Friday, December 30, 2016

People in the News: Debra Landis

Debra Chandler Landis, student publications adviser at the University of Illinois Springfield, was recognized with a Presidential Citation for her volunteer work as editor of the College Media Review, the online professional journal of the national College Media Association.

Her work includes recruiting and editing scholarly and popular articles pertaining to trends and activities in college media.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 28, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Women's Basketball: Big fourth quarter propels UIS women to victory

Shelbi Patterson and Destiny Ramsey tossed in 15 points apiece Sunday for University of Illinois Springfield in a 70-54 victory over Travecca Nazarene to begin play in the Kentucky Wesleyan Classic.

The Prairie Stars (5-3) outscored Trevecca in three of the four quarters and put the game on ice with a 24-point salvo in the final period.

UIS put the game away with a decisive 13-1 run in the fourth quarter. Ramsey put together her fourth game of the season in which she recorded at least 10 points, four rebounds, an assist, block, and steal as she continues to fill up the stat sheet. Patterson tied her career-high with five steals, matching her mark for the first time since November 24th of 2014 during her freshman campaign.

UIS will conclude the Kentucky Wesleyan Classic against the host school at noon Monday. UIS is 0-3 all-time against Kentucky Wesleyan but haven't played them since the 2012-13 season.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 18, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Springfield’s art scene is riding high

The UIS Visual Arts Gallery, on the campus of University of Illinois Springfield, where Allison Lacher works her day job as gallery manager has hosted an eclectic array of work this year, including an exhibition by St. Louis artist Lyndon Barrois, Jr., which took as its subject the late iconic musician Prince. “That was really timely in the context of Prince’s passing and it was a different show for us,” Lacher said. Other memorable exhibits this year included Washington, D.C.’s Paul Short who mounted an ambitious combination exhibition, lecture and workshop centering around cultural and economic stigmas associated with loitering. A recent two-person show by central Illinois figurative painters Amanda Greive and Stanley Bly turned out to be a big hit with attendees. “They presented a cohesive exhibition where their work was very much in dialogue with one another while maintaining their individual identities,” Lacher said.

The spring semester is slated to kick off at the gallery with an exhibition from Tyler Lotts, a professor of ceramics at ISU, followed by a March 2 presentation from Diaz-Lewis, a husband and wife collaboration between Alejandro Diaz and Cara Lewis. “Alejandro is a Cuban refugee,” Lacher explains, “and he and Cara have created an ongoing work entitled ‘34,000 Pillows’ in response to a congressional mandate stating that immigration and customs enforcement agents are required to maintain a quota of 34,000 detained immigrants per day in 250 centers around the country.” The couple is trying to make a pillow for every detainee of this mandate and will be bringing a “Pillow Workshop” to the UIS gallery along with other work.

“That’s the beauty of programming here at UIS,” Lacher said. “One month you might have a more traditional exhibition of figurative painting and then follow it up with a very socially conscious and culturally diverse project.”

The story was reported by the Illinois Times on December 15, 2016.

Read the story online. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Men's Basketball: Steinberg leads UIS men to 98-96 win over Harris-Stowe State

Sophomore center Zach Steinberg recorded his sixth double-double of the season in the University of Illinois Springfield's 98-86 win against Harris-Stowe State in a non-conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center Wednesday.

Steinberg collected 20 points and 14 rebounds. He grabbed five offensive rebounds.

The Prairie Stars were ahead 56-36 at halftime.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 14, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Erin Egolf promoted from interim to head coach for UIS women's soccer

Erin Egolf has been named the University of Illinois Springfield women's soccer coach after serving as the program's interim coach last fall.

She was an assistant for three seasons before taking over for Molly Grisham in July.

The Prairie Stars took a big step with Egolf as interim coach. UIS set the record for wins in a single season at seven and tied their Great Lakes Valley Conference record with four wins. The Stars produced a 7-11 overall record and 4-11 GLVC record.

Egolf is a Chatham Glenwood High School graduate and a former UIS player. She is the Stars' all-time leading goal scorer and holds several records.

Since the season ended in October, Egolf has continued to oversee the program, focusing on recruiting. "I've been to a couple of events," she said. "I went to one in St. Louis. I went to Memphis this past weekend. We're also getting things in order for the spring (season).

"It is absolutely and positively my program. Now I can plan for the future."

The success of the 2016 team helped land Egolf the head coach position. After completing a nationwide search for the next women's soccer coach, the entire search committee and myself felt strongly that Erin was the best possible fit for us to continue our quest for GLVC championships," UIS athletic director Jim Sarra said. "What she was able to accomplish on the field this season showed a glimpse of what the future can hold and we couldn't be more excited to have one of our most decorated women's soccer alumni taking us where we want to go."

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 14, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Women's Basketball: OCU suffers fifth loss of season to UIS Prairie Stars

The Lady Oaks fell to 2-5 on the year, losing 97-73 to the Prairie Stars of the University of Illinois Springfield. 

The Prairie Stars were led in scoring by Destiny Ramsey, who managed 19 counters. Shelbi Patterson chipped in with 18, while Caroline Kelty had a double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Syerra Cunningham also had a double-double, notching 13 counters and hauling in 11 missed shots.

UIS made 37-76 (48.7%) of their shots, going 3-11 (27.3%) from long range.

Both teams had 20 turnovers, while the Stars handed out 13 assists, three more than the host Oaks. 

This story appeared on 14 News on December 12, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Susan Koch: Nontraditional becoming traditional at UIS

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 10, 2016.

"If you picture the average college student as someone 18-22 years old who lives on campus, attends classes during the day and whose life includes an array of campus social activities - you may need to adjust your thinking. Adult learners, sometimes referred to as "nontraditional students," have been a growing presence on college campuses for several years.

That is certainly true at the University of Illinois Springfield, where, at the same time the number of traditional-aged students is growing, almost 41 percent of UIS undergraduate students this year are over the age of 24. And age is only part of the story. 

The National Center for Education Statistics has identified several interrelated characteristics that are common among nontraditional undergraduates. Besides age, these students often did not start college immediately after high school, attend school part-time while also working, are not financially supported by their parents, may have children or other dependents and are more likely to be a single parent. 

Adults start or return to college for a variety of good reasons - most seeing a college degree as a long-term investment that will improve their professional credentials, provide better career opportunities and enhance their overall quality of life. 

Ashti Dawson, a 35-year-old senior majoring in psychology, is one such student. A foster child from a young age, Ashti decided the military was her best financial option after high school. Eventually, a promotion in the National Guard brought her and her young daughter to Springfield. She earned an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College before enrolling at UIS. "With school, work and parenting obligations, there's a lot of responsibility and financial challenges," says Ashti, "but I always feel like I have been determined and persistent. ... and I love the psychology department." In addition to being a full-time student, Ashti is president of the Military and Veteran Club on campus. 

Many classes at UIS today include both traditional-aged and adult learners, and faculty greatly value the diversity that mix provides. 

According to Marcel Yoder, an associate professor in psychology, "Nontraditional students bring life experiences to class discussions that provide unique and powerful examples of the ways specific course concepts are illustrated in the world - points of view that would not otherwise be heard." 

Assistant professor of communication Ann Strahle has also taught many nontraditional students. "I've found these students often face multiple challenges," she says, "but the vast majority rise to the challenges and excel in the classroom. 

Nontraditional students tend to be well organized and focused and are already excellent multitaskers - considering the other responsibilities in their lives." Being able to take some or even all coursework online is particularly helpful to nontraditional students, who tend be balancing myriad other responsibilities. 

According to Vickie Cook, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service, about 1,500 students are pursuing their degrees online at UIS this year, which allows them to schedule time to study and participate in coursework based on their individual schedules. 

"Our faculty design online courses that engage students and promote a learning community," says Cook, "and online program coordinators provide sustained support and services to ensure a positive learning experience, and ultimately, program completion." 

Looking at the trending demographics of today's college student body, nontraditional may, in fact, become the new traditional. Whatever those trends, the Springfield campus is strengthened by the presence of both traditional and nontraditional students, and we'll continue to adopt practices and resources that help all students to succeed regardless of their age."

Read the entire column online.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Non-traditional students face challenges, rewards

At colleges and universities around the country, “non-traditional” students are making up a greater share of students, encountering challenges and opportunities along the way.

New research from the for-profit Strayer University and U.S. News and World Report finds that about 70 percent of Americans who have pursued a bachelor’s degree were non-traditional students, meaning they are either long past high school, are attending school part-time or are taking classes online.

The report notes that non-traditional students tend to be more diverse than traditional students, and points to other differences.

Attending school as a non-traditional student can be challenging, said Ashti Dawson, a psychology major at the University of Illinois Springfield, who is pursuing a degree after a career in the military. 

“Trying to balance my full-time education with being a full-time parent and employment … I’m pulled in a few directions,” Dawson said.

Still, she said there are benefits to attending college later in life; and says she has valuable skills and experience.

“A lot of the classes I’m in, there are students that are 19, 20, maybe 24, but they don’t have a lot of life experience and haven’t done very much,” Dawson said. “So I’m able to pull from that. That’s helped out a lot.”

This story appeared on WAND TV on December 9, 2016.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

UIS senior named Ms. Wheelchair Illinois USA

A senior at the University of Illinois Springfield was named Ms. Wheelchair Illinois USA.

 Alicia Woodman, a senior at UIS, was chosen from a field of 11 to represent Illinois at the National Wheelchair Pageant in Ohio this July.

Woodman says it's an honor to be able to represent her state, and she is using this as an opportunity to advocate for a message she believes in: Accessibility in businesses.

"It’s so important right now, with me graduating in May and trying to find a job," said woodman. "It’s so hard to find a job with accessibility and accommodations and stuff, so that's what I’m trying to do. I'm really excited about that."

Woodman says she is thrilled to represent a culture that isn't represented in pageants often.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on December 6, 2016.

Watch the story online.

U of I locations won't become 'sanctuary campuses'

The University of Illinois will not label its three campuses as sanctuaries for immigrant students illegally living in the U.S., school leaders said Tuesday as they pushed aside pressure from faculty and others to make the designation.

Petitions from students and faculty at campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield were among efforts by students and others at more than 100 colleges and universities around the country to make the schools sanctuaries for immigrants following President-elect Donald Trump's promises to crack down on illegal immigration.

U of I petitioners sought promises that student records would not be released and the school would not comply with any immigration enforcement action, as well designating someone on campus to help students seek tuition funding and other issues. But sanctuary status is not well defined as a legal concept and "may actually jeopardize our institution," University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen and the chancellors of the three campuses said in a statement Tuesday . "However, we will continue to do everything we can within the law to reassure, support and protect our students. Let us be clear -- that includes our undocumented students," Killeen and the chancellors said in the statement.

The university receives roughly $733 million annually in federal funding - about 13 percent of its $5.6 billion operating budget - that could be at risk if the university does not comply with immigration law, spokesman Tom Hardy said.

But what would happen if there were some kind of federal crackdown on students who are not legal residents of the country isn't clear, he said. "There's just a lot of unknowns and a lot of speculation. But what we do know is that we don't want to put our institutions and our people at risk of not complying with laws," Hardy said.

Faculty members at the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses who signed petitions said they were disappointed by Tuesday's decision. Lynn Fisher, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, was one of the faculty members at the Springfield campus who helped circulate a petition requesting that the school be made a sanctuary campus. She said Tuesday she hadn't yet had a chance to discuss the administrators' statement with her colleagues. "I was pleased to see the president and the chancellors making a statement that they want to do everything they can to reassure, support and protect undocumented students," Fisher said.

Petition drives and marches at campuses around the country followed Trump's pledge to reverse President Barack Obama's executive order granting temporary status to students living in the country illegally. Trump also promised during his campaign to create a "deportation force" and take federal funding away from sanctuary cities.

The Latino Policy Forum, a Chicago-based advocacy group, estimates that about 1,500 Illinois college students are in the country illegally.

This story, by the Associated Press, appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 6, 2016.

Read the entire story online.

Employers sought for UIS Career Connections Expo

Employer registration has opened for the 2017 Career Connections Expo at University of Illinois Springfield, scheduled for Feb. 16 at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event is an opportunity for students, alumni and community to meet with local employers.

Previous events have drawn an average of 400 students and alumni.

Employer booths are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

The registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Feb. 6. Employers can register through the CareerConnect online system.  Employers also can establish an online profile at no cost. UIS students and alumni can load resumes onto the site.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 6, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, December 2, 2016

About to get college degree, Illinois veteran excels at national cybersecurity competition

Dennis McDonald is proof that you can reach a goal if you don't give up.

McDonald is set to receive his bachelor's degree in computer science in two weeks at age 49. That in itself is an accomplishment, but there's more: McDonald was among three University of Illinois Springfield students to recently participate in one of the National Cyber League's annual competitions.

During the two competitions, students deploy anti-hacking measures to defend real-time network attacks. McDonald finished in the top 15 percent of both competitions in which he participated. He ended finishing 342nd of 3,070 in the first and 362nd of 2,736 in the second.

"It takes persistence. The challenges are pretty difficult. You have an eight-hour window to get it done," McDonald said. "It is pretty tedious but really interesting work. I felt great about how I finished, especially since there was a lot on there I haven't been trained to do."

McDonald has deftly handled curveballs in his life for years.

The Barry native joined the U.S. Navy's nuclear power program after graduating from high school in 1985. When he returned to the area, he worked as an electrician and ran a computer store.

"I always wanted to get my degree in computer science, but things happen," McDonald said.

Having a family, he said, as well as running a business, left him with little time to devote to higher education. In the late 1990s, he started attending John Wood Community College on an Illinois Veteran Grant and GI Bill benefits.

"Then I got custody of my kids, so I put that on hold," he said.

Undeterred, McDonald would return to earn his associate degree from John Wood, maintaining a 3.93 grade-point average. He enrolled in the University of Illinois Springfield's computer science program online, and has managed a 4.0 grade-point average.

"It's been tough balancing working full time and going back to school," McDonald said, "but getting this degree is something I've always wanted to do."

The story was reported by the Quincy Herald-Whig on December 2, 2016.

Read the story online.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shining a light on college campus security

From recent reports of violence at Ohio State University and even to the not-so-distant horrors at Virginia Tech, colleges must be constantly aware of student safety.

The blue security light poles are one of the ways students can stay safe and connect with law enforcement in minutes. 44 blue emergency lights can be seen throughout the UIS college campus. In just a press of a button, law enforcement is paged and will show up in minutes.

"We think with the security poles, we call them code blues, they're also a source of light on campus and we would think that it would hopefully deter other type of activity," said Derek Schnapp of UIS. 

Schnapp says it’s giving students, who often walk across campus alone or at night, a feeling of safety.

"I was very glad to see these when I came to UIS because I know what they do," said Jonathan Camacho, a junior at UIS. “If something is happening you can push the button for help and there's immediate, or not immediate but very fast, response.”

But these blue lights could be on the way out. Some colleges in the U.S. have already removed them due to cost and the rise in cellphones.

Southwind Park in Springfield removed their poles earlier this year. "Technology became outdated,” said Park Police Chief Limey Nargelenas. “The cost for purchasing the technology and then for monitoring -- the decision was made to go ahead and remove them.”

Luckily, the Park Police says Springfield park crime is typically low. However, the blue light poles were out of service for about a year before they were even removed. "You can't leave them out here when they don't work. For somebody it could be a false sense of security that they can run to it, call and get some help right away," said Nargelenas.

With a rise in violent crime on college campuses, UIS says despite the cost, these lights still serve a purpose. "To maintain every year it costs about $15,000 a year. That does not include man hours that our police officers do a test on them every week," said Schnapp.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 30, 2016.

Watch the story online.

UIS seeks 'sanctuary' status for immigrants

Professors at the University of Illinois Springfield are circulating a petition to make the school a sanctuary campus for students living in the U.S. without legal permission.

Lynn Fisher, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, said Wednesday that the petition is being circulated because of statements made by President-elect Donald Trump.

 “For example, (Trump) said he would repeal President Obama’s DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which helps many Illinois residents get access to a great public higher education,” Fisher said. “Also, there were references from President-elect Trump that he would consider creating a registry for Muslim citizens. We have many Muslim students. We think that these are issues a university campus has to look at.”

The petition, available at facebook.com/UISDiversityCenter, lists several measures, such as asking the university to adopt a resolution that effectively bans Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and other immigration officials from the campus.

The petition also requests that the university instruct its security and police force to not act on behalf of ICE or other immigration enforcement agents.

The petition drive in Springfield is being done in conjunction with the two other University of Illinois campuses in Urbana/Champaign and Chicago.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 30, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

UIS basketball teams begin GLVC tests Thursday

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team could very well have a 4-0 overall record. But the Prairie Stars are 3-1 due to a 72-70 loss to Hillsdale College on Nov. 12.

UIS will face an unbeaten and nationally ranked team when it opens Great Lakes Valley Conference play Thursday at The Recreation and Athletic Center against No. 5 Bellarmine at 5:30 p.m.

Another tough task is ahead when the Stars host Southern Indiana in a GLVC game Saturday at 1 p.m.

The UIS men, meanwhile, play No. 7 Bellarmine at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 4-0 Southern Indiana at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The UIS women won eight contests last year. So far, the Stars have three wins in four contests this season with victories against Lake Superior State, Robert Morris University and Missouri Southern State.

Contributions from new players have helped fuel the program’s improvement. “We’ve got some returners that are helping us, but we brought in seven new players that we needed contributions from for us to be better,” UIS coach Mark Kost said.

In men's basketball, UIS is 3-2 overall. The Stars' wins have come against Illinois College, Robert Morris University and Blackburn, but the first GLVC game has already arrived. After facing Bellarmine Thursday, they meet Southern Indiana -- which earned votes in the most recent NCAA Division II national poll -- on Saturday. “We play now, then we don’t play them again for a “We play now, then we don’t play them again for a couple months,” UIS men's coach Bill Walker said of Bellarmine and Southern Indiana. “Both teams are going to be different when we play again.” Walker hopes that is especially true in the case of the Stars, who do not have a win against a NCAA Division II team in this young season.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 29, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Flagstaff High shortstop signs with University of Illinois Springfield

If Flagstaff Eagles shortstop Brennan Brogni has any questions or concerns about playing college baseball, he's got plenty of experienced mentors surrounding him who can pitch in some help.

On Monday in the Flagstaff High mini-auditorium, Brogni, whose grandfather, father and varsity manager all played ball in college, signed with the University of Illinois Springfield.

A third-generation collegiate ballplayer, Brogni said a lot fell into place in making the decision to play for the Division II Prairie Stars. "I love the coaches, I love the campus, I love where it's at. My father is from Illinois, so I think it will be a great place to go," said Brogni, who will play his third and final varsity season this upcoming spring before making the move to college.

"I think the biggest thing for me was the opportunity to play baseball. I've always said I'd travel anywhere in the country to play, so I saw my opportunity and took it."

In addition to his strong fielding, Brogni brings a swing and speed to the diamond. For the Prairie Stars, who went 28-23 overall last season, the shortstop's offensive attributes made him stand out as a versatile prospect. "Brennan will immediately be one of the fastest players in our program and in the conference," the team's website says. "The combination of his ability to play shortstop, hit left handed and really run make him a very exciting addition to the UIS Baseball Program. He comes highly recommended out of the state of Arizona and shows our ability to recruit and attract players from outside our region and around the country."

It'll also be a pleasure to play in the state that hosts the World Series champions. "The Cubs are my favorite team, and they are there," said Brogni, who thanked his family, friends, teammates and coaches for helping him along the way.

This story appeared in the Arizona Daily Sun on November 28, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Nightime SMTD bus users get one-hour reprieve

University of Illinois Springfield students swayed the minds of Springfield Mass Transit District officials to reduce night service bus routes by one hour instead of two.

Reducing Monday-through-Friday night service by two hours was one of a series of cost-saving measures SMTD had proposed in October in response to payment delays from the state. The transit district also proposed eliminating Saturday night bus service and a night service route to Springfield’s west side.

Trustees on Monday unanimously approved all three reductions, which would take effect Jan. 8.

“I am confident we have done our due diligence and analyzed every angle to make sure the damage is as minimal as possible,” trustee Wynne Coplea said.

Steve Schoeffel, SMTD’s service planning and marketing specialist, said dozens of UIS students expressed concerns at a public hearing on campus Nov. 16 about ending service at 9:45 p.m. instead of 11:45 p.m.

Based on the feedback, Schoeffel said, the district amended its proposal to one hour earlier, or 10:45 p.m., to minimize the hardship for most students who rely on the bus to get home. “The route the kids take the most will still be there,” he said.

Board chairman Brian Brewer said Monday he was happy to get so much feedback from riders. According to Schoffel, 60 people, primarily UIS students, commented at two public hearings.

The original proposed cuts were expected to save about $240,490 annually, primarily in overtime costs.

Updated figures of how much the one-hour rollback will save weren’t available Monday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 28, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Women's Basketball: Trio powers Prairie Stars in women's basketball

University of Illinois Springfield junior Destiny Ramsey collected 23 points, six steals, five assists, five rebounds and four blocks in the Prairie Stars' 73-69 win against Missouri Southern at The Recreation and Athletic Center Friday.

The non-conference contest was tied at 50-all with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

UIS senior Syerra Cunningham broke the deadlock with a free throw at the 7:17 mark. The Stars held the lead the rest of the way.

Cunningham posted her third double-double this season. She scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. UIS freshman Tehya Fortune poured in 21 points, including four 3-pointers.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 25, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Women's Basketball: Chasitee Shroyer provides spark for Illinois-Springfield

Chasitee Shroyer, a Freeport graduate, has been working on several phases of her college game since the 2015-16 basketball season ended.

"I have been trying to get my shot off quicker, more accurately and more consistently," said the University of Illinois-Springfield sophomore.

She showed that in a recent 89-22 rout of Robert Morris University-Springfield. Shroyer, who came off the bench, played 18 minutes and scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers. She also grabbed three rebounds.

With the win, UIS improved to 2-1. "I like coming off the bench," said Shroyer. "I like bringing energy to the floor. I want to impact the game both offensively and defensively.

During the offseason, I worked on my shot so much. I want to get better at everything during the season, but mostly, I want to be a better ball handler."

One year ago, Shroyer finished her season with 46 total points. Other than an exhibition game, the RMU-Springfield contest was her first game of the year.

"Chasitee's performance against Robert Morris is a perfect example of what kind of player she is," said UIS head coach Mark Kost. "She is one of the best pure shooters on the team and continues to work on her game since the moment she stepped on campus. She can come off the bench and hit shots, giving us a needed spark."

This story appeared in the Journal Standard on November 23, 2016.

Read the entire story online. 

UIS Innocence Project frees Decatur man convicted of murder

A 62-year-old Decatur man who spent the last 18 years behind bars for murder will be having Thanksgiving with his family after the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield used newly tested DNA evidence to overturn his conviction.

Charles Palmer walked out of the Macon County Courthouse Wednesday after the state’s attorney’s office declined to retry the case.

Palmer’s conviction had been overturned earlier this month after DNA tests indicated that hair and fingernail scrapings found in the victim’s hands did not match Palmer.

John Hanlon, executive director of the Illinois Innocence Project, said his client is grateful to be free. “It’s a nice Thanksgiving present for him, his wife and his family,” Hanlon said Wednesday. “He got to see his two grandchildren for the first time today. That was a thrill for him as well. It’s going to be a wonderful holiday for him.”

Hanlon said Palmer was declining media interviews. Palmer was convicted in April 2000 for the August 1998 murder of Decatur attorney William Helmbacher, 32.

People set free after being wrongfully convicted react differently, according to Hanlon. Some are bitter, while others are overjoyed, he said. “Fortunately, he’s in the category of being very grateful,” Hanlon said.

The Illinois Innocence Project, through Hanlon, represented Palmer from 2011 through 2016. They filed and litigated motions that called for more in-depth DNA testing of the evidence.

Six UIS students, along with numerous Illinois Innocence Project staffers and volunteers, worked on the case over the years, along with another six law school students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law.

Hanlon said Palmer’s release was a team effort, and he was also grateful to the Macon County state’s attorney’s office.

The DNA testing in Palmer’s case was made possible by federal grants awarded in 2010 and 2012 to UIS for use by the Illinois Innocence Project.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 23, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Men's Basketball: Second half surge lifts UIS men over Blackburn

Zach Steinberg’s fourth consecutive double-double helped the University of Illinois Springfield to a 90-74 victory against Blackburn in a non-conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center Tuesday.

Steinberg had 19 points and 11 rebounds. He also had four assists and two blocks.

It was a back-and-forth first half. UIS (3-2) was up 39-32 at halftime and pulled away in the second half.

The Prairie Stars’ Eddie Longmeyer finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 22, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, November 21, 2016

UIS students far from home celebrate Thanksgiving

The University of Illinois in Springfield campus ministry is giving students something to be thankful for.

"Giving Thanks" was the message for this morning's sermon at Springfield University Bible Fellowship.

Following the church service, a traditional Thanksgiving meal was served, complete with all the trimmings.

We're told, the meal gives UIS students who are far from home, a chance to celebrate the holiday.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 20, 2016.

Watch the story online.

Friday, November 18, 2016

UIS holds community policing panel

University of Illinois Springfield community policing student Jovan Ding said he doesn't want to base his opinions of police interaction solely on social media and news reports.

"For me, I need to see that in person, to talk to them about what's going on, what we should do better in our community, or to talk to the officials about what's going on," Ding said.

"So I need that direct conversation, and I think they need that conversation to see what's really going on."

Ding, and dozens of UIS students, went to the first ever panel, which was open to the entire school.

"It's really important for the community to start engaging in these conversations, especially with all of the civil rights movements going on right now," student Amanda Mullin said.

Professor Tim Gleason said he wanted students to learn a valuable lesson - Respect.

Gleason said. "Respect is a two-way street. It's how you should act during a law enforcement encounter, and it's how law enforcement should treat a citizen when there is a contact. I think it's a great message. And I want to share it with more than just 23 students."

The panel consisted of current and retired law enforcement leaders with state, Chicago, Springfield and Champaign police departments.

They wanted to teach, but also challenge students to join the force and change it from the inside. "

"Every cop is not a bad guy, and that the law enforcement career, is a prestigious career," NOBLE's Odie Carpenter said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 17, 2016.

Watch the story online.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Women's Basketball: Stars rout RMU

Syerra Cunningham had a double-double for the second time in three games and the University of Illinois Springfield won 89-22 against Robert Morris University in a non-conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center Wednesday.

Cunningham scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. She also had three blocks and two steals. She was 6-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 at the free throw line.

 Emily Matsen and Chasitee Shroyer scored 11 points apiece for UIS.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 16, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Basketball: Steinberg, Donnelly carry Stars over Robert Morris

Zach Steinberg’s 21 points and 15 rebounds led the University of Illinois Springfield to a 100-60 non-conference victory over Robert Morris University on Wednesday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Lijah Donnelly collected 15 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Prairie Stars (2-1).

Kaj Days rang up 17 points. Paxton Harmon added 16.

The Stars led 46-29 at halftime.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 16, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

UIS Professor Looks To Show Solidarity With Minority Groups

In the wake of the election, a new fashion statement is taking shape across the country as a way to show solidarity for the most vulnerable groups.

University of Illinois at Springfield Professor Heather Dell is passing out these safety pins for people to wear. She wants to give students and faculty a visual, so that people who are a minority have an idea who's there stand with them.

Dell is a member of the LBGTQ community herself. The professor said she has concern for people who might feel unsafe whether they're part of the LBGTQ, Muslim, or African American community.
“I think we need to build the community quickly, viably and lovingly and hang on to it. So, I think it's a great way to do it and I don't think scare tactics should stop us,” said Dell. Dell said she's happy to see the amount of faculty and students who've decided to wear these safety pins already.

According to a Huffington Post article, this movement started back during the Britain exit from the European Union. The movement over there was to show willingness to protect people being abused, which is similar to what Dell is doing here.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 16, 2016.

Watch the story online. 

UIS kicks off $1 million campaign for turf soccer field

The University of Illinois Springfield athletic department officially launched this week a campaign to raise $1 million to replace the grass on its soccer field at Kiwanis Stadium with an artificial playing surface.

The university hopes to meet its fundraising goal and have the new playing surface ready for the men’s and women’s seasons in August 2017. Private funds will be the driving force.

The field will be used for college and high school matches as well as intramural and extracurricular events.

The current field needs an overhaul. A grub infestation caused damage this season and there have been past problems. “With the new technology in artificial turf and drainage systems, this is the way to go for our program moving forward. I am very excited for this new project to take shape and for our program to return to the glory days of (former coach Aydin Gonulsen),”  UIS men’s soccer coach Adam Hall said.

This story appeared in The State Journal Register on November 16, 2016.

Read the entire article online.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Men's Basketball - Late 2nd Half Surge Lifts UIS In Home Opener

University of Illinois Springfield defeats Illinois College 82-65 in its home opener. UIS Sophomore Center Zach Steinburg finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

UIS Junior Guard Eddie Longmeyer finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds.

UIS will host Robert Morris University-Springfield on November 16th at 7:30 p.m.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 14, 2016.

Watch the story online.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Matsen sisters ambassadors for University of Illinois Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield student-athletes and sisters Jocelyn Matsen and Emily Matsen play different sports in the same season, so the Rochester High School graduates turn to technology to keep tabs on what the other one is up to.

“I watch her soccer games even if we are traveling in the bus,” said Jocelyn, a senior on the UIS women’s golf team. “I’ll pull it up on my phone or I’ll watch it at the hotel.”

Golf tournaments aren’t usually broadcast over the Internet. “I’ll look at the live stats and if our mom goes to watch, she’ll text me every three holes,” said Emily, who also is a member of UIS women’s basketball team.

There’s a lot for the sisters, who are one year and eight months apart, to keep up with this fall. Jocelyn was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week on Oct. 13. “She played exceptionally well,” UIS golf coach Frank Marsaglia said. “She just seems more relaxed on the course this year. I think that’s why you’re seeing lower scores from her.”

Emily is a junior starter on a women’s soccer team that has set the program’s single-season record for wins at seven and she was the hero in one of those victories. Emily scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win against Wisconsin-Parkside on Sept. 30. It was UIS’ first time ever beating the Rangers. 

Jocelyn’s award came of the heels of her winning the Maryville Fall Invitational, where she set the school record for lowest 36-hole round and became the first UIS golfer to finish a 36-hole tourney under par. Her 70 is a college career low and ties the school record for lowest 18-hole score.

Emily originally considered playing basketball at Millikin or Monmouth instead of playing soccer for the Stars. She got the opportunity to play basketball for UIS last year after participating in an open tryout. She is one of only two athletes who competes in two sports at UIS and she cannot envision herself anywhere else.

There was just one thing that could have put a wrinkle in her plans to attend the school. “I asked Jocelyn 20 times to make sure it was OK if I came to the same college as her,” Emily said. “I did not want it to be 20 years from now and her be like, ‘I wish she didn’t follow me to college.’ “I asked Jocelyn, ‘Are you sure it’s OK that I go to the same college as you?’ So she wouldn’t be mad at me.” 

Jocelyn, who picked UIS over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Western Illinois, had no trouble giving her blessing. She wanted her sole sibling to attend UIS, but didn’t want to pressure her. UIS was just the best fit.”

 Emily, a biology major, and Jocelyn sort of see themselves as ambassadors of the university when it comes to sharing their success stories with local athletes in hopes of convincing them to compete for UIS.

This story appeared in The Washington Times on November 13, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball - Stars close with back-to-back wins

The University of Springfield defeated Bellarmine 25-21, 25-22, 25-19 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Ashley Beaton had 12 kills in the final match of the season for the Prairie Stars. Alli Splitt contributed six blocks and five kills. Lexi Hall had 17 assists.

UIS ends with back-to-back wins for the second consecutive season. The Stars also beat Southern Indiana Friday. Their final record is 11-20 overall and 4-14 in the conference.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 12, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Governor Rauner, UIS students donate time and service to new veteran's home on Friday

Governor Bruce Rauner and others contributed community service to veterans on Friday in Springfield.

The governor, along with the Salvation Army and members of the University of Illinois-Springfield soccer team volunteered at "Our Home" which is a place for veterans.

Friday's efforts marked the first official day of the state's new "Serving Those Who Served" campaign put on by the state's Department of Veteran's Affairs.

The governor told those in attendance that volunteering time and service to veterans is something the people of Illinois should do year round not just one day a year.

This story appeared on WAND on Friday, November 11, 2016.

Watch the story online.

Susan Koch: Dining Services is a well-known staple

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 12, 2016.

"An old Spanish proverb says: “The belly rules the mind.” That might explain the appreciation students, faculty, staff and visitors have for the outstanding dining services provided on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

With an average of 4,500 food service transactions taking place every day, members of the campus community probably interact with Dining Services more than any other entity on campus.

 Excellence starts with leadership and the leader who ensures all this planning, procuring, cooking, baking and serving runs smoothly is Geoff Evans. A Springfield native, Geoff completed his bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and then attended the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, eventually working in London and Tucson, Arizona, before returning to Illinois. Geoff was chef at the Illini Country Club before joining the culinary team at UIS in 2003.

Randy Williams, who earned his culinary credentials at Parkland Community College in Champaign, has been part of the UIS Dining Services leadership team since 2009. Randy is well known in central Illinois as a successful restaurateur who owned and operated the Trucker’s Homestead near Divernon for many years as well as Conn’s Corner, a popular food vendor at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Randy also teaches culinary arts courses at Lincoln Land Community College and often judges various food competitions at the State Fair. 

What’s the secret to keeping food service customers happy? “We serve affordable, fresh and appetizing food every day,” says Geoff, “and emphasize providing great service in every transaction.”  
With about 35 full-time employees and 45 part-time student workers, the departmental culture in Dining Services emphasizes teamwork, collaboration and striving for the highest possible level of customer satisfaction. 

It starts each day with breakfast — a very popular meal that is in high demand throughout the day. Dining Services uses about 45 dozen eggs daily (mostly for made-to-order specialty omelets) and about 4,000 pounds of bacon each semester. 

“Thanks in part to Food Network on cable TV, our customers have more sophisticated palates today than students had several years ago,” says Randy. 

“Responding to requests from our customers, we’ve expanded vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menu items during the past few years. At the same time, we’ve introduced foods like quinoa, couscous, orzo and edamame (a preparation of immature soybeans).” 

International dishes are also more in demand by both international and more adventurous local students. In fact, everyone seems to know when popular cook and UIS Employee of the Year Danny Lau is serving his fried rice. Customers start lining up two hours before lunchtime to ensure they will be able to pick up their order. 

And what can students and other customers look forward to when UIS Dining Services moves into the new Student Union next year? According to Geoff, “Plenty.” Members of the culinary team have worked closely with Dewberry Architects and Ricca Newmark Designs (the food service consultant for the project) to design a state-of-the-art kitchen, servery areas and a second-floor banquet facility that can serve up to 450 guests. An emphasis on sustainability throughout the facility, including a green roof, will add to both its economic and educational value. “The new kitchen equipment is going to greatly increase efficiency of operations,” says Randy, “and a display cooking station will add a little drama, allowing students to watch our chefs prepare fresh, made-to-order dishes right in front of them.” 

 Read the entire column online.

UIS gets grant to study rivers in Illinois, Brazil

The University of Illinois Springfield is one of eight institutions to receive an Innovation Fund grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation, and the school plans to use the $25,000 to help students study and compare river ecosystems in Brazil and Illinois.

The grant will help fund a joint project between UIS and the Universidade Estadual de Maringa (UEM) in Brazil.

Students and faculty from the two universities will study two of the world’s great rivers, the ParanĂ¡ and the Illinois.

According to UIS, nine students and six faculty will be involved in the summer of 2017, with plans to increase that number in the future. Faculty and staff from UIS and UEM have been collaborating for 10 years on similar projects.

UIS associate professor of chemistry Keenan Dungey, professor of biology Michael Lemke and international programs director Jonathan GoldbergBelle submitted the grant-funded proposal along with their Brazilian colleagues.

“Students are going to learn how to measure the ecology of the rivers, water chemistry and microbes, plankton, and compare the state of the Illinois River to the Parana.” “The Illinois River has been impacted by human agriculture and industrialization for more than 100 years, whereas the region of the Parana has had a lot less impact and three national parks help to preserve the river,” Dungey said.

The $25,000 grant is part of the Coca-Cola Foundation-sponsored competition “100,000 Strong in the Americas.” The grants recognize initiatives to create partnerships between higher education institutions and Latin America, with the goal of increasing study abroad in the field of environmental sciences, with an emphasis on water.

The eight grants awarded in 2016 will help 115 students to study abroad and prepare them for the 21st-century workforce.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 12, 2016.

Read the entire article online.


Friday, November 11, 2016

UIS recieves grant from Coca-Cola Foundation

The University of Illinois Springfield is receiving a $25,000 grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation. 

The Innovation Grant is in recognition of the Schools partnership with the State University of Maringa in Brazil, and their study abroad programs focusing on environmental science.

The school says the money will be used to create additional student research opportunities.

This story aired on FOX 55 on Thursday, November 10, 2016.

Read the article online.

Men's and Women's Basketball: UIS men to be busy with four basketball games in week

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team is hitting the ground running.

Friday night the Prairie Stars close out the preseason with an exhibition against Bradley at Carver Arena at 7. It is the first of four games in six days for UIS.

The Stars tip off the regular season Sunday at Findlay (Ohio). UIS then hosts Illinois College on Monday and Robert Morris University on Wednesday. “It’s four games in six days, but one of them being an exhibition game, it doesn’t stay on your record so there is a little bit of flexibility,” UIS men’s basketball coach Bill Walker said.

UIS women’s basketball team is also back in action Friday night at 7. The Stars are tipping off the regular season against Lake Superior State in Hillsdale, Michigan, at the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge.

UIS plays again Saturday against host Hillsdale.

UIS has one exhibition game under its belt. Northwestern defeated the Stars 84-56 last Sunday in Evanston. “I was pleased with our performance in the exhibition game because I thought we played fearless,” UIS women’s coach Mark Kost said.

One of the biggest takeaways for UIS is five newcomers logged significant playing time in the exhibition.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 10, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Area prep athletes make college commitments

Baseball:

Austin Alderman helped Springfield High School’s baseball team place second at the Class 3A tournament last spring and the next chapter of his baseball life will include playing for the University of Illinois Springfield.

Alderman signed a national letter of the intent to play for the NCAA Division II Prairie Stars Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.

“They seem to be committed to growing the baseball program,” he said. “They’re getting turf on the field and upgrading the facilities. They compete well. They’ve improved every year they’ve had a program.”

Normal University High catcher Jake Armstrong also signed a letter of intent to play baseball for UIS Wednesday.

Softball:

Rochester High School senior infielder/pitcher Ali Bortmess and Buffalo Tri-City senior pitcher Payton Sturdy have signed to play softball at UIS.

Seven incoming freshmen have signed with UIS including Maroa-Forsyth’s Calla Wickenhauser, Stanford Olympia’s Kendra Peifer, Princeville’s Natalie Cokel, Morrison’s Emma Melton and Breanna Robbins from Seckman in Imperial, Missouri.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on November 10, 2016.

Read the article online.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

State finances continue to weigh on local employer outlook

State of Illinois finances remain the biggest drag on the local economy based on a survey of 330 private and public-sector employers released Tuesday by the University of Illinois Springfield

Employers were a little more optimistic than in the spring Economic Outlook Survey. Nearly one-third said they expect the Sangamon County economy to improve in the coming year compared with 25 percent last spring.

They were less optimistic about their individual prospects compared with a year ago. A little less than half predicted a sales increase in the coming year compared with more than two-thirds expecting higher sales in the fall of 2015.

After state government, employers said government regulation, consumer confidence and finding qualified workers were their biggest concerns.

"The main difference here is those companies that do business with the state, and those who don't do business with the state," Juan Carlos Donoso, director of the UIS Research Survey Office, said after release of the survey at the fall economic outlook breakfast of The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. "Those who are not doing business with the state are much more optimistic about the future of their firms and the future of the county economy," Donoso added.

Chamber President and CEO Chris Hembrough said unpaid bills and budget uncertainty have a ripple effect, including for companies that have no direct business with the state. "I talked to a business owner recently in the home-remodeling sector. They don't do any direct work with the state, it's just people holding on to their dollars," said Hembrough, who added that a permanent state budget would go a long way toward easing those concerns. "It's the cloud of uncertainty, even all the way down to not knowing what the personal income tax of the state is going to be," said Hembrough.

The full UIS survey will be released Friday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 8, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

College Democrats give their thoughts on the eve of election

University of Illinois Springfield College Democrats Treasurer, Nick Zambito talks about millennials voting on the eve of the election.

This story aired live on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 7, 2016.

Watch the story online.

College Republican at UIS gives his thoughts on the eve of election

University of Illinois Springfield College Republican Treasurer, Kaelan Smith talks election 2016 and how young conservatives are thinking ahead of Tuesday's election.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 7, 2016.

Watch the story online.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Women's Basketball: Youthful UIS women's basketball team aims for improvement

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team was left in the offseason to bemoan the games that got away last season.

“When I look at last year’s season, there were eight games that we were very competitive in and had chance to win with five minutes left, and we won one of them,” UIS second-year coach Mark Kost said.

Winning those types of contests are vital moving forward. “That is the next step for our program…closing out games that we have a chance to win,” Kost said. “I’m hoping we take that next step where we win our share of those games.”

Kost and his players are confident they have the necessary personnel to better last season’s 8-18 overall record and 2-16 Great Lakes Valley Conference record. “I think we’ve definitely got the girls to do it,”

UIS has eight newcomers and six returners. “I think our talent level is raised,” Kost said. “With the depth of our team, we can absorb more foul trouble or absorb injury or absorb more than two players not having a good night. We have other options to turn to, which I think will help us be more competitive.

“I believe we are more athletic than the past,” Kost said. “We score the ball better than we did in the past. We’re quicker and longer on the perimeter. We’ve added some depth in the frontcourt through recruiting to go with what we’ve got returning.”

UIS plays an exhibition at noon Sunday at Northwestern. It opens the regular season against Lake Superior State on Friday at the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge in Hillsdale, Michigan.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 5, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

UIS Celebrates Cultures From Around The World

The University of Illinois Springfield is celebrating cultures from around the world.

UIS hosted their 39th Annual International Festival Friday which included exhibits, artistic performances and food tasting.

There were a number of countries represented like India, Peru and Scotland.

This story aired on Fox 55 on November 4, 2016.

Watch the story online.


UIC, UIS, Memorial Health System Partnership Aiming to Fix Nursing Shortage

A partnership between University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Springfield and Memorial Health System is aiming to fix a local nursing shortage.

We're told there are hundreds of nurses needed in central Illinois hospitals and their importance cannot be overlooked.

Nurses are the unsung heroes of the hospital. They provide 90 percent of patients’ needs. “They're the eyes and ears of the rest of the care team at the bedside each and every day,” said Marsha Prater, the chief nursing officer at Memorial Health System.

Prater said patient falls and infections drop significantly when you have more nurses. The problem, nationwide and locally, is there just aren't enough. “We could hire 50 nurses today and we'd still have opportunities for more of them,” said Prater. The need is growing with more people using health care.

“The nurses that are working are taking care of more patients than would be optimal,” said Cindy Reese, the regional director of the Springfield campus for UIC College of Nursing. Reese said it’s a quality of care issue.

University of Illinois at Chicago has an established nursing program with a couple hundred students on campuses in Chicago and Urbana. They're now offering a satellite campus at UIS with Memorial Health System offering training for the students.

The hope is to keep these students locally when they graduate. Experts say nursing students tend to work within 50 miles from where they train. In this case that’s Springfield.

The first 15 students started this fall. The hope is to grow to 64 in a couple years.

For the UIC nursing program, you can apply as a freshman or as a junior after taking necessary pre-nursing courses at another college, such as UIS. The nursing program itself is two years.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20.

Watch the entire story online.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

UIS takes on ‘Macbeth'

The University of Illinois Springfield’s theater department is taking on one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays in its production of “Macbeth,” which wraps up its run this weekend at the university’s Studio Theatre.

The tragedy follows Macbeth and his wife from their climb to power through their struggle to keep their grasp on it.

After being told by three witches that he one day would be king of Scotland, an ambitious Macbeth murders the sitting king and claims the throne as his own. He doesn’t rule happily ever after. Instead, he is consumed by guilt and paranoia, even as he is forced to kill more people to protect himself and his throne.

It isn’t long before the civil war triggered by his tyrannical rule drive the power-hungry couple to madness and death.

Directed by Bill Kincaid, the UIS Theatre version features a cast of students and faculty members, including faculty members Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson and Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, respectively.

This story appeared in My Journal Courier on November 3, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Celebrate ethnic diversity

Celebrate 39 years of diversity at the University of Illinois Springfield by attending the Annual International Festival on Friday, Nov. 4, from 5-8 p.m.

The free festival is hosted each year by the Office of International Student Services and serves as UIS’s longest-running student-led program.

This year’s theme is “World at a Glance” and features cultural exhibits, live artistic performances, food tastings and more.

Countries represented include India, Peru, Ireland, Scotland, several African nations, Asian nations, Middle East nations and more.

Programs will be available on site to serve as a roadmap through the festival’s many exhibits, tastings and performances.

This story appeared in The Illinois Times on November 3, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

UIS students break record with Trick-Or-Treat for Canned Goods

Hundreds of University of Illinois Springfield students helped to collect a record 14,085 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank on Halloween night. The total breaks a previous Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods record of 11,620 pounds of food collected in 2014.

A total of 18 teams, consisting of 181 students, went door-to-door in several Springfield and Chatham neighborhoods collecting the canned goods.

"More different volunteer work that will help the food bank in ways that impacts the community, and we're going around, engaging the community, engaging its members, to all kind of come together to help for a cause," Tyler Beitler, a UIS freshman, said.

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on November 1, 2016.

Read the story online. 

DCFS workers learn to spot child abuse at UIS training academy

A partnership between the University of Illinois Springfield and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is the first of its kind in the country, a university official says.

The state agency and university announced last week the launch of its Child Protection Training Academy, held on the UIS campus.

Susan Evans, recently named director of the Child Protection Training Academy, said the academy will greatly improve training for child welfare investigators, which has been behind the curve.

“Historically, the training has been didactic,” Evans said. “There has been some job shadowing, online webinars and then three to four weeks in the classroom.”

Evans is a 24-year veteran of DCFS who spent 14 years in the field as a child protective investigator and 10 years in the Office of Professional Development.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on November 1, 2016.

Read the story online.

UIS adds six degree programs

The University of Illinois Springfield has added six new majors to its curriculum that are in high demand among incoming students.

Half of the new programs, including biochemistry, are connected to the health field. Students graduating with a degree in biochemistry would be in a good position to pursue careers in medicinal chemistry and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields. For some of the students holding that degree, their first post-college job could be in Springfield.

The six new programs bring the total number of bachelor’s degrees offered at UIS to 31 and the number of master’s degree programs to 20. The university also has one doctoral program.

In addition to biochemistry, the other new bachelor’s programs are in exercise science, theater, public administration and public policy. The sixth new program is a master’s degree in data analytics, which has applications in the medical field and other areas.

All of the new majors started this fall except for theater, which starts next fall.

James Ermatinger, UIS interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, said the university typically adds about one new program each year.

“A few years ago we looked at our data and noticed that students were requesting certain majors,” Ermatinger said. “We created a task force that identified several new majors. Departments on their own also produced proposals for new majors.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 31, 2016.

Read the story online.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Men's Basketball - UIS men's basketball picked No. 7 in GLVC East

The University of Illinois Springfield was voted in a preseason coaches poll to finish seventh out of eight teams in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division.

Bellarmine was picked to win the division and received nine first-place votes for 114 points.

Wisconsin-Parkside received two first-place votes and earned 90 points. Lewis and Indianapolis also received first-place votes and tied for third with 88 points. Southern Indiana was fifth with 76 points and one first-place vote. McKendree (46), UIS (34) and Saint Joseph's (32) were sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Quincy was chosen to finish first in the GLVC West Division.

UIS was 11-18 overall and 5-13 in the GLVC last season. The Prairie Stars open the season in an exhibition against Northwestern Friday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 30, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball - UIS volleyball team gets first conference win

The University of Illinois Springfield snapped an 11-match Great Lakes Valley Conference losing streak and defeated Missouri-St. Louis 25-17, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22 Friday for its first league win of the season.

Alli Splitt notched 13 kills and four blocks for the Prairie Stars at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Tiffany Sunderlin added 12 kills and 12 digs. Lexi Hall had 25 assists and 12 digs.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 28, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

UIS offering new majors to students

University of Illinois Springfield officials say five new majors are now being offered to students.

Officials say the new majors include bachelor's degrees in public policy, exercise science, public administration, and biochemistry, as well as a master's degree in data analytics.

A bachelor's degree in theatre will be available to pursue at the university starting in fall 2017.

UIS Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs James Ermatinger says, "“These new majors represent a continual effort by our faculty to provide undergraduate and graduate degree opportunities in the professional fields, STEM, and the liberal arts."

This story appeared on WAND TV on October 26, 2016.
Read the entire article online.

Best of Springfield 2016 - Best Places

Best place to get a higher education - University of Illinois Springfield.

Hooray for University of Illinois Springfield, arguably the scrappiest institution of higher learning to hit the land of Lincoln since Red Grange galloped past the outstretched arms of lesser men.

From the very beginning, UIS, which began life as Sangamon State University in 1969, has demonstrated that it’s a serious academic institution where independent thought is cherished – in 1971, the campus, including the university president, wore floppy hats in protest after a state legislator criticized Professor Gus Stevens for wearing a hat in the presence of women.

“It’s not what we wear, it’s what’s under our hats that counts,” Stevens said back then, and it’s still true today.

Enrollment has shot past 5,400, up by around 1,000 from a decade ago. More than 1,000 students live on campus, and there are plenty of online courses for those who can’t be full-time students.

The school has been rated highly by U.S. News and World Report, and readers agree: You can’t beat UIS when it comes to getting a leg up.

This story appeared in The Illinois Times on October 27, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Best of Springfield 2016: Best Arts, Culture and Music

Best live music venue, ticketed seating - UIS Sangamon Auditorium

One of the most lovely designed and acoustically sound venues just about anywhere, the Sangamon Auditorium, on the campus of University of Illinois Springfield, is indeed a crown jewel of our community.

The 2,018-seat performing arts center and concert hall was built in 1981 and through the years has seen a cavalcade of stars, thousands of theater productions and countless shows of all kinds roll across the well-worn stage.

Home to our illustrious Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the hall hosts several concerts of symphony productions annually. The venue also books shows specifically designed for grade-school kids and offers the space for a few specific community productions.

Director Bob Vaughn, a hometown fellow, uses a lifetime of experience in the field to find popular and well-planned shows, keeping the best ticketed venue in town headed for continued success.

This article appeared in The Illinois Times on October 27, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

UIS Theatre celebrates Shakespeare with production of 'Macbeth'

For some married couples, acting side by side in one of William Shakespeare's iconic tragedies might spell "double, double toil and trouble." But for University of Illinois Springfield theater professors Eric and Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, playing the lead roles in "Macbeth" is a chance to fulfill some of their own ambitions.

The play, directed by Bill Kincaid, opens Friday for seven performances in the UIS Studio Theatre. 

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth "are bucket list roles," said Missy, an associate professor of theater. 

First performed around 1606, "Macbeth" tells the story of a Scottish nobleman, spurred on by his wife and the prophecies of three witches, who murders King Duncan (Jim Hepworth) and becomes king himself, only to see his regime collapse in bloodshed, madness and rebellion. Despite — or more likely because of — violent and occult aspects that gave the play a reputation for being cursed,

In theatrical circles, it is sometimes dubbed "The Scottish Play" because mentioning its name outside of an actual performance was thought to bring bad luck. But that didn't discourage the Thibodeaux-Thompsons from slating "Macbeth" as UIS' fall production this year.

"It plays very well into the Halloween season with its ghosts, witches, and horror," said Christopher V. Marbaniang, a graduate student who appears as Malcolm, Duncan's son and rightful heir.

Since this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death and UIS had not staged a Shakespeare play since "As You Like It" in 2009, the Thibodeaux-Thompsons thought it would be an appropriate time to produce another. "We had done a comedy, so we thought, why not a tragedy," said Eric, associate professor and director of theater. "'Macbeth' has lots of good roles; it's also the shortest of Shakespeare's tragedies, and very action-packed."

The production is UIS' largest ever, with 22 actors in 34 roles, and features sets designed by assistant professor Dathan Powell.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 26, 2016.

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Women's Cross Country - Litchfield native runs for UIS

Alexandria Quarton, of Litchfield, finished 90th in the Great Lakes Valley Conference XC Championships, which was held at the Missouri University of Science and Technology Golf Course in St. Louis, Missouri.

The University of Illinois Springfield freshman finished the 6,000-meter race in 24 minutes, 46.47 seconds.

UIS took 14th in the conference finals with 334 points.

This story appeared in The Journal-News in Hillsboro on October 27, 2016.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

UIS and Illinois DCFS partner to launch Child Protection Training Academy

Two organizations are coming together to improve child protection training for investigators of child abuse.

The University of Illinois Springfield Center for State Policy and Leadership is partnering with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to launch a Child Protection Training Academy.

Currently, the academy has already trained nearly 130 new DCFS investigators, utilizing the Residential Simulation Lab and the mock courtroom on the UIS campus. Now, it will expand to include new curricula for supervisors, multidisciplinary team members and a training partnership with the SIU School of Medicine.

Susan Evans is a 24-year veteran of DCFS and the new director of the Academy. She says with a constantly changing landscape and complex cases; investigators need to be well-prepared. “Training is critical, and the investigators who have completed this new simulation training overwhelmingly expressed a desire for additional hours in the simulation labs, practicing the skulls they will need to be confident and competent in the field,” Evans explains.

The Academy was initially created by the Illinois General Assembly back in August 2015 with Public Act 99-0348.

"The lives of children depend on us, and resources like this training academy will help improve the overall quality of our investigations and better serve the most vulnerable," said DCFS Director George H. Sheldon.

This story appeared on WAND TV on October 25, 2016.

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UIS to open transfer office at Richland Community College

The University of Illinois Springfield and Richland Community College in Decatur are partnering to make it easier for students to continue their college education after earning their associate's degree.

UIS will hold periodic office hours at a space inside the Kitty Lindsay Learning Resources Center on Richland’s campus for advising and counseling for RCC students considering transferring to UIS. 

After that, UIS plans to have a presence on the Richland campus on a weekly basis with regularly scheduled office hours allowing for more interaction with visiting UIS professors and advisers.

This story appeared online at WRSP Fox Illinois on October 25, 2016.

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Women's Golf - Hill, Matsen lead Stars

University of Illinois Springfield junior Brooke Hill tied for 15th and senior teammate Jocelyn Matsen tied for 19th at the UIS Island Getaway on the Ocean Course at Rio Mar Country Club Tuesday.

Hill fired a 4-over-par 75 in the final round and had a two-day total of 13-over-par 155. Matsen had rounds of 78 and 80 for a 158.

The Prairie Stars placed sixth out of eight teams in their final fall tournament.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 25, 2016.

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Men's Golf - UIS' Goecks wins golf event in Puerto Rico

University of Illinois Springfield senior Nathan Goecks shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round and won medalist honors at the UIS Island Getaway at Rio Mar Country Club Tuesday.

Goecks defeated runner-up Colton Godwin of Valdosta State by six strokes at the River Course and had a two-day total of 4-under-par 140 in the final tournament of the fall season.

A 71 in the first round, Goecks earned his fourth career victory, the most of any UIS golfer.

The Prairie Stars shot a 596 as a team. Valdosta State won with 589.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 25, 2016.

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UIS To Host 39th International Festival

For more than 35 years the International Festival has been a tradition at the University of Illinois Springfield Campus.

This year, the tradition will be carried on as the campus faculty, staff, friends and students will offer insights into the many beautiful and different cultures that make up our world.

The event will be held on Friday, November 6th from 5-8 p.m. at the TRAC location on campus. This year’s theme is the "World as One: Uniting Peoples and Cultures.”

This story appeared on WAND TV on October 24, 2016.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Women's Cross Country - Finley leads Stars at GLVC meet

Junior Krissy Finley finished 42nd and was the highest placers for the University of Illinois Springfield at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Women’s Cross Country Championship at Missouri S&T Golf Course Saturday.

UIS placed 14th with 334 points.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 22, 2016.

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Men's Cross Country - Stars take 10th at GLVC meet

University of Illinois Springfield junior Eli Cook placed 27th at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Cross Country Championship and the Prairie Stars finished 10th out of 13 teams Saturday. 

Cook completed the 8,000 meter race on the Missouri S&T Golf Course in 26 minutes 2.37 seconds. 

UIS was 10th with 254 points.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 22, 2016.

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Lincoln ax, FDR letter brought to UIS History Harvest

Since Springfield is a political town in a political state, perhaps it’s no surprise that when the University of Illinois Springfield put out a call for residents to bring in their political memorabilia, they got at least 450 items.

It was a parade of campaign posters, buttons, bumper stickers, T-shirts and more during the UIS History Harvest event Saturday at the Old State Capitol.

Some of the more interesting items included Abraham Lincoln campaign buttons and a small, about 3-inches long, ax from Lincoln’s 1860 presidential campaign. There also was a letter from four-time President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a uniform from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign. 

The project was the idea of history professors Ken Owen and Devin Hunter, who wanted to “increase the public history work and digital media work” their students are doing, Owen said.

About eight or nine colleges in the country have held a history harvest. UIS is the first to do so in the Midwest, according to Hunter. The idea is to have the community bring in historical artifacts that relate to a particular theme (in this case politics) so students can make digital scans of them, learn citizens’ stories about the items, and make a permanent online archive of the photos and stories.

“We’re hoping to learn about how ordinary citizens engage with and experience the electoral process,” Owen added. “We want to know why the particular messages have resonance with people and why particular bits of memorabilia stuck in their mind and have personal meaning.”

The UIS students, who planned and ran the History Harvest, may have a list of artifacts and their pictures available online within a couple weeks, according to Hunter. Check their website for updates.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 22, 2016.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Food pantry started to help hungry UIS students

University of Illinois Springfield graduate student Malayzja Anderson knows that students like her are at times compelled to stretch their money and food in resourceful ways.

Food insecurity in particular is common among students, Anderson has found. She’s addressing that issue by helping to stock donated, nonperishable food items for the university’s new UIS Cares, an initiative that provides a food pantry for students.

“Around this time of year, especially as the semester is ending, meal plans are depleted, so students often eat at their friends’ houses or may not eat as much for the day,” said Anderson, 25, a world history masters candidate and graduate assistant in UIS’ Diversity Center. “With the food pantry, they’re able to come in and just grab something to supplement them.”

UIS Cares opened for the first time from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, Student Affairs Building 60, on the UIS campus.

UIS Cares also will be open to UIS students for the fall semester from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, and Thursday, Dec. 1.

“It will be ongoing,” said Mark Dochterman, director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center. “It also has its own email address (UISCares@uis.edu), and people can contact us directly and set up a time. Hunger doesn’t happen on our schedule. If somebody needs to come in between these dates or a different time … we’ll work with them on an individual basis.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 21, 2016.

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Matsen sisters are student-athletes and ambassadors for UIS

University of Illinois Springfield student-athletes and sisters Jocelyn Matsen and Emily Matsen play different sports in the same season, so the Rochester High School graduates turn to technology to keep tabs on what the other one is up to.

“I watch her soccer games even if we are traveling in the bus,” said Jocelyn, a senior on the UIS women’s golf team. “I’ll pull it up on my phone or I’ll watch it at the hotel.”

Golf tournaments aren’t usually broadcast over the Internet.

“I’ll look at the live stats and if our mom goes to watch, she’ll text me every three holes,” said Emily, who also is a member of UIS women’s basketball team.

There’s a lot for the sisters, who are one year and eight months apart, to keep up with this fall.

Jocelyn was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week on Oct. 13.

"She played exceptionally well," UIS golf coach Frank Marsaglia said. "She just seems more relaxed on the course this year. I think that's why you’re seeing lower scores from her.”

Emily is a junior starter on a women's soccer team that has set the program’s single-season record for wins at seven and she was the hero in one of those victories. Emily scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win against Wisconsin-Parkside on Sept. 30. It was UIS’ first time ever beating the Rangers.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 21, 2016.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

UIS slates Blue Madness basketball Nov. 3

The University of Illinois Springfield will kick off the men’s and women’s basketball seasons with its annual Blue Madness event at 8:45 p.m. Nov. 3 at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The event will feature a 10-minute scrimmage between the teams. The cheerleading and dance teams will perform.

UIS men’s basketball team plays an exhibition Nov. 4 at Northwestern. The women’s squad plays an exhibition Nov. 6 at Northwestern.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 18, 2016.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Men's soccer: Stars' Falsone scores game winner in men's soccer

Mario Falsone scored the game-winning goal in overtime and the University of Illinois Springfield defeated William Jewell 2-1 Friday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match. It was his fifth goal this season.

Lincoln Land Community College transfer Naba Alzhyri assisted on the game winner.

UIS’ Eoin Watts tied the game at 1-all on his first goal of the season in the closing minutes of the second half.

The Prairie Stars are 6-7-1 overall and 5-5-1 in the GLVC.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 15, 2016.

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UIS 'harvesting' political memorabilia for website

If you have political memorabilia, you can share it with the world and keep it at the same time, thanks to a planned “history harvest” in Springfield.

The history department at the University of Illinois Springfield is hosting an event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Old State Capitol, where members of the community are being asked to bring items that can be photographed or scanned, to be shared on a website. Some audio or video recording also may be done.

“We won’t be keeping anything physically,” said Kenneth Owen, an assistant professor of history at UIS. “And we’ll have a team of students that are around to talk to you about the individual object and sort of take notes to help us build the archive.”

Owen said the “history harvest” concept was begun at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and has spread to other areas.

Owen said he hopes the “harvest” will bring out views of some items with personal or family meaning. “It might be that you have some memento of meeting a candidate or going to a rally, or it might be that you were involved in a campaign and someone wrote a letter of thanks,” Owen said. “There are a lot of interesting stories out there, and we’re looking forward to hearing them.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 16, 2016.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

UIS men's basketball team plays NU, Bradley, NIU this season

Exhibitions against Northwestern, Bradley and Northern Illinois dot the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball schedule for the upcoming season.

UIS opens the preseason on Nov. 4 at Northwestern then plays Bradley Nov. 11 in Peoria. It will play several non-conference games and two Great Lakes Valley Conference contests before taking on Northern Illinois on Dec. 31 in DeKalb.

The Prairie Stars are mere days away from starting the season. Saturday is the first official day NCAA Division II men’s and women’s basketball teams can practice full time.

Regular-season play for the 2016-17 season begins Nov. 13 against past national champion Findlay.

“We’re going to have seven freshmen and sophomores in our rotation,” Coach Bill Walker said. “So they’ll get a real baptism by fire.”

UIS women’s basketball schedule also includes games against RMU and Blackburn. Also like their male counterparts, the team plays its first exhibition against Northwestern. The Wildcats host UIS on Nov. 6. The Stars play their other exhibition Nov. 26 at Eastern Illinois University.

“It’s a competitive schedule,” Coach Mark Kost said. “I think playing teams from the GLIAC, playing a team from the MIAA and having the exhibition against Northwestern will give us a gauge of where we’re are, and help us get ready for conference play.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 12, 2016.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wrongful conviction puts innocent man behind bars for 18 years

A Champaign man is free and telling his story after spending nearly two decades behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

Teshome Campbell was 22 years old when he was convicted of murder, after a man was beaten to death in Champaign on Christmas morning in 1997.

He spent 18 years in prison, but this January, the 40 year old walked away from the Danville Correctional Facility as a free man.

Campbell says incorrect eyewitness identification and ineffective counsel led to his wrongful conviction. "Had I had the right representation, I would have never been here doing this right now." 

Campbell's hope is to help others who, like him, were convicted of crimes they didn't commit.

He's doing that with the help of the Illinois Innocence Project based at the University of Illinois Springfield, which helped with his exoneration. Larry Golden, the Founding Director of the Illinois Innocence Project, said, "There's nothing that I've done in my life that exceeds the reward of walking somebody out of prison who's actually innocent. It's so rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time, that this individual lost the core years of his life."

Campbell will receive compensation from the state for the wrongful conviction, but details on how much or when have not been released.

This story appeared on FOX Illinois on October 11, 2016.

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