Thursday, March 28, 2013

Women's golf: Vorreyer lights way for UIS

Hitting a tiny white ball hundreds of yards into a hole 4.25 inches in diameter is a tough task under ideal or perfect conditions.

Try doing it blindfolded, which is what it must have felt like for University of Illinois Springfield senior golfer Abby Vorreyer as she attempted to finish playing in a tournament surrounded by darkness.

She put her talent on display for all to see or not see last weekend at the 24-team Perry Park Spring Fling tournament in Kentucky. Without any daylight, she scored birdies on the final two holes to win medalist honors at the Whitetail/Buckskin course at Perry Park Golf Resort. The Chatham Glenwood High School graduate topped a field of 140 golfers with rounds of 77-72 for a one-stroke victory. Three players tied for second.

“The joke on our team is you just need to play in the dark all the time,” Vorreyer said.

Vorreyer set a 36-hole school record at 149. The previous mark was 157. The 72 broke her own school record for an 18-hole low.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, golfers had the option to suspend their round and finish the next day. The late play was the result of the two-day, three-round tourney being shortened to one day and two rounds due to impending inclement weather.

“It was a risk to keep going,” she said. “I came off a birdie on 17. You want to ride the momentum, not think about it overnight.”

Blind faith carried her to a desired result. At twilight, Vorreyer holed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 17. Her riveting finish on the par-4 18th hole was impressive. It was completely dark when she took to the tee box.

Vorreyer was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 28, 2013.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Former inmate addresses students who helped set him free

A man who spent more than 14-years in jail for a crime he did not commit is speaking out for the first time. The last decade has been a whirlwind for Anthony Murray.

He was convicted of killing a man in Centralia in the 1980's, but did not do it. Murray was sentenced to 45-years in prison.

He spent 14-years locked up waiting for a second chance. He got that chance with a group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield.

After studying law in the prison library, Murray wrote a petition and sent it to the UIS Innocence Project. It's a group he says became like family. Using new evidence, the students were able to prove Murray innocent.

He took a plea deal and was set free. Murray says he plans to start a non-profit group to stop the violence in his hometown of Chicago.

The story was featured by WCIA-TV on March 25, 2013.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

UIS students remove invasive plants from Henson Robinson Zoo

Not all plants are created equal. In fact some are just downright domineering.

"We have a lot of invasive honeysuckle throughout the zoo," said Henson Robinson Zoo Director Talon Thornton.

Or they did until dozens of students from the University of Illinois Springfield took out the plant.

“It crowds out native vegetation, it uses up soil resources that are for other plants and it creates almost a monoculture," said UIS Biology Club President Nate Hoyle.

“We've got a lot of native prairie area that's been basically removed. Not on purpose necessarily but we need to bring back as much bio-diversity as we can," said UIS student Sara Peterson.

Cutting honeysuckle down to size will help other species flourish, even though money is not.

“Their grounds keeping crew is not as big as it used to be and this is pretty expensive work, it's hard work," Hoyle said.

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 on March 23, 2013.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Area scholars from Argentina look forward to new pope

Adriana Piatti-Crocker, assistant professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, knew Bergoglio as an opponent of same-sex marriage in Argentina — Crocker helped edit “Same-Sex Marriage in the Americas” in 2011 — but despite his defense of orthodox church teachings, she believes the new pope will make his mark in social justice issues.

“(The area) he comes from has one of the largest slums in the world,” said Crocker. “But I think he’s genuinely concerned about the poor. “It makes me happy that he’s from the developing world. He will speak for those who have not had a voice.”

Crocker's comments were featured by The State Journal-Register on March 20, 2013.

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UIS sweeps Benedictine in softball

Jordyn Amos hit a walk-off home run in the seventh inning to lift the University of Illinois Springfield to a 7-6 win over Benedictine University at Springfield in the first game of a softball doubleheader Tuesday at the Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Complex.

The Prairie Stars scored seven runs in the first three innings of a 9-1 win in the second game. It was the fourth straight victory for UIS (11-10).

In the opener, UIS’ Mandy Smith had four hits and scored three runs. Tina Buck picked up the win in relief, her second against two losses.

The wins were featured by The State Journal-Register on March 20, 2013.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Online certificate programs at colleges and universities gain popularity

As employers demand skills and more skills, many people are turning to online certificate programs to acquire a specific expertise that can lead them to a job or a promotion — or, sometimes, simply to ensure that they hang on to their current position.

Whether private or public, institutions offering online certificates typically require a student to take four to six online courses and pass a proctored exam. The course work can often be counted toward a master’s degree. Certificate programs do not usually have prerequisites for entry, but enrollees typically have a bachelor’s degree.

“The student adds a skill and gets a stamp of academic approval for the effort,” said Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield. “It can be compared to course work for renewing a license to practice, but more often it is a bridge to an academic degree.”

Schroeder was featured in an March 19, 2013 article in The New York Times.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

UIS softball team sweeps Wisconsin-Parkside

A three-run double by Samantha Riss capped the University of Illinois Springfield’s five-run 10th inning, and the Prairie Stars beat Wisconsin-Parkside 10-6 Saturday to sweep a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader at Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Softball Complex.

Brooke Carroll hit a double that broke a 5-all tie at the top of the 10th and scored Mandy Smith. Teammate Chelsea Minor followed with a single that scored Katie Ortinau and UIS took a 7-5 lead.

Carroll had two RBIs for UIS in a 4-2 victory in the opening game.

The back-to-back wins snapped a three-game losing streak for the Stars. UIS improved to 9-10 overall and 5-1 in the GLVC. Wisconsin-Parkside is 3-9 and 0-2.

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

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Kowall resigns as UIS women's soccer coach

University of Illinois Springfield women’s soccer coach Pete Kowall is headed back to the NCAA Division I ranks.

He has resigned at UIS and is joining the women’s soccer staff at Indiana State University as an assistant coach.

Kowall was previously a head coach at Illinois State University and an assistant at the University of Michigan.

“I don’t know if everyone wants to coach at Division I,” he said. “That’s where most of my experience is, so I feel more comfortable in that division."

Kowall was hired to get the UIS women’s soccer program off the ground. He was at the helm for five seasons beginning with the 2008 inaugural campaign. The Prairie Stars compiled a 16-56-4 record under Kowall. UIS won a season-high four games in 2008 and 2011.

“This is the only program I haven’t been able to win at,” he said. “As a coach, it is frustrating. “It’s time for someone else to take over the program and try to turn nine one-goal losses to wins.”

Kowall was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 15, 2013.

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No rest for UIS tennis squads following long trip

Thursday was a travel day for the University of Illinois Springfield men’s and women’s tennis teams as they made a 899-mile, 13-hour drive home from Hilton Head, S.C.

It’s safe to say that they probably want a day of rest today, but that’s not going to happen.

The Prairie Stars open the home portion of the spring schedule today and Saturday with the Hack Kellner Invitational at Washington Park. The men’s field for the dual match event consists of six teams, while it is a four-team field on the women’s side.

UIS has posted a 2-5 men’s team record since the season began earlier this month. Their female counterparts have a 2-3 record.

The men’s squad is a mix of old and new players. The four new players are all from Spain.

The team was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 15, 2013.

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Exploring the night sky; there's a universe just outside

For hundreds and thousands of years, people have looked to the night sky and wondered about our place in the heavens.

Today, people who want to begin exploring and learning about the cosmos don’t have to do anything much different than our ancestors did.

“With your eye you can see the constellations,” said John Martin, associate professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois Springfield. “On summer nights, it’s fun just to lay on your back and see four to five meteors an hour — even without a meteor shower going on.”

“Anyone who hasn’t should look at the moon through a pair of binoculars or even under a dark sky,” Martin said. “In a good dark place, you can start cruising around looking at different stars and parts of the sky.”

For those looking for a guided tour of the night sky, UIS host Star Parties that resume on Friday nights in April.

Martin was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 15, 2013.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Surprise, excitement mark local reaction to pope's selection

Ivan Czwan earned his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois Springfield in 2005 before returning to Buenos Aires. Reached there Wednesday, Czwan, an accountant for Accenture, said the Argentinian people were shocked and happy at the same time.

“We can’t believe that the new pope is from our country,” said Czwan. “People really like (him). He is a very humble and low-profile person who does a lot of things for the poor people."

Vatican watcher David Bertaina, assistant professor in the history department at UIS, thinks Pope Francis will be orthodox in theology, but will promote social justice. He also thinks he will be a unifier in the world church.

“Clearly, he has his mind on evangelizing. How he is going to do the new evangelization, I don’t know,” said Bertaina. “But his election is a recognition that the future of the church is a global one and a recognition that the church must be engaged in cultures of the wider world.”

Czwan and Bertaina's reaction was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 14, 2013.

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Difficult time for employers and job seekers

Niki Kersey, 26, of Springfield graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield in May of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Her job search only just recently bore fruit.

“I chose business administration because it was a catch-all, and I thought I’d always be able to find a job in it,” Kersey said. “But I was wrong. It seems business administration is not specific enough for most places to work; they want something more catered and less general.”

A large contingent of fellow job seekers makes matters more difficult, and that is not a recent development, according to Melanie Trimm, employment services manager for the University of Illinois Springfield.

“We have received a large amount of applicants for the past several years, so that’s not a new thing for us,” said Trimm, “What we are seeing most recently is the number of civil service exams our applicants are requesting. That’s been increasing quite a bit.

“Quite often you’ll see an applicant interested in testing only for a position that is currently vacant, but now they may ask to take any and every exam they may qualify for,” Trimm said.

The story was reported in the Springfield Business Journal in March 2013.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Susan Koch: UIS alums recognized for quality work

The following is a portion of a guest column written by UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. It was published in a March 10, 2013, edition of The State Journal-Register.

"When I accepted The State Journal-Register’s executive editor Bob Heisse’s invitation to write this UIS Perspectives column, I didn’t expect the word “murder” to appear in this space. But with a nod to University of Illinois Springfield alum Nina Burleigh, it does today. Let me explain.

Burleigh is a journalist and author and a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at UIS. The PAR program, an intensive one-year master’s degree, has a goal to prepare students to become working hard-news journalists covering issues of importance in their communities.

What sets this program apart from the many other journalism programs across the country is a six-month internship covering Illinois politics as a full-time reporter – essentially placing students alongside journalism professionals and “on the firing line” of public affairs reporting every day. It’s a formula that works exceptionally well and one that has produced a long list of award-winning UIS alums, including Nina Burleigh.

Thanks to PAR program director Charlie Wheeler, who is himself a veteran newsman, I had the good fortune to meet Burleigh several weeks ago when she was visiting Springfield to spend time with our PAR students and to be inducted into our Bill Miller PAR Hall of Fame."

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Community groups to assess quality of life in Sangamon County

Community organizations want to know what you think, and they will begin a telephone survey on Monday to ask.

The University of Illinois Springfield Center for State Policy & Leadership, the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and the United Way of Central Illinois have joined to conduct the 2013 Sangamon County Citizen Survey. It will ask questions in nine areas in an attempt to assess the quality of life in Sangamon County.

The survey will be conducted every two years for the next 10 years, said Ashley Kirzinger, director of the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office.

“We’re hoping it will help local leaders have better insight into the views of Sangamon County residents,” Kirzinger said.

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

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UIS conducts extensive quality of life survey

A survey of the community will be used to determine the quality of life for residents of Sangamon County. The University of Illinois Springfield partnered with the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and the United Way of Central Illinois to conduct the survey.

The survey will be conducted every two years for the next 10 years. It will involve more than 500 Sangamon County residents who use both landline phones and cell phones, and will take about 15 minutes to complete.

Survey director Ashley Kirzinger, who is the director of survey research at UIS, thinks it will provide useful information.

"I think it's important for local leaders to have the opinion of Sangamon County residents, but there hasn't been a survey done like this in the past 10 years, so this way, local leaders will have the opinions of Sangamon County residents," she said.

Calls for the survey will begin this Monday. The results will be available beginning early this summer.

The story was featured by WICS-TV on March 8, 2013.

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UIS students volunteer over spring break

Some students from the University of Illinois Springfield will spend their spring break in Florida, but not for the reason you're thinking.

Students spent the day packing for the trip, which involves them getting down and dirty in the Everglades, helping remove invasive plant and animal species.

Some 28 students and university staff will remove unwanted species threatening wildlife and clean trails. They'll also be doing some light construction.

This is UIS student Paige Heiser's second trip. She encourages other students to get involved.

"What I got out of it was a lot of firsthand knowledge of things going on in the world, of things that maybe I'm not as aware of," Heiser said. "It helped me get out and get involved in something not in the Springfield community. Not involved in the Illinois community. But it's on a natural level."

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 on March 8, 2013.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

UIS students traveling to Florida for Alternative Spring Break

A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield will spend their spring break helping to remove invasive plant and animal species from Everglades National Park in Florida. Students will help staff remove the unwanted species threatening wildlife, clean trails, and assist with light construction.

A total of 28 UIS students and 2 staff members will leave Springfield at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 9 and return to campus Sunday, March 17. While in Florida, students will reside in a hostel, make their own meals, and volunteer at the park during the day. The overall goal is to help recreate an environment that is safe for plants and animals alike.

Alternative Spring Break at UIS is a student-driven effort. The students choose the location, organize the logistics and raise necessary funds.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 6, 2013.

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UIS named to President's Higher Education Honor Roll

The University of Illinois Springfield has now received a high award for the fifth straight year.

UIS has been named to the President's higher education community service honor roll.

UIS' Director for Volunteer and Civic Engagement, Mark Dochterman says this award represents the students, faculty, and staff and most importantly the organizations that open their doors to the volunteers.

The award is one of the highest federal recognitions a college or university can receive for its volunteerism.

The award was featured by WTAX radio on March 6, 2013.

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UIS professor discusses selection of new pope

David Bertaina, an assistant professor of comparative religion at the University of Illinois Springfield, said marriage and women issues aren’t on the minds of the College of Cardinals or of “typical Catholics,” those who regularly participate in the life of the church.

“You would have to have a groundswell of common Catholics to talk about these things,” said Bertaina. “I don’t see it.”

Bertaina said it’s “certainly possible” for a pope to emerge from Africa or South America, someone like Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Among the Europeans, Bertaina said Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, has experience in interreligious and ecumenical dialogue.

“The church is interested in places it’s growing,” like sub-Sahara Africa and Latin and South America, said Bertaina. “Local people there take the Catholic Church seriously, unlike Euro and American cultures.”

Bertaina was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 7, 2013.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Students take a stab at state policy

Some college students are seeing what life's like at the Capitol. Members of Model Illinois Government spent the weekend running for election and voting on different bills.

Those involved spent months preparing. The simulation is pretty real. The students, acting as lawmakers, follow the same legislative process as the General Assembly.

The only difference, they were able to pass bills and get them signed in just four days, instead of weeks or months.

MIG is made up of nearly 300 students from various colleges around the state, including the University of Illinois Springfield.

The story air on WCIA-TV on March 3, 2013.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

The Bacon Brownie: Created in central Illinois

Like most Americans, you probably love chocolate. You probably also like bacon. So why not combine the two? That's what the Bacon Brownie is all about. The tasty creation hit convenience stores last year. You may have even tried it. But did you know the two people responsible for it are from central Illinois, and both attended UIS?

Clay Evers, from Greenview, and Drew Stevens, from Petersburg, teamed up to produced to produce Bacon Brownie years ago. Last year, after getting approval from the USDA, it started being sold in stores.

"We make this, and people enjoy it," Evers said. "When people enjoy something you made, as a food product, it's like writing a song and seeing someone enjoy your song."

"I've never had bacon and chocolate together and eaten anything or made anything like it," Stevens said. "I thought, 'I will try it out. It sounds good.'"

You can find Bacon Brownies at Qik-n-EZ for $2.49 each. They are also available in more than 200 locations in St. Louis.

The story was featured by WICS-TV on March 1, 2013.

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UIS has short stay in GLVC tournament

For the second straight year, the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship marked the end of the season for the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team.

Fifth-seeded and 15th-ranked Bellarmine won 79-57 against No. 12 seed UIS at Knights Hall on Sunday. It gave the Prairie Stars a final record of 8-19.

Seniors West Dawson and Kyle Gupton led the Prairie Stars. Dawson collected 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. Gupton rang up 12 points, including two 3-pointers.

Regan Bruenger and sophomore Dylan Sparkman scored seven points apiece for UIS.

UIS went 0-2 against Bellarmine for the season. In January, then-fourth-ranked Bellarmine beat the Stars by 29 points, the worst defeat of the year for UIS.

The loss was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 4, 2013.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Seniors boost UIS men past Quincy

Fittingly, it was the senior members of the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team who shined on Senior Night.

Forward West Dawson and fellow senior Kyle Gupton combined for UIS’ final 12 points in a 65-57 Great Lakes Valley Conference victory over Quincy in the regular-season finale Thursday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

“These last four days have been about the five seniors and everybody brought it,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “I’m proud of those seniors.”

The Prairie Stars snapped a three-game losing streak in the nick of time. Their focus now turns to the 12-team GLVC Tournament.

UIS (8-18 overall, 6-12 in the GLVC) will make its second ever appearance in the conference tourney Sunday as the No. 12 seed.

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 1, 2013.

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Young people better at paying off debt

Do you have any debt? Have you been able to slowly pay it off or are you falling deeper into debt? A new report shows young adults are doing a better job at cutting debt than older people. But why?

Khalil Jamal is a student at UIS. Every so often he comes to an office at the university, to pay his bills.

"At first I didn't want to take out loans, but I felt it was necessary and a smart decision to do so in order to fill in some of the gaps that my grants and scholarships didn't cover," he said.

So many people have it debt. Student loans, credit card debt, or a mortgage, being in the red, is common. But who is doing a better job at paying the debt off, is a different story. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, young households, those 35 and younger, have generally reduced their indebtedness, while older households have increased it.

"The Credit Card Act of 2009, made it very difficult for younger adults to obtain credit," Alice Seaton, the manager of UIS' University Student Financial Services said. "In addition, parents today, of students, are taking on additional loans to help finance their student's education."

The story aired on WICS-TV 20 on February 28, 2013.

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