Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Springfield unlikely to be split again among members of Congress

Since the 2000 Census, the city of Springfield has been represented by three different members of the U.S. House, but that could change now that the first results of the 2010 Census are in.

Illinois has 19 House members, but the state will lose one representative in Congress starting with the 2012 election cycle because its population has not grown as fast as those of other states.

Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, believes it’s unlikely that Springfield will again be divided into three districts after redistricting is complete.

One of those districts is the oddly shaped 17th Congressional District, now represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, although Republican Bobby Schilling takes over in January.

The 17th District snakes around the western edge of the state from the Quad Cities area, picks up Galesburg, Macomb and Quincy and then cuts across Central Illinois to pick up parts of Decatur and Springfield.

“What happened a decade ago basically was an incumbent protection map,” Redfield said. “The only way to get enough Democrats into (former U.S. Rep.) Lane Evans’ district was to do this crazy map picking up the east side of Springfield and the more African American areas in Decatur. This time, you don’t have to protect an incumbent Democrat.”

Redfield's comments were featured in a December 22, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Census set to show Illinois losing one U.S. House seat

With the expectation that Illinois will lose one of its congressional seats, the state's politicians are poised to begin their once-a-decade finagling over drawing the state's political boundaries based on new census data.

On Tuesday, Census Bureau officials plan to release initial population estimates for the nation. A continuing population shift from the north to the south and west means Illinois is likely to lose one of its 19 seats in the House, and the clout that goes with it.

So-called redistricting is a tedious and politically charged process that protects strongholds, affects influence in Washington and makes or breaks political careers. The task over the next few months is analyzing population data while considering geography, race and political interests so legislators can re-divide the state's population into nearly equal pockets.

"Redistricting is the most political activity that occurs in a decade," said Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois in Springfield. "It's almost purely about who gets what and who wins what seat."

Mooney's comments were featured in a December 21, 2010, Associated Press article.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Singing for a world record

It was a performance that literally was record-setting Saturday night at the Sangamon Auditorium.

Performing with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra for their annual "Holiday At The Pops" just days after her 100th birthday, Pauline "Polly" Roesch set a Guinness world record for the oldest person to make a singing debut with a symphony orchestra.

The paperwork to make Polly's record official in the Guinness Book of World Records has already been submitted. All that was needed to make it complete, was video proof that she performed with the orchestra.

One of her biggest followers? Her 103 year old sister, Esta.

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 in a December 19, 2010, report.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Balanced Prairie Stars blow out Eureka

Senior point guard Brandon Farmer scored a season-high 16 points and five University of Illinois Springfield players finished in double figures Saturday in the Prairie Stars’ 95-52 men’s basketball victory over the Eureka Red Devils at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Farmer made 6-of-6 shots, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.

UIS (4-5) raced to a 35-8 lead, holding Eureka scoreless for more than six minutes.

The Stars led by 35 points after freshman Brandon Snowden made a layup with 3:42 to play in the half. UIS shot 61.1 percent (22-for-36) from the field in the half, committed just three turnovers, and led 56-25 at halftime.

Michael Fakuade scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for UIS. Jermaine Love-Roberts added 12 points, Kendall Burrage chipped in 11, and Steffen Spinks scored 10 for the Stars, who made 13 3s.

Eureka (0-10) finished with 29 turnovers.

UIS will play its conference opener when it hosts Indianapolis in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game on Jan. 2 at 3 p.m.

The win was featured in a December 19, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Beale ignites offense as UIS women defeat Eureka

Junior Bailey Beale scored a career-high 25 points and freshman Megan Bergerud had her first double-double as the University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team defeated the Eureka Red Devils 87-70 Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Beale made 9-of-14 field goals and went 7-for-8 beyond the 3-point arc. Bergerud scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. Paulina Pogorzelski added 12 points as the Stars made 10 3s and shot 49.3 percent (34-for-69) for the game.

UIS (4-4) never trailed, opening up a 21-3 lead in the first half to take a 43-22 advantage into halftime. Junior Cristina Nevins had a game-high 10 assists, and Mallory Beck scored eight points off the bench for UIS, as did Alyssa Palmer. Emilee Brown scored 19 points to pace Eureka (2-5).

The Stars will host Truman State on Dec. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

The win was featured in a December 19, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prairie Stars offer free admission with donation

Fans who donate items from the Ronald McDonald House of Central Illinois’ wish list will receive free admission to the University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball game Saturday.

UIS hosts the Eureka College Red Devils at 1 p.m. at The Recreation and Athletic Center on Ronald McDonald House Day.

A list of eligible items, which include canned foods and household supplies, is available at www.uisprairiestars.com.

The game was featured in a December 14, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

University professors preparing troops for Afghanistan

Dozens of National Guard officers headed to Afghanistan are training in Springfield, and they're not breaking a sweat. Instead they're hitting the books. It's part of a pilot program found only in Illinois.

Professors from the Springfield and Champaign-Urbana campuses of the University of Illinois are teaching troops everything about Afghanistan they don't learn in basic training. That includes how to address women there, how the school systems work, even an overview of how the country manages its waste and water system.

It's information that helps officers better understand locals, many of whom aid the military. Colonel Gary Schmitt started the program with the help of UIS. He says another plus: the National Guard will be able to get more use out of officers during the short time they're overseas.

"The usual soldier will get over there and at about three months will have their 'aha' moment," says Schmitt. "Well, wouldn't it be more affective if they understood that before they got there?"

Some of the 40 plus officers on the UIS campus today are leaving for Afghanistan as early as next month.

Colonel Schmitt says that while the classes are part of a pilot program, he predicts it will become a regular part of predeployment exercises.

The partnership was featured in a December 10, 2010, report by WCIA-TV Channel 3.

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OTC and University of Illinois finalize transfer agreement

Ozarks Technical Community College and the University of Illinois at Springfield have finalized a new transfer agreement between OTC Online and UIS, an OTC news release said.

This is the second online transfer agreement. The community college has recently inked a similar agreement with University of Maryland University College.

The signing ceremony between OTC and UIS was held this morning at OTC’s Springfield campus.

The agreement is designed to provide a seamless transfer for qualified Ozarks Technical Community College students into online programs at UIS.

“Increasingly, universities from all over America are recognizing the importance of strong articulation agreements with community colleges,” OTC President Hal Higdon said. “Partnerships like this are beneficial not only for both institutions, but also for the students, who now have the opportunity to transition smoothly from OTC to UIS.”

OTC online enrollment is up more than 15 percent this fall, with 2,327 students taking the majority of their classes online.

A total of 4,104 students are taking at least one online class.

The agreement was featured in a December 10, 2010, article in the Springfield, Mo. News-Leader.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

OTC to announce another transfer agreement

(Springfield, MO) -- Ozarks Technical Community College is teaming up with another school to help students further their education.

OTC will sign an agreement with the University of Illinois-Springfield on Friday, Dec. 10.

The agreement will give qualified students a seamless transfer into UIS.

The school's are scheduled to sign off on the deal at OTC Friday morning at 9 a.m.

The agreement was featured by OzarksFirst.com (KSFX-TV Springfield, MO) in a December 10, 2010, report.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tamara Browning: UIS wraps up annual benefit and auction

Selling to the highest bidder during the UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD VISUAL ARTS GALLERY 2010 BENEFIT & SILENT AUCTION are several pieces of artwork ranging from photography to ceramics.

The 2010 Benefit & Silent Auction will conclude with a closing reception and final bidding to take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today.

Sponsored by the Friends of the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, the annual auction offers donated art objects available to the highest bidder who submits a bid, name and contact phone or e-mail. Proceeds will benefit future gallery programming.

Among the pieces displayed through today in the Visual Arts Gallery at the Health and Sciences Building at UIS is the sculpture “Crayon Bullets in Large Plastic Case” by JOEL WALTER. The minimum bid is $10 for the sculpture, which looks so realistic that you could mistake it for boxes of crayons to be used to write down bids on accompanying bid sheets.

Other art includes work by FELICIA OLIN, LORENA JOHNSON, JIM MURRAY, CHRIS BRITT, UIS and LINCOLN LAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE art faculty, members of the PRAIRIE ART ALLIANCE and more.

The auction was featured in a December 9, 2010, article by Tamara Browning in The State Journal-Register.

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Beyond civil unions: What's next?

In nearly every way except for the title “marriage,” same-sex couples joined by a civil union will have state-level rights and benefits identical to those of a married couple. Those rights include state tax benefits, the ability to make medical decisions for a spouse in an emergency and the option of not testifying in criminal court about a spouse.

Typically, states offer about 300 benefits or special rights to married couples, says Jason Pierceson, a professor of political science and legal studies at the University of Illinois Springfield and co-author of "Same-sex Marriage in the Americas: Policy innovation for same-sex relationships". According to Equality Illinois, Illinois offers nearly 650 benefits and protections to married and now civil union couples.

While Equality Illinois will continue pushing for Illinois to call civil unions by the same name, the next real battles lie at the federal level, says Rick Garcia, political director for Equality Illinois.

Pierceson agrees, adding that married couples receive about 1,000 federal benefits. He says Illinois is the last progressive state, besides New York, to approve a same-sex couple recognition law, meaning the states are now firmly either anti- or pro-gay unions and unlikely to budge on the issue in the near future. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Illinois is the sixth state in the nation to offer civil unions while five states and Washington, D.C., allow gays and lesbians to marry.

Pierceson's comments were featured in a December 9, 2010, article in the Illinois Times.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ivory Tea

On the campuses where students have started up Tea Party groups, some have found support from faculty members — if not for their ideas, then for the fact that they are interested in talking about them.

“To the extent that a Republican Party and Democratic Party can have clubs on a campus, I can see no reason not to have a Tea Party on campus,” says William Kline, an assistant professor of liberal and integrative studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Kline, who is currently advising TeaPartyStudents.org founder Daniel Oliver on a master’s degree in liberal and integrative studies with a focus on liberty studies, says Tea Party principles are not necessarily at odds with strains of political and economic thought that are taught widely in academe -- particularly the writings of Friedman, John Stuart Mill, and Adam Smith.

“It is a big-tent movement,” he says. “If there are young students who find they are interested in the ideas of what they think limited government should be, well, sure, there’s all kinds of stuff to read about that in the ivory tower.”

The important thing for ivory-tower Tea Partiers to remember, Kline says, is that Glenn Beck -- the conservative talk show host who has styled himself as the movement’s celebrity-in-chief -- didn’t invent the idea of small government. Tea Party students who profess a belief in ideas such as “liberty” and “small government” should be willing to educate themselves on the origins of those ideas and humble themselves upon the writings of their critics, Kline says.

Kline was featured in a December 8, 2010, article by Inside Higher Ed.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Workaholic' turns efforts to reducing plastic bag use

A group of UIS students has taken up The Better Bag effort as a class project. The university students and sixth-graders at the Capital College Preparatory Academy also have combined on design and poster projects.

“Some of our members have actually gone around campus collecting plastic bags,” said Haesun Chang, a sophomore in biology at UIS.

The students planned a bake sale at the Walmart on South Sixth Street this weekend to raise money for reusable shopping bags.

Chang said the students were given a choice of projects.

“We read the descriptions ,and The Better Bag project seemed to fit,” said Chang, who added that the group is looking at ways to reduce bag-clutter downtown.

The project was featured in a December 6, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Prairie Stars face difficult test on road

University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars men’s basketball coach Ben Wierzba needed just a few words to describe tonight’s opponent, the University of Findlay (Ohio) Oilers.

“They’re really good,” he said.

The Stars face Findlay, which is tied for No. 2 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II poll, at 6:30 CST on the Oilers’ home court. It is the first meeting ever between UIS (3-4) and Findlay (6-0).

Findlay has a 94-game home winning streak in regular season games at Croy Gymnasium. The Oilers last lost a regular-season contest at home on Feb. 12, 2004.
Findlay’s home record is 127-2 in the last eight years.

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars women’s basketball team plays a road game today at 6 p.m. CST against the Oakland City (Ind.) Lady Oaks.
UIS (3-3) and Oakland City (3-3) split a pair of games last season.

Senior Paulina Pogorzelski leads the Stars in scoring and rebounding with 13.8 points per game and 8 rebounds per game.

The games were previewed in a December 7, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Inman to continue softball career with UI Springfield

Sam Inman, a 2009 graduate of Okaw Valley, has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her softball career at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Currently, Inman is a sophomore at Parkland College where she earned plenty of honors, including being named to the NJCAA Division II All-Region 24 softball team and a second team all-Mid-West Conference player as well as receiving All-American honors.

"I visited Quincy University and talked with the coach at St. Ambrose (Davenport, Iowa), but they really didn't interest me that much," said Inman, a three-sport athlete at Okaw Valley. "I really like UIS. It is closer to home and it is a nice campus. I just really liked it. The coach (Mat Mundell) came to a couple of games last spring and really seemed interested. I felt like he really wanted me to come play for him."

UIS, a school with an enrollment of 4,711, is in its second year of competing at the Division II level after making the move from NAIA. The Prairie Stars are in their second year of competing in the 15-team Great Lakes Valley Conference.

"Sam is the lone junior college player in the 2012 class," said Mundell, a graduate of Normal. "She is a difference maker for us. She is coming off a freshman year where she was named an All-American. She is the rare combination of speed and power in the middle of the lineup and a go-get'em center fielder with a ton of range."

Inman was featured in a December 7, 2010, article in the Mattoon Journal-Gazette & Charleston Times-Courier.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

More college students taking degree programs online

Danny Ashcom reports for class in the living room of his Uptown one-bedroom apartment.

The 32-year-old counselor is earning an online master's degree in computer science through the University of Illinois at Springfield. He started the program in August, the same month he graduated with a traditional bricks-and-mortar master's degree in psychology from a different school.

"Doing psychology I wouldn't have thought about an online degree because you need to be face-to-face with people," he said. "In computer science, there is no real price to pay for doing it on your own. You can do it quickly and efficiently."

Ray Schroeder has taught at the U. of I.'s Urbana-Champaign campus and then its Springfield campus every semester since 1971. He now leads online programs at the Springfield campus, which offer more online courses than the other two U. of I. campuses combined.

"What drives many of us in this field is serving the student who cannot come to campus," he said.

Students include those with disabilities, military students or others working full time and parents who can't make it to class at a specific time and place. Almost all of them are paying for their own education.

Schroeder said more than half of the school's students are enrolled in at least one online class during the fall semester. For students seeking degrees totally online, the average age of an undergraduate is 34, the average master's is 35, he said.

Online programs at UIS were featured in a December 6, 2010, article in the Chicago Sun-Times.

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"Day of Dialogue" at UIS

With student suicides and bullying heavily in the spotlight, area college students at the University of Illinois Springfield are confronting the issues head-on.

A daylong event that centers around being different and what it means to have your own identity in today's world. It's called a "Day of Dialogue".

"We start to really talk about personal issues, social issues and to continue discussion and dialogue, which is really the only way we're going to be able to effect any positive change," said Holly Thompson, assistant professor of Human Development Counseling.

The University of Illinois Springfield is taking a proactive stance against student bullying, hate crimes, and suicide.

"On our campus we have a number of students who have experienced, not necessarily here, different forms of bullying," said Thompson.

The "Day of Dialogue" was featured by WICS-TV 20 in a December 3, 2010, report.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Professor's Beatles podcast reaches second on iTunesU

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield are learning about The Beatles timeless tunes and impact on society in a unique way.

Professor Michael Cheney has created podcasts, which are now the second most downloaded on iTunes U.

According to Entrepreneur.com a podcast is, " A pre-recorded audio program that's posted to a website and is made available for download so people can listen to them on personal computers or mobile devices."

Cheney is a communications professor at the Univerisity of Illinois Springfield and teaches online the online Liberal Studies class classes "The Beatles: Popular Music and Society".

The UIS professor has taught the class since 1999, but the started using the Podcast in 2005.

Cheney was featured in a December 2, 2010, report by WCIA-TV Channel 3.

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Watch the story on WCIA's website

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UIS Beatles Podcast

iTunes is not longer just for music. College students can now get an education through iTunes U.

The site offers more than 350,000 lectures from professors at universities around the world. Out of all of those, the second most popular podcast on all of iTunes U is from a professor at UIS.

So what's he talking about that's got people so interested? Well it's not math or science. Professor Michael Cheney's series of lectures is all about one of the most popular musical groups of all time, The Beatles. To listen to the podcast yourself go to http://itunes.uis.edu.

Cheney was featured in a December 2, 2010, report by WICS-TV 20.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Prairie Stars hit road for GLVC games

With their minds and bodies rejuvenated, the players on the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars men’s basketball team are prepared to tip off Great Lakes Valley Conference play.

The UIS players are coming off an 11-day break from games. The stretch included three days completely off for Thanksgiving.

The Stars (3-2) resume play in their GLVC opener tonight at Drury (4-1) in Springfield, Mo.

UIS has played just once on the road this season in a regular-season game, a 76-68 loss to Lincoln University on Nov. 20.

“We played fives games in nine days, so the past two weeks we’ve had some time to work and get better,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “That’s what we need needed. They had several days to get rested up, rejuvenated, healthy and better. We’ve had a good week and a half of practice.

“I’m excited to get out there and see what progress we’ve made in the last two weeks.”

The team was featured in a December 2, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Exonerated former death row inmate speaks at UIS

The first man exonerated from death row because of DNA evidence spoke Monday about the importance of groups like the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project to save wrongfully convicted people from punishment for crimes they didn’t commit.

Kirk Bloodsworth spoke at University of Illinois Springfield’s Brookens Auditorium during a ceremony commemorating the Innocence Project’s receipt of a $687,000 federal grant named after Bloodsworth. The grant will help the Innocence Project aid people like Bloodsworth, who was convicted of killing and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl in 1984.

The girl was beaten with a rock, sexually abused and then strangled in a wooded area in Rosedale, Md. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985. His lawyers appealed, and he was found guilty a second time. Following the second trial, he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

It wasn’t until June 1993 that DNA evidence proved Bloodsworth was not the culprit.

“Basically we just asked the prosecutors in Baltimore County, where this all happened,” Bloodsworth said Monday afternoon. “’There’s this new technology called DNA, and I’d like to take the test to prove once and for all that it’s not me.’”

The appearance was featured in a December 1, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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