Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UIS to help create online learning database

The University of Illinois Springfield is one of six schools sharing a $1 million grant to develop a database to help predict online learning success and provide help to students who may need it.

UIS will participate in the Predictive Analytics Reporting Framework project directed by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

Data to be collected include such things as a student’s age, academic record, gender, where he or she may have transferred from and other information, he said.

“In looking at the data, we should be able to identify patterns of success or trouble in the past,” said Ray Schroeder, director of the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service. “Then we can assign tutors or otherwise make sure the students have help available to them.”

The research was featured in an May 31, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Our Towns: Chatham residents graduate from UIS

Twenty-one Chatham residents were among 1,294 students recognized during the University of Illinois Springfield’s 40th commencement on May 14.

The graduates names were featured in the Our Towns section of The State Journal-Register on May 27, 2011.

Read the full article online

Emiquon offers expanded visitor facilities, opportunities

New visitor facilities at The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve create unprecedented opportunities for students, teachers, scientists, land managers and the general public to learn about the wetland and enjoy the restoration.

A public opening and ribbon cutting will be held June 4 at 11 a.m. The Emiquon Preserve is a 6,700-acre floodplain restoration located southwest of Peoria near Lewistown, Illinois.

Partners participating include: Dickson Mounds Museum, University of Illinois Springfield, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service among others.

The story was featured in an May 26, 2011, edition of the Canton Daily Ledger.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Defenders of the innocent

It’s not every day that a serial killer helps a writer solve a crime, so when Diane Fanning, a Texas true-crime author, received a letter from convicted killer Tommy Lynn Sells admitting to a murder in Illinois, she knew she was on to something big.

Fanning convinced Sells to give more details about the1997 murder of 10-year-old Joel Kirkpatrick of Lawrenceville, Ill., and she included his confession in her 2007 book, Through the Window, which details Sells’ cross-country murder spree. The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, later used the details gathered by Fanning to free Joel’s mother, Julie Rea Harper, who had been wrongly convicted of the murder in 2002.

On May 16, almost five years after her release from prison, Harper stood in front of a crowd of people and tightly hugged Fanning, who she calls her hero. Fanning was one of four people honored for contributing to the defense of the wrongly convicted at the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project’s 10th anniversary banquet. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and former Illinois State Police investigators Alva Busch and Michale Callahan also received the Innocence Project’s Defenders of the Innocent award.

The awards were featured in an May 26, 2011, edition of the Illinois Times.

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UIS declines to disclose federal discrimination report

The University of Illinois Springfield is refusing to make public a report sent to the U.S. Department of Education regarding discipline of student athletes, including two women softball players who were dismissed from the team last year.

The report was due April 29 as part of an agreement reached in February to resolve a complaint that the university has discriminated against female athletes. Barbara Hayler, a UIS professor emeritus who filed the complaint last year and requested a copy of the report, said she wants to know what the university did to determine whether discrimination occurred and what changes, if any, might be forthcoming in policies and procedures.

The article was published in an May 26, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NMU names interim provost

Northern Michigan University will be forming a committee this summer to find a new provost but in the meantime, Paul Lang will serve as interim provost during the transition period.

Provost Susan Koch recently announced she's heading to the University of Illinois-Springfield to be their chancellor.

President Wong commended Koch's decision in a statement in April, saying "every college president is proud when one of his senior team moves to a presidency of her own."

Koch was featured in an May 24, 2011, story by WLUC-TV in Negaunee, MI.

Read the full story online

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

UIS seeking suggestions for film series

The University of Illinois Springfield is looking for suggestions for next year’s Foreign & Independent Film Series. There will be four Friday night screenings each semester — the dates for fall are Sept. 9, Oct. 7, Nov. 11 and Dec. 9.

Students and members of the public are invited to suggest titles to the selection committee.

The series was featured on May 24, 2011, in a State Journal-Register blog post.

Read the post online

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Judy Guenseth: Virtual classrooms provide unique learning opportunity

Master's in Public Administration (MPA) graduate Judy Guenseth was featured in an May 18, 2011, op-ed in the Galesburg Register-Mail.

"In a society that focuses on the comforts of life, the challenges of coping with technological changes may put baby boomers out of their comfort zones. On the other hand, the youth of today have grown up with computers, the Internet and technological gadgets and are at ease with the digital world. The education setting has provided a springboard for this exposure and it has changed the way the classroom is structured.

As I attended a bricks and mortar university years ago, a manual typewriter was my trusted friend. Computers were something the school used to grade tests and print out class schedules. Fast forward to present day and virtual classrooms exist on a level not imagined even 10 years ago.

These vast changes have taken on a personal significance for me, as I will be graduating today from the University of Illinois at Springfield having never stepped into a campus classroom. It is especially endearing considering I never once had to dust off my manual typewriter to get the job done."

Read the full article online

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Schilling calls for debt reduction at town-hall meeting

U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling called for urgent reforms to reduce the nation’s debt at his first town-hall meeting in Springfield Monday.

The event, held at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Center, drew about 30 people.

Congress faces votes on whether to increase the nation’s debt ceiling, and Schilling, a first-term Republican from Colona, said significant cuts and assurances that the government won’t reaching the new ceiling again are needed for his support.

Schilling's appearance was featured in an May 18, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Three honored by Downstate Innocence Project

Two former police officers and a crime author whose work led to the exoneration of three people received Defenders of Innocence awards Monday.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, which works to modify the justice system and free innocent people who have been imprisoned, recognized Alva Busch, Michale Callahan and Diane Fanning.

Busch and Callahan are both former Illinois State Police officers who helped get two Illinois men exonerated.

The ceremony also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, which is based at the University of Illinois Springfield. UIS partners with the University of Illinois College of Law and Southern Illinois Law School.

The awards were featured in an May 17, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Husband and wife team continue to move UIS Theatre program forward

A day at the office for Missy and Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson is a bit of a balancing act.

Recently, Missy could be found trading off answering student e-mails from her office at the University of Illinois Springfield and offering homework assistance to her daughter, who was off school for a holiday. Down the hall, husband Eric concentrated on grading student papers in his own office before packing up and breezing by his wife and daughter on the way to his next class.

This is the norm for these two UIS professors of theater: passing in the halls; discussions and preparation for their theater courses; and, finally, leaving behind work to rejoin each other around the kitchen table. The Thibodeaux-Thompsons carry on their act each day, one of balance between family, their own work and each other.

The Thibodeaux-Thompsons were featured in an May 2011 feature article in Springfield's Own Magazine.

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Commentary: Reflections on good and evil

The following is a portion of a guest commentary written by Dr. Ali M. Nizamuddin, associate professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield. It was published in an May 17, 2011, edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"For far too many Americans, the mere mention of the word Islam elicits negative imagery of long bearded men with suicide belts who delight in the slaughter of innocent people. The stereotypical portrayal has become the accepted norm. Muslims are perceived as backward, inherently violent and misogynic. No one has contributed more to the perpetuation of these stereotypes than Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist organization.

I was in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. As a graduate student at Columbia University, I, along with other students, went to the top of the School of International and Public Affairs building and saw the New York skyline change in front of my eyes. For me, it took weeks for the primal feelings of fear and horror to subside. The memories of that day have been rekindled with the recent killing of bin Laden."

Read the full commentary online

Crete-Monee's King signs with UIS men's hoops

University of Illinois Springfield coach Ben Wierzba announced Monday that Crete-Monee High School senior Kentrell King has signed a letter of intent for next season.

The 5-foot-10 King was Crete-Monee’s starting point guard for four seasons and helped the Warriors to four regional titles. Crete-Monee won two Southland Conference titles and one sectional and advanced to the Class 4A Elite Eight last season, finishing 25-4.

King was featured in an May 17, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Graduation proud moment for UIS professor and son

Bill Abler had a different view than most parents who witnessed the University of Illinois Springfield’s commencement ceremony Saturday.

While other parents filled the balcony and bleachers of the Prairie Capital Convention Center, Abler, a UIS associate professor of human development counseling, was on stage handing his son, Patrick, his diploma.

It was a proud moment watching his son walk across the stage to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Abler said. When he began teaching at UIS in 1994, the school did not offer four-year undergraduate degrees.

“It’s pretty big for me,” he said. “I never expected to be on stage with him and have him graduate from UIS.”

Commencement was featured in an may 15, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Students with disabilities overcome obstacles to graduate from UIS

They told her she shouldn’t even be in college.

That’s the advice Alex Carrano, 24, received from staff to deal with her learning disability and test anxiety at a former university before she transferred to University of Illinois Springfield. But Carrano, originally from LaGrange, a Chicago suburb, will prove them wrong May 14 when she walks across the stage at the Prairie Capital Convention Center to receive her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies.

“I think about that and it brings me down a little,” says Carrano. “But since UIS, I haven’t had any problems. They’ve definitely been willing to help.”

With help from the Office of Disability Services at UIS, she is one of 40 students with a diagnosed disability who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The number of graduates with disabilities is up at UIS by 33 percent from 2010, when 30 students with disabilities graduated from UIS. Twelve students with disabilities graduated in 2009, according to ODS staff. The numbers show that more students are willing to step forward to get help than in years past.

The Office of Disability Services was featured in an May 12, 2011, article in the Illinois Times.

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The growing effort to attract international students to UIS

Over the last decade the University of Illinois Springfield has slowly but steadily increased the number of international students in attendance, reaching 5 percent of the overall student body in graduate studies and working toward the same ratio for undergraduates by the fall of 2012. Almost 63 percent of the 218 international students come from a region near Bangalore, India, to earn graduate degrees in computer science through a special fast track program offered by UIS that allows completion in less than the normal two years.

Shruthi Gennepally from Hyderabad, India, graduates after completing her master’s program this summer and gets to walk on May 14 in the UIS graduation ceremonies. Several of her cousins and an older brother graduated from UIS and she always planned on coming here to do her graduate work.

“This was my first choice. Everyone from my city talks about coming to UIS. I’m totally into computer science and graduated with my bachelor’s in 2007,” she explains. “Mostly there aren’t any changes in lifestyle for me here. I hang around friends from back home, eat the same food and do the same things. After I graduate, I’ll work here for awhile, then return home.”

The article on international students was published in an May 12, 2011, edition of the Illinois Times.

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Three Glenwood graduates honored at UIS

Lawrence Crowley, Brett Gerger and Joshua Kilhoffer, all of Chatham, were inducted into the University of Illinois Springfield Beta Gamma Sigma honor society chapter during a ceremony on Sunday, May 1, 2011, in Brookens Auditorium.

Beta Gamma Sigma is the international honor society serving business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma is the highest recognition a business student anywhere in the world can receive in a business program accredited by AACSB International. The society grants admission to the top 10 percent of the baccalaureate class and the top 20 percent of graduate students.

The awards were featured in an May 12, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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What did Mortenson do with Springfield's money?

Greg Mortenson appeared in Springfield on March 3, visiting students at Laketown Elementary School, being feted at a $125 a plate dinner at UIS’s PAC restaurant, and then speaking about his charities to a full house at Sangamon Auditorium. He was well-received at each venue. Mortenson was paid $33,000 plus travel expenses, including a chauffeur-driven limousine, to appear in Springfield.

Then came the “60 Minutes” exposé on April 17. The “60 Minutes” team investigated Mortenson and his charities, Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace, for months, spending a considerable amount of time in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We’re watching the situation to see what develops,” Derek Schnapp, head of the public relations office at UIS, said last week. Schnapp confirmed that it is not unusual for a speaker to request a limousine to campus events. UIS booked Mortenson through the Penguin Speakers Bureau in New York City, and his fee was paid to them, Schnapp said. The idea to book Mortenson was a collaborative effort coming out of the campus Student Affairs office, Schnapp added.

The story was published in an May 12, 2011, edition of the Illinois Times.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Message, not the messenger, most important for area commencement speakers

The commencement speaker at the University of Illinois Springfield this year is Martin Castro, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

“Obviously we want a speaker who would have a good message to our students,” said University of Illinois Springfield spokesman Derek Schnapp.

“Cost is a factor when we look for a commencement speaker,” Schnapp added. “We have paid an honorarium and travel costs, but not in the past few years. We are paying for his hotel this year.”

Commencement was featured in an May 10, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Survey finds local business owners more optimistic

Sangamon County business owners are in a better mood compared with last fall.

A spring economic outlook survey by the University of Illinois Springfield found that one-third of business owners expect the local economy to grow at least some in the next year. Last fall, only 18 percent expressed that sentiment.

Nearly 40 percent of business owners surveyed said they are optimistic about their own businesses, also up from 18 percent in the fall. UIS conducts the survey in the spring and fall for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

The survey was featured in an May 8, 2011, article by The State Journal-Register.

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Buck gets academic award

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Tina Buck was named third-team Academic All-District 5 on Friday by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

The St. Louis native was nominated as a designated player after she split time between pitching and hitting.

Buck led the Prairie Stars with 73 strikeouts in 93 2/3 innings. She pitched a no-hitter against Panhandle State (Okla.) on Feb. 25.

To be nominated for the CoSIDA academic all-region award, a student-athlete must have a grade-point average of 3.3 or higher and play in 50 percent of his/her team’s games or be a major contributor.

Buck was featured in an May 8, 2011, article by The State Journal-Register.

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Hawks' Kesinger picks UIS

Carrollton High School senior golfer Elizabeth Kesinger, who tied for 15th at the Class A Girls State Tournament last fall, has signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars.

Kesinger played mostly for the boys team, but helped start a girls program. She was a three-time sectional qualifier at Carrollton. Her 18-hole low is 80.

Kesinger was featured in an May 8, 2011, article by The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Caregiver or killer?

The last person to watch Matthew Czapski was Pamela Jacobazzi, then a 39-year-old day care provider in Bartlett, west of Chicago near Elgin, who had just started watching the child eight days earlier. Naturally, Jacobazzi became the main suspect, although no one actually saw her shake Matthew.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project – based at the University of Illinois Springfield – has taken on Jacobazzi’s case and will work to re-investigate the case and gather new evidence. The project is celebrating its 10th anniversary on May 16, and a large federal grant has allowed them to hire an in-house attorney for the first time.

“I feel this is a case where she is actually innocent,” says Bill Clutter, a Springfield-based private investigator and founding member of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. “There’s medical evidence that would have changed the outcome of the jury verdict.”

The story was published in an May 5, 2011, article by the Illinois Times.

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Graduate art on display at UIS

Graduating artists at the University of Illinois Springfield are exhibiting their work through May 15. A reception is set for 5:30 to 8 p.m. today in the Visual Arts Gallery.

The exhibit, titled “VIII,” includes ceramics, sculpture, paintings and digital and mixed media.

The Visual Arts Gallery is in the Health and Sciences Building. Additional works are on display in the Access Gallery, located in the Visual and Performing Arts Building. Admission is free.

For more information, contact the gallery at 206-6506 or gallery@uis.edu.

The story was published in an May 5, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pettiford signs with UIS men's basketball team

University of Illinois Springfield coach Ben Wierzba has signed Kaskaskia College sophomore transfer Kevin Pettiford.

The 5-foot-9 point guard and Belleville native averaged 11 points and four assists for 18-13 Kaskaskia last season. He was named to the All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference and All-NJCAA Region 24 teams as a freshman.

Pettiford was Belleville East High School’s leading scorer his senior year with 14 points. He averaged 5.2 assists. He added 54 steals and 37 3-pointers.

Pettiford was featured in an May 3, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

UIS expands international partnerships to Gambian university

A study-abroad partnership with an African university is the latest among more than 30 such collaborations between the University of Illinois Springfield and foreign counterparts.

The long-term partnership with the University of The Gambia in Africa will focus on environmental health issues facing Gambia — Africa’s smallest country — and the United States.

Josiah Alamu, assistant professor of public health at UIS, spearheaded the effort.

“It is my baby project,” said Alamu, who has been working to set up the collaboration for a year. “We hope this is an opportunity for UIS students to learn how Gambians understand international issues and how those perspectives differ from American perspectives.”

As part of the arrangement, students in the public health, global studies and teacher education programs at UIS will visit local clinics in Gambia to learn how officials carry out health education, immunizations and other public health services.

The study-abroad program was featured in an May 1, 2o11, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS' Dayaratne wins sportsmanship award

University of Illinois Springfield senior tennis player Punsisi Dayaratne has been named the recipient of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Male Sportsmanship Award, the conference announced Thursday.

The GLVC Sportsmanship Awards are presented to student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through demonstrated acts of sportsmanship and ethical behavior. The GLVC Executive Committee reviews the slate of nominations and determines the recipients of the awards.

According to a press release from the GLVC: “Dayaratne has exemplified the etiquette expected in the game. He has shown respect for his opponents and has played fairly and honestly in a sport where decisions on line calls are determined by the players. Dayaratne has displayed respect, civility and integrity even when disagreeing with an opponent’s call and has never had a point penalty while competing for the Prairie Stars.’’

Dayaratne was recognized in an May 2, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Five questions with Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame

Michael Burlingame, the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, will be speaking at Pine Point School in Stonington about "Lincoln's mindset at the beginning of the Civil War."

He is the author and/or editor of a dozen books on Lincoln, not the least of which is his two-volume biography, "Abraham Lincoln: A Life," published in 2008, which has been hailed as the definitive work on the 16th president.

The Day, a Connecticut newspaper asked Burlingame five questions about Lincoln during a May 2, 2011 interview.

Read Burlingame's full Q&A online