Tuesday, October 16, 2018

UIS offers free flu vaccines Monday

University of Illinois Springfield hosted a free flu vaccine clinic Monday.

Vaccines were available free of charge to students and employees and retired employees with state benefits.

The flu shot is also available for employees who do not have state health insurance for $20.

There are several other clinics for students and employees. For more information on upcoming flu shot clinics, click here.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 15, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Monday, October 15, 2018

History Harvest gets more personal

An NAACP pin given to a nurse during a 1966 Chicago riot, articles about Vice President Walter Mondale’s 1979 visit to Loami and photographs of a Lithuanian family were some of the items 40 to 50 people brought to the University of Illinois Springfield’s History Harvest on Saturday at Innovate Springfield.

The History Harvest was the UIS history department’s second. The first was held in 2016.

This year’s was a bicentennial event; organizers asked people to bring items connecting them or their family to Illinois history.

It drew more people and items than the first, according to UIS assistant professor of history Devin Hunter. “It seems the quality of the items are a little more interesting this time,” Hunter said. “Last time, we had a theme about political campaigns, so we got a lot of campaign buttons and stickers which were interesting, but we didn’t get the breadth of materials that we’re getting now: family photo albums, things from the Lithuanian-American and African-American communities, people who have deep roots in the Springfield area. We’re getting a lot more of that this time around.”

As with the first History Harvest, UIS students asked owners about the items they brought and then scanned them to be archived online.

The history department will develop the online archive of items collected Saturday and continue work on the 2016 archive.

Hunter said. UIS will hold a third History Harvest in 2020, he said, but its theme hasn’t been finalized.

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

Read the entire article online.

Women's Soccer: Stars get second victory on the road

The University of Illinois Springfield fell behind early but answered quickly with three unanswered goals for a 3-1 victory against Drury College at Harrison Stadium.

The Panthers scored just under 12 minutes into the first half on a 12-yard score from Gabe Millot with an assist from Brinn Cooper.

UIS answered six seconds later with an 8-yard goal from Amanda Meyer. Meyer also scored the first goal of the second half for the stars.

Valentina Rodriguez added the third goal with 20 minutes remaining in the game.

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

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Women's Volleyball: Bush, UIS volleyball win 10th straight match

Brianna Bush had 16 kills, 10 digs, two assists and one ace to lead the University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team to a four-set win over Findlay (Ohio) at the Midwest Region Crossover on Saturday.

The Prairie Stars have won 10 matches in a row. That mark ties its longest winning streak since it moved from the NAIA level to NCAA Division II in 2009.

Taylor Bauer added 12 kills and Alyssa Hasler finished with 11 for the Prairie Stars.

UIS went 3-0 in the Midwest Region Crossover, one of just two teams to do so.

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

Read the entire article online.

Friday, October 12, 2018

UIS students gather to celebrate National Coming Out Day

Dozens of colleges students in Springfield shared their stories during National Coming Out Day.

One by one, UIS students shared their stories.

Many faced the challenge of revealing their true sexual identity to their father or mother.

"I came out when I was in eighth grade and she said that I was too young to know and that I'm probably not, so whatever. Then I came out to my father and he said that he hopes it's not true, but if it is, alright. And just kind of got up and walked away," Freshman student Cielo Delgado said.

They all stood behind one word Thursday, broadcast in bold across their shirts: Human.

"It's been two years since I came out and it hasn't gotten any easier. It doesn't really get easier, ever. But being here and doing it in front of all these people somehow makes it feel alright," Junior student Spencer Voyles said.

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on October 11, 2018.

Watch the full story online. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball sets sights on GLVC title and higher

Four years ago, new University of Illinois Springfield volleyball coach Trey Salinas was selling a vision of success.

It’s all he had. He was taking over a program that had won a total of 14 Great Lakes Valley Conference matches over the previous six seasons.

“I started going out (recruiting) thinking that I needed to change UIS volleyball’s reputation. Because I assumed we had a bad reputation,” Salinas said. “What I quickly found out was that we had no reputation. Most players, even in the Midwest, had never even heard of UIS."

“We tried to make that work for us because I quickly found out that I could get kids to come here if I could get them to visit campus -- if I could show them what UIS has to offer as an athlete and as a student. Once they knew that stuff was really good, I could share with them where we wanted the volleyball program to be and how they could thrive in it.”

Two current seniors believed in that vision and the program started to change.

Middle blocker Alyssa Hasler and setter Tiffany Wentworth came to Springfield in 2015 believing this is what they would help build.

“When I had my one-on-one conversation with coach, I realized I really wanted to play for him,” Wentworth said of her recruitment to UIS. “He told us it was going to be a work in progress and I was ready and wanted to be a part of that.”

The destination wasn’t always apparent during the journey.

Hasler, from South Bend, Indiana, leads all NCAA Division II players in total blocks and is third in blocks average. She originally came to Springfield largely based on the opportunity for immediate playing time for a team that had been 10-18 in 2014. She did get on the floor right from the start and led the 2015 team in blocks. She is now the school’s all-time leader in that category and is on the verge of reaching 1,000 career kills.

“The first two years were really tough for me, because I was coming from a high school program (Mishawaka Marian High School) where I was losing maybe two games a season,” Hasler said. “So coming here, where we knew we might only win two games a season was a big change. I want to win -- I want that competition. And sometimes I felt we didn’t have that as a team, which was frustrating."

“But as the time grew and as we got more confidence in ourselves that built up. That was important. Because we knew there was a lot of talent on the team but we weren’t winning. So we had to work through that.”

That team-first philosophy has paid off.

Last season the Prairie Stars finished 22-11 and 12-6 in the GLVC. It was the third straight season UIS’ win total jumped under Salinas.

They’re goals for the rest of the season are high. “We, for sure, want to win a conference championship,” Salinas said. “But our bigger goal is to make it to regionals.”

The players might be looking even higher. “We want to win regionals and make the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance,” Wentworth said.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 10, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Men's Golf: UIS men’s golf 8th in Midwest Fall Regional

Steffen Heckele tied for 15th individually to lead the University of Illinois Springfield to eighth place in the 18-team Midwest Fall Regional that concluded Tuesday at Fox Run Golf Club.

Heckele shot a 71 in the first round, followed by a 77 for a two-day total of 148.

Teammate Jaime Kreisler finished 31st with a 151 as the Prairie Stars had team scores of 300 and 306 for a 606 total.

Other UIS totals were a 153 by Dnaile Miller, a 154 by Sabastian Trujillo and a 158 by Daniel Nyman. The Stars’ Louis Bagur competed individually and had a 161.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Women's Volleyball: Borum and Cobert playing pivotal roles, putting up big stats for Illinois Springfield

The University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team is off to a 14-4 start to the season, including an 8-1 mark in Great Lakes Valley Conference play, thanks to a pair of local 2016 graduates.

Sterling native Jay Borum has become the Prairie Stars’ most reliable defensive specialist, while Erie native Rachel Cobert clobbers kills and collects digs when called upon.

The Division II school picked up three GLVC wins in a 5-day stretch recently, while the former Golden Warrior etched her name into the school record books.

Borum recorded a single-match school record for digs with 43 last Saturday in a 3-2 home win over 10th-ranked Drury.

The total now ranks in the top-10 all-time in GLVC history, and is the fifth-most in DII this season.

This story appeared on saukvalley.com on October 5, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Soccer: Javier Milla goal gives UIS men’s soccer a win

Javier Milla scored the University of Illiniois Springfield’s lone goal on Friday in a 1-0 victory over McKendree at Kiwanis Stadium.

Milla connected on a pass from Rory Carlson, as UIS improved to 5-4-2 overall and 4-2-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

UIS’ keeper Pijus Petkevicius had a four-save shutout.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 5, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

Women's Volleyball: Stars sweep McKendree

University of Illinois Springfield took control on the defensive side of the net to defeat McKendree in three sets.

Brianna Bush led the Prairie Stars with 10 digs, two blocks and five kills.

Alli Splitt added two blocks and nine kills for UIS. Jailyn Borum recorded 16 digs.

The victory was the 15th victory of the season and the Stars are now 9-1 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play. It is the first time UIS has defeated McKendree in conference play.

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

Read the entire story online.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wrongful Conviction Day

Tuesday was Wrongful Conviction Day. One of the places taking note was the quad on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

“Sometimes there was evidence that should have been looked at that wasn’t,” says Lauren Myerscough-Mueller, a staff attorney with the UIS-based Illinois Innocence Project.

“Sometimes there’s evidence that was hidden that could have exonerated someone, but sometimes it’s very simple that there is DNA that can be tested. We have had a few exonerations based on DNA, and it’s kind of the gold standard in our kind of work.”

Black and blue flags formed a bullseye on the quad, the blue for Illinois exonerations (more than 200) and the black for those elsewhere in the U.S. (more than 2,000).

Myerscough-Mueller says the Illinois Innocence Project claims credit for eleven exonerations, with more attempts in the works.

This story was published online at WTAX News Radio on October 2, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Women's Volleyball: 6 numbers behind Illinois Springfield's first DII volleyball top 10 upset in program history

University of Illinois Springfield is following up its record-setting 2017 DII volleyball season with quite the encore.

The Prairie Stars upset No. 10 Drury on Saturday in five sets, earning them their first-ever upset of a top 10 team.

The win extends the Prairie Stars current win streak to five games and puts them in a three-way tie atop the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Here's what you need to know about the Prairie Stars latest win.

3: Sets short senior MB Alyssa Hasler is shy of setting the program record of 412. Hasler set the program kills record in the historic upset and now owns five of the program's all-time marks.

13-4: The Prairie Stars improved their record to 13-4 on Saturday, which is the best start for the program.

43: Digs by Jailyn Borum, the single-match program record.

56: Match-high assists, recorded by UIS setter Tiffany Wentworth.

70: Total kills by Illinois Springfield, the most it has recorded in a match this season. Four Prairie Stars finished in double-digit kills. Brianna Bush tied for a match-high 19 kills, Hasler had her 15 record-setting kills, Alli Splitt added 13 and Taylor Bauer finished with 10.

908: Hasler had 15 kills, giving her 908 in her Prairie Stars career. Her 907th kill set the program record for most kills during the NCAA era.

This information was published on www.ncaa.com on September 29, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Cross Country: UIS’ Christy breaks school record

Taryn Christy broke the school record and placed 18th individually in leading the University of Illinois Springfield to 17th in the team standings Saturday at the Greater Louisville Classic.

Christy, a freshman, finished the 5k-race in 18 minutes 33.8 seconds. She beat the former record by 59.8 seconds.

UIS finished with 483 points.

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

Read the entire article online.

Men's Cross Country: Prairie Stars place eighth at Classic

The University of Illinois Springfield finished with 309 points and placed eighth as a team Saturday at the 8k Greater Louisville Classic.

UIS senior Kenton Wilson finished 39th individually in a time of 25 minutes 43.7 seconds.

Teammate Tyler Hiserole (25:55.7) had a personal-best and placed 50th for UIS.

St. Francis won the 45-team meet with 146 points.

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

Read the entire article online.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Study: UI system makes up 2.2 percent of state's economy

A new economic-impact study commissioned by the University of Illinois concludes that the UI system pumps $17.5 billion into the state economy each year and supports 171,300 jobs — about 2 percent of the statewide total.

The report, to be presented today to UI trustees, says that spending by the three universities in the UI system, their employees and students, and increased earnings by their graduates, account for 2.2 percent of the Illinois gross state product of roughly $820 billion.

The largest share of the $17.5 billion — about $10 billion of it — comes from spending by UI graduates who live and work in Illinois. The rest comes from spending by the UI system's academic and research operations ($4.9 billion), hospital and health-care operations ($1.5 billion), companies launched through research (nearly $679 million), students (nearly $306 million), and visitors to the universities (nearly $40 million).

For every dollar that Urbana students put into their education, they receive $4.70 in career earnings — a 14.5 percent annual return. The average bachelor's degree graduate will earn $30,800 more annually than a high school graduate, netting about $1.4 million more in career earnings. In Chicago, students received $5.30 in career earnings for every dollar investment, at 16.5 percent annual return, and UI Springfield students received $6.30, a 20.1 percent return.

This story appeared in The News-Gazette on September 27, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Men's Soccer: UIS’ Petkevicius named Player of the Week

Pijus Petkevicius, a freshman goalie from the University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team, was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Week Tuesday by the United Soccer Coaches. 

Petkevicius led the Prairie Stars to two shutout wins last week, defeating No. 9 Indianapolis 1-0 and Lewis 2-0 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play.

Petkevicius, from Vilnius, Lithuania, collected four saves in the win against Indianapolis and finished with three against Lewis.

UIS is 4-2-2 overall and is tied with McKendree, Quincy and Southern Indiana with a 3-0-1 record in the GLVC.

Petkevicius won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Week honors in the GLVC the previous two weeks.

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

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Voter registration push underway in Springfield

Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day.

A group of volunteers from various community agencies were out trying to boost voter registration in Springfield and Sangamon County.

Registration efforts were made at the Lincoln Library, Lincoln Land Community College, the University of Illinois in Springfield and at the bus transfer station at 5th & Capitol.

Gail Fobbs of the Faith Coalition says she would like to improve voter registration and turnout this year. “A lot of people don’t vote but they complain about what’s happening in this city,” Fobbs told WAND’s Doug Wolfe. “If they want change they need to vote in order to have a chance.”

People who wish to register can do so at their county clerks office in the country where they reside. The first day of voting in Illinois is Thursday.

This story aired on WAND 17 on September 25, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Civil Rights Leader Urges Students: Keep Fighting, With Love

Earlier this month, Diane Nash told a full auditorium of University of Illinois Springfield students that she and fellow civil rights activists, “Loved you before we met you.”

She said efforts to make the U.S. a more equitable place had been done, and are still being done, “For generations yet unborn.”

And she urged others to join the cause, or risk sliding into what she sees as an increasingly authoritarian state.

Nash, a native of Southside Chicago, was a key strategist and leader of the student faction of civil rights efforts during the sixties and beyond. She co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which aimed to create a participatory democracy and helped initiate efforts that led to the march from Selma to Montgomery, and ultimately the Voting Rights Act, signed into law in 1965.

Nash is a lesser-known civil rights leader in comparison with her male peers, though as time marches on, her contributions are becoming more widely heralded. In the 2014 film Selma, she is portrayed by actress Tessa Thompson.

Nash is one to cut right to the heart of the matter. “No one can give you what you want unless you know what it is,” she told students.

As a young person, she asked Nashville’s mayor, on the steps of City Hall, if he believed it was wrong to discriminate against people based on the color of their skin. He said he did believe it was wrong, and Nash said that led to a positive shift that ultimately helped lead to the desegregation she and others fought for.

Nash favors a term she coined in place of “nonviolence.” She calls “agapic energy” a force based on the love of all humankind. It’s a force that can be used to “wage war without weapons of violence,” with energy produced from love versus hate, she said.

According to her philosophy, individuals are never the enemy. Unjust political and economic systems are the enemy, racism is the enemy - but you can love an individual regardless of their beliefs and actions while confronting the systems they represent.

This story appeared on NPR Illinois on September 21, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball: Cobert delivers for UIS

Rachel Cobert racked up 12 kills, 11 digs and two service aces to lead the University of Illinois Springfield past Missouri St. Louis in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match Friday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Brianna Bush and Alli Splitt added 11 kills apiece and Alyssa Hasler had 10 for UIS. Tiffany Wentworth finished with 36 assists, while Jailyn Borum compiled 22 digs for the Prairie Stars, who are now 10-4 overall and 4-1 in the GLVC.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 21, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer upsets nationally-ranked Indianapolis

Edward Rose headed a ball into the back of the net and the University of Illinois Springfield upset nationally-ranked Indianapolis 1-0 Friday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game.

Rose’s goal was the first of his career.

It came at 82 minutes 22 seconds of the second half when he received a corner-kick pass from Emmanuel Nhonga, who got the assist.

UIS remained unbeaten in the GLVC and improved to 4-2-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

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

Read the entire article online.

Susan Koch: Communication skills key to success in life

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 22, 2018.

Thousands of Illinois residents headed off to college this fall — most not at all certain how best to navigate these pivotal years. 

A recent op-ed piece in the New York Times by longtime reporter and columnist Frank Bruni offered wise advice to new collegians about how to best shape a college life that yields success and satisfaction beyond the higher education experience. 

The suggestion that most caught my eye in Bruni’s piece was that students should insist on acquiring specific skills while in college— skills that “transcend any particular career.” Such skills, he argues, include communication, clear writing and cogent speaking, as well as storytelling, the ability to explain an idea with “shape and logic” – the art of persuasion. 

I had an opportunity to explore Bruni’s premise recently with three faculty who live these convictions every day at the University of Illinois Springfield. 

Elizabeth Ribarsky, from the Communication department, teaches and studies interpersonal communication. Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, a professional actor and director, teaches in the Theatre program and is directing the campus theatre production Silent Sky this term. Stephanie Hedge, Assistant Professor of English, teaches rhetoric and composition, does research on writing in digital spaces and directs the University’s first-year writing program. 

“During the first week of the semester,” Hedge says, “I taught a session on ‘Critical Reading and Writing’ where I explained to my students that good communication skills will empower them to affect change in the world.” 

“Well-expressed language,” she continues, “whether oral or written, whether used in a class assignment, blogging online or messaging on your phone, is powerful! It’s about having your ideas read, understood and respected.” 

According to Thibodeaux-Thompson, one thing she finds so interesting and challenging in today’s age of electronic devices is getting people to make eye contact.

“I encourage all students regardless of major to take an acting class during college,” Thibodeaux-Thompson continues. “You’ll walk out of the class a little taller, stronger and more comfortable with yourself.” 

In Ribarsky’s “Oral Communication” class, she explains that the class is a requirement for first-years because it’s where they develop confidence to share their ideas.

“Communicating well – speaking, listening, being able to understand and make an argument —is the number one reason people get hired,” she says. “Communication is not a soft skill. It’s intrinsically linked to effectiveness in your job and your profession.” 

A report in the Washington Post a few months ago summarized Mr. Bruni’s and my UIS colleagues’ convictions: Even in high-tech environments like Google, the story explains, evidence shows the top characteristics of success include skills like communicating and listening well, possessing insights into others, and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

I’m proud to say that with the support of faculty mentors like Ribarsky, Thibodeaux-Thompson and Hedge, UIS students are acquiring those skills on the way to becoming productive citizens and University of Illinois Springfield alums!

Read the entire column online.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

C-SPAN bus makes stop at University of Illinois Springfield Wednesday

A bus aimed at educating communities about Washington D.C. came to the University of Illinois Springfield Wednesday.

The C-SPAN Bus is traveling to all 50 U.S. capitals with a goal to teach about Congress, the White House, legislative processes and more.

Students could also see what it was like to do a live interview, experience a 360-degree video station and take selfies in a D.C. - themed area.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on September 19, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

UIS unveils new name, searchlights for performance venues

If you were at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield Sunday night for comedian Jay Leno’s show, you noticed some changes in the facility surrounding you.

The university introduced a new name, “UIS Performing Arts Center,” to describe a collection of performing arts entities at the school, including the 2,000-seat Sangamon Auditorium, the smaller Studio Theater and the ticket office.

The names “Sangamon Auditorium” and “Studio Theater” will still be used to describe the specific venues.

Bryan Rives, the director of the now-named UIS Performing Arts Services, made the announcement Sunday night at Leno’s performance.

The changes also comes with a new name — Friends of UIS Performing Arts Center — for the existing donor support group, a new logo, and a new website: www.UISpac.com.

In addition, officials on Sunday unveiled five new bright searchlights, which were installed on the roof of the auditorium building and were ceremoniously activated by Leno at the end of his show. The rotating lights will shine into the sky on show nights.

In a phone interview Monday, Rives said the rebranding campaign accomplishes two things. The first was to make sure more people understand the center’s connection to the university. He said in the past, many people who attended the shows at Sangamon Auditorium didn’t understand that the programming was an arm of UIS. The second was to look ahead toward the celebration of Sangamon Auditorium’s 40th anniversary in 2021.

Several other changes are coming to the newly named UIS Performing Arts Center in the coming months and years, ahead of 2021.

The closest change on the horizon is construction of a new concession stand in the lobby. The project is underway, and it could be open by spring.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 17, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Women's Soccer: Mraz’s goal gives UIS first victory

Taylor Mraz scored the game-winning goal at 88 minutes 31 seconds of the second half to give the University of Illinois Springfield a 1-0 victory over Maryville in the Great Lakes Valley Conference opener for both women’s soccer teams Friday at Kiwanis Stadium.

Paloma Guijarro delivered a cross-field pass and got the assist on Mraz’s goal.

It was the first win for UIS, which is 1-2-2 overall.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 14, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

C-SPAN bus coming to Springfield next week

A 45-foot customized C-SPAN bus will be in Springfield Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the public affairs channel’s “50 Capitals Tour.”

The tour began in September 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in November.

At each capital city, the bus is opening its doors and also gathering viewpoints on politics.

On Tuesday, the bus will be open to the public from 9:30 to 11 a.m. outside the Statehouse on Capitol Avenue, near Second Street.

Earlier that day, state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, will be interviewed aboard the bus for the channel’s “Washington Journal” program.

The bus also will be at Springfield High School in the afternoon.

On Wednesday, the bus will be open to the public while parked near the Student Union at the University of Illinois Springfield from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The bus will be at Grant Middle School earlier in the day.

The bus is equipped with a TV production studio, a smart TV and classroom area for conversations with students and teachers, and a D.C.-themed selfie station where visitors can share their bus experiences through social media.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 14, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Leno Assists With Rebranding Of UIS Performing Arts Center

Comedian Jay Leno has helped to launch a rebranding of the main stage at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The building is being renamed the UIS Performing Arts Center, home of Sangamon Auditorium.

At the conclusion of his show there Sunday night, Leno flipped a symbolic switch to turn on large roof-mounted spotlights, which will illuminate the night sky during major shows at the university.

This story aired on NewsTalk 94.7 and 970 AM, WMAY on September 16, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Men's Soccer: Prairie Stars win GLVC opener

Mario Gonzalez scored a goal at 58 minutes 2 seconds of the second half to lift the University of Illinois Springfield to a 1-0 win over Maryville (Mo.) in the Great Lakes Valley Conference opener Friday at Kiwanis Stadium.

Mario Falsone assisted Gonzalez on the game-winner.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 14, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

UI Springfield sees freshmen bump

University of Illinois Springfield has grown by 14 percent according to new numbers.

The fall semester enrollment numbers show that the total number of first-year students sits at 316, compared to the 278 counted in the fall semester last year.

Additionally, 90 percent of the new freshmen are Illinois residents and 47 percent are self-reporting as a minority.

Of the university’s 4,575 students, 9.5 percent of students are international students.

UIS saw an increase of students from Illinois, from 72.2 last year to 75.5 this year, according to the school.

The total student body has fallen from 4,956 last year and total undergraduate stands at 2,814 down from 2,932 recorded last year.

This story appeared online on MyJournalCourier on September 12, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

UIS hosting Diverse Business Opportunity Fair

The University of Illinois Springfield is hosting a Diverse Business Opportunity Fair Wednesday. 

Diverse businesses in the Springfield community interested in doing business with the state of Illinois' public universities and community colleges are invited to attend from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the UIS Student Union Ballroom.

The goal is to increase participation by minority, women, persons with disabilities and veteran-owned firms.

The Diverse Business Opportunity Fair is sponsored by the Chief Procurement Office and organized by the University of Illinois.

It is open to all businesses who desire to do business with the state of Illinois public universities and colleges

This story aired on WAND TV 17 on September 12, 2018.

Read the entire story online.

UIS enrollment drops 7.7 percent compared to last year

Fall semester enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield fell by 7.7 percent compared to last fall, according to statistics released by the university on Wednesday.

After the first 10 days of classes, the total number of students enrolled in fall classes at UIS stands at 4,575 compared to 4,956 students in fall 2017.

It’s the second year in a row UIS has seen enrollment losses and the lowest the campus’ headcount has been since 2005, when fall enrollment was 4,517.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said the university was “fully expecting” the drop, given the large graduating class last year and the decline in the international student population, a nationwide trend brought on by prospective students’ safety concerns and uncertainty over visa statuses.

“Of course, we’d love to say that our headcount is higher this year than last year,” Koch said. “But we were expecting this and that’s OK.”

UIS is not alone in losing students. Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and both Southern Illinois University campuses also announced enrollment drops. The continued declines illustrate the reputational challenges many of Illinois’ public universities still face as they continue to recover from the two-year state budget impasse, which decimated funding for higher education. 

“Of course, it helps tremendously that we’re a part of the University of Illinois system,” Koch said. “That’s a big part of our ability to continue to press on and position ourselves for growth. So we’re going to continue with the strategy that we’re currently employing because we believe it’s working well. “At the same time, we’d like to build back that international enrollment that we’ve lost,” Koch continued. “We’ve had delegations go to India and China, and we’ll be continuing to do that.”

In the past few years, the university has added new academic programs ranging from a nursing partnership with UIC to degrees in growing fields like exercise science and data analytics.

The university also has made a number of facility improvements to its campus, including the opening of the new student union. Such investments are yielding results, Koch said. Most notably, there’s been a 14 percent increase in freshman enrollment, which jumped from 278 last fall to 316 now.

Of this group, nearly 90 percent were from Illinois. “We have made a commitment to focus, first and foremost, on serving Illinois families,” Koch said. “And I think we see that across the system this year in the success we’ve had. And part of the strategy that we’re using is to continue those efforts to make the University of Illinois experience both affordable and to continue the excellence.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 12, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Men's Cross Country: Pasley leads UIS to win

Sophomore Tyler Pasley won the 3.73-mile race and the University of Illinois Springfield posted a perfect score Friday in capturing the UIS Prairie Stars Invitational for the second straight season. 

Pasley finished in 20 minutes 41.78 seconds as UIS scored 15 points, taking the first six spots.

Kenton Wilson (20:55.91) was second for UIS, followed by teammates Brendan Kroeger (21:04.09), Blake Jones (21:12.86), Ryan Stark (21:16.78) and Tyler Hiserote (21:20.18).

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

Read the entire story online.

Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball picks up third straight win with doubleheader victories

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars are riding a winning streak after a doubleheader victory this weekend.

They swept both McKendree and Lindenwood, 3-0.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on September 8, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer gets win

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team scored two goals in the final 10 minutes for a 4-3 win over the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Thursday.

The Stars’ Thiago Fernandes tied the game with just over four minutes remaining and Mario Falsone scored the game-winning goal with just under a minute remaining in regulation.

The Prarie Stars collected their first win and are 1-2.

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

Read the entire article online.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Women's Cross Country: Christy, UIS win own invitational

Freshman Taryn Christy took first place to help the University of Illinois Springfield repeat its title Friday at the UIS Prairie Stars Invitational on the UIS campus.

It was Christy’s first collegiate race and she finished the 2.49-mile race in 15 minutes 40.64 seconds.

Freshman Morgan Suttles (16:39.70) finished fifth, Alexa Thomsen was seventh (16:41.11) and Savannah Brannan (17:04.31) placed 10th for UIS, which scored 26 points.

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

Read the entire story online.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

University of Illinois Springfield earns re-accreditation from HLC

The University of Illinois Springfield received institutional re-accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The 10-year re-accreditation as approved at a meeting on July 31.

UIS has been accredited by the commission since 1975.

"This re-accreditation is a testament to the quality of academic programs that are offered at the University of Illinois Springfield," said UIS' Chancellor Susan Koch.

This story appeared on FoxIllinois on September 5, 2018.

Watch the entire story online.

UIS announces men’s, women’s basketballs schedules

The University of Illinois Springfield’s 2018-19 men’s basketball schedule was released on Wednesday, with 15 home games and some noteworthy non-conference tests early in the season.

UIS opens the season by hosting the Prairie Stars Tipoff Classic on Nov. 9-10 at The Recreation and Athletic Center. UIS will play Malone that Friday night before facing Hillsdale on Saturday afternoon.

An important road trip ensues when the Prairie Stars travel to the Central Missouri Classic on Nov. 16-17. UIS then plays defending national champion Northwest Missouri on Nov. 19 at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

The Great Lakes Valley Conference schedule starts on Nov. 29 at Maryville.

UIS finished last season with a 14-14 overall record and a 6-12 mark in the

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball schedule was announced on Wednesday. 

The season begins at the Purdue Northwest Cross Conference Classic when the Prairie Stars face Tiffin and Purdue Northwest, respectively, on Nov. 9-10 in Indiana.

The Great Lakes Valley Conference schedule begins at Maryville on Nov. 29.

The Prairie Stars will have a five-game homestand from Jan. 5-19 with NCAA Division II regional finalist and GLVC champion Drury, coming to UIS on the final night.

UIS ended last season with a 13-13 overall record and a 7-11 mark in the GLVC.

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

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

UIS students kick off school year giving back to community

On Friday, the University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Welcome Week Service-A-Thon.

This is an event encouraging students to get involved in their community.

There were 80 UIS students who volunteered at nine locations throughout Springfield.

"It gives students an opportunity to explore their interests which then leads to other volunteer opportunities they take part in,” Connie Komnick, with UIS.

The volunteer opportunity was open for the entire campus.

One student who volunteered, Ella Snyder, also participated in the event last year. This year, she had the opportunity to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, a place that lent her family a hand when her brother received a heart transplant.

"They took us under their wing and helped us, so it was really great being able to help,” said Snyder, a student at UIS.

School officials said the event is also a great way for first-year students to get to know their new home.

The goal of the service day is to give students an opportunity to try something new and hopefully encourage them to volunteer all year long.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 31, 2018.

Watch the entire story online.

Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball splits matches

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars split matches in the Warriors Classic on Saturday, losing in four sets to Wayne State before defeating Kentucky State in three.

Tiffany Bauer collected 13 kills in a win over Kentucky State and 21 in the loss to Wayne State. Bauer also led UIS with 11 digs against Kentucky State.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 1, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Women's Soccer: UIS draws at home

Paloma Guijarro was in net for the University of Illinois Springfield Prarie Stars, who played to a 0-0 draw against Lindenwood University at Kiwanis Stadium.

Guijarro collected three saves in the draw. The Stars have played to a draw in both matches this season.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 1, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

UIS to offer new dual credit course

A new dual credit course for high school seniors in Menard and Sangamon counties will be offered by the University of Illinois Springfield's Teacher Education Department.

The goal is to encourage more students to become teachers.

This is the second year UIS has offered dual credit courses to area high school students.

The new course being offered is titled "Foundations of American Education." It counts toward general education credits for those students who attend UIS to complete their bachelor's degrees.

The dual credit Teacher Education course costs $50, plus the cost of a textbook.

This story aired on WAND TV 17 on August 29, 2018.

Read the article online.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

UIS awarded first hub in statewide innovation network

The University of Illinois Springfield, through the recently acquired business and social innovation incubator Innovate Springfield, will house the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, state and local officials announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes months after state legislators appropriated $500 million in seed money to the U of I system-led initiative, which will have hubs across the state connecting to the Chicago-based Discovery Partners Institute.

The goal is to accelerate economic growth statewide through research and innovation.

“We could not be more pleased to be playing a key role to help facilitate this milestone moment in our collective history,” UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said. “I am confident the Springfield hub will be a smashing success.”

The university took ownership of Innovate Springfield on Aug. 1. It will be supported initially by $1.5 million seed money over the next three years from the university, city of Springfield, the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation and the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln.

Koch said the university has submitted a proposal to the DPI, which will likely tap into that $500 million for “a significant investment in building and expanding” the hub in downtown Springfield. 

For now, the incubator will continue to be located at 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, but it is widely expected that it will move in the near future to a larger location somewhere else downtown.

While Mayor Jim Langfelder has pushed for the university to have a presence on the YWCA block at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue, the university has yet to commit to a site. But no matter where the permanent home of the Springfield hub ends up being, university officials believe it has the potential to transform the city’s economy along with the broader region.

“Together, though, this effort will make Springfield part of a network that will be home to literally hundreds of world-class researchers, thousands of students and partners at top universities and corporations,” said U of I system president Timothy Killeen. “It will give this community access to the very best intellectual power that we can muster in every discipline.”

Killeen said the network has the potential to “foster pioneering discovery that will not just rival Silicon Valley, but leapfrog it.”

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

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

UIS acquires downtown’s Innovate Springfield

In a move that’s been alluded to for more than a year, the University of Illinois Springfield has acquired Innovate Springfield, the downtown social innovation and business incubator founded in 2014 to spur economic growth in the capital city.

The incubator, 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, was officially turned over to the university on Aug. 1. City and university officials, including U of I system President Timothy Killeen, will announce the acquisition at a press conference on Tuesday.

The move immediately bolsters UIS’s downtown presence and gives the university a solid foundation on which to apply for one of several statewide innovation hubs to be established as part of the University of Illinois system-led Discovery Partners Institute.

The incubator has received a $500,000 funding commitment for each of the next three years. The city of Springfield and Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation will contribute $100,000 each, with the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln chipping in $50,000.

With local support locked down, the University of Illinois has agreed to match the funding with an additional $250,000 per year for the next three years.

“This will have more of an impact on the university coming truly more into the community than I think anything since the founding of Sangamon State University,” said John Stremsterfer, president of the Community Foundation.

“To have a sign on the building that says ‘University of Illinois Springfield’ is a great symbol, but I think the substance of work that will be created here, and hopefully in a bigger, more robust facility soon thereafter, is really exciting for the city.”

The incubator was founded in 2014 as a subsidiary to the Community Foundation, but UIS was “always squarely in my mind to be an ultimate repository for Innovate Springfield,” Stremsterfer said.

Though UIS has been a member of Innovate Springfield since its founding, conversations about the university taking over operations began in earnest in late 2017. And once the things got rolling, it was a fairly smooth process.

“They’re already successful,” said UIS chancellor Susan Koch. ”... One of the first things our team is going to do is work with them to expand the impact of what they are doing.”

Stakeholders say the university’s takeover will provide the incubator programmatic support, sources of startup talent, talent to help guide and mentor entrepreneurs, access to the U of I system alumni network and additional financial resources.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 27, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Women's Volleyball: UIS' Alyssa Hasler breaks school career block record against MWSU

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars volleyball program has a new career block record.

Alyssa Hasler broke that record in the game against Missouri Western State University in the 2018 Capital Classic.

The record heading into this game was held by Audra Roach with 441.

Hasler holds it with 444 blocks.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 25, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Women's Volleyball: UIS starts with two wins in own tournament

The University of Illinois Springfield won its season-opening matches with a pair of straight-sets wins over Walsh and Cedarville on Friday in the Capital Classic Tournament at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS defeated Walsh 25-20, 25-20, 25-20 in its opener.

Brianna Bush recorded 13 kills and teammate Alyssa Hasler provided eight kills and a match-high seven blocks for UIS.

Tiffany Wentworth had 34 assists, along with 12 digs, and Jailyn Borum collected a team-high 16 digs for UIS.

The Prairie Stars handed Cedarville a 25-16, 25-19, 25-15 defeat in the nightcap.

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

Read the entire article online.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Good Deed: Thanks to the UIS women’s soccer team

Last weekend was the start of the fall YMCA soccer schedule and the University of Illinois Springfield Women’s Soccer team came out to help us get the season started.

With all of the demands on a student athlete’s time (and after a week of Coach Egolf’s two-a-day practices) these young women used part of their Saturday to volunteer as referees in a youth soccer league.

"They are a delightful group of young women and this is not the first time they have volunteered. We always enjoy their company and we really appreciate their contribution to this community program," said Brent Crossland, YMCA Soccer Referee Coordinator.

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

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Freshmen students move in to UIS Wednesday

New freshmen students are calling the University of Illinois Springfield home!

The annual move-in day kicked off at UIS Wednesday.

 "Just getting to know everyone makes it more comfortable to walk around campus and just not be afraid of talking to new people," Freshman student Hannah Piel said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 22, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Women's Volleyball: University of Illinois Springfield Volleyball Preview

2017 was a breakthrough year for the University of Illinois Springfield.

“In a lot of ways last year was a huge year for us,” UIS coach Trey Salinas said.

The Prairie Stars posted their best NCAA Division II record, qualified for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament for the first time and just missed out on earning a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

They also put players on the all-GLVC team for the first time. An impressive preseason ranking is proof that UIS is a rising program.

The Stars are voted to finish third in the GLVC out of 14 teams in a preseason coaches poll.

Most of last year’s starters are back, including Alyssa Hasler and Taylor Bauer.

Hasler, a GLVC first-team pick, is 12 blocks from setting the program’s all-time blocking record and is on track to finish second in career kills. Bauer, who received GLVC second team honors, had a team-high 332 kills.

UIS hosts the 2018 Capital Classic on Friday and Saturday.

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

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball: UIS to host Capital Classic

The University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team will host the Capital Classic tournament Friday and Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center at UIS.

McKendree and Missouri Western both qualified for the NCAA Division II National Tournament, and each team in the Classic finished with a winning record last season.

UIS and McKendree are both preseason top-four picks in the GLVC, while Missouri Western is sitting just outside the top 25 national poll.

The Prairie Stars finished with a 22-11 record last season and reached the GLVC tournament semifinals.

UIS was picked third in the preseason GLVC poll, its highest ranking in school history.

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

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

UIS track and cross-country teams clean up downtown Springfield

Members of the University of Illinois in Springfield track and cross-country teams were downtown Monday cleaning up Capitol Street.

One of their coaches said he wanted to find a way for the teams to give back to the community and worked collaboratively with Springfield Public Works to set up the event.

He said this is not only a good way for the team to bond but also to gain appreciation for their city. 

“Being a college team, we want to get our team together and do group work. So, this is another opportunity for us to get out and really do something, especially make a good impact for the city,"
UIS Cross Country and Track Assistant Coach Tyler Pence said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 20, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Susan Koch: A beautiful, functional and improving campus

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 19, 2018.

Though summertime at the University of Illinois Springfield entails a variety of both educational and recreational pursuits, the end of the academic year and the arrival of warmer weather also presents opportunities for campus improvements that will enhance the college experience for students as well as improve the environment for faculty, staff and visitors.

For students, research shows a functional and beautiful campus can be a deciding factor in their college choice and UIS students often tell me they “fell in love” with the campus itself when they made their first visit.

With a property consisting of about 750 acres and, with recent additions including the Lincoln sculpture, a Shakespeare Garden and the new Student Union, the UIS campus is, indeed, both welcoming and beautiful.

Chuck Coderko, Associate Chancellor for Facilities and Services, can attest better than anyone that Summer 2018 has been particularly busy!

“The biggest transformation underway this summer,” says Coderko, “is the main floor of Brookens Library — a project that started in mid-May and will be completed in early October.”

University libraries are no longer the quiet repositories of books they were when Brookens opened its doors about 40 years ago.

The renovation includes a more open layout, state-of-the-art LED lighting, modern and durable flooring, mobile furniture, and collaborative spaces that encourage group interaction and active learning. The project also adds a high-tech classroom for library instruction and workshops.

The second-oldest building on campus, the Public Affairs Center (circa 1980), has also been undergoing major improvements this summer including a new roof, completion of a stair rail safety project and various enhancements and safety improvements to Sangamon Auditorium, which launches its 2018-19 season September 16 with a performance by acclaimed comedian Jay Leno.

The newly acquired UIS Field Station at Lake Springfield, formerly the FOP lake club, is also undergoing transformation. Just a short walk from campus, the facility will enable easily accessible opportunities for education, research, recreation and community outreach on and near the lake. Director of Field Stations Dr. Tom Rothfus tells me several classes are already scheduled to use the new lakeshore location this fall.

Superintendent of Grounds Brian Beckerman and his talented team spend the summer months maintaining and improving the entire landscape which includes nearly 500 tree and shrub varieties, about 375 distinct flowers and ornamental grasses, and acres of lawn and sports fields for recreation, youth sports and intercollegiate athletics.

“We’ve adopted a more sustainable philosophy in recent years,” says Beckerman, “using native grasses and other materials that have natural beauty and require less mowing and maintenance. We’ve been pleased to work with the university’s new Green Fee Committee and others,” he continues, “on projects like the green roof on the Student Union (expected to achieve LEED Gold recognition later this year) and the campus community garden.”

“Members of the Facilities and Services team have a tremendous sense of pride and ownership in their work at UIS,” says Coderko. “If it touches the ground, it’s ours,” he continues, “and we want to make it better, safer and more enjoyable for students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Women's Volleyball: Bauer named UIS athlete of month

University of Illinois Springfield volleyball player and Watseka graduate Taylor Bauer has been selected as the Female Spotlight Athlete for the month of August.

Bauer garnered second-team all-Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) recognition in 2017.

The 6-foot senior outside hitter from Watseka set the UIS Division II school record with 332 kills.

Bauer also ranks third among UIS Division II single-season leaders with 379.5 points. She averaged 2.96 kills and 3.39 points per set, while finishing with a season hitting percentage of .221.

The Prairie Stars compiled a 22-11 overall record and a 12-6 GLVC record, which doubled the UIS Division II school record for wins and tripled the program record for GLVC wins. UIS earned fifth place in the GLVC standings, which is the program’s best conference finish. The Prairie Stars also secured the program’s first-ever GLVC Tournament berth.

This story appeared in Iroquois County's Times Republic on August 13, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

11th Street extension ‘an invitation’ for UIS, community interaction

It is only about a half-mile stretch of road, but University of Illinois Springfield officials and community leaders believe the 11th Street extension, which opened Saturday, will have a far-reaching, positive impact that will bind the city and university closer together.

The extension, which is five lanes (two in each direction with a center turn lane) with sidewalks and a bike lane, establishes the first-ever direct connection between downtown Springfield and UIS. 

Decades in the making, it began construction in early 2017. Its estimated price tag was $7 million, with $5.4 million covered by federal funding and the rest by the city.

“It feels great. I think not only is it a real achievement for the city, but I think it really is going to have a very positive impact on the interaction between the city and the university,” said UIS chancellor Susan Koch. ”... It’s going to make the downtown area more accessible to our students, but it’s also going to make the university more accessible to the community.”

Words like “interaction” and “cohesion” were common among those who spoke of the effect the connection will have on Springfield and the university.

Though within Springfield city limits, UIS has historically been at arm’s length from the city, separated from each other by Interstates 55 and 72 and, until now, the lack of a direct link between the two.

“Growing up in Springfield my whole life, people describe where UIS and Lincoln Land are in our town (as) — even though it’s only 10 or 15 minutes away — it’s way out there, it’s way out there on the edge of town,” said state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove. “And I think what this will do and what I hope it continues to do is spur those connections between the university and downtown.”

Jimenez, herself a graduate of UIS, said even up until a few days ago, she had to think about how she normally traveled to the university, with all its zigs and zags. 

Under the Dome Podcast Click to listen University officials say the opening of the street arrives at the “perfect time” as the university gears up to increase its presence in downtown Springfield.

UIS is preparing to apply for an innovation hub as part of the Discovery Partners Institute.

While not committed to a specific site and still formulating plans, Koch said, in addition to an incubator, a downtown university presence could include housing its Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center and Statehouse-based programs like the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program and the Public Affairs Reporting Program.

Koch, pointing to the new UIS Student Union and the variety of shows offered at the Sangamon Auditorium, among other things, said she hopes “the opening of the street as an invitation for (the community) to come out to campus.”

“People should remember, this is a public university. It doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the people of Illinois,” Koch said. “And they should feel like it’s theirs. And I think the opening of this street could be an invitation.”

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

Read the entire story online.

Women's Basketball: UIS women’s basketball adds four players

University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball coach Mark Kost has signed four players, including three incoming freshmen.

Carson Vance is a combination guard. She averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals as a senior at Roselle Lake Park High School.

Point guard Lauren Ladowski received Associated Press all-state honorable mention honors in her final year at Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana.

Forward Ellie Mitchell helped Owensboro (Kentucky) Catholic High School reach the state quarterfinals last season.

Rounding out the list is forward Myka Roth, a transfer from Vincennes University.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 14, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, August 6, 2018

UIS debuts new entrance markers

A series of new entrance markers will greet University of Illinois Springfield students, staff and faculty returning for fall semester later this month.

The three signs, placed on West Lake Shore Drive, 11th Street at University Drive and on Shepherd Road, were installed last month. They feature a dark blue background with the university’s spelled out name emblazoned in white.

The cost — which included building the structure, installing it and landscaping the area surrounding it — was about $15,000, according to UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp.

Schnapp said the old signs, which featured the UIS dome logo, were in poor condition and out of date.

Materials from the old signage were recycled, he said.

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

Read the entire article online.

Friday, August 3, 2018

UIS hires Slade to coach cross country, track teams

The University of Illinois Springfield has hired another veteran coach to oversee its cross country and track and field programs.

Scott Slade brings 30 years of coaching experience to UIS.

He replaces Mike De Witt, who retired in June after starting the Prairie Stars’ cross country program in 2015 and track and field program in 2016. De Witt had coached for 44 years.

The 54-year-old Slade is originally from Buffalo, New York, and began coaching in 1988. He is heavily involved in USA Track and Field. He is currently the national chair for development for men’s middle distances.

UIS athletic director Jim Sarra was Slade’s supervisor at UTSA.

“He saw me turn the program around at UTSA,” Slade said. “He saw that I built a competitive program there. That’s what he’s looking for me to do (at UIS).”

Slade’s first day at UIS is Monday.

Springfield High School graduate Tyler Pence will continue to serve as an assistant coach.

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

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Interiority gets exteriorized at UIS Gallery

A smiley-face pin balanced on a wall-mounted thermostat; an infant’s onesie reflected in an antique mirror; an office lamp propping open a window shade.

The experience of walking through “Interior Space” – an installation which opened July 26 at University of Illinois Springfield’s Visual Arts Gallery – is something like wandering into a stranger’s sparse attic or onto the set of a dream sequence in a 1960s Italian film.

The work, by Allyson Packer, is spread throughout the entire gallery (occasionally even beyond its physical boundaries).

Packer, who is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a summer resident in the Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists program. Although at first glance it might seem like there is little or nothing on display, a little hunting gradually reveals a bounty of unlikely objects, including the ones described above, many of them displayed in even less likely ways.

The items, distributed throughout the space with deceptive precision and wit, were all borrowed from Springfield residents by Packer for the purpose of the exhibition.

Also at the UIS gallery on July 26 was a one-night-only multichannel audio installation by Normal, Illinois-based artist and composer ZW Buckley, entitled “faith comes by hearing.”

Buckley described the work as “exploring the themes of transience and permanence within Springfield’s Enos Park neighborhood.”

This article appeared in the Illinois Times on August 1, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sterling grad Stroup blossoming into a star for UIS

Her jersey number is 00, but Erin Stroup has been anything but a zero during her first two seasons for the University of Illinois-Springfield softball team.

The 2016 Sterling graduate came into college as an accomplished recruit for the Prairie Stars, and has made an immediate impact at the plate and in the field.

“After my first year, I learned so much that was going to help me,” Stroup said. “But I really didn’t expect to be as successful as I have, especially as soon as I started.”

Stroup also started her high school softball career in a large role as a 4-year varsity player for the Golden Warriors. She was an SVM all-area first-team selection as a junior after earning co-NIB-12 West MVP with teammate Lexy Staples and being tabbed to the second team of the Class 3A Illinois Coaches Association all-state team.

Illinois-Springfield coach Shannon Guthrie was aware that Stroup had started her junior and senior seasons as the Golden Warriors’ shortstop, but also considered her at second base and in the outfield. An injury to UIS’ starting shortstop right before the 2017 season gave the former Sterling star a chance to start right away, and she hasn’t relinquished the job since.

“When we recruited Erin, we could see the potential she had as a shortstop and offensively,” Guthrie said. “She had a really great career at Sterling. We knew she was going to bring a lot of talent. We wanted to have her bat in the lineup, but we weren’t sure which position she would play.”

This article appeared in the Sauk Valley News on August 1, 2018.

Read the entire article

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Local Business Notes: UIS is ‘committed to downtown’

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch, who attended Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation CEO Eric Berglund’s introduction last week, said the university is “committed to downtown,” whether it’s on the vacant YWCA block or in another location.

As my colleague Crystal Thomas reported July 11, Mayor Jim Langfelder is pushing back plans for the 2.35-acre Y-block until at least September to see what opportunities the state budget might bring for universities that possibly would want to have a presence on the block.

For UIS, the answer may be an innovation hub as part of the Discovery Partners Institute. The Chicago-based, University of Illinois system-led institute is partnering with the Illinois Innovation Network and is looking to have innovation hubs throughout the state.

Koch said UIS should receive guidelines by mid-August and will hopefully submit a proposal for a hub by the end of September.

“Not within the next two weeks, but things are absolutely moving forward relatively quickly,” Koch said.

If the university does receive an innovation hub, it could be borne out of an expanded Innovate Springfield. The business incubator, now housed across the street from the Old State Capitol, has a partnership with UIS but would likely be completely turned over to the university under that scenario.

This article appeared in the State Journal-Register on July 22, 2018.

Read the entire article. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

UIS supporting runners who are crossing the country for charity

Nineteen students left San Francisco on June 17 on a 4,000-plus mile cross-country run to Baltimore. They slept in beds for the first time Thursday night.
The University of Illinois Springfield is currently home base for Team Baltimore, a group of college-aged runners who are raising money for young adults diagnosed with cancer. They are running in a relay-style format across the country in a program called 4K for Cancer. Runners are between the ages of 18 and 25. Three or four run at a time and each averages 12-14 miles per day.
Team Baltimore departed Hannibal, Missouri for Springfield on Thursday morning. En route, it encountered stormy weather. The weather delay forced them to shuttle to a location, they then ran the rest of the way. Around 3 p.m., two male and two female runners made their way onto the UIS campus via W. Lake Shore Dr. They met the rest of the team at a residence hall. After unpacking their belongings from support vans, some runners snacked and lounged, while others ran around campus putting in the miles they were unable to get in earlier due to the weather.
UIS is providing Team Baltimore with complimentary lodging and laundry service and has offered meals. The Springfield Road Runners Club is also providing food.
This article appeared in the State Journal-Register on July 20, 2018.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Keeping Online Courses Fresh: Valuable, but Costly

Mary Niemiec, associate vice president for distance education at the University of Nebraska, hears all the time from faculty members and others who believe online courses must cost less to produce than face-to-face classes because they can be left untouched after launch. She wants everyone who still believes that to understand why they’re wrong.

“That’s like telling a faculty member, once you develop a syllabus, don’t worry about updating it,” Niemiec said.

At the risk of a tortured analogy, maintaining online courses is like raising children: they need consistent care and attention, and plenty of grooming and upgrading as they mature. Within a few years, depending on the complexity of the course and the capacity of the institution, the cost of those efforts can outstrip the original launch cost. (To be clear, in this article we're talking about the cost of producing a course, as opposed to the price charged to take it.) Online program administrators and observers believe those investments are just as essential as the initial one -- but they don’t often come up in conversations about the cost of online production.

Some factors out of an institution’s control play a role in cost as well. Turnover among administrators or faculty members involved in online course development can lead to longer and more costly processes for keeping courses in shape, according to Vickie Cook, executive director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the Univeristy of Illinois Springfield.

Increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity infrastructure can also drive up costs for online courses as they grow, Cook said.

This article appeared in Inside Higher Ed on July 18, 2018.

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Maximize International Student Services at U.S. Universities

Prospective international students likely know that they can turn to international student services offices at U.S.universities for help with immigration and orientation. But the services ISS offices provide do not stop there and can include year-round activities.

Here are some ways international students can plan to make the most out of their school's ISS office after they arrive on campus.

Advising- While it's common for U.S. universities to have academic advisers and counselors for domestic and international students, some ISS offices have additional advising services for current international students that address issues beyond immigration and visas.

Rick Lane, director of international student services at the University of Illinois Springfield says international students visit the ISS office in person or contact staff via telephone or email with academic, cultural, social and personal concerns.

This article appeared in U.S. News & World Report on July 18, 2018.

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Survival Training Leads to Book on Arctic Wilderness Exploration

Joe Wilkins once lived a double life. By day, was a quiet professor at the University of Illinois  Springfield. But when he was away from teaching, he led another, more dangerous life.

During his days in the Air Force in the 1960s, he was trained in arctic wilderness survival in Alaska.

For decades, he used that training to explore, and now document, the beauty and danger he experienced.

His new book is the culmination of those travels. It’s called “Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration.”

Wilkins, the very “Indiana Jones”-like author, is a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

“Gates of the Arctic National Park” documents his explorations in Alaska between 2005 and 2017. 

And a side note: All net proceeds from the book’s sale will benefit veterans in need through the Joe Wilkins Veterans Scholarship Fund at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

UIS hosts summer softball camp

Parents can now sign up their kids for University of Illinois Springfield's softball camp.

The camp kicked off Wednesday for players in grades six through eight.

Sessions for kids in elementary school will start Monday, July 16.

This story aired on Fox Illinois on July 11, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Michelle Norris, U.S. Department of Justice honoree

A university class assignment led Springfield native Michelle Norris into a field of interest that has earned her honors from the U. S. Department of Justice.

Norris, a senior communication major at the University of Illinois Springfield who works full time as a student clerk for the U. S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of Illinois, was one of several U.S. Department of Justice employees recently honored with the Director’s Award during a ceremony June 15 in Washington, D.C.

Norris, 21, was honored for her work as interim coordinator for the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of Illinois.

An employee of the U.S. Attorney’s Office since June 2016, Norris first got involved with the task force in March 2017, after learning of an organization that aids survivors and victims of trafficking in central Illinois through a class assignment.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Norris is a 2015 graduate of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School and plans to graduate from UIS in December. “I’m going to get my Master of Social Work. I eventually want to end up being a victim specialist, so I’ll get my master’s,” said Norris, who is the daughter of Jim and Eileen Norris, and who has three younger siblings.

In your growing-up years, did anything influence your current focus on helping people? “No. That’s what’s funny about it. My major is communication, but I started at this office. “It was a class at UIS, and our assignment was to go interview an agency or someone in an agency that you’re interested in, and for some reason, I just found Grounds of Grace, which is an organization in Springfield that did human trafficking (aids survivors and victims of trafficking in central Illinois.)

“I just first started attending the meetings. It was like two meetings. I just wanted to be a fly on the wall. I just wanted to hear from the experts. Then all of a sudden it’s like I just started taking on more tasks and more tasks, and then now I’m leading it, and I’m like, ‘Whoa. When did we get here?’ ”

“The everyday person can help out, just by knowing some of the signs and knowing there’s a hotline I can call if I ever see anything suspicious (National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1 (888) 373-7888).”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on July 8, 2018.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Court simulation trains future DCFS workers

Jamie Anderon took the stand Friday morning.

“What caused you concern for the safety of these two small children?” asked an attorney seated behind a small stack of photographs.

“There were several prescription bottles found throughout the living room … on low tables in reach of the children,” Anderson said. “There were pills, and some of the bottles had various types of pills.”

At the defense table, a man and woman in T-shirts argued in whispers.

The hearing wasn’t held in a courtroom, though. It was held in studio space at the University of Illinois Springfield. As part of the school’s Child Advocacy Studies program, aspiring child welfare workers testify in mock hearings with experienced attorneys and a judge.

“We give them a chance to take what they’re learning about the law and procedures and actually put them into practice through simulation,” said Susan Evans, Executive Director of the Child Protection Training Academy at UIS.

The program also includes a simulation lab in which actors conduct home visits with two “parents,” played by standardized patients from SIU School of Medicine.

Anderson the experience was surreal. She explained her desire to pursue a career in child welfare. “I grew up in the social work environment. I was in foster care for most of my life, so that guided my focus in college of what I wanted to do,” Anderson said. “I had a good caseworker when I was younger, so she kind of helped set the focus of what I wanted to do with my life."

Every DCFS investigator in Illinois is required to take part in the training at UIS, Evans said. So far, 485 new DCFS investigators have taken part in the training.

This story aired on WAND TV on July 2, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chatham man wins Illinois Bicentennial coin design contest

Hayden Schumer had a lot of history and symbolism to cram onto a commemorative coin for the state’s bicentennial celebration. But Schumer, a 21-year-old college student from Chatham, managed to do it, though, in a way that easily won an online voting competition conducted by Treasurer Michael Frerichs’s office.

“Hayden did a great job of incorporating a lot of different aspects of our history and our regions,” Frerichs said at a Statehouse news conference Monday.

“A lot of the designs focused on the city of Chicago or some focused on downstate. I think he did a great job of capturing our history of things that make us strong, like our industry and transportation.” And, Frerichs said, Schumer did it without producing an overly cluttered design.

Schumer said he started with five ideas and narrowed them down to the final design.

He is pursing a degree in communications at the University of Illinois Springfield this fall and hopes to get involved with animation.

The coins will sell for $45, which Frerichs said will offset the cost of production.

The front of the coin will feature Schumer’s design and the back will feature the state seal.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.