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 (www.ONOW.org), 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.

Watch the story online.

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.

Watch the story online.

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.

Read the entire article online.

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.

Read the entire article online.

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.

Watch the story online.

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.

Read the entire article online.

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.

Read the full article online.

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.

Read the entire story online.

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 www.broadway.com 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.

Read the entire article online.

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.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: UIS bats around twice, down Lewis

The University of Illinois Springfield sent 22 batters to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings against Lewis University on Tuesday, and the Prairie Stars converted 12 runs in the two innings to defeat Lewis 17-3 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at UIS.

Brandon Bannon shined above the five UIS batters with multiple hits, going 3-for-3 with six runs batted in and three runs scored. Bannon smacked a two-run home run in the fourth inning. He drove in three with a double in the fifth, and walked with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Alec Altmyer got the win. He pitched five innings, allowing three hits and one earned run and striking out four.

UIS is 21-11-1, including 12-9 in the GLVC.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 10, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

UIS education department gets donation from Horace Mann

Horace Mann, a Springfield-based insurance and financial services company for educators, has given $2,500 to the University of Illinois Springfield’s teacher education department to pay for a dual credit course for Sangamon and Menard County high school seniors.

The goal of this dual credit course is to encourage more students to become teachers in the wake of the state-wide teacher shortage, according to a press release.

The dual credit course, called “Foundations of American Education,” started in fall semester 2018 with 18 students from eight area high schools.

“School officials and administrators tell us that finding teachers is becoming more difficult,” Marita Zuraitis, Horace Mann president and CEO, said in a statement. “We hope this program will encourage more high school students to explore the educator profession and give them a jump start on their college degree.”

A report by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that the teacher shortage is especially an issue in central and southern Illinois.

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

Read the entire article online.

Women's Golf: Espinosa, Queller lead UIS to first place

Maria Espinosa garnered first place to lead the University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team to the Triton Invitational title Monday at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis.

Espinosa grabbed the lead Sunday with a round of 73 and beat out fellow teammate Jennifer Queller by just two strokes with another 73 to total 146 in the tournament.

Queller, who was runner-up, shot a 78 Sunday and surged toward the top with a 70 on the second day for a total of 148.

UIS finished with 616, four strokes ahead of second place Lindenwood University.

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

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

University of Illinois Day celebrated in the Capitol

Wednesday was the 10th annual University of Illinois Day at the Illinois State Capitol.

All three universities came together to advocate for funding for U of I.

They are pushing to enhance many programs in the university system that school officials said could boost the economy.

"For students to stay in Illinois and go to Illinois universities - not just the University of Illinois, but others," Chairman of U of I Advocacy Committee Randy Witter said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 3, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

UIS Women's Center hosts Women's Leadership Reception

In honor of Women's History Month, the University of Illinois Springfield's Women's Center hosted its culminating keynote event, the Women's Leadership Reception.

The reception included a panel discussion, featuring five Springfield women who have achieved great success.

It was held exclusively for UIS students as an opportunity to provide words of wisdom about what it means to be a female leader in 2019.

"There are still many barriers that women face in leadership. We tried to bring people from a diversity of backgrounds to come because those barriers might be different, depending on what field you're in but oftentimes they're very much the same," Program Director Rexanne Whorton said.

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

Watch the story online.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Jim Sarra sets sights high for UIS athletics

Closing in on completing his third academic year, University of Illinois Springfield Director of Athletics Jim Sarra is pleased with how far the school’s athletic program has come, but he still says there is much more ahead.

Sarra, who was hired in August 2016, doesn’t just want to raise the Prairie Stars’ athletic profile, he wants it to become a gold standard. And not just for central Illinois or the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

“Our vision is to be the premier Division II public athletics department in the Midwest,” Sarra said Tuesday in an interview about the current coaching vacancies in the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

Sarra wants to see more local products given the opportunity to play at UIS. The softball and men’s basketball team are peppered with players from The State Journal-Register’s coverage area. The baseball, volleyball and men and women’s soccer teams have a combined nine from the area. None exist on the women’s basketball roster. Sarra said the next two basketball hires will have to have an “inside-out” recruiting approach, which means start in Springfield and work out from there.

When Chatham Glenwood High School graduates Cole Harper and Peyton Allen suited up for the men’s basketball home opener this year, Sarra saw plenty of fans on hand — even if they were fans of the Titans.

“I think it’s important to recruit locally when we can. It also engages the community and we saw it this year, especially on the men’s side,” Sarra said. “I chuckle . . . there was more black and red and white in the crowd (for Glenwood) than there was blue and gold (UIS) because of Cole and Peyton.” 

Getting the athletic department to match Sarra’s vision is likely closer now than when he began. 

“We’ve seen some success over the last couple of years — probably a lot faster than I anticipated — but that’s because a lot of these coaches bought into what we’re doing and we’re not using anything as an excuse anymore,” Sarra said.

“When we made the transition to Division II from NAIA, it was hard and tough and we’re slowly catching up — and at some point, we’re surpassing other institutions that have been Division II for a long time,” Sarra said.

“Personnel-wise, there are still some things we need but at the same time, we’re pretty well set,” Sarra said. “You always want to get bigger and better. Facilities is probably the one place we’re lacking a little bit but that’s OK because we’ve got a plan in place and we’re strategically planning to put things in place to help us excel.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 27, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Men's Tennis: Clark picks up another

University of Illinois Springfield's Sam Clarke, a senior from Kendall, England, won his fourth career Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week award on Tuesday.

It was his third this season. He has won 15 straight singles matches and dominated last week with wins over Quincy and Southern Indiana opponents during the weekend. He also set a school record for most wins in the NCAA Division II era after getting a doubles victory against Quincy on Friday while finishing the week 4-0 in both singles and doubles.

He has 124 career victories. He’s currently 17-1 in singles play and 12-5 in doubles play, leading the Stars to an 11-2 record.

UIS has won seven straight duals.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 27, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: UIS rallies past Quincy in GLVC baseball

The University of Illinois Springfield scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning and rallied to defeat nationally-ranked Quincy 13-8 Tuesday in a Great Lake Valley Conference baseball game.

UIS trailed 8-7 entering the ninth. The Prairie Stars loaded the bases with one out when Brandon Bannon hit a fly ball to left field that was misplayed by the Quincy outfielder. Two runners scored on the play, giving UIS a 9-8 advantage.

This story was published in The State Journal-Register on March 27, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Women's Golf: Stars finish seventh at Saluki Invite

The University of Illinois Springfield finished seventh in the women’s Saluki Invitational at Hickory Ridge Golf Course on Monday behind solid efforts from Paula Valdivia and Maria Espinosa. 

The Prairie Stars shot 323 on Sunday and stood in fifth place after the first round.

The Prairie Stars beat out seven other schools, including four NCAA Division I teams. 

UIS had just four golfers instead of the normal five. Valdivia shot 79 and 80 over the two rounds for a 159, which was good for 15th place individually. Espinosa shot 76 and 84 for 160 and finished in a tie for 16th. Jennifer Queller tied for 20th place with a two-day score of 161.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, March 25, 2019

UIS hosts dance marathon for Children's Miracle Network

University of Illinois Springfield students held a dance marathon to raise money for the HSHS St. John’s Children's Miracle Network.

The marathon featured fun music, a variety of performances by dozens of dancers, and games. This year's theme was the Olympics.

This was the fifth year for the event.

Organizer for the event, Jackie Johnson, said it was a fun way to give back and learn at the same time.

“It really allows us to take on this big opportunity and help us to raise more money for the hospital as well as get more connected to the hospital,” said Johnson.

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

Watch the story online.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dancing for Children's Miracle Network

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield will be dancing for a good cause this month.

UIS students will hold a dance marathon to help raise money for the Children's Miracle Network (CMN) at HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital in Springfield.

The event will be held in the UIS Student Union Ballroom from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 23rd.

The theme for this year’s Dance Marathon is Olympics.

Over the past five years, the event has raised more than $25,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.

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

Read the story online.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Susan Koch: Economic development for the public good

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 March 16, 2019.

Since its first graduates completed their degrees in 1971, the University of Illinois Springfield has been a launch pad for professional and personal success for thousands of alums — many of whom identify their UIS experience as central to their own well-being and social mobility. 

But UIS and the entire University of Illinois system is also a public good — one that is increasingly indispensable across the entire state and beyond. 

What does this commitment mean for UIS, for Springfield and for Central Illinois? Plenty! 

As some SJ-R readers will recall, UIS recently acquired Innovate Springfield, the downtown business incubator founded by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln. Thanks in part to financial investments by the Foundation, the City of Springfield, and the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation (as well as matching funds from the UI system), Innovate Springfield is becoming a catalyst for economic development in the region — a place where ideas and startups can ignite and expand. 

According to Executive Director Katie Davison, the new alignment with UIS is already producing impressive results. “Since becoming part of UIS, Innovate Springfield has grown to serve 64 members today, including 14 UIS students,” says Davison. 

“We’re providing members with access to legal and financial consulting, workshops and mentors, as well as a creative environment that is nurturing both new business success and innovation.” 

“We have more activity and energy in the space every day,” she continues, “and we’re becoming a bridge between the University and the business community that provides clients with better access to the intellectual capital the University has to offer.” 

In joining UIS, Innovate Springfield has also been announced as a hub of the UI’s Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) — a system of interconnected university-community-industry-based hubs throughout the state. 

The Network will be anchored by the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) in Chicago that will coordinate efforts and initiatives statewide. The Illinois General Assembly appropriated funding to help launch the DPI/IIN last spring. 

UIS is expected to receive part of that funding, and conceptual planning and design is now underway for a downtown Innovation Center that will include an expanded Innovate Springfield and other related activities. 

Bruce Sommer, the University’s new Director of Economic Development and Innovation, is part of the intellectual capital being invested in this exciting project. A Springfield native who grew up in successful local businesses including Harper Oil Company, Bruce left Illinois after college and spent several years on the East coast as a venture capitalist and angel investor. 

“When I came back to Springfield, I simply didn’t see the entrepreneurial culture I was used to on the East Coast,” says Sommer. “Innovate Springfield and the Springfield hub will provide that culture and will enable us to start new companies, which in turn can attract a wealth of talent and opportunity.” 

In addition to teaching entrepreneurship classes on campus and at Innovate Springfield, Sommer is fostering the development of local university-business partnerships to create the capacity for Springfield to be a vital and sustainable hub in the statewide network. 

Keenan Dungey is another essential asset for the project. A graduate of the University of Michigan and professor in the UIS Department of Chemistry, Dr. Dungey leads Research and Institutional Effectiveness for the University. 

“Thirty UIS faculty are already engaged in system-wide DPI working groups focused on key themes including: Computing and Data, Environment and Water, Health and Wellness, and Food and Agriculture,” says Dungey. 

“The intellectual capital this project is harnessing is tremendous,” he continues, “and it is providing new ways for us to intentionally reach outward and consider how faculty, students and programs can be stronger assets for our local community and across the state.” 

Innovation is the driver of economic development and now is the time to expand our thinking about what is possible for a more prosperous future.” ... and that’s a public good we need for Springfield and for Central Illinois!

Read the entire article online.

Women's Softball: UIS softball sweeps GLVC doubleheader

The University of Illinois Springfield pounded out 20 total hits and swept Bellarmine 8-5 and 12-1 in the opening games Saturday of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Morgan Edwards had a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, and teammate Carolyn Franke delivered a three-run double in the Prairie Stars’ four-run third. Edwards finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Bree Derhake added two hits, an RBI and scored twice. Starting pitcher Jaycee Craver went the distance, striking out six and walking three.

Ali Bortmess belted a grand slam in the nightcap and Payton Long pitched a two-hitter, striking out seven and walking one, as UIS completed the sweep.

Bortmess finished with five RBIs and Franke had two hits and drove in two for the Prairie Stars.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 16, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

UIS baseball, softball teams split doubleheaders

Carolyn Franke delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning and the University of Illinois Springfield softball team defeated Missouri Western 3-2 in the second game of a doubleheader split at UIS on Tuesday.

In the nightcap, UIS loaded the bases with no outs and got within 2-1 with a sacrifice fly. That led to Franke’s two-run single that gave the Prairie Stars the lead. Payton Long was the winning pitcher in relief, throwing three innings of one-hit scoreless ball. She struck out five and walked three.

In baseball, UIS had a five-run lead after four innings and Ruben Markham sealed the victory with a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth of the Prairie Stars’ 14-3 triumph over Wisconsin-Parkside in the second game of a doubleheader.

The Prairie Stars finished with 14 hits.

These stories appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 13, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Women's Softball: Derhake lifts Stars to a sweep

Bree Derhake hit a solo home run in the fourth inning of Game 1 and went 1-for-4 with an RBI in Game 2, leading University of Illinois Springfield to a couple of victories against Southwest Baptist University, 1-0 and 3-1.

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

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: Speaker named GLVC player of the week

University of Illinois Springfield outfielder Zach Speaker was named Great Lakes Valley Conference player of the week on Monday.

Speaker, a senior from Frankfort is batting .366 for the year and has a team-high 19 RBIs.

This is the first time winning the award for Speaker.

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

Read the entire article online.

Men's Baseball: No. 3 UIS baseball wins first conference series

The No. 3-ranked University of Illinois Springfield baseball team won its first series of the Great Lakes Valley Conference season, defeating Truman State 19-6 in the rubber match at UIS.

The Prairie Stars offense smashed early, scoring 14 runs in the first four innings. All nine starters collected a base hit, led by Chris Monroe going 5-for-6 with four RBIs, two runs scored and two doubles. Nick Wisz went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, and Nick Mayerhofer went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Austin Alderman went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and a home run.

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

Read the entire article online.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Springfield’s Tyler Pence training for U.S. Olympics Trials marathon

Tyler Pence never struggles to get out the door.

Well, unless there’s a freakish snowstorm not unlike the one in January. That forced him to stay indoors and run on a treadmill.

“But usually 99 percent of the time I’m running outside,” said Pence, who graduated from Springfield High School in 2011.

That’s because the 2016 USI grad is prepping for his first appearance in the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon scheduled Feb. 29, 2020 in Atlanta.

“That’s something that I really wanted to accomplish,” Pence said. “The marathon, it’s a gamble. Things can go wrong. It’s such a long period of racing that something can go wrong at any moment, so to put it together and have the day that I had, I was very happy with how it went.”

Pence had only attempted one other marathon – the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon in 2016. Pence said that was just for fun. Sacramento was different.

Pence started training rigorously in August, approximately the same time he won his third straight 10-kilmometer Abe’s Amble road race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. His training spanned four months, running 110-120 miles a week. Sundays were always his big runs, reaching up to 20-24 miles.

His job was not a hindrance. Beginning in 2016 under Mike De Witt, Pence has been the assistant coach on the University of Illinois Springfield cross country and track programs. He often did morning practices with UIS runners, in addition to a second jaunt in the afternoon. It was the source of his inspiration.

“I’m a big believer in practice what you preach. That’s definitely what got me back into getting motivated to run at the next level.”

”Tyler’s now turning his eye toward higher altitude during the summer, specifically Colorado Springs. He doesn’t have any real goal in mind, except one thing. “I’m just going to go there to compete and give it 100 percent,” Tyler said of Atlanta. “I just want to leave there knowing that I left it all out there for sure.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 10, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

UIS students to join volunteer efforts over spring break

Local University of Illinois Springfield students will be looking beyond the beach for spring break to help with something meaningful.

As part of "Alternative Spring Break" - an organization on campus - two groups of students will spend their entire Spring Break, helping to rebuild Puerto Rico and Florida following Hurricanes Maria and Michael that left devastation.

"Alternative Spring Break - that's our main mission - utilizing recess to dedicate it to something better and bigger than yourself...," President of Alternative Spring Break Maddie Reuss said. "Those who choose ASB - their hearts are really in it."

This trip marks the 11th anniversary of Alternative Spring Break at UIS.

Each year, the students go to different locations throughout the U.S., in need, to volunteer.

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

Watch the story online.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Decorated recycling bins not increasing recycling on UIS campus

A new study from the University of Illinois Springfield now shows decorated recycling bins aren't increasing recycling on campus.

As part of the study, researchers put bedazzled bins or bins with positive messages made people more likely to recycle.

The study was funded by a $3,600 grant from Pepsi Co.

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

Watch the story online.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Men's Baseball: Undefeated UIS wins, ties in baseball home games

The University of Illinois Springfield defeated William Jewell 10-1 in the opener, and then tied the Cardinals 2-2 in the nightcap in a game that was called due to darkness Friday in a doubleheader at UIS Field.

Chris Mathieu and Ruben Markham had three hits apiece and two RBIs each as the Prairie Stars compiled 14 hits in Game 1.

Justin Revels (2-0) was the winning pitcher, allowing just four hits in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

UIS was one out away from the sweep when William Jewell (5-5-1) hit a game-tying single that forced the tie.

This story was published in The State Journal-Register on March 2, 2019.

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Women's Basketball: Stars pick up win against Bellarmine

University of Illinois Springfield ended the regular season on a positive note, defeating Bellarmine 90-81 at TRAC for the first victory over the program in school history.

UIS connected 11 times from deep, including three players with three apiece. Val Meissner, Carson Vance and Tehya Fortune all had three 3s and finished in double figures; Meissner with 11, Vance with 10 and Fortune with 23 off the bench.

The team went 11-for-20 from 3-point range. Lauren Ladowski also had 23 points for UIS, with eight coming from the free throw line.

Ladowski went eight of 10 from the line and 7-for-9 from the floor. She also added nine assists and three steals.

 UIS finished the season at 8-18 and 5-13 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 2, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

UIS hosts open house for Women's History Month

The University of Illinois Springfield is kicking off women's history month with an open house.

The Women's Center at UIS held an open house Friday to let everyone know what they offer.

For more than 25 years, the center has offered a variety of services and events - often challenges women face every day.

"As part of this month, we're doing a age negotiation workshop. It's not just limited to women - anyone can go to our wage negotiation workshop, but the focus is on the fact that women often struggle with that sort of thing in the workplace," Program Director of the Woman's Center Rexann Whorton said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on March 1, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball starts with sweep at home

The University of Illinois Springfield opened its season-opening home games with a 9-4 and 5-1 doubleheader sweep over visiting Purdue Northwest on Friday at the UIS Baseball Field.

In Game 1, UIS rallied from a 3-1 deficit, scoring one run in the bottom of the seventh inning and seven in the eighth to take the lead.

The Prairie Stars benefited from six walks and three hit batsmen during those two innings.

Nick Mayerhofer had a two-run single in the eighth, and Chris Monroe smacked a three-run double for UIS.

Brayden Jensen threw two shutout innings in relief to earn the win, while striking out four.

In the nightcap, UIS starter Andrew Dean threw six scoreless innings as the Prairie Stars completed the sweep to improve to 5-0. Dean allowed just three hits.

Leadoff hitter John Sechen went 2-for-2 and scored twice, and Ryan Fish had a pair of hits for UIS.

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

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Men's Basketball: UIS breaks slump, 3-point record in close win

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team made a school-record 18 3-pointers, and Vince Walker’s 3-point basket was the biggest.

Walker drained a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1 minute remaining in the game and the Prairie Stars defeated McKendree 76-75 on Saturday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at the Statham Center.

Walker’s shot helped UIS snap a six-game losing streak, as he finished with six 3s and 19 points.

The Prairie Stars’ 18 3-point field goals broke the previous record of 17 that was set in a win over Ashford during the 2005-06 season.

The Prairie Stars improved to 14-12 overall and 7-9 in the GLVC.

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

Read the entire article online.