Monday, January 31, 2011

African American college students making a difference in the lives of young boys

One-fourth of American children live in single parent homes, many without male role models. That's why a group of male African American college students is reaching out to help disadvantaged boys in the Springfield community.

Members of the Black Male Collegiate Society at UIS are teaming up with Big Brothers Big Sisters to make a difference in the lives of young boys at Matheny-Withrow Elementary School.

From Connect Four to a game of cards mentors spend one hour a day, one day a week hanging out with their little brother.

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 in a January 28, 2011, report.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Sam Gove, fixture in Illinois politics, dies at 87

Samuel Gove, a longtime fixture in Illinois politics, has died after a short illness at an Urbana hospital. He was 87.

The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, where he was director emeritus, says Gove died early Friday.

Gove directed the institute for many years and was a U of I political science professor. He founded Illinois Issues magazine and served on the magazine's advisory board for 28 years.

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar says Gove was one of his mentors. And Robert Rich, the current director of the institute, says Gove was "Mr. Illinois."

No visitation or funeral services are planned. A celebration of Gove's life will be planned for a later date.

Gove was remembered in a January 28, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS campus senate discusses $200,000 settlement to student

Some members of the campus senate at the University of Illinois Springfield said Friday they were disturbed that they didn’t know about a $200,000 settlement paid to a UIS student until they read a story in The State Journal-Register.

However, a top UIS official said legal settlements happen frequently enough that it would be impractical to publicize all of them.

The official, Lynn Pardie, UIS’ interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, also said there was little additional she could tell the senate about the settlement or about a records request made by The State Journal-Register.

“My comments today are going to be, of necessity, limited,” Pardie told the senate, which includes faculty members and students.

Earlier this month, UIS disclosed it had paid the $200,000 settlement to a student who apparently alleged that she was a victim in a 2009 incident that prompted the forced resignation of two women’s softball coaches. The settlement was reached in September 2009.

The article on the campus senate meeting was published in a January 29, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

How health-care reform affects students to be discussed

A representative from Montana State University will discuss the effect of federal health-care reforms on college students on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the University of Illinois Springfield.

James Mitchell, director of the Student Health Service at Montana State in Bozeman, will speak from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Brookens Auditorium.

He will give an overview of the legislation and describe how student insurance plans will be affected.

Free cholesterol, blood sugar and body fat analyses will be offered from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and from 6 to 6:30 p.m. in the Concourse area outside Brookens.

The event was featured in a January 25, 2011, report by The State Journal-Register.

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Will Emanuel ruling escape political taint?

The Illinois Supreme Court justices deliberating the fate of Rahm Emanuel's bid for Chicago mayor are sworn to uphold the state constitution without regard for special interests, yet that same document requires them to run for election in an inherently political system.

While much of the high court's work is done in relative anonymity, the pedigrees of the justices are fodder for debate whenever they tackle high-profile cases with political consequences — from deciding a close governor's race to ruling on the district maps that determine which party will control the Legislature.

Charles Wheeler, a professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield and a longtime Capitol observer and writer, said there have been "very few issues" decided by the court along partisan lines — with approval of legislative redistricting maps a major exception.

Wheeler's comments were featured in a January 27, 2011, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Dr. Harry Berman: An Insider's Prospective of UIS

In late 1994, Dr. Harry Berman, Interim Chancellor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, found himself wondering if he was making a huge career mistake. He had just given up his position as a professor of psychology to serve as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. After teaching at the university (then Sangamon State) for 17 years, he admits that the career change was "like falling off the edge of a cliff." He soon discovered, however, that working as part of a team has its own unique rewards, even though the path to those rewards could be long and complicated.

Berman was profiled by Springfield Scene Magazine in the January-February, 2011 edition.

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Not ready for the big time: UIS stumbles into the NCAA

As the University of Illinois Springfield in October 2008 made another move toward full membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, then-Chancellor Richard Ringeisen said the eventual achievement could only mean good things for the school’s future.

He said he was excited because joining the Great Lakes Valley Conference, an academically high-achieving NCAA Division II organization, meant competing against highly respected, better-known schools. “They’re all the kind of universities we don’t mind seeing our name in the paper with,” Ringeisen said during the press conference.

To be sure, since that day, the newspapers have more than once mentioned UIS’ athletics department in the same breath as a number of fine institutions with which it’s competed. But the papers also continue to feature UIS athletics in a negative light, time and time again, as the school struggles through scandals that just won’t die.

The article was published in a January 27, 2011, edition of the Illinois Times.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

'Three Cups of Tea' author to speak at UIS

“Three Cups of Tea” co-author Greg Mortenson will speak at 7:30 p.m. March 3 at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium. Mortenson is the co-founder of the Central Asia Institute’s Pennies for Peace program.

“Three Cups of Tea,” by Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, is said to be required reading for military commanders and special forces deploying to Afghanistan.

The book begins with Mortenson’s failed 1993 attempt to climb K2, one of the world’s most challenging mountains. Exhausted, he was separated from his group and found himself in a remote Pakistani village, where he was nursed back to health.

When he discovered the village kids couldn’t go to school because they couldn’t afford the dollar-a-day salary for a teacher, he promised to return and build a school. He did — and more than 100 others. Last year, President Barack Obama designated $100,000 of his Nobel Peace Prize award to be donated to Mortenson’s efforts in Afghanistan.

Tickets for the event cost $30 and are available at the Sangamon Auditorium ticket office, 206-6160.

The event was featured in a January 26, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS Career Development Center offers resume tips

Jamie Casinova is a senior Communication major looking to become a policy reform activist, but he didn't start out on this path.

"I spent the first part of my working life in labor jobs," he said.

A spinal injury put Jamie out of work and he decided to go back to school. He's uncertain about how much of his past experience to include on his resume for his new career.

Jamie came to the Career Development Center at UIS to get assistance at their resume workshop.

"A lot of times students just don't really think about how they can make the connection between their past experiences, no matter how they acquired it to how they can market it on their resume," said Career Counselor Gale Kilbury.

The resume workshop was featured by WICS-TV 20 in a January 25, 2011, report.

Watch the story on News Channel 20's website

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Uncovering the big picture: UIS alumnus Mark Sorensen is an authority on Statehouse art

Walk around the Illinois Capitol, and it's hard to imagine what it was like when the building opened134 years ago.

Mainly, it's hard to visualize that a building now filled with paintings and statuary was pretty much without any of the decorative touches visitors now take for granted.

"When the building first opened, it appears that none of the walls or ceilings were decorated," said Mark Sorensen, president of the Illinois State Historical Society and an authority on Statehouse art. "The governor's public office may have been decorated."

Sorensen will speak to a "Timely Talks About Timeless Topics" lunch at 11:30 a.m. March 9. The event, sponsored by University of Illinois Springfield alumni, the UIS chancellor's office and the Illinois State Historical Society, will be at the UIS Public Affairs Center. More information is available at alumni@uis.edu or 206-7395.

UIS alumnus Mark Sorensen was featured in a January 26, 2011, article published in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Regional group names officers, council members

The Central Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration has announced officers and council members for 2011.

Officers include Gloria Simo, University of Illinois Springfield, president; Sarah Mackey, Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County, vice president; Junfeng Wang, University of Illinois Springfield, secretary; and Elton Arrindell, State of Illinois, Department of Aging, treasurer.

Council members include Phil Gonet, Illinois Coal Association, Karen Hasara, former mayor of Springfield; Naomi Lynn, former chancellor of University of Illinois Springfield; Drinda O'Connor, Illinois Department of Human Services; David Racine, Center for State Policy and Leadership; Rose Schweikhart, University of Illinois Springfield; and Norm Sims, Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission.

The officers were featured in a January 25, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Outlook 2011: UIS leader is 'hopeful' for future

Having celebrated its 40th year in 2010, the University of Illinois Springfield — founded as Sangamon State University — is looking ahead to the next 40.

But, like all institutions of higher learning, the future is clouded by bleak economic conditions. “If I were going to say one word to describe the outlook for UIS in 2011, I’d say ‘hopeful,’" said Harry Berman, interim chancellor of the university.

“We’re coming off of some wonderful things. This fall, we had a 5 percent increase in enrollment, and in August, we were named the fourth-best public university in the Midwest in U.S. News & World Report (2011 America’s Best Colleges),” he said.

The number of online classes is rising; 25 percent of attendees are now online students. With an increase in students, Berman is hoping developers will take a new look at the business potential of the campustown area south of the city near Lake Springfield.

“We have 1,100 students living on campus, we have students working on campus and we’re optimistic that there will be more interest among developers,” Berman said.

The outlook was featured in a January 23, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Black history events set at UIS in February

The University of Illinois Springfield will observe Black History Month in February with events designed to educate and raise awareness.

“We have a wonderful array of authors and student events that we’re compiling,” said Jeannie Capranica, program manager for the UIS Diversity Center.

Among the on-campus events open to the public:

* Feb. 2: 7 p.m., Brookens Auditorium in the lower level of Brookens Library. Corey Walker, associate professor in the department of Africana studies at Brown University, will discuss his book “A Noble Fight: African American Freemasonry and the Struggle for Democracy in America.”

* Feb. 3: 6 p.m., Brookens Auditorium. Screening and discussion of the documentary “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin,” by moderators Angela Winand, assistant professor of African-American Studies, and Michael Murphy, assistant professor of Women and Gender Studies at UIS.

Rustin was one of the first freedom riders and an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the march on Washington.

* Feb. 9: 6 p.m., Brookens Auditorium. Carlotta Walls, the youngest of the Little Rock Nine to integrate Central High School, will discuss her book, “A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School.”

* Feb. 9-10: 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 9 and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 10, Public Affairs Center. Tunnel of Oppression.

Tunnel of Oppression is a student-organized campus-diversity initiative that is meant to demonstrate intolerance to those who have rarely experienced it. The experience began at Western Illinois University and has spread to many other college campuses.

* Feb. 10: 7 p.m., Public Affairs Center, Rooms C/D. “Be the Change You Want to Be.” Diversity educator Jessica Pettitt will take participants on a journey weaving together politics, theory, current events and storytelling with humor.

* Feb. 23: 7 p.m., Public Affairs Center Rooms C/D. Retired U.S. Marshal Robert Moore will sign copies of his book, “The President's Men — The Untold Story, Black U.S. Marshals,” and discuss the topic.

For more information, contact Clarice Ford, executive director of the UIS Diversity Center, at 206-6333 or e-mail cford21@uis.edu.

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Prairie Stars earn first GLVC women's victory

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team ended a nine-game losing streak and posted its first-ever Great Lakes Valley Conference victory, beating the Rockhurst Hawks 72-54 Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS fell behind 7-2, but the Prairie Stars turned the contest around with a 16-0 run. The flurry included 3-pointers by Bailey Beale and Cristina Nevins, and UIS was up 18-7 with 5½ minutes left in the first half.

The Stars (5-13, 1-10) led 31-19 at halftime.

Freshmen Beale and Palmer scored 17 points apiece to lead UIS, which had lost 28 straight GLVC games since joining the league last season.

Chrissy Sarcone had 13 points for Rockhurst (4-15, 0-11).

The win was featured in a January 23, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS men make it two out of three after win over Hawks

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team picked up its second win in three contests with a 97-74 victory over the Rockhurst Hawks in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS (6-12 overall, 2-9 in the GLVC) and Rockhurst (5-14, 3-8) traded baskets for the first nine minutes of the first half. Down 20-18 with 12 minutes remaining, UIS put together a 24-6 run and took a 41-26 lead at the 4:10 mark. The Prairie Stars were ahead 53-35 at halftime.

Junior guard Lester Hart led UIS with 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field. He finished with six 3-pointers and three rebounds. Jermaine Love-Roberts and freshman Brandon Snowden scored 14 points apiece for the Stars.

Najja Nicholson led the Hawks with 16 points.

The Stars’ next contest is against Bellarmine, the No. 2 team in the NABC/NCAA Division II national poll, in a GLVC game Tuesday at Louisville, Ky.

The win was featured in a January 23, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Burlingame to deliver Lincoln Lecture Feb. 11 at LLCC

The third annual Lincoln Lecture at Lincoln Land Community College is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 11.

Michael Burlingame, a recipient of the Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, will discuss “Lincoln’s Emotional Life”. The program begins at 9 a.m. in the Trutter Center on the main LLCC campus, 5250 Shepard Road.

Burlingame is author of “Abraham Lincoln: A Life” and “The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln” and has edited several volumes of Lincoln history. The program is free. Refreshments will be served.

The presentation is among a variety of Lincoln-related programs planned at the college in February.

Burlingame's appearance was featured in a January 23, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Appellate defender to join Innocence Project at UIS

An appellate defender who has helped exonerate three Illinois Death Row inmates has been selected as the legal director for the DNA post-conviction program of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project.

John Hanlon, currently assistant deputy defender for the capital trial assistance unit of the Illinois Appellate Defender’s Office, will begin his new job Feb. 1.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, established in 2001, is housed in the University of Illinois Springfield’s Center for State Policy and Leadership. The project’s work also has helped exonerate three inmates.

Larry Golden, emeritus professor and director of the Innocence Project, said Hanlon will be responsible for coordinating all the project’s cases.

“We have a lot of cases that come to us and it is difficult to determine if they are going to be DNA cases,” Golden said. “Other cases we get start out otherwise, but then turn out to have a DNA component that may resolve guilt or innocence.”

Hanlon’s position was made possible by a $687,448 grant the project received in November from the U.S. Department of Justice to help pay for DNA testing.

“We’re moving into an area of legal representation, and we’ve never had a lawyer on staff,” Golden said. “We couldn’t afford it without this federal grant.”

Hanlon was featured in a January 21, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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U. of Illinois adopts tuition control measure

University of Illinois trustees voted Thursday to adopt a policy designed to limit tuition increases, but the cost of housing is still going up at the school's three campuses.

The highest increases will be on the flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign, where the cost of dorm room shared by two people and a meal plan will increase 4 percent to $9,452 a year. Some locations and plans will cost a little more or less.

A typical double-occupancy dorm room at the Chicago campus plus a meal plan will cost $9,862 for the year, with slight variations by location.

In Springfield, a room in Lincoln Hall will cost $6,520 for the year, a 1.9 percent rise, and a Founders Hall room will be $6,670, 1.7 percent more than this year. Meal packages would add $2,200 to $3,150 to the cost.

The change was featured in a January 21, 2011, article by the Associated Press.

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Brian Mackey: Arts programs feel state's squeeze

Pick up a program from any arts organization in town, listen to public radio or watch public television, and you’re likely to see a version of this sentence: “Programs are made possible in part with funding from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.”

But for more than a year, state support for the arts has been hard to come by.

Last year, Springfield public radio station WUIS-FM received $34,910 from the arts council, down from $51,000 the year before. But Bill Wheelhouse, a veteran statehouse reporter before he became general manager of the station, made clear he was aware of the political climate.

“It’s difficult to complain too much when other important services are being cut to people,” Wheelhouse said.

Wheelhouse's comments were featured in a January 20, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

UIS extends its reach: Growing numbers of international students come here

It can't off an ocean beach, big city attractions or an Ivy League degree, but the University of Illinois Springfield aims to continue increasing its international student enrollment.

Its drawing cards will be small class size, personal attention, quality programs and affordability - the attributes that have attracted 46 new international students this spring and more than 200 overall to campus.

"I researched it a lot, and for me it was about utility," said Anand Abhat, a junior business major from Bangalore, India, a city of 6 million people. "It had a reputation, it wasn't too expensive, and it was part of the U of I system. It's the maximum bang for your buck."

The international student population at UIS was featured in a January 20, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Governor keeps one UI trustee, replaces two others

Gov. Pat Quinn appointed Ricardo Estrada, former member of the Illinois Admissions Review Commission, and attorney Patricia Brown Holmes, a former prosecutor and judge, to six-year terms on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees Wednesday afternoon, according to papers filed with the Illinois Secretary of State's office.

He also reappointed Trustee Karen Hasara, a Springfield Republican.

The governor chose not to reappoint Democrats Carlos Tortolero and Frances Carroll, both of Chicago. Their terms expired on Sunday.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Illinois Senate.

The announcement was featured in a January 20, 2011, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

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From death row to hero

The following article was written by Bill Clutter, director of investigations at the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield. It was published in a January 20, 2011, edition of the Illinois Times.

"At the State Capitol, former death row inmate Randy Steidl became the improbable champion in the successful campaign to get the General Assembly to abolish the death penalty. Now he is trying to persude Gov. Pat Quinn to sign the repeal into law. He traveled a long road from death row to Springfield’s halls of power.

John Hanlon, now the legal director at the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at UIS, worked all night long in April of 1992 writing Randy’s petition for post-conviction relief in Mike Metnick’s law office, which was above the Vinegar Hill Mall. By 7 a.m. we had appended the affidavits supporting the facts that revealed Randy’s innocence. We placed the petition in the trust of our runner, Paul Wetmore, who drove it to Paris, the Edgar County seat, to be filed. It was the last day of the statute of limitations for filing the petition. If some awful auto accident had impeded its delivery, all appeals in Randy’s case would have stopped there. The execution would have proceeded as scheduled."

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UIS will try to build off its first GLVC victory

Spring semester classes got under way Tuesday at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Getting back in the swing of things for the UIS Prairie Stars men’s basketball team was made easier thanks to Monday night’s 56-49 win at Maryville, the team’s first Great Lakes Valley Conference victory of the season. The win ended a six-game losing streak.

“Everybody felt good, and they should have,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “They played hard and competed for the whole 40 minutes and found a way to win. Our guys grinded it out. Our defense for the most part was really good. We had some guys make shots.

“We’ve got to come back (today) with the same approach. Missouri-St. Louis is going to be aggressive definitely. We’ve got to be able to execute and do what we do best.”

The Stars (5-11 overall, 1-8 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference) host the Missouri-St. Louis Tritons (11-5, 5-3) at 7:30 tonight.

The team was featured in a January 20, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thousands hired in Illinois ahead of new pension system

When it comes to pensions in Illinois, a day can mean all the difference in the world.

Thanks to the eight-month span between Gov. Pat Quinn’s approval of a pension reform bill last spring and its implementation Jan. 1, any public worker hired in Illinois as late as Dec. 31 was enrolled in a far more lucrative pension plan than those hired after that date.

In Springfield, the Springfield School District and the two public colleges were the biggest hirers. The University of Illinois Springfield hired 56 new employees in the eight months between when pension reform was signed and when it took effect. Lincoln Land Community College hired 46 people in the same period, and the school district added 26.

UIS human resources was aware of the impending pension changes when they made the hires, but that did not affect the decisions, said Bob Lael, the school’s human resources director.

“The change in the pension system was not a factor from the HR perspective,” Lael said. “Since we’re under limitations on how many we can hire right now because of the economy, when we get the approval to fill a position, our job is to get it filled as quickly as possible.”

The figure of 56 new employees might be misleading, Lael added. Many of those hired worked in the university system before and probably were already enrolled in the State University Retirement System. UIS is required to enroll all new hires, so they appear in the reported data but might not have had any additional impact on the pension system, he said.

The pension reform was featured in a January 17, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tax hike won't be immediate windfall, state's creditors say

Social service agencies, landlords and schools and colleges have been waiting for the state of Illinois to catch up on its financial obligations to them during the drawn-out financial crisis.

But even with the hefty income tax increase signed into law this week by Gov. Pat Quinn, they might have to wait some more.

The University of Illinois system began seeing slow payments from the state in fiscal 2009, and when the year ended on June 30, 2009, the U of I was owed $126 million, said university spokesman Tom Hardy. It got that money in mid-September of ’09.

This year, the university has billed $477 million against its $697 million appropriation and is still owed $413 million

“We’re in just slightly better shape than we were a year ago,” Hardy said.

The state paid off all it owed to the university system in fiscal 2010 only last month, about halfway through the next fiscal year.

In July, the state owed the U of I about $279 million, $9 million of which was due to the University of Illinois Springfield, said UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp.

“It’s too early to know the impact of the recent action in Springfield,” Hardy said. “I think it will start to come into focus within the next month when the budget is presented.

“I hope public higher education is restored to a priority befitting its vital importance to the state.”

The tax increase was featured in a January 15, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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In My View: Falling prey to tyranny of sound bites

Dr. Ali Nizamuddin is an associate professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield and is on the steering committee of the Coalition to Promote Human Dignity and Diversity. He wrote the following op-ed that was published in the January 15, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

"The shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the unspeakable tragedy in Arizona can serve as a catalyst for self-reflection and introspection. It is the most recent manifestation of an underlying current that views the individual in opposition to the perceived overreach of the federal government. Certain segments of society are convinced that the greatest threat to their individual liberty comes from Big Brother. In fact, there is the 'hateriot' movement, which believes that it is patriotic to hate our government. This was most visible during the health-care debate when people brought guns to political rallies to protest government spending on social programs.

Those who espouse this position believe that the market is a better allocator of scarce resources than the government, and that governments function best when they function least. This may very well be true.

But what they do not understand is that the market is a good allocator of private goods like coffee, cereal, pencils, etc. The market, however, fails when it comes to the provisioning of public goods that are beyond the purview of individual private citizens to provide. Roads, bridges, public libraries, the police and fire departments, water purification systems, food inspection, the military, community colleges, schools, street lights and courts are all provided by the government. Individual citizens neither have the resources nor the incentives to provide these goods for the welfare of others. Governments must intervene when markets fail, as is the case with health care, given that millions of Americans do not have insurance."

Download the full editorial as a PDF

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Former UIS coach Gilmore hopes to coach again

A former University of Illinois Springfield women’s softball coach who was forced to resign in 2009 after allegations of improper behavior involving student athletes says he would like to coach again.

“I would love to coach one day again,” said Roy Gilmore, former assistant women’s softball coach who was also the university’s women’s basketball coach. “Is it possible? Who knows? ... I am not actively pursuing a coaching position. But I would love to do it again.”

Gilmore and head women’s softball coach Joseph Fisher resigned after an incident in Florida involving players. According to a heavily redacted letter to university officials, the incident involved alleged sexual assault and battery, and the university six months later paid $200,000 to one of the players to settle any claims.

Gilmore's comments were featured in a January 17, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Editorial: U of I board should conduct UIS probe

The following is a portion of an editorial published in the January 16, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

"It’s time for the University of Illinois board of trustees to demand some answers from its Springfield campus about its handling of what appears to be some very serious misbehavior by two of its former coaches.

Nearly two years after allegations of sexual impropriety during a team trip led to the resignations of two University of Illinois Springfield softball coaches, the incident remains swathed in secrecy."

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Madigan declares legislative session a success

A new crop of House lawmakers was sworn in today at the University of Illinois at Springfield, where Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan reflected on the last two years that started with lawmakers kicking a governor out of office and ended just hours ago with a historic vote to increase taxes.

"The recent session of the General Assembly was among the most controversial, the most contentious, and yes, one of the most successful," Madigan said shortly after he was formally elected to a 14th term as speaker.

He ticked off a long list of accomplishments in the last two-year session of the legislature, including moving up the primary date that "greatly helped" President Barack Obama win office, passing ethics measures in the wake of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment, implementing sweeping nursing home and pension reforms as well as approving civil unions for same-sex couples and abolishing the death penalty.

The ceremony at UIS was featured in a January 13, 2011, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Brown says jobs are his top priority

Adam Brown said his first priority as state representative in the new legislative session is job creation.

Brown, 25, was sworn in Wednesday, replacing Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, whom Brown defeated Nov. 2.

"I plan on standing by my promises throughout the election cycle," the Decatur Republican said.

Brown said he has signed on to a bill that would cut state legislators' pay by 10 percent. He said he's also concerned that illegal immigrants receive state benefits such as in-state tuition.

Brown is a fifth-generation family farmer. Before being elected state representative, he served on the Decatur City Council. He is engaged to Stephanie Ashe and is completing a master's in public administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Brown's 101st House District covers Moultrie County, and parts of Macon and Shelby counties.

Brown was featured in a January 13, 2011, article in the Decatur Herald & Review.

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Rosenthal unhappy at tax hike

One of the newest members of the Illinois House from central Illinois is not happy with the tax increase that passed in the waning hours of the 96th General Assembly.

“I think the tax increase is negative,” said Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, R-Morrisonville, who was sworn in as a member of the 97th General Assembly on Wednesday. “Other states are saying, ‘Thank you very much Illinois,’ and that’s something we need to change. We need to create a better environment here, that’s the bottom line. We need to bring jobs back to Illinois.”

Rosenthal, a Lincoln Land Community College trustee and a graduate of what is now the University of Illinois Springfield, said education is tied to job growth, and that is something he plans to address in the 97th General Assembly.

“If we can provide the education and then provide the jobs for them to stay here in Illinois, I think that’s a big plus,” Rosenthal said.

With his wife Marcia, sons Dustin, Sean and Casey, and father Kenny watching from the audience at Sangamon Auditorium, Rosenthal and the 117 other representatives were given the oath of office Wednesday by retired Illinois appellate justice Alan Greiman.

“It was exciting for me,” said Rosenthal, 60, a retired brigadier general in the Illinois Air National Guard.

Rosenthal was featured in a January 13, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Topinka, Rutherford put GOP back on state's big stage

Two of the state's new constitutional officers, Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, are the first Republicans to hold a statewide office in four years. They are also in charge of the state's financial offices, and they say in charge of carrying out the new spending discipline voters chose last fall.

Topinka is already piping-up, declaring that she's going to pay the state's bills and stop playing games. University of Illinois at Springfield political science professor Kent Redfield said that's exactly what her job is going to be.

"We saw with Dan Hynes what the Comptroller's Office can become, another voice on the budget. The Republicans now have a new voice, and one that carries some weight on fiscal issues.

Redfield adds that the beleaguered Illinois GOP should be very pleased with winning two statewide seats.

Redfield's comments were featured in a January 10, 2011, article by Illinois Statehouse News.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

UIS paid $200K to settle sex impropriety charge against coach

The University of Illinois Springfield paid $200,000 to a student in 2009 to settle allegations of sexual impropriety involving a coach for the women’s softball team, who resigned after the allegations came to light.

The university late Thursday released the settlement agreement, which contained payment information and a heavily redacted letter concerning the allegations. The release was in response to records requests filed by The State Journal-Register, which has been seeking the documents for more than a year.

The letter indicates that conduct by a coach may have risen to the level of sexual assault and battery.

The university released the settlement agreement and the letter, apparently written by an entity outside the university, after the attorney general’s public access counselor’s office told university officials this week the records must be made public under state law.

In a letter issued Friday, the attorney general’s staff also said UIS had failed to follow state law, which requires that public bodies notify the attorney general much sooner when an agency wants to use a FOIA exemption to withhold records.

The FOIA request was featured in a January 8, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Prairie Stars hope to break out of slump against Flyers

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars men’s basketball team remains stuck in a rut.

UIS has lost six of its last seven contests. The Stars (4-7 overall, 0-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference) will attempt to end its losing streak today against the host Lewis Flyers (8-7, 1-3) in a league game at 7:45 p.m. today.

The Prairie Stars are trying to turn the corner after losing 69-65 to Indianapolis on Sunday. UIS lost 78-61 Tuesday to No. 8 Southern Indiana after only trailing 38-31 at halftime.

“We’ve got to execute a little bit better,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “We’ve got to tighten up our offense and defense. We’ve just got to get better in all aspects.”

The game was featured in a January 6, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Prairie Stars need defense to step up

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars lost to Indianapolis 69-65 Sunday but held the highest-scoring Great Lakes Valley Conference men’s basketball team well under its average.

Indianapolis entered the contest averaging 92.1 points per game. The defeat was the closest of the season for the Stars, who led by two points with 3½ minutes left in the second half.

The Stars will need a similar defensive effort tonight against the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles, the No. 12 team in the NABC/NCAA Division II national poll. The GLVC game at The Recreation and Athletic Center starts at 7:30.

Southern Indiana has an overall record of 10-1 and a conference mark of 2-1. The lone loss was a 69-60 setback on Dec. 4 to GLVC member Bellarmine, the top-ranked team in the nation. UIS is 4-6 and 0-3.

The Eagles are averaging 81.2 ppg and allowing 68.3. Their top three scorers are senior guard C.J. Trotter (16.2 ppg), senior center Mohamed Ntumba (13.4 ppg) and junior forward Isaac McClure (10.5 ppg). Trotter ranks 11th in scoring in the GLVC. Ntumba is the GLVC’s second-leading rebounder at 8.5 rebounds per game. McClure averages 6.3 rpg.

Southeast High School graduate and Southern Indiana sophomore guard Lawrence Thomas has not played in a game this season. He is recovering from knee surgery and the plan is to redshirt him. Thomas averaged 12.1 minutes, 2.7 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game as a freshman.

UIS MEN'S BASKETBALL

WHO: University of Illinois Prairie Stars (4-6 overall, 0-3 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference) vs. No. 12 Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (10-1, 2-1)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: The Recreation and Athletic Center, UIS campus

LAST SEASON’S RESULT: Southern Indiana 110, UIS 68

NOTABLE: Fans can listen to a broadcast of the game by logging on to http://www.820theedge.com. . . . The Stars’ leading scorer and rebounder is junior forward Michael Fakuade, who’s averaging 14.8 ppg and 10.5 rpg.

The game was featured in a January 4, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Remembering 2010: Dennis Frueh

The following article was written by Raymond. G. Barnett and published in a December 29, 2010, edition of the Illinois Times.

This year, University of Illinois Springfield lost someone who has been with it from its inception. Denny Frueh was one of the first graduates of then Sangamon State University (Now U of I Springfield). He began his career as a rehabilitation counselor for the State of Illinois, before moving into an admissions counseling position for Olney Central College. He would later work for Grinnell College in Iowa, before moving into the UIS admissions office in 1987. Denny would move up through the ranks at UIS, even serving as admissions director, before settling in as co-director for admissions for the last five years, before his leave of absence due to cancer. During his time at U of I Springfield, Denny served in many important positions on university committees, as well as for the Illinois Math and Science Academy’s enrollment review committee during many of those years.

“Denny was the reason I decided to work for UIS, “commented Lori Giordano, UIS admissions director. “He never forgot about the primary duty of this office, helping people become students and improving their lives through education. He never forgot those enrollment and application numbers represent real people.” Others who worked for Denny commented on his dry sense of humor, his friendship, his love of cars, his insight on transfer admissions counseling, and his ability to boil down extremely bureaucratic matters into the human equation. He left an impression because he found a connecting point with each person he worked with.

Denny leaves behind his wife, Patricia, and his daughter, Andrea; as well as his parents, Charles and Geraldine, and his siblings, Linda and Rochelle. He will be greatly missed.

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Bill Clutter: 20 million reasons to abolish death penalty

Bill Clutter is director of investigations for the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield. The following is a portion of an editorial written by Clutter, which was published in the January 2, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

"The end of January will mark the 11-year anniversary of the moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois. The stunning revelation that 13 men on death row were actually innocent led to the decision to “temporarily” halt executions in order to study the flaws in the criminal justice system. Another six men, including Randy Steidl, who had been condemned to die were exonerated after the moratorium, bringing the total to 19.

The error rate in capital cases since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, after being briefly declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court for being disproportionately imposed on blacks, was roughly 10 percent.

My experience in the Jeanine Nicarico case, which accounted for two of the original 13 death row exonerees, demonstrated to me that the raw emotion involved in these horrific crimes overwhelms jurors. Emotion overcomes reason. Death penalty cases are different because of this."

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Beatles Course Popular on iTunes U

A longtime instructor of a course on The Beatles has greatly boosted his student base and popularity via the web.

University of Illinois at Springfield Communication and Liberal Studies professor Michael Cheney has taken his love for the fab four and condensed it into a series of on-line lectures.

WILL-AM's Jeff Bossert talked with Cheney about his Beatles course, and a podcast that’s drawing fans worldwide in a December 28, 2010, report.

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Listen to the interview with Cheney

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Miss Rock Island County will compete for state title

The Rock Island County Fair Board has announced the crowning of the new 2010 Miss Rock Island County Fair Queen, Taylor Schulte of Milan, Ill.

Schulte attends the University of Illinois-Springfield, where she is majoring in communications with an emphasis in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was crowned in October and will travel to Springfield in January to represent the Rock Island County Fair in the competition for the Miss Illinois County Fair crown.

Schulte was featured in a December 27, 2010, article in The Quad-City Times.

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