Friday, July 30, 2010

Democrats catch break with trial's early end

Jurors were out of sight on their first full day deciding the fate of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But the scene at the federal courthouse could have been far uglier for Democrats if his corruption trial had played out as expected with the party gearing up for tough elections.

And because of Blagojevich’s antics, which range from appearing on reality TV to singing an Elvis song at a street fair, some argue that he is no longer defined first and foremost as a Democrat.

“I think there is often a line that you cross when you go from being associated with a party to being just your own off-kilter personality,” said Democratic consultant Chris Lehane. “And wherever that line is, I think he crossed it a long time ago.”

But Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said that won’t keep Republicans from hammering away.

“You can be crazy and a Democrat,” Mooney said.

Mooney's comments were featured in a July 29, 2010, article by the Associated Press.

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Quinn's veto pen not packing permanent ink

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has been busy with his veto pen, although it likely won't be permanent.

Quinn issued his second veto of July this week, adding a provision to an ethics law that would allow voters to petition lawmakers for a vote on dormant legislation. Quinn said he's right by both the state Constitution and by voters.

Quinn said he is using his power to empower the people of Illinois. But University of Illinois at Springfield professor Kent Redfield said Quinn more likely is playing a bit of politics.

"These are pure posturing-before-the-election (vetoes)," Redfield said. "When we get to veto session it's unlikely that either would pass on their merits."

Redfield's comments were featured in a July 29, 2010, article by Illinois Statehouse News.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Inkel-Pongracz weathers severe personal storm

Abby Vorreyer admits it will be a bit unusual today when she tees it up with her University of Illinois Springfield coach, Nichole Inkel-Pongracz, in the opening round of the Women’s City Golf Tournament at Lincoln Greens.

But if one of Vorreyer’s shots goes awry, she’ll probably get some encouragement from Inkel-Pongracz.

“Her biggest thing is, even when everything’s going wrong, just be positive in the moment and deal with the next shot,” Vorreyer said of Inkel-Pongracz. “That’s the biggest thing she tries to teach us.”

If Inkel-Pongracz didn’t already use that approach to golf — and life — before this year, it was reinforced this past spring.

Already having survived a serious auto accident in 1992 and cervical cancer a little more than a decade ago, the UIS coach went through an emotional month during which she said goodbye to her biggest fan and came very close to losing another one.

“If there’s anything I learned from that experience, it’s that it’s not what happens in your life, it’s how you deal with it,” said Inkel-Pongracz, whose father, H. Albert “Al” Inkel, died on April 3 in Naples, Fla.

Inkel-Pongracz's story was featured in a July 24, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

How social networking helps teaching (and worries some professors)

Professors crowded into conference rooms here this week to learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in their classrooms, though some attendees raised privacy issues related to the hypersocial technologies.

About 750 professors and administrators attended the conference on "Emerging Technologies for Online Learning," run jointly by the Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit group to support teaching with technology, and two other educational software and resource providers.

Some attendees stressed that there is a danger that professors would use new technologies just because they seemed cool, rather than for any specific learning goal.

"Everybody talks about using technology, but what is the effect on learning?" said Shari McCurdy Smith, associate director of the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service at the University of Illinois at Springfield, in an interview after the Facebook session. "I think this is a great concern I hear a lot."

She said she has seen some evidence that technology is improving learning, but more research should be done.

The attendance and interest in Facebook surprised her, though. After all, just a few years ago, it seemed that most professors complained about how much time their students frittered away on the service, she said.

Smith's comments were featured in a July 23, 2010, article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A few good sponsors wanted for this fall's UIS homecoming

Want your company’s name on the official University of Illinois Springfield 2010 Homecoming T-shirt? It’s there for $500.

For just $100, your name can be on one of the banners that stick to the side of cars carrying VIPs in the homecoming parade.

UIS marks its 40th anniversary this year, and the special theme for Homecoming Week activities Oct. 4-9 is “Where Stars Are Born.”

Letters went out last week asking businesses to participate in the 2010 homecoming celebration and to consider sponsoring some events to have their business’ name reach hundreds of alumni, students and faculty.

UIS solicited sponsors for last year’s homecoming for the first time and got only a lukewarm response, said Cynthia Thompson, director of student life at UIS.

“We went out late last year, and it really felt like more of a save-the-date thing,” she said. “It wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar, and there wasn’t a lot of interest.”

Homecoming was featured in a July 22, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Credit union to close branch at UIS

The Sangamon Schools Credit Union is closing its branch at the University of Illinois Springfield at the end of the month.

Gene Taylor, president of the credit union, said Monday a problem with the septic system at the site was one of the primary reasons for the decision. The two employees assigned to the office at 4600 University Drive will be moved to the other Sangamon Schools Credit Union offices at 1420 S. Eighth St. and 1124 Center West Drive.

“The area has a high water table,” Taylor said of the UIS location. “Every time we would have heavy rains, the septic system would back up. Neither the staff or members were able to use the restrooms.”

Dave Barrows, associate chancellor of administrative affairs at UIS, acknowledged that the septic system is a long-standing problem.

“We didn’t want to deal with the additional cost of rebuilding the septic, and neither did (the credit union,” Barrows said.

The last day of operation for the Sangamon Schools Credit Union at UIS will be July 30.

The credit union branch closer was featured in a July 21, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Will Blagojevich testfiy?

Rod Blagojevich has been claiming his innocence ever since his arrest.

"I will prove my innocence and I will testify," said Blagojevich

Those words came out of his mouth one week ago. But now his attorneys are singing a different tune.

"We're going to sit down and talk to the governor and make a decision so when we come in tomorrow morning we're going to tell the judge what our decision is," said Sam Adam Sr., an attorney for the ousted governor. "The judge was kind enough to give us until the morning to make that decision."

A smart move some legal experts say. Since the beginning they've said it was a risky move for the former governor to take the stand. The cross examination alone could sink his case.

"The prosecutions lawyers are pretty good. I think they did a good job undermining his brother a bit on the stand. And I think Blagojevich had such an ego…they could really take him down a path they don't want him to go," said Jason Pierceson, a legal and political analyst from UIS.

Pierceson's comments were featured in a July 20, 2010, report by WCIA-TV Channel 3.

Watch the story on WCIA's website

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WUIS takes the digital leap

The following article was written by WUIS Chief Engineer Greg Charles Manfroi and published by Radio World on July 21, 2010.

"WUIS is a Class B FM public radio outlet for Springfield, Ill., and the surrounding area. The studios are on the campus of the University of Illinois at Springfield. Situated in the state capital, the facility also operates the Illinois Public Radio Network, serving Illinois public radio stations.

In 2006 General Manager Bill Wheelhouse had plans to move WUIS forward in all areas, including the technical setup. The CE position was open; I applied and was hired in April of that year. I’d known Bill for 10 years and knew we would have a good working relationship.

The genesis for the project was the questionable condition of the facility. When I arrived I was asked to make an evaluation of the studios and transmitter sites. The station was to receive equipment to install HD Radio at this same time."

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Krueger named to assistant athletics compliance post at UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield has named Jamie Krueger as its Assistant Ath­letic Director for Compliance, UIS Athletic Director Dr. Rodger Jehlicka announced Monday.

Krueger also will be the athletic depart­ment’s SWA, which stands for Senior Woman Administrator.

She takes over for Alison Fitzgerald, who resigned this past spring in order to take a similar position at Barry Universi­ty in Florida.

Krueger comes to UIS from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, an NCAA Division II institution in Odessa, Texas, where she was the NCAA Compliance Coordinator for the past year.

Krueger was featured in a July 20, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

More students denied MAP grants

Tens of thousands of Illinois college students have one less resource to pay for school. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission says over 58,000 students have been denied MAP grants.

The commission estimates more than four times that many will be denied this upcoming school year.

For many students like UIS senior Charles Olivier it's one of their main ways to pay for school.

The grants range from $300 to $5000. Denials started in April, the earliest they ever have this year. The $400,000,000 in grants was gone. Leaving students scrambling to find a way to pay.

Olivier was interviewed by WICS-TV 20 in a July 15, 2010, report.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website
More Students Denied Map Grants

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Bashing by Blagojevich a badge of honor for many

Jesse Jackson Jr. isn’t likely to lose sleep over Blagojevich’s unkind words. But a potentially far more serious revelation about the 14-year congressman came out at trial.

Prosecutors told the presiding judge that a witness, if asked, would place Jackson at a meeting where a businessman offered to raise $1 million for Blagojevich if the governor appointed Jackson to the Senate.

Jackson hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing and said in a recent statement he was “never part of any improper scheme with Blagojevich or anyone else.” A spokeswoman for Jackson, Theresa Caldwell, said Thursday that he wouldn’t comment further.

Still, it could lead some in the Democratic Party to consider Jackson damaged goods, said Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of politics at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I’m not sure Jesse Jackson’s biggest problem is Rod Blagojevich offering a moral judgment on his character,” Redfield said.

Redfield's comments were featured in a July 15, 2010, article by the Associated Press.

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Kirk outraises Giannoulias in Ill. Senate bid

The Republican running for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat has four times as much money in the bank as the Democrat in the race, although controversy has dogged both their campaigns.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias announced Thursday that he has about $1 million in the bank compared to Republican Mark Kirk, who reported to the Federal Election Commission that he had more than $3.9 million in cash on hand when the quarter ended June 30.

"I don't think we've reached the point yet where the Democrats might decide they've got a better chance of picking up a seat somewhere else than holding on to Illinois. This can contribute to that kind of talk," said Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of politics at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Redfield's comments were featured in a July 15, 2010, article by the Associated Press.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Green for governor: Rich Whitney's long shot campaign

Richard J. Whitney is a rare breed in Illinois – pro-gun but anti-war, outspoken yet diplomatic, a former socialist turned Illinois Green Party founder.

Whitney has raised about $29,000 dollars since December, but points out the campaign is significantly ahead of the $16,866 Whitney reported for the same time period last time he ran for governor.

Dr. Kent Redfield, a political science researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Springfield, says he doesn’t expect any statewide candidate in Illinois to make much headway without spending at least $10 million. Redfield, who has studied Illinois politics since 1979, says third-party candidates will always have trouble winning in Illinois.

“The system is obviously structured to favor established parties in a two-party system,” Redfield says. “You’ve got to be a policy alternative, and you must get candidates who can be attractive – like Ralph Nader, Jesse Ventura or Ross Perot. But they still need a combination of organizational strength, leadership, presence and visibility. Even then, historically, successful third parties have tended to be co-opted or absorbed by the other parties.

“You really have to get some huge realignment of voters, and one established party has to become really marginalized,” Redfield continues. “Third-party candidates usually pick up the protest vote – voters who can’t bring themselves to vote for either of the main party candidates.”

Redfield's comments were featured in a July 15, 2010, edition of the Illinois Times.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gov Quinn: Limit politics in primaries

Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday used an amendatory veto to change a piece of legislation to create a much more open primary election.

Voters would still have to choose between Republicans or Democrats, but Quinn’s plan would let them do that in the voting booth. Right now anyone who votes in the primary has to pull a party ballot from election workers.

The governor said his open primary would be a win for voters, and a loss for the political bosses who want to control elections.

Quinn did not name any names. Critics immediately jumped on the governor’s move as a political ploy or phony populism. But University of Illinois at Springfield professor and former Illinois elections’ chief Ron Michaelson said he doesn’t think it’s phony.

“This is the reformer in the governor coming out. These are the kind of issues that Pat Quinn for 30 years has been promoting here in Illinois…but the way he has done what he has done is not going to go down well in Illinois.”

Michaelson said Quinn’s order to move away from party-dominated primaries is a “monumental” shift in the state’s political system.

Michaelson's comments were featured in a July 13, 2010, article by Illinois Statehouse News.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Job fair for UIS students set for August

The Career Development Center at University of Illinois at Springfield will hold a “Foot in the Door” job fair for UIS students 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26 in the lower level of the Public Affairs Center.

The event, which is free to UIS students, is intended to match students with local employers and volunteer opportunities. Employers are encouraged to offer on-campus information sessions, informational tables, interviews and other services.

Additional information, including on employer sign-up, is available at www.uis.edu/careerservices/foot_fair/employer_registration.html or call the Career Development Center, 206-6508.

The fair was featured in a July 13, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

UIS granted full Division II status

University of Illinois Springfield athletic director Rodger Jehlicka was told that the phone call he and the rest of the Prairie Stars athletic staff had worked so hard for the past three years would come Friday morning at 11:30.

At 11:31 a.m. the phone rang. It was the NCAA, announcing that UIS was now an official Division II school. UIS announced the decision at a news conference later in the day at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

“Division II is a whole new league, as they say,” UIS chancellor Richard Ringeisen told the crowd gathered at the TRAC. “It is one of the three or four most significant moments in our history.”

Jehlicka said the NCAA will release on Tuesday a list of the schools that have moved up from provisional to active membership status. He said that UIS technically will be a full-fledged Division II member on Aug. 1. And there are further benefits for UIS beside the name recognition that comes with being an NCAA institution.

The announcement was featured in a July 10, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Fringe candidates give voters a choice

Illinois voters looking for another option in this November's governor's race - say a candidate from a political party that hasn't had a governor federally indicted in the past decade - have some choices.

Call them political misfits, outsiders perhaps, but third-party candidates with last names such as Cohen, Green, Walls, White and Whitney are hoping a combination of voter outrage and a political implosion in Springfield could make this the year in Illinois when pigs fly.

Politically speaking, of course.

"Now is the right time for a non-incumbent, a non-career politician - whether it's Democrat, Republican, third-party or independent. People are tired of these incumbents, these career politicians," Independent gubernatorial candidate Scott Lee Cohen said.

That's not likely, said Kent Redfield, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Cohen's name recognition stemming from the lieutenant governor's debacle may translate into some votes if he stays on the ballot, Redfield said. And while Whitney may do better at the polls than he did four years ago, he'll at best only get enough votes to influence who wins between Brady and Quinn, he said.

Most people who vote for third-party candidates are protesting the mainstream candidates more than anything else, Redfield said.

Redfield's comments were featured in a July 10, 2010, edition of the Southtown Star.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

C-SPAN airs portion of State Politics and Policy Conference hosted by UIS

The 10th annual State Politics and Policy Conference, which was hosted by the University of Illinois Springfield from June 3-5, 2010, was recently spotlighted by the cable public affairs network C-SPAN.

C-SPAN aired a portion of the opening night event during a July 5, 2010 broadcast. The event, which was recorded in June at the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield featured four former governors from different states.

The governors spoke about state politics and offered their perspectives on how political scientists provide useful input for state and local politicians. They also responded to questions from the audience.

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What's up (or down) with state spending

Gov. Pat Quinn crafted this year's state budget with nearly unfettered power to spend taxpayer money and cut programs as he saw fit.

The unprecedented authority led Quinn and his aides to spend weeks deciding what to slice and what to spare, knowing that each move will be examined carefully under the magnifying glass of the governor campaign.

That fact was not lost on lawmakers, who historically have set strict spending limits, divvying up dollars in increments as small as $100. They were quick to cede one of their chief responsibilities to Quinn for the second year in a row after being unwilling to raise taxes or make cuts ahead of the November election.

"They (shoveled) it all to Quinn and (said) 'Here, it's your job to try to figure out how to pay $10 worth of expenses with this $5 bill that we've given you,'" said Charles N. Wheeler III, a state government and journalism expert at the University of Illinois-Springfield. "They are pretty much saying if it's him going down in flames for this or me going down in flames, adios Pat Quinn."

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

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State budget cuts crippling colleges

State funding doesn't flow like the fountain at the University of Illinois Springfield.

"Money is very tight right now," said Tearched Scott, a graduate student.

Scott transferred to UIS from NIU because it was cheaper. He's worried rising tuition and fees meant to help mend state budget cuts will price some students out.

"Education should be one of the last things to be cut, because students need to have the opportunity to make the most out of their lives," said Scott.

The governor is cutting 46 million dollars from all three U of I campuses, with 8 million coming from UIS. Add to that the 9 million the state owes the campus and the state is short changing the university by 17 million dollars.

"It's going to be very difficult," said Richard Ringeisen, UIS chancellor.

The higher education cuts were featured in a July 2, 2010, news story by WICS-TV.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Apprehension the rule for those that rely on state

UIS chancellor Richard Ringeisen says his concerns go beyond the university.

“I’m very worried about not just higher education, but the state of Illinois,” Ringeisen said. “Sooner or later, we have to face up to the issues we have in Illinois.”

As of Wednesday, Ringeisen said, UIS had received just 60 percent of the money it currently is owed by the state. That amounts to about $9 million, virtually all of it earmarked for teaching.

“You can’t have a lot of hope that we’re eventually going to get all that money,” Ringeisen said. “What we’ve done is cut various monies all over the place to keep the academic function alive.”

Ringeisen's comments were featured in a July 2, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Cutbacks greet new U. of I. chief

On his first day as president of the University of Illinois, Michael Hogan learned the state was cutting $100 million in higher education funding.

"Mostly I'm getting e-mails from people saying, 'Are you nuts?'" he said Thursday. "'Do you realize all the problems that the University of Illinois is having, the State of Illinois, the budget problems and so on?' Of course I know all about them."

Hogan, 66, said he was too new to the job to provide specifics on balancing the U. of I. budget, which includes $279 million in money owed by the state and what he estimated was another $40 million to $45 million lost in Gov. Quinn's budget announced Thursday.

"It is extremely incumbent on people like me, on university leaders these days, to pinch every single penny as hard as we can," he said.

Hogan's comments were featured in a July 2, 2010, article in the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Michael Hogan: Dawn of a new chapter in U of I history

The following is a portion of a letter to the editor of The State Journal-Register. It was submitted by new University of Illinois President Michael Hogan and published in a July 1, 2010, edition.

"Growing up in Waterloo, Iowa, the son and grandson of meatpackers, it never crossed my mind that one day I could become president of one of the great public universities in the world - the University of Illinois.

But my horizons widened once I began to hitch a ride to the state college up the road and became the first member of my family on either side to earn a college degree. And now, that long and winding road has brought me to this day, my first as president of the University of Illinois.

As a Midwesterner, an educator and university leader, I couldn't be more proud, or more humbled, by having the opportunity before me. I am dedicated to leading a team of exceptional faculty, staff, students and alumni who will be satisfied with nothing short of advancing the University of Illinois' 143-year tradition of excellence and access."

Download a PDF of the letter

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New UI president starts to get accustomed to this place

Hours before he officially becomes president of the University of Illinois, Michael Hogan had a little face time with students at the Illini Union Book Store.

Hogan and his wife, Virginia, were getting their photo IDs taken at the store on Wednesday.

"Do I have a UIN?" the president asked, referring to a university ID number.

The president got to cut in line, and he apologized for it.

Hogan said he won't do anything at midnight to mark the beginning of his term.

He expected Thursday to be extremely busy, with a video-conference first thing with Chicago and Springfield, a press conference and then a drive to Chicago to meet staff there.

Hogan's first day was featured in a July 1, 2010, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

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