Monday, November 20, 2017

Illinois Innocence Project Wins Grant For DNA Testing

The Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, has won a $641,000 grant for DNA testing intended to help exonerate wrongfully convicted inmates.

The grant will be used over the course of two years.

$200,000 of the funds must be used in DNA testing for two types of cases: potential eye witness misidentifications and false confessions.

John Hanlon, Executive Director of the Illinois Innocence Project, says DNA testing is often necessary for the cases he takes on, but also very costly. The most basic test is roughly $1,000.

“The problem is, many of these cases involve evidence that’s degraded," says Hanlon. "It’s very old so it’s degraded. When you’re dealing with degraded evidence you often have to start with the basic kind of procedures to get a DNA profile, but then they often have to go to second and third levels and every level costs more.”

The grant will also be used to pay attorney fees and fund student employment, which is vital for the project.

This story aired on NPR Illinois on November 17, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

New UIS Student Union to host the 2018 Economic Outlook Breakfast

The University of Illinois Springfield Student Union should be ready in 2018 for the annual Economic Outlook Breakfast of The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Chancellor Susan Koch told the fall breakfast on Tuesday.

The breakfast traditionally has been held at the campus’ Public Affairs Center.

“That new building down the way is 99 percent complete,” Koch said, referring to the Student Union.

A grand opening for the $21.7 million project is scheduled for Jan. 14.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 18, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Helicopter parents on their child's job hunt

Helicopter parents can be over-protective of their adult children, even as they try to join the workforce.

Some employers say the millennial generation can be hurt by the people who care about them most.

"I have a very active family," says Malcolm Bennett, a senior at the University of Illinois Springfield. "I'm looking for pretty much anything to get started in the workforce," says Malcolm.

With the tight job market since the great recession, young job seekers often have partners: helicopter parents.

"My mom has literally picked out career paths," says Malcolm. "That doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to listen to her."

The Career Development Center at UIS helps students prepare for the job hunt.

"It's great to have the parents help," says Katherine Battee-Freeman, the director of the Center. "But we don't want the students to use the parents as a crutch and not understand how to do it themselves."

Counselors say parents play important roles in helping with documents, building their child's confidence and coaching for interviews but helicopter parents hover too close.

"I've heard horror stories," said Battee-Freeman, "Of parents being the one calling the employer and saying, are you going to hire my student or when are we going to hear back from you."

"Parents can, with the best interests of their child at heart, impact them negatively," said Josh Britton, a staffing expert with Express Employment Professionals in Springfield. He said some parents have done all the phone calling, interview scheduling, even filled out the job application.

"The message that sends to employers is that the parent's going to be involved anytime something of significance happens on the job," said Britton. "Whether it's positive or negative."

Back at UIS, Malcolm Bennett appreciates all the effort and money his family put into his education and job search and says it has added some stress. But he's most thankful for the way they let go. "My family's kind of hands-off," said Malcolm. "After we get you through the door, it's your chance to shine."

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 17, 2017.

Watch the entire story online.

Men's Basketball: Longmeyer, Williams lead UIS

Senior Eddie Longmeyer posted a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds in the University of Illinois Springfield’s 100-80 win against Robert Morris University-Peoria Friday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Longmeyer shot 10-for-13 from the field and was 5-for-6 at the free throw line. He also had three assists, two blocks and two steals.

Freshman Aundrae Williams scored in double digits for the second straight game. He rang up 16 points. He snagged a team-high four steals and led UIS with six assists.

Junior Zach Steinberg contributed 19 points and nine rebounds.

UIS owned a 46-34 lead at halftime.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 17, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball: UIS advances in GLVC volleyball tourney

Fifth-seeded University of Illinois Springfield won its first Great Lakes Valley Conference Volleyball Championship Tournament match ever with five-set victory against No. 4 seed Bellarmine Friday. 

UIS and Bellarmine played four close sets before the Prairie Stars dominated the fifth game.

In the final set, the Stars scored the last seven points.

Taylor Bauer closed the match with back-to-back kills. She tallied 18 kills and served three aces.

Teammate Jailyn Borum hit 17 kills. Alyssa Hasler added 5 kills and had 10 blocks. Tiffany Wentworth led UIS with 56 assists. Courtney Schutt notched 26 digs.

UIS improved to 22-10 and is one win from tying the program’s all-time record.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 17, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Women's Volleyball: asler, Bauer earn all-GLVC honors

Juniors Alyssa Hasler and Taylor Bauer have become the first University of Illinois Springfield volleyball players to receive all-Great Lakes Valley Conference honors.

Hasler has been named to the first team.

Her .347 attacking percentage is the second best in the conference and second best in UIS NCAA Division II history.

Bauer earned second-team honors. She has a team-leading 305 kills, which ranks fourth in UIS’ Division II history.

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

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

UIS volleyball sets high goals for GLVC tourney

University of Illinois Springfield coach Trey Salinas and his players started the season with a goal: qualify for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Volleyball Championship Tournament for the first time in program history.

Then the season got rolling and their goals morphed into something bigger. “As we got into the back stretch of our conference play, we realized we were talking about things that were past the conference tournament,” Salinas said. Earning the program’s first NCAA Division II regional ranking ever at the beginning of this month changed how the Prairie Stars were seeing the season.

After receiving the No. 10 ranking in the Midwest Region, things kept getting better. UIS went on a 10-match win streak and surpassed the 20-win mark for the first time in a decade.

“We kind of realized that we were better than what we thought we could be,” UIS junior middle blocker Alyssa Hasler said. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was just to make the GLVC tournament. Now the fact that we could make the NCAA tournament is kind of adding fuel to our fire.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 15, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Local business mood improved in fall economic survey

Sangamon County employers are more optimistic on sales and job growth in the first survey taken since the state budget deadlock ended, though expectations for the overall economy have changed little since the fall of 2016.

State government finances remained a top concern among nearly 60 percent of 233 employers who responded to the fall 2017 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey.

The survey was released Tuesday during the annual economic outlook breakfast of The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, held at the University of Illinois Springfield.

One-third of respondents said they expect the local economy to improve in the next year, about the same percentage as a year ago.

More than half, 55 percent, said they expect improved sales and revenue in the coming year compared to 46 percent in the fall of 2016.

Job growth was expected by 32 percent, compared with 27 percent last year.

“There’s a gradual improvement in overall expectations for the economy. It’s still not robust, but it’s an improvement over what we had been seeing,” said executive director David Racine at the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership.

The UIS office conducts the spring and fall survey for the Springfield chamber.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 14, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Women's Basketball: UIS routs MacMurray

Destiny Ramsey and Shelbi Patterson scored 14 points each and the University of Illinois Springfield won its home opener against MacMurray 117-40.

The Prairie Stars improved to 3-0.

Patterson also snagged four steals. Ramsey blocked four shots. Teammate Jasmine Sangster scored 13 points and Gabby Sanders collected nine rebounds.

UIS was ahead 58-23 at halftime.

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

Read the entire article online.

Men's Basketball: Lanphier grad Aundrae Williams leads UIS basketball win

University of Illinois Springfield freshman Aundrae Williams scored 20 points in his home debut and the Prairie Stars pulled out a 92-85 non-conference win against Harris-Stowe State University on Monday.

Williams, who graduated from Lanphier, sealed the win with four free throws in the final 18 seconds at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

It is the first victory of the season for the Stars.

Vince Walker hit two 3s, including the one that put UIS ahead 37-33 with 17 minutes 19 seconds left. Gilwan Nelson and Lijah Donnelly also drained 3-pointers during the run.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 13, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Susan Koch: ‘Reaching Stellar’ with positive momentum

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 11, 2017.

Thanks to the talent and dedication of faculty and staff and the generosity of our many supporters, the University of Illinois Springfield has created positive momentum that is evident today everywhere you look — the largest graduating class in history last spring, new and expanded majors whose graduates are contributing to the regional economy, exceptional performing arts programs that enhance the cultural life of the community, and a beautiful campus on the south side of Springfield where a new Student Union will open in January. 

The contributions of members of our academic community will undoubtedly continue to add value to the campus; but just a few weeks ago, we also launched an exciting new initiative that will take UIS toward even greater excellence and greater impact for our community, our state and beyond. 

It’s “Reaching Stellar,” a $40 million campaign that is part of the most ambitious fundraising effort in University of Illinois history. Dr. Jeff Lorber, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, is leading the campaign which has already raised more than $18 million. 

“A comprehensive campaign like ‘Reaching Stellar’,” says Lorber, “enables the campus to develop strategic priorities that, with donor support, will help ensure the future success and expanded impact of the university. At the same time, when donors contribute to specific projects that interest them, the vitality and quality of life of the entire community is enhanced.” 

And speaking of leadership, the “Reaching Stellar” campaign committee is co-chaired by two exceptional community leaders — Arthur “Hy” Bunn, President and CEO of Bunn-O-Matic Corporation, one of Springfield’s most important corporate citizens, and Saul Morse, of counsel at Brown, Hay and Stephens, the oldest and one of the most highly respected law firms in Illinois. 

“UIS is providing the educated citizens and skilled leaders for the future of our community at the same time it improves the culture of our area,” says Morse. “I’m proud to know that, through my involvement with the campaign, I’m assisting in building one of the true gems in the area and the state.” “I was honored to be asked to co-chair the ‘Reaching Stellar’ campaign,” adds Bunn. “I believe strongly in the leadership and mission of UIS. The campaign is critical to the long-term success of the university and the quality of its value proposition.” 

A planning process involving faculty and staff as well as alumni and members of the Springfield community has identified key priorities for the campaign. Increasing scholarships and enhancing academic excellence are two of those priorities. 

 Building and renovating needed facilities for our growing campus is another important priority. 

One of the most exciting priorities for the campaign is the new Center for Lincoln Studies. 

In a recent editorial in this newspaper, the SJ-R noted UIS is “the perfect place” for the national base for scholarship, teaching and public history about Lincoln’s life, leadership and legacy. We’re excited to see the many ways the Center for Lincoln Studies will enhance understanding of the life and times of the 16th president and we look forward to the significant contributions it will make to the overall excellence and impact of the university. 

With the support and loyalty of both old and new friends and with contributions large and small, I’m confident the “Reaching Stellar” campaign will accelerate the positive momentum of UIS and enable the university to expand its impact on the community as well as on generations of students to come. 

Read the entire column online.

UIS students learn about death and grief in course

It’s one of the few experiences all human beings have in common, yet it’s one of the least understood.

A class at the University of Illinois Springfield aims to change that, and a recent visit to an area funeral home opened students’ eyes about death, dying and grief.

Seven students in UIS’ death and dying class and their instructor were given a tour of the funeral home last week, and the room displaying caskets and containers for crematory remains, or cremains, elicited the most interest.

Students learned how buried cremains could be used to grow a tree in a person’s memory.

They examined a biodegradable lamb’s wool casket for “green” burials and noted how its white surface felt like a heavy flannel coat.

Paula Staab Polk, the memorial home owner has hosted the death and dying class for 10 years.

The death and dying class participants were no strangers to the subject before they visited the funeral home.

Memorial Hospice clinical supervisor Deb Whitson had been a guest speaker. And Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards spoke to the students several weeks earlier, something she has done for the past four years.

Edwards said she took the opportunity to talk to the class about the deadly opioid crisis and infant deaths that occur when they are co-sleeping with adults. “Child deaths are one of the hardest things, and you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t affect you somewhat,” Edwards said.

Carolyn Peck is an associate professor and human services department chair at UIS, and she has been teaching the death and dying class since shortly after she arrived at the school in 2002. “One of the benefits of offering a class like this, particularly in a gerontology concentration, is that students who are going to be working with older adults are going to encounter the death of clients,” Peck said.

“This class helps place the emphasis not only on the person who is dying but also their family members and what type of support they might need.”

“With significant loss, closure is a myth. The processing of that loss can be lifelong, so how could we possibly have closure on the death of a loved one who meant the world to us?” Peck said. “We need to acknowledge that it’s an ongoing process and that we’re probably not going to get over it, although over time we might be able to re-invest in other relationships and activities.” 

Staab Polk agreed. “Grief can be absolute, physical pain, but sometimes it’s better to turn and embrace the grief rather than run away from it,” she said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 11, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Basketball: UIS women win on last-minute 3-pointer

Senior Shelbi Patterson hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in the University of Illinois Springfield’s 67-66 victory against LeMoyne-Owen Saturday.

Sophomore Tehya Fortune’s made the second of two free throws to get UIS within 66-64 with 46 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. She also grabbed a key rebound on the next possession when LeMoyne-Owen’s Shaynn Nance missed a 3-pointer.

UIS junior Destiny Ramsey followed with a missed jumper, then grabbed her own rebound and passed the ball to Patterson for the winning shot.

Sophomore Katelyn Rosner added 12 points and eight rebounds. Fortune and sophomore Jasmine Sangster scored 11 points each.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 11, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

UIS holds special flag raising ceremony

In observance of Veterans Day, the University of Illinois Springfield held a special flag raising ceremony on campus.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch and other leaders were honored with the ESQR Seven Seals Award for their work in supporting military veterans.

Over the past year, the university has reduced fees for students who participate in military benefits.

They've also created a Student Veterans Advisory Committee. Leaders of the Illinois National Guard and employees at Camp Lincoln spoke about the importance of supporting our military men and women.

"We take the weekend, not just the day, the weekend and beyond to continue to recognize and support our veterans and service members," said Major Loren Easter with the Illinois ESQR Committee.

Right now there are more than 300 students attending UIS that are in the military or have veterans' status.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 10, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Researchers talk hepatitis study results

Researchers at the University of Illinois Springfield are sharing the results of a two-year study of hepatitis among homeless people.

Associate Professor Josiah Alamu decided to study the matter after reading federal data that pointed to increasing rates of Hepatitis C, particularly among homeless people and people in prison.

“As a public health officer, my concern would be ‘How much would the government save if we do the screening and prevention?'" Alamu said. “I did the math. It takes about $90,000 to treat one Hepatitis C patient.”

Alamu and a group of students conducted screenings of about 100 homeless people at shelters in Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Bloomington and Peoria, he said.

Of those screened with rapid testing, 13 percent tested positive for Hepatitis C and were referred to hospitals for further services, Alamu said. That compares to federal projections that between 10 and 30 percent of homeless people have Hepatitis C.

Alamu said the research could help develop tailored treatments and prevent the spread of Hepatitis C.

Alamu said his students are now partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health, Walgreens and others to conduct a mobile clinic in Springfield, providing screenings for homeless people and offering flu shots.

This article appeared on WAND 17 on November 8, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

UIS volleyball wins 10th straight match

The University of Illinois Springfield stretched its win streak to 10 matches and beat Maryville at The Recreation and Athletic Center Tuesday.

UIS runs its record to 21-8 overall and 12-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

The Prairie Stars are two victories shy of tying the program’s single-season win record.

They won 23 matches at the NAIA level in 2007.

Brianna Bush and Taylor Bauer hit eight kills each against Maryville. Tiffany Wentworth tallied 26 assists.

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

Read the entire story online.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

More Veterans Day events

The University of Illinois Springfield will hold a Veterans Day flag raising ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday in front of the Public Affairs Center.

Major Loren Easter, Illinois Army National Guard, Camp Lincoln will provide an address in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby directly following the raising of the flag.

The U.S. Dept. of Defense and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) will have a Patriot Award presentation.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 6, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Women's Cross Country: UIS places 24th at regional

University of Illinois Springfield senior Krissy Finley placed 104th at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional.

She led UIS by finishing the 6K in 24 minutes 8.2 seconds.

Teammate Olivia Rohr was 155th.

The Prairie Stars placed 24th as a team.

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

Read the entire article online.

UIS opening new student union

The University of Illinois Springfield is opening a new student union in January.

It's a $21.7 million project.

The 50,000 sq. ft. facility still needs landscaping, decor, and furnishings.

The grand opening is set for January 14th 2018.

Officials are calling it a "Community Hub" for campus where students can eat and attend events and will have two dozen student workers.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 5, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Men's Cross Country: Stars finish 13th in regional

University of Illinois Springfield senior Eli Cook was 55th and the Prairie Stars placed 13th at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional.

Cook completed the 10K in 33 minutes 9.8 seconds.

The Prairie Stars’ next placer was Tyler Pasley. He was 81st.

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

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball: Stars get 20th win

The University of Illinois Springfield posted its ninth consecutive victory and clinched its first ever Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament berth with a win against Indianapolis.

The Prairie Stars are closing in on the program record for wins in a single season.

It has already set the record for NCAA Division II victories in a season.

Alyssa Hasler and Taylor Bauer had 10 kills each against Indianapolis. Tiffany Wentworth added 30 assists and nine digs.

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

Read the entire article online.

Jerry Seinfeld adds second Springfield show

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld will perform a second show when he returns to Sangamon Auditorium in January.

In addition to the previously announced 7 p.m. performance on Jan. 18, Seinfeld will go on again for a 9:30 p.m. show.

Seinfeld previously sold out performances at Sangamon Auditorium in 2003, 2005 and 2009. 

Seinfeld is best known for his comedy sitcom on NBC in the 1990s. In recent years, he has starred in the web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” where Seinfeld picks up a fellow comedian in a classic car and they have a conversation over coffee.

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

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

UIS students collect nearly 29,000 pounds of food

While children throughout Springfield were collecting Halloween candy on Tuesday night, the University of Illinois Springfield continued a tradition of collecting food for the Central Illinois Foodbank.

A total of 284 UIS students went door to door Tuesday night to collect a record 28,946 pounds of food from several Springfield and Chatham neighborhoods.

The students visited home over the past week to distribute door hangers that explained the project. 

Tuesday night’s total breaks last year’s record of 14,085 pounds.

If residents have food items that weren’t picked up Tuesday night, please contact the UIS Volunteer Center at 206-7716 or

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

Read the entire article online.

UIS Student Union to open mid-January

The Student Union at University of Illinois Springfield has a mid-January opening date after more than a year-and-a-half of construction for the $21.7 million project. 

Remaining work on the 50,000-square-foot facility at the center of campus includes furnishings, landscaping, d├ęcor and finishing touches on exterior walls toward a Jan. 14 grand opening, Student Union Executive Director Ann Comerford said Wednesday.

“Everything is moving along really well,” said Comerford. “We plan to begin moving in late November or early December.”

The Student Union was among projects highlighted at the Springfield campus with the official launch Wednesday of a five-year, $3.1 billion fundraising campaign for the University of Illinois System, including Champaign-Urbana, Chicago and Springfield campuses.

Approximately $1.8 billion already has been committed toward scholarships and academic programs, facilities, technology and community projects, according to Wednesday’s announcement.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch last month announced a $40 million goal for the Springfield campaign, including creation of the UIS Center for Lincoln Studies.

A weeklong series of events are planned leading up to Jan. 14.

“It’ll truly be a community hub for the campus. Students will study here, they’ll eat here, and there will also be a lot of programs and events,” said Comerford. ”“It’s also our hope this is a place where people get to know the campus community. I think it’s great not only for UIS but for Springfield.”

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

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Report: Sangamon Auditorium made ‘significant safety corrections’ after accident

Sangamon Auditorium, where a March 26 accident led to $300,000 in personal injury settlements, has made “very significant safety corrections” after one concert patron was hurt and another died in a fall, according to a safety report commissioned by the University of Illinois Springfield.

Unspecified steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of the incident, the recently completed $5,000 analysis by Champaign-based consultant Grey & Associates says.

Provided by UIS at the request of The State Journal-Register, the report also said the 2,000-seat performance venue needs to improve both its hazard-reporting process and training of employees on safety policies to better protect workers and the public.

UIS Spokesman Derek Schnapp said some of the safety report’s recommendations have been implemented already. He didn’t elaborate. He had no cost estimate for carrying out the suggestions but said cost wouldn’t be a barrier.

“We are pleased to have received the Sangamon Auditorium Safety Audit, and we are carefully reviewing the report to assess any needed improvements,” Schnapp said. “As we have noted before, the safety of our guests is a top priority, and the report confirms the auditorium is a safe facility. We’re looking forward to another great season of outstanding performances.”

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

Read the entire article online.

Women's Soccer: lllinois-Springfield’s Courtney Johnson receives GLVC honor

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore goalkeeper Courtney Johnson has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week.

She made nine saves in a win against Rockhurst. It was her fourth shutout.

She is the second UIS women’s soccer player who has earned Player of the Week honors.

Junior goalie Paloma Guijarro received the award in September.

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

Read the entire article online.

Trick or treating for cans instead of candy

Trick or treating for a good cause, that's what nearly 300 University of Springfield students did Tuesday.

Trick or Treat for Canned Goods is an effort to address food insecurity in central Illinois.

Students went out to 17 different neighborhoods to collect food instead of candy.

One of the event organizers said Halloween is a great time to give back.

“A lot of people are thinking about it at Thanksgiving but that might be just a touch too late,” said director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center Mark Dochterman. “The food that we get now will go into the foodbank and out to the soup kitchens before Thanksgiving.”

All the food will go to the Central Illinois Foodbank.

Last year the students raised 14,000 pounds of food, they're shooting for 15,000 pounds this year.

This story aired on FOX Illinois on October 31, 2017.

Watch the story online.