Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cole Taylor signs with Angels

Like most kids, former Salt Fork standout Cole Taylor grew up dreaming of becoming a professional athlete.

This Friday in Grand Junction, Colo., Taylor will take the field in an Pioneer League contest with the Orem Owlz, a minor-league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"It's definitely a dream come true that I'm getting this opportunity,'' said Taylor during a telephone interview Monday night from Orem, Utah. "Now, I have to realize that playing baseball is my job and I have to put everything into it if I want to continue playing baseball for my career.''

Honestly, Taylor, who is a two-time Commercial-News Player of the Year (2013 and 2014) wasn't sure if he was going to get the opportunity. After a pair of stellar seasons at Illinois-Springfield, where Taylor earned all-American honors with the Prairie Stars, the call in last week's draft never came.

Instead, Taylor went the free agency route. "After the draft, I started looking for a place to play,'' he said. "I was talking to a few of the independent teams, trying to get one of with one of them, when the Angels called me last Friday. "They offered me a spot here in Orem and I took it.''

During his career at the University of Illinois Springfield, Taylor ranks first in doubles, first in stolen bases, second in batting average, second in homers, second in RBIs, second in runs, second in hits and second in triples.

With his signing, Taylor becomes the first-ever player in Prairie Stars history to join a Major League Baseball organization.

This story appeared in the Commercial-News on June 13, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Susan Koch: Opportunities for success online

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 9, 2018.

Among the 1,500 who completed their college experience at UIS, one group is especially intriguing. It’s the several hundred members of the 2018 graduating class who completed their undergraduate or graduate degree entirely online. 

Elizabeth Andersen from Urbana, Illinois, who graduated Summa Cum Laude (with highest distinction) with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, is a great example. “As an adult with a job, a family, and a mortgage, a traditional college experience was going to be nearly impossible for me,” she says. “The online opportunity at UIS gave me the option to work full time while finishing school; at the same time, it provided an affordable but high quality education.” 

Affordability, accessibility and quality — those three characteristics have been at the heart of online education at UIS since the first online class was offered in 1997, long before most other universities were even considering opportunities offered by the emerging digital knowledge revolution. 

Since then, UIS has moved to the forefront of universities engaged in online learning, offering 26 degrees and many certificates entirely online and providing access to a high-quality, affordable university education for thousands of students who, for a variety of reasons, cannot follow a more traditional path to the opportunities for success that a college degree provides. 

According to Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning, online students were enrolled at UIS this Spring semester from more than 70% of Illinois counties, 47 U.S. states (exceptions were Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont), and 11 foreign countries. 

In addition, more than 70 percent of students in face-to-face programs also took at least one online course. 

Rebekah Grosboll is one of several online coordinators who works closely with students like Elizabeth throughout their college experience. “I communicate with students every week,” says Grosboll, “helping them access resources, sequence their courses and balance sometimes conflicting obligations. My goal is to create success stories,” she adds, “helping students make their professional goals a reality.”

In addition to providing online coordinators who support students in each program, the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS) serves as a hub for the study and application of online teaching methods, research and best practices. 

According to Dr. Vickie Cook, Executive Director of the Center, “UIS online programs are most distinctive because faculty teach using methods that connect them to their students and connect students with each other, utilizing a robust curriculum that enables learning to occur.” 

Dr. Layne Morsch, a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry who, like many UIS faculty, teaches both face to face and online, was recognized by the Center this year with the Oakley Award for Excellence in Online Teaching.

According to Dr. Morsch: “The characteristics of outstanding learning experiences are the same regardless of mode of delivery. “Engaging students with relevant questions, challenging them to think critically and helping students learn how to apply what they are learning to what they will be asked to do in their future career,” he continues, “are as vital in the online experience as much as in the on-campus classroom.” 

Online learning isn’t the wave of the future; it’s already here and it is providing affordable, accessible, high quality educational opportunities at the University of Illinois Springfield. 

Read the entire column online.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Jay Leno coming to Sangamon Auditorium in September

Jay Leno is coming to Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield in the fall.

Leno is best known as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” which he led from 1992 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2014.

Leno’s show, set for 8 p.m. Sept. 16, continues Springfield’s run in 2018 of booking well-known comedians to the city’s larger venues.

Recent donors to the Friends of UIS Performing Arts can purchase tickets starting 10 a.m. Tuesday.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 31, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Men's Baseball: Ramirez earns national honor

Chris Ramirez had the perfect situation as head baseball coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The Islanders had it all — a beautiful campus, state-of-the-art facilities, a winning tradition and one of the biggest, and best, recruiting bases in the country in the state of Texas. But Ramirez wasn’t looking to put his career on cruise control. He wants to be challenged. He wants to push himself to the limit.

He wants to build a program from scratch and do it the way he wants it done. So five years ago, the 2001 Fort Madison High School graduate packed his bags, loaded his wife, Lindsey, and their children in the car and headed to the University of Illinois Springfield to become head baseball coach for a fledgling program which was in its third season, had no home field and played its “home” games at city parks and high school diamonds they could find.

Ramirez has done things his way, leading the Prairie Stars to a 47-9 record this season, including a 29-game winning streak and a top-five NCAA Division II national ranking.

Ramirez recently was rewarded for his hard work, earning National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II Coach of the Year honors. For Ramirez, it was a byproduct of all the hard work he, his assistant coaches, the players and administration have put into building the program the right way.

“Honestly, (the award) never really crossed my mind. I got a text message from our (Sports Information Director) saying we had two players earn All-America honors. Then I saw I was tagged on Twitter and there was a picture of me and the release about the award,” Ramirez said. “It’s surprising, but this award is a testament to our team winning a lot of games, having a lot of very good players and assistant coaches who did a great job this year. It’s a cool honor, but it’s never something we set as a goal. There are so many great teams and good coaches out there. It’s a cool honor to get.” 

Ramirez has been able to oversee major upgrades, not only in the program, but the facilities.

“In my first year we build dugouts,” Ramirez said. “The next year we got a scoreboard and we played games here. Then we added a backstop and this past summer we got a turf field. Everything is really coming together.”

This year, UIS hosted an NCAA Division II regional and captured its first Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division title, going 23-1 in conference play.

"With UIS being in the very beginning stages of the program, that really motivated me. There aren’t many new programs anywhere. We have a lot of support in the community and we are starting to see success on the field. Our goal next year is to get to the World Series. That is the next step," said Ramirez.

This story appeared in The Hawk Eye on May 30, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

De Witt to retire after launching UIS running teams

Mike De Witt got the University of Illinois Springfield’s cross country and track and field programs off the ground a few years ago. And now he is retiring.

The 67-year-old De Witt has coached for 44 years. He was a high school coach before moving to the college level in 1979.

It was De Witt who designed the cross country course on located on the northeast corner of UIS campus. “I was just looking at the prospectus that I put together when I got here,” he said. “One of the main objectives was to get a good established cross country course.”

De Witt is working toward getting the final phase of the course completed before his last day as coach on June 30.

He coached 42 athletes this past season.

“Another objective was to establish a really good base of kids,” De Witt said.

A national coaching search to hire De Witt’s replacement is underway. A new coach could be hired by the end of June, according to UIS athletic director Jim Sarra.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 31, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Enos Park artists-in-residence

Albuquerque-based artist Allyson Packer, Nick Wylie of Seattle and Illinois State University student Zack Buckley have been chosen as this summer’s artists-in-residence by the Enos Park Residency program, a partnership between the Springfield Art Association, the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association and the City of Springfield.

The program offers four-week to 12-month residency awards to visual artists. Wylie will use his time in Springfield to research Elmer Ellsworth, a close and personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and the first Union officer killed in the Civil War while he was removing a Confederate flag.

Buckley, an artist and composer, plans to record various types of audio from Enos Park to create a multi-channel installation.

Packer, who has recently shown work at Nahmad Projects in London and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, will present a solo exhibit entitled “Interior Space,” at the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery.

This story appeared in The Illinois Times on May 24, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Local educators work to end teacher shortage

The national teacher shortage continues to hit Illinois hard.

Right now there are 1,000 open positions statewide and 20 of those vacancies are in Sangamon County.

“I've seen more vacancies for teaching positions than I have in the 23 years I’ve been in education," said Regional Superintendent Jeff Vose, with the regional Office of Education for Sangamon and Menard Counties.

Vose had enough, so he called Dr. Scott Doerr, the superintendent in Nokomis, who offers a dual-credit class for his students and asked him to help bring an education dual-credit program to the University of Illinois in Springfield.

"My goal here was to take our local students and bring them back to our communities,” said Dr. Scott Doerr, the superintendent in Nokomis.

For the first time, this fall, UIS is offering a dual-credit course for the teaching program. Students will get credit on the high school level, as well as college credit in education.

The goal is to get more people interested in becoming an educator. "They also can get experience with teachers to see what good teachers do and to see how excited teachers still are about teaching kids," explained Dr. Cindy Wilson, the Chair of the Teacher Education Program for UIS.

Right now, 20 students are enrolled. The course starts at the end of August and goes until December. If more students show interest, they'll offer another course in the spring.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on May 21, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

UIS’ Ali Haesele gets All-Midwest Region honor

University of Illinois Springfield senior pitcher Ali Haesele received All-Midwest Region honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and NCAA Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association.

She had a 2.13 earned run average, 217 strikeouts and a 25-11 record for the Prairie Stars.

She ranks first in the all-time UIS record books in ERA, strikeouts (359), wins (42), opponent batting average (.225) and strikeouts per innings (6.78).

Haesele also hit .337 and had 33 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and 19 doubles for UIS, which reached the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 22, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball reaches end of historic season after losing slugfest in NCAA regional

The University of Illinois Springfield’s historic baseball season is over.

Ohio Dominican scored five runs in the first two innings and five more in the fifth – and center fielder Noah Bland made a fantastic, season-saving catch on a near UIS grand slam in the seventh – in the Panthers’ 14-12 victory in the NCAA Division II Midwest Baseball Regional on Sunday at Robin Roberts Stadium.

UIS (47-9) ends a season in which it had a 29-game winning streak, won the Great Lakes Valley Conference, won a school-record 47 games and earned its first ever Division II regional wins.

“You hate it,” said UIS coach Chris Ramirez. “But it ends for every team at some point. There is only one team that ends with a win. “When you get to the final three of an NCAA regional, every team is good. Every team is deserving. But only one team gets to move on. We have a World Series team, we just didn’t win the tournament.”

The UIS coaching staff spent some time talking to the team after the game, before the players hugged and rolled out the tarp over the infield. Although they were disappointed, Ramirez said this group will be remembered at UIS for a long time.

“That’s what we tried to talk to them about after the game,” he said. “It was an amazing season and it means a lot to this program. “I’m really proud of them.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 20, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Women's Softball: UIS softball eliminated from NCAA tournament

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team had the best batting average in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, but the offense wasn’t there for the Prairie Stars Friday. Fellow GLVC member Southern Indiana shut out No. 19 UIS 3-0 in the NCAA Division II Midwest Super-Regional at the Land of Lincoln Complex.

The loss ended UIS’ history-making season in the Sweet 16 and denied the Prairie Stars a trip to the Championship Tournament in Virginia.

“Today just wasn’t our day,” UIS senior pitcher Ali Haesele said. “Everybody came in today prepared to play two games. I don’t think anybody regrets their performance. Everybody was going all out and trying. If you give all you can, you can’t really regret that.”

Haesele struck out one and walked two in six innings to give her a 25-11 record.

The season is over for UIS, but it has plenty to celebrate. The Stars posted a school-record 40 wins, claimed the GLVC regular-season title and made the deepest postseason run in the program’s Division II era.

They also earned UIS its first regional title and national ranking in softball.

In addition, Shannon Guthrie was named GLVC Coach of the Year and Haesele was chosen as the GLVC Pitcher of the Year.

Six UIS players received all-GLVC honors. “They have so much to be proud of,” Guthrie said. “They’re a really special group. They went further than any team in UIS history. They need to understand they set the bar really high for the future.”

“The entire season was a fight,” UIS junior left fielder Madi Torry said. “Nobody expected us to be No. 1 in our conference at the end of the season. Nobody was expecting that. We had a lot of fight and tenacity, and wanted every game that we played. That sums up our season.”

With only four seniors on this year’s roster, the Stars (40-19) should return a lot of experience.

“We have meetings coming up and that’s when we’ll talk about next year and our focus,” said Wagoner, a sophomore right fielder. “At that point, we’ll be done with the sadness and we’ll be ready to go.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 18, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Blind UIS graduate opens people’s eyes to possibilities

Raven Wilson has had the help of her service dog, Dana, for the four years she’s been a student at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Wilson, who is blind, has used her 5-year-old black Labrador/golden retriever to help her navigate a journey that’s taken her from her freshman year at UIS to her participation as a marshal for the English department on Saturday during the 47th annual commencement for UIS. 

Wilson, 22, received a bachelor of arts degree in English.

She will be missed “very much,” said Sarah Weaver, director of the Office of Disability Services at UIS. “We have only one student right now who is blind who actually uses a guide dog, and that’s Raven. The other student, who is blind, she uses a guide cane,” said Weaver, who added that Wilson has used the Office of Disability Services for test taking and for receiving alternate formats for books.

”(Raven) has added so much to this campus in the way of educating people about disability, especially a student being blind. She has participated in everything.” Weaver said, for example, Wilson has participated in a student panel that included students with different types of disabilities. "Raven was one of the first ones to jump on board when I suggested that. She has added so much to this campus. I don’t think there’s probably anybody on this campus that doesn’t know Raven, and it’s always a positive thing, too,” Weaver said.

Wilson said professors at UIS have been “really great” in working with her in figuring out alternatives to assignments that are primarily visual.

Wilson tried something new when taking a recent history final. “The professor put the final on a thumb drive, and I was able to put it in my machine (BrailleNote Touch) and complete the final, and they give him back the thumb drive. ... That worked out really, really well,” Wilson said. “That was something new that I tried out, and it really worked out because usually, I’ll go to the office of disabilities to take the tests because I’m usually allotted time and a half, but honestly, I’ve never really needed to use the time and a half except for a few occasions. I normally can finish up in the same time as the rest of the class.”

Among her many activities, Wilson helped start the student organization Awareness Respect Education Ability for disability awareness.

Wilson will be a camp counselor this summer in upstate New York and will travel to England. She hopes to move to North Carolina, searching for permanent work.

“Raven has opened the door and opened the eyes of a lot of people to see that just because someone has a disability that doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish their goals and live a really fulfilling, productive life.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 12, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Women's Golf: Prairie Stars tie for sixth at regional

Taryn Pittman and Brooke Hill each shot 5-over-par 77 on Wednesday to lead the University of Illinois Springfield to a sixth-place finish in the 12-team NCAA Division II Women’s Super Region golf tournament at Katke Golf Course.

The Prairie Stars posted a 313 on Wednesday, giving them a three-day total of 944.

The Prairie Stars’ Marina Espinosa shot an 80 Wednesday for a 35th-place total of 238. Ocean Pangan of UIS had a 79 Wednesday for a 79 and a tie for 40th at 240, while the Stars’ Jennifer Queller shot an 82 for a tie for 48th at 245.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 9, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Susan Koch: Celebrating UIS graduates

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 7, 2018.

This UIS Perspectives column makes its appearance at the start of the 2018 college commencement season. An estimated 2 million college degrees will be awarded across the U.S. during the next few weeks and I could not be more proud of the nearly 1,000 University of Illinois Springfield graduates who will be sharing the Bank of Springfield Convention Center stage with me on May 12. 

Among the many smiling grads whose hands I’ll be shaking is Rochester native Krissy Finley

Krissy is majoring in accountancy and is also a top competitor on the Prairie Stars cross country and track teams.

“I chose UIS because of the opportunity to compete with the new cross country program,” says Krissy. “But I’ve also been grateful for professors who really care about me and who want me to learn and retain knowledge.” 

Krissy completed an internship at Horace Mann this year and won’t have much down time after completing her degree. She is already working part-time for Horace Mann’s Planning and Expense Team and has accepted a full-time accounting position there that starts after graduation. She plans to start her master’s degree next fall. 

Tonda Chasteen, a biology major from Lewistown, became interested in UIS when she attended a high school science program near her hometown — at the UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon Nature Preserve

“The Necessary Steps Mentoring Program for first generation students helped me make a successful transition from high school to college, and doing research with Professor Layne Morsch in chemistry was also a huge opportunity,” says Tonda. Tonda presented her research with Dr. Morsch at the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco last year and is completing her student teaching this spring at Havana High School with science teacher Craig Bals. 

“Commencement will be important for me and my family because I will be the first in my family to get a four-year degree,” Tonda says. 

Tonda will return to Havana High School next fall as a full-time science teacher. 

Commencement is most certainly a special rite of passage for graduates and their families, but it’s also meaningful for faculty who have invested deeply in the success of their students. Ben Walsh, associate professor of management, and Adriana Crocker, professor of political science, are among the many UIS faculty who’ll be participating in commencement ceremonies next weekend. 

“Seeing commencement as a faculty member fills me with immense pride,” says Dr. Walsh. “I love it when families cheer for their graduate. It is so impactful, rewarding and significant.” 

“As faculty, we try to provide students with what they need for the real world, including other perspectives and frames of reference — not just Illinois,” says Dr. Crocker. “I tell my students commencement is not the end. It’s the beginning.” 

The mission of the University of Illinois is to “transform lives and serve society.” Thanks to the work of outstanding faculty and staff — people like Ben Walsh and Adriana Crocker — I am supremely confident that Krissy, Tonda, Manushe and Vincent have, indeed, been transformed by their UIS experience. I’m also confident they, like thousands of their fellow 2018 UI graduates at all three University of Illinois campuses, will serve society in important ways across Illinois and across the world for many years to come. Congratulations, graduates — we’re proud of you!


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Women's Softball: UIS softball clinches NCAA Division II Tournament berth, home field advantage

University of Illinois Springfield never doubted it would reach the NCAA Division II Softball Tournament.

They were not disappointed.

The NCAA committee unveiled the 64-team bracket on Monday and the Prairie Stars clinched not just a berth but also home field advantage as the highest seed in the Midwest 2 Region double elimination bracket.

The No. 2-seeded Stars will make their second tournament appearance and first-ever at home in their nine-year Division II history against No. 7 Saginaw Valley on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

No. 3 McKendree will play No. 6 Missouri St. Louis in the other first round matchup.

“To be able to host is huge,” UIS coach Shannon Nicholson Guthrie said. “It’s exciting to stay here at UIS. We definitely play better at home. It was a big step for our team.”

UIS, ranked No. 18 nationally, is 15-3 at home this season.

“We always talk about protecting the prairie,” Guthrie said. “That’s something we get fired up about. We don’t want anybody taking that away from us.”

The Stars last made the NCAA tournament in 2012, but this is the first time under Guthrie who was recently named Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year in her fourth season. This will also be a new experience for the rest of the team. UIS won the GLVC regular season title outright but was eliminated from the conference tournament after losing two shutouts.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 7, 2018.

Read the entire article online.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Lake Springfield trash pick-up can improve drinking water

Saturday, the Lake Shore Improvement Association spent the morning picking up around Lake Springfield.

It's their annual clean-up day, but they say it means more than just beautifying the area. It's a place for fun and fishing, but there's a problem with Lake Springfield. "There's always debris,” said John Aiello, Lake Shore Improvement Association Clean-Up Day Chairman.

Dozens joined the Association's to pick up trash through the morning.

Anne-Marie Hanson of the University of Illinois Springfield was there to help. "Trying to get an idea of the plastic pollution and overall marine litter in central Illinois water ways,” said Hanson. 

Hanson came with Tom Rothfus to help in the clean-up, learn about pollutants, and raise awareness. Rothfus is the Director to the Therkildsen Field Station. "A lot of these things, the plastics in particular, just don't go away,” said Rothfus. “They continue to break down they get smaller and smaller and find ways to cause problems with filtration systems, getting into drinking water other issues like that, and so we really need to make people aware that what they're doing every day is having an impact of how they're living their life later on."

They specialize in environmental studies and work to connect UIS with lake concerns. “We're finding chunks of plastic in there and I don't think people realize how big of an impact this has,” said Rothfus. “And how it can trickle up the system and affect us."

Volunteers picked up garbage to prevent it from getting in the lake.

This story aired on Fox 55 Illinois on May 5, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Men's Baseball: Stars’ Rothmund hits homer in 10th

Michael Rothmund hit a three-run walk-off home run in the 10th inning and No. 4 University of Illinois Springfield edged Lewis 6-5 at UIS Field.

John Sechen hit a RBI single for UIS in the eighth and tied the game at 3-all. Lewis took a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th.

In the second game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader, UIS rallied to a 5-2 win. 

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 4, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Men's Softball: UIS’ Dean takes GLVC weekly award

University of Illinois Springfield junior left-handed pitcher Andrew Dean was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week by the conference Monday.

On Saturday, Dean threw a seven-inning complete-game shutout against No. 17-ranked Bellarmine as the Prairie Stars won 7-0.

Dean allowed four hits and one walk to earn his first GLVC Pitcher of the Week award.

UIS, ranked No. 5 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II poll, is 40-5 overall and 19-1 in the GLVC.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 30, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Softball: Stars’ Wagoner, Haesele sweep GLVC honors

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore outfielder Lakyn Wagoner has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week, while UIS senior Ali Haesele is the GLVC Pitcher of the Week.

Wagoner, a Sacred Heart-Griffin High School graduate, batted .615 (8-for-13) last week. She scored six runs and had six RBIs. She slugged 1.308 with 17 total bases, three doubles and two home runs. She had .615 on-base percentage with one stolen base. She scored a run and hit safely in all four games.

Haesele went 2-0 last week. She had a 0.82 earned run average in 17 innings. She struck out 16 and walked two. She pitched a complete-game shutout against William Jewell and threw a complete game in a 10-inning win over Rockhurst.

No. 17 UIS won the regular-season conference title and is seeded No. 1 in the GLVC Championship Tournament that starts Thursday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 30, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, April 30, 2018

University of Illinois takes part in research day

The University of Illinois celebrated research day at the capitol Thursday, April 26. A total of 12 students from the University of Illinois Springfield made poster presentations of their research and also took questions from lawmakers.

The students presenting their research were selected by a committee.

This is the third annual Undergraduate Research Day.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on  April 26, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Golf: UIS places third at GLVC tourney

University of Illinois Springfield’s Maria Espinosa tied for ninth at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Women’s Golf Championship Tournament at Fox Run Golf Club.

Espinosa opened with a 73 then shot 79s in the next two rounds for a 231.

Four UIS golfers placed in the top 20. Ocean Pangan tied for 15th at 239. Taryn Pittman was 17th with a 242. Jennifer Queller finished 19th at 245.

The Prairie Stars placed third as a team with 956 strokes. UIS had rounds of 313, 318 and 325.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 29, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Softball: UIS wins regular-season conference title

No. 17 University of Illinois Springfield has won the Great Lakes Valley Conference regular-season softball championship.

The Prairie Stars closed out the regular season with a 3-2, 10-inning win and 8-2 victory against Rockhurst at the Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Softball Complex.

UIS finishes with a 22-6 GLVC record.

Erin Stroup hit a RBI walk-off single in the 10th inning of the first game. Senior pitcher Ali Haesele also broke the single-season and career records for wins. She has 38 career wins and 21 this season. Haesele struck out eight, walked zero and allowed nine hits in 10 innings to improve her record to 21-7.

In the second game, Lakyn Wagoner collected four RBIs and hit 3-for-3 with a double and home run. She also had two hits in Game One.

UIS is 35-14, one win short of tying the program record for wins. The Stars won 36 games in 201.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 29, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: No. 5 UIS baseball team rolls to GLVC East title

No. 5 University of Illinois Springfield won the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division baseball championship with a pair of wins over No. 17 Bellarmine on Sunday.

UIS rallied to a 5-3 win in the first game.

The Prairie Stars dominated the second game. It scored eight runs in the eighth inning and won 14-5. 

UIS went 3-1 against Bellarmine.

UIS hosts Robert Morris University-Peoria Wednesday at 3 p.m. then closes the regular season with a four-game series against Lewis on Friday and Saturday at UIS Field.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 29, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Making a Murderer attorney speaks at Innocence Project Fundraiser

The University of Illinois Springfield held its 11th annual Defenders of the Innocent fundraiser.

The Illinois Innocence Project thanked the University and supporters for all they do to help those who have been wrongly imprisoned.

The fundraiser also featured attorney Jerome Burting from the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer. “I'm really pleased that this is the largest turnout that they've ever had,” said Burtling, “I'm really happy for that and I’m glad for whatever part I’ve played in that. And I’m amazed at the work they do on a shoestring budget.”

Organizers say on average it takes 7 to 10 years to free an innocent person from prison, and hundreds of thousands of dollars per case.

This story aired on Fox 55 Illinois on April 28, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

UIS baseball team posts 29th straight win

Make that 29 straight wins for the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team.

The fifth-ranked Prairie Stars posted their 29th consecutive victory by beating Missouri S&T 17-4 Wednesday.

Down 3-1 in the second inning, UIS rallied in the third with a four-run inning. Ben Schanding’s two-run single put the Stars up 4-3 in the third. Schanding drove in three runs. Teammate Michael Rothmund contributed five RBIs and four hits.

UIS (37-4 overall, 16-0 Great Lakes Valley Conference) remained ranked No. 5 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division II national poll released Wednesday.

The Stars moved up two spots to sixth place in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 26, 2018.

Read the story online.

Softball: Stars ranked 17th

The University of Illinois Springfield jumped one spot to 17th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II softball national poll Wednesday.

In the Division II East Regional Rankings, UIS is ranked second. Of the 10 ranked teams, Grand Valley State is first.

The Prairie Stars have a 32-13 overall record and 19-5 Great Lakes Valley Conference record.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 26, 2018.

Read the story online.

Otwell, Contreras Bring Home AP Awards

NPR Illinois had been recognized for excellence in reporting during the recent Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Awards.

Reporter Rachel Otwell took home a first place award for Best Hard News Feature. Her report “Shootings in Springfield Leave Many Seeking Solutions” was done after the death of 19 year old Andres Booker III in a city park. The community was seeing an uptick in violence at the time.

Judges were impressed with Rachel’s work. “Great use of sound. The reporter really took listeners to Comer Cox Park in this story,” they wrote.

Rachel, a Rochester native, has been with NPR Illinois since 2011. Her work focuses primarily on equity and the arts. She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she interned with NPR Illinois.

Daisy Contreras was also honored with a second place award in the Best Investigative category. Daisy produced a feature story titled “The Trouble with Temp Work.” The Illinois Issues piece looked at working conditions for those with temporary employment and problems that include wage theft.

Daisy accompanied a group of these employees in Elgin on their way to work. She found Illinois, because of transportation advantages, is home to many warehouses which employ temporary workers.

Daisy is from Chicago. She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting program at UIS in 2017. She produced her winning feature while an intern with NPR Illinois, where she is now a full time reporter covering state government.

The story was reported on April 25, 2018, by NPR Illinois.

Read the story online.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball extends win streak to 28

John Sechen went 2-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs for the University of Illinois Springfield, which collected its 36th win and 28th consecutive victory by defeating the University of Missouri-St. Louis 9-4.

Nick Alvarado collected the win for the Prairie Stars, tossing three innings of two-hit baseball while allowing four runs, striking out one and walking three.

UIS is currently ranked fifth in the NCAA Divison II poll.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 24, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Men's Golf: Stars in 7th at GLVC tourney

University of Illinois Springfield’s Steffen Heckele is tied for 17th place heading into the final round of the 54-hole Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Golf Championship tournament.

Golfers played 36 holes Sunday at Prairie View Golf Club.

UIS is seventh out of 13 teams with a 619. It had scores of 311 and 308.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 22, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball stretches win streak to 27

The fifth-ranked University of Illinois Springfield baseball team rallied to a 6-4 win against Wisconsin-Parkside then won 13-1 to post its 27th consecutive win Sunday.

Down 4-3 in the first game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader, the Prairie Stars took charge in the sixth inning and scored three runs.

Myles Hann’s RBI tied the score at 4-all. Jack Schaaf scored the go-ahead run when he crossed the plate on a passed ball. Chris Mathieu’s sacrifice bunt made it 6-4.

UIS starter Brayden Jensen struck out eight, walked two and allowed six hits in 5 1/3 innings. Sam Geraci got the win and Cam Zunkel earned the save.

The Stars have a 35-4 overall record and 16-0 GLVC record.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 22, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Springfest underway at UIS

Happening this week is the 26th annual Springfest at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Springfest is a way for students and even teachers to get their mind off all the work and have some fun.

Most of these activities take place after 9 p.m., giving students a chance to get all their class work done first.

Some of the activities include scavenger hunts and sports and games.

Aside from this being a stress buster, students say this also gives them a chance to work on some team building skills. "It's everyday from 9 to 11 at night so it's not like it clashes with your classes, so you can do your classes and come back and spend time with your friends ans just have fun," said Suparna Banerjee, UIS traditions coordinator for UIS Student Activity Committee.

This story aired on Fox 55 on April 18, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Men's Baseball: Stars ranked fifth in national poll

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team jumped one spot to No.5 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II national poll released Wednesday.

UIS is 31-4 and has won 23 consecutive games.

The Prairie Stars are 12-0 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

They are in first place in the seven-team GLVC East Division.

The Stars are No. 1 in the Midwest Region rankings, No. 8 in Collegiate Baseball poll and No. 11 in Perfect Game poll.

According to Division II statistics, UIS is fourth in the nation in earned run average (2.62) and ninth in batting average (.331).

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 18, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Softball: UIS earns No. 18 NFCA ranking

University of Illinois Springfield’s softball team is ranked 18th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II national poll.

The Prairie Stars made their first-ever appearance in the polls last week at 25th.

UIS is in first place in the 15-team Great Lakes Valley Conference standings with a 17-3 conference record.

The Stars are 30-11.

Rankings in the Midwest Region were released for the first time this season on Wednesday. UIS is No. 2 behind first-place Grand Valley State.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 18, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, April 16, 2018

UIS students to clean-up litter around Lake Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield students are surveying and cleaning along the shoreline of Lake Springfield.

Students from Environmental Studies classes will spend Thursday picking up litter along the shoreline as part of a class project.

They plan to study the trash to determine how contaminants could impact the lake's ecosystem. 

Students will also be conducting the same survey at Thompson Lake in May along the Illinois River in Fulton County.

They will be using the UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon to conduct their research.

This story aired on WAND TV on April 12, 2018.

Read the story online.

Men's Golf: Host UIS wins 11-team tourney

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Jaime Kreisler finished fifth and teammate James Scagell tied for sixth at the UIS Spring Invitational at Panther Creek Country Club.

UIS placed first out of 11 teams and won the team title with 599 strokes. It shot 293 and 306 for the two days.

Kreisler had rounds of 69 and 80 for a 149. Scagell shot 76 and 74 for 150.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 15, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Softball: No. 25 UIS softball beats Rangers

Ali Haesele struck out 12 batters and allowed five hits in a 11-1 six inning win for No. 25 University of Illinois Springfield against Wisconsin-Parkside in a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader Sunday.  She also hit 2-for-4 and drove in two runs.

Lakyn Wagoner was 3-for-4 with a RBI.

In the second game, UIS got past the Rangers 10-8.

Haesele was 3-for-5 with a RBI. Bree Derhake had three hits and three RBIs for the Prairie Stars.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 15, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball picks up 21st straight victory

No. 6 University of Illinois Springfield posted its 21st consecutive win as it defeated McKendree 15-4 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference baseball doubleheader Friday.

The Prairie Stars escaped with a 11-10 victory in the first game.

UIS has a 29-4 overall record and is 10-0 in the GLVC.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 13, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Women's Softball: UIS softball ranked for first time in school history

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team has earned the program a national ranking for the first time, a feat not even accomplished by the 2012 squad that reached the championship round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional.

UIS debuted at No. 25 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II national poll Wednesday.

It received votes in last week’s poll.

A 14-2 record has the Prairie Stars at the top of the 15-team Great Lakes Valley Conference standings. UIS is 27-10 overall with a seven-game win streak. It has posted 14 victories in the last 15 games.

“They’re doing a lot of things well,” UIS coach Shannon Nicholson Guthrie said. “The main two things are pitching and hitting. With our hitters, it’s somebody different every week that’s stepping up. We have nice offense one through nine and a couple off the bench.”

UIS is leading the GLVC in team batting average, hitting .319 as at team. It has the fifth best team earned run average with a 3.04 average.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 12, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

UIS holds active shooter drill

At the University of Illinois in Springfield Wednesday, students, and faculty received the following text message: "UIS alert! This is an active shooter drill. Shelter-in-place immediately. This is only a drill." 

UIS warned the drill would come a few months ago but didn't give an exact date. 

Alerts were also sent via email, social media, and other various ways to make sure as many people on campus were reached.

Students say given recent school shootings these drills couldn't be more important than right now.

"I think if we practice with these drills and we do it more often then we'll get people to actually think about it so if it actually happens we'll be prepared," said UIS freshman Andrew Cunningham.

Now that the drill is complete, evaluators will sit down with school officials to see what other improvements could be made to their safety plan.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 11, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Men's Tennis: Stars’ Clarke, Martinez ranked in doubles

University of Illinois Springfield duo Sam Clarke and Tommy Martinez is ranked No. 32 in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II men’s national doubles rankings released Wednesday.

Clarke, a junior, and Martinez, a freshman, were previously ranked 23rd. They’ve teamed up for a 14-6 record.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 11, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: UIS ranked sixth in nation

The University of Illinois Springfield continues its climb through the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II national poll and is ranked sixth.

UIS (27-4 overall, 8-0 Great Lakes Valley Conference) was ranked 10th last week.

It is in the poll for the fourth straight week after debuting at No. 25.

In other polls, UIS is ranked 11th by Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game.

The Prairies Stars are No. 1 in the NCBWA Midwest Region rankings.

UIS is on a 19-game win streak and is in first place in the seven-team GLVC East Division standings. The Stars have won 27 of their last 28 games.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 11, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Men's Golf: UIS places 3rd at invite

University of Illinois Springfield’s Louis Bagur and Jaime Kreisler tied for eighth and shot 225 at the 58-player Kentucky Wesleyan College Panther Invite.

Bagur had rounds of 76, 75 and 74 at the Pearl Club. Kreisler shot 75, 73 and 77.

UIS was third at 909.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 10, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Volunteers make bookmarks to encourage kids to read

The United Way of Central Illinois has partnered with the University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield Southeast High School Key Club, Wells Fargo Home Lending, Illinois National Bank, and U.S. Bank to provide handmade bookmarks to Springfield Public Schools.

Children through fifth grade will receive bookmarks.

More than 200 volunteers spent more than 388 hours making monster-themed bookmarks to encourage students to read.

Volunteers were on hand Monday morning to welcome students back from Spring Break and distribute bookmarks.

This story aired on WAND TV on April 9, 2018.

Read the entire story online.


Monday, April 9, 2018

UIS baseball, softball firing on all cylinders

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball and softball teams are red hot.

UIS is No. 10 in the NCAA Division II baseball poll, has posted 19 straight wins and is first in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division.

The Prairie Stars’ record of 27-4 and 8-0 are the best in the conference. They’ve also won 27 out of their last 28 games.

UIS’ softball team received votes in last week’s national poll and have a strong shot at breaking into the Top 25 this week.

UIS is in first place in the 15-team GLVC standings with a 14-2 conference record. The Stars are 27-10 overall and are riding a seven-game win streak. They’ve won 14 of their last 15.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 8, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

‘Rent,’ ‘Spamalot’ and ‘Sound of Music’ coming to Sangamon Auditorium

If there’s one overarching theme for the next year at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield, it’s that of change.

Perhaps the biggest change is one in leadership — Sangamon Auditorium has a new director, Bryan Rives. He started six months ago after the previous director, Bob Vaughn, announced his retirement. 

“Now I’m at a point where ... we really have a direction of where we want to go in the future and take the auditorium,” he said.

But some traditions — especially around the Broadway series — will endure.

The 2018-19 Broadway season for Sangamon Auditorium starts in November and includes “Spamalot,” the 20th anniversary touring show of “Rent,” “Rock of Ages,” “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I” and “Finding Neverland.”

Another change is one of pricing. In the past, the tickets for the Broadway shows would sometimes start at $77, but the range this year goes from balcony seats at $49 to closer seats of up to $89.

Given the budget constraints of UIS, Rives wants to bring shows with wide appeal to the audience in central Illinois. “If we were to bring in some fringe arts groups or unknown artists into a 2,000-seat auditorium that only attracts 200 people, that’s essentially the community voting and saying that’s not really what we’re looking for,” Rives said.

The new approach also means more flexibility. In the past, Sangamon Auditorium would announce a season of about 20 shows spanning three different categories: Broadway, Visiting Artists and Kitchen Sink. This year, Rives and his staff wanted to approach programming by stepping away from a season that has a set beginning and end to move toward a model that goes all year long.

This flexibility means there are more options for bigger shows. “We’re able to be open to any show at any time,” Rives said.

Some of the other changes at Sangamon Auditorium will include transformations to the auditorium itself. During the summer, it will shut down to do some routine maintenance and renovations to some of the backstage areas. There are tentative plans to give the lobby a facelift and other plans to make the evening’s entertainment start long before the audience even gets to the UIS campus.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 6, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

U of Illinois Begins public awareness advertising campaign

The University of Illinois System is launching a statewide marketing campaign to increase public awareness of its three universities as part of a multi-billion dollar fundraising campaign.

University officials say the campaign responds to public opinion surveys that show only half of Illinois residents believed the system significantly contributes to the state's economy.

Many respondents were also unable to identify the system's three main university locations in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

The initiative also comes as the public university system is in the midst of a 5 year campaign to raise $3.1 billion.

Jim Moore is president of the University of Illinois Foundation. He says broadcasting the university system's achievements and impact will attract donors.

This story appeared in U.S. News and World Report on April 9, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Second annual Food Ruck 3K benefits charities

The 2nd Annual Food Ruck 3K is a fun run but also benefits two charity organizations in Springfield.
Both veterans and students at the University of Illinois Springfield took on a cross county course while carrying a backpack full of canned goods and toiletries.

The event is put on by the military and veterans club at UIS. Organizers said at the end of the day it's about one thing, bringing people together.

UIS Military and Veterans Club leader Ashti Dawson said. “It's just a really great opportunity to support the community."

The money raised and donated items will go to the Central Illinois Foodbank and the Fifth Street Renaissance.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 7, 2018.

Read the story online.

Friday, April 6, 2018

U of I officials seek increased state funding

The university system — which includes campuses in Chicago, Urbana and Springfield — is seeking $681 million in appropriations from the state. This is an increase from $583 million in the budget year that ended last June and $650 million in the year that ends this June. And it is much more than the $588 million Gov. Rauner proposed in his budget.

“Because of the budget impasse, we’ve taken a bit of a reputational hit in the last couple of years and we need to go back on the offense in terms of recruiting and retaining world-class scholars and talented researchers, so we’re seeking some support to do that,” President Timothy Killeen said.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch called the request “very reasonable.”

“It has set high goals to grow all three of our campuses, including UIS, with the intent to make a University of Illinois degree even more accessible to Illinois residents,” Koch said. “And the appropriation is key to doing that.”

Though enrollment numbers at Springfield were down slightly this school year, Koch said she is encouraged by a 35 percent uptick in applications. She said the goal is to grow UIS by 1,000 students in the next few years.

“Solid financial support from the state is key to doing that,” Koch said.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 6, 2018.

Read the story online.

D2 Baseball: Illinois-Springfield Finding Success Through A Simple Message

The Prairie Stars from Illinois-Springfield have never been nationally ranked, won their conference championship, or made it into the NCAA Tournament.

But so far this season, it seems all that is bound to change with UIS currently 23-4 through April 4, following an 0-3 start to their season. That's 23 wins in their last 24 games to put themselves firmly in the conversation as one of the best teams in D2 Baseball right now.

What has been the secret to the huge run of success that has seen the team build separate winning streaks of eight and fifteen games? A simple message from head coach Chris Ramirez: "Do what it takes to win now, then do what it takes to win later."

The story was reported by HERO Sports on April 6, 2018.

Read the full story online.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

New director plans changes for Sangamon Auditorium

Bryan Rives took over as director of Sangamon Auditorium in October 2017 and has been busy for the past six months reimagining the 40-year-old, 2,005-seat venue both physically and conceptually. His plans include a revamped approach to booking and some long-overdue renovations as well as an upcoming overall rebranding.

“It’s been going fantastic,” said Rives during a recent conversation in his office in the Public Affairs Center on the campus of University of Illinois Springfield, which also houses the auditorium. “The staff here is wonderful, the university administration is very supportive. They are definitely looking for us to build on the past success and to present a wide range of shows.”

Increased attendance and more fiscal responsibility are high on his list of priorities. “We need to focus on presenting shows that will attract a large audience – at our capacity, it’s not a good feeling for the performing artists, or for the audience, when only 300 people come for the show.” He explained that there is a large amount of financial risk every time the auditorium presents a show. “Jazz at Lincoln Center and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater were both incredible performances with high artistic quality,” he said, “and I’m glad they were presented here. But each of them came at a financial loss of about $25,000. That’s two shows, a total of maybe four hours of entertainment, that ended up costing the university $50,000.”

The story was reported by the Illinois Times on April 5, 2018.

Read the full story online. 

Baseball: UIS ranked 10th in NCBWA Division II

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team is ranked 10th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II poll and No. 1 in the Midwest Region rankings.

UIS was ranked 21st in last week’s NCBWA poll.

The Prairie Stars (23-4 overall, 4-0 Great Lakes Valley Conference) are ranked in other polls. They are No. 15 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. UIS is ranked 14th by Perfect Game.

UIS has a 15-game win streak. It has 23 wins in the last 24 games. The Stars have an important four-game GLVC series this weekend against Indianapolis at UIS Field. The Greyhounds (17-8, 3-5) were ranked No. 7 in last week’s NCBWA poll, but dropped out of the poll Wednesday.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 5, 2018.

Read the story online.

Softball: Stars receive votes in national poll

The University of Illinois Springfield received votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association NCAA Division II national poll released Wednesday.

UIS swept then No. 25 McKendree with a pair of Great Lakes Valley Conference wins Saturday.

The Stars are 23-10 overall and 10-2 in the conference, and are at the top of the GLVC standings with Indianapolis. UIS hosts No. 11 Indianapolis (26-6, 10-2) Saturday at the Land of Lincoln Complex.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 5, 2018.

Read the story online.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Prairie Stars shine on the playing field and in the classroom

The following is a portion of a guest opinion column written by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. It was published in the April 1, 2018, edition of The State Journal-Register.

"Spring’s arrival at the University of Illinois Springfield brings a collective sense of anticipation — trees and flowers coming to life across a beautiful campus, the countdown steadily ticking toward commencement, and (this year for the first time) Starbucks aficionados of all sorts enjoying their favorite beverage on the outdoor plaza at the new Student Union.

On this first day of April 2018 there may be nowhere on campus where that sense of anticipation is more evident (or more intense) than at The Recreation and Athletics Center. TRAC is home to the Prairie Stars, one of about 300 NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs. The program provides more than 250 UIS student-athletes the opportunity to compete at a high level of scholarship athletics at the same time they can earn a University of Illinois degree and contribute in a variety of ways to campus and community life.

At the helm of the Prairie Stars is Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jim Sarra who, along with talented coaches and staff, has implemented a “BLUEprint for excellence” to advance the young Prairie Stars program. Their mission is to center the student-athlete experience on academic achievement, competitive excellence and community engagement."

Read the full article online.

Baseball: No. 21 Stars hit seven home runs

Kenny Hansen hit two home runs in No. 21 University of Illinois Springfield’s 19-1 win against Robert Morris University at UIS Field.

Hansen hit a homer in the second inning. In the fourth inning, he added a two-run home run. The Prairie Stars finished with seven homers.

UIS has 15 straight wins and a 23-4 overall record.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 31, 2018.

Read the story online.

Area colleges: UIS softball sweeps No. 25 McKendree

Ali Haesele struck out 10 batters to lead the University of Illinois Springfield to a 9-5 win against No. 25 McKendree in the first game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference Doubleheader at Chatham Glenwood High School Saturday.

Haesele walked two and allowed 11 hits in seven innings.

Lakyn Wagoner logged three hits, including a two-run home run in the third inning. Morgan Edwards also hit a homer in the inning and UIS led 4-1.

UIS won the second game 5-1. Wickenhauser’s three-run homer put the Stars ahead 3-0 in the fourth.

The Prairie Stars are 23-10 overall and 10-2 in the GLVC.

The win was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 31, 2018.

Read the story online.

UIS annual egg hunt after baseball game

Dozens of kids searched for eggs at the University of Illinois Springfield on Saturday.

The baseball team hosted the annual hunt after their game vs Robert Morris University.

Baseball members helped kids find eggs on the field.

Players said spending time with the kids is the best part of the event. “I hope for some fun after a great win with the boys,” First Baseman Michael Rothmund, “[and] hope for some great fun and interacting with the kids and having a good time.

U.I.S. won 19 to 1 against Robert Morris.

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on March 31, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Vietnam War veterans honored in Springfield

Gov. Bruce Rauner commemorated Vietnam War veterans at a ceremony hosted by the University of Illinois Springfield Thursday morning.

The governor, joined by state Veterans Affairs’ director Erica Jeffries and UIS Chancellor Susan Koch, gave the veterans the “welcome home” they often did not receive 50 years ago. He praised the veterans for putting service ahead of the political divides of the time.

“Each of you Vietnam veterans did not let the divide stop your patriotism,” Rauner said. “You did not let the political fights hinder your belief in freedom and democracy and service. I don’t think any of us can truly appreciate your strength of character and your dedication to serve with pride and honor in the face of such division.”

The ceremony was part of the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration program, which was initiated by Congress in 2012 to recognize the service of Vietnam War veterans and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war each year, until 2025.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 30, 2018.

Read the story online.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Exercise Science program gains popularity at UIS

Some college students juggle their classes and careers while working toward a degree. At the University of Illinois Springfield, a number of students are working toward a degree while juggling in class.

“In my motor learning class right now we have to learn how to juggle,” said Tiffany Wentworth, a junior exercise science major from Omaha, Nebraska. “I didn’t know how to juggle when we started, but I like to say I’m pretty good at that now.”

Wentworth is one of more than 60 students in the campus’ new Exercise Science degree program and wants to pursue a career in physical therapy.

The juggling is a class activity that demonstrates how people learn, or re-learn, certain motor skills. It’s part of a hands-on curriculum that is preparing students to work in numerous fields that deal with the human body in motion.

The Exercise Science program was first offered in fall 2016, and that wasn’t a moment too soon for Wentworth.

“I was a biology major and after my freshman year my adviser brought up the opportunity for an exercise science major,” Wentworth said. “I just didn’t think biology was helping me prepare for physical therapy, whereas exercise science definitely is. We talk more about the body, and I’m learning much more that I will need later.” “I hope to focus on the older generation or the athletic population — I haven’t really decided yet,” Wentworth said. “There are so many surgeries for hips and knees, so the need for physical therapists is just going to keep growing.”

The Exercise Science program of the UIS Allied Health Department prepares future health professionals in kinesiology, health promotion, physical activity, disease management and professional healthcare programs. Students can choose between a health and fitness track that readies them to be kinesiologists, strength and conditioning coaches, wellness specialists, exercise physiologists, rehabilitation instructors or fitness coordinators for athletic teams.

Celest Weuve is the chair of the UIS Allied Health Department and teaches part of the health and fitness curriculum. She is also the one who introduced juggling into the classroom.

“Motor learning is what you do every time you are learning to do something new. It’s how babies learn to walk. It’s how stroke patients re-learn to do the activities of daily living,” Weuve said. “You can also use it from a performance side, like if you’re trying to learn a new lift or trying to get better at sports. It’s also very applicable if you’re recovering from an injury.”

The undergraduate Exercise Science degree program has proven so successful that UIS will offer a master’s program in athletic training starting with the fall 2018 semester. Many of the prerequisites for the new master’s degree will be satisfied through the Exercise Science curriculum.

Weuve said athletic trainers work in a variety of settings that people may expect, such as amateur and professional athletics, therapy clinics, hospitals, and physician offices. But they are also in demand at military academies, military bases, and police and fire academies because of the physical training required.

Motocross and NASCAR racers also use athletic trainers, Weuve said. “We are also seeing a lot more placement in the performing arts like Cirque du Soleil, ballet, Broadway shows, even into some industrial settings like factories,” Weuve said.

“I just met an athletic trainer who works at a Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant because of the physicality that is required in those types of jobs.”

“Graduates of University of Illinois at Springfield’s Exercise Science degree program who follow the physical therapy track will be well positioned for entry into Doctor of Physical Therapy programs and a health care career that consistently rates as a job in high demand,” said association Executive Director Colleen Flannery.

Flannery added that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is expected to grow by 36 percent from 2014 to 2024 as the U.S. population ages and the demand for physical therapy services grows.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 26, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dancing helps raise money for the Children's Miracle Network

A lot of dancing feet on Saturday, all raising money for the Children's Miracle Network.

The University of Illinois Springfield held their fourth annual dance marathon featuring DJ, performances, and lots of food.

There were several themes including Hollywood and superheroes.

Six local families who have benefited from the miracle network also shared their inspiring stories.

"If our feet get tired, if things get hard we have to think about the kids that are in the hospital, think about why we’re really doing this and truly fundraise for all those kids who are in the hospital.” said fundraising leader Hanna Warden.

About 70 people made it out Saturday.

Over the past two years, this event has raised more than $9,000 for the Children's Miracle Network.

This story aired on FOX 55 Illinois on March 24, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Spring Slam coming up Saturday at UIS

The PORTA Spring Slam, a 24-team softball event is set for Saturday at the Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Softball Complex near the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

Games will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on six fields, and each team will play three games.

There also will be an Easter egg hunt on Fields 1 and 2 around noon.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 25, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball team hits national rankings for first time

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball program has climbed into the national rankings in its eighth season of existence.

UIS is ranked 25th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division II poll released Wednesday.

It is 19th in the Perfect Game national rankings. Hero Sports has the Prairie Stars No. 13 out of 262 teams in its ratings. UIS received votes in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper national poll. It also is No. 9 in the 10-team Midwest Region.

The Stars have had a red-hot start to the season after losing their first three games. Their overall record is 17-4 and they’re riding a nine-game win streak.

They have the most wins of all 15 Great Lakes Valley Conference teams. So what got them here? 

“We’ve taken a good pitching staff and taken a good offense, and added impact players to that,” UIS fifth-year coach Chris Ramirez said.

“The big jump has been our pitching staff,” Ramirez said. “Those guys have been unhittable. It’s been the starting pitchers, then we go to the bullpen and those relievers have been just as tough. The story is when you take all those good players that we had coming back and add in Justin Revels, Andrew Dean and Alec Altmeyer to the pitching staff. All three went Division I out of high school.”

The Stars also have the conference’s best batting average. UIS is hitting .318, no other GLVC team is above .298.

“We knew we had Michael Rothmund, last year’s Division II home run leader, back and Cole Taylor, the All-American, back, and we had Myles Hann and John Sechen,” Ramirez said. “We’ve added Jack Schaff and Nick Stokowski.”

This spring could be shaping up to be UIS’ best with seven weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Stars set the school-record for wins at 33 last season. They also won a record-setting 19 GLVC games.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 21, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

UIS to host Easter egg hunt

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team will host its annual Easter egg hunt on March 31.

UIS plays Robert Morris University in a nine-inning game at 2 p.m. at UIS Field. The hunt begins immediately after the game.

Children 10 and younger can participate in the hunt with the baseball team. Children age 5 and younger will be divided into a different group.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 21, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Men's Baseball: DII rankings: Mar. 21

A new team was added to the D-II rankings mix as the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars made their Perfect Game Top 25 debut.

Their inclusion comes on the heels of UIS’ nine-game winning streak, which has been punctuated with a pair of shutout wins. Had it not been for an unfortunate ninth-inning error, the Prairie Stars may be riding an amazing 17-game winning streak as they’ve only lost one contest since dropping their first three.

The pitching for UIS has been flat-out phenomenal.

While several players have been upping their game, a big reason for UIS’ dramatic pitching improvement has been the addition of Justin Revels and Andrew Dean to the rotation.

Revels, who began his career at Grand Canyon, has only allowed three earned runs in his five starts and has a sub 1.00 WHIP with his 0.93 ERA.

Dean, who also formerly played D-I ball at Texas Southern, is putting up similar numbers. In his last outing, a complete game road shutout against Rockhurst, he was still reaching the 90s with his fastball.

The team is batting .318 with Nick Stokowski and Michael Rothmund looking like All Americans in the making.

This article appeared on the website, perfectgame.org on March 21, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Women's Softball: Stars sweep Drury

Lakyn Wagoner’s RBI single tied the game in the seventh inning and Haley Inman hit the game-winning RBI to lift the University of Illinois Springfield to a 3-2 victory against Drury.

UIS won the the second game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader 11-7.

Bree Derhake was 4-for-5. Inman also had four hits.

The Stars have a 16-9 overall record and are 3-1 in the conference.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 18, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, March 16, 2018

University of Illinois student health insurance premiums to go up

University of Illinois trustees have voted to increase student health insurance premiums for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Springfield campus students will see a 3 percent increase and pay $530 a semester.

The health insurance provided by United Healthcare is optional.

School officials tell The (Champaign) News-Gazette that the Urbana-Champaign campus saw a 26 percent increase in student claims for outpatient visits, prescription drugs, maternity care and mental health services.

They say the insurer paid $1.06 for every $1 collected in premiums.

This story was reported by the Associated Press on March 15, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Women's Basketball: With many returning, UIS women’s basketball already looking at next season

It’s spring break for University of Illinois Springfield students. The women’s basketball players better enjoy it because when they return to campus, coach Mark Kost will begin putting them through spring workouts.

Kost is allowed eight hours a week to work with them.

UIS made gains as a program during the 2017-18 season and all involved are ready to take it up a notch.

The Prairie Stars should have the majority of their squad back since they’re only losing three seniors. 

“We had end-of-the-season individual meetings last week,” Kost said. “It’s time for some players to step up, take on new roles and improve. That’s going to be the key to how good we are next year and if we keep this positive momentum going. We have made progress. We are getting better. We are beating some teams that we didn’t beat in the past. Now we’ve got to make that next step.”

It’s possible to divide the Stars’ season into two simple parts: pre-injuries and post-injuries. They finished with a 13-13 overall record and were 7-11 in the conference.

”As a result, the Stars earned their first NCAA Division II regional ranking in program history at the beginning of December. Just before Christmas, they moved their record to 8-1 with an 18-point win against NCAA Tournament qualifier Embry-Riddle, which had received votes in the national poll at the time.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 14, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Men's Tennis: Stars’ Clarke earns GLVC award

University of Illinois Springfield junior Sam Clarke has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week.

Clarke, a native of England, is the first UIS men’s player to earn the award.

Last week, he helped UIS beat No. 10 Lindenwood for the first time in the Prairie Stars’ NCAA Division II era.

Clarke and teammate Tommy Martinez won 9-8 in a pair of No. 1 doubles matches against Lindenwood and Missouri-St. Louis.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 13, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Golf: UIS’ Ocean Pangan second out of 47 golfers

University of Illinois Springfield freshman Ocean Pangan finished second in a playoff at the Embry-Riddle Invitational on Tuesday.

She finished with an 8-over-par 154.

Pangan posted rounds of 76 and 78 at LPGA International Jones Course. She placed second out of 47 golfers.

 UIS finished second out of eight teams with a 635.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 13, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Men's Basketball: UIS men’s basketball to return core group next season with Williams and Stallworth back

During the last four weeks of the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball season, forward Collin Stallworth and guard Aundrae Williams ran out on the court during player introductions. 

The freshmen made their first college starts on Jan. 27 in a win over Indianapolis.

Williams, who attended Lanphier, collected eight starts. He played 610 minutes, third most for the Prairie Stars. He finished as UIS’ third-leading scorer with 8 points per game and was second in steals averaging 1.1 per game.

“If you look at his assist to turnover ratio, it was really good for a freshman,” UIS coach Bill Walker said. “It was over 2 to 1, which is pretty good. He’s a very good defender. He’s got some tangibles and intensity that are just good for the team. He really gave us that spark.”

Stallworth eased his way into the season. The Rochester product started nine contests, played 488 minutes and averaged 3.9 points. He was third in rebounding with 3.8 per game and second with 0.5 blocks per game.

“Collin had some very good games against some high level talent,” Walker said. “He kind of flipped a switch midway through the (Great Lakes Valley Conference) season. It wasn’t a dominating season, but he showed flashes of why everyone around this area kind of knows his ceiling and how good he can be.”

Wins were much easier for the Stars to come by in the first 2 ½ months. They opened with a 12-5 record. After that, they won just two of their last 12 games.

One of those victories was huge. UIS upset powerhouse Southern Indiana 79-70 on Feb. 8 at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS finished 14-14 overall and 6-12 in the GLVC.

This article was published in The State Journal-Register on March 10, 2018.

Read the entire article online.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Study the night sky

On Friday, March 9, celebrate the return of University of Illinois Springfield’s Friday Night Star Parties, hosted by John Martin, UIS associate professor of astronomy and physics.

Friday Night Star Parties take place at UIS Observatory, located on the roof of Brookens Library, and will continue on Friday nights from 8-10 p.m., weather permitting, through March 23.

Friday Night Star Parties include a presentation about galaxies, the stars and the sun, followed by the use of the observatory’s telescope to view of the moon, the great nebula in Orion, as well as additional double stars and star clusters as available.

Friday Night Star Parties are free to the public, and participants are able to come and go as desired between 8 and 10 p.m.

This article appeared in the Illinois Times on March 8, 2018.

Read the entire article online.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Students, Staff Prepare For Active Shooter Situation At UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield trained students and staff on how to respond in an active shooter situation at an hour-long training session this month.

During the session, UIS police showed a video by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety that demonstrated the many responses to an active shooter situation on campus. While colleges are all about learning, it’s a sign of the times that this subject is being taught.

"It's increasing all the time," said UIS Police Captain Brad Strickler. "You hear of all the active shooters and school shootings and workplace violence ... so we want to train everybody here on campus what to do, how to prepare for these things."

Later in the semester, the university plans to have its first active shooter drill with no advanced warning. Police say real life shooter situations can happen any day, any time – and students and staff should remain vigilant.

UIS graduate student Rebekah Lange attended the training.

The session was held as news broke that a shooting at Central Michigan University left two people dead.

Lange was inspired by recent events, including the shooting at Central Michigan, to learn more. "It makes you feel a lot more vulnerable," she said. "Nobody woke up this morning thinking that was going to happen. We just had Parkland down in Florida happen, so you had one incident happen, what, like two, three weeks ago, one this morning, and it just really makes it real."

The video shown at the training demonstrates various ways to maneuver when in an active shooter situation. According to the video, the important question to ask is “What if?” and to always keep in mind how to survive a shooter situation, both on campus and off.

UIS alerts students and staff of emergencies with alarms throughout campus, announcements over speakers, text messages, emails and through campus landlines. Students and staff can use the online reporting system to offer tips on the whereabouts of a shooter rather than having to call, which could create noise that attracts the shooter.

This story aired on NPR Illinois on March 8, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

UIS offering free shuttle to the polls for students

The University of Illinois Springfield is offering a service for its students to get out and vote in the Illinois primary election.

A free shuttle service will take students every 15 minutes to and from the polls on March 20. 

Officials said it’s important for students to be able to vote while they're away from home and this service ensures they're able to do it.

“This is something we've been doing for a while, because we have a number of students who don't have transportation of their own on campus so it's an opportunity for them to vote and not worry about how they're going to get to the poll,” said Connie Komnick who is the assistant director of volunteer and civic engagement center at UIS.

Students will have the service again for the general election in November.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on March 7, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Alternative Spring Break trades sun for service

Like many of his classmates at the University of Illinois Springfield, Eric Loera is already looking ahead to his big spring break trip.

“It’s going to be the farthest I’ve gone, personally, to Texas,” Loera said.

But while his classmates are soaking up the sun on the beach, Loera is going to be gutting homes that soaked up a little too much water.

“We’re going to be doing demolition,” he said. “Tearing down the houses that were ravaged by the hurricane.”

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast more than six months ago. The storm then dumped torrential rains on southeast Texas — including more than 32 inches in Beaumont alone. The winds have died down. The flood waters have receded. But the storm’s impact remains.

But those in need were not forgotten by the team in charge of the UIS Alternative Spring Break trip. 

“When the hurricane was happening, there wasn’t that much we could do,” said organization president Hailey Hawkins. “I knew [our trip] would be a great opportunity for students to go to Texas and really help these people.”

The ASB crew plans to leave early Sunday morning and return late on March 17.

This story aired on WAND TV on March 7, 2018.

Watch the story online.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Men's Baseball: Stars’ Revels earns GLVC award

University of Illinois Springfield junior Justin Revels has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week.

He struck out eight, walked one and allowed two hits in a 9-0 win against William Jewell on Saturday.

His record is 2-0. UIS teammate Colton Hale won the same award last week.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 6, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Men's Baseball: UIS edges William Jewell

Jack Schaaf had three hits in the University of Illinois Springfield’s 8-6 win against William Jewell. 

Michael Rothmund scored on a fielding error in the sixth inning and the Prairie Stars took a 6-5 lead in their home opener, then Schaaf scored and UIS was up two runs.

Cole Taylor’s home run in the eighth put UIS ahead 8-6. Taylor, Rothmund, Nick Stokowski and Troy Cantu had two hits each for UIS.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 2, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Softball: UIS softball beats No. 24 Saginaw Valley

Bree Derhake hit a three-run triple in the University of Illinois-Springfield’s 6-1 win over No. 24 Saginaw Valley State Friday.

The Sacred Heart-Griffin High School graduate hit the triple in the five-run, third inning of the Prairie Stars’ home opener and UIS led 4-1.

UIS’ Calla Wickenhauser drove in Derhake to make it 5-1. Ali Haesele’s RBI triple scored Wickenhauser and the Stars were up 6-1.

UIS scored two wins over nationally ranked teams in the first 10 games.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 2, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame inducts new members

Four people who have successful careers in and around government are being inducted into the Four people who have successful careers in and around government are being inducted into the Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Mark Denzler, Marcilene Dutton, DeShana Forney and David Joens will be inducted in a ceremony March 12 at the Old State Capitol.

Gove was founding director of the internship program.

With the four new members, the hall, established in 1990, will include 68 people. Their names are inscribed on a plaque on the fourth floor of the Statehouse.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 28, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

UIS Professor Unpacks 'Toxic Masculinity'

Google searches for the term "toxic masculinity" reached their peak following the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida earlier in February, according to the search engine's analytics.

Social scientists and psychologists use the concept to explain why men are more prone to violence, for instance.

But there are also real-world, negative consequences for men who might feel pressured to maintain the social status quo when it comes to presenting their gender identity. So says professor Michael Murphy who teaches gender theory at the University of Illinois Springfield.

His new book, which will be released in April, is called "Living out Loud: An Introduction to LGBTQ History Society and Culture."  Murphy recently spoke with us about masculinity and why some are calling it "toxic."

This story was part of an interview on National Public Radio Illinois on February 27, 2018.

Listen to the full transcript online.