Monday, September 16, 2019

Cross Country: Jones, McIntyre help Stars at Michigan State

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s cross country team finished with 191 points and placed seventh in the 23-team Michigan State Spartan Invitational meet.

Blake Jones led UIS with a time of 25:25.8, finishing in 13th place. Athens native Wyatt McIntyre finished 52nd with a time of 26:11.5 on the 8,000 meter course.

The UIS women’s team, also at Michigan State, finished 11th out of 26 teams with a score of 312.

Taryn Christy led the Prairie Stars with an 11th-place finish, running a time of 21:53.9 on the 6,000 meter course. Her time was second among the NCAA Division II runners.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 13, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball: Stars sweep matches in Indy

The Prairie Stars closed out the two-day tournament hosted by the University of Indianapolis with straight set wins over Davenport and Minnesota State-Moorhead to give the University of Illinois Springfield a 3-1 record overall, tied for best record in the tournament.

The Prairie Stars turned up the defense late, forcing Davenport to a hitting percentage under .100.

Hannah Nicolaisen led UIS with 15 kills. Becca Blakeley had 34 assists for the Stars.

In the second match the Stars won 25-19, 25-21, 25-14 over MSU Moorhead.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 14, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Soccer: UIS shuts out Lewis in GLVC opener

Maggie Juhlin converted the game’s only goal on a penalty kick to give University of Illinois Springfield the 1-0 victory over Lewis University on Sunday.

Bailey Cross got the shutout in goal for UIS (2-1-0), with two saves in the Great Lakes Valley Conference opener.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 15, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

UIS incoming freshman class makes history, total enrollment drops

The incoming freshman class at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) is making school history. 

UIS reports freshman enrollment grew by more than 18%.

The total number of first-year students stands at 373, compared to 316 last fall semester, making it the largest incoming freshman class in school history.

“We are pleased to see the substantial increase in the size of our freshman class again this year,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “It affirms that an increasing number of prospective students and their families are choosing UIS for a student-centered undergrad experience - an experience that provides uniquely personalized educational opportunities that prepare our graduates for success in their careers and their communities.”

While it's good news for the incoming freshman class, total enrollment is a different matter.

The total number of students enrolled at UIS dropped this year. There were 300 fewer part-time students enrolled this semester. The total number of students enrolled in fall classes at UIS stands at 4,275 compared to 4,575 students in fall 2018.

Earlier this week, U.S. News & World Report announced UIS was ranked the fourth-best public university in the Midwest Regional category and the top public regional university in Illinois in the 2020 rankings. UIS was also ranked as one of the best ethnically diverse campuses in the Midwest category.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on September 12, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Friday, September 13, 2019

UIS and Central Illinois Foodbank partner for Hunger Action Day

The Central Illinois Foodbank was at the University of Illinois Springfield's Hunger Action Day.

The foodbank talked to students and faculty about resources in the community. Some of the resources include UIS Cares - an on-campus food pantry.

"We know that students and faculty alike in our area may be facing food insecurity, so it's a good opportunity for us to engage with those groups and make sure they realize there are resources in the community," Ashley Earnest, of the Central Illinois Foodbank said.

Hunger Action Day is a nationwide effort for foodbanks and for people to realize that food insecurity is an issue in every county in the country.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on September 12, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Susan Koch: Fundraising underway for much-needed renovations for UIS Observatory

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 7, 2019. 

Since the University of Illinois Springfield was created nearly 50 years ago, engagement with the community has been central to its mission. That commitment continues to provide countless ways for area residents from preschoolers to seniors to learn, grow and enjoy by engaging in a variety of events and activities across the university calendar.

One of the most popular outreach activities of the University today is also one of the oldest. Star Parties, where visitors are invited to the UIS Observatory to view celestial objects and learn about science and astronomy, were started in 1977 by Professor Charlie Schweighauser, one of the early members of the then-Sangamon State University faculty.

“Everyone is intrigued by the sun, moon, planets and stars,” said Schweighauser (now retired), “and I saw astronomy as a gateway for making good science available to the public.”

The UIS Astronomy program possesses some of the finest equipment in the state, including a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and four smaller telescopes located on the observation deck atop Brookens Library.

Since the late 1970s, thousands of people of all ages have come to the UIS Observatory for Star Parties, as well as for special astronomical events like lunar and solar eclipses and comets.

At a typical Star Party, visitors learn about galaxies as well as star and constellation identification.

Staff and trained volunteers then assist guests in using the telescopes — enabling stargazers to observe objects of interest in the night sky.

It’s not unusual for the program to host 50 to 100 participants on a clear night.

There are even Star Parties for people with disabilities that feature the first telescope ever designed for wheelchair access.

Professor John Martin, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, has provided leadership for the Astronomy program since 2006.

“Starting my freshman year at UVA,” Martin said, “I would hang out during public viewings at the UVA Observatory — taking measurements and having fun. They eventually asked me to help out, and I worked there for four years. That was my Friday nights!”

After more than 40 years of Star Parties, fundraising is now underway for much-needed renovations of the UIS Observatory, including redesign and replacement of the original deck with composite material, improved accessibility for people of all abilities and re-imagining the telescope enclosure for more efficient use.

“It has been a joy helping kids look through our telescopes week after week, always with a fresh set of questions,” Martin said. “With these much-needed renovations, we’ll be able to satisfy the curiosity of stargazers young and old for the next 40 years and beyond.”

Read the entire column online.

UIS students remember victims of September 11th attack

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield remembered the lives lost during September 11, 2001.

Hundreds of flags were placed around campus.

The student organizer said the goal was to raise awareness about a tragedy that happened before they were born and wanted to make sure students don't forget about it.

"We need to look past our differences in our culture, we need to look past our differences and really just see this is something as all Americans, we can come together and honor people who have lost their lives," President of College Republicans Andrew Cunningham said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on September 11, 2019.

Watch the story online.

UIS ranked best public regional university in Midwest

The University of Illinois Springfield has been ranked the fourth best public regional university in the midwest.

UIS moved up three spots from last year's rankings. It's also ranked as one of the best ethnically diverse campuses in the midwest.

"It's a real point of pride for us. We are very happy to have moved up in the rankings. It signals that families and prospective students are making a really good choice when they choose to learn more, apply, and enroll at the University of Illinois Springfield," said Provost of Management, Natalie Herring.

Herring also says there are lots of student grant opportunities. And the school will be able to provide for students who deserve scholarships.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on September 9, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Annual 5K at UIS gives back to local charity

The University of Illinois Springfield hosted their 4th annual UIS Prairie Star 5k walk/run. Money raised goes towards the Triple Heart Foundation, a non-profit founded by our very own Stacey Skrysak and her husband Ryan.

Director of Campus Recreation, James Koeppe, said it's a great way to give back to the community while getting students involved.

"We do it for several reasons, one it's just to welcome our students back, welcome the upper class back, as well as welcome our new students," said Koeppe. "But also as a community event, we have a lot of community runners as well as our students and our faculty and staff."

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on September 7, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

UIS students take part in Welcome Week Service-a-Thon

University of Illinois Springfield students are volunteering as the school year gets underway.

The annual Welcome Week Service-a-Thon has students serving at seven Springfield locations.

The event encourages students to place community first by starting the school year with service to others.

The day of service ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

Locations where students volunteered included Concordia Village, the Habitat for Humanity and the UIS Community Garden.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 30, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Downtown shuttle bus for UIS students to return

Going out downtown on Saturday nights just got a bit easier for University of Illinois Springfield students with the return of a free shuttle bus to and from campus.

The service, sponsored by the UIS Student Government Association, will begin Sept. 7 and run nonstop between the UIS Student Union and downtown every Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.The plan is to have the shuttle run through mid-November, ending just before Thanksgiving.

“We have other transportation in order right now ... but we didn’t have transportation for students to go downtown on the weekend,”Ben Paoletti said. “So there was an apparent need for this. And what I saw often was that students would go downtown and would have to pay for Uber or Lyft or, even worse, they would drink and drive.” “So, as president SGA, I saw that there was a need for there to be a shuttle for students, free of charge, so that they could go downtown, they could enjoy downtown, but also be able to get there back and forth safely,” he said.

The 16-person shuttle, provided by Springfield-based Gracious Cab Company, will cost the student association about $1,500 for the semester, Paoletti said. As a pilot program, the shuttle is only guaranteed through this semester, with the student organization seeking sponsorships from downtown bars and restaurants to ensure that it continues beyond.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 30, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, August 26, 2019

New Lab Trains Welfare Workers Who Probe Child Abuse Claims

The troubling scene inside the dingy Chicago apartment seems real: dangling exposed wires, open pill bottles near a sleeping baby and a kitchen strewn with dog feces and cockroaches. But the mock apartment — with a lifelike infant doll, candles emitting foul smells and plastic insects — is part of a new simulation lab to train workers who investigate child abuse claims across Illinois.

"Sometimes textbooks, they sugarcoat things. Teachers sugarcoat things, but this is real life," said Beth Brown of Murphysboro, who recently trained at the so-called "dirty apartment." ''This is what you're going to experience."

Illinois' use of such experiential training focused on child welfare workers is being held up by experts as a national leader as the state plans to expand with a third simulation lab and its university experts write new research on the topic.

The use of simulation training isn't unusual for first-responders: Many medical schools have opened multimillion-dollar facilities. However, it's a newer concept in child welfare, said Victor Vieth, a longtime expert who has trained child protective workers nationwide.

The first child welfare simulation labs emerged roughly 15 years ago at universities.

The first lab opened in 2016 inside a home on the University of Illinois Springfield campus that was a gift.

Some experts suggest the simulation training could help, particularly with burnout. Illinois researchers are studying data from the centers.

UIS professor Betsy Goulet, who helped design the centers, said early signs suggest trainees are less likely to leave.

For Brown, 40, the simulations are refreshing after the classroom. "It's not something that a teacher can tell you what to do," she said. "This is something you need to experience in order to get better and understand the job."

This article appeared in U.S. News & World Report on August 23, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Pence, Zimmerman take Abe’s Amble victories

Springfield’s Tyler Pence won his fourth straight overall men’s title in record fashion, while Petersburg’s Emily Zimmerman won her first women’s championship in the 42nd annual Abe’s Amble 10-kilometer road race on Sunday morning at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Pence, preparing for his first year as head track and cross country coach at the University of Illinois Springfield, took the men’s race in a course-record 31 minutes 25.7 seconds on Sunday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 18, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

UIS students met with rainy welcome back to school

Incoming freshmen at the University of Illinois Springfield had a very rainy welcome to campus on Tuesday.

Tuesday was move-in day for the University of Illinois Springfield but it wasn't the move-in day they were expecting.

Torrential rain and weather conditions made this a difficult time, but students say that it was the hard work of the volunteer that got them through.

"They came out, helped me get all my stuff out of the car, got it in a cart, pushed it out for me in the rain while getting drenched," UIS student Jalen Walsh said.

Around 125 volunteers helped over 300 incoming freshmen get all moved into their dorms.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 20, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

University offers training for frontline workers

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has come under intense scrutiny this year, after several children who had cases with them died.

WCIA went to the Child Protection Training Academy at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) where they train case workers and investigators to better spot and report kids who might be in danger.

The training model called Project Forecast walks the workers through real-life scenarios, showing them how to keep children in Illinois safe.

“Other industries use simulation as a way to get a sense of what to expect when you do this job. But child welfare really didn’t have that kind of realism or those kinds of environments,” said Betsy Goulet, Child Advocacy Studies coordinator at UIS.

The program features encounters with at-risk children different environments to show the frontline workers the proper way to respond.

More than 700 caseworkers have been trained by the academy since 2015.

We watched trainees walk through an experience with a traumatized toddler at a hospital. Organizers said adding scenarios in an actual medical setting makes a big difference.

“Understanding the dialogue you have to have between the medical provider when you are getting information in an ER setting, you can imagine what kind of chaos and constant distractions in an ER, you have to find the right way to communicate,” Goulet said.

The training is made possible through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) federal grant. All three U of I campuses collaborated to teach workers in their first statewide project.

This story aired on WCIA Channel 3 on August 9, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Susan Koch: UIS employees’ lives in the community

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 3, 2019.

Each of the more than a thousand faculty and staff at the University of Illinois Springfield contributes in myriad ways to providing pathways of opportunity for students that prepare them for success. But as musical artist Dolly Parton once said: “You should never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.“

As Chancellor of UIS, I’ve found it fascinating to discover the many ways valued employees “make a life” outside their work.

This UIS Perspectives column provides a glimpse into some of their stories.

The performing arts is a passion for many UIS employees including Linda Schneider and Steve Marvel. Schneider, whose day job is office administrator in Academic Affairs, has been involved in community theater for many years — combining her acting talent with her love of history. Schneider has portrayed many historical figures including Nellie Grant Jones (daughter of Ulysses S. Grant) for the annual Oak Ridge Cemetery Walk sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society. “My most memorable experience thus far,” says Schneider, “was portraying Mary Lincoln for an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s late night talk show.”

In his off hours, Marvel is rocking out as keyboardist and vocalist with “Off the Wall,” one of the most popular pop/rock bands in Central Illinois.

Not many can claim to have a national champion in the family — but Doug Brackney, administrative aide in the UIS Career Development Center, has several! Brackney has been showing champion Persian cats for more than 20 years. His silver Persian named Romeo is not only a national champion but has also been “spokes-cat” for Royal Canine Persian cat food — landing him and his human companions an all-expense paid trip to New York City that included a limousine, a stay in a posh Madison Avenue hotel and a photo shoot with international fashion photographer Platan.

It is a privilege to work with so many talented and dedicated faculty and staff every day at UIS. With their many contributions both on campus and off, they’re not just making a living. They’re making a difference ... and making a life.

Read the entire column online.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Proposed ordinance declares city's 'full support' for downtown university presence

While long considered the most logical site for a downtown university presence, city officials made it clear Tuesday that the city-owned Y-block is just one option on the table.

An ordinance declaring the city’s support for an effort to bring a university presence to downtown Springfield sailed through the city council’s Committee of the Whole Tuesday evening, but not before adopting an amendment that significantly broadened the language to be less site-specific.

“The other way it was written, it was a little Y-block-heavy, so to speak,” said Mayor Jim Langfelder. “And really, the intent is to just support the university developments downtown that could be.”

According to the proposed ordinance, “the city of Springfield is in full support of” a proposed downtown development that would be shared by the University of Illinois Springfield and Southern Illinois University.

The original ordinance was site-specific, leaning heavily on the Y-block site as a future location for the proposed campus. But Langfelder said the change in language was prompted by a meeting with state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and officials from UIS and SIU, who sought not to limit themselves to the constraints of a one city block.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on July 31, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Quantum Computing at the University of Illinois Springfield

Quantum computing was once the sole purview of science fiction writers. Today, however, it’s fast becoming a reality that higher education can get on board with.

Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor of Online Learning at the University of Illinois Springfield and Founding Director of the National Council for Online Education, joined the Enrollment Growth University podcast to discuss what the advent of quantum computing means for higher education.

What Is Quantum Computing? “Shohini Ghose has a quote that I just love,” Ray said. ‘If you’re confused about the quantum computer, don’t worry, that means you’re getting it.” Even Einstein called quantum computing spooky.

We’re accustomed to computing in binary digits, bits, ones, and zeros. That’s the way in which we do all of our coding and all our computing. Quantum computing, however, uses cubits, which are quantum bits.

The difference between binary bits and cubits is that cubits can represent one or zero, but they can also can represented as one and zero. In some cases, there can also be a direction or phase quantity added to that. “So there are multiple states for every cubit,” Ray said, “whereas, for every bit, there’s just a zero or one.

And usually, these are held on photons or electrons or some other subatomic particle or wave.” You can call them either a wave or a particle because they behave both as waves and as particles.

So with a cubit, we can do much more because we’ve got three or four different representations for every cubit. That allows us to process information much, much faster. In fact, in a quantum computer, works about 10,000 times faster than the standard supercomputer today.

This article appeared on on July 26, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Sharon Graf, UIS ethnomusicology professor

Why you should know her: Sharon Graf, an associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois Springfield, a musician, and a sailor, took a 15-month sea voyage to study the music, culture, and language of the Pacific Islands in 2010. She and her husband sailed there from Alton, Illinois on their 42-foot yacht, the Larabeck.

What is ethnomusicology? “The study of people making music. It encompasses a global perspective, so we look at people making music around the world.” She studied anthropology and music in college.

Why did you go to the Pacific Islands? “I had a very special opportunity because my husband, Michael Graf, wanted to go on a sailing trip. It wouldn’t have been possible without his interest and expertise. I wanted to visit and learn more about the world and other cultures.”

What did you learn about music in these cultures? “People in the Polynesian triangle were pioneers of sailing and populated all these islands, and their languages and musical customs are related. I find that really fascinating. It was interesting to go from island to island, to see the linguistics part of it, the ways their greetings were different but very related. The same with musical customs.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on July 29, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

UIS may soon have a presence on the Y-Block

The University of Illinois Springfield may soon have a presence downtown on the Y-Block. It's the first move we're seeing there in nearly two years.

They are hoping the university will have a positive impact on the economic development in the community and that by putting a building there, it will look to create a positive impact.

Mayor Jim Langfelder said whatever goes on this land needs to help all of downtown.

"You can't just look at the block itself. It's really, how's that one piece impact other pieces downtown and it all comes down to financial resources and that's one of the key components - what's in the best interest for that area but also how's that a domino impact on the block surrounding it."

UIS also said in its statement that one of its goals, if the building is approved, is to collaborate with community partners, such as the SIU School of Medicine.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on July 24, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Monday, July 22, 2019

SIU, UIS, Sangamon County pushing for downtown Springfield ‘mini-campus’

A broad coalition is forming to push for state funding for a joint campus in downtown Springfield, to be shared by the University of Illinois Springfield and Southern Illinois University.

On July 9, Andy Manar hosted a meeting among leaders of SIU, UIS, the University of Illinois, Sangamon County, the City of Springfield and other stakeholders.

“We put several opportunities on the table — what would go in this building and on this campus, including initiatives related to medicine and law, social service, management of governmental intern positions, public health and policy, and so on,” said SIU Interim President J. Kevin Dorsey. “Collaboration between SIU, the School of Medicine and UIS was seen as critical.”

The Springfield university is already seeking to bolster its downtown presence via a new “Innovation Hub,” funded within the University of Illinois’s $500 million Discovery Partners Institute initiative.

“We’ve already engaged in conversations among community leaders to locate UIS’s Innovation Hub in the downtown area,” Van Meter said. “SIU has been a full partner in this process and we hope SIU will establish its own compatible programs in conjunction.”

 As for SIU, the most frequently discussed possibility at Thursday’s board meeting was an extension of the Carbondale-based law school, to offer classes, support to law students interning in the capitol, and continuing education for legal professionals. Ultimately, SIU Board Chair J. Phil Gilbert said he’d like to see a satellite law program in Springfield offering a Juris Doctor degree.

“Having a medical footprint and a law footprint here in Springfield is pretty powerful,” he said. And with SIU leaders stressing they don’t intend to duplicate UIS programs, the Springfield school appears enthusiastic about collaboration.

This article appeared in The Southern Illinoisan on July 18, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Vince Gill performing at UIS Oct. 20

Country music star Vince Gill will perform at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield Oct. 20, UIS announced today.

Tickets go on sale Friday, July 12, at 10 a.m.

Gill has sold more than 26 million albums in more than 40 years in music and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.

This story appeared in The Lincoln Courier on July 8, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

SJ-R vet to lead UIS PAR

People who know Charlie Wheeler will tell you he can’t be replaced.

But, now that Wheeler’s retiring, the University of Illinois Springfield has hired someone to run the public affairs reporting program.

It’s Jason Piscia, digital managing editor at the State Journal Register.

Piscia is a 1998 graduate of the program.

The program, featuring a working internship in a news bureau at the Capitol, has sent hundreds of reporters into the world.

This story aired on WTAX Radio on July 9, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Friday, July 5, 2019

College students react to Census citizenship question

The push to include a question about whether someone is a U.S. citizen or not on the 2020 Census continues. The effort comes despite the Supreme Court ruling to block the question last week.

 Area Hispanic and Latinx students said it’s great to have state leaders supporting them.

“Some people who are not born here are afraid to fight for themselves. So having us and people who are government officials fighting for them feels like we can actually call this place home and they are very welcoming,” said Isabell Ozoya, a graduate student at the University of Illinois Springfield.

President Donald Trump said the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are “working hard” to get the question on the census.

This story aired on WCIA on July 4, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Online Learning and the Future of Education with Ray Schroeder

As a leading expert in online education, Ray Schroeder brings an unmatched depth of knowledge and passion for advancing the field.

He’s the current associate vice chancellor for online learning and founding director of the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield. He’s also the founding director of the National Council for Online Education at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

In this episode of Leading Learning, Celisa talks with Ray about the evolving role of learning businesses, continuing education, and online learning— particularly when it comes to workforce development issues and the skills gap. They also discuss how advances related to artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, badges, blockchain and more are impacting the future of learning.

This article appeared on the Leading Learning website as an article and podcast on July 1, 2019.

Click here to access both the article and podcast.

UIS athletic director Jim Sarra resigns

University of Illinois Springfield athletic director Jim Sarra resigned Monday after three years leading the Prairie Stars.

UIS thanked Sarra for his service and announced vice chancellor of student affairs Clarice Ford as the interim athletic director.

It also said a national search will be conducted to fill the position with consultation from staff, student-athletes and other supporters.

UIS declined further comment outside of the statement. “With the contributions of many talented student-athletes, coaches, staff and supporters, Prairie Stars Athletics has made tremendous strides during the past several years, including numerous conference championships, national tournament appearances and academic honors,”

UIS chancellor Susan Koch said in the statement. “I am completely confident we will continue that success.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on July 1, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Susan Koch: New beginnings start with summer orientation

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 29, 2019.

You might think summer would be a quiet time on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, but the June-July calendar is teeming with activity including summer classes, youth camps, and a variety of projects needing completion before students return in August for the start of fall semester.

One of the pivotal summer activities has to do with new beginnings. For hundreds of first-year students accepted for the fall 2019 semester, that new beginning starts with summer orientation — a series of two-day “KickStart” events for new students as well as for their parents, family members and guardians.

According to Natalie Herring, Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, orientation, whether for freshmen or transfer students, is the crucial start to setting students up for success.

“Orientation is a big part of the overall admissions process,” says Herring. “Though the first important lesson is to remind students they’re adults, orientation also introduces students to the people who are going to be their own ‘board of directors’ — the folks who will help them succeed and achieve their goals.”

Higher education research has shown both academic and social integration are important to ensure students maximize their college experience. No one knows that better than Lisa McGuire, Director of New Student Orientation and Parent Relations, and mastermind behind the UIS KickStart program. 

“Orientation provides the opportunity for us to build a relationship with the student,” says Tarah Sweeting-Trotter, Senior Director of Advising and Learning Support Services. “It bridges the gap between high school and college so that students leave the experience more confident — knowing when they come back in August, the friendships they’ve started and relationships with staff and faculty will be there for them.”

It turns out a key factor in students graduating from college is their experience during the very beginning.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

UIS, SIU collaborate on heart disease research

A grant has been awarded to the University of Illinois Springfield and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

The grant was given by the Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D., Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research to conduct innovative heart disease research.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

"By modulating or somehow interacting with this ryodean receptor, there's the possibility to cure all kinds of cardiovascular disease, like what we call extreme distress, things like that and so, we're looking for a molecule that might help in aiding or modulating this channel, specifically to help treat certain cardiovascular disorders," Stephen Johnson said.

The endowed fund is in honor of wife and mother, Caryl Moy. Moy taught at UIS for 21 years.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on June 26, 2019.

Watch the story online.

UIS launches STARS program to help students transition into college life

The University of Illinois Springfield is introducing a summer bridge program to assist students in transitioning into college life.

The program is called the Students Transitioning for Academic Retention and Success - better known as STARS.

The program allows for students to participate in a two-week on-campus living and learning experience. Students will receive training and preparation for testing, study skills as well as several other learning tools.

"A student gets involved with STARS by applying to the university first and then I look at certain requirements. I look at their SAT and SAT scores. Then, based off their old scores and it's voluntary, so I'll call and invite them into the program and if a student accepts their invitation, they're part of the program," said Dara Abina, of UIS.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on June 25, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Monday, June 24, 2019

UIS faculty, students to tackle asylum issues at Texas border

In May 2018, Deborah Anthony spent a week hearing cases at the largest family detention center in the United States.

The women and children mostly from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras told Anthony, an associate professor in the legal studies department at the University of Illinois Springfield working in Dilley, Texas, about 75 miles from the Mexican border, horrific stories of severe domestic violence, rampant gangs who extorted money and family members who “disappeared” in their homelands. 

They had presented themselves to U.S. Border Patrol agents for asylum, but even on this side, Anthony recalled, they endured threats of sexual abuse and violence. They were also called names, kicked and spat upon, they told her.

Anthony sometimes worked 15-hour days, all without pay, and watched colleagues, frazzled by the experience, go to other parts of the facility and break down emotionally. So Anthony did the only logical thing she could do in her mind: she committed to working another week at the facility in August.

This time, Anthony will take another legal studies colleague, assistant professor Anette Sikka, whose background is in immigration law and international human rights.

Six UIS students — Graciela Popoca, Vanesa Salinas and Sonia Hernandez, all of Chicago; Maria Zavala of Carpentersville; Yuli Salgado of Evanston; and Alex Phelps of Washington — are also going on the trip and will serve as English-Spanish interpreters.

The Dilley Pro Bono Project, formerly known as The CARA Project, is a partnership among several agencies.

Attorneys, like Anthony, are helping the women prepare for the initial phase of their asylum application, called the “credible fear interview.” It amounts to, Anthony said, hearing their stories and situations and helping them identify the parts that are going to be relevant to their cases legally.

“In order to get past the issues, we have to learn to discuss the (difficult) issues,” Phelps said. “I want to be able to get out of my comfort zone and confront these issues.”

“You can sit for 1,000 hours in a classroom,” Anthony said,” and not develop the same type of understanding from going there, talking to the people, understanding their experiences and witnessing government procedures: how (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is operating, how the detention center is operating, how the legal aspects of the asylum process work. “We’re a public affairs (institution) and we have a mission of engaged learning and engaged citizenship, and the university has been really great in helping us get this to happen.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 23, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Men's Tennis: Prairie Stars’ Clarke honored by GLVC

University of Illinois Springfield senior Sam Clarke has been named the 2018-19 Great Lakes Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete for men’s tennis.

Clarke, who is from Kendall, England, is the first UIS student-athlete to receive the award.

It is given to one individual in each GLVC sport for their effort in the classroom and athletic competition. 

Clark finished as the Prairie Stars’ career wins leader in the NCAA era with 127. Thirty-seven of them came in singles play the last two seasons, when he won more than 75 percent of his matches.

Clarke finished with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.91, earning a degree in Business Administration. He was a second-team Academic All-American, making him the first male athlete at UIS to earn the honor. Clark also earned four GLVC Academic All-Conference honors and two Brother James Gaffney FSC Distinguished Scholar awards, and he received the GLVC Council of Presidents’ Academic Excellence Award.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 21, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

UIS promotes Copeland to head coach for baseball

University of Illinois Springfield promoted assistant baseball coach Ryan Copeland to the head job Friday.

Copeland, who has been the Prairie Stars pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the past four seasons, replaces Chris Ramirez, who went 199-121 in six seasons and was the Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2018.

Ramirez left to become the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina after the Stars reached the NCAA Division II super regionals for the first time in school history.

"It is a tremendous honor to be named the next head coach at the University of Illinois Springfield," said Copeland in a press release. "Over the last four years, I have seen the remarkable progress that has been made. Our players will continue to be held to the highest standard, not just on the field, but in the classroom and in the community."

This story appeared in the State Journal-Register on June 15, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Women's Soccer: Glenwood grad Graves named assistant at UIS

Kelly Graves, a 2015 Chatham Glenwood High School graduate and three-time Central State Eight Conference girls soccer player of the year, is coming back home.

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s soccer coach, Erin Egolf, announced on Tuesday that UIS had hired Graves as an assistant coach. “I am thrilled to have Kelly join our coaching staff,” Egolf said in a statement. “She comes to UIS with a fantastic playing résumé as well as a proven track record as a top student and dedicated leader. Kelly has great energy, a high level of soccer knowledge and a competitive nature that will lend itself very well to the direction our team is headed."

“She is also very charismatic and relatable, which will resonate with our current players, alumni and future Prairie Stars. Kelly is going to be a huge asset to this program moving forward, and I couldn’t be more excited that she said yes to UIS.”

“I couldn’t be happier to be back in my hometown, especially in the capacity of a collegiate women’s soccer coach,” Graves said in a press release. “UIS is the whole package and I am so humbled to have this opportunity to learn from Erin as her assistant, and impact the lives of many student-athletes. I am so thankful to be here and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 14, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, June 14, 2019

UIS Baseball: UIS finishes 14th in final NCBWA poll

The University of Illinois Springfield was ranked No. 14 in the final National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division II baseball poll.

The Prairie Stars won a regional title and lost to Ashland in the super regional.

UIS finished 41-17-1.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 13, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Men's Basketball: UIS names assistant coaches for men’s basketball

Matt Brock, the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Illinois Springfield, has announced his two assistant coaches for the 2018-19 season.

The new assistants are Pat Sodemann and Nic Reynolds, with Reynolds to serve as a graduate assistant.

Sodemann was a graduate assistant for Brock from 2015-17 at Missouri Baptist University, where the Spartans went 36-27 over those two seasons.

Reynolds, a Peoria Notre Dame High School graduate, has spent the last five years at Columbia College in Missouri.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 7, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS senior pitcher Andrew Dean drafted by San Diego Padres in the 18th round

The top pitcher in University of Illinois Springfield baseball history became the first Prairie Stars player selected in the Major League Baseball draft on Wednesday.

Andrew Dean heard his name called by the San Diego Padres in the 18th round.

Dean went 12-0 this past season and had a 2.77 ERA. He struck outs 118 batters in 91 innings, and opponents hit just .217 off of him. He was the GLVC Pitcher of the Year, and the first Prairie Stars pitcher to earn All-American accolades.

Dean was the first baseball player from the GLVC selected in this year’s baseball draft. He will become the second UIS player to sign with a MLB organization, joining Cole Taylor who signed as a free agent last year with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on June 5, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

New UIS building funded in capital bill re-imagines library

A new $35 million, 50,000-square-foot library learning student success center at the University of Illinois Springfield is included in the $45 billion public works construction program passed by the Illinois legislature over the weekend.

The building will be situated on campus between the Health and Sciences Building and the Student Union, according to UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. The center will replace Brookens Library and will house the Center for Online Learning Research and Service (COLRS), the Center for Academic Success (CAS) and Information Technology Services.

All of those centers are now housed in Brookens Library, the university’s first permanent building, which was completed in 1975 and dedicated the next year.

Koch said Monday that the goal is to have “shovels in the ground” by 2020. “We’re pretty happy,” Koch said Monday. “The need for the building and the things in it has been in conversation for several years. “This is the project we put forward (to the University of Illinois system) as our number one priority.”

Brookens, which Koch once described as “one of my favorite locations on the (UIS) campus,” is being eyed for classroom space in the future for academic programs like management information services.

Much like with the construction of the Student Union, Koch said there will be in-depth conversations involving people who will use and benefit from the new building.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 3, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Joye Williams Endows Scholarship

In January 2019, barely seven months after completing her master’s degree in Legal Studies, Joye Williams created an endowed fund at the University of Illinois in Springfield.

The scholarship is called the Lawrence E. Williams/Dr. Larry Golden Illinois Innocence Project Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship is for individuals who were victims of a wrongful conviction, who have a felony who want to reintegrate into society by furthering their education, and /or who work with the Illinois Innocence Project.

Joye, a Waukekgan resident, works as an Ombudsman in the Public Benefits Practice Group of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago where she helps protect the rights of residents in assisted living and long-term residential care facilities.

Joye says that she was inspirited to create the scholarship because her son who has a felony record, is currently experiencing major difficulties and such a scholarship would benefit other young men and woman like him.

This story appeared in Chicago Peoples Voice in May 2019.

Read the entire article online.

For Charlie Wheeler, 50 years watching what happens in Springfield as a reporter, educator is enough

Charlie Wheeler has forgotten more about the Illinois Legislature than most reporters will ever know — and he hasn’t forgotten much, least of all the time an ill-tempered state senator purposely dumped a bowl of hot soup on him.

Longtime readers of the Chicago Sun-Times might remember Wheeler by his elegant byline, Charles N. Wheeler III, matched by the equally elegant writing style he used to explain the legislative complexities in a way everyone could understand.

More recent readers might know him for his insightful comments, offered from his perch as director of the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where he has helped mold a generation of top young journalists.

Wheeler, 77, is retiring this summer after an amazing 50-year run as a close observer of the Springfield scene — the first 24 years with the Sun-Times, the last 26 running the reporting program. 

More than 700 students have come through the program since it was started in 1972 by the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon between stints in public office. Many former students went on to distinguished careers in newspaper, radio and television newsrooms across the country, creating an accomplished alumni roster I won’t even try to list to avoid leaving somebody out.

The hands-on experience and training under the close supervision of professional journalists have made the PAR program so successful.

When Wheeler joined academia in 1993, the Illinois Senate passed a resolution in his honor. “Throughout the course of his reporting on the General Assembly, one thing you could always say: Charlie reported it accurately because he actually did read the bills, more than what we do sometimes,” former state Sen. Emil Jones of Chicago observed that day. It is indeed one of Wheeler’s golden rules: Read the bill. It seems simple. But you would be amazed how often reporters and lawmakers alike don’t do that in the crunch of a legislative session.

Wheeler says the reporting program he’s leaving will continue. A search for his successor is underway.

This article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 31, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Susan Koch: From Illinois to Myanmar, graduate makes global impact

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 28, 2019.

 A central commitment of the University of Illinois Springfield is to prepare leaders who are capable of transforming their local and global communities. 

UIS graduates fulfill that expectation in myriad ways and across a variety of professions. The infinite possibilities our graduates represent were, as always, front and center as I shook their hands at recent commencement ceremonies. 

But another event on campus this May provided an exceptional example of the fulfillment of that commitment. That event was a special ceremony where UIS alum Matthew Wallace was honored with the University of Illinois Alumni Humanitarian Award

The award recognizes University of Illinois graduates who have made significant contributions to the welfare of humanity and whose outstanding leadership and service has enriched the lives of others. 

Matthew is a 2006 graduate – a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program who earned a degree in political studies and then a master’s degree from the prestigious Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. 

Matthew and his wife, Heather, who met while attending UIS, live in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), where he helped found and serves as managing director of Opportunities NOW (, an entrepreneurship development program that seeks to reduce poverty by providing young people with financial literacy, entrepreneurship training, mentoring and access to financial capital to support sustainable small businesses. 

Myanmar is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia – a country of more than 50 million people, 45 percent of whom are younger than 25. 

Since 2012, the enterprise has trained more than 700 youth and helped more than 400 launch their own businesses. “Our entrepreneurs earn more money and create jobs that weren’t there before,” Matthew explains, “but the main benefit is empowering young women to develop agency in their own lives – the ability to make decisions that can positively influence the direction of their lives and the lives of others around them.” 

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS bows out to Ashland in NCAA Division II Super-Regional

Ashland University’s Sam Hawley scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Eagles defeated the University of Illinois Springfield 8-7 Saturday in Game 3 of the best-of-three series at the NCAA Division II Midwest Super-Regional baseball tournament at Donges Field.

UIS, the No. 2 seed, and playing in its first super-regional tournament, ended the season 41-17-1.

UIS pitcher R.D. Lutze (1-1) took the loss.

The back-and-forth game had five different lead changes. UIS trailed 7-6 and then tied the game when Nick Mayerhofer singled in Brandon Bannon with one out in the top-half of the seventh. Bannon went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, and teammates Zach Speaker and Chris Mathieu both doubled and had two hits apiece.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 25, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

DCFS simulation gives inside look at challenges investigators face

Imagine knocking on a door of parents accused of abusing their children and asking them tough questions. This is what investigators do on a daily basis.

"It can be a very draining job, mentally, emotionally and physically,” said Susan Evans, executive director of Child Protection Training Academy.

One of the jobs that the Department of Children and Family Services is tasked with is making sure children are safe. In order to do this job, DCFS investigators have to enter the homes of people accused of horrible crimes.

Reporter Ana Espinosa was given the opportunity to participate in the training that DCFS investigators must complete.

UIS instructors and former investigators are monitoring every moment from another room while actors recreate the fear and anxiety of losing their children. Usually, an investigator is alone with parents that can be influenced by drugs or alcohol because these investigators can’t call ahead and let families know they are going to be there. An investigator must ask parents difficult and personal questions about allegations of abuse or neglect.

"We want to err on the side of the child,” Evans said. “We want to keep children safe. But, it is inherently complex and it’s something that is very difficult to describe unless you have experienced it."

Before ever walking into the training, Espinosa spent hours reading policies and procedures just like investigators-in-training. "You can study the laws and procedures that you have been doing but then to put them into practice professionally but with intention,” Evans said. “You know, that’s why we do simulation." But there are no step-by-step instructions on how to act in these situations.

More than 600 DCFS investigators have been through this training.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on May 20, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Monday, May 20, 2019

UIS overpowers Drury en route to first NCAA baseball regional title

Despite being the higher-seeded team and playing in its home city on Saturday, the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team was the visitor on the scoreboard at Robin Roberts Stadium.

So the Prairie Stars made the most of their first cuts, belting two home runs and giving starting pitcher Brock Immke a 3-0 cushion going into the bottom of the first.

Immke held Drury scoreless through the first four innings as UIS went on to take a 11-5 win for its first NCAA Division II Regional championship.

“That’s the positive thing about being (visitors),” said Immke, a redshirt senior who came back from Tommy John surgery two years ago. “You can go out there and score first and get a little of the anxiety taken care of, take the edge off of a championship game. Three runs in the first inning makes everyone feel loose and more relaxed.”

Chris Monroe and Zach Speaker hit back-to-back homers in the first, with Monroe’s a two-run shot.

UIS coach Chris Ramirez said this year’s team had a tough act to follow after last year’s record-setting 47-9 finish. But the 2018 Prairie Stars fell short of advancing from regional play.

“Early on, you couldn’t do anything but compare us to last year’s team,” Ramirez said. “But for this year’s team to fall out of the rankings and then get back in, it says a lot about them. “We deserve to be where we’re at now. I’m happy for our guys. they deserve it.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 18, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Springfield High alum Tyler Pence named UIS cross country, track coach

Former Springfield High School runner and University of Southern Indiana standout Tyler Pence was named Wednesday the head coach for the University of Illinois Springfield’s men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams.

Pence, who has been the assistant coach for the program for the last three years, replaces Scott Slade, who left after one year to fulfill other commitments.

“To become a head coach in my hometown, a city that I love and a sport that I’m incredibly passionate about, has always been a dream of mine,” Pence said in a statement. “I have a great group of athletes who are team oriented and extremely motivated. This program in ready to take another step in the right direction. We will be bringing championships back to Springfield very soon.”

Pence is still a competitive runner and has qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 15, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Women's Golf: UIS’ Jennifer Queller opens NCAA tourney with 81

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Jennifer Queller shot an 8-over-par 81 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championships on Tuesday at PGA National.

Queller, a sophomore from Corona, California, is tied for 57th place in the 95-player field. She had one birdie and 10 pars Tuesday, with a 39 on the front nine and a 42 on the back.

Queller, the first UIS woman golfer to reach Division II nationals, will tee off at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday on the No. 10 tee.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 14, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

U of I-led innovation network to expand from six to 15 statewide hubs

The Illinois Innovation Network, a group of hubs across the state aiming to drive economic development through research and innovation, will expand from six to 15 sites and encompass all of the state’s four-year public universities.

The new hubs will be located at Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Rockford (on the U of I at Chicago College of Medicine regional campus), Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Western Illinois University.

The network launched in August 2018 with hubs at U of I’s three campuses and the flagship Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago. Two additional hubs were later announced for Northern Illinois University and Peoria, which is home to a U of I regional medical campus.

Stakeholders say the goal of each hub is to grow the economy of its region through research and innovation tied to the academic strengths of the host university.

“These new hubs fulfill the guiding vision of the Illinois Innovation Network, spreading the power of innovation to every corner of our state through partnerships with every one of our state’s public universities and other important regional partners,” said U of I President Tim Killeen. “The growing network will bring together the very best minds to address our most pressing challenges, forging breakthrough solutions that will drive new waves of progress and prosperity for all of Illinois and beyond.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 14, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball to host NCAA regional again despite loss

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team came up just a run shy of the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament championship Sunday.

The Stars did get a consolation prize later in the night, though. UIS earned the No. 2 seed and for the second straight year home field advantage in the NCAA Division II double-elimination regional tournament, which will be hosted at Robin Roberts Stadium starting Thursday through Saturday.

UIS will start the first round against No. 7 Drury.

UIS made its first NCAA tournament appearance last season, losing a game shy of the regional championship round at Robin Roberts Stadium.

This story was published in The State Journal-Register on May 12, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Innovate Springfield offers update on impact

Stakeholders in the Illinois Innovation Network and Innovate Springfield spoke before the Springfield Citizen’s Club Friday morning, offering an update on the progress of the statewide network and, specifically, the Springfield hub.

In August 2018, the University of Illinois Springfield acquired Innovate Springfield. Soon after, the university was awarded the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, a University of Illinois system-led initiative meant to foster economic growth through research and innovation by connecting satellite hubs spread across the state with the flagship Discovery Partners Institute, a research institute to be based in Chicago.

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity. It’s a big idea, a real big idea,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “And if we can pull this off, it’s going to harness the intellectual talent of the entire University of Illinois to focus economic and social development across the state, including here in the state capital.”

Officials did share some statistics regarding the incubator’s economic impact in 2018.

Innovate Springfield’s 65 members collectively created 31 full-time and 21 part-time jobs. They also generated $1.9 million in gross revenue and raised $1.2 million in angel investment.

Officials said they hoped to have support from the community, which they say is necessary to make the hub a success. “This really is about having a community mindset focused on innovation,” said Katie Davison, Innovate Springfield’s executive director.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 11, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Hundreds receive diplomas at UIS commencement ceremonies

The University of Illinois Springfield held its graduation ceremonies on Saturday.

The 48th annual UIS commencement took place at the BOS Center in downtown Springfield. 745 students participated in the two ceremonies.

Graduates say the ceremony was bittersweet. "I've been working on my degree for a very long time so I'm very excited to be here, I really enjoyed my time at UIS," said Psychology major Natalie Hall. "I'm just really sad to be leaving, but I'm really excited to be starting my next chapter of my life."

UIS presented an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to former Springfield mayor Karen Hasara. It was in appreciation of her inspirational leadership in public service and contributions to the community and the University of Illinois.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on May 11, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Men's Baseball: Dean named GLVC Pitcher of the Year

University of Illinois Springfield senior Andrew Dean was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday.

Dean led the conference in wins with a 9-0 record. He finished the regular season with a 2.75 ERA.

Dean recorded 95 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched, walking 20 batters and giving up just one home run.

Opponents batted .217 this season off Dean, who was also a first-team GLVC member last season. 

Six other players from UIS were named to the all-GLVC team. Chris Monroe and Justin Revels made the first team, while Brandon Bannon, Ruben Markham, John Sechen and Zach Speaker were named to the second team.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 8, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Illinois House speaker gives student journalists rare access

House Speaker Michael Madigan doesn't make a lot of media appearances, but Monday morning, he talked with student journalists who are covering the Statehouse in a graduate school program.

In his visit with the Public Affairs Reporting program class at the University of Illinois-Springfield, Madigan, D-Chicago, said legislative committees in control of budget appropriations have taken Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed levels of spending in next year's budget and "ratcheted them down" in case measures supporting that spending do not pass.

Those supporting measures include legalizing recreational marijuana and sports betting, which Madigan said he's "hopeful" will pass but are "not guaranteed today," although Pritzker is relying on them for more than $400 million in new revenue.

Long-awaited language for a marijuana bill was released Saturday. Madigan said that although he was not yet familiar with it, he does know "there are some very controversial aspects to the proposal," including the expungement of criminal records and other provisions requested by caucuses representing minority interests.

On the other hand, Madigan said, passing sports betting will require the cooperation of many interests, including gaming CEOs, racetracks, video poker representatives and more. "It's always been very contentious," he said. "It's no different this time than any prior legislative session."

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 7, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Softball: UIS softball punches ticket to NCAA Division II tournament

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team had to cope with some uncertainty and nerves as the NCAA Division II bracket was being unveiled.

“You never want to leave it in the hands of the committee,” UIS coach Shannon Guthrie said. “I think that’s always a scary thing. We felt we had won some big games and we also probably lost some games that didn’t help our cause. But I think winning the first round of the GLVC tournament was really big to at least get one win in there.”

It was enough.

The Prairie Stars (27-24) earned their second straight NCAA Division II tournament berth Monday after reaching the Sweet 16 last season. It will be their third tournament appearance in program history.

The Stars, seeded No. 7, will play a familiar opponent in the double-elimination tournament. UIS drew No. 2-seeded host University of Missouri St. Louis in the NCAA opener Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 6, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Basketball: UIS hires Casey Thousand as new women’s basketball coach

Casey Thousand firmly believes that things happen for a reason.

After running into University of Illinois Springfield athletic director Jim Sarra as an assistant coach at Northern Michigan during the Wildcats’ NCAA Division II women’s basketball tournament appearance in March, Thousand will now take over the top job for the Prairie Stars.

UIS announced Thousand as the new women’s basketball coach Monday.

It comes more than two weeks after the Stars hired Matt Brock as the men’s basketball coach.

Thousand replaces Mark Kost after he resigned and went 38-66 in four years at UIS, which will formally introduce Thousand at The Recreation and Athletic Center on Tuesday, May 14 at noon.

“It was the next step,” Thousand said. “I didn’t know when it was going to happen or where it was going to happen, but it definitely was the next step in my professional career and I guess when I met Jim, I believe things happen for a reason. Everything kind of came together and I came down to campus (last week) and I just really enjoyed it. I felt like this is where I need to go next and what I need to do.”

 The 37-year-old Barneveld, Wisconsin-native assisted the NCAA Division II Wildcats the past three seasons on the far Upper Peninsula town of Marquette, Michigan. She joined head coach Troy Mattson’s staff after seven years as the head coach at Division III Edgewood College, located not far from her old home in Madison, Wisconsin.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 6, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Women's Golf: UIS finishes first NCAA round in fifth place

Maria Espinosa and Jennifer Queller each shot 4-over-par 76 to lead the University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team in the NCAA Division II East Regional on Monday.

The five Prairie Stars golfers combined for a first round team score of 312, which put UIS in fifth place with two rounds remaining.

The top-four teams advance to the NCAA D-II national championship tournament later this month.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 6, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

UIS sorority hosts "Future is Female" event

"Ladies, you can do it!" - That's the message from the University of Illinois Springfield's Tri Sigma Sorority. 

A total of 300 girls from District 186 were taught about how to land their dream job Friday.

"The Future is Female" event was all about taking the right steps to achieve a career, even in male-dominated fields.

Those behind the event said for females that don't always know how to get to where they want to go, this event can help give them the motivation they need.

"We don't really know how to get to the top. Sometimes, we tear each other down and that's not how it should be. It should all be about empowering each other to make yourself the best you can be,"
Darlene Steinkamp, UIS senior nursing student, said.

Girls also learned about their health and financial literacy.

This story appeared on Fox 55 on April 26, 2019. 

Watch the story online.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Women's Golf: UIS women’s golf earns NCAA Division II regional berth

For a fourth straight season, the University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team has qualified for the NCAA Division II regionals.

The Prairie Stars are seeded eighth in the 12-team East Regional, which will be played May 6-8 in Owensboro, Kentucky at The Pearl Club.

The top-four teams, as well as the top-four individuals not on qualifying teams, will advance to the NCAA D-II National Championships May 14-18.

UIS placed third over the weekend in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships at Panther Creek Country Club. In the previous three regional appearances, the Prairie Stars have finished fifth, sixth and 11th.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 29, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Women's Softball: UIS softball clinches fifth seed in GLVC tourney

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team wrapped up its regular season with a Great Lakes Valley Conference sweep over William Jewell College on Sunday, defeating the Cardinals.

UIS scored two runs out of the gate in Game 1 while Jaycee Craver and Addison Bryant shut down host William Jewell the rest of the way.

Craver earned the win, going four winnings and allowing five hits. Bryant gave up three hits and one run in three innings. Morgan Edwards homered for the Stars and had two RBIs.

UIS will commence the GLVC tournament at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria this Thursday at 10 a.m. against No. 4 Maryville.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 28, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball picks up 13th straight win to keep pace in GLVC race

University of Illinois Springfield starting pitcher Justin Revels had never been ejected in his career. 

That is until Senior Day of all games.

It will make a fun story to tell for days to come after Revels and the Stars overcame a series of contentious calls in their 3-2 Great Lakes Valley Conference victory over University of Indianapolis on a brisk Sunday afternoon at UIS Baseball Field.

“That’s definitely something I won’t ever forget,” Revels said of the regular season home finale. “Good thing it happened later in the game in the seventh inning. I knew my team was going to have my back. “I pitch with a lot of emotion as you can see and out of all of the things I’ve done on the mound, I’ve actually never been tossed. It’s kind of crazy. It’s a first for everything.”

Revels, who was a National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II pre-season All-American, fanned eight and gave up just one run and five hits.

"He’s as competitive of a player as I’ve ever coached and you saw that today,” UIS coach Chris Ramirez said of Revels. “He’s out there fighting every pitch, competing. The emotions probably got the best of him at the end and he got ejected, which was unfortunate. But then we went to Nick Alvarado at the end for a two-inning save. “That’s a big win against a good team and we’re getting to the end of the season. It felt like a playoff game and we’re starting to get that environment and it’s starting to feel like postseason, so it makes it fun.”

The Stars earned their first NCAA Division II tournament appearance after putting together a 29-game winning streak towards the end of the regular season in 2018.

“The Stars are definitely hot right now,” said Revels, who has a 2.88 ERA. “I think as a whole, we’re coming together really well. No one’s getting down on someone else doing bad. Everyone’s picking each other up and we’re making plays in the field and we’re hitting and scoring a lot of runs.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 28, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UIS students clean up litter at Springfield Lake Marina

You might think the ocean is littered with garbage, but small waterways are too.

Environmental students from the University of Illinois Springfield picked up litter from the Springfield Lake Marina Tuesday.

Not only are they cleaning garbage from the lake, but researching just how much Illinois water is polluted.

"We've moved past the element of surprise and now we're just trying to see what steps we can do to encourage the community to clean up litter and prevent it from getting here in the first place," Ann-Marie Hanson, an environmental studies professor, said.

The students will now sort all the garbage they find, count it and weigh it.

This story aired on Fox 55 News on April 23, 2019.

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Men's Baseball: UIS wins 10th straight with doubleheader sweep over UMSL

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team extended its winning streak to a season-best 10 games on Tuesday.

The Prairie Stars swept a doubleheader at the UIS Baseball Field over Missouri-St. Louis by scores of 12-0 and 4-3.

One of the nation’s leaders in runs score, John Sechen, set the tone early in both games.

In the opener, he hit a leadoff homer in the first which sparked the team to grabbing a dominant 11-0 lead after three innings. In the second game, he scored twice in the first two innings as UIS took an early 4-1 lead.

That proved to be just enough as the Prairie Stars held off a late Missouri-St. Louis rally.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 23, 2019.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Men's Golf: Daniel Miller leads UIS men’s golf team to 6th place at GLVC Championships

University of Illinois Springfield’s Daniel Miller manufactured five birdies Monday to wrap up the Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Championship at Panther Creek Country Club in a tie for 17th place at 6-over par.

He finished the final round 2-under 70 after going 1-over 73 and 7-over 79 in the first two rounds. 

Miller’s 6-over total paced the UIS men’s golf team, which shot a 298 in the last round to take sixth place.

The Prairie Stars, however, missed the final spot to reach the four-team semifinals Tuesday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 22, 2019.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Susan Koch: A pathway to opportunity for this year’s graduates

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 20, 2019.

Today’s UIS Perspectives column appears with finals week fast approaching, students completing end-of-semester assignments and, by last count, 1,273 students eligible to participate in the 48th University of Illinois Springfield commencement ceremonies in a few weeks. 

This will be my eighth UIS commencement and, like every faculty and staff member, I’m proud of our graduates — each of whom has worked with great determination to earn their University of Illinois degree. 

There is no greater satisfaction for me, as Chancellor, than meeting students the fall of their first semester, observing the transformative experience that UIS provides and ultimately sharing with them that special “handshake moment” on the commencement stage. 

This year, Tiffany Wentworth and I will share one of those moments — with her entire family, including her beloved grandmother, proudly witnessing her achievement. A soon-to-be graduate of the Capital Scholars Honors Program and a member of the Prairie Stars volleyball team, Wentworth has had a memorable four years at UIS. 

“When I visited campus, Coach Salinas told me I could be an impact player,” says Wentworth. “Now, a few years later, my teammates have become my family away from home and winning the conference championship this year was the ‘cherry on top’ for me.” 

Wentworth is graduating with honors as one of the first students to complete the new Exercise Science major. She has been accepted to the prestigious University of Kansas Physical Therapy and Rehabilitative Science program where she will pursue her doctorate in Physical Therapy. 

Eric Myers has followed a less traditional path. After earning bachelors and masters degrees in business and working in the health care sector, Myers realized he really wanted to be a teacher.

“I did some research, and the UIS teacher certification program appealed to me,” says Myers, “in part, because it offers an online option that would enable me to continue working and remain close to my family.” Myers is completing his student teaching this spring at Richwoods High School in Peoria and has already accepted a teaching position for next fall at Morton High School in Morton.

“I’m so excited about this new direction,” says Myers. “I learned to ‘think outside the box’ from UIS professors like Jennifer Martin, and my new employer is looking for exactly that.” 

Eight 2019 Commencement participants will be graduating with the doctorate in Public Administration. One of them is Sophia Gehlhausen-Anderson

“My mom has always been a huge inspiration to me,” says Gehlhausen-Anderson. “She is from Finland and she always loved to study — earning four masters degrees.” “Balancing work with family and my studies has been the biggest challenge,” Gehlhausen-Anderson continues. “I really appreciated the cohort model in the doctoral program. Members of my class got to know each other well and, with guidance from wonderful faculty, we all learned from everybody. I learned so much.”

The vision statement for the University of Illinois Springfield declares UIS will provide a “pathway to opportunity.” I’m confident we have fulfilled that promise for Wentworth, Myers, Podipireddy, Gehlhausen-Anderson and all the others who will participate in the 2019 commencement ceremonies.   

Read the entire article online.

UIS graduate students raise funds to help veterans

Graduate students at the University of Illinois Springfield are fulfilling their semester assignment of engaging with the community in part by organizing a fundraising campaign to help veterans.

Students in the Social Justice and Advocacy class in the Human Development Counseling graduate program at UIS were given an assignment this semester to engage in the community.

One group of students in the class is raising money to donate to Joe Blankenship of Springfield, who is a certified dog trainer who trains service dogs for veterans for free.

 “Students within the class, I leave it very open for them, for the most part, to identify an issue that they’re interested in and to create and carry through an advocacy project,” said Holly Thompson, associate professor of human development counseling, who specializes in and co-coordinates the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Area.

“One group of students in my class this semester have identified, of course, the issue of serving veterans, especially with support and service animals as their topic of interest. In the organizing of this, they’ve done a wonderful job.”

The student group raising money for Blankenship had planned a Counselors with Tails 5k fun color run for Saturday, May 4, but had to cancel the event due to lack of registrants.

As of Friday morning, seven tickets were sold for the 5K, said Megan Finch, a member of the student group organizing the event. “We just haven’t had enough ticket sales in order to continue. We were trying to get 150, and we weren’t able to reach that goal,” said Finch, 29, who is in her last year of graduate studies and is currently interning with Helping Hands of Springfield, which serves the homeless.

“We’re already raising some funds on Facebook, and we’re accepting donations from people who have expressed interest in what we’re doing, so we’re still going to be making a donation to him. It just won’t be through the fundraising event. It’ll just be whatever we can raise on our own for him.”

The deadline for donating to benefit Blankenship is Saturday, May 4.

This story was published in The State Journal-Register on April 19, 2019.

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UIS hosts annual STARS symposium

The University of Illinois Springfield hosted its annual STARS symposium to celebrate the scholarly and creative works of its students.

This is the eighth year that the symposium has taken place.

The event featured the works of over 75 graduate and undergraduate students from all academic disciplines.

Displays ranged from results from students' year-long research, artwork by visual art students and even live music from student musicians.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 19, 2019.

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Women's Softball: Craver sets UIS career strikeout record

Jaycee Craver made more UIS history on Friday afternoon, as she became the University of Illinois Springfield softball program’s strikeout queen.

Craver threw a shutout in the second game of the doubleheader, helping the Prairie Stars split with Lewis.

Craver tied the career strikeout record in the first inning, and then recorded her 360th career strikeout to end the second. She passed former teammate Ali Haesele who broke the record last season.

Craver would add three more strikeouts in her start. She pitched five innings in the 8-0 run-shortened game, and allowed two hits, one walk, and one hit-by-pitch.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 19, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball wins in extra innings

Chris Monroe singled in John Sechen with the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning and the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team added two more runs to record a 9-6 baseball win on Wednesday over Missouri-St. Louis.

Sechen started the 11th with a walk and reached second on a passed ball. He went to third on a sacrifice bunt before Monroe drove him home. Sechen scored two runs and Zach Speaker went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Brandon Bannon had a solo home run for UIS, which improved to 25-11-1.

The Prairie Stars led 6-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Missouri St. Louis tied the game to send it to extra innings. Brayden Jensen pitched two innings for the win and Trent Sidwell closed out the 11th to earn the save.

UIS used nine pitchers and posted 16 strikeouts.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 17, 2019.

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STARS Symposium: Alchemist Review launch

The University of Illinois Springfield presents the 8th annual Student Technology, Arts and Research Symposium (STARS).

UIS undergraduate and graduate students will showcase their research and creative activities through short talks, poster presentations, art exhibitions, and musical and theatrical performances throughout the three-day event to be held at the UIS campus.

The symposium gives the community a chance to learn about the variety of work being done by students and gives businesses the opportunity to network with potential new talent.

STARS will host the launch of The Alchemist Review. The Alchemist Review is a journal of literary fiction, poetry and visual arts dedicated to publishing dynamic works by emerging writers and artists in the university community. It provides a forum for collaboration and exploration within the ever-evolving world of literary publishing, and is edited by undergraduate and graduate students at the university.

This story appeared in the Illinois Times on April 18, 2019.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

University of Illinois Springfield tabs Matt Brock as men's basketball coach

After building Missouri Baptist into a force to be reckoned with in the NAIA the past four seasons, Matt Brock will try to do the same at the NCAA Division II level.

Brock was announced as the University of Illinois Springfield's men's basketball coach Monday afternoon.

He accrued an 87-40 record over four years at Missouri Baptist starting in 2015 and finished this past season 28-5 while winning the American Midwest Conference regular season title and reaching the NAIA tournament for the first time in 14 years.

The Spartans also set school records for wins and achieved the highest national ranking in program history, getting as high as No. 3 in the country.

"When I talked to people about the job opening at UIS, Matt Brock was the one name that kept coming up," UIS athletic director Jim Sarra said in a press release. "In order to win a championship in the GLVC, you have to have one of the top defenses in the league, and Matt has a proven track record in building great defenses. He has also built his program with players with high academic achievements and good character in the community. I am excited to welcome Matt and his family to the Prairie Stars family."

This story appeared in The Pantagraph on April 15, 2019.

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UIS Announces 2019-2020 Broadway Series; THE COLOR PURPLE, WAITRESS, and More

The University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center announces their 2019-2020 Madden Broadway Series.

This series features 5 national touring productions that are new to the Sangamon Auditorium stage. 

Long-time Broadway series subscriber Mrs. Peggy Madden of Decatur, Illinois, is this year's title sponsor. "It is a pleasure to support Broadway programming in our region," said Mrs. Madden, adding, "I am especially thrilled that UIS continues to look for ways to keep ticket prices affordable, including adding a $24 ticket option this year, considering how expensive these same shows are in New York these days."

UIS Performing Arts Center Director Bryan Rives pointed out that the lower ticket price option was made possible due to the financial generosity of Mrs. Madden.

She is truly a great supporter of ours. Our overall costs continue to rise, but her personal support is the reason we are able to offer these lower ticket price options. A five-show subscription option for only $70 total is unheard of elsewhere. But Peggy made it all possible."

Beautiful - The Carol King Musical - Friday, October 18, 2019, 7:30 PM
Waitress - Friday, February 14, 2020, 8:00 PM
The Choir of Man - Wednesday, March 4, 2020, 7:30 PM
The Color Purple - Friday, April 10, 2020, 8:00 PM
The Play That Goes Wrong - Thursday, May 7, 2020, 7:30 PM

This story appeared on on April 15, 2019.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Men's Baseball: Trio leads UIS past Bearcats

John Sechen, Chris Monroe and Brandon Bannon combined to drive in seven runs to carry the University of Illinois Springfield past McKendree 10-0 in a matchup of in-state Great Lakes Valley Conference rivals.

Sechen and Monroe each homered for the Prairie Stars.

UIS scored four runs in the third inning and capped off the game with six runs in the seventh and final inning.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 12, 2019.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Roscoe student to present at national conference

University of Illinois Springfield student Madelyn Minnick of Roscoe will present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research on April 11-13 at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Minnick is one of five U of I Springfield students to present at the conference.

Students submitted abstracts and were selected in a competitive process by the UIS Undergraduate Research Steering Committee.

The students represent multiple programs and colleges.

Approximately 4,000 students from around the country will present their research and creative activities.

This story appeared in The Rockford Register Star on April 9, 2019.

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