Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This story appeared on 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.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Roscoe student to present at national conference

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

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

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

The students represent multiple programs and colleges.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.