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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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