Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chatham man wins Illinois Bicentennial coin design contest

Hayden Schumer had a lot of history and symbolism to cram onto a commemorative coin for the state’s bicentennial celebration. But Schumer, a 21-year-old college student from Chatham, managed to do it, though, in a way that easily won an online voting competition conducted by Treasurer Michael Frerichs’s office.

“Hayden did a great job of incorporating a lot of different aspects of our history and our regions,” Frerichs said at a Statehouse news conference Monday.

“A lot of the designs focused on the city of Chicago or some focused on downstate. I think he did a great job of capturing our history of things that make us strong, like our industry and transportation.” And, Frerichs said, Schumer did it without producing an overly cluttered design.

Schumer said he started with five ideas and narrowed them down to the final design.

He is pursing a degree in communications at the University of Illinois Springfield this fall and hopes to get involved with animation.

The coins will sell for $45, which Frerichs said will offset the cost of production.

The front of the coin will feature Schumer’s design and the back will feature the state seal.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 18, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cole Taylor signs with Angels

Like most kids, former Salt Fork standout Cole Taylor grew up dreaming of becoming a professional athlete.

This Friday in Grand Junction, Colo., Taylor will take the field in an Pioneer League contest with the Orem Owlz, a minor-league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"It's definitely a dream come true that I'm getting this opportunity,'' said Taylor during a telephone interview Monday night from Orem, Utah. "Now, I have to realize that playing baseball is my job and I have to put everything into it if I want to continue playing baseball for my career.''

Honestly, Taylor, who is a two-time Commercial-News Player of the Year (2013 and 2014) wasn't sure if he was going to get the opportunity. After a pair of stellar seasons at Illinois-Springfield, where Taylor earned all-American honors with the Prairie Stars, the call in last week's draft never came.

Instead, Taylor went the free agency route. "After the draft, I started looking for a place to play,'' he said. "I was talking to a few of the independent teams, trying to get one of with one of them, when the Angels called me last Friday. "They offered me a spot here in Orem and I took it.''

During his career at the University of Illinois Springfield, Taylor ranks first in doubles, first in stolen bases, second in batting average, second in homers, second in RBIs, second in runs, second in hits and second in triples.

With his signing, Taylor becomes the first-ever player in Prairie Stars history to join a Major League Baseball organization.

This story appeared in the Commercial-News on June 13, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Susan Koch: Opportunities for success online

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 9, 2018.

Among the 1,500 who completed their college experience at UIS, one group is especially intriguing. It’s the several hundred members of the 2018 graduating class who completed their undergraduate or graduate degree entirely online. 

Elizabeth Andersen from Urbana, Illinois, who graduated Summa Cum Laude (with highest distinction) with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, is a great example. “As an adult with a job, a family, and a mortgage, a traditional college experience was going to be nearly impossible for me,” she says. “The online opportunity at UIS gave me the option to work full time while finishing school; at the same time, it provided an affordable but high quality education.” 

Affordability, accessibility and quality — those three characteristics have been at the heart of online education at UIS since the first online class was offered in 1997, long before most other universities were even considering opportunities offered by the emerging digital knowledge revolution. 

Since then, UIS has moved to the forefront of universities engaged in online learning, offering 26 degrees and many certificates entirely online and providing access to a high-quality, affordable university education for thousands of students who, for a variety of reasons, cannot follow a more traditional path to the opportunities for success that a college degree provides. 

According to Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning, online students were enrolled at UIS this Spring semester from more than 70% of Illinois counties, 47 U.S. states (exceptions were Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont), and 11 foreign countries. 

In addition, more than 70 percent of students in face-to-face programs also took at least one online course. 

Rebekah Grosboll is one of several online coordinators who works closely with students like Elizabeth throughout their college experience. “I communicate with students every week,” says Grosboll, “helping them access resources, sequence their courses and balance sometimes conflicting obligations. My goal is to create success stories,” she adds, “helping students make their professional goals a reality.”

In addition to providing online coordinators who support students in each program, the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS) serves as a hub for the study and application of online teaching methods, research and best practices. 

According to Dr. Vickie Cook, Executive Director of the Center, “UIS online programs are most distinctive because faculty teach using methods that connect them to their students and connect students with each other, utilizing a robust curriculum that enables learning to occur.” 

Dr. Layne Morsch, a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry who, like many UIS faculty, teaches both face to face and online, was recognized by the Center this year with the Oakley Award for Excellence in Online Teaching.

According to Dr. Morsch: “The characteristics of outstanding learning experiences are the same regardless of mode of delivery. “Engaging students with relevant questions, challenging them to think critically and helping students learn how to apply what they are learning to what they will be asked to do in their future career,” he continues, “are as vital in the online experience as much as in the on-campus classroom.” 

Online learning isn’t the wave of the future; it’s already here and it is providing affordable, accessible, high quality educational opportunities at the University of Illinois Springfield. 

Read the entire column online.