Monday, November 25, 2013

UIS examining its on-campus tobacco policy

Whether to change the school athletic teams’ nickname isn’t the only burning issue on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

An email went out Nov. 11 to UIS students, faculty and staff asking them to participate in an online survey on the campus smoking policy, which currently bans smoking indoors in compliance with state law and allows smoking otherwise only in designated areas.

Surveys also are being taken at some on-campus events, and three public forums are scheduled to get more feedback on the issue.

A bill proposed in the legislature last spring would have banned smoking on all state university campuses. The bill didn’t get far, but UIS Chancellor Susan Koch decided the university should begin looking at the issue.

The University of Illinois Chicago’s campus went tobacco-free July 1, and the Urbana-Champaign campus is scheduled to go smoke-free Jan. 1, said UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on November 23, 2013.

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Balanced UIS earns second straight men's basketball victory

Everyone got in on the action for the University of Illinois Springfield in its 88-73 victory against Missouri Western in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday.

Of the nine players who took the court for UIS, six scored in double figures. But another eye-catching statistic stood out and impressed UIS coach Ben Wierzba.

“We had 22 assists on 32 field goals,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to do to be successful.”

For the first time since February 2012, UIS (2-2) has back-to-back wins. It defeated Cedarville 72-63 last Saturday.

UIS’ Regan Bruenger led all scorers with 18. Jacob Williams contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds. Dylan Sparkman, who was on the bench for a large portion of the first half with two fouls, added 16 points.

“That’s really good,” Wierzba said. “We shot 50 percent (from the field). We shot 53 (percent) from 3.”

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 24, 2013.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

UIS athletic director Kim Pate keeps her eye on the ball

Three years ago, the athletic department at the University of Illinois Springfield faced criticism from several angles.

But those scandals faded after the new athletic director, Kim Pate, took the helm of the athletic department in June 2011. Pate and her team have improved participation, strengthened ties with the community, and set high expectations for themselves and their athletes. While Pate is quick to share the credit for the department’s improvement, her leadership seems to have been the catalyst for change, and she seems to have alleviated the concerns of even the department’s most vocal critic.

As Springfield’s largest institution of higher learning, UIS produces numerous graduates each year who stay in Springfield after college to live and work. Countless UIS graduates work in state government, health care, insurance and other industries that are vital to the capital city, so the success of UIS is tied to that of Springfield. A strong university athletic program is always a boon to the growth and prosperity of its host city, and Pate says college athletics is as much about learning life skills as it is about playing a sport.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for us to provide a comprehensive learning experience for students, where they get the classroom piece, but they get to learn beyond that,” she said. “They’re learning discipline and balance. We want them to go and do things beyond college and be leaders in the community.”

Pate was featured by the Illinois Times on November 21, 2013.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SJ-R Editorial: Back to the drawing board with UIS mascot options

Coming up with a good school mascot is a difficult assignment, as evidenced by the options presented this week to students, alumni and staff of the University of Illinois Springfield.

The school’s athletics sports teams currently are known as the Prairie Stars, a nickname that dates back to 1977 when UIS was Sangamon State University.

Students have asked for a new, modern mascot, although alumni have indicated they are OK with continuing the Prairie Stars tradition. UIS hired Louisville, Ky., consultant Studio Simon to come up with some possibilities.

The company proposed four: Mammoths, Sabers, Stampede and Springers. The suggested mascots are – to put it as delicately as possible – strange. It’s almost as if the consultants took a stroll through the Illinois State Museum to mine ideas.

The editorial was published on November 20, 2013 in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS baseball coach works on recruiting, new field

It is an understatement to say the past 18 weeks have been busy for University of Illinois Springfield baseball coach Chris Ramirez.

Since he was hired in the middle of July, he has managed many tasks, including helping design a place for the Prairie Stars to play on campus.

“It’s been an extremely productive fall,” Ramirez said. “We’ve taken on a lot, but I feel like we’re getting a lot accomplished.”

Ramirez announced his first recruiting class for the 2015 season last week. Two weeks ago, the Stars wrapped their 45-day fall season. Ramirez and his staff have organized a youth camp Thanksgiving week plus an indoor winter league. They’re planning a banquet to introduce the team in February. They’ve started a baseball booster club under the athletic department’s STARS Club.

Then there’s the monumental task of changing the Stars’ practice diamond to a home field.

After playing its first three seasons away from UIS, the school will soon have its own baseball field located on campus across from The Recreation and Athletic Center. In the past, the Stars played the majority of their home contests at Chatham Community Park with occasional games at Chamberlain Park and Lanphier Park.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 20, 2013.

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UIS volleyball team signs setter

Champaign Centennial High School setter Lexi Hall has signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for the University of Illinois Springfield next season.

She recorded 1,789 assists, 459 digs and 155 aces and helped Centennial to a 134-15 record over four years. Centennial advanced to a Class 3A supersectional this season and placed third at state in 2012. She also played for the Prime Time Volleyball Club team that won two consecutive Windy City Power League Titles and placed 11th at the national tournament.

Hall is the first recruit to sign with the Prairie Stars for the 2014 season.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on November 20, 2013.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

UIS to hold meetings about possibly changing 'Prairie Stars' nickname

University of Illinois Springfield officials will hold three public forums on campus next week to gather feedback about possibly changing the school's longtime nickname and mascot, the Prairie Stars.

The forums are scheduled for noon and 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Lincoln Residence Hall Great Room and 9 p.m. Tuesday in The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS' Student Government Association will present six nicknames in the running to be the school's nickname and mascot. A news release issued by UIS Friday said two of the names are the existing "Prairie Stars" and the shortened "Stars." The other four choices won't be revealed until next week's meetings.

The six names were suggested by a consultant paid for by the UIS chancellor's office, said Aaron Mulvey, the SGA president and a senior communications/political science major.

The process to possibly move away from the Prairie Stars name began in earnest last year, when the SGA conducted a survey on campus that indicated 75 percent of respondents wanted a change, Mulvey said.

A task force consisting of students, faculty and others from UIS was then created to analyze the issue. Following next week's meetings, which will provide an opportunity for people to vote for their favorite name, the task force will submit a report to UIS Chancellor Susan Koch, who will make the final decision on the name.

In addition to voting at a meeting, people also can submit their feedback about the names by emailing

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on November 16, 2013.

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UIS lectures look at Lincoln, Gettysburg

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, two lectures devoted to the address comprise the Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Martin P. Johnson, assistant professor of history at Miami University of Ohio-Hamilton will speak on “Lincoln’s Journey to Gettysburg.”

Joseph Fornieri, professor of political science at Rochester Institute of Technology, will present a lecture entitled “Abraham Lincoln’s Faith in the Gettysburg Address.”

Michael Burlingame, Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS, will make opening remarks and moderate.

Johnson is the author of the forthcoming book “Writing the Gettysburg Address (University of Kansas Press, 2013), and Fornieri has written several books on Lincoln including the forthcoming “Lincoln, Philosopher Statesman” (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014).

The lectures in Brookens Auditorium are free and open to the public, and no reservations are required. Overflow seating is in Public Affairs Center Room C/D.

The lecture is sponsored by the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership in cooperation with Burlingame and has several co-sponsors.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 16, 2013.

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UIS men's baskball finishes off Cedarville

The University of Illinois Springfield never trailed in its 72-63 men’s basketball win over Cedarville on Saturday, but it wasn’t quite the comfortable finish the Prairie Stars would have liked in the home opener at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

“We stepped up and found a way to finish,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said.

Junior Dylan Sparkman’s layup with 9 minutes 26 seconds left in the second half gave UIS a 15-point lead. That shot ended up being the last field goal for the Stars (1-2).

“We started relaxing a little bit,” Wierzba said. “We’ve got to keep being aggressive and attacking. We can’t relax. That means we have to screen a little bit harder and cut a little bit tighter, and attack. We’ve got to finish.”

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 17, 2013.

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UIS volleyball finishes with victory

The University of Illinois Springfield closed out its season with a 27-29, 26-24, 25-21,27-25 victory over Wisconsin-Parkside in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

JoAnna Hoffman amassed 37 assists, 11 kills, 11 digs and three aces for the Prairie Stars, who finish with an 8-20 overall record and a 4-14 conference mark. Sara Baker also had 11 kills for UIS. Teammate Kellee Mahaffay added 10 kills.

The four-set match against Wisconsin-Parkside (18-13, 8-10) was a tug of war. There were 26 ties and 13 lead changes.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 17, 2013.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

UIS professor speaks about online dating at Notre Dame

In the 21st century, technology revolutionized nearly every aspect of learning and educating, but it also changed the face of a much more personal aspect of our lives: dating.

Dr. Elizbeth Ribarsky, assistant professor of communications at the University of Illinois Springfield hosted a talk on “Dating in the Digital Age,” at Norte Dame University on Thursday.

The lecture functioned as a how-to guide introducing audience members to online dating and warned about common mistakes they can make in setting up a profile and interacting with individuals online.

Ribarsky said her goal in the lecture was to remove the stigma from online dating.

“The stigma is that only creepy people go online,” Ribarsky said. “Or that they’re desperate. Or that they may not be anybody of who they say they actually are. Even though we see a huge influx in the number of individuals engaging in online dating and the number of individuals getting married from online relationships, there is still a level of stigmatization.”

Online dating is very functional because it allows an individual to cast a wide net and sort through people who they may or may not be interested much more quickly than face-to-face interaction, Ribarsky said.

The story was published in the Notre Dame Observer on November 15, 2013.

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UIS’ long wait for women's basketball opener ends tonight

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team stepped on the court 31 days ago for its first practice.

The Prairie Stars finally play their first game today. UIS opens at 6 p.m. against host Missouri Western (2-0).

“It will be exciting to get on the floor and it’s going to be a long road trip with back-to-back games,” UIS coach Chad Oletzke said. “It will be a good experience for our team to get on the road and get some games under our belt.”

The Stars travel Saturday to Bolivar, Mo., to play Southwest Baptist (0-1) at 5:30 in another non-conference game. The Bearcats opened Tuesday with a 77-76 loss to Great Lakes Valley Conference member Drury.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 15, 2013.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Volunteers put together 100,000 meals for malnourished children

It was not a typical Saturday for Long Duong.

He found himself in an assembly line at University of Illinois Springfield, scooping dried vegetables, rice, soy, and powdered nutrients into plastic bags.

“This is the best way to spend a Saturday. With friends, it’s even more fun,” Duong said as he carefully leveled two more scoopfuls of vegetables and nutrients before pouring the contents into a bag.

The 23-year-old college student was among 500 volunteers who gathered at the UIS Recreation and Athletic Center on Friday and Saturday to pack 100,000 meals for hungry children across the world.

The MobilePack event was hosted by Feed My Starving Children, a Minnesota-based Christian organization that relies solely on volunteers to assemble nutritionally complete meals designed to curb malnutrition and prevent starvation.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 10, 2013.

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Volleyball: Baker, Beaton pace UIS win

Senior Sara Baker and freshman Ashley Beaton had 14 kills apiece on Sunday to lead the University of Illinois Springfield past William Jewell 25-21, 25-22, 21-25, 25-19 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match.

It broke a 10-match conference losing streak for the Prairie Stars, who are 7-19 overall and 3-16 in the GLVC. William Jewell fell to 4-24 and 2-13.

Baker also had a career-high 19 digs, while Beaton had 14. UIS junior JoAnna Hoffman had 41 assists and 15 digs, while freshman Kayla Katarzynski had a career-best 37 digs.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 11, 2013.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

'Clybourne Park' offers new twist on matters of race

UIS Theater’s fall production, “Clybourne Park”, explores how racial and social attitudes have changed — and not changed — over the course of the past 50 years.

Written by Bruce Norris, “Clybourne Park” expands and continues the story told by playwright Lorraine Hansberry in “A Raisin in the Sun,” her 1959 drama about an African-American family buying a home in an all-white Chicago neighborhood.

The play opens Friday at the Studio Theatre at the Public Affairs Center at the University of Illinois Springfield (see accompanying information for ticket details). Director and theater professor Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, said “Clybourne Park” is classified as a comedy but has “pendulum swings between serious and funny moments.” Following its premiere in 2010, it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2011 and the Tony Award for best new play in 2012.

"It causes us to reexamine what we consider acceptable behavior with regard to race, sexual orientation and gender issues and other issues,” he added. “It shines a light on the things that unite and divide people."

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and Nov. 14-16, 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Studio Theatre, lower level of the Public Affairs Center, University of Illinois Springfield Tickets: $14 adults, $12 ages 65 or older with a picture ID, $10 university faculty and staff, $8 students with a valid college ID, $6 ages 17 and under, available at 206-6160,

The performance was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 8, 2013.

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UIS men's basketball team confident going into opener

Coach Ben Wierzba was pleased with the preseason progress of the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team.

Now, the Prairie Stars will show him and everyone else what they can do when games matter. UIS tips off the season against Northwood (Mich.) Saturday afternoon.

UIS warmed up for the opener against NCAA Division I University of Evansville in an exhibition last Saturday. Evansville won 82-74.

“I was happy with how our guys competed,” Wierzba said. “That was the biggest thing for us. We competed for 40 minutes and gave ourselves a chance. It was our first time going out there, and Evansville had already played a game.”

The Stars could have led at halftime, but were within 38-35 of Evansville.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 8, 2013.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nine UIS basketball games to air on radio

Sports Radio 1450 will broadcast nine University of Illinois Springfield basketball games this season.

The schedule will feature seven men’s games and two women’s contests broadcasted by John Levin and Tim Schweizer. The games will air on the radio, and

The first broadcast is a men’s game Nov. 16 against Cedarville at 7 p.m. The other men’s broadcasts are Dec. 14 against Trevecca Nazarene, Jan. 5 against Missouri-St. Louis, Jan. 18 against Lewis, Jan. 25 against Saint Joseph’s, Feb. 8 against Drury and Feb. 27 against McKendree.

The women’s games will air Nov. 23 against Hillsdale and Feb. 27 against McKendree. Every home game will be webcasted at this season.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 7, 2013.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

UIS students tie yellow ribbons for Veterans

Veterans Day is next Monday, and ahead of the holiday, students from UIS are already honoring our brave servicemen and women. Sunday, they tied 400 yellow ribbons around campus.

It's the second year they've done so. The event is to raise awareness on campus about our veterans, especially students who've served or are currently serving our country.

"There are people back home thinking about them, sending them care packages, and so on," event planner Samia Ahmad said. "Just letting them know there is support back here at home as well."

Students also collected supplies for a toiletry drive for those serving overseas.

UIS will be holding a Veterans Day flag-raising ceremony November 11 at 9 a.m. in front of the Public Affairs Center.

The story was featured by WICS-TV on November 3, 2013.

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UIS students to help with Feed My Starving Children MobilePack

A Feed My Starving Children MobilePack for the Hungry event will be held Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9 at University of Illinois Springfield TRAC, 2171 University Drive.

Residents can volunteer to produce nutritious meals to send to third world mission organizations and support education, healthcare and business development. Volunteer shifts are available from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday and from 9 to 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information, contact Phil at 415-5678 or To sign up to volunteer, visit

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 4, 2013.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

UIS students collect more than 11,000 pounds of food

More than 200 University of Illinois Springfield students helped to collect 11,147 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank on Halloween night.

A total of 18 teams of students went door-to-door in several Springfield neighborhoods trick-or-treating for canned goods.

“Last year, we collected 6,800 pounds of food,” said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center. “Despite rainy weather and thanks to the generosity of the Springfield community, this year our dedicated students were able to collect almost twice that amount.”

Earlier in October, the teams canvassed neighborhoods and distributed door hangers that explained the project.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 1, 2013.

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Economic Outlook Breakfast scheduled for Nov. 12

The annual “Economic Outlook Breakfast” of The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the Public Affairs Center of University of Illinois Springfield.

A buffet breakfast begins at 7:15 a.m. The program is 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., including release of the Sangamon County economic outlook survey.

Registration and additional information are available at

The event was featured by The State Journal-Register on November 1, 2013.

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