Thursday, October 12, 2017

Marketing Justice: ‘Law-Mart’ Examines For-Profit Law Schools

First established in the early 2000s, a handful of for-profit law schools say they’re on a mission to diversify the legal profession.

Before becoming an assistant professor of legal studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, Riaz Tejani spent three years teaching at a such a school.

Tejani incorporates that experience into his new book, “Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools.”

“At first I thought this would be an opportunity to teach an underserved population that historically had been kept out of the legal profession. The percentage of minorities at these for-profit law schools is 35 percent, much higher than not-for-profit law schools,” says Tejani.

“Law Mart” identifies the financial incentives that separate the country’s five for-profit law schools from their non-profit peers.

“The main difference is that their surplus income is given to investors, instead of being reinvested in the school,” says Tejani. With less than half of students passing their state bar exams and some of the highest rates of student loan default, Tejani questions whether these for-profit law schools actually profit students.

Tejani's interview appeared on WTTW Chicago Tonight on October 11, 2017.

Watch the interview online.

State Journal-Register - Our View: Fundraising initiative points to even stronger future for UIS

The following is an editorial from The State Journal-Register that appeared on October 11, 2017.

The University of Illinois Springfield is arguably already stellar. 

It boasts excellent public affairs programs, offering students unmatched hands-on experience through internships at the Statehouse. The Computer Science Department has been designated a national Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, which aims to reduce vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure. The Illinois Innocence Project has been involved in freeing 10 people who were wrongly imprisoned. 

Past studies have shown UIS and its alumni provide $176.8 million in income to the local economy. 

Dig into just about any program at the university and you’re likely to find something outstanding. 

And yet, the title of the school’s new fundraising campaign — Reaching Stellar: The Campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield — is fitting, too. It indicates that no matter how good, UIS will continue to strive toward even greater excellence. 

The new $40 million fundraising campaign — of which $18.5 million has already been raised through gifts, grants and pledges — is an ambitious goal that if achieved, can help accomplish that vision. 

The largest fundraising campaign in UIS’s history was announced Tuesday and will go through 2022.  
It’s appropriate that a priority goal of the campaign would be the UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, which will examine the legacy and lessons of the nation’s 16th president. 

With his museum and library, home and tomb already here, UIS is the perfect place to establish the national base for scholarship, teaching and public history about Abraham Lincoln’s life, leadership and legacy.

A successful program would involve research, course work and policy development, according to UIS officials, and connect UIS students with local opportunities to delve into Lincoln’s life and find ways to connect Lincoln to a national and international context. 

Other areas to benefit from the effort include scholarships, academic excellence, facilities, technology and programs that contribute to the public good, such as National Public Radio Illinois, the Illinois Innocence Project, Sangamon Auditorium and others. 

Read the entire editorial online.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

UIS announces $40 million fundraising campaign

A center that will study the legacy and lessons of Abraham Lincoln is just one of the goals of a new $40 million fundraising campaign announced at University of Illinois Springfield Tuesday evening. 

The campaign, which will continue through 2022, is the largest in the university’s history.

In addition to the UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, other areas to benefit from the fundraising include scholarships, academic excellence, facilities, technology and programs that contribute to the public good.

Programs that contribute to the public good include National Public Radio Illinois, the Illinois Innocence Project, Sangamon Auditorium and others.

“At the University of Illinois, we have one goal at the core of our mission: to transform lives and serve society,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch in a press release. “This fundraising campaign is a strategy for taking UIS – with donors’ help – toward greater excellence and greater impact for our community, our state and beyond.

The fundraising campaign is called “Reaching Stellar: The Campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield.” During Tuesday’s event at the school, alumni, staff and students were on hand to talk to guests about the importance of the fundraising priorities.

UIS has already secured about $18.5 million toward its $40 million fundraising goal. University of Illinois campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago are conducting their own fundraising efforts.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 10, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Women's Cross Country: Litchfield cross country runners do well for UIS

Lexi Throne, of Litchfield, finished 37th in the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships.

The outing was hosted by Olivet Nazarene University and held at the Aspen Ridge Golf Course in Bourbonnais.

The University of Illinois Springfield freshman finished the 5,000-meter race in 20 minutes, 17.1 seconds.

Alexandria Quarton, of Litchfield, also an Illinois-Springfield runner, also competed in the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships. Quarton took 64th in 21:10.7.

UIS took seventh with 154 points.

This article appeared in The Journal-News College Report on October 10, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Centennial Park signs warn bicyclists of Franklin’s ground squirrels

The term “share the trail” is taking on new meaning at Centennial Park with the addition of new signs to warn bicyclists to be on the lookout for Franklin’s ground squirrels.

The species is threatened in Illinois, and a colony of the reclusive rodents live in the tall grass along the south end of the Sangamon Valley Trail in and near Centennial Park.

The squirrels cross the trail to get to different areas of grassland, which is why researchers at the University of Illinois Springfield have teamed up with the Springfield Park District to put up the warning signs along the trail.

Already this year, the UIS researchers have discovered the carcasses of two Franklin’s ground squirrels that were apparently hit by bicyclists. One of the dead squirrels was pregnant. “Their average litter size is up to seven pups,” said Tih-Fen Ting, an environmental scientist at UIS.

“If you take out one reproducing female, you are seeing potentially seven fewer squirrels. We just want people to slow down and pay attention. Also, we are seeing increased usage and traffic on the bike trail. That’s another reason we want people to be careful.”

Juvenile male Franklin’s ground squirrels leave the colony when they get older and head out to find females in another colony. Due to habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, they don’t always find a new home.

Ting’s current study started in 2013, and during that time, she hasn’t recorded a single new male originating from a different colony and finding the colony near Centennial Park, or any of the Centennial Park juvenile males finding another colony.

There is another colony south of Chatham, but so far, there is no evidence that the two groups intermingle. That means some of the males are staying where they’re born and there’s a danger of inbreeding at both sites. Inbreeding isn’t good for the overall health of the colonies.

As far as Ting can tell, the males that leave the Centennial Park colony either fall victim to predation or are they hit by a car as they look for another colony. “Last year, we had three males dispersing beyond Curran. We tracked them all the way toward New Berlin down Old Route 54,” Ting said. 

Unfortunately, the squirrels met the same fate as the other male juveniles that left the Centennial Park area in search of a mate. “They died. They died as bachelors,” Ting said.

So far this year, Ting and the other researchers have trapped 53 individuals at the Centennial Park site, including the bike trail. That’s down from 68 last year and 84 the year before. Ting is trying to find out why the numbers are falling. “I suspect the local population has become isolated,” Ting said. 

As far as researchers know, the colony of Franklin’s ground squirrels along the Sangamon Valley Trail is densest colony in the state. There also are documented Franklin’s ground squirrel colonies at the Barnhart Prairie Nature Preserve near Urbana and an abandoned railroad bed in Vermilion County.

Previous attempts to release Franklin’s ground squirrels into reconstructed Illinois prairies were not successful. That’s one of the reasons it’s important for bicyclists to keep an eye out for the squirrels when they are riding near the park.

Dog owners also are being asked to take extra care. Ting said she’s grateful for the park district’s help in putting out the signs and also for limiting mowing to preserve the tall grass. “They are very responsive,” Ting said of the park district.

Leslie Sgro, president of the Springfield Park District, said the district has a role to play in both recreation and conservation. “We have 75 acres of wild prairie in part to help the ground squirrels thrive. That was intentional,” Sgro said.

“We love beautiful open spaces and we love all of the critters that thrive in those spaces. In any urban or suburban environment, it’s really important that as we grow as a community, we make sure that there are beautiful spaces not only for the people, but also for the animals that live there.”

The warning signs near Centennial went up about a month ago. There also are dispensers on the signs that hold information brochures on the Franklin’s ground squirrel. Ting has already gone through about 300 brochures, which she sees as a good sign.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 8, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

Video from The State Journal-Register.

UIS golf teams changing plans after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico is a long way from Springfield, but the destruction on the island caused by Hurricane Maria is impacting the University of Illinois Springfield men’s and women’s golf teams.

The Prairie Stars were scheduled to host the UIS Island Getaway Oct. 30-31 on the River and Ocean courses at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa in northeastern Puerto Rico.

Due to the conditions in Puerto Rico, UIS men’s and women’s golf coach Frank Marsaglia said the tourney will not be held there.

According the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar website, the resort is hosting government agencies and other relief teams staying in Puerto Rico to assist recovery efforts following the hurricane.

UIS has wrapped up its fall schedule in Puerto Rico every season since 2013.

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

Read the entire article online.

Susan Koch: International Festival a 40-year tradition of diversity and education

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 October 8, 2017.

The Fall 2017 calendar at UIS is, more than ever, brimming with inviting events for students, faculty, staff and campus visitors. Myriad entertainment options at Sangamon Auditorium, guest speakers examining a wide variety of timely issues, and a full slate of Division II athletic contests provide almost daily opportunities for engagement, learning and enjoyment. 

In addition to all of the above, a very special event will occur on Nov. 3 when TRAC (The Recreation and Athletic Center) will be transformed into a global festival grounds. It’s the 40th anniversary of the UIS International Festival — the longest running student-led event in the history of the campus. 

The story of the festival starts with Gerlinde Coates, who served as the University’s first Director of the Office of International Student Services. 

In 1977, Coates was employed in the campus Learning Center helping international students improve their English. She proposed an international potluck as a way to acquaint the campus and the Springfield community with the “beautiful cultural assets” that international students represent ... and the rest, as they say, is history! 

That potluck in 1977, attended by a small number of enthusiastic guests, has grown to become a major campus/community celebration — much loved by hundreds of participants who come to enjoy international food tasting, cultural exhibits, demonstrations and artistic performances from around the world. 

At the same time, the number of international students attending UIS has increased — with more than 600 students from 42 countries enrolled this fall. 

Erika Suzuki, program coordinator in International Student Services at UIS, is leading the Festival Planning Committee. “With our increasingly interconnected world, developing a better understanding of different cultures has never been more important than it is today,” says Suzuki. “We’re especially excited about this year’s festival theme — ‘Anniversaries’ — and we’re looking forward to what our community partners, exhibitors and performers will do to feature the theme.” 

Suzuki also reports that international alumni have received special invitations for this year’s celebration and she is hopeful some will return to campus to enjoy the celebration and see how the campus has grown since they graduated. 

Hilary Frost, UIS faculty member and chair of the Global Studies Program, is also a member of the Festival Planning Committee. “It’s important that we create opportunities to recognize and celebrate diversity,” says Dr. Frost. “The International Festival is a terrific opportunity to see worlds and cultures come together and share through languages, foods, arts, performances and personal stories. The Festival is a signature event that amplifies the many international studies courses across the entire curriculum at UIS.” 

The International Festival is free and welcomes guests of all ages. Festival activities begin at 5 p.m. and conclude at 8 p.m. Friday, November 3, in TRAC. Please consider this your personal invitation!

Read the entire column online.

New UIS-UIC nursing program difficult but high-quality, students say

Expecting to graduate in the spring from one of Springfield’s newest training programs for future registered nurses, Thomas McClure of Chicago interviewed last week at Memorial Medical Center for jobs in three different intensive-care units.

“I would definitely love to work at Memorial, for sure,” said McClure, a senior nursing student at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing’s RN program at the University of Illinois Springfield. The 30-year-old former Chicago resident hasn’t received an offer from Memorial yet, but he said he is hopeful about the future and grateful to be part of UIC’s challenging nursing program. 

“I’ve learned a lot,” said McClure, a former U.S. Army medic. “I’ve been very lucky to be here when it’s so highly rated.”

With its first class scheduled to graduate in 2018, the Springfield regional program director said the start-up has been successful, and interest by potential future nursing students is growing.

“We’re on the cutting edge of what’s going on in nursing and in health care,” said Cynthia Reese, director of the Springfield regional campus of the UIC College of Nursing. There’s an almost constant need for registered nurses at Springfield-area hospitals and other health-care facilities, she said.

The UIC program awards graduates a bachelor’s degree in nursing, making them eligible to take a national exam to become a registered nurse. Students also can become registered nurses after obtaining associate’s degrees in nursing at programs, such as the one operated by Lincoln Land Community College. But hospitals and other institutions are encouraging students to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing, or go through “bridge” programs to a bachelor’s if they have an associate’s in nursing, Reese said.

Research indicates patients do better, and become victims of medical errors less frequently, when their care is provided by a registered nurse with a bachelor’s, or BSN, apparently because of students’ more in-depth studies on nursing- and science-related topics, Reese said.

Nurses with BSNs “just have a broader education,” she said. A BSN degree can offer more opportunities for advancement than an associate’s in nursing. And Reese said a bachelor’s is required before a nurse can pursue a master’s or doctorate in the female-dominated field if she or he wants to teach nursing students or become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife.

The program at UIS was launched as a partnership between UIC, UIS and Memorial Health System.

Memorial is providing $1.25 million over a multi-year period for students in the freshman and sophomore “pre-nursing” years at UIS and in the junior and senior years, when students go through actual nursing classes and work in clinical settings at Memorial Medical Center, HSHS St. John’s Hospital and other locations. Memorial also chipped in $750,000 over a three-year period to help support the program and cover costs that include salaries for instructors, Reese said.

Twelve nursing students are expected to graduate in the spring. There are 32 junior nursing students currently, and officials hope to admit 48 junior-level students in fall 2018.

If enough nursing instructors can be hired, as many as 64 junior-level nursing students will be admitted by fall 2019, and that number will remain consistent for the future, Reese said.

Nursing students recently got to start using a new nursing laboratory on the UIS campus that was created with about $300,000 from UIC.

Some of the UIC money came from Memorial’s start-up contributions, with the rest coming from non-state funds through the College of Nursing funds, Reese said.

The UIC program, which also offers regional nurse training sites in Urbana, Rockford, Moline and Peoria, prides itself on teaching “evidence-based” nursing practice, Reese said.

Students in Springfield get to take part in lectures and presentations with students at other UIC campuses through high-end video conferencing technology. Their instructors are on par with teachers at the main campus in Chicago, Reese said.

Feedback from students at the Springfield campus has been positive, she said. “They like the faculty, they like the program. They say it’s hard,” she said. McClure and two other senior nursing students seconded that.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 8, 2017.

Read the entire article online and watch a video clip.

Women's Golf: UIS women’s golf places third at Findlay Fall Classic

University of Illinois Springfield junior Maria Espinosa tied for seventh and the Prairie Stars finished third out of 14 teams at the Findlay-Beall Fall Classic Monday.

Espinosa shot rounds of 75 and 74 for a 149. She carded four birdies in the final round.

UIS shot 619 for third place.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 9, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball ties its DII wins record

The University of Illinois Springfield tied the program’s NCAA Division II record for wins in a single season with a 25-13, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23 victory against the University of Missouri-St. Louis Friday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The Prairie Stars earned their 11th victory, tying the record set in 2009 and 2016.

It was the third straight Great Lakes Valley Conference win for the Stars.

UIS’ Taylor Bauer notched 18 kills.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 6, 2017.

Read the entire article online.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Men's Basketball: UIS hosting Tip-Off Dinner

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team is holding its annual Tip-Off Dinner Oct. 22 at The Recreation and Athletic Center. Tickets cost $250.

Guests will receive and all-access look at practice, a UIS jacket and a meal provided by Nelson’s Catering. Guests also will compete with the team in a shooting contest and meet with athletes. Coach Bill Walker will lead a question-and-answer session.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 5, 2017.

Read the story online.

File FAFSA ASAP!

Parents of college students and high school seniors headed that way should be busy filling out financial aid paperwork — if they haven’t already.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (better known as the FAFSA) determines eligibility for all financial aid, including Illinois’ grants for lower-income students.

The old FAFSA application period opened on Jan. 1, and you couldn't complete the form until you'd filed your taxes. But as of last year, the federal government decided to accept “prior prior” year’s taxes, which means families can use their 2016 tax returns to file as early as Oct. 1.

Carolyn Schloemann, financial aid director at the University of Illinois Springfield, says some folks take that start date very seriously.

"High school guidance counselors, I was told last week, some of them set up some FAFSA completion workshops at midnight,” she says. “How many of those happened across the state I can't tell you, but I know that there are a few schools, especially up in the Chicagoland area, that did that."

The story was reported by NPR Illinois on October 3, 2017.

Read the full story online. 

Area colleges: UIS volleyball sweeps Truman State

Courtney Schutt tallied 25 digs and Tiffany Wentworth recorded 36 digs for the University of Illinois Springfield in a 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 win against Truman State Tuesday.

Taylor Bauer contributed 14 kills in the Great Lakes Valley Conference match.

The Prairie Stars (10-6, 4-3) have five wins in the last seven matches.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 3, 2017.

Read the story online.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Illinois Innocence Project honors Wrongful Conviction Day

Thousands of flags could be seen on the University of Illinois Springfield campus Monday, one for each solved wrongful conviction case.

"There are 2,096 flags there, and that's a very interesting number because just last week, when we bought those flags that was the number. Now it's over 2,100 and that's just in a few days. Each one of those flags represents a person who has been wrongfully convicted but exonerated in the United States" said John Hanlon, Executive and Legal Director of the Illinois Innocence Project.

The Illinois Innocence Project used International Wrongful Conviction Day to highlight the number of wrongful conviction cases.

"I think the public is not aware of how many people are wrongfully convicted." said Christine Ferree, a former intern, who now works for the Illinois Innocence Project.

Since it's founding, the Illinois Innocence Project has helped exonerate ten people, all with help from undergraduate interns.

"They are the ones who tackle all of that and send out response letters and forms, and all the other things that we do. Without students, we are not here. The experience that they are getting in real legal cases is irreplaceable." said Hanlon.

"It felt like I would be making the most difference here. I could get experience in other internships and might even get paid, but here you can feel like you are actually doing something." said Jaclyn Fabing, an intern at the Illinois Innocence Project.

UIS is one of only two campuses who use undergraduate students to help in exoneration cases.

This story aired on WAND News on October 2, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Illinois among most expensive states for college tuition

Illinois is one of the most expensive states to go to college in the U.S., reports the Associated Press. It has the fifth most expensive in-state college tuition in the nation, AP reports.

The cost of getting a bachelor's degree in Illinois has many worried that students will leave the state to go to college.

University of Illinois Springfield senior, Edwin Robles, said he knows several people who left Illinois to go to college because of money. "I think it's pretty sad especially because I'm from Illinois," Robles said.

"I think that tuition rates across the country are high. It hurts a lot knowing that the state of Illinois is the fifth in the nation."

UIS Spokesman, Derek Schnapp, said higher tuition in Illinois has many worried students leaving the state. "Many of the universities across the state are seeing many students looking across the border, and it's something we need to take care of," Schnapp said. "We want to have our own students here in Illinois. They contribute to the economy."

With tuition at about $9,400 per year, Schnapp says UIS is less expensive than several other universities in central Illinois.

"We actually went up with Illinois residents this past year, enrollment," he said. "Last year 67 percent of our students were from Illinois, this year we're at 72 percent."

Schnapp says he doesn't know why tuition is higher in Illinois.

The associated press reports Illinois is among four states that cut higher education funding over the last two years.

The University of Illinois in Champaign costs about $15,700 per year. The University of Illinois Chicago costs about $14,800 per year.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 2, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer team starting to fly high

September was a great month for the University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team.

The Prairie Stars have just one loss in the past seven games. They sit in third place in the 15-team Great Lakes Valley Conference standings with a 5-1-1 league record. 

The program cracked the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional poll for the first time ever last week when it ranked 10th out of 10 teams.

The Stars had never before earned a regional ranking in their nine-year NCAA Division II history. “It’s a great achievement, but we can’t get our heads caught into that,” UIS senior midfielder Naba Alzhyri said. “That only matters at the end of the season. For now, we’re keeping our heads focused and we will keep pushing to try to get the best out of this year. I think we’ve got something special.” 

After being voted 10th in the GLVC preseason coaches poll and starting out 0-2, UIS is 5-3-1 overall and doing the little things that could add up to big things as the season goes on.

GLVC games are played on Fridays and Sundays. In four Friday matches, UIS is 4-0.

Contributions to the Stars’ record seem to be coming from everywhere. Eighteen players have started at least one match. UIS coach Adam Hall is averaging a rotation of 19 to 20 players per game.

“I like to reward those who have had a good week in training,” Hall said.

 Hall is asking a lot of all his players. A winning record at the end of the season has eluded UIS since it joined the Division II ranks.

The Stars last finished above .500 in their final season in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in 2008. They had a 7-5 record that year.

UIS has never made an appearance in the GLCV Soccer Championship Tournament.

In 2016, it missed qualifying for it by one spot.

The top eight teams will compete in the single-elimination tourney later this month. The Stars are hoping they’re a part of it.

“We still have a long way to go,” UIS senior defender Khalid Dhalla said. “We’re only about halfway through the season. “We’ve come a long way since freshmen year. Coach (Hall) has recruited a lot of players and it has really lifted the level a play a lot.”

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

Read the entire article online.


Men's Golf: Stars’ Bagur finishes second, UIS wins

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore Louis Bagur shot a 4-under-par 68 in the final round and tied for second in the Dan Salisbury Memorial Intercollegiate at Panther Creek Country Club.

Bagur shot a 79 in the first round and had a two-day total of 3-over 147.

UIS junior Steffen Heckele finished fourth at 148. He had rounds of 73 and 75.

The Prairie Stars placed first out of nine teams with 600 strokes.

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

Read the entire article online.


Women's Golf: Queller, UIS win Salisbury Invite

Freshman Jennifer Queller and senior Brooke Hill went 1-2 and the University of Illinois Springfield won the Dan Salisbury Memorial Collegiate at Panther Creek Country Club.

Queller shot a 5-over-par 149 for a two-stroke win and medalist honors in the two-day event.

She fired a 75 Sunday and carded a 74 Saturday. Hill shot a 151.

She opened with a 73 and had a 78 in the final round.

UIS placed first out of six teams with a 616.

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

Read the entire article online.


Women's Soccer: Stars, Southern Indiana match ends in tie

University of Illinois Springfield senior Regina Bolin’s goal with four minutes remaining in the second half forced overtime, but the match ended in a 1-all tie with Southern Indiana at Kiwanis Stadium.

UIS and Southern Indiana played two scoreless overtime periods.

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

Read the entire story online.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Attempting to cut the cost of education

On average, college students pay more than $1,000 for textbooks each year.

That's why Congress is stepping up and trying to ease the burden on students.

Senator Dick Durbin has been a leader in this fight for seven years and has been successful in requiring textbook companies to be more transparent and using online versions when possible. 

However, even with provisions in place, he says textbook costs are still skyrocketing.

"I feel for a student who's in my class, who is suffering because they can't afford a textbook," said University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor Layne Morsch.

Morsch, decided to take a leap and create his own way for students to save money. He launched an online textbook which began a trend at UI campuses.

"We find information on the web. We look things up on the web, so I'm trying to teach them, there's good sources to find quality information that you're going to use when you're professional in your career," said Morsch.

This is just one avenue Senator Durbin wants to see at all colleges and universities under the Affordable College Textbook Act. He also wants to go one step further to fund grant programs so more professors can create digital sources.

The bill would also require textbook companies to not sell books in bundles. "It's unfair that we have to buy them and then don't even get to use them that much."

While online resources are becoming more popular, Morsch says students should also be able to keep digital copies for future use.

"What they do is... they sell you access. You'll get access for one year is less than buying the textbook, but after that year is done, you have no access," said Morsch.

The UI was one of the first to test digital textbooks.

Senator Durbin says many companies are still trying to keep print copies alive and charging more for books which change a few lines in the next edition.

This story aired on WCIA on September 27, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Women's Basketball: UIS releases schedule

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team opens the 2017-18 season with exhibitions against two NCAA Division II teams.

UIS plays at Ball State on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.

It faces host Indiana State on Nov. 5 at 1 p.m.

The Prairie Stars will travel to Daytona Beach, Florida to play two games in December.

They play Embry-Riddle (Fla.) on Dec. 18 and Angelo State on Dec. 19 at the Daytona Beach Classic.

The Great Lakes Valley Conference season begins Dec. 2 against Missouri S&T in Rolla, Missouri.

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

Read the entire story online.

Click here for a look at the 2017-2018 woman's basketball schedule.

Women's Soccer: Stars get third consecutive win

Alyssa Hasler’s 14 kills and 10 blocks helped the University of Illinois Springfield to a victory over William Jewell in a Great Lakes Valley Conference victory.

UIS has won three straight matches.

Hasler leads the GLVC in blocks with 62.

Other notable performers were Lexi Hall with 23 assists and Ally Vicsik with 21 digs.

Taylor Bauer had nine kills against the Cardinals.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 22, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer tops Maryville

Naba Alzhyri and Mario Falsone scored in first half of the University of Illinois Springfield’s 2-0 win against Maryville in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game Friday.

The Prairie Stars are 4-1 in the GLVC and 4-3 overall.

Tommy Geile earned the shutout against Maryville with nine saves.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 22, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Citizens weigh in on the community

When you want to learn about the perceptions and values found within a community, from what is working to what can be improved upon, you go straight to the citizens themselves.

That’s the goal with the Sangamon County Citizen Survey, which was recently updated and released for the third time in five years.

The extensive survey started as a joint project between the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, the Citizens Club of Springfield, the University of Illinois Springfield’s Center for State Policy and Leadership and the United Way of Central Illinois to gather data about the community’s education, economy, well-being and more.

The project currently measures eight different indicators, including health, economy, education, culture and recreation, government and civic participation, social well-being and public safety, environment and infrastructure.

This year’s survey asked many of the same questions as previous surveys, said Matt Case, interim director for the Survey Research Office at the University of Illinois Springfield — although there was a focus on education in 2015 and economy and infrastructure in 2017.

“We ask the same questions each year because this allows us to track changes over time, which is important considering the data is being used to address issues locally,” he said.

The survey has now become a reference point to guide leaders on current issues, as well as a learning tool to equip the community with comprehensive data for future decision making. From the Community Foundation’s vantage point, the survey is being utilized to understand various community needs as it pertains to grantmaking and innovation.

Several trends that emerged this year intrigued Case and fellow survey coordinators, including local economics.

“I was surprised by the discrepancy in the way individuals viewed local business conditions versus how they viewed their personal financial situation,” he noted. “Just 20 percent of respondents say they are ‘worse off’ financially compared to 12 months ago,′ but 46 percent say that local business conditions are ‘worse off’ compared to 12 months ago.′ “To me this says that individuals, while not necessarily affected by recent events such as the state budget impasse themselves, do view the local economy as being affected.”

Looking ahead, the Citizen Survey provides local leaders and organizations like the Community Foundation with a starting point to work toward potential solutions for concerns or problems.

“I hope that community leaders will use the data to help develop programs to address these issues. I believe the quality of the data is excellent, and I think that the results should be used to look at how programs are developed locally,” Case said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 23, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Soccer: Stars’ Mraz scores game-winning goal

Junior Taylor Mraz’s first-half goal earned the University of Illinois Springfield a 1-0 win against the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Sunday.

Mraz received a pass from sophomore teammate Valentina Rodriguez then beat an UMSL defender at the 24:05 mark of the Great Lakes Valley Conference game.

UIS won although it attempted only three shots compared to UMSL’s 11.

Junior goalkeeper Paloma Guijarro made five saves for the Prairie Stars.

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

Read the entire article online.

Researchers to study pulmonary disorders in Sangamon County

Researchers will use grant money to study Sangamon County neighborhoods to determine those with high levels of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The State Journal-Register reports that researchers hope to have results from the central Illinois study by March.

They hope local hospitals will use the results to target certain neighborhoods for educational efforts and give doctors strategies for reducing health complications from the conditions.

The results also can be used in proposals for larger grants to fund more health interventions.

The University of Illinois Springfield says that Sangamon County has among the highest numbers of emergency department visits for the conditions in Illinois.

Scientists from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, SIU Edwardsville and the University of Illinois Springfield are involved with the study.

This story aired on Fox Illinois on September 24, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Women's Soccer: Stars’ Guijarro wins weekly honor

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Paloma Guijarro has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week.

The junior goalkeeper helped the Prairie Stars shut out Drury and Missouri S&T last weekend.

She made nine saves in the two games.

Guijarro has allowed one goal in 270 minutes. She has a .917 save percentage in three matches.

She is the first UIS women’s player ever to earn the weekly honor.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 20, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Training crucial to real-life work

University of Illinois Springfield students, interested in protecting children, are getting a front row seat to a day on the job. 

On Wednesday, a national organization training professionals in the field stopped on campus. They're showing students the best way to respond to a child abuse call.

It's part of an initiative to better prepare future workers.

"Don't let him hurt me." A mother in sheer panic, but don't be alarmed. This is an inside look at a mock crime scene. Professionals are practicing how to respond to a child abuse call.

"It's very intense. It's something you're never prepared for." Marlene Constant is the only student on the team. She's playing a forensic investigator. Together, they're trying to find out what went wrong here.

"It was a little surprising, but you really have to be confident of what's going on around you from the temperature of the room to the smells.

"The place is filthy with trash, spoiled food and blood nearly everywhere you look. But, this is an average day on the job. "This is a very important job, but it's very, very difficult, but with the right training, people can do this and they can feel confident in the work that they do."

Betsy Goulet teaches child advocacy studies at UIS. he will be watching all this play out by video in class.

"Hopefully, their experiences in the house have given them a much better sense when they knock on that door."

She says this will help students prepare for jobs in child welfare and law enforcement.

Constant agrees and she's ready for the real world. "It'll help me to understand and pick up on some warning signs that I can be on the lookout for."

DCFS' new hires and UIS students use the home for hands-on training. They say this type of practice will help attract candidates and keep them in their roles.

This story aired on WCIA on September 20, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

UIS to conduct first responder training with state agency

The University of Illinois Springfield is scheduled to train more than 20 first responders on ways to protect children and families.

The session is planned for Wednesday and will include instructions on how to conduct witness interviews and how to investigate a crime scene.

Attendees will get a chance to be a part of a mock crime scene investigation at a university training facility.

The university founded the Child Protection Training Academy two years ago with the state's child welfare agency.

Over 250 investigators for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services have been trained through the academy.

This story appeared in U.S. News.com on September 20, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient talks to UIS students

A civil rights activist and "Presidential Medal of Freedom" recipient was in Springfield Monday, to speak with University of Illinois Springfield students.

Silvia Mendez is a school desegregation pioneer, stopping through town as one of her many trips to colleges this month for Hispanic Heritage month.

When Mendez was eight years old, her parents organized a federal lawsuit against orange county schools with a few other families.

This was one of the first steps to the famous supreme court case: Brown vs. Board of Education. That led to the desegregation of schools, several years later.

Now she travels the country advocating unity and sharing her family’s story.

"Our students in all these universities are our future leaders and we tell them at graduation don't we? ” said Mendez. “So they're the ones that have to find a way to join us, and unite us."

Hundreds of UIS students made it out to see Mendez and hear what she had to say.

Sylvia Mendez also talked about DACA Monday. saying the president's announcement to end it was heartbreaking, but that she still has hopes the program will continue.

This story aired on Fox Illinois on September 18, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Monday, September 18, 2017

New UIS building is going green

The roof of the new student union building at the University of Illinois Springfield is going green.

The university is starting planting succulents on the roof this week. "You don't need a lot of deep roots for a succulent so they really take care of themselves," Student Union Executive Director Ann Comerford said.

"If you put grasses or wildflowers there's a lot more care and they won't actually do the work that you need a green roof to do."

According to research from Michigan State University, green roofs have multiple benefits including helping the environment, conserve energy and can save money.

The green roof is expected to be completed next week.

The Student Union is scheduled to open in January of 2018.

This story aired on Fox Illinois on September 15, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Women's Volleyball: Borum, Prairie Stars top Quincy in volleyball

The University of Illinois Springfield built an eight-point lead in the fifth game and pulled out a 27-25, 28-26, 22-25, 22-25 15-10 victory over Quincy Saturday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference volleyball match at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS improved to 6-4 overall and 1-1 in the GLVC.

Jailyn Borum supplied 19 kills and 26 digs for the Prairie Stars, who led 11-3 in the final game.

Lexi Hall notched 34 assists and Ally Vicsik led UIS with 34 digs.

Alyssa Hasler added 14 kills for the Prairie Stars.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 16, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Soccer: Alzhyri leads UIS men’s soccer win

Naba Alzhyri headed in the game-winning goal and the University of Illinois Springfield beat Drury 1-0 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Kiwanis Stadium Friday.

The Prairie Stars improved to 3-0 in the GLVC and are 3-2 overall.

Tommy Geile assisted on the winning goal. UIS has a three-game win streak.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 15, 2017.

Read the entire article online.


Women's Soccer: UIS shuts out Drury

Karisa Rogers scored twice in the University of Illinois Springfield’s 3-0 win against Drury in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Kiwanis Stadium.

Taylor Mraz scored a goal and had one assist for the Prairie Stars.

UIS goalkeeper Paloma Guijarro made four saves against Drury.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 15, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cross Country: former Panthers star for UIS

Lexi Throne  and Alexandria Quarton, of Litchfield, helped the University of Illinois Springfield cross country team achieve perfection in their first meet of the year.

The Prairie Stars, who played their top five scoring runners in the top five overall finishers, finished with the lowest score possible, a perfect score of 15 at the Orion Mini-Meet.

Throne, competing in her first college meet, was the individual champion, finishing the two-mile race in 11 minutes, 45 seconds.

Quarton was only nine seconds behind her, taking third in 11:59.

The second place finisher, also from UIS, finished in 11:49.

This story in The Journal-News on September 14, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: Stars slated to face three Division I teams

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team will play three NCAA Division I programs during its fall season.

The Prairie Stars open at the University of Illinois at 11 a.m. Saturday.

They play Western Illinois at noon Sept. 24 and Illinois State at noon Oct. 8.

UIS ends the season as host of the UIS Fall World Series scheduled for Oct. 20-22 and 27-28.

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

Read the entire article online.


UIS enrollment drops 8.7 percent compared to last year

Total enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield decreased 8.7 percent compared to last fall, while the three-campus U of I system as a whole is up nearly 3 percent, university officials announced Wednesday.

 UIS enrollment went from 5,428 to 4,956 this year, according to student counts taken on Monday, the 10th day of classes.

Chancellor Susan Koch said the enrollment figures released Wednesday were not a surprise and described them as a mixed report.

The university, she said, expected to see a drop in the number of international students, a problem occurring at universities across the country.

UIS has 420 fewer international students at the graduate level this year compared to last, contributing to the overall drop in graduate students from 2,469 in 2016 to 2,024 in 2017.

Koch noted UIS had a record number of graduates last year and concerns from international students regarding whether their visa status could change contributed to the decline.

The majority of international students at UIS hail from India and are drawn to UIS because it offers strong computer science and information management programs, Koch said. “It was beyond our control, and we’re working hard to build it back up,” she said.

While UIS saw a decrease overall, the number of undergraduate students held steady, with 2,932 students enrolled this year, down just 27 from last year.

In addition, the number of students taking classes completely online through UIS increased, with 1,681 students (34 percent of the campus’ total) enrolled in online degree or certificate programs, an increase of 16 students from last year.

UIS also saw an increase in Illinois residents, up from 67 percent last year to 72 percent this year. 

UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said the number of incoming freshmen from 14 counties in central Illinois has increased from 55 to 84 students in the last 5 years.

Koch said she is optimistic UIS can turn around enrollment and reach the university’s strategic goal of adding 1,000 students by 2025.

Finally getting a state budget in place provides more certainty for Illinois families, Koch said, also noting the university has added several new academic programs, including biochemistry, data analytics, exercise science, information systems security, theater and nursing.

Furthermore, a new student union expected to open in January should improve student life on campus, Koch said. “We’re continuing to make progress and promote the campus and increase our visibility,” she said.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Susan Koch: Research collaboration benefits UIS, Brazilian students

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 September 9, 2017.

Summer always seems to be filled with possibilities, and most of us remember coming back to school from summer break to be greeted with a familiar question: “What did you do over the summer?”

But not many would be able to provide a response that includes having been “up close and personal” with alligators, toucans and coatimundi or visiting Iguazu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

These unusual encounters were part of many new experiences shared by a group of U.S. and Brazilian university students and faculty who spent several weeks this summer as part of an international research collaboration between University of Illinois Springfield and UEM -- the Universidade Estadual de Maringa, a university in southern Brazil. 

Thanks in part to an external grant, Dr. Keenan Dungey, a chemistry professor at UIS, and Dr. Luiz Felipe Machado Velho, a biologist from UEM, worked together to create a course focused on the study of the aquatic ecology of the Illinois River in Illinois and the Rio Parana in Brazil -- both parts of large and important river systems in the Americas. 

The course included opportunities for students to spend time doing research together while learning some of the cutting-edge science behind restoration and conservation on both river systems. 

The experience also helped students develop understanding of the cultural differences and similarities between the U.S. and Brazil that result in different and sometimes similar approaches to the environment. 

UIS has been connected with scientists from the UEM since Dr. Mike Lemke, professor of biology and founder of the UIS Emiquon Field Station on the Illinois River near Havana, first traveled to Brazil several years ago.

“We’re honored to work with our colleagues from UEM,” says Dr. Lemke. “Felipe’s work complements mine, helping me to bridge ecological links from nutrients to bacteria to protozoa. The value of floodplain aquatic ecology is what is at stake here.” 

“The idea of the course was to do similar things on the floodplains in both countries,” says Dr. Dungey. “For me, it was fascinating to be in Brazil and be surrounded by great science; to see the UIS students and watch them form relationships and teams with the Brazilian students and experience a different culture.” 

“In the next ten years, I think focusing on some of these critical conservation issues will be the thing that this collaboration can bring to bear,” says Dr. Lemke. 

“The Brazilians are losing their rivers to hydroelectric plants, and we can learn from that. At the same time, the UIS Emiquon Field Station is located in one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the country and has much to offer our international partners.” 

“Working with our UEM colleagues, who have been studying the Parana River floodplain for more than 30 years, was a good experience for our UIS students,” says Dr. Dungey. “Students will present the results of our research on each campus and at an international conference.” 

Dungey hopes the future collaboration of UIS and UEM can go beyond biology and chemistry. “In addition to its relevance for scientific study, river floodplain restoration is also a public affairs and an education issue,” he says. “There are a lot more opportunities for collaboration.” And, in case you were wondering, the coatimundi is South America’s version of a raccoon.

Read the entire column online.

University of Illinois begins $60M faculty recruiting effort

University of Illinois President Tim Killeen says now the state has a budget the school can officially launch an initiative aimed at recruiting top faculty.

The three-year, $60 million program was announced in May.

The university system said Thursday that the system’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield now can make proposals for money to recruit professors.

The objective is to bring in tenured, high-achieving faculty in a broad range of academic disciplines. 

The plan is called the President’s Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program. Under the program, $10 million would be committed from the university system to recruitment efforts each year, matched by each of the three campuses.

The goal is to hire 10 to 15 new faculty members each year, or 45 over three years.

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

Read the entire article online.

Thumbs Up: To UIS for encouraging its students to volunteer

The editorial board of The State Journal-Register offers this week’s thumbs up to the University of Illinois Springfield for the Service-A-Thon it hosted last week that encouraged students to be of service to others.

The annual Welcome Week Service-A-Thon was hosted by UIS’ Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, and about 90 students took part.

Participants volunteered in shifts through the day Sept. 1 at nine local organizations, including Computer Banc, Contact Ministries, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, M.E.R.C.Y Communities Inc., the Ronald McDonald House, St. John’s Breadline and the UIS Community Garden.

It can be hard for UIS students to feel like they are part of the community, given that campus is so far away from the heart of the city.

The university deserves kudos for encouraging students to become involved in ways that not only help local organizations, but help its students become more integrated into the community.

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

Read the entire article online.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

UIS 5K helping Serious Fun Children's Network

The 2nd Annual Prairie Star 5K Run/Walk was held at the University of Illinois in Springfield, Saturday.

This year's race benefits the SeriousFun Children's Network founded by Paul Newman.

SeriousFun Children's Network is a global community of camps and programs serving children with serious illnesses.

This story aired on Fox Illinois on September 9, 2017.

Watch the story online. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cross Country: Stars’ Finley, Cook win UIS Invite

University of Illinois Springfield seniors Krissy Finley and Eli Cook were the women’s and men’s champions, respectively, at the UIS Invitational. Finley won the 39-runner field by 45 seconds over freshman teammate Lexi Throne.

Finley’s winning time was 14 minutes 59.9 seconds on the 2.49-mile course at the UIS campus.

Cook was first out of 54 runners in 19:28.3. Junior teammate Kenton Wilson finished eight seconds behind Cook for second place.

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

Read the entire article online.

Men's Soccer: Stars’ Wallace nets game winner

Freshman Rhys Wallace scored the game-winning goal via a penalty kick with 17 minutes remaining and the University of Illinois Springfield won 1-0 over William Jewell in the opening Great Lakes Valley Conference game for both teams Friday. 

It’s the first win of the season for the Prairie Stars.

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

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

U of Illinois: Ending DACA Creates Uncertainty for Students

University of Illinois officials say the decision from President Donald Trump's administration to wind down a program protecting young immigrants from deportation creates uncertainty for some students.

The university system's president and chancellors of its campuses in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign and Springfield sent a letter to students, faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the program known as DACA is an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch."

UI officials say eliminating DACA "is inconsistent with our commitment to accessible and high-quality education for all qualified and deserving students." School officials say they will comply with federal law. However they say they pledge to assist and support students and will continue to protect confidential student and employee information "to the fullest extent allowed by law."

This story appeared in U.S. News & World Report on September 5, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Soccer: Emily Matsen, UIS women’s soccer beats No. 25 Lindenwood

Emily Matsen’s game-winning goal lifted the University of Illinois Springfield to a 1-0 win against No. 25 Lindenwood Tuesday.

The Rochester High School graduate scored less than eight minutes in.

UIS  attempted nine shots with Matsen having two. Taylor Mraz tallied three shots.

This story appeared online in The State Journal-Register on September 5, 2017.

Read the entire article online.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

UIS cross country preview: Top men’s and women’s runners could be pushed by newcomers

THE RUNDOWN ON THE PRAIRIE STARS: This marks year three of UIS’ cross country program. Seniors Eli Cook and Krissy Finley have been the No. 1 runners on the men’s and women’s teams since the program began. Expect the Rochester natives to be pushed this season by their teammates. 

KEEP AN EYE ON: Freshman Tyler Pasley. He placed 10th at the Class 1A state cross country meet for Shelbyville High School last year. At the 1A state cross country meet, he placed fourth in the 3,200-meter run and eighth in the 1,600.

OTHER RUNNERS TO WATCH: Sophomore Elliot Nabatov, senior Garrad Straube, sophomore Brendan Kroeger, junior Lexi Yoggerst and freshman Lexi Throne.

COACH MIKE DE WITT SAYS: “We’ll be a lot quicker at the front with three people as fast as Krissy. (Lexi Yoggerst and Lexi Throne) are running very well and should be right in her range. We’re very solid on the guys’ side. The guys are looking to work into the top five of the GLVC and hopefully the top half of the region. By the time we got done with (men’s) outdoor track last year, literally, they were all about the same for a 5,000 or a 1,500. They were all give or take a second or two. Tyler Pasley actually had the fastest mile time of all of them.”

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

Read the entire story online.


UIS sports previews: Men’s, women’s golf looking to replace graduation losses

A LOOK AT THE WOMEN’S TEAM: The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars qualified for a NCAA Super Regional the past two years. They tied for fifth at the 12-team Midwest Super Regional in May. In 2016, UIS placed 11th. The Stars hope to keep the program moving in the right direction. They’ll do it without Rochester native Jocelyn Matsen who graduated. She carried the team’s lowest scoring average of 78.76 strokes. Junior Maria Espinosa is one of several candidates to take over the team’s No. 1 spot. She won one tournament last year and tied for 14th out of 70 golfers at the GLVC championships. 

RISING STAR: Senior Brooke Hill hails from Canada. In July, she won the Saskatchewan Women’s Amateur Championship. She was eight strokes down heading into the back nine of the final round and forced a playoff. She shot a 71 on the final day.

COACH FRANK MARSAGLIA SAYS: “Maria was steady all last year. Taryn (Pittman) played pretty steady also. Brooke really played great last spring and she played really well this summer. Between Maria, Taryn and Brooke, we should have three young ladies with a scoring average below 80. We have a new player Ocean Pangan and her scoring average should be around 77 or lower. We’re going to be fairly deep. I think we’ll be as good as we were last year if not better.” 

SCOUTING THE MEN’S TEAM: The Stars have big shoes to fill with the graduation loss of All-Region golfer Talon Supak. He was the only UIS golfer to play in the NCAA Division II Championship and won a regional as junior. Supak shot an 8-under-par 64 in his final round at UIS. Sophomore Louis Bagur has the best scoring average of returning team members. He averaged 76 strokes and tied for ninth at the GLVC Championships as a freshman. Senior Erik Thulien returns with a 76.70 average.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT: Senior Mitch McCafferty. He fired a 68 at the Las Vegas Desert Classic in March. It was the second lowest round in UIS history.

MARSAGLIA SAYS: “Mitch is kind of a late bloomer. He’s just finally coming into his own. Louis is just a very, very good player. His ballstriking is probably the best we had on the team last year. He needed to work on some things over the summer and he did. We are looking for him to come back even stronger.”

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

Read the entire story online.

UIS volleyball preview: Stars add some size to record-breaking team

2016 RECORDS: 11-10 overall, 4-14 in Great Lakes Valley Conference

PRESEASON POLL RANKING: No. 4 out of five teams in GLVC Central Division

A LOOK BACK AT 2016: The Stars’ 11 wins tied the program record for victories in the NCAA Division II era. Their four GLVC wins also tied the program record.

STANDING OUT: Sophomore Alli Splitt had a huge freshman season. The 6-foot middle blocker set UIS’ single-season attacking percentage record. She hit .367, tying her for highest in the GLVC and ranking her 22nd in the nation. Six-foot junior middle blocker Alyssa Hasler is also coming off a record-setting season. She had a record 140 blocks in 2016. She is first with 259 career blocks. 

NEWCOMERS TO WATCH: Junior outside hitter Taylor Bauer helped Parkland win back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national titles. Six-foot freshman right-side hitter graduate Erin Ripple was named The Decatur Herald and Review Macon County Volleyball Player of the Year last year after collecting 399 kills, 201 digs and 41 points for Mount Zion High School. Freshman middle hitter Brianna Bush plays many positions.

 COACH TREY SALINAS SAYS: “Alyssa Hasler and Alli Split were our main two point scorers last year and having them back is phenomenal. We also have experience in our setter Lexi Hall as well as Tiffany Wentworth. They both have been setters for us the past three years now at least. Taylor Bauer has had an incredible preseason. Right now, she is playing our outside hitter position, which traditionally we’ve struggled with a little bit. So we’re super excited to have her. I think it’s going to help even us out across the net. We were a little bit of middle heavy team last year.”

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

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UIS women’s soccer preview: Prairie Stars look to build on record success

The University of Illinois Springfield set the program record for wins at seven last season. That happened one year after the Stars set the record at five in 2015.

They had a chance at posting more than seven victories a year ago, but lost six matches by a single goal.

The Stars return eight starters in Erin Egolf’s first season as head coach. The former Chatham Glenwood High School and UIS standout was interim coach last fall.

The returning players to watch include junior defender Maggie Juhlin, senior midfielder Emily Matsen, junior forward Karisa Rogers, senior defender Madisyn Coudriet, junior forward Taylor Mraz, sophomore goalkeeper Courtney Johnson.

In 2016 the Prairie Stars held a 7-11 record overall, 4-11 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Their GLVC preseason ranking is No. 14 out of 15 teams.

Coach Erin Egof says, "I think this year you’re going to see a lot more chances created. We have added some good attacking players to our roster. We have more depth in the attack and in more ways than one. It’s not just five speedy players who are just going to run by. We have some creative players who can make plays with the ball at their feet. We have girls that can shoot from distance. We have girls with really good vision. A big part of our training is how to be dynamic in the attack. I think we’re going to score more goals, but we’re going to create a heck of a lot more chances.”

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

Read the entire article online.

UIS men’s soccer preview: Coach helps team bring more offense

Last year in his first season, University of Illinois Springfield coach Adam Hall’s mission was to turn up the offense.

The Prairie Stars delivered. They averaged 1.78 goals per game compared to 0.83 per game in 2015.

UIS also nearly doubled its win total from the previous year and won four more conference matches than the 2015 season, and just missed qualifying for the GLVC Championships by one spot. 

However, the program still capped the year with a significant accomplishment. Forward Zach Allevi became the first male UIS soccer player to receive All-GLVC honors. He was named to the third team after leading UIS with nine goals. The bad news is Allevi graduated. The good news is the Stars return eight starters from last year.

RETURNING PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sophomore forward Mario Falsone, senior defender Jack Coombes, senior midfielder Naba Alzhyri, sophomore midfielder Harry Hiscock, senior goalkeeper Tommy Geile.

UIS' GLVC preseason ranking is No. 10 out of 15 teams.

Coach Adam Hall says, "we’re healthy in terms of numbers. We have a lot of depth. The question of who is going to step up and try to fill the gap that Zach left? I think our ability on the ball -- to keep possession -- has been a lot better. We brought in 14 new players, six or seven are transfers. There’s been an injection of competition into this squad. We’ve added some more international players. . .Brazilian, Scottish, Spanish and Chilean players.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 4, 2017.

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Women's Tennis: UIS tennis preview: Jane Carter one of UIS’ best ever

Senior Jane Carter is truly a University of Illinois Springfield athlete like no other. The New Zealand native is a three-time Great Lakes Valley Conference first-team selection. Carter is the only UIS female athlete who has received all-conference honors three times. She was also the 2014-15 GLVC Freshman of the Year. She posted a 14-7 singles record as a junior.

The UIS women’s team qualified for the GLVC Championships for the first time ever last April. The Stars were eliminated from the eight-team field in the first round.

Coach Samantha Schall says, "It was exciting to make it and show that the girls’ hard work paid off. This year we are talking about having a winning culture within our program. The expectation is now to make it back every year and continue to do better and better within the conference. We have a lot of new faces on the guys’ side and a young team. We have five freshmen, but an extremely talented group.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 4, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Soccer: Stars tie Tiffin in double overtime

Taylor Mraz kicked seven shots and assisted on both of the University of Illinois Springfield’s goals, but the Prairie Stars finished in a 2-all tie with Tiffin University after two overtime periods. 

Madisyn Coudriet and Meghan Delaney scored for UIS (1-0-1). Delaney’s goal put the Stars ahead 2-1 early in the second half.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 2, 2017.

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Women's Volleyball: Hasler leads UIS

Alyssa Hasler recorded 14 kills and four blocks in the University of Illinois Springfield’s 25-14, 25-16, 25-11 victory over Mississippi College in the Capital Classic at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Lexi Hall contributed 17 assists to help the Prairie Stars improve to 3-0.

This article appeared in The State Journal Register on September 2, 2017.
Read the entire article online.


Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball opens with two wins

Freshman Erin Ripple hit a team-high 11 kills and freshman Brianna Bush contributed nine kills to help the University of Illinois Springfield open the season with a 25-9, 25-20, 25-13 win against Ohio Valley at the Capital Classic at The Recreation and Athletic Center Friday.

Lexi Hall notched 23 assists for the Prairie Stars. Jailyn Borum added 14 digs. UIS later won 25-15, 25-20, 25-15 over Concord University. Parkland College transfer Taylor Bauer led UIS with 12 kills. Alyssa Hasler recorded 10 kills for the Stars.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 1, 2017.

Read the entire article online.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Engineering students from Japan get lesson at Meredosia bridge

The group of foreign tourists stood on the tall structure and looked straight down, impressed by the feats of engineering that made their vista possible. But these visitors weren’t on the Observation Deck at Chicago’s Willis Tower – they were atop the $75 million Illinois 104 bridge over the Illinois River that is under construction at Meredosia.

Five engineering students and a professor from Japan’s Ashikaga Institute of Technology met with engineers last week and were given a tour of the bridge that features a 118-foot-tall central arch on top and a 55-foot clearance for river traffic below.

The students were in the area as part of the 16-year-old Sister Cities exchange program between the University of Illinois Springfield and Ashikaga Institute of Technology. Since the Institute is an engineering school, UIS has worked with the Illinois Department of Transportation to tour active construction sites whenever the students from Japan pay a visit.

“What IDOT has been able to do through the years is show us things like this, or the MacArthur (Boulevard) extension (in Springfield), so the students see not just the theory, but the practice,” said Jonathan GoldbergBelle, coordinator of Thursday visit. “What I’ve heard today is a lot of ‘wow,’ or ‘cool,’ those sorts of things.”

“I hope they take away how we do things here, and get some ideas that they can take back home with them.” John Sestak, the IDOT area field engineer helping to oversee the project, was pleased with the enthusiasm shown by the students.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 3, 2017.
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Friday, September 1, 2017

‘Downtown Discounts’ program targets UIS, LLCC students

Discounts at nearly a dozen businesses are the latest effort to draw college students from University of Illinois Springfield and Lincoln Land Community College to the city downtown commercial-historic district.

The discount strategy introduced Thursday came from student members of a higher education advisory committee created by state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez.

Discounts for students with ID include 10 percent off, and buy-one get-one-free offers at 11 businesses, a number supporters said they expect to increase as the program catches on.

“One of the things they talked to me about was how can they get UIS students and Lincoln Land students better connected with downtown Springfield,” Jimenez said at a kick-off announcement at Springfield Vintage. The collectibles and retro shop at 215 S. Fifth St. is among the 11 participating businesses that will be marked with a “Downtown Discounts” decal in front windows.

A number of redevelopment studies have focused on greater entertainment, shopping and residential options downtown as one of the keys to attracting young people to live and work in Springfield. “We keep having this conversation in Springfield. How do we keep our millennials, how do we keep our young people?” said Lisa Clemmons Stott, executive director of Downtown Springfield Inc. “It’s because they want a vibrant downtown. They want a place that’s cool, and hip, and that has great food, that has great shops.

“I think both UIS and Lincoln Land students just really want a very college atmosphere downtown,” said UIS junior Kaelan Smith. “They want an atmosphere and activities where they can make great memories and enjoy great specialty shops that helps them get more connected to the moment they’re at in their life right now, in college.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 31, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

LGBTQA Resource Center at UIS renamed

The LGBTQA Resource Office at the University of Illinois Springfield officially changed its name Monday.

The change coming on the 10th anniversary of the office opening.

Staff with the newly named Gender and Sexuality Student Services know many of their students are still growing and maturing when they arrive and they hope their services will help students succeed both mentally and academically.

"We teach the campus the difference between biological sex and gender, and sexual orientation and gender expressions, in order to keep the campus more inclusive and understanding, and essentially the name really reflects what we're doing," said Kerry Poynter, director of the UIS Gender and Sexuality services.

This story appeared online at WICS Newschannel 20 on August 28, 2017.

Read the story online.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Police offer tips to stay safe on campus

University of Illinois Springfield Police say there are several simple ways to protect yourself on campus.

Officers say to stay off cell phones if you're walking alone. It'll allow you to be more aware of your surroundings.

They also suggest using the buddy system if you're out at night. If you don't have anyone to walk with, campus police do offer to walk with students at night to make sure they get home safe.

Women can also sign up to take a Rape Aggression Defense class, or RAD class. There are classes in September and February.

"We have some classroom instruction, but then it goes on to hands-on techniques that women can use,” UIS Police Officer Amanda Baughman said. “The program was created for women only, so it's specific to women’s needs and self-defense that they may need to use."

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 24, 2017.

Watch the story online.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

New UIS students move onto campus

Hundreds of new students arrived at the University of Illinois Springfield campus for Freshmen Move-In Day Wednesday morning.

Officials say approximately 245 first-year students moved in to the Lincoln and Founder Hall Residence Halls from 9:30 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Volunteers from UIS student organizations, sports teams, and campus departments helped the new students move in.

Many of the new students are excited to start their first semester at UIS.

Grace Negron, a freshman at UIS, tells WAND News, "I'm super excited. I've wanted to live on campus since the beginning of my senior year, and this is why I applied here. I love the area how small it is, but it's so beautiful here and I'm really excited to move in with my roommate and just to get a feel for the college life."

This story aired on WAND-TV on August 23, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Decatur native and UIS alumni A.D. Carson experiences Charlottesville turmoil

A Decatur native and University of Illinois Springfield alumni who witnessed last weekend’s deadly clash in Charlottesville said the scene played out with much more chaos than depicted on television. 

"The smell, the sounds, things flying through the air, and the bull horns and angst, in a so-called quiet American city," said A.D. Carson, a 1997 Stephen Decatur High School graduate who has gained national prominence for his study of hip-hop.

Carson, who has a doctorate degree from Clemson University and began writing rhymes as a child, is starting as an associate professor of Hip-Hop and the Global South at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville this fall.

Last Saturday, he joined counter-protesters assembled in response to Neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members arriving after the city decided to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured when the driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators.

On the eve of the rally, hundreds marched through the University of Virginia campus holding torches and chanting racist slogans. The next morning, many looked like they were dressed for war as they made their way to Emancipation Park, said Carson, who also taught English at MacArthur High School.

Carson joins the UVA faculty as somewhat of a rising star in the academic world — he gained headlines last year for completing a dissertation in the form of a hip-hop album that explores rhetoric, American social history, and art.

Carson has a bachelor's degree from Millikin University and a master's degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

This story appeared in the Herald & Review on August 18, 2017.

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UIS Student, Flota earns top intern award

Trevor Flota, business administration major at the University of Illinois Springfield and 2017 graduate has been awarded the Northwestern Mutual Top Financial Representative Intern Award. 

Flota finished as the first place intern in the country to receive the award, which honors his achievements as an outstanding performer for helping clients achieve financial security.

"Trevor is helping individuals and families in St. Louis and the surrounding communities build financial security plans to reach their financial goals," said Michael Van Grinsven, Northwestern Mutual internship program director.

"With the experience the internship program provides, Trevor developed a deeper understanding of the industry and is able to implement new skills that help make a difference in his clients' lives." 

Northwestern Mutual celebrates the 50th anniversary of its industry-leading financial representative internship program this year and to date, 50,000 students nationwide have participated in the program.

This story appeared in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on August 21, 2017.
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Abe’s Amble 10K: UIS' Pence repeats as men’s winner

The hills and humidity did their best Sunday morning to put a damper on the 40th Abe’s Amble 10K at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. But former Southern Indiana University teammates Tyler Pence and Julia Kohnen were able to scale those hills and rip through the heavy air better than everybody else. 

The 24-year-old Pence won his second straight Abe’s title in a tick over 32 minutes.

Pence, a two-time NCAA Division II track champion and seven-time All-American while at Southern Indiana, beat runner-up and 10-time champion Bryan Glass by 2:37, almost a half-mile.

Pence, assistant cross country coach at the University of Illinois Springfield, is training for two half-marathons in St. Louis in October and then the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon in November. He’s got his sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

A sub-1:04 in the half-marathon will do the trick as will a time of 2:19 in the marathon. “Today I came out to do the 10K at half-marathon pace,” said Pence, who is sponsored by First to the Finish and Rino Works gym. “So the pace I ran today is what my goal pace will be. “Actually I hoped to run faster than this. It’s good to kind of get used to running that pace.”

This article appeared online for The State Journal-Register on August 20, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Springfield exploring bicycle-sharing program

More residents and visitors to central Illinois cities, including Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, can now rent bicycles as part of bike-share programs.

A coalition of groups in Springfield is looking to make the capital city the next to implement a program where racks with five to 10 bicycles are set up around the city for people to rent on an hourly basis for a fee. They can then return the bike to any other rack.

Those involved in the effort say it’s a push to make the city more bike-friendly and provide another recreational opportunity for both tourists and residents.

“We think it would be a great addition to the tourist infrastructure but also give locals more reasons to come downtown and enjoy the area,” said Downtown Springfield Inc. executive director Lisa Clemmons Stott.

The coalition is meeting with companies that run bike-share programs and researching what has worked well in other cities. One estimate to start a program the group received is around $90,000. 

“What we’re looking at is more turn key,” said Nancy Barrett, an assessment and accreditation coordinator UIS and a member of the bike advisory council. “They come in and give you the bikes, they have the stations, (and) they provide the maintenance, all of that kind of infrastructure.”

Barrett said the University of Illinois Springfield has a popular bike-share program with 20 bikes that students can use for free. She’s looking for ways to expand that transportation option, particularly for international students.

“They’re depending on public transport, walking or biking,” Barrett said. ”We could use more bikes at UIS.”

Once the group has selected a vendor, which could happen as soon as this fall, they’ll begin recruiting local businesses and organizations to chip in, said Clemmons Stott.

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

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Preparing for Monday’s solar eclipse

Joey McLaughlin talks with University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Astronomy-Physics John Martin about the eclipse on Monday.

This interview aired live on 1240 WTAX Radio on August 16, 2017.

Listen to the interview online.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Susan Koch: UIS Community Garden is an educational 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 August 13, 2017.

Renowned British horticulturalist and writer Gertrude Jekyll, who created more than 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and America during her career, once said, “A garden is a grand teacher.” 

I like to think Megan Styles, an environmental anthropologist at the University of Illinois Springfield, may have been inspired by Jekyll’s words when she led an initiative at UIS to establish a now-thriving addition to the campus — the UIS Community Garden. 

Located near the historic Strawbridge Shepherd House, the garden was dedicated during Earth Week in April 2016 and has since become an important instructional facility as well as an engaging intersection for volunteers from the campus and the community. 

More than 200 volunteers have worked in the garden since its opening, and it has already produced over 300 pounds of fresh produce. 

"The UIS Community Garden has been student-driven,” says Styles. Students in Styles’ “Introduction to Sustainability” class designed the garden as a class project, studying various sustainable garden designs, creating a comprehensive plan and budget and determining the organizational approach that would best support a community garden project over time.

The garden features raised beds which help control weeds and handle drainage. Wooden compost containers and an in-ground vermiculture compost bin provide a steady supply of organic material that promotes soil microbes and plant growth. 

The garden includes many typical vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and broccoli, but thanks to heirloom seed donations from Springfield’s own Suttill’s Gardens and the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, more unusual varieties like sweet chocolate peppers, Ping Tung Long eggplant, fuzzy purple cauliflower and Red Russian kale are also thriving. 

City Water, Light and Power donated bee balm, butterfly bushes and milkweed varieties to help attract pollinators to the garden and support Monarch butterflies and other beneficial insect varieties. 

A GoFundMe campaign raised funds for the purchase of tools and other garden supplies. An increasing number of diminutive gnomes (mysterious contributions from an unknown donor) have taken up residence throughout the garden — adding an element of whimsy, charm and, of course, good luck.

Springfield resident Alana Reynolds is one of several regulars at the garden who often brings her daughters to pitch in at the work sessions Wednesday evenings. “The UIS Community Garden is a place to learn and share practical knowledge,” Alana says. “Any Springfield resident who visits the garden is sure to leave with some sense of worth — whether it be an armload of fresh veggies, a new friend or a skill that has been learned.” 

Looking toward the future, Styles would like to work with faculty colleagues to build more connections between the garden and the student experience at UIS, offering additional coursework and research opportunities. 

“The garden is first and foremost an educational space,” she says, “and we’ll make it even more educational and more sustainable as we continue to develop.” 

You can follow activities at the UIS Community Garden via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UISGarden, or better yet, grab your garden gloves and join us for a work session any Wednesday evening between 5 and 7 p.m. Volunteers are always welcome, and I can almost guarantee you won’t go home empty-handed.

Read the entire column online.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

UIS Professor John Martin: Southern Illinois will be epicenter for August 21 Solar Eclipse

Plans have been in the works for years at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and a vast portion of southern Illinois for the total solar eclipse which will translate across the campus sky on Monday, Aug. 21.

The total eclipse will cross the United States from Oregon to South Carolina during the afternoon hours of the day. A solar eclipse occurs when the orbit of the moon passes in front of the sun, causing darkness for a few moments during the daytime. According to NASA experts, southern Illinois will have the longest duration of darkness during the event, about 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

This is the first time in 99 years a total eclipse will be seen across the continental United States.

While the path of totality will be about 150 miles to the south of Pana, this area will be exposed to a partial eclipse – between 94 and 96% – according to University of Illinois Springfield astronomer Dr. John Martin. “Of course, in southern Illinois, the eclipse is total,” Martin said. “In the Pana, Decatur, Springfield, Jacksonville area, it will be a little less than totality. It won’t be quite as spectacular because the sun is so bright, even four or five percent of sunshine will be subdued. It will become just a little dark, something like a cloudy day.”

Dr. Martin has been with UIS since 2006 in the Physics and Astronomy Department. He is the host of the university’s “star parties” which are held periodically at night at the observatory at UIS.

In this area, Dr. Martin says the apex of the solar eclipse will occur around 1:18 p.m. on Aug. 21.
According to the NASA website, the event will begin at 11:52 a.m. and conclude at 2:44 p.m. in the Pana area.

He warns people – especially in this area – not to look directly at the eclipse because they could sustain eye damage. “Even with 97% of the sun blocked out, it can still damage the eyes,” he warns. “It would be like looking directly at an arc welding.” He suggests someone use a welder’s helmet glass to view the eclipse in this area. He said there are local retailers who have special eclipse glasses for sale.

However, the “100% safest way” to view the event is to make a “pin hole camera” and view it indirectly.

“Just seven years from now, in 2024, Carbondale will once again be in the path of totality of another eclipse,” Martin said. “But this eclipse will move from the southwest to the northeast. This is a very rare occurrence – something on the order of once every 1,000 or 2,000 years.”

This story was printed in the Pana News-Palladium on July 31, 2017.

Read the entire story online.