Vote on UI engineering merger will wait

Vote on UI engineering merger will wait

URBANA – After nearly two hours of contentious debate about merging two engineering departments, the University of Illinois' faculty senate realized it didn't have a quorum and shut itself down.

So the senate didn't vote Monday on merging its Theoretical and Applied Mechanics department with Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

Nor did it begin a debate on business Professor Mark Roszkowski's proposed resolution for the UI to eliminate Unofficial St. Patrick's Day.

It did, however, endorse renaming the College of Applied Life Studies to Applied Health Studies, as well as a nonbinding resolution to keep parking costs down.

It was the engineering proposal that brought the greatest number of audience members. Even before the senate convened, passionate engineering students paraded with signs and shouted "Save TAM!" outside Foellinger Auditorium.

TAM students and faculty members contend the College of Engineering has been undermining the department, causing faculty members to leave, so that the departments could be merged.

They argued that TAM is different from mechanical engineering, with a greater emphasis on high-level mathematics.

But former TAM professors who have moved into mechanical engineering said that mathematical edge could be preserved in a merged department, and the resulting department would be stronger for it.

After a debate fairly evenly divided between the two sides, senator George Friedman called the question of closing the debate. A show of hands went for ending it.

But the vote called into question how many of those on the main floor were actually members of the senate, or were instead engineering students, and another show of hands detected the lack of a quorum.

The issue will be reopened at the next meeting.

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