Thursday, June 22, 2017

Modernism and residency: The SAA kicks off a summer of unique programming

The Springfield Art Association is currently in high gear with a unique exhibit featuring nearly 300 specimens of modernist furniture and décor.

The SAA is also now hosting the first two visiting artists to participate in the recently established Enos Park residency program for visual artists.

James Pepper Kelly of Chicago and German-born Astrid Kaemmerling are both in the midst of six-week stays, during which they are creating new work relating to the Enos Park neighborhood or Springfield as a whole. The work will be presented later this summer in a special exhibit at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Visual Arts Gallery.

 Kaemmerling, who has shown work in Germany, Italy, Korea and the United States and has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, is currently based in San Francisco. The concentration for her current Springfield-based project is in the field of “walking art,” in aid of which free tickets are currently available for her “Enos Park Community Walking Laboratory.”

According to Kaemmerling’s online event page, “while meandering the streets of Enos Park for one hour you and I will engage in a conversation about the past, present and future of the neighborhood while monitoring our thoughts and passageways.” The conversations will be recorded and later presented as part of the exhibit, along with maps of the paths taken in each walk.

Kaemmerling’s enthusiasm for the residency is palpable. “It’s a fantastic way for me to put some of the research I have done into action and really field test it,” she said. “The support here so far has been incredible. And welcoming! Wherever I go, even on the street, people are super friendly; they greet you and engage in conversation. It’s been really nice.”

This story appeared in the Illinois Times on June 22, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

FMHS grad Ramirez made wise investment choosing coaching

Decisions. Decisions. You’re fresh out of college. Do you take the $50,000 a year job with a major investment firm? Or the $3-4,000 job helping coach the game you love for your nearby community college?

Chris Ramirez didn’t have to think long about that. The 2001 Fort Madison High School graduate opted to be the assistant baseball coach under Justin Schulte for Southeastern Community College, a year after graduating from High Point University in 2005.

Ramirez had a state championship on his résumé from high school and played four years of collegiate baseball. Why give up a good thing?

Besides: “I wasn’t ready to go buy a bunch of suits and sit in an office all day,” Ramirez said of rejecting an offer to be a financial advisor for American Express Financial Advisors.

Twelve years later, Ramirez is still coaching the game he loves, and now he’s a successful head coach at University of Illinois Springfield. He took over the fledgling three-year-old program four seasons ago and has kept raising the bar of expectations. The school had won no more than 12 games when he took job. The victory count so far has been: 22, 28, 28 and 33.

Ramirez grew up in Fort Madison and a fond memory was practicing and playing baseball with his father, Mike. But he wasn’t just an all-state baseball player. He competed for the Bloodhounds in football and basketball all four years, plus three spring seasons in tennis and his senior year in track. This, however, was back when being a four-sport, four-year athlete was no big deal (see separate story).

He committed to play baseball for Iowa State University. But the school dropped the program, so he went to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. There he started as the centerfield and was the closer on the pitching staff. He finished his college career with two years at Highpoint University, a small Division I program in North Carolina. He graduated with a business degree, but still had hopes for a career path to the major leagues. The opportunity never came.

 Then he was offered the high-paying job of financial advisor for American Express. At the same time, however, a call from his former coach — legendary Norway coach Jim Van Scoyoc — at Kirkwood, who informed Ramirez that Schulte, a former Norway standout, had taken the baseball coach at SCC. “(Schulte) offered me $3-4,000,” Ramirez said. “I called and turned down the $50,000 job at Greensboro.” He worked a golf course in the morning to make some extra money, “like a lot of coaches have to do to get started,” Ramirez said.

“I think it’s such an impressional age group,” Ramirez said. “You get to work with these young men and develop them. “Ultimately my message as a coach is to get these young men ready for life after baseball,”

This story appeared in The Fort Madison Daily Democrat.

Read the entire article online.

Military museum aims to give video gamers historical context

The Illinois State Military Museum is asking video gamers to put down their controllers and stop by to get a first-hand look at some of the equipment, uniforms and weapons they see as they fight in the digital world.

The “War Games” event at the museum (admission is free), which runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24, was the idea of Lizzie Roehrs, 21, of Springfield, an intern at the museum and a student at the University of Illinois Springfield.

She noticed that kids coming through the museum on school field trips could easily identify many of the weapons on display. They told her they had seen them while playing video games. “The connection is already there. They are already associating what they see in video games with history,” Roehrs said. “But, with playing a video game, they don’t get a lot of context. So the idea for the event came from not only wanting to encourage kids to continue an interest in history, but also to teach them that there is more to the events in video games than what’s on the screen.”

During “War Games,” there will be re-enactors at the museum explaining how and why certain equipment was used. Attendees will also be able to try on uniforms and explore a trench.

In addition, Roehrs is setting up displays in the lobby with some of the tools and weapons in the museum’s collection that she’s seen in video games. One such item is a Japanese knee mortar that can be seen in “Call of Duty: World at War.”

Soldiers from the Illinois National Guard fought Japanese troops in the Pacific Theater during World War II as part of the 33rd Infantry Division. Roehrs has also found uniforms and uniform patches that are seen in some of the video games. “We have a ton of artifacts at the museum. We have an entire vault full of artifacts and an additional building on the National Guard base that is packed with these artifacts. We have items from the state militia through the modern, global war on terror,” Roehrs said.
“I look at these kids as potential history buffs,” Roehrs said. “Maybe they don’t realize that they are as into it as they are. If you give them a little more of the history, bring them out to the museum and show them the real thing, that could spark an interest in history.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 16, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

Keeping international students safe at UIS

With just under 5,500 students, 20 percent of the University of Illinois Springfield's enrollment is made up of international students. New, eager, and unfamiliar with the surroundings, these students can be the most vulnerable.

"When we are taken outside of our normal context, sometimes we just become more susceptible," said Rick Lane, the director of the International Student Services Program at UIS.

UIS takes a proactive approach by contacting international students early and often helping them to understand what they can expect.

"What to expect in terms of procedures, but also what to expect in terms of looking out for folks who might be trying to take advantage of them," Lane said.

Yu Shao comes from China and she says her self-defense class, which is a free class for all students, was also a vital tool. "They have taught us a lot of skills: how to protect yourself or how to get away from the bad guy when you are caught by them," senior student Shao said.

In general, the services offered to international students helps prepare the students for realistic situations and guides them through their transition.

"Try to stay with someone you do trust while you're learning who these other people are and what they're doing," Lane said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on June 16, 2017.

Watch the story online.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lincoln Papers suspending National Archives search

The state is shutting down a project to search the National Archives for papers written by Abraham Lincoln.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum confirmed Monday that the search for Lincoln documents is being suspended in Washington, D.C. The National Archives has provided the bulk of Lincoln documents added in recent years to the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project.

“The current priority for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln is to improve its policies and procedures so that our staff’s hard work and the taxpayers’ money is not wasted,” ALPLM spokesman Chris Wills said in a statement. “The search for Lincoln-related documents at the National Archives is on hold while we focus on how to handle the 100,000 documents that have been collected and what additional material should be gathered. The Papers will not lose access to any additional Lincoln documents at the National Archives.”

Wills could not say how long the search will be suspended.

There are two researchers based in Washington conducting the search. They are employed under contract to the University of Illinois Springfield. Money for the workers is provided by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation. University of Illinois Springfield spokesman Derek Schnapp said contracts for the two workers, which run year-to-year, will expire June 30. He said it is his understanding no money will be provided by the foundation after that. Three other workers are employed on the project on a contractual basis in Springfield. Schnapp said it is his understanding funding for those contracts will also end on June 30.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 12, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Susan Koch: Praise for exceptional performing arts 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 June 10, 2017.

"Just a few days ago, The State Journal Register’s “Weekend and More” section featured the rollout of UIS Sangamon Auditorium’s 2017-18 performing arts season. 

The season represents the final encore for auditorium director Bob Vaughn. Bob is transitioning to a well-earned retirement after 11 years of bringing exceptional quality and diversity to the Sangamon Auditorium stage. 

But many of the more than 75,000 patrons who regularly attend Sangamon Auditorium Broadway Shows, Visiting Artists and Kitchen Sink Series each year are not aware of an additional slate of rich performances that are equally appreciated. I’m talking about the Class Acts program — special daytime performing arts programming offered for students from preschool through high school from across central Illinois. 

Thanks to enthusiastic partnerships with several school districts, including the Springfield Public Schools, almost 15,000 students attended at least one of 15 Class Acts performances this year, ranging from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” for high school students to “Pete the Cat” for primary-aged children. 

A complimentary program called “Grow Up Great” provides additional funding for professional development for teachers and opportunities for parents and Head Start children to attend an evening meal and performance. 

The Class Acts and Grow Up Great programs would not be possible were it not for the generosity of donors who believe in the importance of arts education and who help fund the programming, subsidize the purchase of tickets for the students and help pay the cost of bus transportation. 

In addition to being a show sponsor every year, PNC Bank is a major sponsor of both Class Acts and Grow Up Great. “We’re so appreciative of PNC’s consistent support for these programs,” says Vaughn. “They’re helping us create a point of entry to the performing arts for both students and educators who might not otherwise have access to these experiences.” 

Bob and Liz Staley have also been longtime supporters of the programs. Though Liz is now deceased, the Staley family continues to provide a generous grant each year to enable small-town schools in New Berlin, Auburn and Waverly to participate in the Class Acts program. 

The Staley gift also provides funding for teachers to attend an evening performance at the auditorium each year. Participating teachers are asked to provide feedback about their students’ experiences, and their words may provide the best commentary on the value of the Class Acts and Grow Up Great programs. 

A music teacher from Riverton High School reported, after her class attended a performance of the 
acappella group Vocalosity: “An excellent performance! The students loved it. Students need opportunities to compare and contrast real professionals with their own ensembles so they can better understand what a high quality performance really is.” 

As we bid director Bob Vaughn a fond farewell and welcome new Sangamon Auditorium director Bryan Rives in the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to another exceptional year of performing arts at the University of Illinois Springfield — for audiences of all ages."

Read the entire column online.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Steve Stein's Sports Notebook

University of Illinois Springfield senior men’s golfer Talon Supak from Washington was named to the NCAA Division II Ping All-Midwest Region Team for the second straight year.

Supak had a heck of a senior season, which included a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA regionals.

His stroke average of 73.26 in 23 rounds broke his own school record. Other school records broken by Supak this season were national ranking (67), rounds at par or better (11), eagles (3), low round (64), low 36-hole total (139) and low 54-hole total (203).

Supak finished in the top 10 in seven of 11 tournaments during the season.

This story appeared in the Washington Times-Reporter on June 5, 2017.

Read the entire article online.


Monday, June 5, 2017

State Finances, Health Care Among Top Concerns in Sangamon County

The results of the University of Illinois Springfield's biannual economic outlook survey for Sangamon County have been released.

Sixty-one percent of organizations say state finances is one of their top three concerns, which is the highest percentage ever.

The survey also found many people are worried about the healthcare sector in Sangamon County.

"It's a very large and very important part of Sangamon County economy," Matthew Case, director of Survey Research Office, said. "But in this survey, there's a little bit of a drop off in this survey in terms of the optimism. So right now only 55 percent say they expect the health care industry will grow compared to about 70 percent in the last two surveys."

This story aired in WICS Newschannel 20 on June 2, 2017.

Watch the story online.


State budget impasse weighs on local economic outlook

The prospect of a third Illinois fiscal year without a budget is weighing more than ever on expectations of local employers.

A spring economic-outlook survey released Friday showed 61 percent of businesses and other organizations listed state finances among their top three concerns for the coming year, the highest percentage since the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office began spring and fall surveys in 2008.

The percentage listing state government has steadily increased since 2012, said Josh Collins, director of business and community development for The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

“Obviously, it affects cash flow of those who are owed money, and even business-to-business folks. A lot of their suppliers are owed money,” said Collins. “It’s just a cyclical issue. You’re either worried about getting money or you’re worried about your customers.”

The chamber and UIS are partners in the survey.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 2, 2017.

Read the story online.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Baseball: Stars’ Taylor gets another All-America honor

University of Illinois Springfield junior shortstop Cole Taylor has been named to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings NCAA Division II All-American third team.

He led the Great Lakes Valley Conference in hits (85), runs (63), doubles (25), triples (four) and on-base percentage (.461). He hit a team-high .395 for UIS.

Taylor, a transfer from Parkland College who is from Fairmount, was named earlier to the National College Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II All-America honorable mention team.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 2, 2017.

Read the story online. 

Volleyball: UIS signs Parkland player

Outside hitter Taylor Bauer is transferring to the University of Illinois Springfield after winning back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national championships with Parkland College.

She collected 437 kills, 496 digs and 85 blocks in her sophomore season.

Deer Creek-Mackinaw setter Caitlynn Whitaker and Chicago Marist rightside hitter Megan Krasowskih also have signed with the Prairie Stars.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 2, 2017.

Read the story online.

Golf: Supak named to all-region team

University of Illinois Springfield player Talon Supak has been named to the Golf Coaches Association of America Division II Ping All-Region Team.

Supak finished in the top 10 in seven of 11 tournaments. He placed second at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament and tied for fourth at the NCAA Division II Midwest/Central Regional. He set multiple records in his final season including, scoring average (73.26), national ranking (67), rounds at par or better (11), eagles in a single season (three), par-3 scoring (3.08), par-4 scoring (4.18), par-5 scoring (4.81), low round (64), low 36-hole total (139) and low 54-hole total (203).

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 2, 2017.

Read the story online.

Softball: Gosbeth honored for academics

University of Illinois Springfield catcher Amanda Gosbeth received Academic All-America Division II Softball third-team honors.

She earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average over four years. She graduated in May with a degree in mathematics and minors in economics and marketing.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 2, 2017.

Read the story online.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sangamon Auditorium names new director

Bryan Rives, a performing arts center manager with more than 30 years of experience, has been named the next director of the University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium.

Rives will be the auditorium’s “director designate” from July 3 to Sept. 30 and will take over as director on Oct. 1 following the retirement of director Robert Vaughn.

Most recently, Rives has served as tour manager and company manager for Talmi Entertainment, where he was responsible for the Moscow Ballet Nutcracker Tour, an eight-week, 43-city tour in the United States and Canada. In addition, he was a production manager for Celebrity Cruises in Miami from May 2014 to October 2016 and a company manager for several other touring productions.

From 2007 to 2011, Rives was director of event services at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where he oversaw the university’s performing arts center and regional ticketing system.

“I am excited to be returning to the great state of Illinois,” Rives said in a statement. “The University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium is not only a beautiful venue for the campus and greater metro area, but the current director and staff have put together a fantastic season of events for the upcoming year which I expect will bring out record attendance.”

Sangamon Auditorium, which seats 2,018, hosts more than 120 performances annually.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 1, 2017.

Read the story online. 

Chicago-area man free on bail, gets new trial in arson case

William Amor has walked out of a suburban Chicago prison after a judge vacated his 1997 conviction on charges of arson and murder in his mother-in-law's death.

Amor, 60, of Naperville, spent the last 22 years behind bars after he was arrested in 1995 accused of intentionally igniting the 1995 Naperville fire that killed Marianne Miceli. But DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan in early April vacated Amor's conviction after considering new advances in fire science.

Amor's new trial date is Sept. 12. He is represented by the University of Illinois-Springfield's Illinois Innocence Project. Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director of the group's Chicago office, said they believe the fire was an accident and he should have never been charged.

"We are ecstatic to be here today looking up at the clouds and breathing the fresh air with Bill," she said Tuesday. "It's really great."

The story was reported by the Associated Press on May 31, 2017.

Read the story online.

Column: One last check of the mailbag

Illinois-Springfield senior Amanda Gosbeth (West Chicago) had a season and career to remember. A third-team Division II CoSIDA Academic All-America selection with a perfect 4.0 GPA in mathematics, the -- yes -- catcher hit .336 and started 48 of 54 games to finish fourth in Prairie Stars history in games played. She's top-seven in 12 other categories, first in stolen base percentage (54 of 60) and sacrifice bunts. On April 30 Illinois-Springfield named Gosbeth its female athlete of the year, its senior scholar-athlete, and softball MVP.

The story was reported by the Chicago Daily Herald on June 1, 2017.

Read the article online.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Illinois Innocence Project honored by Decatur NAACP

Charles Palmer has thanked members of the Illinois Innocence Project hundreds of times for coming up with the DNA evidence that exonerated him from the murder he'd spent 16½ years in prison for.

On Saturday night, Palmer was present at the Decatur Hotel and Conference Center to see the Decatur community thank the Illinois Innocence Project, which became the first entity outside Decatur to win the Joe Slaw Civil Rights Award, given annually by the Decatur Branch of the NAACP.

Illinois Innocence Project Executive Director John Hanlon called Palmer and his wife Deborah Palmer to the podium as he accepted the award, but Palmer said all the credit should go to the Innocence Project staff, whom he hugged individually before leaving.

"I'm glad they're finally getting the recognition they deserve," Palmer said. "They're out there affecting people's lives for the better. They said they got this award because of me, but it's not because of me, it's because of the fight they put up for justice.

"Just to be a part of seeing them get honored, and being the first from outside of Decatur to win the award, that meant a lot to me."

The Decatur NAACP has been awarding the Slaw award for more than 30 years. Jeanelle Norman, NAACP Decatur Branch president, said it took a special circumstance to give the awards to someone outside Decatur.

"Their work gave us hope and justice, and it moved the Decatur community one giant step forward in criminal justice," Norman said. "The NAACP believes the service of the Illinois Innocence Project was of such magnitude."

Based out of the University of Illinois-Springfield, the Illinois Innocence Project's goal is to bring justice to the wrongfully convicted.

The story was reported by the Decatur Herald & Review on May 27, 2017.

Read the story online.

'The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy': A New Book About How Americans Remember JFK

Like many Americans who were alive on Nov. 22, 1963, noted historian Michael J. Hogan remembers vividly the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“Even though I was too young to vote for Kennedy at the time, I was not too young to remember the personal impact of the assassination and the incredible drama of the funeral, which captured American attention minute by minute for the better part of four days,” Hogan said in a recent phone interview.

Emeritus professor of history and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Ohio State University, Hogan is now a distinguished professor of history at the University of Illinois Springfield. When he began researching what he thought would become a book about Kennedy’s funeral, he discovered what he called Kennedy’s “astonishingly high” three-year average popularity rating, based on Gallup Poll data.

“It just got me thinking about Kennedy’s memory over time, because even now he’s often rated in public opinion polls, one after the other, as the most popular and the most highly regarded president in the whole of the 20th century and certainly since the end of the Second World War. So here he is, gone 50 years and yet still very, very highly regarded. And I wanted to know why that was – after 50 years his memory seems to be so strongly sustained in the popular imagination,” Hogan said.

Hogan was featured by WOSU Public Media on May 24, 2017.

Read the full story online.

Friday, May 26, 2017

UIS and ALPLM cut partnership on Lincoln Papers

The following statement was sent to Newschannel 20 by Chris Wills with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum:

"The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is an important part of ALPLM’s work, designed to promote a deeper understanding of the rich legacy of the 16th president. As we address numerous issues in completing the project, the ALPLM will not be renewing its agreement with the University of Illinois at Springfield. The agreement will expire by its own terms on June 30.

We thank UIS for its assistance in years past, and look forward to finding other ways to partner in the future.

Questions about the status of the UIS employees assigned to the Papers of Abraham Lincoln can only be answered by the university.

The ALPLM is actively taking steps to ensure the Papers fulfills its vital mission of finding, organizing and sharing the words that Abraham Lincoln wrote and read.

More details, including a staffing plan, will be announced soon."

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on May 26, 2017.

Read the story online. 

Rochester’s Stallworth, Lanphier’s Williams could be huge boost to UIS basketball team

Basketball players Collin Stallworth and Aundrae Williams were on campus earlier this week at the University of Illinois Springfield preparing for summer school even though they have not yet graduated from high school.

Williams, who graduated from Lanphier High School, and Stallworth, who graduated from Rochester High, are eager to kick start college life. And UIS men’s basketball coach Bill Walker is happy they’re joining the program.

“There’s no way anyone saw them play more than we did,” Walker said. The coaching staff’s persistence paid off. Stallworth signed his letter of intent to play for the Prairie Stars in April. Williams inked his letter this month.

“We’ve got a positive response,” Walker said of the signings. “Both those kids are well liked. They were leaders on their team and well thought of.”

That could be a huge boon to the program. Only two players from The State Journal-Register circulation area have played for UIS in its NCAA Division II era dating back to the 2009-10 season. Those two players were Lincoln High School products Brandon Farmer and Caleb Sutton, and Farmer was the last area player on the UIS roster when he was a senior on the 2010-11 team.

Stallworth and Williams played at different high schools, but go way back. They played for the same team in grade school as members of the Springfield Predators in third to fifth grades.

Now they’ll begin their college journey together -- a journey that will start sooner than later with UIS’ summer semester beginning June 5.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on May 26, 2017.

Read the story online.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Men's Baseball: A strong finish for college achievers

A three-year player for the University of Illinois Springfield, through May 23 junior first baseman Michael Rothmund led all of Division II with 24 home runs.

The Prairie Stars' male athlete of the year and a first-team pick in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, Rothmund hit .343 with a .789 slugging percentage (sixth in the nation) on 11 doubles, 4 triples and all those homers.

He scored 56 runs and drove in 68 others, ninth in Division II, and his 161 total bases tied for seventh best.

This article appeared in the Daily Herald on May 24, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: Stars’ Taylor earns All-America honors

Junior shortstop Cole Taylor became the first All-American in University of Illinois Springfield baseball history with a selection to the National College Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II All-America honorable mention team.

Taylor led the Prairie Stars in batting average (.395), hits (85), runs (63), doubles (25), triples (four) and on-base percentage (.461).

He ranked among the Great Lakes Valley Conference and national leaders during the season.

UIS won a school-record 33 games and went 2-2 at the conference tournament.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 24, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, May 15, 2017

UIS graduates set example by getting degree

More than a dozen family members cheered Saturday as Duane Willingham, 21, walked across the stage at the Prairie Capital Convention Center and became the first person in his family to earn a college degree.

Willingham was one of 1,270 University of Illinois Springfield graduates to participate in commencement ceremonies at the convention center. He majored in sociology and anthropology and hopes to have a career in higher education.

Already, Willingham’s trailblazing role as the first in his family to graduate from college has turned him into a role model for family members and people in his south Chicago neighborhood.

Speaking just before the commencement ceremony, Willingham said he appreciates the opportunity to talk other people about the advantages of a college education. “The things you learn in college, you can’t get anywhere else,” Willingham said. “I talk to old high school friends, people in my community and church. A lot of them haven’t seen people go to college and come back with a degree. I’ve had the awesome opportunity of telling them they can do it.”

Denise Sagendorph, 25, of Palatine also is the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She took online courses from UIS and never actually stepped foot on the campus. She earned a degree in computer science in 4 1/2 years while working and raising her daughter, now 7.

While Sagendorph took classes online, Willingham attended classes in Springfield. He said he liked the small campus atmosphere of UIS.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said she was especially proud of students like Willingham and Sagendorph. “My final message, to all of the graduating students, is that I’m proud of you. Every single student has a story to tell,” Koch said. “There has been a moment of adversity somewhere along the line and there has been a great challenge somewhere along the line. Every one of these students, some more than others, have really been determined.”

Out of 1,700 students eligible to graduate at UIS, the 1,270 students who participated in commencement marked the largest in UIS’ history. To accommodate the large number, the university opted for two separate ceremonies instead of one large event.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 13, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

View commencement photographs from The State Journal-Register online.

Susan Koch: Lives transformed by UIS experience

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 May 13, 2017.

"Today’s UIS Perspectives column appears just hours after the 2017 University of Illinois Springfield commencement. With 1,250 students crossing the stage at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in two separate ceremonies, UIS’ 46th commencement celebrated the largest graduating class in school history, and it was a memorable day for graduates and their families. Like every other faculty and staff member, I’m proud of our graduates — each of whom has worked with such determination to earn his or her University of Illinois degree. 

Among the many smiling graduates shaking my hand on the commencement stage was Jeremy Embalabala, who is now a two-time UIS graduate in computer science. Jeremy completed his master’s degree online at the same time he was employed at Horace Mann as a member of the corporate security team. 

“I decided to pursue my master’s degree because I wanted to challenge myself from a technical perspective,” says Jeremy. “The flexibility of online was key for me. I appreciated being able to take courses from professors with real-world experience who are on the cutting edge of implementation and execution. Thanks to the online program, I could go to work, come home and play with my kids, and then work on my online coursework.” 

Jeremy recently accepted a new position at HUB International in Chicago (a global insurance broker) where he is director of security architecture. 

Nathan Hoffman, a political science major from Springfield, and Noah Sisson, a business management major from Virden, may not know each other, but they have more in common than being in the same graduating class. Both came to UIS looking for opportunities to pursue their passions — Nathan for public service and Noah for business entrepreneurship. “I owe much of what I’ve learned at UIS to several outstanding professors, including Dr. Adriana Crocker and Dr. Richard Gilman-Opalsky,” says Nathan. Noah echoes that same sentiment. “Professors Nathan Steele and Bruce Sommer are both great teachers,” he reports. “Dr. Steele’s class on negotiations helped me successfully negotiate the purchase of a piece of land, and I’ve worked with Bruce to develop the concept for a firefighter accountability system — new technology to track a firefighter’s location inside a burning building.” Besides being a full-time student, Noah is a farmer, small business owner and EMT/firefighter. 

The mission of the University of Illinois is to “transform lives and serve society.” I am confident the lives of Jeremy, Nathan and Noah have, indeed, been transformed by their UIS experience. I’m also confident they, like the thousands of other 2017 graduates of all three University of Illinois campuses, will serve society in productive ways across Illinois and around the world for many years to come. 

Congratulations, graduates. We’re proud of you."

Read the entire column online.

Women's Soccer: UIS soccer season shapes up as new coach finalizes squad

Everything is new for the University of Illinois Springfield's women's soccer team: a new coach, new players and a new season.

Head coach Erin Egolf is also hoping for a new (and improved) record after the Prairie Stars finished four games below .500 last year. "I expect our program to do exceptional things," she told the Sangamon Sun. "This team has a lot of potential, and I think we can certainly achieve a lot. I expect this program to achieve success on the field and in the classroom, and this fall is shaping up to be an enjoyable season. This is an outstanding group of girls already, and I am excited to add our new players into the mix. The future is bright for UIS women's soccer, and I am looking forward to the upcoming season."

Egolf, who played soccer at UIS, was a three-time Great Lakes Valley Conference all-league selection and an assistant with the Prairie Stars for three seasons. She said she has big expectations in her first year at the helm, hoping to help her players perform well both on and off the soccer field.

This story appeared in the Sangamon Sun on May 14, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball gets first postseason win

The University of Illinois Springfield’s offense came alive and with the help of pitcher Brayden Jensen, the Prairie Stars upset No. 24 Southern Indiana 7-1 in an elimination game at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Baseball Championship Friday.

It is the first postseason win in program history for UIS.

Jensen gave up a run in the top of the first inning, then retired seven of the next eight batters and did not allow another hit until the fourth. After allowing a hit in the fourth, he retired 14 consecutive batters. Jensen improved his pitching record to 7-0 with two strikeouts and one walk in eight innings. He gave up six hits.

Zach Patterson’s two-run single gave UIS a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Cole Taylor’s two-run home run in the seventh made it 5-1. Trey Hannam hit a two-run homer in the eighth. The Stars out hit Southern Indiana 16-7.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 12, 2017.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Men's Baseball: Seven from UIS earn GLVC honors

Three University of Illinois Springfield players were honored on the Great Lakes Valley All-Conference Team on Wednesday, and four more made the second team.

Senior outfielder Trey Hannam, junior first baseman Michael Rothmund and junior shortstop Cole Taylor each made the first team.

Sophomore pitcher Adam Gregory, junior second baseman Myles Hann, junior pitcher Ethan Howard and senior outfielder Austin Muench were all named to the second team.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 10, 2017.
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Men's Golf: Stars’ Supak shoots school-record 64 at regional

University of Illinois Springfield senior Talon Supak shot a school-record 8-under-par 64 Wednesday in the final round of the NCAA Division II Central/Midwest Regional and tied for fourth.

Supak recorded a three-day total of 13-under-par 203 at Awarri Dunes Golf Course.

Supak just missed returning to nationals for the second straight year. He was the third-highest individual player. He put himself in the running with an unforgettable round that included two eagles and five birdies.

Supak, who started on No. 1, had eagles on the eighth and 12th holes. He had birdies on Nos. 1,7,9, 15 and 18. Supak opened the 54-hole tournament with rounds of 69 and 70.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 10, 2017.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball splits doubleheader

James Battley had two hits, including a home run and two runs scored as the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team won the first game of a doubleheader over Indianapolis on Monday, 5-4. 

Michael Rothmund also homered for UIS. Adam Gregory got the pitching win, throwing five innings while giving up four hits while striking out three.

Jensen Brayden pitched the final four innings to earn his second save.

UIS was shut out in the second game 2-0.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 8, 2017.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Talon Supak ready to defend his NCAA regional title

University of Illinois Springfield senior Talon Supak looks to win his second straight NCAA Central/Midwest Regional Title.

Supak, one of five individual golfers selected, will tee off Monday morning in Axtell, Nebraska.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on May 7, 2017.

Watch the story online.

University of Illinois at Springfield faculty ends strike

University of Illinois at Springfield administration and faculty have reached a tentative contract agreement, ending a dayslong strike that fell on the last week of spring classes, both sides announced late Sunday.

UIS United Faculty, which represents about 160 tenured and tenure-track professors, went on strike last Tuesday. Striking instructors did not teach classes or hold office hours during the walkout, though university and union officials could not say how many classes were affected.

The strike is over," UIS Chancellor Susan Koch and union President Lynn Fisher said in a joint statement. "We are so glad to be finishing this academic year on a strong note, with the largest-ever graduating class receiving their diplomas on May 13. As we move forward, we will continue working together to realize more of the aspirations of our students, faculty and all those who belong to our university family."

No details of the tentative contract were released.

The final agreement needs to be ratified by a union vote, which Fisher said will take place before the end of the semester Saturday.

This article appeared in the Chicago Tribune on May 8, 2017.

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Downtown shuttle for UIS students wraps up first semester

Robert Ewa sat in the parking lot of University of Illinois Springfield’s recreation center Friday night with the lights of his 16-passenger van flashing, waiting to shuttle college students looking to experience Springfield’s nightlife to downtown and back. “Some weekends, it’s crazy,” said Ewa, with more than a dozen students lining up for a ride each hour. “And then some weekends, maybe there’s other events, I carry only three (passengers).”

This past weekend marked the end of the semester-long test run for the free service that ran every hour between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

UIS Student Government Association, several bars and Downtown Springfield Inc. sponsored the shuttle. Student government members said it went well and the incoming president is considering continuing the service in the fall.

Meanwhile, a couple of bar owners say they’d be on board to support the shuttle next semester as well. “This was more of test phase to see if students would be interested in it, and we found they are,” said outgoing student government president Austin Mehmet, who worked with downtown establishments and DSI to set up the service.

Knowing the shuttle is there for students to use was one hurdle in its first semester. Ewa said some passengers found out about the service from others who had used it.

The student government association put $3,000 of its $10,000 budget toward the shuttle, according to Mehmet. It’s up to the incoming government to decide whether to allocate the same chunk next semester. Garrett Nimmo, the incoming student president, said he’d be open to funding it again if students are interested, but he’s also heard about another transportation need on campus.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 7, 2017.

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UIS administrators, professors reach agreement; strike ends

Final exams will begin as scheduled at the University of Illinois Springfield on Monday after school administrators and the union that represents tenured and tenure-track professors reached a tentative agreement that will end the strike that kept instructors out of the classroom since Tuesday.

The deal was reached Sunday evening after three days of long bargaining sessions, including a meeting that went from 9 a.m. Saturday until 1 a.m. Sunday.

“This is a step forward in bridging the gap between faculty members and administration.” Exact terms of the agreement won’t be released until the contract is ratified by the union, UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said.

UIS’ commencement ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. “We are so glad to be finishing this academic year on a strong note, with the largest-ever graduating class receiving their diplomas on May 13,” UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said in a statement. “As we move forward, we will continue working together to realize more of the aspirations of our students, faculty and all those who belong to our university family.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 7, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

Friday, May 5, 2017

UIS takes back the night

The University of Illinois Springfield rallied against sexual violence at the 10th annual Take Back the Night event, held on April 28. Protesters gathered at the colonnade at 8:30 p.m. to march around campus, followed by a rally at the Lincoln Residence Great Hall.

The event, organized by the UIS Women’s Center and the Department of Residence Life, featured testimonies read by students, faculty and staff.

Campus sexual assault is pervasive. According to a 2015 report by the Association of American Universities, 23.1 percent of female undergraduate students and 5.4 percent of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through violence, physical force or incapacitation.

“The best part of Take Back the Night is that it brings everyone together,” said Lynn Otterson, Director of the UIS Women's Center. “Even if it’s not a lot of us, the event helps us understand that we have the same connections and that we have that sense of togetherness to go through these issues.”

This story appeared in The Illinois Times on May 4, 2017.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Three UIS softball players earn GLVC honors

University of Illinois Springfield softball players Jaycee Craver, Amanda Gosbeth and Katie Wooldridge received All-Great Lakes Valley Conference honors Wednesday.

Craver, a sophomore pitcher, and Gosbeth , a senior catcher/outfielder, were named to the second team. Craver had a 2.95 earned run average and a 10-9 record in the regular season.

Gosbeth hit .350, had 29 RBIs and 13 stolen bases and is a James R. Spalding Sportsmanship Award nominee. 

Wooldridge, a junior third baseman, appeared on the third team. She hit a team-high .355.

This is the fourth time in program history UIS has had three players named to the all-GLVC team.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 3, 2017.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

UIS professors hit picket line; many classes called off

University of Illinois Springfield professors, both active and retired, and students formed a picket line Tuesday morning as members of the instructors’ union went on strike. Meanwhile, many students roamed the campus wondering how the remaining few days of the spring semester will play out, with final exams scheduled to start next week and graduation day coming May 13.

“My thoughts are in support of the faculty, but at the same time, I feel it’s kind of bad timing with finals week going on and a lot of the stress the students are under,” said Crystal Summerrise, a 19-year-old UIS freshman from Chicago.

“The cancellation of class has kind of put us at a halt.” University of Illinois Springfield United Faculty, the union that represents 168 tenured and tenure-track professors, announced Monday night they were going on strike after a seven-hour bargaining session earlier in the day didn’t produce an agreement.

Jon Welton, a 20-year-old freshman from the Decatur area, read the signs and wondered why the professors didn’t stay in the classroom and teach. “If you look at this from the outside, if you are here for the students, I feel that you would be teaching and fighting your battle on your own time,” Welton said. “If you’d rather be teaching, nobody has required you to come out here and protest. You could be teaching your class, in my eyes.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 2, 2017.

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Women's Softball: Stars seeded sixth in GLVC tourney

The University of Illinois Springfield is the No. 6 seed for the eight-team Great Lakes Valley Conference Softball Championship Tournament starting Thursday in East Peoria.

UIS opens the double-elimination, three-day tourney against third-seeded Missouri-St. Louis Thursday at noon at EastSide Centre.

The Prairie Stars opened GLVC regular-season play with a split against the then No. 17 Tritons. Missouri-St. Louis won the first game 4-3 in 10 innings.

UIS won the second game 6-1. UIS is in the tournament for the first time since going 1-2 at the 2015 tournament.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 1, 2017.

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Men's Baseball: UIS baseball sets program record for wins

The University of Illinois Springfield set the single-season record for wins with an 11-5 victory over Saint Joseph’s in the second game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader at Lenz Field Monday.

The win was the Prairie Stars’ 29th of the season, surpassing the 28 wins they had in the 2016 and 2014 campaigns. It also clinched a spot for UIS in the GLVC Baseball Championship Tournament. 

Brayden Jensen was the winning pitcher with eight strikeouts and two walks in eight innings.

UIS’ Cole Taylor was 4-for-5 with two doubles and had three RBIs. Michael Rothmund also drove in three runs for the Stars.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 1, 2017.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball ties school record for most wins in a season

The University of Illinois Springfield had to move its game with St. Joseph's from the UIS Baseball Field to Lenz Field in Jacksonville.

The Prairie Stars split the double header 5-4 & 5-4.

UIS moves to 28-16 on the season and ties the school record for most wins in a single season.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 30, 2017.

Watch the story online.

UIS holds 10th annual "Take Back The Night" event

The Women’s Center and Residence Life at the University of Illinois Springfield held the 10th annual “Take Back the Night” to raise awareness about sexual assault.

The candlelit march went through campus, ending with a rally at Lincoln Residence Hall.

The theme for this year's event was "Be the Change."

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 28, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Local college commencements feature sports, business, government leaders

Ed Curtis, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Health System, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters from the University of Illinois Springfield, which will hold two commencement ceremonies on May 13, both at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

The 12:30 p.m. ceremony is for students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences while the 5:30 p.m. ceremony is for students in the College of Business and Management, College of Education and Human Services and College of Public Affairs and Administration.

Curtis, who began his career as a registered nurse, has made Memorial Health System, which includes seven affiliates, “a premium health care destination,” according to the award. Under Curtis’ leadership since 2008, the health system’s annual revenue has doubled to $1 billion.

Curtis currently chairs the Illinois Health and Hospital Association Board. He has served Springfield in volunteer leadership roles with several community organizations, including the Springfield Urban League, United Way of Central Illinois and Central Illinois Foodbank.

Kristi Barnwell, assistant professor of history, will serve as the grand marshal for both ceremonies.

The student speaker is Alexander William Camp, who will graduate with a master’s degree in public affairs reporting. He will address both graduations.

Both ceremonies will be webcast live at www.uis.edu/technology/uislive/.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 30, 2017.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

UIS students raise money for Hazel Dell school

Annette McCarthy of Auburn was tapping into her creative side Wednesday night during a special art fundraiser for Hazel Dell Elementary School.

The fundraiser, “Canvas with a Cause,” was organized by the 18 University of Illinois Springfield graduate students in the Social Justice and Advocacy class, which is part of the Human Development Counseling program. The students wanted to raise money for school supplies for Hazel Dell, and also shine a light on the inequities of public education funding for low-income schools.

Wednesday’s fundraiser was held at the Aqua Sports Club on Lake Springfield. The students raised about $700 to be used so Hazel Dell can buy school supplies such as notebooks, dry erase markers and an overhead projector.

Hazel Dell was singled out because its location at 850 West Lake Shore Drive is close to the UIS campus.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 27, 2017.

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UIS baseball, softball teams earn regional ranking

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team has earned a regional ranking for the first time in program history.

UIS is No. 10 in the first Midwest Regional rankings released Wednesday.

The Prairie Stars are tied with Southern Indiana for first place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division. UIS is 27-15 overall and 15-5 in the conference.

Meanwhile, the UIS softball team is No. 10 in the Midwest Region rankings released Wednesday.

The Prairie Stars (29-21) have swept four straight Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheaders and are on a nine-game win streak.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 27, 2017.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Men's Baseball: UIS 1B Michael Rothmund earns GLVC award

University of Illinois Springfield junior Michael Rothmund has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week and is the first player in program history to earn the weekly honor. 

The first baseman from Lombard hit .579 and was 11-for-19 in five wins last week. He hit a home run, two triples, two doubles and five RBIs and scored seven runs. He had 20 total bases and a 1.053 slugging percentage. He had multiple hits in four games.

Rothmund leads the GLVC in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage. He ranks second in runs scores and is in the top six in hits.

Rothmund hit a pair of two-run home runs and the University of Illinois Springfield beat MacMurray 18-14 at UIS Baseball Field Tuesday.

UIS built a 7-1 lead in the first inning. The Prairie Stars hit five home runs and finished with 21 hits in their sixth straight win. Rothmund and Troy Cantu had four RBIs each. Zach Patterson was 4-for-4. Austin Muench was 2-for-3 with two doubles.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 26, 2017.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Women's Golf: Hill leads UIS to victory

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf squad won its home Spring Invite Sunday.

Brooke Hill led the Prairie Stars with a second-place finish in the 46-player field, shooting a four-over-par 76 to gain one of only three scores under 80 for the day.

UIS shot a team-best 640 over the two-day event, beating Lewis by four strokes and easily outpacing five other Great Lakes Valley Conference teams in the field.

Jocelyn Matsen carded a 77 on Sunday and Maria Espinosa had a 78.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 23, 2017.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Men's Baseball: Ramirez picks up 100th baseball win at UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team blew open a close game with five runs in their half of the seventh for a 6-2 win over visiting Truman State.

It marked the 100th victory of coach Chris Ramirez’s career.

UIS trailed the Bulldogs 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh before Cole Taylor doubled down the left field line and came home on a Trey Hannam RBI single.

Hannam later scored on a sacrifice fly by Kenny Hansen to give UIS its first lead at 3-2. Drew Harper followed with his fourth home run of the season and the Prairie Stars were on their way to their sixth consecutive home victory.

The Prairie Stars improved to 22-15 overall.

This game was recorded in The State Journal-Register on April 19, 2017.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Innocence Project director to speak in Decatur on Wednesday

John J. Hanlon, executive director and legal director of the Illinois Innocence Project, at the University of Illinois Springfield, is slated to speak at the Macon County Criminal Justice Group meeting Wednesday.

Hanlon's primary duty with the Innocence Project is to work on cases in which it is believed there is a reasonable possibility that DNA testing could lead to a wrongfully convicted prisoner's exoneration. 

He has served as adjunct faculty for the Legal Studies and/or Criminal Justice departments at the University of Illinois Springfield since 2004.

This story appeared in the Herald and Review on April 17, 2017.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Union faculty at University of Illinois Springfield authorize strike

Professors at the University of Illinois Springfield have voted to authorize a strike.

The vote does not mean that the 168 tenured and tenure-tracked faculty will definitely be walking off the job, but it does give union leaders the ability to call a strike if a settlement can’t be reached.

“We remain hopeful that the university will show some meaningful progress at our next bargaining session,” said Kristi Barnwell, associate professor of history and vice president of University of Illinois Springfield United Faculty, the teachers’ union. “We are waiting to see where things are going and how much progress we can make before we commit to actually going on strike.”

The two sides are scheduled to resume negotiations on Monday.

Professors at UIS can’t strike immediately because Illinois law has a 10-day cooling off period. The last day of class at UIS is May 6, and finals will be held the following week.

The university released a statement Friday that said, “While negotiations have been underway for some time, the university received UIS United Faculty’s first proposal on salary and wages just this Wednesday via email. It is now under review, and everyone involved is committed to reaching a fair initial contract as soon as possible.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 15, 2017.

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Rochester's Collin Stallworth commits to UIS

Rochester High School senior forward Collin Stallworth committed to the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball program Friday, marking the first time in many years that the Prairie Stars landed a local player.

UIS pulled off a big-time score getting Stallworth. The 6-foot-6 forward was a star wide receiver on Rochester’s Class 4A state championship team last fall, but passed on the option to play NCAA Division I football to pursue his dream of playing college basketball.

“I’ve always grown up wanting to play basketball (in college),” he said. “It was my dream. But I had some pretty big football schools talk to me. I wanted to give that consideration because it was big football schools, but I wasn’t in love with football like I was in love with basketball. I knew I had to play basketball in college. If I were to play football, I don’t think I would have fun.”

So even though football programs such as Illinois, Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota, Northwestern contacted him, Stallworth stayed with basketball.

He informed UIS of his decision to play basketball for the Stars Friday afternoon. He expects to sign a national letter of intent on Monday.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 16, 2017.

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Baseball: Muench’s clutch hit helps UIS gain split

Austin Muench drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning and the University of Illinois Springfield won the first game of a doubleheader split with Bellarmine Saturday in Great Lakes Valley Conference play.

Muench finished 2-for-4 and his single gave UIS a 3-2 lead before the Prairie Stars tacked on one more run in the inning. Adam Gregory (7-2) pitched eight innings for the win, striking out eight.

Bellarmine scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat UIS 9-8 in the nightcap.

Myles Hann went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. The Prairie Stars are 21-15 overall and 11-5 in the GLVC.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 16, 2017.

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Softball: Stars’ winning streak

Ali Haesele and Jaycee Craver each threw a complete game as the University of Illinois Springfield extended its winning streak to five games with 12-1 and 8-1 wins Saturday over Indianapolis in a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader.

Crave (7-9) allowed seven hits and one earned run in Game 2. She struck out two and walked one. Erin Stroup (2-for-3) and BriAnna Edgar each hit home runs and Morgan Edwards finished 3-for-4 with an RBI for UIS.

The Prairie Stars (25-21 overall, 11-11 in the GLVC) won the opener in five innings. Haesele (14-6) struck out six, walked two and allowed four hits. Lakyn Wagoner went 3-for-4 and Edwards finished with a double and drove in three runs.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 17, 2017.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

UIS’ Ramirez closing in on 100 career wins

University of Illinois Springfield baseball coach Chris Ramirez is just three wins shy of 100 for his career.

He has 97 wins in four seasons. UIS had 20-plus win seasons in each of his first three years.

Ramirez has a chance to reach the milestone this weekend, with the Prairie Stars playing doubleheaders at Bellarmine today and Saturday. UIS plays Tuesday at home against Truman State.

UIS is tied with Southern Indiana for first in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division with a 9-3 conference record. The Stars are 19-13 overall.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 14, 2017.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Close friendship brings Nelson to Prairie Stars

University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball coach Bill Walker has signed Gilwan Nelson, a player who already has a strong connection to the program.

The 6-foot-5 wing from Mount Vernon is a close friend of UIS sophomore forward Bahari Amaya, who is from Harrisburg.

Nelson played the previous two seasons at Olney Central College. He averaged a team-high 14.5 points as a sophomore. He also averaged 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

“He is a good scorer and will be able to score at this level,” Walker said. “His best value for us is he is so versatile offensively and defensively. He can guard any position on the floor.” Nelson is expected to give the Prairie Stars different defensive options. He is interchangeable and really values defense. That’s really the kind of guy what we needed.”

UIS is expected to return everyone except senior forward Paxton Harmon from last season’s 9-18 team.

This story was reported in The State Journal-Register on April 12, 2017.

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UIS looks to recruit more child advocates

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The University of Illinois Springfield is working to recruit more students to help the most vulnerable.

The Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center officials said they see around five to seven kids a week suffering from child abuse.

During a UIS panel, students from the UIS child advocacy studies certification program discussed their experiences in this field. There were about a dozen agencies on hand to allow students to seek internships and possible employment in their offices.

CAST's (Child Advocacy Studies) clinical assistant professor Betsy Goulet told the students be prepared to do more with less funding. "I hoped by the time when I was at this point in my life we would have made greater strides," said Goulet.

CAST is one of three child advocacy programs in the country to earn approval from the national training center.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 12, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

UIS child advocacy program, one of three in the country

The University of Illinois Springfield is now one of only three child advocacy programs in the country to earn approval from the national training center.

The Child Advocacy Studies Program began at UIS in 2015, but has quickly established itself as top contender in educating child protection professionals.

UIS said it's an important milestone for the program, but it also benefits the students.

“They know that they have completed a certificate that meets a national standard and I think that says something for our program that we have modeled our curriculum after a national program," said Betsy Goulet, professor and clinical assistant.

UIS uses a simulation lab and as well as a mock courtroom on campus to teach students how to help children-at-risk.

This story aired on FOX Illinois on April 11, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Slammers baseball: Roster gets boost from pitcher Ortiz

The Joliet Slammers’ 2017 roster is beginning to take shape.

The addition of Joseph Ortiz, a former Cubs prospect who pitched in 32 major-league games for the Texas Rangers in 2013, is being counted on to help the Slammers build on a 2016 campaign where they won the Frontier League East Division championship.

The Slammers also have some area products who will make their Frontier League debuts this season. Zach Jones, a Northwestern graduate from Glenview, will play the outfield and first base for Isom. Maxwell Biedrzycki, a University of Illinois Springfield graduate and Plainfield native, will add depth to the Slammers’ pitching staff.

The 2017 Frontier League Tryout Camp and Draft will be held April 24-25 at GCS Ballpark, home of the Gateway Grizzlies. All 12 teams will be present, along with scouts from multiple major-league franchises. The Slammers open at home on Tuesday, May 16, against the Traverse City Beach Bums.

This story appeared in The Herald-News on April 10, 2017.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Women's Softball: UIS bounces back for split

The University of Illinois Springfield smoldered in a 6-3 loss to host Lewis University, then busted out in a big way for a 13-3 win in the second game of GLVC doubleheader.

The Prairie Stars fell behind early in the first game and rallied to within 3-2 in the fourth inning on a homer by Morgan Edwards and an RBI double by Ali Haesele, but stranded runners at second and third to end the threat.

But in game two, it was the Stars — and especially sophomore Amanda Gosbeth — who came out hot. UIS dropped four runs on the Flyers in the top of the first inning and never trailed in the 13-3 win. Gosbeth went 4 for 4 with two homers, five RBIs and three runs scored to lead the way for UIS. Haesele also homered in the game.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 9, 2017.

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Men's Baseball: Prairie Stars complete sweep of Lewis

The University of Illinois Springfield finished off its second four-game sweep of a Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) opponent this season, decking visiting Lewis University 7-2 and 9-4 in the home portion of the four-game series.

In game one, Myles Hann tripled in a pair of runs in the sixth to snap a 2-2 tie and Drew Harper soon followed with a three-run homer to give the Stars control. Adam Gregory improved his pitching record to 6-2 with a career-high nine strikeouts.

In game two, the Stars pounced in the first inning, with Trey Hannam doubling in the first run before Hann uncorked a three-run homer over center field. UIS led 6-0 before the Flyers could get on the board. Braden Jenson improved to 4-0 with six solid innings of work for UIS in the second game.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 9, 2017.

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UIS demonstrates ruck march for Central Illinois Food Bank

Saturday, the Military and Veterans Club at the University of Illinois Springfield held a military inspired ruck march to bring more awareness to student veterans.

Participants were asked to carry their donations in backpacks as they would in the military, then take on the UIS Cross Country Course, before dropping off their donations at the end for the Central Illinois Food Bank.

The club has plans to hold more food ruck drives down the road and want to make it bigger and better each year.

This story aired in WICS Newschannel 20 on April 8, 2017.

Watch the story online.

UIS students presenting their research at national conference

Eleven students from the University of Illinois Springfield are presenting their work this weekend at the 31st Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research being held through Saturday at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

Some of the students’ research is already being used to solve problems around the world. “I think the water quality in The Gambia will improve in the next few years,” said 29-year-old UIS student Shyleen Frost of Pleasant Plains. “They hadn’t measured water quality at some sites in 10 years, so we gave them the updated data from our samplings, and they are now implementing better structures for water-quality impact, and have issued directives for a lot of programs like trash disposal.”

“It’s really great to represent the university in a national conference like this,” added Frost, and although she would like to pursue a career in virology, she chose water quality in the west African nation as her undergraduate research topic because “water quality is important and applicable to the field, since it is pretty essential to life.”

Other UIS students taking part in this week’s conference -- which drew some 4,000 from across the country -- include Turner Clark of Swansea, Ebony Forslund, Amanda Monke and Gabriel Broughton of Springfield, Marquiera Harris, Chicago; Elizabeth Karras, Des Plaines; Alex Skarr, Naperville; Allie McIntire, Washington; and Nhan Khanh Le of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They are accompanied by Tiffani Saunders, UIS sociology/anthropology lecturer, and Keenan Dungey, associate professor of chemistry and director of the Undergraduate Research Support Program. “For some students, this is their first time to present outside a classroom setting,” Dungey said. “It also gives them some professional connections and opportunities to look at graduate schools and what their future careers might be.”

Several of the students in Memphis this week will also present their research on the UIS campus at the annual Student Technology Arts and Research Symposium April 20-21.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 7, 2017.

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Susan Koch: STARS symposium to present sustainability theme

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 April 9, 2017.

Less than a year ago, the University of Illinois board of trustees approved a new strategic framework for the three universities in the UI system with the goal to reaffirm the central role that higher education plays in promoting the public good in Illinois and beyond.

One of four strategic pillars of our framework is “Research and Scholarship with Global Impact.” 

Research and scholarship, including creative work in the humanities and the arts, not only generate new knowledge of great value to our state and to society but also provide students with valuable opportunities to enrich their educational experiences.

Providing opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty one-to-one is a particularly strong feature of the University of Illinois Springfield student experience, and the results of those opportunities will be “front and center” this month at the STARS Symposium.

STARS stands for Student Arts and Research Symposium, and this annual event offers a rich array of presentations and performances by UIS students, each of whom has worked closely throughout the year with a faculty mentor to complete an individual research or creative project.

With a special symposium theme of “Sustainability,” this year’s event, co-chaired by Mike Miller, associate professor of visual arts, and Carolee Rigsbee, assistant professor of management, promises to be especially intriguing.

The program includes student presentations of more than 80 projects representing the natural sciences, the social sciences, the arts, business, the humanities and technology.

A special addition to the symposium this year is a field trip (by charter bus) to the Emiquon Nature Preserve floodplain restoration project on the Illinois River near Havana, where participants will be hosted by Field Station Director Dr. Tom Rothfus for a tour of the preserve and opportunities to learn about research that faculty and their students are conducting at the UIS Therkildsen Field Station. 

“STARS represents so much of what we try to do and be as UIS faculty,” says Rigsbee. “It is a community of faculty, students and staff supporting student scholarship. Having the opportunity to help students strengthen their skills and abilities so they can be more successful in their careers while at the same time advancing work in your own area of study is a win-win proposition.”

Read the entire column online.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Illinois Innocence Project: Judge vacates conviction in Naperville murder case

A DuPage County judge on Thursday ordered a new trial for a man convicted 20 years ago and sentenced to 45 years in prison for arson and murder in his mother-in-law's death.

The ruling vacated the conviction of William Amor, 60, who is imprisoned at the Taylorville Correctional Facility in central Illinois.

The ruling follows a weeklong hearing in December when Amor's attorneys presented new arson-related scientific evidence. He is represented by the University of Illinois Springfield's Illinois Innocence Project. 

Amor's conviction was based on a false confession and arson findings that are no longer scientifically reliable, his attorneys said in statement.

His attorneys said the false confession to police came after 15 hours of questioning and Amor's being served divorce papers at the station.

Amor's attorneys said evidence points to the fire being accidental.

"It is undisputed by the experts in this case that fire science has evolved, and it has changed to such an extent that the original findings in this case are unreliable," said Amor's attorney Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director of the Illinois Innocence Project Chicago office.

A hearing is scheduled April 13 to determine if Amor will be released or if prosecutors will appeal, Amor's attorneys said.

This story appeared in the Daily Herald on April 6, 2017.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Loves Park resident receives journalism award

Jeff Burnett of Loves Park recently received an honorable mention at the annual Illinois College Press Association competition.

Burnett is a member of The Journal, a student newspaper at the University of Illinois Springfield. Burnett received the award for his story about the Sangamon County Drug Court, which was published in the fall 2016 Journal magazine, Beyond.

This story appeared in the Rockford Register Star on April 5, 2017.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

UIS softball splits with McKendree

Ali Haesele hit the game-winning RBI single in the fourth inning and the University of Illinois Springfield won 4-3 against McKendree in a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader Tuesday. 

She also struck out seven and walked none to earn the pitching win. McKendree won the second game 5-2. The Prairie Stars are 20-18 and 6-8.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 4, 2017.

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UIS names new dean of College of Public Affairs

University of Illinois Springfield has named the new Dean of the College of Public Affairs.

Robert Smith previously served as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Savannah State University, and Chair of the Political Science Department at Kennesaw State University.

He is scheduled to start on July 16 and said he's excited about his new position.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 3, 2017.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Women's Softball: Stars’ Wooldridge, Gosbeth hit back-to-back walk-off homers

Katie Wooldridge and Amanda Gosbeth hit walk-off home runs in each game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader and the University of Illinois Springfield swept Bellarmine Saturday.

With two out, Wooldridge hit her first collegiate home run in the seventh inning and UIS won 1-0 in the first game.

Gosbeth led off the seventh inning of the second game with her homer, lifting UIS to a 3-2 victory. Teammate BriAnna Edgar was 2-for-3.

UIS’ Jaycee Craver struck out seven and walked one in 6 1/3 innings.

UIS hosts a doubleheader today against No. 10 Southern Indiana at noon.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 1, 2017.

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Men's Baseball: UIS baseball wins on walk-off

Cole Taylor hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning and the University of Illinois Springfield won 4-3 against Southern Indiana in a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader Saturday.

Southeast High School and Lincoln Land Community College graduate Mike Ringer was pitching for Southern Indiana when Taylor hit the home run.

Ringer took the loss after striking out two and walking one in 1 2/3 innings. He only gave up one hit and one run. The Stars and Screaming Eagles split their doubleheader.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 1, 2017.

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UIS announces deputy athletics director

Roy L. Brown III has joined the University of Illinois Springfield Department of Athletics as the deputy athletics director.

He will be responsible for leading the external affairs efforts. He is a native of New Orleans and graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Brown was the senior associate director of athletics for external relations and oversaw marketing and communications at Towson University the past 3 ½ years.

Prior to Towson, Brown was the associate director of athletics for sports marketing and promotions for seven years at Fairfield University. At Southeastern Louisiana University, Brown was the assistant director of athletics for marketing and community relations.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 1, 2017.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

How to protect your information from being sold

If President Donald Trump signs the bill congress just passed, Internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T or Comcast would be able to collect your search history or location data and sell it to the highest bidder.

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield are working on an app to protect yourself, and there are steps you can take to be safe.

Students and faculty at UIS say the thought of service providers selling your data is scary.

"Private companies can sell your data already, but the fact that ISPs have direct access to your data because you go through them when you use the internet, and now they can sell your data," Brian Rogers said. "That is worrisome for me."

Computer science professor Ronald Loui says it's not just a privacy issue, it's a national security issue.

He's worried criminals will buy data and use it to blackmail people working in high security government jobs.

"We know you do this," Loui said. "We know your sexual preference. We know your medical history. We know some of your browsing habits. Your employer would not like that. Maybe you're not embarrassed, but your employer would be. And all we ask is what time they lock the doors at night."

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on March 30, 2017.

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UIS alumni men's soccer game set for April 29

The University of Illinois Springfield men's soccer program is hosting an alumni game at noon April 29 at Kiwanis Field.

The game is open to all men's soccer alumni. To participate, contact assistant coach Nate Gaudreault to register at ngaud2@uis.edu.

A senior soccer banquet will take place at Piper Glen Golf Club after the game from 3-6 p.m. Tickets cost $30 and include a meal. A cocktail hour is from 3-4 p.m. A silent auction will be held. To register, log on to www.uisprairiestars.com.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 31, 2017.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

U of I students ask lawmakers for education funding

Wednesday, more than 200 students from the University of Illinois system's three universities met with legislators during U of I Day at the state capitol.

Students had the chance to meet with their elected representatives to encourage funding support for the U of I schools and pose for a picture.

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen said this is a great opportunity to put a face on their key role in moving Illinois forward.

"We're talking to our legislators and we're basically asking them to please come together, put aside the games, put aside the proxy war about education and come together and make decisions that their constituents would benefit from," said Marvin Slaughter with the Student Advocacy Coalition.

Slaughter said he was at the statehouse on Wednesday to make sure good professors, research opportunities, internships, and more don't leave Illinois.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on March 29, 2017.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Women's Softball: Stroup, Stars beat Lindenwood

Erin Stroup hit a three-run triple in the fifth inning and propelled the University of Illinois Springfield to a 8-2 win against Lindenwood Tuesday.

The Prairie Stars scored six runs in the fifth. UIS' Allison Rose finished 3-for-4.

Katie Wooldridge had three RBIs for UIS.

This game was written up in The State Journal-Register on March 28, 2017.

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UIS teachers stage “work-in” to try and get first contract negotiated

It’s been 18 months since a faculty union formed at the University of Illinois Springfield, and there’s still no agreement in place.

So a small group of faculty members staged a work-in outside Chancellor Susan Koch’s office on Tuesday.

“We keep asking the chancellor — just like we’ve been asking her today — why are you not talking to us? Why will you not meet with leadership at the union to talk about the slow pace of bargaining?” says Kristi Barnwell, vice president of UIS United Faculty. “We’ll just keep putting the pressure on until we get this contract. We want something by the end of this semester."

For its part, a UIS spokesman says it’s their practice to negotiate at the bargaining table not in the media.

Full Statement from Derek Schnapp, UIS Spokesperson:
“The university administration is anxious to get a contract agreement just as faculty members are. Any time you craft a first contract with a newly formed union, negotiations take considerable time. It is the university’s practice to negotiate with all unions at the bargaining table rather than through the media, as we believe this is most conducive to constructive, good faith collective bargaining.”

This story aired on WTAX on March 28, 2017.

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Concert-goer dies after falling at Sangamon Auditorium show

A Petersburg man injured Sunday night after falling a total of 25 feet in an area beneath the stage at the University of Illinois Springfield's Sangamon Auditorium has died.

Audience member John Kremitzki, 51, was pronounced dead at 12:18 p.m. Monday at Memorial Medical Center, the Sangamon County coroner's office announced Tuesday. An autopsy conducted Tuesday indicated that Kremitzki died from "blunt force" injuries related to the fall, Coroner Cinda Edwards said. Foul play isn't suspected. "I think it was a pure accident," Edwards said.

During an intermission of a performance of Brit Floyd, a Pink Floyd tribute show, Kremitzki, who had been sitting in the pit area with other audience members in front of the stage, fell to his knees, UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said.

According to witnesses, Kremitzki tried to stand up and stumbled forward toward the stage's front, then "rolled through an opening in front of the stage," Schnapp said. A male audience member who was sitting near Kremitzki tried to help and went through the opening after him, Schnapp said.

The State Journal-Register confirmed that the name of the man trying to help was Greg Hoffman, a Springfield resident. "The two dropped approximately five feet, onto a ledge area beneath the stage," Schnapp said. "A third audience member followed them onto the ledge area to assist."

Kremitzki, who "appeared to be in distress," rolled off the ledge and, with the first audience member who followed him, fell about 20 feet "into a deeper space beneath the stage," Schnapp said. Edwards said Kremitzki had "some underlying medical issues" that she didn't describe. But she said the autopsy showed that Kremitzki apparently wasn't having a heart attack or stroke at the time of the incident. The third audience member remained on the ledge and called for help, Schnapp said. 

Kremitzki and the audience member who fell with him were transported by ambulance to the hospital, Schnapp said.

The UIS Police Department is handling the investigation, Schnapp said. "The entire Sangamon Auditorium family was saddened by the tragic accident on Sunday night," Sangamon Auditorium director Bob Vaughn said in a statement Tuesday. "We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of John Kremitzki," Vaughn said. "We also extend profound gratitude to the first responders and those in the audience who did all they could to help Mr. Kremitzki. Our staff is cooperating fully with medical and law enforcement professionals to determine what happened and to ensure a positive experience for all of our guests."

This story was published in The State-Journal Register on March 28, 2017.

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College students speaking out on P.E. requirements in Illinois

Dozens of students from Illinois State University and the University of Illinois Springfield made sure they're voices were heard throughout the capitol Tuesday.

Not only to voice their concerns with P.E. requirements in schools but also to support a tax on high-sugar drinks.

Students from the health education field met individually with state senators and representatives to make sure their voice was heard.

"All of us advocate for the health, especially of young students, elementary school, middle school, high school, because that's where the habits that people have later in life truly form,” said Alex Simko, a junior at ISU.

This story aired on Fox Illinois on March 28, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Papini to be University of Illinois provost, vice chancellor

Dennis Papini, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at South Dakota State University since 2012, has accepted the position of vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Illinois at Springfield. 

UIS made the announcement Friday. “I want to thank Dean Papini for his leadership and vision during his time at South Dakota State University,” said Dennis Hedge, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He has led an effort to revitalize liberal arts education at our university in a way that allows students in his college and throughout the entire university opportunities to grow and fulfill their academic potential. We are thankful for his many accomplishments at SDSU and wish him well in his new endeavor.”

Papini came to SDSU from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he chaired the Department of Psychology in the school’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. He has also served on the faculty at Western Illinois University, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and Southeast Missouri University.

Papini’s new role at UIS will begin July 1.

This article appeared in the Brookings Register on March 28, 2017.

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