Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gamble considering leaving Prairie Stars for Providence

By all indications, University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars men’s basketball coach Kevin Gamble is leaving the school to join the staff at NCAA Division I Providence College in Rhode Island.

“We are talking,” said Gamble in a telephone interview from the Boston area on Wednesday. “There’s nothing set in stone.”

The head coach at Providence is Keno Davis, the son of Tom Davis, Gamble’s college coach at the University of Iowa.

Gamble is in discussion with Providence.

“There’s only one position open,” he said. “The position is (coordinator of) player development. It’s like a fourth assistant.”

Gamble's comments were featured in a May 27, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Global market heats up as U.S. gets its act together

The growth of an organization set up to help U.S. institutions compete in the global market could be a sign of the nation's growing interest in overseas students.

The American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) this month reached the milestone of 100 institutional members, two years after it was established. It is seeking to "develop standards of ethical practice pertaining to recruitment of international students", and provide "best practices and training to assist overseas student recruitment agents and institutions themselves to better serve students seeking admission".

According to official figures, the U.S. had 623,800 overseas students in 2007-08, compared with 389,330 in the U.K.

Institutional members of the AIRC include Ohio University, the University of Idaho and the University of Illinois, Springfield.

UIS' membership in AIRC was featured in a May 26, 2010, article by Times Higher Education in London, United Kingdom .

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SHG graduate Nevins to play basketball at UIS

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School graduate Cristina Nevins will play for the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars women’s basketball team next season after starting for the Parkland College women’s basketball team that reached the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Tournament in March.

Nevins, the 2008 State Journal-Register Central State Eight Conference Female Athlete of the Year, expects to sign a NCAA Division II letter of intent this weekend.

UIS’ other spring signees are Virginia/A-C Central’s Megan Bergerud, Normal University High’s Alyssa Palmer and a junior college transfers Bailey Beale and Sadie Gann.

At UIS, Nevins will reunite with former SHG teammate Mallory Beck, who signed in the fall as did Kankakee Community College transfer Khassandrae Brown and Bloomington’s Amanda Hainlen.

The recruits were featured in a May 27, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gov. Quinn not living in mansion as promised

Gov. Pat Quinn had been in office only a few hours last year when he vowed to do something his impeached predecessor did not — live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

But a Tribune analysis of his official travel schedule shows that Quinn stays at the ornate, taxpayer-funded house only sporadically. During his first year in office, Quinn slept there 55 nights, mostly while lawmakers were in session. He didn't spend more than three consecutive nights in the executive mansion.

As Quinn runs for election, his decision not to live in the mansion belies the populist image that he's made one of his top political selling points.

"It's a symbolic thing, and for Quinn, a public pronouncement thing," said Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois- Springfield. "There's some financial aspect, but it's small. It's mostly symbolic of the extent to which a governor is embracing state government."

Mooney's comments were featured in a May 26, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Area Colleges: UIS coach honors father

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf coach Nichole Inkel-Pongracz has started the H Albert Inkel Memorial Scholarship Fund with her mother, Becky Inkel, to honor the coach’s father, who died April 3.

The scholarship will go through the University of Illinois Foundation and will be awarded to an UIS women’s golfer. The student-athlete must be in good academic standing and write an essay on how golf has influenced her life.

Donations to the scholarship fund can be sent to UIF/UIS women’s golf scholarship, H Albert Inkel Memorial Scholarship Fund, One University Plaza, PAC 591, Springfield, Illinois 62703.

A memorial for H Albert Inkel will take place Friday at Illini Country Club. The service is at 5 p.m. with a celebration of life to follow.

The scholarship was featured in a May 26, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Exonerated death-row inmate speaks at Innocence Project reception

Rolando Cruz doesn’t like talking much about the 10 years he spent on Illinois’ death row before his wrongful conviction for kidnapping, raping and murdering a young girl was overturned in 1995.

Cruz, Monday night’s guest speaker for the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project’s third annual awards reception at the Executive Mansion in Springfield, said he doesn’t see the point in dwelling on negatives.

Eventually, with help from the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University, Cruz and co-defendant Alejandro Hernandez were exonerated.

Students involved with the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois at Springfield also help develop evidence that gets wrongly convicted inmates released.

The awards were featured in a May 25, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Three critics in early Nicarico probe honored

Rolando Cruz doesn't get many invitations to the governor's mansion.

But the former death row inmate made the five-hour drive from his home in Wisconsin to Springfield to honor three people whom he credits with helping to save his life.

He was there Monday as Edward Cisowski, Mary Brigid Hayes and John Sam were recognized for their roles by the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield in the investigation of the 1983 slaying of Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville.

Cisowski and Hayes accepted an inaugural Profiles in Courage Award during a ceremony at the governor's mansion. Sam was unable to attend.

The award was featured in a May 25, 2010, article in the Chicago Daily Herald.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

In My View: Bill would help protect gay students

The following is a portion of an op-ed written by Alex Williams, a student at the University of Illinois Springfield majoring in sociology with minors in women and gender studies and visual arts. It was published in a May 22, 2010, edition of The State Journal-Register.

"On April 23, members of the Illinois House and the Senate passed an anti-bullying bill that includes language addressing sexual orientation and gender identity. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill soon. I encourage the governor to sign this bill because there is an abundance of discrimination toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in schools.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, carried out the 2007 National School Climate Survey, which revealed that nine out of 10 gay students in middle school and high school have experienced harassment because of their sexual orientation. Three out of five students also felt unsafe going to school because of their sexual orientation.

I experienced discrimination after I came out as gay while I attended high school in District 186. Besides hearing remarks like, “That’s so gay,” and other similar comments, I overheard students discuss killing gay people. After reporting the incident, I received little support from faculty."

Download the full op-ed as a PDF

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Former death row inmate to thank those who set him free

Rolando Cruz was given the death penalty for the 1983 murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in DuPage County. It took more than a decade before he was exonerated. Cruz will be the honored guest Monday at the Governor's Mansion in Springfield where he will formally thank those who set him free.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield is hosting an awards reception honoring those who helped free Cruz and others.

WUIS public radio's Jenna Dooley spoke with Cruz as he prepares to head back to Illinois in a report that aired on May 22, 2010.

Listen to the report online:
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Medical malpractice likely campaign issue for state Supreme Court justice

While Thomas Kilbride has made a host of decisions while serving as a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court for the past 10 years, just one will likely be the focus of his retention bid in November.

In February, Kilbride voted with the majority of the state's high court to limit how much a jury can award victims in medical malpractice suits. The controversial decision has some in the medical community fearing doctors will be pushed out of the state because of rising liability insurance rates.

While justices up for retention don't have a formal opponent, many contend simply putting them on the ballot makes them too political. Namely, judges have the backing of political parties and don't have limits on how much they can spend on their own campaign.

This brings into question whether or not judges have an alliance to the law or their fundraisers, said Kent Redfield, political scientist at the University of Illinois Springfield.

"It degrades the legitimacy of the judicial office if people think they are partisan actors," said Redfield.

Redfield's comments were featured in a May 22, 2010, article in the Bloomington Pantagraph.

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UIS FOIA case yet to be ruled on

Nearly six months after receiving them, the state attorney general’s office still hasn’t ruled on Freedom of Information Act cases referred for rulings under the state’s revamped records law.

In Sangamon County, The State Journal-Register in January asked for documents showing what conduct led to the resignation of coaches at the University of Illinois Springfield last year. Coaches for the women’s softball and golf teams resigned after conduct involving students that was deemed inappropriate, but university officials have refused to release any details. The university referred the request for documents to the attorney general Jan. 19, but the office has made no ruling.

The case was featured in a May 23, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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U of I trustees approve tuition hike

University of Illinois trustees voted Thursday, May 20, to raise tuition for new students by 9.5 percent and approved a contract that pays the school’s incoming president approximately $620,000 a year — about $170,000 more than the man he’ll replace.

“We should all applaud the fact that we’ve got somebody who’s got that strong track record,” board chairman Chris Kennedy said after the hourslong meeting.

With the vote, tuition for students starting school this fall at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign will increase to $10,386 a year. In Chicago, the figure will be $9,134, and it will be $8,108.50 in Springfield. Only new students will be affected because Illinois guarantees students at public universities the same tuition for four years.

The tuition increase was the focus of an Associated Press article on May 21, 2010.

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UIS coach Gamble talks with Providence about new job

University of Illinois at Springfield men’s basketball coach Kevin Gamble has talked to Providence College about an assistant coaching position but hasn’t taken a job with the NCAA Division I Friars, UIS assistant athletic director for communications Scott Reed said Thursday.

“Nothing has been offered,’’ Reed said.

Neither Gamble nor UIS athletic director Rodger Jehlicka returned phone messages seeking comment.

Reed pointed out that Gamble’s connection to the Friars is head coach Keno Davis, who took over at the Providence, R.I., school in 2008. Gamble played for Davis’ father, Tom Davis, at the University of Iowa from 1985 to 1987.

Gamble was featured in a May 21, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Profiles in Courage against wrongful conviction

A special event will take place in Springfield on Monday, May 24, when exoneree Rolando Cruz comes to Springfield to recognize those who helped free him almost 15 years ago.

In 1983, 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico was kidnapped from her Naperville home in the middle of the day, taken to a nearby wooded location and brutally killed. But despite the tragedy of the killing and the injustice of the wrongful convictions that followed, there are stories that don’t get told very often of those who, at great personal cost, pursued justice.

Mary Brigid Hayes, Ed Cisowski and John Sam will be formerly recognized and thanked by Rolando Cruz with “Profiles in Courage” Awards Monday evening, May 24, 5-7 p.m. at the Executive Mansion at an awards reception sponsored by the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield. Reservations can be made by calling 206-7989 or at www.innocence.uis.edu.

The event was featured in an article written by Larry Golden, emeritus professor of political studies and legal studies at UIS and the director of the Innocence Project. It was published in a May 20, 2010, edition of the Illinois Times.

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Should Illinois incumbents watch their backs?

After three decades, Arlen Specter's Senate career came to an abrupt end Tuesday. The five-term Pennsylvania senator lost the Democratic primary to Rep. Joe Sestak in the latest example of the anti-incumbency fervor that seems to be sweeping the nation.

As the establishment body count increases each week, should Illinois incumbents be looking over their shoulders as November draws closer?

“You have the worst economic conditions probably since the Great Depression combined with very rapid social change,” said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield. “All of that brings a real sense that the people in charge aren’t connecting with or representing the people on Main Street.”

Redfield's comments were published in a Medill Reports: Chicago article on May 18, 2010.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Professor not optimistic about budget resolution

Lawmakers have still not announced when they'll return to the Capitol to sort out a state budget, but a political science expert doesn't expect a decent resolution to the state's budget crisis.

Lawmakers are taking a break after failing to pass a budget by their May 7 adjournment date.

University of Illinois at Springfield professor emeritus Kent Redfield says that "deadline" was artificial, and should never have been set. He says the fact that lawmakers put it on the calendar, then didn't make it, makes them look like "the gang that couldn't shoot straight." Redfield expects lawmakers to cobble together a budget that'll get them through November, then try to pass an income tax hike after vulnerable lawmakers get through the election.

Redfield says there's no way to get out of the budget mess without a tax hike, massive cuts, borrowing, and at least four years of allowing the economy to heal.

Redfield's comments were featured in a Illinois Radio Network report on May 18, 2010.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A political odd couple: College Dems boss rooms with GOP chair

Politics in this country have become increasingly polarized, but Ryan Melchin, 21, of Hoffman Estates, and Matt Van Vossen, 20, of Oak Lawn, prove there is still some room in this world for compromise and reasonable debate, all under one roof.

The two University of Illinois at Springfield political science juniors share a townhouse, even though Melchin is the chairman of the school's College Republicans and Van Vossen is the president of the College Democrats. Two other students live with them.

Despite their political differences, Melchin and Van Vossen became fast friends at their freshman orientation. They found common ground in their level of political activism, despite their opposite viewpoints.

"Since we both are so involved in campus political groups, we thought it would be really great if we lived together," Melchin said.

The pair were featured in a May 17, 2010, article in the Chicago Daily Herald

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Lynn urges new grads to be inspired by their alma mater

Calling her address not just a graduation speech but also a tribute to her alma mater, Dr. Naomi Burgos Lynn, chancellor emerita of the University of Illinois at Springfield, urged members of Maryville College's Class of 2010 to draw courage from the traditions and history of the 191-year-old institution and do what is just, right and fair.

She entitled her address to approximately 225 graduates who participated in the ceremony “Proudly Stands Our Alma Mater,” drawing inspiration from the first stanza of the college's 69-year-old song.

Lynn, who graduated from the college in 1954 and currently serves on its Board of Directors, was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during the ceremony.

Lynn was featured in a Maryville, TN Daily Times article on May 17, 2010.

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Big Idea: Technology helps & hurts social skills

Technology is making it easier and easier to contact just about anyone, but it may be hindering some of our social skills.

UIS Assistant Professor of Communication Michael Cavanagh says he's seen students writing skills decline since text messaging and online communication started getting popular.

Teachers also say some students don't seem to be as willing to verbally communicate with others.

Cavanagh was featured by WCIA-TV Channel 3 in a report that aired on May 17, 2010.

Watch the story on WCIA's website

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Monday, May 17, 2010

UIS ceremony marks sixth college graduation for area woman

Peggy Dunn’s mother, who lives in Arizona, recently told her daughter she was sorry she wouldn’t be able to make it back Saturday to see Peggy graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Illinois Springfield.

Her daughter reminded her that it’s not like she hasn’t seen it before.

When Peggy Dunn, 62, got her master’s in history Saturday — joining 693 other graduates, out of the 1,198 who were eligible to participate — it was her third such degree, to go along with two bachelor’s degrees and a doctorate. It’s her second UIS degree.

She says she keeps going to school “because of the challenge of learning new things. I love that challenge.”

Dunn's story was featured in a May 16, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS graduate giving back

It's a dream come true for Marcus Taylor.

"I'm so happy about this. This has defiantly been a journey," said Taylor.

Taylor sat in style in his cap and gown surrounded by hundreds of classmates at Saturday's UIS graduation ceremony. The business major credits the community for this milestone.

"My family moved here from Buffalo, New York, because that's where I was born. My mom came here and we needed to use some of the services at Contact Ministries," said Taylor.

At a young age Taylor was living at Contact Ministries, an emergency homeless shelter for area mothers and children. In college, when it was time to intern somewhere Taylor decided to give back to the organization that helped him.

Taylor's story was featured by WICS-TV 20 in a report that aired on May 15, 2010.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Mother and daughter duo ready to graduate

Among the crowd of graduates this weekend are family members, who share classroom time leading up to graduation day. Online schools are clicking with students. Flexibility and technology are key to online learning.

"We love each other. We worked really hard for this," said Jenna Harlow.

Harlow is getting her master's degree online through the University of Illinois Springfield. Jenna's mother Phyllis West is graduating with her at the same time with a master's degree in Teacher Leadership.

"If it hadn't been for online I don't know if I could have done it," said West.

The online student's story was featured by WICS-TV 20 in a report that aired on May 14, 2010.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Media more likely to cover infidelity

Infidelity has become a commodity — a story to be covered if its victims are famous enough.

When Charlie Wheeler arrived in Springfield in the 1970s as a statehouse reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, “hanky panky” was around — but it wasn’t in the papers.

Wheeler, now the director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, said media outlets’ priorities have shifted and what wouldn’t have caught the attention of a news reporter 30 years ago may be a front-page story today.

“Back when I began as a reporter, there were supermarket tabloids that would follow the amateur escapades of celebrities — but it was rock musicians and actors and not so much political figures,” Wheeler said. “The sort of working premise was as long as what someone is doing on their private time does not interfere with their ability to do a public job, it’s really no one’s business but his or hers.”

Wheeler's comments were featured in a May 16, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Bloomingtonians played vital role in Lincoln's 1860 nomination

One hundred and fifty years ago this Tuesday, Abraham Lincoln received the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Lincoln partly owes his May 18, 1860 victory at the national convention to the intense lobbying—and some likely backroom politicking—of Judge David Davis of Bloomington.

Davis and William Seward denied doling out cabinet positions in order to secure support from state delegations.

Yet there’s enough contradictory evidence to call into question such assertions. Lincoln biographer Michael Burlingame splits the difference, concluding that while Davis promised Indiana a cabinet appointment, he did not necessarily guarantee the seat would go to Smith.

Burlingame is the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS. His comments were featured in a May 16, 2010, article in the Bloomington Pantagraph.

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Pick your pension poison

When lawmakers return to Springfield to finish the budget later this month, they'll be greeted by the same major holdup that caused them to head home in frustration last week — how to make a nearly $4 billion state worker pension payment.

All of the options on the table remain unpalatable. They could borrow, but taxpayers would be stuck covering hundreds of millions in interest. They could skip, but the pension system would lose billions in investment. They could delay until after the election, but that only puts off the problem. Or they could cut the budget elsewhere, but that's unlikely given the size of the payment.

"The pension is a big chunk of the overall budget," said Christopher Mooney, a political studies professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "That's why it's so attractive to get rid of it, to borrow, to not pay it. Suddenly, 'Wow, our budget situation looks much better.' But all those are stopgap measures; nothing that has come close to passing or even really being seriously considered is going to be a long-term fix."

Mooney's comments were featured in a May 15, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Incoming U of I president makes Springfield stop

Michael Hogan, the new president of the University of Illinois, says he knows there will be challenges for all three campuses in the U of I system.

Donning a University of Illinois Springfield tie, Hogan was introduced to the smallest of the three campuses Thursday.

He told a standing-room-only crowd he is ready to lead the university.

“This is a challenging time, but for me it is a terrific opportunity, because the University of Illinois is one of the world’s jewels of public higher education,” he said.

Hogan lauded the Springfield campus for its liberal arts education.

“Here at the University of Illinois Springfield we are home to one of the nation’s most outstanding liberal arts universities,” Hogan said. “With about 5,000 students and an average class size of just 15, we offer one of the most personalized academic experiences you can find at public university anywhere in the United States.”

Hogan's visit to UIS was featured in a May 14, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS student researches cure for cancer

Angela McCauley, a senior at UIS is researching how plant extracts and herbs like oregano, garlic and coriander may be used to prevent or treat cancer.

“I think it’s important because there’s a lot of treatments for certain diseases out there like aspirin came from a plant extract,” said McCauley.

While plant extracts are used in a wide array of medicines, scientists say there’s still much more research to be done in the area.

“There are about 300,000 plant species and believe it or not out of those 300,000 only about one percent has been tested for medicinal properties,” said Associate Professor Lucia Vazquez, chair of the Department of Biology.

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 on May 13, 2010.

Watch the report on News Channel 20's website.

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Continuum of Learning education roundtable

The Sangamon County Continuum of Learning met with other community leaders and Advance Illinois to discuss their plans and show their progress for making the community a better place to learn and grow.

"Our whole philosophy is that educational attainment is a community responsibility. It's not just on the schools. Everyone has to pitch in," said Harry Berman, UIS Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Berman’s comments were featured in a May 13, 2010, report by WICS-TV 20.

Watch the story on News Channel 20’s website

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BlueStar breaks into residential energy market

Chicago-based BlueStar Energy is offering a 12-month contract to lock in prices that it says would save the average consumer between $6 and $7 per month from Commonwealth Edison's most recently announced rates, which begin June 1.

"I don't want to say it's high time. But this is what people thought we were buying into back in 1997 (when deregulation laws were drafted)," said Karl McDermott, who served as an ICC commissioner from 1992 until 1998 and is now an Ameren Endowed Professor of Business and Government at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

McDermott said the residential sector is more difficult to break into because it is costlier to market to a broader audience of consumers who stand to save only a few dollars a month compared with the thousands or millions of dollars a month a large company might save by switching to alternative suppliers. He said a number of companies are waiting to see how BlueStar does in the residential marketplace.

McDermott's comments were featured in a May 14, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

College notes: UIS baseball roster grows

The roster for the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars first-year baseball program is nearly complete.

Coach Brian Grunzke has added 11 players this spring — five with local ties — bringing the total number of recruits to 17.

Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Will Pufundt and Prairie View Stevenson’s Ted Heiser are left-handed hitters and infielders among the eight high school seniors in Grunzke’s latest group of signees. Rochester’s Seth Warren, Auburn’s Jeremy Ator, Crystal Lake South’s Easton Kowalski and Edwardsville’s Bill McFarland are right-handed pitchers. Trevor Johnson is an infielder from Catholic Memorial High in Waukesha, Wis.

Two players have previous college experience. Paul Phillips is a right-handed pitcher who played at Kankakee Community College. Infielder and Williamsville graduate Clint Jeffers last played at SCI in 2008.

The team was featured in a May 13, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

UConn president Michael Hogan is pick to be next president at Illinois

Michael Hogan, the next University of Illinois president, will make his first public appearance Wednesday.

Hogan, 66, now president of the University of Connecticut, will take office July 1 as the 18th UI president. He succeeds B. Joseph White, who resigned effective Dec. 31 following an admissions scandal. Stanley Ikenberry has served as interim president since then.

Chris Kennedy, chairman of the UI board of trustees, said Hogan was selected because of his unique combination of scholarship, university leadership experience and achievement. He's held nearly every management and executive position in academic life, Kennedy said.

The announcement was featured in a May 12, 2010, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

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U. of I. picks president

University of Illinois officials have chosen Michael Hogan, the University of Connecticut president, as the school's next president, picking a historian who has long ties to the Midwest and public education.

Hogan, 66, will take over July 1 pending confirmation at next week's U. of I. board meeting.

"He is very strong, very experienced. It is a stroke of good luck for the University of Illinois, and it will be a good coming out party tomorrow," said U. of I. Interim President Stanley Ikenberry.

As the university's 18th president, Hogan will oversee campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

The announcement was featured in a May 12, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Convention at UIS to star former governors

Four former governors will head­line a national political science con­vention to be held June 3-5 at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Included is a round-table discus­sion to be present­ed from 8 to 10 p.m. June 3 at the Old Capitol State Historic Site. Fea­tured will be for­mer governors Jim Edgar of Illinois and Bob Taft of Ohio, both Republi­cans, and Democ­rats Madeleine Kunin of Vermont and Parris Glen­dening of Mary­land.

Chris Mooney of UIS, professor of political science with the U of I’s In­stitute of Govern­ment and Public Affairs, said hold­ing the 10th annu­al conference at the Springfield campus is a “major boost to the pres­tige and national standing of UIS.”

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s national recognition in an area where we really excel.”

Mooney and Barbara Ferrara, as­sociate director of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS, are co-chairing the conference. At least 150 participants are expected.

The SPPC convention was featured in a May 10, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Downstate Innocence Project to host awards reception

Rolando Cruz, who was eventually pardoned after three trials and 10 years in custody for a 1983 DuPage County murder, will be the special guest at the third annual Defenders of the Innocent Awards Reception to be held May 24 at the Executive Mansion.

Three people who believed in Cruz’s innocence will be honored with Profiles in Courage Awards at the event. Pro Bono awards also will be presented to two Springfield law firms for their work on two area cases that are projects of the Downstate Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The awards reception was featured in a May 10, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS wraps up first year in Division II

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars’ first year competing in NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Valley Conference is in the books. UIS made the leap last August from the less-difficult National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and American Midwest Conference.

The sports year is complete, but the athletic department administration is still hard at work. The school’s athletic program is on the verge of shedding its provisional status and gaining full membership in the NCAA. It must submit what should be its final report to the NCAA by June 1.

UIS athletic director Rodger Jehlicka expects to receive the news the school has received full membership in July.

The season was featured in a May 9, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS sets up program to help disabled get jobs

A program designed to improve the transition from college to employment for disabled graduates is being introduced at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Called “Journey2Jobs,” it includes mentoring, instruction on issues related to employability, and job-related volunteer service and internship opportunities. The program will include eight to 10 students each year beginning in the fall semester. Students can sign up for the program after their first year on campus.

“We’re doing a marketing match now, rolling out the program so people will know about it,” said Suzanne Woods, visiting director of the Office of Disability Services, which is administering Journey2Jobs.

The Journey2Jobs program was featured in a May 8, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS, LLCC, Walmart on night bus route starting May 17

The start of night bus service to the University of Illinois Springfield, Lincoln Land Community College and the Sixth Street Walmart later this month should strengthen ties between downtown and the south side of the city, the head of the Springfield Mass Transit District said Thursday.

A federal grant of more than $400,000 is paying for the service, which will begin May 17.

“I think this is going to be heavily used. It’s just going to make it easier for our students,” said UIS vice chancellor for student affairs Tim Barnett.

Students frequently use day bus service to reach shopping and services elsewhere in the city, and a night route would provide one more option, including to and from downtown.

Junior Ashley Okooboh, who lives on campus, said the bus was her transportation lifeline in her freshman year, when she was without a car.

The addition of night bus service was featured in a May 7, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Innovative UIS job program underway

On the outside Shauna Horn looks like your average student studying for finals week, but inside Shauna is suffering from a number of disabilities.

The Office of Disability Services at UIS wants to help students like Shauna through the Journey2Jobs program.

“We just want to make this a program where students learn what they need to do to be employable, because when you get out in the real world they don’t hire you because you have a disability or don’t have a disability. They hire you because of the skills you have to do the job,” said Susy Woods, visiting director of the Office of Disability Services.

The Journey2Jobs program was featured by WICS-TV 20 on May 5, 2010.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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State playing hot potato with pension burden

Pension costs loom large over the still unresolved budget debate in Springfield as the current legislative session heads to a climax.

The red ink is so deep that Gov. Pat Quinn and Democratic lawmakers are considering borrowing billions to cover pension obligations for next year, rather than diverting scarce tax dollars from other budget priorities. The state did the same thing last year and the cost of paying for that borrowing is adding more than $800 million to the budget problem Springfield is struggling with right now.

Political expert Charles N. Wheeler III said the financial neglect dates back at least 40 years. "For governors and legislators, there were always more pressing needs they wanted to spend money on," said Wheeler, a professor at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois.

Wheeler's comments were featured in a May 6, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ed-tech officials: Video will make schools more 'efficient'

More than half of education technology officials in K-12 schools and higher-education institutions said they would buy video technology in the next year to make their schools “more effective and efficient” and better prepare students for the workforce, according to a new survey from technology giant Cisco Systems.

Ray Schroeder, director of the University of Illinois Springfield’s Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service, said the video conferencing service at his university costs about half of what it did five years ago, thanks to the expansion of the online video conferencing market.

“You have a lot of competition out there, which has driven the cost down,” he said. “Now, when you take Cisco and Tandberg … they almost have to be more expensive, because of the quality they bring to the marketplace.”

Schroeder's comments were featured by the website eSchool News in a May 5, 2010, article.

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Richard Judd: Debt and taxes

“America is laden with massive debt and continues to pile up at incomprehensible levels, which is a major cause of our current economic crisis and a formidable barrier to any recovery. When our national debt is expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product, it shows our ability to pay off our debt.

In 1981, America’s debt-to-GDP ratio was just over 33 percent. Now it is 69 percent and rising. In earlier times, America taxed itself to pay for government services it received. “Tax and spend” was the mantra. Gradually the mantra changed to “borrow and spend.”

The State Journal-Register published comments from Richard Judd, the National City Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield in a May 5, 2010, edition.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Illinois lawmakers play while the budget burns

Illinois faces an estimated $13 billion budget deficit in the coming fiscal year, the equivalent of almost half the state's entire general fund. It's by far the worst shortfall in the state's history and one of the worst in the nation. School districts, hospitals, state vendors and others are so far behind in promised payments from the state that teachers are being furloughed and businesses are in danger of going under.

Madigan "isn't going to pass a tax hike without Republican votes, for political reasons, and the Republican leader (Cross) isn't going to let his members vote for a tax increase, for political reasons," said Charles N. Wheeler, head of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "If there wasn't an election, there might be more willingness to deal with this."

Wheeler's comments were featured in a May 3, 2010, article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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Summer jobs for students harder to find this year

Memo to high school and college students looking for summer jobs: You should have started yesterday.

Adult workers and the economy are squeezing the summer job market, and some summer jobs that previously could be counted on simply aren’t there this year.

Tammy Craig, director of career services at the University of Illinois Springfield, agrees that the summer job market is tighter.

“Absolutely,” she said. “It’s slim pickings right now.”

She said her listings include a job as a summer day camp counselor, jobs at a day camp and pool, and an ice delivery driver. But she said there’s no way to tell if those postings already have been filled.

Craig's comments were featured in a May 3, 2010, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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UIS students reject fee for new student union

University of Illinois Springfield students overwhelmingly voted against building a new student union.

A vote in favor of the proposed $17 million facility would have meant an increase in student fees to pay for it. The union was to include a “great hall,” recreation and entertainment space, a small convenience store and possibly space for student organizations and a coffee shop.

Votes, certified Friday, were 376 against the union and 167 for it. Another 44 abstained. The results were held in conjunction with UIS’s Student Government Association Elections.

The vote was featured in a May 1, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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