Thursday, April 30, 2020

New executive director of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership named

The new executive director of the University of Illinois Springfield Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL) has been named.

Molly Lamb, of Chatham, will start in the role on Monday, June 1, pending formal approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Lamb has worked for UIS from the Illinois Department of Public Health for 11 years. She most recently served as the deputy director of IDPH’s Office of Health Protection. She started as an emergency response coordinator for the Logan County Health Department and has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Lincoln Land Community College.

UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership promotes evidence-based policy and practice in the public sector. The center’s mission is carried out through research that informs public decisions and understanding; internships, training programs, and applied problem-solving that strengthens public leadership; and journalism that educates and engages citizens in public affairs.

This story appeared on WCIA on Apirl 29, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

UIS and DCFS Partner To Reimagine Child Welfare For A Socially Distant Reality

Betsy Goulet has worked to help and protect children since the late 80s.

After a brief stint as a Child Protective Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, she went on to found such groups as the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center and advise public leaders on at-risk youth and victims of childhood violence.

She’s now a faculty member at the University of Illinois Springfield, and is promoting a training program called the Child Protection Training Academy. It’s designed to retain new DCFS investigators that often leave the position after a few years by preparing them for what they may face in a client’s home.

Goulet believes state investigators are more crucial than ever in the COVID-19 era, and the type of training the Academy provides might be able to keep department ranks strong.

“We know that calls are down nationally to the hotline. And that's attributable, I'm sure, to the fact that kids are not at school, and so they're lacking those eyes and ears. Teachers are among the highest level of reporters to the hotline and so without their observation, without their notification, children aren't being reported. But calls are still coming in and investigators are still doing in-person meetings as best they can to protect themselves and to the people that they're interacting with.”

“Right now, we are meeting almost every day as an academy team with our DCFS colleagues to figure out how to improve training, how to translate what is usually on-ground simulation training to an online environment. And so we've been teaching problem based learning, we've been coming up with some other types of in-services that we can give to the field. But I am quite impressed with how the department has adapted to what is normally not an easy task. This is reimagining child welfare in a pretty vast way.”

This story aired on NPS Illinois on April 29, 2020.

Read and listen to the entire story.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

People in the News: David Racine

David Racine, executive director of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield, recently received the annual Rail Splitter Award at the UIS Department of Public Administration’s 2020 annual Spring Rail Splitter banquet and awards ceremony.

The award honors Racine’s work in public administration at the center where he oversees the university’s public affairs organization, which includes the Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies/Survey Research Office, the Institute for Illinois Public Finance, NPR Illinois, the Graduate Public Service Internship Program, the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program, the Office of Electronic Media, Innovate Springfield, the Illinois Innocence Project and the Child Protection Training Academy.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 25, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Springfield Arts Organizations Come Together With One Message

The non-profit arts organizations in Springfield have come together with one message - "The show will go on...but not without your help."

Eleven major performing arts organizations in the Springfield area are combining their communication efforts to reassure the local community that performances will resume and to provide information on how you can support local arts organizations in the interim.

A single unified message is being distributed this week to over 75,000 email addresses representing almost every performing arts ticket buyer in the region. The email includes links to each participating organization, as well as a unique link to each organization's secure online donation site.

This campaign is organized by the University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center. Bryan Rives, Director of the Performing Arts Center, said "One mission of UIS is 'Leadership Lived.' We are always searching for ways to help our community. During this COVID-19 crisis, we realized our own patron email list, of over 42,000 addresses, could be used to spread the word about how to support local performing arts organizations in our area. We then reached out to The Hoogland Center for the Arts to see if they would like to partner with us on this effort. They quickly came on board, as did many others. Everyone we approached agreed to send the email to their individual mailing lists, even though it contains a fundraising appeal for other organizations in addition to their own. We are very lucky that our arts community can come together to support one another during this extremely trying time."

This story appeared on Broadway World Chicago on April 22, 2020.

Read the entire story online.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The show will not go on

Friday would have marked the debut of the production of “Twelfth Night” at the University of Illinois Springfield. Instead, there will be a virtual cast party on Zoom, said UIS associate professor of theatre Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, who is also the play’s director.

“I suspect there will be tears,” she said. Nearly 30 people, from actors to scene designers to costume designers, were involved in some facet of the play since January.

The cast had planned to gather March 15 for its first rehearsal after spring break, but that was also nixed, so it never had a chance to re-assemble before members went their separate ways. “I still really haven’t had a chance to process it,” Thibodeaux-Thompson said.

For Claire Starling, a senior from New Berlin who was cast as Olivia, it was the first time performing in a Shakespeare play and the first time working with Thibodeaux-Thompson. “I was definitely really disappointed because it got to the point where it was actually coming together,” said Starling, an English major at UIS. “It was abrupt.”

One of the saving graces, Thibodeaux-Thompson said, is that “Twelfth Night” is scheduled at UIS next spring. Some students, may be moving on while others, like Starling, who will be doing graduate work at UIS, haven’t committed to the project. “They were a wonderful group of people. To see everyone (on Zoom) is going to be like a reunion, but I miss being in the room where it happens,” said Thibodeaux-Thompson, summoning a line from “Hamilton.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 16, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

UIS Sangamon Experience historic exhibition and Center for Lincoln Studies to be led by Anne Moseley

Anne Moseley has been selected to lead the University of Illinois Springfield’s new Sangamon Experience historic exhibition and Center for Lincoln Studies.

Moseley has joined today and started working as director of engagement and curator for Sangamon Experience and acting director for the Center for Lincoln Studies. Moseley is a UIS alumnus.

Sangamon Experience is a new on-campus exhibition space telling the history of the Sangamon Region of central Illinois. The Experience opened on Jan. 30, 2020 in the lower level of the Public Affairs Center at UIS.

The Center for Lincoln Studies is expected to open later this year. That center will give new opportunities for learning about Lincoln and the impact of his contributions. “I am excited for this opportunity to help create a new way of experiencing the local history that surrounds us here in the Sangamon Valley area,” said Moseley.

Mosely was assistant director and curator of the Lincoln Heritage Museum for seven years before serving as director and curator of the Museum.

This story appeared in The Chicago Morning Star on April 13, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Educators can adjust online classes to fit learning styles

Educators must balance many learning preferences as students adjust to online learning, which will be a good fit for some and difficult for others, District Administration reports.

Some students will struggle with change and others will have a hard time dealing with isolation.

Administrators can guide teachers to adjust their instruction to students’ individual needs and preferences. Introverted students, for example, thrive when allowed to explore thoughts and ideas but don’t like being put on the spot, while extroverts think out loud and learn well with group discussions, which can be done through online chat groups.

Even in online learning, students' learning styles still impact the effectiveness of lessons. Educators who can determine how much support and what type of resources different students need to thrive in that environment will have the most success transitioning to this format.

A paper by the University of Illinois Springfield lays out four styles of learners and how educators can adapt online curriculum accordingly.

The visual/verbal learner, for example, does best when information is presented through visual aids, textbooks and class notes. They prefer to study in quiet environments, and the online environment is particularly well-suited to them.

Similarly, the visual/nonverbal learner does best when receiving information from instructors presented in a visual format. They may be artistic and enjoy visual art and design, and they also thrive in online learning environments since graphical information can easily be conveyed through online learning.

Auditory/verbal learners, however, do best listening to an instructor and participating in group discussions. They remember things by repeating it aloud and thrive in interactive environments.

Tactile/kinesthetic learners, on the other hand, do best with hands-on activities, so online learning that includes lab sessions at a student’s home, field work they can discuss in class and simulations with 3D graphics can best serve these students if possible.

This story appeared in Education Dive on April 15, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, April 13, 2020

UIS professor: Illinois’ economic recovery after COVID-19 recession depends on government, consumer sentiment, experts say

The COVID-19 recession is already expected to be deeper than the Great Recession that ended in 2009, but the recovery could be quicker. While economic recovery is expected after the COVID-recession, how fast the economy picks back up depends on several factors.

University of Illinois Springfield Professor Kenneth Kriz said there are two possible economic recoveries once the state lifts the government-imposed economic shutdown that was implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“A V-shaped recession would be an immediate bounce back, that’s what the National Association of Business Economists see,” Kriz said. “Some other forecasters have looked at a U-shape, which would be a slightly longer recovery period.”

Ultimately, Kriz said the longer the COVID-19 recession lasts, the greater the toll on state and local government revenue.

UIS professor Beverly Bunch said when the stay-at-home orders are lifted, not everything will get turned back on in a day. “Clearly the governor has asked people not to plan large events,” Bunch said. “Conferences that are being scheduled for the fall are still in limbo whether they’re going to happen or whether they’re going to go online.” She said a lot of it will also depend on the advice being given out by public health officials.

This article appeared on The Center Square on April 10, 2020.

Read the entire article online.
These are strange and unusual times as we wait out the deadly coronavirus and shelter at home.

Daksh Desai sits alone in his two-bedroom apartment on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, over 8,000 miles away from his home in India. His roommate bagged his belongings and left weeks ago.

Desai wishes he could be doing what he normally does in April — capturing moments of UIS baseball with his camera. Instead, he is playing a baseball video game.

The 24-year-old master’s student in computer science is bummed about the missed opportunities. “I was looking forward to the games and taking pictures, but now everything is so upside down,” Desai said. “This is my last semester and now only one month is remaining until my graduation. I’m not going to get my commencement and my ceremony on May 9. I just miss taking pictures of baseball and softball and every sport I’ve covered.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 11, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, April 10, 2020

UIS to assist private, community colleges with online transition

The University of Illinois Springfield is stepping up to help private and community colleges transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) has won national honors for being an online learning leader. Its officials are taking multiple steps to help these colleges, along with state agencies, move online.

Steps include creating a resource page for private and independent colleges, which will feature tips for remote teaching, how to put content online, how to teach lab classes online and how to make digital content accessible for students.These moves are happening as a result of a request from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

"COLRS staff maintains the highest quality of knowledge in delivery of online learning and is pleased to be able to share this knowledge with our colleagues across the state,” said Vickie Cook, UIS executive director of online professional and engaged learning, research and service.

UIS is offering help to state agencies, including the Department of Human Services, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Central Management Services, for free.

This article appeared on WAND 17 on April 9, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Men's Track & Field: Pasley still performing for Prairie Stars

Tyler Pasley has been pick 'em up and putting 'em down at the University of Illinois Springfield for three years. He is still performing as an all-conference Prairie Star.

Most recently Pasley competed in the 2020 Indoor track season. At the GLVC Indoor Championships, Tyler Pasley led the men's team, earning a medal in both the 3,000m and 5,000m with third-place finishes. He had a NCAA provisional time of 14:45.09 in the 5,000m, and a mark of 8:37.91 in the 3,000m.

In UIS cross country in 2018, Pasley was an all-GLVC performer, 5th at the conference meet, which was the first top-five finish for a UIS cross country runner. He was named GLVC Runner of the Week after the UIS Invitational, and was the first UIS men’s runner to win that award. He competed in six events. He scored for the team in all six events, and led the team in three competitions.

Pasley ran cross country and track for Shelbyville coach Kevin Kramer throughout high school. Pasley competed on the varsity level in cross country and track and field for Shelbyville High School for four years.

Pasley is pursuing a major in Chemistry. He is the son of Joe and Kelli Jo Pasley.

This article appeared in the Shelbyville Daily Union on April 9, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

UIS extends decision date, waives enrollment fees for some incoming students

The University of Illinois Springfield is extending the decision date for incoming fall 2020 freshman. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UIS Office of Admission has extended the decision date from May 1 to June 1 to give students more time to learn about the campus and university.

Application and enrollment fees have also been waived for freshman, transfer and graduate students for summer and fall 2020.

UIS is also waiving the essay requirement for freshman and transfer students. Virtual one-on-one appointments with UIS admission counselors and weekly Wednesday webinars are being offered.

This story aired on WAND 17 on April 9, 2020.

Read the story online.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Running Through A Pandemic

Due to the coronavirus, gyms across the state, and the country, have been closed and classes have had to go virtual. But one of the activities that has not changed is going on a run outdoors, as long as you maintain a six-foot radius from the other runners on the path.

Guests, Tyler Pence, University of Illinois Springfield cross country and track coach and Olympic marathon hopeful; Aisha Praught-Leer, a middle-distance runner for Jamaica and former Illinois State University runner.

This interview aired on the 21st Show on WILL.

Listen to the interview online.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Susan Koch: A look at the COVID-19 response 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 April 4, 2020. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting unprecedented challenges around the world. With the number of cases accelerating across Illinois and the U.S., higher education institutions, including the University of Illinois Springfield, are making proactive decisions almost daily -- prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors while at the same time continuing to deliver on the educational mission of the university.

How does a university prepare for such an exceptional situation? What assets are most important for successfully navigating such an emergency? How are priorities determined and decisions made?
Today’s UIS Perspectives provides a brief window into the UIS response.

As is the case with any emergency, the first critical asset is preparedness. Long before the first case of COVID-19 disease was reported in December 2019, UIS had a well-developed Emergency Response Plan. A public health epidemic is one of 15 primary hazards identified in the plan, which provides operational guidance and recognizes responsibilities and duties to be assumed in order to protect the health and safety of members of the university community and continue essential operations.

By early February, both the University of Illinois System and UIS had activated another critical asset ... people -- creating COVID-19 response teams that include decision-makers as well as communications and public health experts who have the knowledge and experience to help guide the ongoing response. With the leadership of Associate Chancellor Kelsea Gurski, UIS quickly developed a communications plan and created a COVID-19 website – an important platform to deploy messages, provide trusted information and respond to questions and concerns.

As everyone now knows, the COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and is spread mainly between people who are in close contact with each other and via frequently touched surfaces. Social distancing is an essential strategy to limit spread of the disease. Given the social distancing imperative, UIS made the decision in early March to migrate all courses from face-to-face instruction to remote teaching for the remainder of the Spring semester.

According to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford, one asset that has served students well during this challenging time is trust. “We rely on the people we trust to get things done,” she says, “and during this uncertain time students have looked to those they trust -- including Student Affairs staff -- to guide them through.” Like many others,I’ve been social distancing and working often from home – using Zoom, email and phone to continue work with colleagues. But as I turned off 11th Street a few days ago for my daily swing through campus, I heard the unmistakable sound of a bat against a ball – something I thought I wouldn’t hear for the rest of this year since spring sports have been suspended. Pulling into the baseball complex, I found two UIS student-athletes, members of the Prairie Stars baseball team, each in a separate batting cage, hitting balls. “Online classes are going fine,“one of them told me in answer to my question. “We’re going to get through this and we’re going to be back next season – better than ever.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is most certainly presenting unprecedented challenges. But I’m proud to say we’re deploying our assets effectively and, to quote two resilient young members of the UIS community, “We’re going to get through this and we’re going to be back next season – better than ever.”

Read the entire column online.

Friday, April 3, 2020

UIS Puts Its Hands-On Learning On Remote

Like many colleges, University of Illinois Springfield classes have transitioned to an online-only format to comply with the state’s efforts to combat the new coronavirus.

The transition has not been without difficulty for instructors. Some professors, by the very nature of what they teach, have run head-long into plenty of online obstacles.

Shane Harris is an associate professor of ceramics at UIS. He said teaching his ceramics course remotely is something he was a little apprehensive about. “I’ve been asked multiple times to teach online, but the reality is it’s a hands-on course,” Harris said. “You learn by making and doing and interacting, and, so, virtually it’s a lot more challenging to do that in my field.”

To keep it hands-on, Harris has had to figure out how to send physical art supplies to his students. His director told him to use department funds to pay for it. “So I ended up, with my student workers, called every single one of my students and asked them, ‘are you going to be back on campus? Can you pick up the clay? If not, then I am going to ship it to you,’” Harris said.

Harris said he’s not tech-savvy and says he never used the teaching website Blackboard before last week, but he said his students are helping him learn the ropes.

COLRS Director Vickie Cook said her department anticipated teachers quickly having to convert classes into a different medium. “Having that collapsed time to take what normally they would have several weeks to prepare, and in the middle of the semester, try to change tracks for modality is very difficult,” Cook said. Cook said the center has been helping teachers with the transition by introducing faculty to a bunch of different online teaching methods. ”And they’re doing that primarily through readings, interactive activities online that they’ve pulled together, videos that they have done or pulled together from other faculty in those same disciplines that have allowed their videos to be used,” Cook said.

Brian Chen is an assistant professor of public health at UIS. He attended the two workshops COLRS set up for faculty members to help prepare teachers for the transition. He said he learned how to connect to a VPN from his home when conducting class “[If] the faculty or instructor needs to work from home, they need to connect their office computers, then this is the knowledge they need to learn,” Chen said. He said instructors now have the choice to gather with students and interact in “real time” or to prepare course materials for students in advance. Now it’s in the students’ hands.

This story appeared on NPR Radio on April 2, 2020..

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Preparing for a Fall Without In-Person Classes

Let's give a full-throated shout-out to America's colleges and universities, their professors and staff professionals, and their students. Collectively, they pulled off a remarkable transition this spring, shifting instruction they had previously been delivering predominantly in person for most students to an almost entirely remote experience for pretty much everybody.

It may not have been seamless or pretty, and it certainly wasn't painless -- either for instructors having to deal with the anxiety of new tools or for students worrying about good internet access or where in their homes they could find a quiet place to study. But instruction continued to happen remotely, en masse.

If you'd asked most people months ago whether a higher education enterprise that many write off (often unfairly) as hidebound and change-averse was capable of a wholesale pivot in a matter of days or weeks, they'd have laughed. And yet it happened. Amazing.

So take a bow -- and a deep breath. Because now comes the hard part. You read that right, I'm afraid. Depending on how things go -- what the arc of COVID-19 is nationally or in certain regions of the country, whether physical distancing rules are still in place, etc. -- college campuses may remain off-limits to students come September. Whether that's a 5 percent likelihood, or 25 percent or 50 percent, I have no idea (I'm no Tony Fauci, and even he can't say for sure). But it's almost certainly not zero. 

Vickie S. Cook, executive director for online, professional and engaged learning at the University of Illinois at Springfield, says her institution has "started planning" for the possibility that "we're going to be forced into a virtual fall."

Cook raves about her university's emergency pivot to remote instruction this spring -- but she acknowledges that "teaching remotely is really different from teaching online." Will the expectation be higher in the fall than it was this spring? "I don't see how it couldn't be," Cook said. "By fall, students and parents have the right to expect a high-quality education, in whatever modality it's delivered," she said. "If it's online, it shouldn't 'less than,' especially when there's time to address it." 

Not that it will be easy, Cook acknowledges. Faculty buy-in for virtual instruction will remain an impediment, although she and others say they believe many professors will have emerged from this spring with a better appreciation of how challenging technology-enabled instruction can be.

Cook said she is less worried about equipping Illinois Springfield's instructors with whatever technology they might use to deliver courses in the fall than preparing them to teach effectively.

"Online learning is a type of teaching that requires very specific pedagogical skills," she said. "The pedagogy is more important than the technology." And like others interviewed for this article, Cook worries that institutions forced into online instruction this fall will shortchange a virtual transition for the noncurricular elements that can make or break student success, especially for the most vulnerable students: tutoring, writing centers, career counseling and good library resources.

This article appeared in Inside Higher Ed on April 1, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

UIS hosts webinar focusing on impact COVID-19 will have on small businesses

The University of Illinois Springfield is hosting a series of free, public webinars focused on the impact COVID-19 is having on small businesses.

The Mayor of Springfield, Jim Langfelder, says small businesses are the backbone of every economy. "The question is; what's the next steps we take to really rebuild our community, because the economic engine slowed up with small businesses, and we need to do whatever we can to keep those resources viable and going," Langfelder says.

UIS Director of Economic Development, Bruce Sommer, says COVID-19 is not only putting stress on small business owners, but the city's those businesses reside in. "There's a high risk that many of these businesses may not come back," Sommer says. "It's going to impact the economy significantly. I think most directly just the tax increments that come from the sales."

Sommer is hosting the webinars to help small business owners navigate through COVID-19. "It's evaluating risks and evaluating opportunities," Sommer says. "So, what are the risks of staying closed longer? How do we evaluate that risk? How do we evaluate the risk of customer base dwindling, because they don't have income coming in," Sommer says?

The discussions will focus on the impact COVID-19 is having on the economy, what programs are available for aid and how to apply.  Sommer says the university is hoping to host two webinars per week.

This story aired on WAND 17 on April 1, 2020.

Read the entire article online.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

UIS grants spring athletes extra year of eligibility

The NCAA is now granting all division one and two schools the choice whether to give their spring athletes another year of eligibility due to COVID-19's effect on their careers.

In Springfield, the University of Illinois Springfield's athletic director Peyton Deterding said the division two school has already granted their spring athletes permission to come back for an extra year. But that is just the tip of the iceberg for the teams and athletes.

At the division two level, sports don't give full scholarships to everybody, they give partials. So where will the money come from when there are incoming freshman as well as extra seniors on the team?

Deterding said UIS will pay the seniors scholarships out of pocket if they decide to stay for their extra year and it won't effect the normal scholarship pool.

Head baseball coach Ryan Copeland said there are other problems like playing time and transfers for current players. But, overall, the NCAA made the right decision by the kids, he said.

This story appeared online on WICS Newschannel 20 on March 31, 2020.

Read the entire story online.