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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Men's Basketball: UIS’ Longmeyer makes all-conference team

University of Illinois Springfield senior guard Eddie Longmeyer was named to the Great Lakes Valley Conference men’s basketball second team Tuesday.

He led the Prairie Stars in several categories, including scoring, rebounds, steals and minutes.

His 2.9 assists per game rank second on the team.

In his senior season, Longmeyer posted eight double-doubles and scored 20 or more points in 12 games, including 28 against Missouri St. Louis earlier this month.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 27, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Basketball: UIS duo earn all-GLVC honors

University of Illinois Springfield senior guard Shelbi Patterson and senior forward Destiny Ramsey received second-team honors in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Both players previously appeared on all-conference teams.

Ramsey was a third-team pick last year.

Patterson was named to the third team in the 2015-16 season. Patterson was first this season in points , 3-pointers, assists and minutes. She was third in blocks and steals.

Patterson started every UIS game for four seasons. Her 1,098 points rank third on the program’s all-time list.

Ramsey played two years at UIS after transferring from Illinois Central College. She was second this season in scoring, rebounding and blocks.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 27, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: Stars sweep weekly GLVC honors

University of Illinois Springfield senior outfielder Nick Stokowski was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week and freshman teammate Colton Hale received the conference’s weekly pitching award.

Hale was named Pitcher of the Week after allowing one hit and two walks in a 9-1 win against Malone.

The lefty also struck out four batters in four innings out of the bullpen. He limited Malone to .091 batting average. He is the first UIS pitcher to win the award since 2014.

Stokowski hit .583 last week. He was 7-for-12 with two home runs, one double, six RBIs and scored eight runs in four wins. He had 14 total bases and a .706 on-base percentage.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 27, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Women's Softball: UIS’ Haesele GLVC Pitcher of the Week

University of Illinois Springfield senior right-handed softball pitcher Ali Haesele was the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s Pitcher of the Week after going 3-0 with a 0.00 earned run average in three complete-games.

Haesele, of Minier, threw a no-hitter Sunday in a 3-0 win over Findlay. She allowed just one runner — the batter reached on a dropped third strike.

On Friday against Lindenwood, she struck out 19 and walked three as the Prairie Stars won 5-0. The award is Haesele’s first and is the first for UIS since Jaycee Craver won the award on May 2.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 26, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Women's Softball: UIS beats No. 15 Wayne State

Bree Derhake hit the game-winning RBI single in the fourth inning and the University of Illinois Springfield upset No. 15 Wayne State 1-0 at the Lewis Flyers Dome Invitational.

The Sacred Heart-Griffin High School graduate scored Erin Stroup. It was one of six hits for the Prairie Stars.

UIS pitcher Ali Haesele threw a one-hitter. She struck out five and walked two in seven innings.

In the next game, the Stars beat Grand Valley State 5-2.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 24, 2018.

Read the entire article online.


Free after 22 years: Man visits UIS to thank those who exonerated him

A 61-year-old man who spent more than 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit said he doesn’t see any reason to be angry.

“I’m overwhelmed. I don’t think being bitter is going to help me,” William “Bill” Amor said Friday during an interview at the University of Illinois Springfield, home of the Illinois Innocence Project. 

Amor was convicted of arson and murder in connection with a Sept. 10, 1995, fire in Naperville that killed his mother-in-law.

The fire occurred in an apartment that Amor and his wife shared with his wife’s mother.

Attorneys at the Illinois Innocence Project say Amor gave a false confession after 15 hours of questioning.

Larry Golden, founding director of the Innocence Project, said that in the false confession, Amor said he poured vodka on newspapers and then used a cigarette to light the fire. “At that time, the investigators just concluded that was accurate because that was the confession,” Golden said. “And it turns out, the arson science just conclusively proved that was impossible. Even the state’s science witnesses refuted that as a possible occurrence.”

The scientific testimony resulted in a DuPage County judge vacating Amor’s conviction in April 2017. He was released from custody, but charges were re-filed and he had to sit through another trial. 

Amor was found innocent Wednesday. On Friday, he was at the UIS campus to thank the members of the Illinois Innocence Project for winning his freedom.

“I’m grateful for all the help from everybody. It’s just been wonderful. I wouldn’t be free without their help,” Amor said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 23, 2018.

Read the entire article online.

Susan Koch: Good teachers are always working to be better teachers

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 February 24, 2018.

A few weeks ago, a headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a widely respected weekly publication for college and university personnel, caught my eye. “What Makes a Good Teacher?” the headline read.

The writer, himself a well-known author and professor of English, went on to describe key characteristics of teachers who (though not necessarily liked best) had the greatest impact on their students’ learning.

The list included several familiar observations about effective teachers: “They are professional without being aloof. They have a good sense of humor. They are demanding without being unkind. They seem to enjoy what they do. They are tremendously creative.”

The author closes the piece by acknowledging that some professors seem to be “born teachers” because they possess the above traits in abundance; but every professor can work to develop and enhance their own teaching expertise. 

That’s exactly what the Teaching Fellows Program at UIS is all about! 

The program is the brainchild of Dr. Layne Morsch, a professor in the UIS Chemistry Department. Himself a distinguished teacher, Morsch was selected a few years ago by Apple (the world’s largest information technology company) as an Apple Distinguished Educator. 

With the support and encouragement of UIS Vice Chancellor and Provost Dennis Papini, Morsch has developed a professional development program that brings faculty together from across campus throughout the year to discuss educational psychology and research-based teaching practices, to experiment in their own courses and to share and learn with colleagues. 

“When you do your doctorate, it’s not focused on teaching. It’s about the research,” says Morsch. 

“The Teaching Fellows Program creates opportunities for faculty to engage together with high impact practices that can transform their teaching and improve student learning.” 

One of this year’s Teaching Fellows is Dr. Tiffany Nielson, an Assistant Professor in the Human Development Counseling program. 

Nielson, an Idaho native, completed her Ph.D. at Idaho State University and joined the UIS faculty three years ago. “I chose UIS because it is a teaching-focused university,” she says. “The Teaching Fellows Program has been a unique opportunity and perfect way to jump start my career.” 

Nielson recently taught her students about fixed vs. growth mindset, a concept the Teaching Fellows had studied and discussed in a recent session. “A fixed mindset means you believe your intelligence is set and cannot be changed while a growth mindset means you believe that, with effort and action, you have the capacity to grow,” says Nielson. She was delighted when a struggling student told her she had been thinking about how adopting a growth mindset could help her to be more successful. 

The Teaching Fellows Program’s impact on student success at UIS might best be illustrated by Morsch, who reflects: “Two of my students in the last week have told me the medical schools they’ve gotten admission into. That’s what I’m most excited to hear about – where my students are going and what they’ll be doing. Our graduates do amazing things!”

Read the entire column online.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Star Parties to resume at UIS in March

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Friday Night Star Parties will resume for three Fridays in March The dates include: March 9, 16, and 23.

The parties are held from 8 to 10 p.m., weather permitting, at the UIS Observatory on the roof of Brookens Library.

Star Parties are hosted by John Martin, UIS associate professor of Astronomy/Physics. 

The observatory’s telescopes will be used to view a number of celestial objects, including the moon, the Great Nebula in Orion and other double stars and star clusters when visible.

Friday Night Star Parties are free and open to the public.

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

Read the entire article online.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

UIS prepares campus with active shooter training

The University of Illinois Springfield will be training students and faculty how to react to an active shooter.

The campus police department is holding an active shooter training class on March 2.

The class includes a video plus a question and answer session with University Police.

UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said the campus must be prepared for anything. "I think that as many workshops and training that our staff and our police do, I think that every situation can be different and unique, so you do your best to plan and prepare," said Schnapp.

Later in the spring semester, UIS is planning an active shooter drill.

This story aired on Fox Illinois on February 21, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Man acquitted in retrial for murder, arson in mother-in-law’s 1995 death

A former Naperville man who spent 22 years in prison for the 1995 death of his mother-in-law was found not guilty in a retrial Wednesday.

Following a seven-day bench trial, DuPage County Judge Liam C. Brennan found 61-year-old William Amor not guilty of murder and aggravated arson in connection with the death of Marianne Miceli, according to a statement from the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“This is the end of a nightmare for me,” Amor said in a statement released by the Illinois Innocence Project, which represented him. “I have fought to clear my name for the last 22 years and I am so grateful that I was able to have my day in court for the truth to be heard,” Amor said. “I am looking forward to starting the next phase of my life as a free man, no longer labeled as a murderer, for the first time in a long time.”

The Illinois Innocence Project is located at the University of Illinois Springfield.

This story appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times on February 21, 2018.

Read the entire article online.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Democratic candidates for governor debate Wednesday at UIS

The six Democratic candidates for Illinois governor will meet in Springfield Wednesday night for a debate that will be broadcast live on the Internet and radio.

The debate featuring state Sen. Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, Chris Kennedy, Dr. Robert Marshall and J.B. Pritzker is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The event is sponsored by The State Journal-Register, News/Talk 94.7 and 970 WMAY, and UIS.

Moderators will be the SJ-R’s Bernard Schoenburg, WMAY’s Jim Leach and NPR Illinois’ Daisy Contreras.

The debate can be heard on WMAY radio or watched on www.sj-r.com or www.wmay.com.

The newspaper, radio station and UIS extended invitations to the two Republican candidates for governor — incumbent Bruce Rauner and state Rep. Jeanne Ives — to debate at UIS prior to the March 20 primary election. Ives accepted the invitation, but Rauner declined, so no debate will be held.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Women's Softball: Stars split 1-1 on opening day

Lakyn Wagoner’s two-run single in the second inning helped the University of Illinois Springfield to a 10-7 win against Missouri Southern.

The Prairie Stars fell behind 5-0. They took the lead with a six-run second inning.

Wagoner’s RBIs tied it at 5-all. Calla Wickenhauser’s sacrifice made it 6-5.

Wagoner and teammate Erin Stroup had two hits and a stolen base each.

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


Men's Baseball: Stars’ Rothmund, Taylor hit homers

Michael Rothmund spotted the University of Illinois Springfield leads by hitting a home run in the sixth inning and scoring on a wild pitch in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough and Missouri Southern rallied to a 3-2 win.

Rothmund’s homer put UIS ahead 1-0. He put the Stars up 2-1 in the eighth.

The Prairie Stars’ Justin Revels struck out eight batters, gave up three hits and allowed one run in six innings.

Earlier in the day, UIS opened the season with a 6-2 loss to Maryville. Mason Coon hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and UIS closed the gap to 3-1. Cole Taylor’s home run in the eighth got the Stars within 6-2. Taylor hit 2-for-3 and has a stolen base.

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Hundreds look for new careers at UIS

Over 125 businesses and organizations were at Thursday's Career Connection Expo at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The expo was co-hosted by Benedictine and Lincoln Land Community College, plus the community was invited.

Organizers said they expected over 500 job seekers to come through Thursday.

“It's important to have these types of events because it allows a number of employers to connect in one place that way job seekers don't have to run all over the county and all over the state, here you have 125 employers in one spot that you can talk to on the spot,” director of career development Kathyy Battee-Freeman said.

This is the 20th year UIS has held the career fair.

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

Watch the story online.

Women's Basketball: Stars, Sangster swoop win from Hawks

University of Illinois Springfield’s Jasmine Sangster, Shelbi Patterson and Destiny Ramsey took control of the offense, leading the Prairie Stars to a 73-64 victory over Quincy on Thursday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The three combined for 51 of the Stars’ points.

UIS is 12-11 on the season and 6-9 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Women's Softball: A look at the Prairie Stars

Last season, University of Illinois Springfield closed the regular season on an 11-0 win streak. The Stars went 0-2 at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament. They finished 31-23 overall and 17-11 in the GLVC. The 31 wins was the third most in NCAA Division II history, five shy of the program-record 36 in 2012.

In the polls, the Stars are voted to finish seventh out of 15 team in the GLVC preseason coaches poll.

All-conference returners Junior pitcher Jaycee Craver and senior utility player Katie Wooldridge received all-GLVC honors last year. Craver was named to the second team. Wooldridge made the third team.

The top four in the Stars’ batting order are back: senior infielder/pitcher Ali Haesele, junior centerfielder Madi Torry, sophomore outfielder Lakyn Wagoner and junior first baseman/outfielder Morgan Edwards.

Edwards led the team with six home runs, had a .303 average and 31 RBIs. UIS fourth-year Shannon Nicholson Guthrie said, “We return a bunch a bats. Those are the top four that I see bringing the bulk of our power.”

The Stars have lots of experience in returning pitchers senior Rachel Goff, Haesele and Craver.
Guthrie said, “All of our predominant pitchers from last year came back, which is exciting. It is the first year since I’ve been here where we return our pitching staff like that. Our biggest depth is in the pitching circle and in the outfield. I think this is truly one of the most talented teams that we’ve had. It’s going to be a matter of putting it all together once you get out on the field.”

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

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Men's Baseball: Michael Rothmund, Cole Taylor wield big bats for UIS baseball team

First baseman Michael Rothmund estimates he smashed a home run 430 feet during the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team’s spring break trip to Georgia last March.

“That was probably the farthest ball I’ve ever hit,” he said. “I got all of it.”

That’s not out of the ordinary for Rothmund. He was the national leader in home runs last season. “He has hit plenty well over 400 feet,” UIS baseball coach Chris Ramirez said. He was first in NCAA Division II with 24 home runs. He also ranked fifth nationally in slugging percentage. He was ninth in RBIs (68) and total bases (161).

Not to be outdone by Rothmund, Cole Taylor also wielded a big bat. It earned him a spot on the NCAA Division II All-America Third Team in his first season with the Prairie Stars. Taylor, who transferred from Parkland College, became the first UIS player to receive all-American honors.

The infielder from Fairmount, near Danville, ranked third in the nation in doubles. He ranked among the Great Lakes Valley Conference leaders in several offensive categories. He was first in doubles, second in hits and third in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and triples. He ranked fourth in home runs and sixth in RBIs.

Ramirez has a front row seat to one of the top offensive duos in the nation.

In January, Taylor and Rothmund were named Division II preseason All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper as they head into their senior seasons. They were both all-conference and all-region last year. “Those guys are baseball rats,” he said. “They talk hitting. They think hitting. They’re in the cage. They’re looking at video. They’re always trying to find their swing. I think that shows.”

The Stars have been known for their offensive firepower under Ramirez. Their .319 team batting average was first in the GLVC last season. They ranked 15th in the nation in home runs with 70. “Our team offense was top 25 in five or six offensive categories nationally, including home runs, runs scores, runs per game and doubles,” Ramirez said.

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

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Men's Basketball: UIS upsets Southern Indiana

The University of Illinois Springfield scored a big win as it beat Southern Indiana 79-70 in Great Lakes Valley Conference game Thursday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS ended a two-game losing streak.

Freshman starter Collin Stallworth’s 3-pointer gave UIS its first lead. Freshman starter Aundrae Williams knocked down a jumper at the buzzer and UIS owned a 34-33 lead at the break. Two minutes into the second half, senior Eddie Longmeyer sank a 3-pointer.

UIS went ahead 39-37 and it led the rest of the way.

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

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Black History Month celebrated in Springfield

February marks the beginning of Black History Month. Springfield started the month with a number of celebrations, Thursday an event was held at the Illinois State Library.

Another celebration was also held at the University of Illinois Springfield where students put together a candlelight vigil in honor of those who have passed away.

"To pay homage to those who came before them. Those who sacrificed for them to be in the position that they are today," UIS student Justin Rose said.

Participants were encouraged to say some words and light a candle in someone’s memory. "I look at it as a deeper connection to reach back and never forget where you came from,” Rose said.

Black History Month is the annual celebration of achievements by African Americans.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on February 1, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Mendota student an integral part of Mock Trial Club

The University of Illinois Springfield Mock Trial Club recently finished fifth among 28 teams during the 2018 Jayhawk Invitational hosted by the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.

In achieving the fifth place finish, the team also broke all previous school records in mock trial competition.

The group of seven UIS students, which included 2014 Mendota High School graduate Jayde Schlesinger, Chance Austin of Rochester; Andrew Jarmer of Garden City, Kan. and Springfield; Courtney Johnson of Pewaukee, Wis.; Christopher Marbaniang of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Shillong, India; Joseph Partain of Luka; and Mario Saucedo of Colima, Mexico, defeated four nationally-ranked teams to win the fifth-place title.

A total of 19 nationally-ranked teams took part in the invitational.

UIS had the highest CS score of any ranked team in the tournament, which means UIS faced some of the toughest competition in the tournament.

The team is coached by UIS alumnus Nathan Hoffman and attorney-coach Rex Gradeless, a UIS adjunct assistant professor.

This story appeared in the Mendota Reporter on February 1, 2018.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

UIS students dress the part through University Professional Clothing Closet

This week, University of Illinois Springfield students have the opportunity to get business attire for free through the University Professional Clothing Closet.

The program is open to UIS students only and is a way to help them dress the part for job interviews, job fairs, and networking events.

"We've heard from a couple of students that they decided not to go to activities because they didn't feel like they had professional clothing to present themselves well,” Director of UIS Career Development Center Kathyy Battee-Freeman said. “So we wanted to reduce one of those barriers by offering them a free opportunity to do that."

Organizers hope students will wear their new outfits at UIS's Career Connections Expo on February 15, which is open to the public.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on January 30, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Former UIS Professor, Author takes nature fans inside Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park

Joe Wilkins might be Gates of the Arctic’s biggest fan.

Now retired from the University of Illinois at Springfield, Wilkins’ numerous trips into the park and his love for the region serve as the framework for “Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration,” a 328-page account of the park, its environs and the natural world it encompasses.

At 8.4 million acres, Gates of the Arctic is the northernmost and second largest national park in the United States.

Between 2005 and 2017, Wilkins embarked on more than 50 excursions into the park and along its borders, sometimes alone, sometimes as a backcountry volunteer with the National Park Service.

His book chronicles his admiration for the park, as well as his encounters with wildlife, his observations of the environment and his respect for the land.

“I encourage people, whenever possible, to go out,” Wilkins said by phone from Tucson, Arizona. “I consider this to be the premiere wilderness of North America. It’s rugged, it’s free, it’s wild and remote. Go there or to anywhere in the Brooks Range.”

The book is the end product of his photography, note taking and reflections on the park and its offerings, whether it’s the Alaska Natives who call the park home, the grizzlies and caribou that roam the area or the aurora dancing overhead.

The book captures Wilkins’ ambition to get people to explore their world, something he calls the “wilderness next door.” “Visit the wilderness where you live,” he said. “It’s so important for people to participate and take part in and enjoy the wilderness.”

“Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration,” published by Brown Books Publishing Group, is available at national retailers now.

This article appeared in The Daily News-Miner in Fairbanks, Alaska on January 29, 2018.

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Men's Basketball: Stallworth, Williams start in UIS men’s basketball victory

Rochester High School graduate Collin Stallworth and Lanphier High product Aundrae Williams both made their first starts as freshmen for the University of Illinois Springfield on Saturday.

They helped the Prairie Stars win 64-61 against Indianapolis in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS coach Bill Walker shook up the starting lineup in hopes of getting the team out of an offensive slump and snapping a three-game losing streak.

Stallworth, Williams and sophomore CJ Payawal all made their first starts. Stallworth scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds and sank two 3-pointers. Williams contributed seven points and three assists.

Williams is the Stars’ fourth-leading scorer. He is averaging 8.25 points per game and 2.35 assists per game in 20 contests. Stallworth is averaging 3.45 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

With the help of Stallworth and Williams, UIS earned its first win ever against Indianapolis. The Greyhounds had won all eight previous meetings. The Prairie Stars knocked off a team that had been riding high.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 27, 2018.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

New union complex gives campus a social hub

University of Illinois Springfield’s recently unveiled Student Union building includes several dining outlets, among them the school’s first Starbucks and several relocated retail venues.

How do you build community on a college campus? Well, first you need a venue. That’s what was always lacking at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS), where an enrollment of some 5,000 students has traditionally tended to scatter when not taking classes if for no other reason than there was really no place on campus to gather.

Well, there is now.

On January 14, just ahead of the start of spring semester, the ribbon was cut to officially open UIS’s new Student Union building, a 52,000-plus square foot hub of campus social activity complete with offices and workspaces for various student and volunteer organizations, a ballroom for special events, a gaming/activity center, several dining outlets plus the first branded Starbucks unit on campus.

The dining concepts were revamped to a degree for the move. For example, the World Flavors international station now allows diners to choose their vegetables, proteins, grains and flavoring sauces, then have them prepared to order by a chef. The station rotates different ethnic cuisines daily to offer variety. Meanwhile, the deli station now lets customers assemble their own sandwiches, which are priced by weight, and includes a toaster oven for those who wish hot dishes.

“The station is about twice the size it used to be” to accommodate the expanded ingredient options, says Geoffrey Evans, director of university dining services at UIS.

The pizza station has basically the same choices as before but the recipes for the sauces and crust have been upgraded, and baking is now done in a higher quality oven for a better all-around product, Evans notes.

The new UIS Student Union is designed to serve as a campus social hub with plenty of spaces to hang out and interact. So what’s been the reaction so far from the returning students?

“Very positive,” Evans reports. “They like the increased options and the Starbucks has been a big hit.”

This article appeared online at www.food-management.com on January 24, 2018.

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Track and Field: Quarton Tops Personal Best

When Alexandria Quarton sets a personal best, she doesn't mess around.

Quarton, a Litchfield graduate, shaved a whopping 15 seconds off her previous personal best in the indoor 3,000-meter run while competing for the University of Illinois Springfield at the Illinois College Snowbird Open.

Quarton covered the distance in 11 minutes, 23.25 seconds, besting her previous best of 11:38.23 set Feb. 11 of last year at the Grand Valley State Big Meet.

Not only did Quarton run the fastest indoor 3K of her young life at the Snowbird, it was also the fastest in UIS history, breaking the school record by five seconds.

The Prairie Stars finished eighth in the 17 team competition with 25 points, 99 back of Columbia College's winning total.

This story appeared in The Journal-News on January 25, 2018.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Baseball: Stars picked third in East Division

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team has been voted to place third out of seven teams in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division.

UIS received three first-place votes and 76 points in the coaches preseason poll.

It received 83 points and four first-place votes. The final voting was Southern Indiana, Bellarmine, UIS, Indianapolis, Lewis, McKendree and Wisconsin-Parkside.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 23, 2018.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Susan Koch: Public affairs internships lead to success

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 January 20, 2018.

A special commitment to education in public affairs has been central to the mission and vision of the University of Illinois at Springfield since 1970 when Robert Spencer, founding president of Sangamon State University (now UIS), first defined the “professional and vocational objectives” of Illinois’s new state capital university. 

Though a member of the UIS community for just a short time, Sherrie Elzinga, Director of the Graduate Public Service Internship program, knows more about that public affairs commitment than most. 

Before assuming the GPSI Director role in August 2017, Elzinga worked for more than 26 years at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency where, as Chief of Staff, she often observed and mentored students serving GPSI internships. “It’s imperative that we prepare the next generation of competent public servants and this ‘learn-the-ropes experience’ does exactly that,” says Elzinga. “To have the opportunity now as Director to lead and grow the program is really my dream job!” 

About 200 UIS graduate students are part of the GPSI program each year, working 20 hours per week in a state agency internship while at the same time engaging in full time graduate studies at UIS. 

The program is a partnership between the University and more than 20 state offices and agencies, with the agency providing financial support for a tuition waiver and a stipend and the GPSI program providing supervision and coordination. 

Since the program began over 40 years ago, more than 3,500 students have successfully completed the 2-3 year experience, earning a masters degree at the same time they are gaining valuable professional experience and contributing to the mission and success of the agency. 

The majority of those graduates have gone on to successful careers in public service at local, state and national levels — many in the same agencies where they interned. 

Marleigh Andrews-Conrad is one of hundreds of such success stories. After growing up in Springfield and earning an undergraduate degree from St. Louis University, Andrews-Conrad was accepted in the Masters in Public Health and Masters in Human Services dual degree program at UIS and served as a GPSI intern at the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“My GPSI internship was incredibly multifaceted, focusing on a variety of factors that can affect the successful implementation of HIV prevention and care in Illinois,” she reports. “Having the opportunity to consistently practice a variety of ‘real world’ scenarios with the support and encouragement of my GPSI mentor, Janet Nuss, was both motivating and valuable.” 

Andrews-Conrad was honored by the GPSI program in Spring 2017 as recipient of the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Excellence. Shortly after completing her internship and masters degree, Andrews-Conrad accepted a position at IDPH working for the Ryan White program, which ensures people living with HIV have access to services that promote health maintenance. 

“As a young professional,” says Andrews-Conrad, “I will always be grateful for my beginnings in public service as a GPSI intern. The experience allowed me to begin a career that aligns with my professional and personal goals and values.” 

As Director Elzinga knows from her years overseeing interns at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the internship supervisor plays a key role in the success of the program. 

Nearly 50 years after defining that commitment to education in public affairs, I think President Spencer would be delighted to see how his vision has come to life in the UIS GPSI program.

Read the entire column online.