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.

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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.

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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.

Read the entire article online.

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.

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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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