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.

Read the entire article online. 

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.

Read the entire article.

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.

Read the entire article online.

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.