Monday, April 30, 2012

UIS softball team earns spot in NCAA Division II tournament

Technical difficulties kept the University of Illlinois Springfield softball team from hearing the Prairie Stars’ name announced among the at-large selections for the NCAA Division II Softball National Championship, but it didn’t dampen their joy Monday.

UIS is headed to a national tournament for the first time in any sport since joining Division II in 2010. The Stars (34-20) are seeded fourth in the double-elimination Midwest Regional and play fifth-seeded Northern Kentucky (35-19) at 11 a.m. Friday in Indianapolis.

UIS is 2-1 this season against Northern Kentucky, which is moving to NCAA Division I later this year.

The winner plays at 10 a.m. Saturday against host and top-seeded Indianapolis (49-7) or No. 8 seed Wayne State (34-20), which play at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The loser plays at 2 p.m. Saturday.

UIS players and coach Mat Mundell gathered Monday morning to watch an Internet broadcast of the selection show. Technical problems delayed the announcement, so several players left for their classes.

“(Associate Director of Athletics) Scott Reed and some of the other coaches were anxiously waiting to see,” Mundell said. “There was an outburst of joy when we found out we were in for use.”

Mundell used text messaging to notify his team of the good news.

The announcement was published in an May 1, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS students plant Arbor Day trees in Carpenter, Gurgens parks

More than 200 University of Illinois Springfield students Friday found that it’s easier being green than Kermit the Frog would lead us to believe.

As part of UIS’s Springfest celebration and to commemorate Arbor Day, the students planted 3,500 native saplings in open spaces at Carpenter and Gurgens parks north of Springfield.

“We had 550 students registered for Springfest, and this is a service project part of it where the students accumulate points for their teams,” said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center.

Although the parks are forest preserves, large areas in them lack trees. The planting of pin oak, red oak, white oak and black oak saplings, as well as shagbark hickory trees, will help reclaim about 10 acres of open land.

The planting project provides a valuable service to the Springfield Park District while teaching students about sustainability and engaging them in environmental responsibility.

“I’m a biology major and I like the environment,” said Francisco Mendez, a UIS senior from Mexico. ”It’s nice to help out.”

The volunteer effort was featured in an April  28, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Illinois Innocence Project expands work to free the wrongfully convicted

When Jonathan Grayson went to the Kane County courthouse on March 6, he wasn’t expecting to walk out a free man. The 30-year-old had spent 10 years in prison for murder, and he still had another 65 years of prison ahead. But Grayson didn’t commit the murder that led to his incarceration, and on March 6, a Kane County judge overturned his conviction.

“When I first shook his hand, he was still in disbelief,” says Steven Schott, a third-year law student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Schott is part of the Illinois Innocence Project, a group of students, professors and attorneys based at the University of Illinois Springfield which works to free from prison people who are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.

“He walked into court that day thinking he was going to remain in prison, but he walked out a free man,” Schott says. “He’s starting to get back into society. It’s pretty great.”

Grayson’s exoneration is the fourth for the Illinois Innocence Project, and it marks several changes for the group, now in its 11th year. Formerly known as the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, the group has dropped “Downstate” from its name, signaling its expansion statewide. To facilitate that expansion, the project is joining forces with the state’s three public law schools, which also allows for a larger caseload. Meanwhile, the project has added two full-time lawyers and one part-time lawyer, providing valuable legal guidance to the quickly growing body of students involved in gaining justice for the wrongly convicted.

The Innocence Project was featured in an April 26, 2012, article in the Illinois Times.

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UIS softball team has been stealing the spotlight all season

University of Illinois Springfield softball player Mandy Smith was treated to a pleasant surprise when she left her dorm Wednesday.

Written on the sidewalk in chalk were messages congratulating Smith and her teammates on winning the GLVC West Division title Tuesday and racking up 30 wins this spring.

“It’s nice to walk out your dorm and see it on the ground,” Smith said.

The UIS softball team is the first program to win a division title in the school’s brief NCAA Division II era.

The Prairie Stars will make their postseason debut Friday at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship Tournament in East Peoria as the No. 2 seed. UIS (30-18) opens the double-elimination tourney against seventh-seeded Bellarmine (31-25) at noon at EastSide Centre.

The team was featured in an April 26, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

UIS softball wins West, earns No. 2 seed

The University of Illinois Springfield finished first in the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division and earned the No. 2 seed for the upcoming GLVC Championship tournament with a doubleheader sweep of Missouri S&T on Tuesday.

The Stars (30-8) won their division via a tiebreaker. Both UIS and Drury finished with 22-12 GLVC records in the West. Since the teams split a pair of doubleheaders, divisional records were used to break the tie. UIS was 20-8 in division play, while Drury went 16-10.

The Stars will make their GLVC tourney debut against seventh-seeded Bellarmine (31-25) at noon Friday at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria.

The team was featured in an April 25, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

UIS students approve construction of student union building

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield Thursday voted in favor of building a student union and increasing fees to pay for it – but only when the building opens.

A total of 432 students voted to approve a fee increase, which will finance much of the construction, while 109 students voted “no.” The vote was taken online.

The project next will go through a planning process involving campus and U of I administrators and an outside design firm. The plan still needs to be approved by both the U of I Board of Trustees and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

“It was an idea whose time had come,” said John Tienken, the UIS student representative on the U of I board and co-chairman of the Student Union Committee. “The 4-to-1 margin by which this was approved clearly sent a message that it’s time. It’s almost a complete reversal of the vote two years ago.

If the project gains final approval, the student union will be on the South Quad, next to University Hall and in front of the soccer fields.

The vote was featured in an April 21, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Former UIS chancellor, others receive state's highest award

Naomi Lynn said she received the surprise of her life in February when she returned home to Springfield from a vacation in Florida.

Lynn, the former chancellor of University of Illinois Springfield, said she opened an envelope and read that she had been awarded the Order of Lincoln Medallion, the highest award given out by the state of Illinois.

“I was absolutely shocked, surprised and pleased,” Lynn said. “It’s a privilege to be in a group of such distinguished people.”

Lynn was featured in an April 22, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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After UI's short-lived experiment, Web courses, enrollment on rise

In recent years, online education has become "a whole new environment, fueled by a combination of things," said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the UI Springfield.

Those include "the economy and the lingering effects of recession (it's difficult for students to come to campus or pursue their education without working if not full time at least half time) and the wide variety of technologies available" to teachers and students, he said. Because obtaining a college degree costs more compared with previous years, many students are interested in completing the degree requirements quickly or while working as much as possible.

At the same time, mobile technology, such as smart phones and tablets, helps students become more engaged, virtually that is, with their professors and with other students.

Schroeder was featured in an April 22, 2012, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

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Glass plates yield a remarkable exhibit

A remarkable photo exhibit has come together, through the work of State Journal-Register photo editor Rich Saal over the past two years.

The exhibit, “Springfield Photographs: Images from The Illinois State Journal Glass Plates 1929-35,“ will debut with a 6 p.m. presentation on May 1 at the Lincoln Public Library. The event is open to the public.

He started studying history at the University of Illinois Springfield, and research for a class led him to view the newspaper’s glass plate photography in the Sangamon Valley Collection of the Lincoln Library.

When the exhibit ends in August, the panels will remain at Lincoln Library, creating a new venue for community art exhibits in a public and accessible downtown space, said Saal, who soon will graduate with a master’s degree in history from UIS.

Saal was featured in an April 22, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

UIS helps launch a tech education revolution

The University of Illinois Springfield is considered a pioneer in online education. The online version of the school's computer science program has been so successful that online enrollment now exceeds on-campus enrollment.

Last year, 121 students were enrolled in the on-campus computer science bachelor's degree program, and 171 students were enrolled online. In the master's program, there were 129 students on campus, and 146 enrolled in the online version. About 70% of the online students are from out of state, including some from other countries, said Ted Mims, a professor and chair of the UIS computer science department.

Most online programs established by universities will attract students who live relatively close to a school's actual campus, said Elaine Allen, a professor of statistics and entrepreneurship at Babson College and co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group, which produces an annual report on online learning in the U.S. However, she said, UIS is an exception to that rule, because it started offering online classes much earlier than other institutions. "They were really thinking ahead," she said.

UIS online programs were featured in an April 19, 2012, article by Computer World.

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UIS women's golf team dressed for success

Members of the University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team don’t blend in with the crowd at tournaments.

You know immediately when the Prairie Stars step on to the golf course or walk in a room. Their apparel sets them apart. They don’t wear stodgy or boring clothing, which earns them lots of compliments from opponents.

“Our uniforms are fun and young,” said UIS junior Abby Vorreyer. “We wear hot pink and yellow. We don’t have to wear collared shirts. We get to wear bright shorts. Other teams love it.”

The Stars’ clothing is a reflection of their fun-loving group. Good times abound when they’re all together. But what they are doing on the course is more than fun and games. UIS has taken a giant step toward coming of age as a program.

“I used to get the NCAA rankings and it would have NR (not ranked) there for the longest time,” UIS coach Nichole Inkel said. “I’d say, ‘How can we not be ranked? That doesn’t make any sense.’ But we weren’t ranked.”

Currently, UIS is ranked 86th out of 137 teams in NCAA Division II.

The team was featured in an April 19, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Central Illinois hosts international art symposium

Better known for straight talk and growing corn than delving into obscure and intense visual art works, central Illinois may not seem like an ideal location for a symposium on the 19th century European art movement known as Symbolism. But inspiration knows no bounds and art reaches to the corners of the globe with a language all comprehend. The conference with several international experts begins next Wednesday, April 25, and runs through Saturday at the Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello near Champaign-Urbana.

Organized and inspired by Dr. Rosina Neginsky, associate professor in the Liberal and Integrative Studies department at University of Illinois Springfield, the official title for the event is Second International Symposium: Symbolism, Its Origins and its Consequences: Light and Darkness. Neginsky, the author of three books of poetry, numerous articles on Russian and European artists and two non-fiction academic books, was born in Russia and raised in Paris, France, before coming to study at the University of Illinois Urbana. She often gives lectures at the Springfield Art Association concerning Symbolist-influenced artists.

The event was featured in an April 19, 2012, article in the Illinois Times.

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Retired teacher receives top volunteer honor

Jack Sunderlik, a retired high school science teacher and coach, was honored Wednesday with the Distinguished Volunteer Award at the Springfield Good as Gold Ceremony.

The University of Illinois Springfield Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center and the Junior League of Springfield sponsored the event. More than 40 people were recognized during the ceremony, which coincides with National Volunteer Week this week.

UIS senior Justin Rose of Chicago received the Star Student Award, and UIS employee Jan Kirkham the Star Staff Award.

Rose devotes at least 20 hours a week to volunteering with youths. He created an initiative with Boys and Girls Club to mentor at-risk boys on Saturdays and is a big brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. He also is a mentor to first-year, first-generation college students at UIS.

In her role as director of experiential and service-learning programs at UIS, Kirkham has been a career-long advocate for service as part of the college experience. She has helped faculty members create service-learning classes, helped incorporate service into the general education requirements, and fostered the Applied Study Term program.

Good as Gold was featured in an April 19, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Students, alumni rally in Springfield

Hundreds of University of Illinois students and alumni rallied at the State Capitol Wednesday, asking lawmakers not to slash the school's budget.

The group came to the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to press their case to hold the line on funding for Illinois campuses in Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and Chicago.

Lawmakers have been looking at slashing the university's appropriation by five percent. Those lobbying on behalf of the university are hoping that those cuts are no more than that five percent.

Cuts in the university budget come as enrollment at all three campuses hits a record of over 77,000 students.

The three University of Illinois campuses awarded over 19,000 degrees in 2011.

The effort was featured by WAND-TV in an April 18, 2012, report.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pardie named UIS provost

Lynn Pardie, who has been interim provost at the University of Illinois Springfield since January 2011 has been selected from among more than 70 candidates across the U.S. to hold the position permanently.

Pardie will become provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs on July 1, pending approval of the University of Illinois board of trustees at its May meeting. The provost is the university’s chief academic officer, the second highest administrative position in the university, and is responsible to the chancellor for the implementation of the academic priorities of the university.

“I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to appoint an outstanding academic leader to this important position at UIS,” said Chancellor Susan J. Koch. “As interim provost, Dr. Pardie has navigated a number of challenges with great professionalism and has proved to be a quick study on every issue. She has done a magnificent job as interim provost.”

Pardie was featured in an April 17, 2012, online article by The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

UIS speeds up transfer process

The University of Illinois Springfield has scheduled a series of single-day events to make it easier for transfer students to register for fall classes.

Transfer Express is a series of nine one-stop events, beginning April 27 and running through Aug. 20. Students from area community colleges, other universities and those who never finished college and now want to return can get everything taken care of for fall 2012 classes in a single day.

UIS transfer coordinator Raymond Barnett said this is the first time UIS has tried this approach, although in the mid-1990s, smaller versions focused on promotion and helping students who needed to register.

“This is a much more accelerated approach to the transfer process,” he said.

Transfer Express will be held April 27-28, May 21, June 22-23, July 26-27 and Aug. 18 and 20. The weekday sessions will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday sessions from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in University Hall, room 1031.

Transfer Express was featured in an April 16, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thanks to UIS professor for visit to school

Letter to the editor, published in an April 14, 2012, edition of The State Journal-Register.

"The Cosmos Club of Lincoln Magnet School would like to thank professor John Martin from University of Illinois Springfield for recently visiting our middle school and our club.

Martin brought his solar telescope for our club to look through. We all enjoyed it and are very thankful to Martin. He also taught us very interesting facts about a star he had studied.

Thank you also to Kristine Gates, our science teacher and club adviser, for helping us all year."

— Sage Thompson, sixth grade, Lincoln Magnet School, Springfield

Read the letter online

UIS student government puts off Chick-fil-A recommendation

Student government members at the University of Illinois Springfield held off Sunday on supporting a proposal to bring a Chick-fil-A restaurant to campus.

The Student Government Association board voted to create a task force to study potential restaurants – including Chick-fil-A – that could come to the university.

About 15 students attended Sunday’s meeting to protest the restaurant proposal. They say the company has given financial support to anti-gay organizations.

Among the objectors was Katie McEvoy, a junior at UIS. She said if the university allowed the restaurant, it would help fund the company’s beliefs, which she views as discriminating.

The task force was featured in an April 16, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Stars head into GLVC golf meet with confidence

In past seasons, the University of Illinois Springfield men’s golf team was often on the outside looking in.

The Prairie Stars are now in the mix at tournaments.

“The only time we’d compete with the ‘upper level teams’ was when they played really bad,” UIS senior golfer Shane McCafferty said. “Now, we’re beating them when we play well. We’re not waiting for teams to play bad.”

The Prairie Stars swept the individual and team titles at the UIS Spring Invitational at Pekin Country Club a month ago. McCafferty, a Pekin native, won a three-hole playoff for medalist honors and took first out of 71 golfers. UIS junior Sam Norbom was the runner-up.

The team was featured in an April 14, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Inkel resigns as UIS golf coach to take job as professional

A dream of a lifetime awaits University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf coach Nichole Inkel.

The Springfield native is resigning to take a job in suburban Richmond, Va., at Windy Hill Sports Complex in Midlothian, where she will work as an LPGA teaching professional. Inkel’s resignation is effective June 1. She has coached the Prairie Stars since April 2009.

“The changes within the athletic department were just not a good fit with me, so this was the perfect opportunity at the right time,” she said.

“I’ve had a great four years here with my players. The majority of my time spent here has been amazing. I’ve had success with the program.

“I’ve had great girls. We’ve had great team bonding, so it was a great experience.”

Inkel, who is also an athletic development officer at UIS, has nearly completed a LPGA teaching certification program. She takes her playing test in May.

She was featured in an April 13, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

UIS student's research showcased in campus-wide symposium

The inaugural Student Arts and Research Symposium (StARS) kicks off Thursday night on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield.

UIS Biology Professor Rebecca Landsberg and two student researchers sat down with WUIS' Peter Gray to discuss the work they’ll be presenting, from studying a household plant’s potential for fighting cancer to a survey looking into the minds and motivation of college students today:

The StARS symposium runs Thursday night from 5:30 until 10:00 and from 9 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Friday, in the lobby of Sangamon Auditorium on the UIS campus.

The symposium was featured by WUIS radio in an April 12, 2012 report.

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Innocence Project plans to go statewide

Before distributing a set of awards at his organization's annual reception, Larry Golden made a big announcement.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project plans to drop the regional identifying word in its title, signifying a plan to adopt a statewide focus.

"It's going to be an evolution," Golden, the project's executive director, said in an interview later. "I think the important thing is that it symbolizes our intention to move forward in a way that we've not been able to do before."

Based at the University of Illinois Springfield, the newly-renamed Illinois Innocence Project examines cases and works to free wrongfully-convicted inmates from prison. It hosted its fifth annual "Defenders of the Innocent Awards" reception Monday.

Last year, the project received 208 requests for assistance from inmates, Golden said, 74 of which came from northern Illinois. Over time, they gradually took on more upstate cases, including one that led to an exoneration in Kane County last month.

The Innocence Project was featured in an April 11, 2012, article in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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Possible Chick-fil-A at UIS angers some students, faculty

The possibility of a Chick-fil-A fast-food chicken restaurant coming to the University of Illinois Springfield campus has some students and faculty members crying “fowl.”

The controversy stems from what opponents say is Chick-fil-A’s financial support of anti-gay organizations and its founder’s pro-family stance.

“I consider it a huge slap in the face that my campus would even consider this knowing how homophobic this company is,” said Alex Williams, a UIS junior. “I would hope they would consider other options.”

Chick-fil-A, which had a store at White Oaks Mall a number of years ago, is an Atlanta-based chain specializing in chicken sandwiches. Its founder, S. Truett Cathy, is known for his religious values, including keeping the stores closed on Sundays.

The family has contributed money, mostly through the WinShape Foundation, which it controls, to various Christian and pro-family causes.

Michael Murphy, an assistant professor of women and gender studies at UIS, said the company is “notorious for its financial support of rabidly anti-gay organizations and activities” Chick-fil-A gave more than $3 million to what he considers anti-gay groups between 2003 and 2009, Murphy said.

Williams said that Chick-fil-A favors married people to work for the company and asks franchisees their marital status and degree of church involvement. The company denies those practices.

In a media statement earlier this year, Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, said the company “is not anti-anybody.”

The debate was featured in an April 12, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Chick-fil-A generates controversy at UIS

Chick-fil-A may be roosting at University of Illinois Springfield, and not everyone is happy with the prospect.

“Have we been in contact with them?” says Derek Schnapp, UIS spokesman. “We have been. We’re basically at the discussion stage with our campus community.”

Whether Chick-fil-A will return to Springfield since leaving the city in the 1990s has been a hot topic. In 2008, White Oaks Mall encouraged folks to send postcards to the Atlanta-based restaurant chain, asking for a restaurant here. Last fall, “Will Chick-fil-A Come To Springfield?” was nominated as the city’s Best Kept Secret when Illinois Times polled readers in preparation for the annual Best of Springfield edition.

The answer is maybe.

The UIS Student Government Association on Sunday is scheduled to take up the question. If the association says yes, then the entire student body could be asked to vote in a referendum, Schnapp said. If the association says no, then the proposal would go no further, he said. Schnapp said that he could not say when an on-campus franchise might open.

“There’s absolutely no time frame whatsoever,” Schnapp said. “We’re at the stage to hear opinions.”

The debate was featured in an April 12, 2012 online article by the Illinois Times.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Turow honored in Springfield

Scott Turow, a best-selling author and lawyer who helped free an Illinois death-row inmate, was honored Monday by the University of Illinois Springfield’s Downstate Illinois Innocence Project.

Turow received the Defender of the Innocent Award during a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza, 3000 S. Dirksen Parkway.

In 1995, Turow was a defense attorney in a case that resulted in the overturning of the wrongful conviction of a man convicted and once sentenced to death for the 1983 kidnapping, rape and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in DuPage County.

The UIS project also recognized Turow for his advocacy of a death penalty moratorium in Illinois, according to Larry Golden, director of the Innocence Project.

The award was featured in an April 10, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Softball: Prairie Stars, Bulldogs split

The University of Illinois Springfield blanked Benedictine University at Springfield 4-0 in the first game of a doubleheader, but Benedictine bounced back for a 4-2 victory Monday at Padre Canella Field.

Brittany Sitton tossed a shutout for the Prairie Stars (24-14) in Game 1, allowing four hits and striking out one. Sarah Gray (2-for-4, two RBIs) drove in two runs in the fourth inning, and Rachel Wood was 3-for-4 with a triple.

The team was featured in an April 12, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Men's Golf: McCafferty paces 7th-place UIS

Shane McCafferty fired an even-par 72 in the final round Monday, helping the University of Illinois Springfield finish seventh in the Great Lakes Regional No. 4 at The Purgatory Golf Club.

UIS, which entered the day in 11th place in the 25-team tournament, trimmed six shots off its Sunday score and finished at 620, 13 shots off the pace of tournament winner Tiffin. The Prairie Stars also posted the second-highest finish among the Great Lakes Valley Conference schools (Northern Kentucky finished tied for third) in attendance.

The team was featured in an April 10, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Before heading overseas, visit the doctor

If you talk to University of Illinois Springfield health services director Lynn Price before leaving for your trip, you may reconsider ever leaving your house again. Price counsels students at UIS about international travel, and she’s aware that the information she offers about how to avoid illness abroad can be daunting.

“What I always preface my programs or consultations with is, ‘By the time I’m through, you’re going to be scared witless, and you’re not going to want to go, but we haven’t lost anyone yet,’” she says. “It’s better to have the consultation and know what you need to know.”

The first step, Price says, is to consult with professionals at an international travel clinic. A general practitioner may not carry all the vaccines a traveler needs to visit a particular location.

There are two international travel clinics in Springfield: Springfield Clinic and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Travelers should know details about the country where they’re traveling.

Price was featured in an April 9, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

UIS health fair draws exhibitors, public

The University of Illinois Springfield was the place to be Wednesday if you were concerned about your health, wanted to improve it or were just plain curious about health-related issues.

About 50 vendors set up in The Recreation and Athletic Center to offer information on health strategies and prevention as part of Health Awareness Day — an event for more than two decades at the university.

“We had 52 vendors seven years ago, but it usually averages 20 to 30,” said Jill Stoops, a certified family nurse practitioner at the UIS Campus Health Service. “We teamed with Springfield Health Check this year, and they brought in a majority of the vendors.”

Stoops said one of the aims of the health fair is to get people to “know their numbers” — cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, body fat and others — by offering free screenings.

“It’s about getting them the information they need to stay healthy,” Stoops said.

The story was featured in an April 5, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Author and activist honored as 'Defender of the Innocent'

Scott Turow is one of the foremost courtroom fiction writers in America. Millions have read his books or viewed adaptations of his works. But Turow does more than write about fictional courtrooms. He uses his literary pulpit to speak out on important contemporary legal issues. Turow has written a short nonfiction book, "Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty".

At 5:30 pm on Monday, April 9, Turow will be honored by the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. He will be recognized at the Fifth Annual Defender of the Innocent Awards Reception for his work toward the abolition of the flawed death penalty system in Illinois, and his writing, which educates the general public to these issues and enhances understanding of our legal system.

Scott Turow will be available 3:30-4:45 Monday, April 9, at the Public Affairs Center restaurant at University of Illinois Springfield to sign copies of Innocent and other books. Tickets to the 5:30 p.m. April 9 Downstate Illinois Innocence Project reception at the Crowne Plaza are available at 206-7989 or register online at

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Future looking bright for college graduates

The future is looking bright for college students across the country.

Tim Robert is getting ready to graduate from the University Illinois Springfield this May and the master student isn't stressed out. He's already got a job lined up at State Farm Insurance.

This story would be different if told a few years ago, but the economy is getting better. Hiring for 2012 is expected to climb to about 10%. Experts say one reason, more students are getting internships.

"That is a primary way that employers recruit now, so they are looking for those internship programs. That's a really good way for them to try somebody out, it's also a good way for the student in that internship position to identify is this a good fit for them," said UIS Career Development Center Director Tammy Craig.

The job numbers were featured by WCIA-TV in an April 2, 2012, report.

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Scott Turow visiting Springfield for book signing

Author Scott Turow, whose novel “Presumed Innocent” was adapted into a film starring Harrison Ford, will sign copies of his books at 3:30 p.m. April 9 at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Turow will be at the Public Affairs Center Restaurant at UIS.

His visit is sponsored by the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, which will give the author the Defenders of the Innocent Award during a private event. The project, based at UIS, works to overturn the convictions of people serving time in Illinois prisons for crimes they did not commit, and to reform the judicial system to avoid future wrongful convictions.

Turow probably is best known for “Presumed Innocent,” a 1987 novel about an attorney accused of killing his mistress. The film version starred Ford, Bonnie Bedelia and Raul Julia.

The event was featured in an April 3, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Gradishar earns conference honor

University of Illinois Springfield senior Heather Gradishar has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week, UIS announced Monday.

Gradishar went 3-0 with a 0.33 earned run average in wins over Rockhurst, William Jewell and Benedictine University at Springfield. She allowed one unearned run and eight hits in 21 innings, striking out 13 and walking three.

Gradishar’s ERA stands at a team-best 1.56 with 41 strikeouts, 10 walks, 42 hits and 17 runs in 671/3 innings. Her record this season is 6-4 in 14 appearances and 11 starts.

The Prairie Stars (19-11) broke their single-season record for wins Sunday. UIS is first in the GLVC West Division standings with a 12-6 conference record.

Gradishar was featured in an April 3, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

UIS softball team sets school record for wins

The University of Illinois Springfield snuck past William Jewell 1-0 Sunday in the first game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader.

The Prairie Stars improved to 19-11 overall and 12-6 in the conference. That win gave UIS a school record in most in a season.

In the opener, Danielle Abbott smacked a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth for the game’s only tally. Heather Gradishar got the win, while Brittany Sitton pitched an inning for the save.

The record was featured in an April 2, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Cheers: UIS students pick a great alternative

CHEERS to a group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield that recently spent a week in 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) as part of the UIS Alternative Spring Break Group.

The students worked from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day of their trip. “I had never done it before, and it was helping people out,” sophomore Sam Zielke said. “In the end, it was very rewarding.”

The cheer was featured in an April 2, 2012, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Scroggin signs off at WUIS

WUIS 91.9 Public Radio of the University of Illinois at Springfield gave its long-time classical music director, Karl Scroggin of Mount Pulaski, a public sendoff April 29 with several complimentary speeches by WUIS staff and former staff.

For nearly 30 years, Scroggin has delighted and educated WUIS listeners with his seemingly bottomless knowledge of classical music. His widespread classical fan club has faithfully tuned in over the years to relish Scroggin’s themes in his delivery of classical music during his daily morning programs.

Even listeners from out-of-state can now hear him and other WUIS programs via the new streaming technology — as far as Juneau, Alaska, according to Sam Bertoni, who was a classmate of Karl’s older brother, Michael, in the mid-1960s. Michael Scroggin lost his life during the Vietnam War.

More than 100 well-wishers stopped by Thursday to wish Scroggin a bon voyage in his retirement.

Scroggin was featured in an March 31, 2012, article in the Lincoln Courier.

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