Monday, November 18, 2019

Women's Volleyball: Borum sets digs record in UIS win

Jailyn Borum broke the school record for digs and the University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team swept William Jewell on Friday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match.

Borum finished with 29 digs, snapping the record with a dig in the third set. She now has 1,791 career digs.

UIS graduate Kayla Katarzynski held the previous team record of 1,790 from 2013-16.

UIS had four players finish with 10 or more kills. Brianna Bush, Rachel Cobert, Kenzie Hendon and Alli Splitt.

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

Read the entire article online.

Susan Koch: Lincoln Academy Student Laureates lead into the future

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 November 16, 2019. 

Many Illinois residents are familiar with the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, a nonprofit organization created more than 50 years ago to honor distinguished Illinoisans. Since its founding, the Academy has recognized over 300 sons and daughters of Illinois, including a number of Springfield citizens, with the prestigious “Order of Lincoln.”

An equally important recognition bestowed by the Academy is the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement award - presented each year to one outstanding graduating senior from each four-year college, university and community college in the state.

According to Julie Kellner, Executive Director of the Lincoln Academy and a UIS graduate, the Student Laureate award is “a way for the State of Illinois to recognize outstanding student achievement, civic engagement and leadership.”

As Chancellor of UIS and an Academic Trustee of the Lincoln Academy, it is my honor each year to select one UIS student for this prestigious recognition. I’m delighted to announce that, just yesterday in a ceremony at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, UIS senior Melissa Van received the 2019 Student Laureate award, which includes presentation of the Lincoln Medal, a Certificate of Merit and a monetary award.

A member of the Capital Scholars Honors program at UIS, Van is from Lincoln and will be graduating this year with a major in business and minor in management.

“I am a first generation Vietnamese-American,” says Van. “My parents emigrated from Vietnam and have always been role models for me. They started from the bottom and worked hard to make a better life for me and my younger sisters.

Read the entire column online.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

University Of Illinois Springfield To Waive Application Fees

The University of Illinois Springfield is waiving application fees for prospective students — including incoming freshmen, transfer, graduate, online and international students.

“As part of our vision to ‘be a pathway to opportunity,’ removing the application fee as a barrier to embarking on a college career, finishing one or enhancing career prospects through graduate certificates or degrees is part of the DNA of our campus community,” said Natalie Herring, associate provost for enrollment management.

The waiver will save students $50 to $75. The school will host Preview

This story appeared in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier on November 13, 2019.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Cross Country: Jones, Christy headed to national meet

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore Blake Jones earned an at-large spot in the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships on Saturday, Nov. 23 in Sacramento, Calif.

The Lincoln High School graduate finished eighth place last week in the Midwest Region Championships Meet with a time of 31:42.3 in the men’s 10,000-meter race, which was a program record.

He joins fellow sophomore Taryn Christy, who won an automatic berth on the women’s side last week by taking fifth place at the regional meet with a school record time of 21:09.9 on the 6,000-meter course.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 11, 2019.

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Martinez: Veterans need to ‘find their voice’

J.R. Martinez was just 19 years old when he joined the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq. He was there less than two months when the Humvee he was driving ran over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), leaving him with burns over 40 percent of body.

“There was definitely a period,” said Martinez, an interview with The State Journal-Register prior to a Veterans Day talk at the University of Illinois Springfield Student Union on Monday, “where I felt and thought (that this is over for me). There wasn’t necessarily anything else for me to hold onto. “There was no face, there was no example of someone who had overcome (something like this), at least as I was able to see.”

It wasn’t until his mother, Maria Zavala — with whom he would watch Mexican telenovelas and proclaim to her that he would star in such shows — “laid into me” that Martinez set about picking up the pieces of his life. “She just said, ‘You have to find a way to be positive, believe something good will happen and have a little bit of faith,’” Martinez recalled. “That stuck with me. It was a small step that led me to where I am today.”

Martinez did, in fact, go on to star in ABC’s “All My Children,” whose character was also a wounded combat veteran. He also teamed up with Karina Smirnoff to win the Mirror Ball Trophy on “Dancing With the Stars.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 11, 2019.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Men's Basketball: Prairie Stars open season with a strong showing

MacArthur’s Keymonta Johnson led the UIS Prairie Stars with a double double to a 20 point win in UIS’ season opener. Johnson’s 19 points and 11 boards powered the Prairie Stars to a 91-71 victory over Ohio Valley on Friday night.

Head coach Matt Brock picked up win #1 after taking over the program last spring. Matt Wendling (Athens) scored 13 points in his UIS debut after redshirting last season.

This story aired on on November 8, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer secures postseason berth

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team clinched a spot in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament with Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Drury at Kiwanis Stadium on Sunday. 

Freshman midfielder Drew Keller, of Jacksonville High School, scored his fourth goal of the season off an assist from Thiago Fernandes halfway through the first half. Goalkeeper Pijus Petkevicius preserved the shutout with two saves.

UIS, which is on a four-game winning streak, took 12 shots while Drury had eight. The Stars (9-7-2 overall, 7-6-2 in the GLVC) earned the No. 6 seed.

This article was published in The State Journal-Register on November 3, 2019.

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UIS accepting donations of professional clothing for student interviews

The University of Illinois Springfield Career Development Center is asking Springfield-area residents for help.

The center is accepting donations of clean, new or gently-used, ready-to-wear professional clothing for students.

Donations can be dropped off at the UIS Career Development Center on November 11th through the 15th, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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

Watch the story online.

UIS picks up non-conference win over Parkside

The University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team defeated Parkside in a non-conference match on Tuesday night at TRAC.

The Prairie Stars won by scores of 25-18, 22-25, 25-13, and 25-21.

UIS improves to 17-11 on the season.

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

Watch the story online.

Monday, November 4, 2019

UIS students collect 15,779 pounds of food

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield collected 15,779 pounds of food on Halloween night that will be used to help those in need.

Most of the food - 14,779 pounds - will be donated to the Central Illinois Foodbank, while 1,000 pounds will go to the UIS Cares Food Pantry located on the campus to help university students. 

Children from the UIS Cox Children’s Center also participated by trick-or-treating on campus for canned good. They collected 1,000 pounds of food, which is what will go to the UIS Cares Food Pantry.

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

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Friday, November 1, 2019

UIS students trick-or-treating for canned goods

Students at University of Illinois Springfield went trick-or-treating this Halloween to collect canned goods.

The donations were for the Central Illinois Foodbank.

Over 200 UIS students participated in the event and split up into 11 teams. The students hoped to collect over 18,000 pounds of food.

"Having the students especially interact with the Springfield community is really important and than have the community get involved in knowing the bigger mission of helping their bigger community itself," said Abbie Varbel, the co-captain of the CSF trick-or-treat for canned goods team.

Prizes were awarded to the teams that collected the most food.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 31, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Army vet, ‘DWTS’ winner J.R. Martinez to speak at UIS

A University of Illinois Springfield spokesman said the school has been trying to “up its game” regarding its Veterans Day events.

Wounded U.S. Army veteran J.R. Martinez, who has carved out a career as an actor, author and speaker, will speak at a public event at the UIS Student Union Ballroom at 6 p.m. on Nov. 11.

Earlier that day, there will be a flag-raising ceremony in front of the Public Affairs Center.

Martinez’s message, said Mark Dochterman, assistant vice chancellor for student engagement, will focus on overcoming adversity and facing life’s challenges. “That’s a message that certainly applies to our student veterans,” Dochterman said, adding that UIS has 275 “military-connected” students and about 50 faculty and staff members who are veterans.

In 2003, Martinez, then 19 years old, was providing an escort to a convoy in Karbala, Iraq, when his Humvee ran over a roadside bomb. Martinez was trapped inside the vehicle when it was engulfed in flames. He sustained burns over 34 percent of his body as well as smoke inhalation.

His story is recounted in the 2012 memoir “Full of My Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit.”

At the Veterans Day event, Dochterman said, a new UIS Veterans Emergency Grant will be launched. It will help student veterans cover bills, food, medical expenses and travel in emergency situations.

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

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball: Nicolaisen, Prairie Stars make quick work on the road

University of Illinois Springfield beat Purdue Northwest 25-16, 25-11, 25-8 in a nonconferenc match on Tuesday.

Hannah Nicolaisen led UIS with 10 kills and had two digs. Jailyn Borum led the Prairie Stars with 15 digs. Rachel Cobert added 12 digs and three blocks, while Becca Blakely had 28 assists. Alli Splitt had eight kills and a .467 hitting percentage.

UIS is 15-10 and will travel to Lebanon on Friday to face in-state GLVC conference rival McKendree.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Women's Volleyball: Stars sweep Lindenwood in straight sets

Jailyn Borum had 13 digs and 10 kills for the University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team in a Great Lakes Valley Conference sweep over Lindenwood, 25-12, 25-21, 25-18 at The Recreation and Athletic Complex on Friday.

UIS had a .284 hitting percentage while holding the Lions to just .043. Alli Splitt led the Stars with 12 kills. Jenny Rush had 12 digs, and Brianna Bush had three blocks to help UIS improve to 14-9 overall and 5-3 in the GLVC.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 26, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer climbs back to .500

Javier Milla and Daniel Kemp delivered a couple of early goals and the University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team defeated Rockhurst 2-1 at Bourke Field on Sunday.

Milla scored on a free kick during the 6th minute while Kemp converted on passes from Thiago Fernandes and Mario Falsone in the 18th minute.

UIS goalkeeper Pijus Petkevicius had two saves and gave up the only goal with about 12 minutes left in regulation.

The Stars improved to 7-7-2 overall and 5-6-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 27, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A block away, Child Advocacy Center gets new home

Years ago, Betsy Goulet stood in a courtroom with her husband, Joe, as advocates trying to deal with a small child who had been sexually abused. As they were trying to get the child ready to testify, the girl crawled under the prosecutor’s table, curled up and wouldn’t come out, Goulet recalled. “We used every skill we had, which, at the time, wasn’t much,” Goulet said. “We didn’t have a clue whether she would be able to testify to what happened to her.”

Goulet said she thinks about the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center when she recalls that little girl. At the time, the center didn’t exist. Goulet was then the rape victim advocate at the Rape Crisis Center in Springfield and her husband, Joseph, was then the sexual assault detective with the Springfield Police Department.

“We were trying to use an adult-centered agency to deal with these kids, and we were making stuff up as we could,” Goulet said. “But the door kept opening and children were coming through because there were no other services for kids.”

That eventually prompted “a nervous phone call” from Goulet to then-Sangamon County State’s Attorney Don Cadagin and led to two years of meetings before the Child Advocacy Center was set up in 1989.

Marking its 30th anniversary, the center held its official opening Thursday at its new location at 1101 E. Monroe St. It was previously located in a building on Monroe Street across the 10th Street railroad tracks from the county complex for 27 years after initially starting out in the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery.

The CAC coordinates the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child sexual abuse cases, but it also deals with children who are physically abused, witnesses to violent crimes, caught up in sex trafficking or were involved in child pornography, said current executive director Denise Johnson

The goal is to sensitize the system to the needs of young victims by reducing the number of interviews they have to go through, limiting the number of professionals with whom a child has contact and expedite the cases through the judicial system.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 24, 2019.

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UIS Alumni Teresa Haley is 2019 First Citizen

The local and state leader of a national civil rights organization is The State Journal-Register’s 2019 First Citizen.

Civil rights leader Teresa Haley, president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the NAACP Illinois State Conference, was named First Citizen during a breakfast presentation Thursday at Erin’s Pavilion at Southwind Park.

The 57th annual First Citizen Award recognizes the unselfish service an individual gives to the community.

Haley’s fight for justice impacts Springfield, the state and beyond. Haley has worked with Springfield School District 186 to ensure fair and equitable treatment for minority students. She is working to have the site of the Springfield 1908 Race Riot designated a National Monument site. Haley, 54, has been involved for more than 25 years with NAACP, which has a vision of ensuring a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.

“The NAACP was founded because of the 1908 Race Riot here in Springfield,” Haley said. “I love my community. I love telling them about the rich history. I love telling them where we’ve been, and I’m excited about telling them where we’re going, so thank you, Springfield. I love you all.”

Haley is an alumni of the University of Illinois Springfield.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 24, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Witter mentors under the dome, in broader Springfield community

During a career that has spanned more than 40 years, lobbyist Randy Witter has come to be known as the “go-to” guy under the Illinois Capitol dome, building a reputation for honesty and integrity among clients and lawmakers while helping shepherd along the next generation through his firm’s internship program.

Though he jokes about how his wife and colleagues younger than him have started to retire, Witter, 70, said the draw of helping people keeps him in the game.

“There have been days where I have left the Capitol and I think, ‘Wow, something that we just did and some law that we’ve been working on will truly make a difference in the lives of a lot of people in Illinois,’”

Witter said, pointing to examples like the initial Illinois Indoor Clean Air Act in the late-80s and clarifying what constitutes a service animal. This desire to help others is reflected outside Witter’s professional life in the time he gives volunteering for a plethora of community organizations and by serving in various capacities at his alma mater, the University of Illinois Springfield.

Witter’s community service includes several roles with the University of Illinois system, including representing UIS on the U of I Alumni Alliance from 2015 to 2019 and chairing the UIS Campus Alumni Advisory Board.

He uses his background as a lobbyist to help with advocacy efforts, most recently participating in U of I’s trip to Washington, D.C.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said she “wholeheartedly support[s]” Witter’s First Citizen nomination, noting that Witter has always answered the call, whether it is a request for help from university administration or “a simple call from a student organization to be a guest speaker.” “As Chancellor, I could not ask for a better community-minded partner to help grow the university’s relationships with the Springfield community,” Koch said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 20, 2019.

Read the full story online.

Indiana exoneree to speak at UIS

An Indiana woman who was convicted in 1996 of murder and arson for allegedly setting a fire that killed her three-year-old, but later had her case overturned, will speak at the University of Illinois Springfield this week.

Kristine Bunch will speak at the UIS Student Ballroom as a guest of the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) at noon on Wednesday. Bunch spent 17 years in prison until her conviction was reversed in 2012.

Two arson investigators concluded that the fire in the trailer had started in two places and that a liquid accelerant had been used to start the fire at both locations. Bunch was ultimately sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 60 years for murder and 50 years for arson. Attorneys from the Center on Wrongful Convictions later discovered that evidence about the fire being intentionally set had been fabricated.

The IIP has played a significant role in 12 exonerations since its founding as the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the university in 2001.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 20, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Illinois State Police changes education requirements for applicants

Right now, the Illinois State Police is changing its policies to draw in more potential new hires. 

Starting next year, you will no longer need a bachelor's degree to apply to be a state trooper.
Applicants will now only need an associate’s degree or 60 credits of course work.

The reason? A shortage of state police in Illinois.

In 2009, the state police had approximately 2,119 troopers. Today, they only have about 1,767. "We don't have enough troopers out there in my opinion, We need to be out there patrolling the interstates," said Hector Alejandre, a master sergeant with the Illinois State Police.

University of Illinois Springfield political science professor Ryan Williams believes that this will open doors to lower-income applicants. "A two-year degree might be more affordable for the population that can't afford a four-year degree,” said Williams.

Williams said a bachelor's degree does help in certain areas. "An education helps them be more empathetic,” said Williams. “It helps them write better when they have to write reports." Overall, he said lowering academic requirements won't make a big difference in everyday police work.

ISP officials said they also offer tuition reimbursements if troopers want to go back to college after they're hired. They are actively recruiting for their 2020 state trooper class.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 8, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Illinois Innocence Project case gets clemency hearing

A Chicago woman whose 1992 double murder conviction was taken up by the Springfield-based Illinois Innocence Project will have a clemency hearing before the Prisoner Review Board at the Thompson Center on Wednesday.

Marilyn Mulero’s co-defendant in the case has repeatedly confessed to being the sole murderer of Jimmy Cruz and Hector Reyes, both members of the Latin Kings gang.

Mulero originally was sentenced to death, though that sentence was later reduced to life without parole.

There have been 19 exonerations to date involving the two Chicago police detectives, Reynaldo Guevara and Ernest Halvorsen, who arrested Mulero.

The Illinois Innocence Project (IIP), which is based at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been joined by The Exoneration Project and the California Innocence Project in representing Mulero.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Men's Soccer: Falsone powers UIS to second straight win

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team cruised to a 5-1 victory over Truman State at Kiwanis Stadium for its second straight win Sunday.

Mario Falsone scored both of his goals in the first half for a 3-1 halftime advantage. He converted a penalty kick during the 6th minute and struck again midway through the half for his fourth goal of the season.

Dan Mahoney made it 2-0 with his second goal of the season, assisted by Harry Hiscock. Mario Gonzalez and Drew Keller each tacked on a goal in the second half to lift UIS to 5-4-1 overall and 3-3-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

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

Read the entire article online.

Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball wins seventh straight

The University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team pushed its winning streak to seven matches following Saturday’s four-set victory over Maryville at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Brianna Bush was a defensive juggernaut, totaling 11 blocks on top of nine kills.

The Stars (12-4 overall, 4-0 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference) recorded 17.5 blocks while Maryville had four. Becca Blakeley tallied 46 assists while Rachel Cobert had a team-high 15 kills. Hannah Nicolaisen added 11 kills for UIS.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 5, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

As UIS marks wrongful convictions, exoneree says the fight continues

On Wednesday morning, students involved with the Illinois Innocence Project planted 2,492 small flags on the University of Illinois Springfield quad representing the number of men and women who have been exonerated of crimes since 1989.

In the middle of the display were 304 “UIS blue flags,” signifying the number of Illinois exonerees from that time.

“For me (this day) is a reminder of where I was years ago,” said Angel Gonzalez of Waukegan, who gained his freedom with the help of the Illinois Innocence Project after spending nearly 21 years in prison.

“It’s also a reminder that there are still a lot of men and women fighting to prove their innocence. It’s a joyful day, but at the same time it keeps me connected to what’s going on.”

The Illinois Innocence Project, which was founded at UIS in 2001, was one of about 50 or so innocence organizations marking International Wrongful Conviction Day, first started in 2014. 

Gonzalez, who was convicted of sexual assault 25 years ago before gaining the help of the New York-based Innocence Project and the IIP, spent Tuesday and Wednesday on campus speaking to students and staff members.

“Talking to the students is always great,” said Gonzalez. “I feel like they’re the ones who will eventually take over and make the system work and be a benefit for everybody. It brings me to meet face-to-face with those who have helped me and those who are continuing to help me.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 2, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Women's Volleyball: Nicolaisen, UIS roll Truman State

Hannah Nicolaisen dominated with 13 kills and the University of Illinois Springfield women’s volleyball team served up 11 aces in a 25-7, 25-9, 25-16 win over Truman State on Saturday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Becca Blakeley provided UIS with 30 assists and teammate Jailyn Borum notched 13 digs, while leading the Prairie Stars with five aces. Brianna Bush recorded seven blocks for UIS, which improved to 10-4 overall and 2-0 in the GLVC.

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

Read the entire story online.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Women's Soccer: Juhlin pushes UIS over Missouri S&T

Maggie Juhlin scored the go-ahead goal at the 42nd-minute of the first half and the University of Illinois Springfield shut out Missouri S&T 1-0 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match on Friday.

It was Juhlin’s fifth goal of the season, which leads the team through seven games. Lauren Griffin got the assist, her team-leading fourth. UIS (5-2 overall) remained unbeaten in conference play with a 4-0 record.

It was the Prairie Stars’ third GLVC shutout this season.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 27, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Friday, September 27, 2019

UIS debuts "Value Added" art exhibit

The "Value Added" Exhibition opened Thursday at the University of Illinois Springfield's Visual Art Gallery.

The exhibition features mixed media sculptures by Patrick Collier. The event also opened with a reception and talk by Collier.

"Value Added" is a term used in agriculture and other industries to describe a marketing and production strategy."

"This is the one time you can come out to the exhibition and see and meet the artist and talk to them about their work," Director of the UIS Visual Arts Gallery Jeff Robinson said.

The exhibition will run until October 17th.

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

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Women's Volleyball: UIS rolls over Findlay

Brianna Bush and Alli Splitt had 10 kills apiece in University of Illinois Springfield’s sweep against Findlay.

Splitt and Bush had four and three blocks as well, respectively.

Rachel Cobert and Hannah Nicolaisen each had seven kills for UIS. Jailyn Borum totaled 15 digs while Becca Blakeley dished up 29 assists, pushing the Stars to 8-4 overall.

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

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Women's Soccer: Juhlin keeps UIS undefeated in GLVC

University of Illinois Springfield stayed unbeaten in the Great Lakes Valley Conference after a 2-1 victory over Missouri St. Louis.

Maggie Juhlin netted the go-ahead goal with less than 10 minutes left in regulation off Lauren Griffin’s corner kick. It was Juhlin’s fourth goal of the season. Griffin also assisted Kayla Meyer’s goal in the first half to break a scoreless tie. Bailey Cross had three saves for UIS, which improved to 4-1-0 overall and 3-0-0 in the GLVC.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, September 23, 2019

LGBTQIA+ program rebranded to expand inclusion

The University of Illinois Springfield Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services rebranded its LGBTQIA+ training program to encourage supportive students, faculty and staff on campus to take even more actionable steps towards inclusion.

In 2001, Safe Zone training began. This semester, the initiative was rebranded Brave Space training. 

“For the past 25 years, Safe Zone-type programs on college campuses have always been about supportive allies hanging a sign to show they were safe to come out to as a sexual or gender minority, while encouraging conversation with others that have questions about LGBTQIA+ people,” said Kerry Poynter, director of the UIS Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services. “The name change reflects the UIS Safe Zone Committee’s desire for members to take brave steps to engage in difficult conversations that affirm LGBTQIA+ people.”

This story aired on WCIA on September 20, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Springfield students skip class, join global climate strike

They skipped class, but Friday was anything but a day off for Springfield high school and college students as they joined millions of people across the world in the Global Climate Strike.

About 70, mostly younger, people gathered near the quad on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield, calling upon leaders from the local level on up to take greater action to solve the climate crisis.

With a mix of speeches and chants, the students hope that their message is getting across to decision-makers under the dome in Springfield and in Washington, D.C. ″... today is not a day off, it is a day on,” said Francesca Butler, a junior at UIS and the event’s organizer. “We didn’t decide to blow classes for the hell of it, we do plenty of that. Today is not a day where we lay in bed and wish that some talking head would do something about deforestation in the Amazon. Today, we recognize that we are powerful in numbers. Today, we realize that when we band together as a local, national and global community, we can work together and demand real change.”

The protesters said these changes need to be both small-scale — something as simple as consuming less red meat to cut methane emissions — and systemic — several made the pitch for Illinois lawmakers to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would put the state on the path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 20, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cross Country: UIS sweeps GLVC cross country awards

The Great Lakes Valley Conference named a pair of cross country runners from the University of Illinois Springfield as its weekly award winners.

Blake Jones was named the GLVC Men’s Runner of the Week after a 13th-place finish at the Michigan State Spartan Invitational on Friday, Sept. 13.

Taryn Christy was the GLVC Women’s Runner of the Week following an 11th-place finish at the same meet.

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

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Men's Golf: UIS men’s golf places fifth at tourney

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s golf team slipped two spots in the standings after Day 1 and ended up with a fifth-place finish on Tuesday in the Dan Salisbury Memorial Tournament at The Rail Golf Course.

UIS came into the final round in third place after shooting a team score of 291 on Monday.

But the Prairie Stars shot a 305 on Tuesday and finished the meet with a 596.

Sebastian Trujillo and Daniel Miller led UIS with a two-day total of 149 and a tie for 18th place. Maxwell Schmidtke was one of four UIS golfers that shot individually, and he finished with a 1-under 143, good for ninth-place.

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

Read the entire story online.

Examining ways to improve enrollment

One U of I campus is seeing a record-number of freshmen but their overall enrollment fell from last year.

Leaders in admissions said they are pleased with the record breaking number of freshmen.

Now, they want to work on retaining the transfer and graduate students. They said their campus is seeing a decline in part-time students.

The 373 new freshmen could not make up for the departure of hundreds of graduate and part-time students who did not return.

The number of full-time undergraduate students did not change.

The school was recently named one of the most ethnically diverse campuses.

Despite all of the positive news changes in their student population, enrollment managers acknowledge there is work to be done. “We’re making partnerships with community colleges, we are attending more graduate school fairs, we are trying to create strategic enrollment plans for the entire university for all of our students,” said Associate Provost of Enrollment Management Natalie Herring.

This story aired on WCIA on September 17, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

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.

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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.

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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.