Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Susan Koch: Embracing history with Lincoln studies at UIS

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on February 9, 2019.

February commonly brings predictions of spring’s arrival provided by a groundhog named Phil or handfuls of candy conversation hearts to celebrate Valentine’s Day. 

Here in Springfield, Illinois, however, February’s center stage goes to our own hometown hero — Abraham Lincoln

With Mr. Lincoln’s 210th birthday only two days away, my thoughts, too, are with the 16th president. Fortunately, resources for contemplating Lincoln are close at hand here at the University of Illinois Springfield. 

The study of Abraham Lincoln — his leadership and his legacy — is a unique point of pride for the University that continues to grow and contribute to the education of tomorrow’s leaders as well as to the Springfield community. 

Though UIS faculty in many areas of study engage in teaching and research about Lincoln, Professor Michael Burlingame, who occupies the Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, is most prominent. 

The author of many critically acclaimed Lincoln books including a biography titled Abraham Lincoln: A Life, Burlingame believes learning about Lincoln ”... deepens students’ understanding of what it means to be an American.” 

Devin Hunter, who joined the UIS faculty after working at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and earning a Ph.D. in Public History from Loyola University, agrees. “Studying Lincoln’s life,” says Hunter, “enables better understanding of how others navigate challenges — some of which are similar to what we see today.” 

Professors Burlingame and Hunter take full advantage of their location in Lincoln’s hometown where resources for teaching and research about Lincoln and his time abound. “I have a 75-step commute from my residence to do my research at the Lincoln Presidential Library,” says Burlingame, “which has a fabulous collection of primary source materials, books and journals.” “Next to the Library of Congress,” he continues, “it’s the premier place to do Lincoln research.”

(Burlingame’s current project is focused on Lincoln’s many interactions with African Americans throughout his lifetime.) Hunter, who is currently teaching a course titled “Monuments, Museums and Memory,” could not agree more with his colleague’s assessment. “To have local, state, and federal sites all within a small radius is uncommon,” he says, “and it creates an opportunity for faculty and students to have unparalleled access to a variety of important historical sites and information.” 

Local resources also create opportunities for hands-on learning and community engagement. One of Dr. Hunter’s classes recently served as an advisory panel for Springfield’s African American History Museum. His students also help conduct a local “History Harvest” — inviting Illinois residents to bring historical items to a site where they are digitized and become part of an online exhibit. 

Many UIS graduates who studied Lincoln at UIS have gone on to successful careers in a variety of leadership roles. Claire Jerry is one of them. 

Jerry earned a master’s degree in public history from UIS and then a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. She is now at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. where she is the Lead Curator in Political History at the National Museum of American History. 

“My experiences at UIS were absolutely essential to my career as a museum professional,” says Jerry. “Professor William Siles’ insistence that I pursue increasingly challenging opportunities gave me the confidence to do more than I had ever thought possible and Dr. Cecilia Cornell not only insisted I do my best work, but that I strive for more. “I would not be where I am today,” she concludes, “without the education I received at UIS.” 

Lincoln Studies at UIS will take another important step forward in the coming year with the formal launch of the Center for Lincoln Studies — a priority of the current Reaching Stellar fundraising campaign. 

With planning underway for collaboration with the ALPLM, the Abraham Lincoln Association and other Lincoln-oriented organizations, the Center will provide new opportunities for learning about Lincoln and the impact of his contributions. 

I’m so pleased the growing Lincoln Studies agenda at the University of Illinois Springfield will enable us to further embrace, rather than escape, history.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

UIS Black History Month event examines NAACP history

As part of Black History Month, the University of Illinois Springfield’s Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) Speaker Series, the UIS Diversity Center and the Springfield NAACP will co-host a film screening and panel discussion on “The History of Springfield – From 1908 to Now.”

This event will begin with a screening of the 30-minute film Springfield Had No Shame: The Springfield Race Riot of 1908.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion led by Teresa Haley, president of the Springfield and Illinois chapters of the NAACP. The panel will also include previous NAACP presidents and members who will discuss the history and plight of the NAACP since its establishment in 1909.

This story appeared in the Illinois Times on February 7, 2019.

Read the entire story online.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Women's Basketball: UIS outlasts Indianapolis for fourth conference win

The University of Illinois Springfield women's basketball team outlasted the University of Indianapolis with a 68-65 victory during Saturday's Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) matchup at TRAC.

UIS topped the Greyhounds for the first time in program history.

"It was a great team effort with balanced scoring and contributions from our bench," UIS coach Mark Kost said.

Influencing much of the game was the battle in the paint, which accounted for 51.1 percent of the game's scoring. Both teams turned in 34 points apiece in the paint.

Throughout the game, the Prairie Stars were able to receive the benefits of the home-court crowd. "Our crowd was awesome and energized our team. We need that to continue when we return home."

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on February 2, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Men's Basketball: Vince Walker breaks UIS' career three-point record

Vince Walker broke the University of Illinois Springfield men's basketball career record for three-pointers on Saturday, but his five three-pointers in the game were not enough for the Prairie Stars as they fell to Indianapolis by an 86-76 score at TRAC.

Walker hit his 193rd three-pointer of his career with 2:20 left in the first half, tying him with Jamall Millison who set the previous mark in 2016.

That tie lasted just 78 seconds into the second half when Walker hit another long distance shot. He added one more later in the half and is now just five away from 200 for his UIS career.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on February 2, 2019.

Watch the story online.

UIS moving forward with downtown plans despite SIU proposal

Despite a proposal unveiled last week that would allocate funds for another public university to build a campus in downtown Springfield, officials from the University of Illinois Springfield say they are continuing to move forward unimpeded with plans for an increased downtown presence.

Last August, the university acquired business and social innovation incubator Innovate Springfield, which was founded in 2014 as a subsidiary to the Community Foundation, but with UIS squarely in mind as a future repository. 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.

More than $500 million was appropriated toward the statewide initiative in the fiscal year 2019 state budget, approved by lawmakers last year. Though most of it will go toward the construction of the Chicago-based institute, at least $15 million has been set aside for UIS to build a hub somewhere in downtown Springfield.

Innovate Springfield remains at 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, but university officials have made clear their intention to move into a larger space.

In addition to the innovation hub, Chancellor Susan Koch said other programs could make the move to a new downtown space. “We haven’t made final decisions, but we really believe there are some other entities that being downtown would be a great match for them,” Koch said. While cautioning that nothing is yet conclusive, Koch said moving the university’s Illinois legislative staff intern program and NPR Illinois have been discussed.

Koch said university leaders are trying to strike the “right balance” between having a robust downtown presence and increasing the vitality of the main campus.

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

Read the entire story online.