Thursday, March 29, 2012

UIS softball team sparkling on the diamond

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team wore shorts and sleeveless shirts instead of typical garb during practice Wednesday afternoon, allowing the Prairie Stars to work on their tans while putting in work.

The relaxed dress was a reward from coach Mat Mundell for a job well done. The Prairie Stars are well above the .500 mark and have won nine of their 10 games in the last two weeks.

“It’s always fun being successful,” UIS junior second baseman Sarah Gray said. “Pitching, hitting and fielding. It’s all coming together.”

The year is shaping up to be an exciting one. The Stars lead the eight-team Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division at 9-5, a mark that includes back-to-back sweeps of Missouri S&T and Drury.

UIS is ranked among statistical leaders in the nation and GLVC.

The team was featured in an March 29, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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University of Illinois farmland grows scholarships, offsets costs

When you think of money for college, farmland probably doesn’t come to mind. But for the past 37 years, University of Illinois students have received financial assistance by way of soybeans and corn from Sangamon County.

Farmland around the University of Illinois Springfield is owned and operated by the school. That land was purchased by the university and goes toward general operations.

Area farmers manage the land for the school. In return, the university receives cash rent and a share of the crop. The Sangamon County endowment farms along with the farmland around UIS produce corn and soybeans with some wheat on occasion.

University of Illinois Springfield Operations Farm (next to UIS campus)
  • 263 acres
  • Harvest earned approximately $80,000 in 2011

The land was featured in an March 29, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Alternative Spring Break sends UIS students to New Orleans

A group of University of Illinois Springfield students experienced a week of learning and helping — with a little sightseeing thrown in — over spring break when they went to New Orleans to repair flood-damaged homes.

Twenty-two students and two staff members made the trip March 11-18 to work with HisHands2Go (HH2G), an organization created shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to facilitate volunteer efforts, as part of the UIS Alternative Spring Break group.

“I had never done it before, and it was helping people out,” said UIS sophomore Sam Zielke. “In the end, it was very rewarding.”

The students involved in Alternative Spring Break mostly decided themselves where they would perform volunteer work, said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

“There were some logistical concerns within the boundaries of the money they can earn,” Dochterman said.

The story was featured in an March 24, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS chancellor discusses transition

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch has invited Robert Easter, who will be the U of I system president for the next two years, to the UIS campus “and he will be visiting soon.”

Koch sent an email to the UIS community Friday commenting on Thursday’s resignation of beleaguered U of I President Michael Hogan.

“Since my appointment as chancellor this past July, I have valued the opportunity to work with President Hogan,” Koch wrote. “I have especially appreciated his support for the Springfield campus and his commitment to our continued advancement as one of the three campuses of the University of Illinois. I wish Mike and his wife, Virginia all the best in the future.”

She said she is pleased that Easter will be the president for the next two years.

Koch's statement was featured in an March 24, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Internship leads to ideas for MacArthur Boulevard

Michael McPeek says he didn’t have to look beyond MacArthur Boulevard for his master’s degree project in urban renewal.

McPeek, whose daytime job is in maintenance with the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, has spent his free time since last fall working on ideas for improving the appearance of one of Springfield’s most heavily developed corridors.

“History has always interested me, and urban development,” said the Taylorville native, who moved to an area just off MacArthur about a year ago.

McPeek, 30, signed on as an intern with the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association as part of his work toward a master’s in environmental studies and planning at the University of Illinois Springfield.

He is scheduled to graduate in May and plans to share hise project results with MBBA. This week alone, McPeek said, he met with 15 to 20 shop owners.

McPeek was featured in an March 24, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Easter is UI trustees' choice to avoid 'holding pattern'

After just two years as president of the University of Illinois, Michael Hogan "concluded that the time was right for him to return" to teaching and research, UI board Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy said Thursday after announcing Hogan's surprise resignation.

And now the UI board of trustees has again turned to 36-year faculty member Robert Easter — who already has served as interim provost and interim chancellor of the Urbana campus — to be the new president.

This time, though, Easter, 64, will be more than interim. He gets a two-year term beginning July 1.

"We did not want an interim. We wanted to continue to move forward. We don't want to be in a holding pattern," Kennedy said.

The news was reported in an March 23, 2012, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

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University of Illinois President Michael Hogan resigns

When University of Illinois President Michael Hogan took over 20 months ago after an embarrassing scandal, his supporters championed him as a likable reformer who could stabilize the university.

On Thursday, he resigned after months of turmoil, a faculty mutiny and a scandal in the president's office that had left him so sidelined that people began to question not whether he would quit but when.

His last day as president will be July 1, and he is the second U. of I. president to resign under fire in less than three years. Robert Easter, who has been everything from a doctoral student to interim chancellor in nearly four decades at the U. of I., will take over for at least two years.

The resignation was reported in an March 23, 2012, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

UIS to host annual Friday Night Star Parties

If spring has sprung, the University of Illinois Springfield has also opened its telescope apertures on the heavens for those in Springfield with a hankering to look closer at the stars and planets.

The popular Friday Night Star Parties begins the last week in March and runs every Friday through April during clement weather. Host John Martin, assistant professor of astronomy/physics, says that during this season Jupiter and Venus are bright in the west around sunset and Mars and Saturn rise later in the evening in the east.

The entrance to the rooftop observatory is at the southeast corner of UIS Brookens Library. Guests receive a presentation as they ascend the four flights of stairs, followed by viewing of various celestial objects, when they may also ask questions.

Visitors are welcome to arrive and leave any time between 8 and 10 p.m. Cloudy weather may cancel a Star Party. Questions as to if the weather is suitable for star gazing should be made at 7 p.m. the evening of the party.

For those unable to climb stairs or a short five-foot ladder up to the main telescope dome, Sunday Night Star Parties are held for people with disabilities. More info is at

The Star Parties were featured in an March 22, 2012, article in the Illinois Times.

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College Report: Smith, Prairie Stars on a roll

The University of Illinois-Springfield is on a roll winning their last four softball games.

Mandy Smith (Nokomis), a University of Illinois-Springfield sophomore, has scored or driven home a run in three of the their last four games. Her best effort was in the last four games was the most recent game. In the 6-5 win over Drury University, Smith smacked her second double of the year, going one-for-four. She drove home one run, scored once and stole one base.

She also drove home a run, had a hit or scored a hit in the three other games. In the 5-0 win over Missouri University of Science and Technology, Smith drove home one. She walked and scored in the 6-3 loss to Missouri University of Science of Technology. The former Redskin was 1-for-4 in the 5-4 win over Drury University. The University of Illinois-Springfield is 11-9 overall and 6-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Smith was featured in an March 22, 2012, article in the Hillsboro Journal-News.

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Book Review: The last Illinois statesman

Just when it is fashionable to bemoan the loss of bipartisanship in politics, along comes a book that waxes nostalgic for the days when legislators threw punches at each other. Former Illinois Senate President Philip J. Rock’s memoir, "Nobody Calls Just to Say Hello", points to a big difference between now and then: once the punches – both verbal and physical – were thrown, combatants could retire to Rock’s Springfield backyard for beer and barbeque.

Rock teamed with Ed Wojcicki, associate chancellor for constituent relations at University of Illinois Springfield, to pen Rock’s remembrances of public life. Rock provides plenty of detail about his 22 years in the Senate, his rise in the Cook County and Illinois Democratic Party organizations and his public service philosophy. What he doesn’t divulge are many personal particulars about his family life or his veering from the priesthood path to politics. Providing those may have given readers an understanding of why and how Rock became what some call one of the state’s last statesmen.

The review was featured in an March 22, 2012, edition of the Illinois Times.

Read the review online

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Former Mercer coach Rooke gets UIS volleyball job

New University of Illinois Springfield volleyball coach Noelle Rooke spent the previous eight seasons as the head coach at NCAA Division I Mercer.

First-year UIS athletic director Kim Pate announced Wednesday that Rooke is replacing Angie Riggle as the Prairie Stars’ coach. Riggle’s contract was not renewed after three seasons and expired in February.

“Coach Rooke brings a broad range of collegiate coaching experience as well as a tremendous passion for coaching the sport of volleyball,” Pate said. “I was extremely impressed with Rooke’s coaching philosophy and commitment to the student-athlete experience and look forward to the comprehensive development of UIS volleyball as a respectable and competitive Division II program under her leadership.”

The 38-year-old Rooke left Mercer as the winningest coach in program history.

Rooke was featured in an March 15, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

UIS students take Alternative Spring Break

While a lot of college kids are packing up for the beach, twenty one University of Illinois Springfield students are packing for a different reason. They're heading to New Orleans Sunday, but they won't be partying.

They'll rebuild homes and gardens for families who lost everything during Hurricane Katrina. To these students, it's the chance of a lifetime.

The Alternative Spring Break trip is a student effort. The group chose the location and raised funds.

The trip was featured by WCIA-TV in an March 8, 2012, report.

Watch the story online

Brookens named Federal Depository Library

The Norris L Brookens Library at the University of Illinois Springfield is the newest library to join the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

Although the Brookens Library joined the FDLP in 2011, its active involvement and participation with Federal Government documents began over two decades ago. In order to meet the university and nearby community’s research needs, a selective housing agreement was created in 1988 between the library and Lumpkin Library at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. The then-named Sangamon State University began to collect, house, and maintain the Federal depository documents of Blackburn College, one of only seven Work Colleges recognized by the U.S. Government as defined in the U.S. Code. As there were no openings in their congressional district at the time, Sangamon State was not able to pursue Federal depository status until a designation opening became available. Sangamon State University was founded in 1969 in the capital of Illinois, Springfield; it became the third campus of the University of Illinois in 1995 and has since been known as the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS).

As a result of this partnership, UIS’s Norris L Brookens Library houses over 200,000 Government documents collected prior to their official designation as a depository. Operating under the selective housing agreement since 1988, the library has a demonstrated track record of communicating with the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) in order to maintain the free public access requirements of the FDLP. At present, UIS serves just over 5,100 students and touts its small public university status, offering high-quality liberal arts education, public affairs activities, and professional programs.

The news was featured in an March 7, 2012, FDLP Connection article.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

UIS' Fakuade earns all-Midwest honor

University of Illinois Springfield senior forward Michael Fakuade has been named to the Daktronics All-Midwest Region second team.

Members of the College Sports Information Directors of America chose the team.

Fakuade ranks third in the nation in blocked shots at 3.5 per game, sixth in rebounding at 11 per game and 13th in double-doubles with 13.

Fakuade helped the Prairie Stars to a 15-13 overall record, a 12-6 GLVC mark and the program’s first-ever GLVC tournament appearance this season.

Fakuade was featured in an March 8, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS innocence group helps clear Aurora man of murder charge

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, had a role in the exoneration of a 30-year-old Aurora man who had been imprisoned 12 years for a murder he didn’t commit.

Jonathan Moore walked free following a hearing in Kane County Circuit Court on Tuesday. His exoneration was a cooperative effort among the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, the Kane County state’s attorney’s office and Aurora police.

Moore was convicted in 2002 of killing 20-year-old Shawn Miller and the attempted murder of a second man during a shooting in front of an Aurora coin laundry in 2000. He was sentenced to 76 years in prison.

In the ensuing years, a witness came forward that prompted the Aurora Police Department to start a new investigation of the case. That investigation produced numerous other witnesses and evidence pointing to another person, said John Hanlon, legal director of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, which is at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The case was featured in an March 8, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

UIS student from Jacksonville gets to be curator for museum exhibit

A Jacksonville woman is getting the chance to be a guest museum curator.

University of Illinois-Springfield graduate history major Claire Jerry will be the curator for an exhibit opening on Friday at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

Curators generally hold a doctorate or master’s degree in subjects like history, archaeology and anthropology. Jerry says she never expected to have an opportunity like this at this stage of her career. The exhibit is part of her graduate closure project.

Jerry has been working on the project since last June and, with between 800 and 1-thousand hours put in, says she’s been very involved.

“I was responsible for doing the research and the writing for the exhibit. I selected the objects, developed the narrative themes under the supervision of the curator here,” she explains.

WLDS-WEAI Radio in Jacksonville featured Jerry in an March 6, 2012, report.

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Hollywood's interpretation of 1800s women's fashions

Hollywood’s interpretation of 19th century women’s fashions will be the subject of “The Evolution of Fashion,” a program scheduled for Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. in Union Theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.

Holly M. Kent, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois Springfield and a fashion history expert, will consider the ways in which Hollywood has interpreted 19th century women's fashions over the course of its history. From the beginning, Hollywood films have been passionately interested in telling stories rooted in 1800s history, culture, and literature, and in dressing their female stars in their version of 19th century American fashions.

Kent received her Ph.D. in U.S. women's history from Lehigh University. She joined the faculty of the History Department at the University of Illinois Springfield in August 2011. Her research and teaching interests include gender and fashion, women's involvement in literary culture, and female activism in the nineteenth-century United States.

This Women’s History Month presentation is free and open to the public, but reservations must be made by calling (217) 558-8934.

Kent was featured in an March 7, 2012, Canton Daily Ledger online post.

Read the full article online

Aurora man freed after new witnesses come forward in 2000 slaying

Thirty-year-old Jonathan Moore woke up Tuesday morning as a prisoner at the downstate Menard Correctional Center facing a projected parole date of 2057.

Later in the day, he walked out of the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles with his uncle as a free man. Kane County authorities vacated his conviction for a 2000 murder in Aurora and admitted they sent the wrong man to prison.

Attorneys from the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois-Springfield represented Moore after Aurora police and Kane County prosecutors revisited the case.

John Hanlon, the project's legal director, accompanied Moore to court Tuesday morning. Hanlon said Moore was grateful for the help he received.

“He wasn't at the crime scene. He's fully exonerated. Now his task is to adjust to society,” Hanlon said. “The credit for this primarily goes to Mr. McMahon and his office and the Aurora Police Department. They are to be highly, highly praised. If what we're talking about is justice, there's no question that justice was served.”

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project was featured in an March 7, 2012, article in The Chicago Daily Herald.

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Prosecutors drop murder case against Aurora man imprisoned 10 years

In a low-key but dramatic court hearing Tuesday morning, a judge vacated an Aurora man’s convictions for murder and attempted murder and set him free after almost 12 years behind bars.

Jonathan Moore, now 30, had been imprisoned in the murder of Shawn Miller, 20, of Montgomery, and the attempted murder of a second man in a shooting in front of a coin laundry on Lincoln Avenue in Aurora on Aug. 24, 2000.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project became involved in Moore’s case after Aurora police approached them with the new information. Last year, they handled 208 cases — and none were prompted by a call from the police.

“It’s just incredible,” said Larry Golden, director of the project. “The police officers deserve tremendous credit. This is unheard of. I know we haven’t had a case like this.

“This is the kind of county you want to live in,” Golden said.

John Hanlon, legal director for the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, said McMahon “has done a very just thing and that doesn’t always happen.

The exoneration was featured in an March 7, 2012, Chicago Sun-Times article.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

UIS grad student develops exhibit for Harry Truman Library

A history student from Lincoln country is guest curator for a major exhibit opening this week at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo.

Claire Jerry, a graduate history major at the University of Illinois Springfield, is curator of “Tracing the Trumans: An American Story,” a temporary exhibit opening Friday at the Truman Museum.

“It is the story of Harry and Bess Truman before the presidency,” said Jerry, who lives in Jacksonville.

The exhibit focuses on two families — the Trumans and the Wallaces — who settled in the area more than 150 years ago and examines how they were influenced by the Independence area and vice-versa, she said.

Jerry, who served an internship at the Truman Library during the summer of 2010 and returned as a volunteer last summer, drew upon the library’s collection of correspondence and artifacts from the two families, including newly released papers from Bess Truman and Margaret Truman Daniel, daughter of the president and Mrs. Truman. She then developed themes for the exhibit, which will run through the end of December.

Jerry was featured in an March 6, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Distance control: UIS women's golf tries to manage their travel

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s golfers have packed their clubs and hit the road for a 14-day trip.

The Prairie Stars kick off the spring portion of their season at the Classic Club Invitational on Wednesday and Thursday in Palm Springs, Calif. The team then will fly directly to Florida and play in the Northern Illinois Snowbird Intercollegiate on March 15-16 in Tampa.

UIS coach Nichole Inkel hopes not returning to Illinois between tournaments will make it easier on the team. In previous seasons, the golfers had to deal with the effects of jet lag.
They hope to benefit from another positive.

“We’ve been lucky this year with the weather,” said Inkel, who departed Monday with the team. “We’ve been able to hit outside. Everyone is really confident with their swing right now.”

The team was featured in an March 6, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Emiquon Science Symposium announced

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon, in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, Dickson Mounds Museum, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is sponsoring the fifth annual Emiquon Science Symposium to be held Thursday, March 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown.

Scientists, students, and managers involved with restoration ecology, scientific investigations, and management at the Emiquon Complex and the LaGrange Reach of the Illinois River System will share their research through oral and poster presentations.

The day will conclude with a tour of the Emiquon Preserve, UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon and a “Behind the Scenes” look at the Dickson Mounds Museum.

The symposium was featured in a March 5, 2012, article in the Canton Daily Ledger.

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UIS program adds Lincoln web site, blog

The Wepner Program on the Lincoln Legacy, an offering from the University of Illinois Springfield, has a new web presence, which it promises will be "dedicated to the mission of connecting the academy and the public in the study of Abraham Lincoln and his legacy for today's world."

Matthew Holden is the Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at UIS. Holden's assistant, Gene Giannotta, will maintain the blog and Twitter sites.

The website was featured in The State Journal-Register's "The Abraham Lincoln Observer" blog on March 5, 2012.

Read the full blog online

Friday, March 2, 2012

UIS families get extension for housing move

The University of Illinois Springfield will be moving some students and their families out of their apartments as part of a $7.5 million plan to renovate 110 UIS housing units.

Officials told the students Thursday night about the plans to move them into other on-campus housing this fall, when work starts at their buildings.

John Ringle, director of housing for UIS, said plans initially called for family units in Sunflower Court to be renovated first, but the university decided to give the Sunflower Court families more time to prepare for the change.

“We had meetings with the students this time last year and told them they were going to be at the front end of the process. But there were so many people who hadn’t graduated yet and were still going to be here, we elected to put them on the back end and impact far fewer people,” Ringle said.

Of the 30 family units, 24 are occupied, including three where visiting or exchange faculty members live with their families.

The housing renovations were featured in an March 2, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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