Monday, October 31, 2011

UIS to begin offering online seminars

The University of Illinois Springfield has a successful record of offering online for-credit and degree courses, yet it hadn’t delved much into not-for-credit seminars and activities.

That’s about to change, said Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the university. Starting in November, five continuing education seminars will be offered online.

“Many universities do offer those kinds of things, and we thought we could do well in that area,” he said.

The seminars and workshops can be taken by anyone, anywhere but are aimed at those living in Springfield and surrounding areas.

The first live, online seminars to be offered are called “HR Training Tuesdays” and consist of five two-hour seminars on human resources topics that enable HR professionals to earn continuing education credit connected to their certification.

The seminars will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays — three in November beginning Nov. 1 — and two in December. Each costs $49. Sign up on the UIS website.

The workshops were featured in an October 31, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS men's basketball team a work in progress

Coach Ben Wierzba’s project of building the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team into a competitive NCAA Division II program has entered Year 2.

Wierzba appears better equipped for the challenge. Getting hired one month before the 2010-11 season kept him from assembling a recruiting class and spending the bulk of the off season with the players. Wierzba has been hard at work since the Stars played their last game in February.

“We’ve had a good off season,” he said. “We’ve had a good preseason. The two biggest needs we were looking for was adding size and length and adding depth at every position. I think we’ve done that.”

He has brought in six newcomers. UIS returns seven players from last season’s team that produced records of 8-17 overall and 4-14 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

The team was featured in an October 29, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Review: 'I Hate Hamlet' gives humorous glimpse into acting profession

The notion that playing the Melancholy Dane is to acting what rocket science and brain surgery are to other professions -- or as the main character describes it, "algebra on stage" -- is humorously deflated in UIS Theatre's fall production, "I Hate Hamlet."

Written by Paul Rudnick and directed for the University of Illinois Springfield by Eric Thiboudeaux-Thompson, "I Hate Hamlet" takes place in the New York City apartment once occupied by legendary actor John Barrymore (and, in real life, by Rudnick when he wrote the script in 1991).

"I Hate Hamlet" runs 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission, and contains some adult language and themes. The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. today and Nov. 3-5, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors age 65 and older, $8 for UIS faculty and staff, and $6 for UIS students. An additional charge of $2 applies to tickets purchased at the door. For tickets purchased online or by phone, additional charges of $5 apply.

Tickets may be purchased during regular business hours or up to 90 minutes before each show at the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office, located on level two of the UIS Public Affairs Center. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 206-6160 or (800) 207-6960 or at

The review was published in an October 30, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

UIS Theatre to perform 'I Hate Hamlet'

Shortly after “I Hate Hamlet” opened on Broadway in 1991, the comedy became legendary for its leading man problems.

Paul Rudnick’s play, the subject of a new local production by UIS Theatre, tells the story of TV actor Andrew Rally. He gets the chance to play Hamlet in Central Park, but as the title suggests, Andrew is not wild about the role, and he’s soon tempted by a lucrative Hollywood deal.

At the urging of his agent, Andrew holds a séance in which he conjures the ghost of early 20th century actor John Barrymore. The legend of stage and screen not only appears, but proceeds to take over Andrew’s life.

Hilarity ensues as Andrew wrestles with his conscience — and swordfights Barrymore’s ghost — over his career.

On Broadway, the aging actor playing Barrymore was clashing with his cast mates to the point where he injured the actor playing Andrew in a stage swordfight. The row became front-page news in The New York Times.

Here’s hoping for better luck for UIS Theatre’s production, which opens Friday in the Studio Theatre on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield.

The play was featured in an October 27, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Processed foods still dominate school lunches

Schools and education experts say providing healthier entree options comes down to how to most easily meet nutrition guidelines and cost.

“I’d love to have full-cut chicken breasts, instead of pre-formed,” Hillsboro food director Tracy Collins said. “But the price point, it’s just not affordable.”

An educator from the University of Illinois Springfield said such lunch tray fare is all too common among American schools, despite highly visible pushes to get school children eating healthier.

“The biggest factor is the nutritional guidelines,” said Allan Cook, an associate professor of teacher education at UIS. “They tend to encourage pre-processed food, rather than locally grown, locally prepared.

“The guidelines say ‘vitamin A,’ instead of broccoli. Unless you have a nutritionist on staff, it’s a lot easier to go by the labels.”

Cook was featured in an October 26, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS men's hoops team picked 6th in GLVC West

The University of Illinois Springfield has been picked to finish sixth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division in a preseason coaches poll released Tuesday.

Drury is the favorite to win the division with 15 first-place votes. Quincy was picked second, followed by Missouri-St. Louis, William Jewell, Missouri S&T, UIS, Rockhurst and Maryville. Missouri-St. Louis received one first-place vote.

Defending NCAA Division II champion Bellarmine was picked to win the East Division and received 15 first-place votes. Kentucky Wesleyan was second and earned one first-place vote.

The ranking was featured in an October 26, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Golf: McKillips leads UIS

Mike McKillips tied for seventh and the University of Illinois Springfield placed four golfers in the top 20 to finish in third place Monday at the 14-team Maryville Fall Invitational.

McKillips shot 2-over-par 73 in both rounds to finish with a 146 for the Stars, who had a 603 team score.

Playing as an individual, UIS’ Sam Norbom fired a 72-79—151 to finished tied for 13th.

Rockhurst University won with a 594.

Shane McCafferty finished in a tie for 10th with a 74-75—149 for UIS.

The team was featured in an October 25, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Civil War symposium slated Friday, Saturday

The causes, conduct and consequences of the Civil War will be addressed Friday and Saturday during the second annual Wepner Symposium on the Lincoln Legacy and Contemporary Scholarship.

Admission is free.

A number of scholars will discuss topics during the symposium, which begins Friday at the Public Affairs Center Restaurant at the University of Illinois Springfield. A reception begins at 6 p.m., with the first symposium session at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, sessions meet from 9 a.m. to noon at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in downtown Springfield, and from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

The symposium was featured in an October 20, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Internship hall of fame to induct five

Five people, including four Springfield residents, are being inducted into the Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame at a Nov. 7 reception at the Executive Mansion.

The honorees, all former interns, are David Kennedy, Bruce Kinnett, Michael Maibach, Catherine Shannon and Frank Straus.

Illinois Issues magazine is sponsor of the Hall of Fame, which is named for the late Sam Gove, a founder of the magazine and longtime director of the internship program, which began in 1961.

The Nov. 7 event at the Executive Mansion will begin at 5:15 p.m., with the induction ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $65 and reservations are required by Friday. Information is available at 206-6084, and tickets can be purchased online at

The hall of fame was featured in an October 20, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Jackie Jackson releases her magnum opus, Vol. 1

Jacqueline Jackson still tends a herd of cows but nowadays they’re figurines on her mantle.

Raised on the Dougan Guernsey Dairy Farm near Beloit, Wis., in the 1930s and 40s, Jackie decided at age 14 to chronicle her family’s business. In the decades since, she’s published more than a dozen books, had several plays and musicals produced, and has written a poem a week for Illinois Times the past seven years. At long last, The Round Barn: A Biography of an American Farm will be released this month. See for details.

Jackson’s Round Barn projects led directly to her teaching “Writing a Woman’s Life” and later “Writing from Family Materials” at UIS. She was a founding faculty member at Sangamon State, now the University Illinois Springfield, and is currently a professor emerita.

She will be signing copies of her book on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Trout Lily Cafe, 218 South Sixth St. She’ll speak briefly around 6 p.m.

Jackson was featured in an October 20, 2011, article in The Illinois Times.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Local colleges see effects of state backlog

As of late last week, the state owed the University of Illinois about $323 million, with $233 million of that owed from fiscal 2011. About $10.5 million of that is owed UIS.

Susan Koch, chancellor at UIS, said the university’s responses to the shortfall were implemented before she started her position this summer.

“We’re being very, very prudent in financial management,” she said. “We’ve implemented an extra step with every hire, even replacement hires. We’re asking, ‘Is the position needed? Can duties be reorganized to cover it?’”

Koch said UIS is “constantly engaged in budget planning, sometimes weekly.”

A system-wide administrative review and restructuring program has saved $26 million. That effort includes leveraging purchasing power among the three U of I campuses.

“We’ve benefited greatly from that,” she said.

However, UIS hasn’t shortchanged the learning process, despite the state’s financial woes.

Koch's comments were featured in an October 19, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

UIS attraction is a great way to spend the weekend

Star Parties, hosted by the University of Illinois Springfield, are gatherings for everyone from amateur astronomers to star-crossed lovers in the observatory at UIS’ Brookens Library.

Star Parties are a way to see the shining, bright sky and learn a few new things about space from UIS astronomy and physics professors. These parties are pretty popular, attracting masses of people — including a few teens.

As we walked up the stairs to the observatory, John Martin, a professor of astronomy at UIS, told us a little more about the sun, the planets and the stars.

If you find yourself with nothing to do at 8 p.m. on a Friday, check out the star parties. They are a really fun way to learn more about outer space for free.

Star Parties were featured in a Voice article written by high school senior Jessica Grim. The article was published in an October 18, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

YouTube clicks with Republican presidential candidates

When Rick Perry launched an attack of Mitt Romney’s health care plan this week, he didn’t call a news conference, give a big speech or take to the airwaves.

Perry’s campaign turned instead to YouTube, posting a Web video that caught media attention and prompted Romney’s campaign to quickly respond.

Six decades after Richard Nixon’s famous “Checkers speech” propelled television to a central role in political campaigns, Web video could be poised for a similar breakout in 2012.

Michael Cheney, a senior fellow in government and public affairs at the University of Illinois at Springfield, compared the potential effect to Nixon’s speech, when the flagging vice presidential candidate used an emotional appeal to bypass the press. Nixon denied misusing campaign funds and included a heart-tugging reference to a dog named Checkers given to his family.

By turning to television, Nixon was able to take his message over the heads of the press directly to voters. The tactic worked: His speech drew an outpouring of support and compelled the GOP to keep him on the presidential ticket.

“More and more, candidates are using YouTube and the Web to circumvent the normal gatekeeper functions of reporters and the media,” said Cheney, who studies politics and the Web.

Cheney's comments were featured in an October 13, 2011, article in The Dallas Morning News.

Friday, October 14, 2011

SSU's 1986 champions to be honored Sunday

The 1986 Sangamon State University national championship soccer team will be honored at a 25-year reunion Sunday at halftime of the University of Illinois Springfield’s 2:30 p.m. men’s game against Northern Kentucky at Kiwanis Stadium.

Former coach Aydin Gonulsen and players will be on hand for the festivities.

The UIS women’s soccer game against Northern Kentucky begins at noon.

All soccer alumni are invited to walk in the homecoming parade today at 4:15 p.m. A barbecue will take place outside the stadium prior to today’s Great Lakes Valley Conference soccer doubleheader against Bellarmine.

The women’s match begins at 5 p.m. Former soccer players will be recognized at halftime of the men’s game that starts at 7:30 p.m. The night will culminate with a fireworks display.

The reunion was featured in an October 14, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Leading UIS into the future

Asked what is her most important accomplishment at the University of Illinois Springfield, and Susan Koch, about 100 days into her position as chancellor, names Kimberly Pate.

“The hiring of our athletic director was absolutely critical, and even though I wasn’t on board yet I was very, very involved with the hire through the months of May and June because I knew it was very critical,” says Koch, who began her term as UIS chancellor on July 1.

Formerly provost at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Koch in her first several months has listed numerous priorities ranging from boosting faculty diversity to finding a niche for UIS in Springfield’s growing medical community. With each priority, though, Koch issues a central message – that of making connections, with both the campus and Springfield communities.

Meanwhile, Koch’s first new hire, athletic director Kimberly Pate, says her department and the students representing it are the key to some of those connections. “I hope that athletics can be the front porch that connects the community with the university. I do hope that we will become Springfield’s university, that we will earn the respect and recognition from the community as their college team,” Pate says.

Koch and Pate were featured in an October 13, 2011, article in the Illinois Times.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

India's half-hearted welcome for foreign universities

U.S. universities may not be setting up shop in India yet, but they’re already attracting Indian students in droves – mostly graduate students. Last year, 105,000 Indian students were studying abroad in the U.S., the second most behind China’s 127,000.

At a college fair Monday organized at New Delhi’s Shangri-La Hotel as part of the trade mission, 21 U.S. universities were recruiting and the high enthusiasm of Indian students to go abroad was on display.

Elenora Haag, who was representing the University of Illinois at Springfield, said the school has already had surprising interest from Indians with almost no marketing – of its 200 foreign students (out of a student population of 5,000) 80% are Indians. “It’s entirely by word of mouth,” she said.

But she added that the school is hoping to diversify the kind of Indians it attracts. All its Indians now are computer science graduate students and, interestingly, all are from Hyderabad. “I guess some of them came and told their friends back home in Hyderabad to come,” Ms. Haag says.

Haag's comments were featured in an October 11, 2011, article in The Wall Street Journal.

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Lincoln, Civil War to be discussed

The topic of the 2011 Lincoln Legacy Lectures, to be given Thursday night, will be “Lincoln and the Civil War.”

Speakers will be Michael Burlingame, Naomi Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS, and Lucas Morel, professor of politics at Washington and Lee University.

The lectures, which begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, are free and open to the public, along with a reception and book signing that will follow.

The Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series is sponsored by the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership in cooperation with the Lynn Chair in Lincoln Studies.

The series was featured in an October 11, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Women's soccer: Prairie Stars win on road

Erin Egolf, Kaitlyn Logan and Hannah Fyfe scored for the University of Illinois Springfield in a 3-0 victory over the Missouri S&T Miners in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match Friday.

It was the second win in four contests for the Prairie Stars (4-5-1 overall, 3-5-1 in the GLVC.) Egolf is UIS’ top scorer with six goals.

The Miners (3-6-1, 3-6) had 15 shots to the Stars’ 13. Kelli Kubal recorded seven saves for UIS.

The win was featured in an October 8, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

UIS nearing fundraising goal

The University of Illinois Springfield is very close to its campus fundraising goal of $28 million, Chancellor Susan Koch said Wednesday.

UIS has pledges of $26.5 million, and “it is my goal to put us over the top,” Koch told The State Journal-Register editorial board. “Many people in the community are very supportive of UIS.”

The University of Illinois Foundation's Brilliant Futures fundraising campaign, covering all three U of I campuses, topped its $2.25 billion goal several months early. The foundation, the university’s fundraising arm, said in late September that Brilliant Futures has raised $2.267 billion in donations from graduates, corporations and others. The campaign ends Dec. 31.

While that campaign is ending, the U of I is launching its Presidential Scholarship Initiative to raise $100 million or more over the next three years.

“One of the critical issues for UIS, as is the case for most public university campuses, is ensuring access to a college education for all students who have the desire to learn and the ability to succeed,” Koch said. “For more students to access our excellent University of Illinois degree here in Springfield, we need more scholarships.”

The fundraising effort was featured in an October 6, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Volleyball: UIS beats Benedictine

Annie Nottingham had 14 kills and teammate Rebeka Pruemer had 28 assists to lead host University of Illinois Springfield to a 25-19, 25-21, 25-15 win over Benedictine University of Springfield.

Kellee Mahaffay and Sam Mainzer both had nine digs.

The win was featured in an October 6, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Cut to perfection

Illinois State Museum, Prairie Art Alliance, Springfield Art Association, University of Illinois at Springfield and Robert Morris College have bound together to present a citywide exhibition, Partners on Paper, through the month of October.

UIS Visual Arts Gallery offers the paper work of Oregon artist Helen Hiebert, featuring The Mother Tree, a life-size handmade paper dress with crocheted threads extending from its base as roots. Visitors can add their own words to the exhibit on notepads.

An opening reception is Oct. 21 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at which time all organizations will host receptions simultaneously so patrons can gallery hop to see all the paper art at each venue.

The exhibit was featured in an October 6, 2011, article in the Illinois Times.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Local schools in Pink Festival

The Benedictine University at Springfield, Lincoln Land Community College, Robert Morris University and University of Illinois Springfield volleyball teams will all play tonight in the Pink Volleyball Festival at The Recreation and Athletic Center on the UIS campus.

The teams have sold commemorative shirts promoting breast cancer awareness with the proceeds going to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. Fans wearing these shirts will receive free admission to both matches.

LLCC, No. 19 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll, and Robert Morris face off at 5:30 p.m. UIS and Benedictine meet in the 7 p.m. match.

The Pink Festival was featured in an October 5, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

UIS professor to receive national award

A University of Illinois Springfield professor has been chosen to receive a national Excellence in Online Teaching award from the Sloan Consortium, a group made up of fellow online educators.

Michael Cheney, professor of communication, is known for his popular online courses, which include “The Beatles: Popular Music and Society,” “Political Communication” and “Writing for Public Relations.” Last year, Cheney’s “Unit 1: Beatles as Mosaic” podcast was the second-most-downloaded podcast on iTunes U for several weeks. The series also was listed in the “Noteworthy” section of iTunes U.

The award is one of the highest honors presented by the Sloan Consortium, which previously has recognized UIS faculty and programs for their online learning successes.

“UIS is known for its excellence in online education, and I am happy to contribute to that reputation through my work,” Cheney said.

The award was featured in an October 4, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

UIS Mock Crash

A mock car crash is catching the attention of students all over central Illinois. The event at the University of Illinois Springfield is designed to give kids a look at what reality can look like on the road, especially if someone is drinking and driving.

Andrew Nicol
is a senior at UIS. Two of his closest friends were recently killed in a DUI crash. He was a part of the Road to Reality event, which made memories rush back.

Road to Reality was featured by WCIA Channel 3 in an September 30, 2011 report.

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