Thursday, April 28, 2011

Student columnist: Alternative spring break is fun and educational

Annalyse Doria of La Grange, a senior at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is a student columnist for The Doings-ClarendonHills. The following column appeared in an April 28, 2011 edition.

"Spring break, in many people's eyes, is a time to relax, go on a warm vacation, or catch up on lost sleep. Until a little over a month ago, that's exactly what it had meant to me; however, this year I decided to look into something that I had heard so much about called alternative spring break. Over the years I had heard extremely positive remarks about experiences people had while on alternative spring break trips. I had wanted to start volunteering again for over a year so when I returned to school after a relaxing summer I signed up to be on the committee. Twenty meetings later and six hours away from home, I found myself standing with 22 strangers a hotel lobby in Memphis Tenn"

Read more of the column online

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UIS professor calls attention to medical shortages

An Illinois professor is calling attention to the shortage of medical lab workers. While the focus has been on too few nurses, Professor Paula Garrott says on a percentage basis, the shortage of lab scientists and technicians is even greater. And the problem may only get worse with 40-percent of the current workforce set to retire in the next decade. That could mean delays in test results and other problems.

Garrott chairs the Clinical Lab Science Department at the University of Illinois Springfield. She says the shortage of employees in health labs stems from a lack of awareness.

Garrott's comments were featured in an April 26, 2011, report by WUIS Public Radio.

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Men's Golf: UIS fifth at Cog Hill

Mike McKillips (80-82-84–246) and Shane McCafferty (84-81-81–246) tied for seventh place Tuesday to help the University of Illinois Springfield finish fifth at the season-ending Lewis Intercollegiate at Cog Hill Golf Course.

Lewis won with a 959 total, and the Flyers’ Casey Pyne took medalist honors with rounds of 78, 72, 72 for a 6-over-par 222. UIS finished with a 994 total.

Ryan McKillips (84-77-90–251) of UIS finished in a three-way tie for 16th. Mark Klinger (85-92-86–263) tied for 32nd, and Zach Phillips (96-86-84 –266) was alone in 34th.

The team was featured in an April 27, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Sparkman sets college basketball destination

Dylan Sparkman has found a new home to the south.

The East Peoria Community High School senior announced his intention Thursday to attend the University of Illinois-Springfield and play men’s basketball for the Prairie Stars.

“When I went down there, it felt like home,” said Sparkman, who mentioned he liked the facilities and the dorms of the NCAA Division II school.

Over the course of his Raider playing days, the idea of advancing the next level appealed to Sparkman.

“As my high school career went along, it sparked the idea of playing college basketball,” Sparkman said. “It’s an exciting day for me.”

Over the summer to prepare for the transition to UIS, Sparkman said he will stay in shape and maybe work on developing some range on his shot.

He said he hopes to contribute right away for the Prairie Stars, who are guided by Ben Wierzba.

Sparkman was featured in a April 24, 2011, article in the East Peoria Times-Courier.

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UIS volleyball signs four players

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars’ volleyball program has landed a player who helped her high school team to a No. 1 ranking in the country in 2010.

Five-foot-9 libero Sam Mainzer, a three-year varsity starter at Cary-Grove High School, has signed a letter of intent to play for the Stars. With Mainzer as the starting libero, Cary-Grove compiled a 56-1 record, won a Class 4A state title in 2009 and was state runner-up in 2010. She had 244 digs as a senior.

John A. Logan Community College sophomore Ariele Gooch, Washington High School senior Haley Houser and Lakeland College sophomore Ann Nottingham also have signed with UIS.

The players were featured in April 23, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Cheers & Jeers: Polly Roesch earns Guinness recognition

CHEERS to Springfield resident Polly Roesch, 100 years old, who has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2007, when she was only 97, Polly sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “Silver Bells” during the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops concert in Sangamon Auditorium on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield. The campaign to certify her as the Oldest Singer to Debut With a Symphony Orchestra began soon after. A few days ago, she received her certificate of authentication in the mail. She sang with the orchestra again last December at its holiday concert.

Roesch was featured in an April 25, 2011, article by The State Journal-Register.

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Carlinville's Kelly among UIS signees

Former Carlinville High School standout basketball player Elizabeth Kelly is transferring from NCAA Division I Wright State to Division II University of Illinois Springfield.

UIS announced Wednesday that Kelly and four other players have signed with the Prairie Stars.

Kelly said she also considered transferring to Illinois Wesleyan before selecting UIS. She’s leaving Wright State, which is located in Dayton, Ohio, for multiple reasons.

“I changed my major (from biology) to political science,” Kelly said. “UIS is in Springfield, which is the state capital, and there’s a lot of good opportunities there. I should have a better opportunity to play.”

The signees were featured in an April 22, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Dayaratne named All-GLVC West

The Great Lakes Valley Conference coaches named University of Illinois Springfield senior Punsisi Dayaratne to the All-GLVC West Division men’s tennis team.

Dayaratne went 8-10 this season at No. 1 singles, while finishing the season 3-3 in conference play and won two of his last three GLVC matches. In doubles, Dayaratne and partner Josh Patrick didn’t drop a conference match and lost only three times this entire year.

Dayaratne was featured in an April 22, 2011 article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

UIS employee devotes life to helping co-workers, feral cats

Normajean Niebur has been told there must be an invisible sign on the roof of her home that reads, “Come one, come all.”

Niebur, an office support specialist in public affairs and administration at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored last week by the university and the Junior League of Springfield for her efforts at helping others.

“She doesn’t worry about herself,” said Ann Cole, a staff clerk in experiential and service learning at UIS who nominated Niebur for the honor. “She’s always worrying about everybody else.

“I just had surgery, and she sent me flowers and a card,” Cole said. “She has such a caring attitude.”

Niebur’s efforts aren’t limited to humans.

She and her husband, Larry, originated the feral cat program on campus in 2001 and have seen the number of feral cats — those with no human socialization — dwindle to one.

Niebur was featured in an April 21, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Mixed feelings for Blagojevich retrial, none of them happy

Rod R. Blagojevich, the governor turned prisoner turned reality television star turned radio talk show host, is scheduled to get a new trial starting as early as Wednesday, eight months after proceedings ended with a jury divided on most of the corruption counts against him.

A new trial — and Mr. Blagojevich’s return to the headlines — certainly were not part of the inauguration script for Rahm Emanuel, a fellow Democrat and a former White House chief of staff who takes over as mayor of Chicago next month.

“You don’t know what he’s going to say,” said Kent Redfield, a political scientist at the University of Illinois. “If Blagojevich takes the stand this time, he could dirty some people up. If anybody has vulnerability to that, it’s probably Emanuel.”

Redfield's comments were featured in an April 19, 2011, article in The New York Times.

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Brian Mackey: Exhibit marries art, environmental issues

To most of us, the discarded remnants of modern life are easily overlooked. But to Terrence Campagna and Karen Bondarchuk, they’re the foundation for modern art.

Campagna and Bondarchuk are the featured artists in “Lay of the Land,” an exhibition that closes Wednesday at the Visual Arts Gallery at the University of Illinois Springfield.

They won the juried competition in last year’s “Sustain” show, in which each had entered one piece. Both will be on hand for a reception at the gallery from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday.

The exhibit was featured in an April 21, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fugitive captured after extensive manhunt near UIS

A 35-year-old fugitive from Ohio was arrested after he allegedly abandoned a stolen vehicle and fled on foot into the woods near the University of Illinois Springfield on Tuesday afternoon.

The search for Alan J. Gordon prompted email alerts to UIS students and parents in the Ball-Chatham School District.

Gordon, who was taken into custody about an hour and a half after the search began, is accused of crashing the stolen car near a wooded area along the UIS soccer fields on the campus’ east side, according to Chief Deputy Jack Campbell of the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office.

Gordon was wanted for a probation violation in Sandusky, Ohio, Campbell said.

University officials warned students, faculty and staff to stay clear of the soccer fields because Gordon was considered possibly armed and dangerous.

That warning stemmed from the fact that Sandusky authorities had indicated Gordon stole 10 guns about two months ago, Campbell said.

The story was reported in an April 20, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

UIS adds its first recruit for next year

University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball coach Ben Wierzba signed his first recruit Monday, East Peoria High School senior center Dylan Sparkman.

The 6-foot-10, 260-pound Sparkman averaged 14 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 67 percent from the field and 70 percent at the free-throw line and earned a spot on the Mid-Illini Conference second team. He was a first-team choice the previous season.

“He continued getting better and better as the year went along,” Wierzba said. “He’s got good hands. He’s got good feet. With his skills on the basketball floor, we look for him to be a contributor as a freshman as he grows and matures into a collegiate student-athlete.”

Sparkman was featured in an April 19, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Dan Cadigan receives Distinguished Volunteer Award

Community volunteer Daniel Cadigan, now in his fourth year as a volunteer tutor at Graham Elementary School, has been honored by the University of Illinois Springfield and the Junior League of Springfield for his efforts.

Cadigan received the 2011 Good As Gold Distinguished Volunteer Award at a program Tuesday recognizing local community volunteers and organizations. It was the third annual ceremony.

Other volunteers were recognized in several categories:

* Esther Ellison, UIS Star Student Award. Ellison is in her second year as a mentor at Jefferson Middle School.

* Normajean Niebur, UIS Star Staff Award. Niebur, an office support specialist in public affairs and administration, originated and maintains the feral cat program on campus, feeding the cats twice daily, 365 days a year. She also has organized bake sales for fellow UIS workers in need and wrote a grant to help UIS food service staff members who were laid off during Christmas break.

* The UIS Volunteer Center also recognized about 200 students who volunteered for various community efforts throughout the year.

The awards were featured in an April 13, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Macoupin teen serves on school board, city council

In his first bid for elected office, Peyton Bernot was chosen as both a board of education member and an alderman.

Not bad for a high school senior.

Bernot was elected to the seven-member Gillespie Community Unit School District 7 board and as Benld Ward 3 alderman in the April 5 consolidated election.

Bernot, however, said that at this point in his life he does not have higher political goals. Upon high school graduation he will attend the University of Illinois-Springfield taking political science, finance and law classes.

Bernot was featured in an April 18, 2011, article in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.

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Parent to Parent: Summer activities

At the Cox Children’s Center on the UIS campus, the Junior Scholars Summer Camp is open to kids ages 5 to 14 years old. Located in the VPA building, the center offers two meals — breakfast and lunch — as well as a snack, a variety of activities and weekly field trips. The fee is $125 per week; field trips are an additional cost.

To learn more about the center and the different programs offered, email ccc@uis.edu, call 206-6610 or visit www.uis.edu/childcarecenter/about/index.html.

The camp was featured in an April 17, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lincoln historian to speak at historical society meeting

A highly acclaimed Abraham Lincoln historian and biographer will be the featured speaker at the annual dinner meeting of the Morgan County Historical Society at Hamilton’s.

Speaker will be Michael Burlingame, a history professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield and author of “Abraham Lincoln: A Life” published in 2008.

“Abraham Lincoln: A Life” won the 2010 Lincoln Prize, sponsored by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History and Gettysburg College, for the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln, the American Civil War soldier, or a subject relating to their era. In addition, he has edited numerous books about Lincoln.

Burlingame was featured in an April 13, 2011, article in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New chancellor gets first look at UIS

Susan Koch, a deep-rooted Midwesterner, got her first look Monday at the University of Illinois Springfield campus and met more than 300 people she’ll get to know better when she takes over as UIS chancellor July 1.

Koch, who now is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, met with reporters, then joined her husband, Dennis, and University of Illinois President Michael Hogan in a receiving line at the Public Affairs Center.

Hogan revealed that Koch is an avid golfer, a pheasant hunter and “makes a mean applesauce that won a blue ribbon at a county fair. Now she has her sights set on the Illinois State Fair.”

Hogan, who has headed the University of Illinois for less than a year, said he knew Koch from a provosts’ organization when he held that position at the University of Iowa and she was at Northern Iowa University.

He called Koch “the perfect choice” to lead UIS.

“She is a problem-solver and a great leader, and I know she’ll carry forward the excellent legacy of leadership here.”

Koch was featured in an April 12, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS welcomes Koch

The next Vice President and Chancellor of the University of Illinois Springfield is on campus this week meeting with students and staff. Dr. Susan Koch is expected to take over July first, after the Board of Trustees gives its approval.

Koch says the transition into the new role will be a learning experience.

This is Koch’s first visit to the UIS campus. She says the school’s emphasis on public affairs attracted her to the job.

Koch is finishing up in her current position as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northern Michigan University. Koch will replace Interim Chancellor Harry Berman who plans to retire soon.

Koch was featured by WUIS Public Radio in an April 12, 2011, report.

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New UIS soccer coach has D-I experience

Jesse Miech, a former assistant coach at Saint Louis University, was named the men’s head soccer coach at the University of Illinois Springfield on Monday.

Miech was an assistant last season with the NCAA Division I Billikens, and he worked primarily with the goalkeepers.

He also served as a volunteer assistant coach at Virginia Tech in 2010, and from 2008-09 he was an assistant at Clemson. With the Tigers, Miech assisted in the day-to-day operations of the soccer program and was directly responsible for the implementation of a year-round goalkeeper-training program.

Miech also spent two seasons beginning in 2006 at Missouri State, where he coached the Bears’ goalkeepers and was the program’s head recruiter.

Miech was featured in a April 12, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Theater Review: A frank discussion on race — with humor

The question at the heart of “Spinning Into Butter” — the play that opened Friday at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Studio Theatre — is whether we should be judged by our actions or our intentions.

A student may not want to be categorized by his ethnicity, but should he buckle and check a box if it leads to a scholarship? A person may hold racist attitudes, but is it a problem if they’re outwardly polite and do not discriminate?

Rebecca Gilman’s play, directed by Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson for UIS Theatre, is set at Belmont College, a small liberal arts school in lily-white Vermont.

The review was published in an April 11, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can young students learn from online classes?

The following was written by Karen Swan, the James Stukel Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and an expert on online and blended learning. The op-ed was published by the New York Times on April 6, 2011.

"High school and middle school students are easily distracted, which is precisely why I do think they can benefit from online classes.

Online learning can actually be less distracting than being in a classroom of 30 students.

The majority of online classes for adolescent students involve a good deal of interaction with course materials and tutors that can be very engaging. A study of students enrolled in the Virtual High School, for example, found that 75 percent of the students passed their courses with a C or better while 25 percent got a D, F, or Incomplete or dropped it."

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Koch named UIS VP and Chancellor

A new Vice President and Chancellor has been named for the University of Illinois Springfield. Susan Koch will begin her new role July first, pending the approval of the U of I trustees. She will succeed interim Chancellor Harry Berman, who is retiring soon.

Koch most recently has been serving as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northern Michigan University. Her selection to head UIS comes after a nationwide search.

Koch spoke with WUIS's Sean Crawford on April 4, 2011, about her vision for the campus and her leadership style.

Listen to the interview online

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Northern Michigan U. administrator named UIS chancellor

A woman with 25 years in senior leadership positions at two Midwestern public universities has been chosen as the new chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Susan Koch is currently provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., where she has served since 2007. Before joining NMU, Koch was associate provost and dean of the graduate college at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

University of Illinois president Michael Hogan announced Koch’s appointment Monday. It takes effect July 1, pending approval by the U of I Board of Trustees.

Koch was featured in an April 5, 2011, article by The State Journal-Register.

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U of Ill. names new Springfield chancellor

A Northern Michigan University administrator will take over the top position at the University of Illinois-Springfield this summer.

Susan Koch will become chancellor at the Springfield campus in July, the university said Monday. She's currently provost and vice president of academic affairs at Northern Michigan.

"With its strong reputation as a public liberal arts university, UIS is providing the state of Illinois with graduates who have the knowledge, skills and values necessary to be productive contributors to and leaders of their communities," Koch said in a news release. "I'm excited about working to continue and enhance this very important tradition."

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan said Koch has a lengthy track record of supporting liberal arts teaching.

"Dr. Koch's record reflects a proven appreciation for the value of a strong liberal arts education and a deep commitment to civic engagement," he said. "I couldn't be more pleased to have her joining our leadership team as we continue to advance the excellence of our Springfield campus and the entire University."

The announcement was featured in an April 4, 2011, article by the Associated Press.

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NMU's provost leaving the university

Dr. Susan Koch, Northern Michigan University's vice president for academic affairs and provost, will be leaving in June to join the University of Illinois-Springfield staff.

Koch will be joining the UIS staff as the new chancellor on July 1.

"Dr. Koch's move to the chancellorship of UIS is indicative of the leadership skills honed at NMU," said NMU President Les Wong. "She was instrumental in raising the reputation of academics, enhancing the quality of the student experience and securing an exemplary accreditation report."

Wong said he plans to name an interim provost by the end of the current semester, and a replacement will be sought for during the 2011-2012 school year.

Koch was featured in an April 4, 2011, article by WLUC-TV.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Attorney general aide: U. of I. flouting law

It took more than a year of wrangling before the University of Illinois provided documents in a scandal involving the women's softball team at the Springfield campus, including coaches' resignation letters.

It wasn't until last week that The State Journal-Register received a less-redacted copy of a letter in the case, 15 months after its request. Attorney general officials and the newspaper's lawyer said one key document — a $200,000 settlement agreement between a student player and the university — was disclosed only after the attorney general's office subpoenaed records.

The story was published in an April 2, 2011, Chicago Tribune article.

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Editorial: Thoroughly investigate UIS case

Two years ago, a scandal erupted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when the Chicago Tribune reported on the use of political clout to gain admission for students who might not get in on academics alone.

The SJ-R last week filed suit against UIS to force the release of documents relating to the incident that precipitated the coaches’ departures and the university’s handling of their resignations. Two days after the lawsuit was filed, the university released parts of a letter from the attorney who negotiated the $200,000 settlement for the player. Allegations raised in that letter, we believe, must be addressed in a manner as swift, open and decisive as the one used in 2009 to expose and end the “clout list” in 2009 at U of I’s main campus.

The editorial was published in an April 3, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Area colleges: Watson throws shutout for UIS

The University of Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars split a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader with Drury University, beating the Panthers 3-0 after a 9-5 loss in the first game.

Aubrey Watson (3-2) allowed only three hits and struck out eight batters to earn the Game 2 win for UIS (9-19 overall, 3-7 in the GLVC).

In the second game, Rachel Wood went 2 for 2 and had an RBI in the Stars’ two-run first inning.

The article was published in an April 3, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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It's wall-to-wall softball at UIS for Spring Slam

PORTA players also worked concessions between their games, which had 1-hour, 15-minute time limits. But senior catcher Chelsea Minor was able to get a substitute. That way, Minor — who’s already signed with the University of Illinois Springfield — could get a peek at her future team.

The Prairie Stars were playing Drury on an adjacent field at the complex.

“I got my mom (Missy) to fill in for me for a while,” said Minor. “I wanted to go watch UIS.”

The story was featured in an April 3, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Area Colleges: UIS baseball & softball updates

Softball:

Junior Rachel Wood and senior Brittany Morgan combined for seven RBIs on the day for host University of Illinois-Springfield in a doubleheader split with Rockhurst College in Great Lakes Valley Conference play.

Rockhurst won the first game 3-1. Sophomore Tina Buck took the loss. Mandy Smith had two hits.

Baseball:

Senior Clint Jeffers hit the second home run in program history Sunday, but the University of Illinois-Springfield split a doubleheader with Maryville.

Jeffers’ homer came in a 14-13 loss to Maryville in the nightcap. Seth Warren took the loss.

The stories were featured in an April 4, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Attorney's letter indicates UIS coach assaulted players

A former University of Illinois Springfield women’s athletic coach assaulted more than one member of the women’s softball team in the spring of 2009, according to a letter released by UIS on Thursday, two days after The State Journal-Register sued UIS under the state Freedom of Information Act.

According to the letter, written by Lee Barron, an attorney for a student-athlete who received a $200,000 settlement as a result of coach Roy Gilmore’s conduct, university officials knew the former coach had a history of questionable conduct. The letter was titled “Sexual Assault and Battery by UIS Softball Coach.”

The article was published by The State Journal-Register in an April 1, 2011, edition.

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