TAM is a unique department where Engineering, Physics and Applied Mathematics are bridged. It is a world renowned department with a long history of excellence in Mechanics education and research. The graduate and undergraduate programs are strong and growing. Despite these facts, TAM is facing a potential merger with the mechanical engineering Department.

The former and current Interim Deans of the COE have been manipulating the fate of TAM for the last two years. When a merger was proposed two years ago, a lengthy evaluation process concluded that TAM should stay an independent unit. TAM was searching for a department head and the former Dean said the search would continue. He then approved numerous faculty transfers out of TAM and shamelessly aborted the search for a new head, increasing the department’s instability.

A merger of TAM (now sub-critical size, according to the Interim Dean) and ME has been proposed again. The College is encouraging TAM faculty to switch to ME and has prohibited TAM from replacing the transferred faculty, despite written promises. The proposal has vague suggestions of how the merger will take place, indicating a lack of concern by the administration for engineering students in TAM courses. The dean uses the argument that other universities combined mechanics with other departments. However, at many of these institutions mechanics programs suffered severely as a result. This proposed merger will cause the eventual demise of the once strong mechanics program at UIUC.

The University claims its mission is to provide education to the students. I am at a loss to see how destroying a prominent and unique department serves this mission.

Kathleen Toohey

Graduate student