Thursday, August 30, 2012

WUIS interviews Chancellor Susan Koch

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch sat down with WUIS’ Sean Crawford to talk about the university’s new visibility campaign, the changing demographic in the UIS student population, and future enrollment goals.

Listen to Part #1 of the Interview

Listen to Part #2 of the Interview

The report aired August 29 and 30, 2012.

UIS encourages students to volunteer

The University of Illinois Springfield Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center is hosting a Welcome Week Service-A-Thon to give students a chance to learn about service and give back to the community.

Students can choose to work various shifts throughout the day on Friday, Aug. 31. This year the project will benefit three local organizations: Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County, Springfield School District 186’s AVID tutoring program, and Hospital Sister’s Mission Outreach.

Students working with Habitat will help prepare and build a house located on North Fifth Street, a block South of North Grand Ave. They will also spend time at the Habitat ReStore, 1514 W. Jefferson St. helping organize and prepare resalable items.

AVID tutoring program volunteers will be aiding teachers in 4 schools, Southeast, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Washington, as they prepare the students and the materials required for the students to be successful in the AVID program.

Students working at Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, 4849 Laverna Road, will be sorting medical supplies for shipment to places worldwide that are in need of specific supplies.

The project was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 30, 2012.

Read the article online

Second-acters applaud Springfield

Larry “Bud” Price, now 65, and his wife, Cathy, profitably sold their two radio stations 13 years ago.

“We could have moved anywhere in the world,” he said. “And we came to Springfield.”

They are two of what Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine calls “second-acters” — people who have changed careers at or near retirement age and still want a vibrant lifestyle.

Price went back to college — “on the 36-year plan” — and earned a bachelor’s degree in multimedia communications from the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I couldn’t find a job,” he said. “So I got a master’s in human resource management.”

He found he was skilled at office work, and after working for three different state agencies, he tested for a job at UIS. This past Jan. 1, Price was promoted to office manager of the Department of Environmental Studies and Public Health at the university.

“I love helping students,” he said. “We’re taking a vanload of foreign students to the New Salem music festival. We have hosted Muslims, Chinese and Indian students.”

Price was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 30, 2012.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

UIS signs 17 baseball recruits

University of Illinois Springfield baseball coach Mike Zandler has filled his roster with new recruits from winning programs.

“We lacked depth positionally, and then we lacked a little bit of experience on the mound,” said Zandler, who coached the Prairie Stars to an 8-35 overall record in his first season. “Coach (Richard) Dennis and myself went into this saying we need to improve across the board.”

Thirteen of the 17 new players are transfers. Five played last spring for Black Hawk College, which won a school-record 44 games in 2012 and 2011. Third baseman Kendal Hocker was the Arrowhead Conference’s Most Valuable Player in the infield and hit .397.

Second baseman Nick Sanders hit .309. Logan Frye is an outfielder and Tyler Leffel is a pitcher from Black Hawk. Left-handed pitcher James Matson had a 2.54 earned run average in 28 1/3 innings.

The team was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 29, 2012.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

UIS students head back to new apartments

Many students at the University of Illinois Springfield are moving back on campus to the smell of a brand new apartment. UIS says the renovations are part of an $8.5 million project to upgrade aging housing units.

The UIS renovations have been going on for two years, but with the project winding down and students heading back to campus keys to newly renovated apartments were handed out left and right.

"They actually are moving into brand new renovated apartments, fully gutted with new walls, new interiors, new carpet, new plumbing," said John Ringle, UIS director of Residence Life.

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 on August 24, 2012.

Watch the story online

Prairie Stars look for scoring punch

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s soccer team is off to a good start with exhibition victories over Heartland Community College and Parkland College.

“We didn’t give up a goal,” UIS coach Pete Kowall said. “We scored three goals in two games so far.”

UIS beat Heartland 2-0 and Parkland 1-0. That’s a positive sign for a team that scored only 21 goals last season.

Kowall has to like his chances of moving the five-year program ahead with 15 returning players from the 2011 team that was 4-10-2 overall and 3-10-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Stars’ final record included six one-goal losses.

The team was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 26, 2012.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

UIS needs higher profile, chancellor says

Increasing enrollment by, among other things, improving the visibility of the University of Illinois Springfield is the school’s first priority, UIS Chancellor Susan Koch told faculty and staff Thursday.

Koch, in remarks at the university’s fall convocation, also said hiring and retaining the talent to be a top-tier university and improving facilities are among UIS priorities.

“The vision of the University of Illinois Springfield is to be a premier public university, and we are well on our way to achieving that aspiration,” said Koch, who took over as chancellor at UIS last summer.

UIS has enrolled more than 5,000 students each of the past two years, and Koch said that number will be approached again in 2012. Exact enrollment won’t be available until an official head count about two weeks into the semester that begins Monday.

Koch's remarks were featured by the State Journal-Register on August 24, 2012.

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Old State Capitol to be site of UIS produced documentary video

Visitors to the Old Capitol State Historic Site over the next few months might run into a film crew shooting a high-definition documentary on the historic building.

The video, being produced by the University of Illinois Springfield’s Office of Electronic Media, will span the 173-year history of the Old Capitol. Abraham Lincoln’s connection to the building will be highlighted, but the documentary will also include events not connected to the 16th president.

“I like to call it a tour with history lessons. We are going to do a tour of the entire building,” said Jerry Burkhart, director of the electronic media office. “We hope the documentary will encourage people to come, but if they’ve never had the opportunity to visit, they will be able to watch the video and get a feel for what the place looks like.”

The documentary was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 24, 2012.

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UIS men's soccer adds depth after winless year

The University of Illinois Springfield brings a higher level of talent to the 2012 men’s soccer season.

“We’re two deep at pretty much every position and that brings out the competitiveness in practice,” second-year UIS coach Jesse Miech said.

“We’ve made progress all the way around. We’re three deep at forward.”

That increases the chance of UIS spending less time defending, which the Prairie Stars did a lot of during a winless 2011 season. UIS scored just nine goals last fall and was out-shot by opponents 310-137.

“We’re focused on midfield play,” Miech said.

The men's soccer team was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 24, 2012.

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Prairie Stars' Rooke starts rebuilding job in volleyball

University of Illinois Springfield volleyball coach Noelle Rooke is stressing fundamentals, and the first-year coach is hoping her players will build on the basics as the season goes along.

“They’re all open to change and hungry to learn and get better,” Rooke said.

Much of last season’s team, which had a 5-25 overall record and a 2-17 Great Lakes Valley Conference mark, is back. Ten of the 15 players return.

Junior outside hitter Kellee Mahaffay was second on the team in kills in 2011 with 219. Senior opposite hitter Ann Nottingham was third with 213 and added 245 digs.

The team was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 24, 2012.

Read the article online

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Freshmen move into UIS dorms

In the decade since freshmen have been attending the University of Illinois Springfield, their backgrounds have changed as their numbers have climbed.

When the first freshmen arrived in 2001, they all fit in the single dorm on campus. Back then, most were from the Sangamon County area.

The contrast between large state universities and UIS could be seen Wednesday at Lincoln Hall, where UIS Chancellor Susan Koch was braiding the hair of a student move-in helper into pigtails while freshmen moved into the dorm.

“Your professors here are going to know your name,” Koch said about UIS’s size. “It really is a point of pride for the university. It leads to increased student success and creates an intellectual climate — students really grow on this campus.”

Move-In Day was featured in a August 23, 2012, article in the State Journal-Register.

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UIS Athletics to host kickoff barbecue

The University of Illinois Springfield will hold a meet-and-greet event with the school’s student-athletes and coaches 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The Prairie Stars Backyard BBQ will feature free food, live music, backyard games and giveaways. UIS Student Affairs and Intercollegiate Athletics are hosting the kick-off event.

The BBQ was featured in a August 23, 2012, article in the State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

UIS films documentary on Old State Capitol

It's lights, camera, action at the Old State Capitol. A crew from the University of Illinois-Springfield is shooting the very first high-definition documentary of the capital city landmark.

It's called "The Old State Capitol: A Witness to History," and it's made possible by a $5,000 grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.

Jerry Burkhart, the director of UIS' Office of Electronic Media, said this documentary can help promote one of Springfield's most precious historical sites.

"We're hoping that this promotes visitors to come to the Old State Capitol, but if you happen to be where you can never make it to the Old State Capitol, you'll be able to take a high-definition tour," Burkhart said.

The crew is expected to shoot the documentary over the next six months. Once it's done, they're hoping to distribute copies to every school and library in the state, so people can use it as a learning tool.

The documentary was featured in a August 20, 2012, report by WICS-TV.

Watch the story online

Friday, August 17, 2012

UIS announces fall film lineup

University of Illinois at Springfield announces the lineup for its Fall 2012 Foreign and Independent Film Series.

The film showings are free and open to the public and will be held at 7 p.m. at Brookens Auditorium.

Sept. 7 - "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest"; Oct. 12 - "The Sum of Us"; Nov. 2 - "Amelie"; Dec. 7 - "Lost in Translation"

The series was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 16, 2012.

Read the article online

UIS to hold auditions for 'Tartuffe'

The Theatre Program at the University of Illinois Springfield will hold open auditions and crew interviews for the first production of its 2012-2013 season, Molière’s 'Tartuffe', on Tuesday, Sept. 4 and Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Crew interviews start at 6 p.m. and acting auditions start at 7 p.m. both nights in the Studio Theatre, located on level one of the Public Affairs Center at UIS. Call-backs will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Auditions are open to students, staff, faculty, and community members with or without experience. Auditions will consist of “cold readings” from the script; prepared monologues are welcome, but not mandatory. Resumes are appreciated, but are not required. Scripts are available to anyone for 3-day check-out at the Brookens Library circulation/reserves desk.

For more information about auditions, the play, or helping behind the scenes, contact Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson at 206-8307 or or visit

The auditions were featured by the State Journal-Register on August 15, 2012,

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Astronomy teacher: Exploring space has benefits

Space connects people living today to every human being in history, said John Martin, astronomy professor at University of Illinois - Springfield. The night sky is one of the few things human beings have in common.

“I hesitate to say it’s something ingrained in us, but it’s definitely a common cultural thread to have an interest in astronomy,” Martin said.

Martin worked with NASA directly, funded by a grant to work on the Hubble space telescope. Through the course of his work, he faced concerns that funding be scrapped, but many people pulled together to save it.

“It grabbed people’s imagination and became a part of popular culture,” he said. “It touched a lot more people than you would expect.”

Martin was featured in an August 13, 2012, article in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Illinois River wetlands project earns international recognition

Two wetland-restoration projects along the Illinois River received international recognition during ceremonies held at both locations Wednesday afternoon.

The Emiquon Complex in Fulton and Mason counties and the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin-Hopper Lakes in Putnam County were designated “Wetlands of International Importance” by the Ramsar Convention.

Ramsar is an intergovernmental treaty established in 1971. Member countries commit to conservation and “wise use” of wetlands and their resources. Wetlands have to meet a set of criteria to qualify. Only 34 sites in the United States have received the designation.

Michael Lemke, director of the University of Illinois at Springfield Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon, said he hopes the recognition prompts more students to take advantage of the site that is just over an hour’s drive from Springfield.

“As we know, (the Emiquon story) is a story of human history, anthropology, economics and the list goes on and on,” he said. “I think UIS students should jump on it with both feet."

The Ramsar designation was featured in a August 9, 2012, article in the State Journal-Register.

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Emiquon honored for rescuing endangered species, plants

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon on Wednesday dedicated two wetlands along the Illinois River that gained international prestige this year for transforming flood-prone land into natural habitats for endangered and native species and plants.

The Emiquon Compex and Dixon Refuge both were designated Wetlands of International Importance by the federal government earlier this year in accordance with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty signed by 162 nations committed to the protection of wetlands. Only 34 sites in the United States have received such designation.

Doug Blodgett, director of river conservation at The Nature Conservancy spoke about the many partners who have made Emiquon possible.

Blodgett said he was delighted that the University of Illinois Springfield’s Therkildsen Field Station had been built in 2008, and those present were welcome to tour the field station. He pointed out Danny Rosenkranz, a graduate student at UIS, worked on the Ransar application in cooperation with Mike Lemke, director of the field station. Rosenkranz contacted numerous people and dealt with many documents.

Rosenkranz said in a brief interview that he worked closely with Dr. Lemke. Asked about stories of seeds lying dormant for around 80 years springing to life after the Thompson and Flag lakes were restored, Rosenkranz said there were some examples of that with tubers. He said he did not know the species, but they came back after the area was reflooded.

"It's just the beginning stage. Who knows how things will change? It's just amazing," he said.

The Ramsar designation was featured in a August 9, 2012, article in the Canton Daily Ledger.

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Women's Basketball: Oletzke finally settles in at UIS

After a few nights of sleeping on the floor, new University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball coach Chad Oletzke sat in his office last week eagerly awaiting a phone call to alert him that his furniture had finally arrived.

With a strong desire to set up home, he was ready to drop what he was doing.

For the past two months, Oletzke has been busy getting situated. He’s getting out in the community. He was a guest speaker at a kids camp at Springfield Racquet and Fitness Center. The 38-year-old appears to be settling into his new job.

“As I was going through June and July it felt like I was making no progress,” Oletzke said. “Now that we’re getting into August, some of that stuff has started to come together.”

Oletzke brings 15 years of coaching experience to UIS, where he started his new position in the first week of June. The Minnesota native replaced Marne Fauser after her contract was not renewed. He was an assistant coach at NCAA Division I South Dakota State the previous three seasons.

Oletzke was featured in a August 9, 2012, in the State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon receives national science grant

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon has been awarded a $23,280 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The facility was created in 2008 to help monitor and guide the Emiquon floodplain restoration. Researchers have a long-term study of microbial communities going on at Emiquon and the grant will help support their work.

The grant will also allow the field station to strengthen its existing partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Dickson Mounds Museum, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The grant was featured by the State Journal-Register on August 6, 2012.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

UIS students cheer former Star Oruche

You wouldn’t have known the Nigerian men’s basketball team was down 26 points to the United States at the London Olympics when Nigeria’s No. 11 nailed a shot that drew a loud cheer during a party Thursday at the University of Illinois Springfield.

That’s because former UIS standout Richard Oruche was wearing the No. 11 uniform for Nigeria. An estimated crowd of 50 people filled a lounge in the Student Life Building on campus to watch Oruche, a 2010 UIS graduate, play for Nigeria in a record-setting 156-73 loss to Team USA.

DiVinci Smith, a senior business management major from Joliet, was in attendance. He was a redshirt basketball player for UIS in 2009.

“He (Oruche) is on television playing against people he probably idolized,” Smith said. “It’s crazy to see him playing against them because I played against this dude. I guarded him. I had competition with him.”

The watch party was featured in a August 3, 2012, article in the State Journal-Register.

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Incoming freshmen get taste of college at UIS

Incoming freshmen at UIS are getting a little taste of what college life will be like. Twenty five students in the Students Transitioning for Academic Retention and Success (STARS) program have been on campus since Monday for the summer bridge program. It teaches them about financial aid options while helping them brush up on their writing and math skills.

STARS program coordinator Tarah Sweeting-Trotter loves being part of the program.

"Great program, phenomenal group of students," she said. "They've learned a lot about what it's going to be like to be a college freshman in a few weeks. We really feel like this program has given them some really important tools to come in and be successful and stay with us here at UIS."

Incoming freshmen, like Moyo Adeoleo, are seeing the benefits as well.

"Now I do know my way around," Adeoleo said. "I do know there is a support system. There's a variety of support systems within this school and there's so many people that are rooting you on."

The students' parents return to UIS tomorrow for the last day of the program. The fall semester begins August 27.

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 in an August 2, 2012, report.

Watch the story online

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

UIS hosting party to watch former Prairie Star player in Olympics

The University of Illinois Springfield is hosting a party on its campus Thursday to watch former UIS standout Richard Oruche compete for the Nigerian men’s basketball team in the London Olympics.

Nigeria is scheduled to tip off at 4:15 p.m. against the United States, which has Lanphier High School graduate Andre Iguodala on its roster.

The party is from 4-7 p.m. in the Stars Lounge located in UIS’ Student Life Building on the east side of campus. Visitors should park in Lot B. The game will be broadcast live on a large screen and on several televisions. Free food and soft drinks will be available.

Oruche holds dual Nigerian and U.S. citizenship. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria. He was born and raised in suburban Chicago.

The 24-year-old played two seasons for UIS after transferring from Northern Illinois University. He was the Prairie Stars’ go-to player as a senior and averaged 19.8 points and 5.8 rebounds. He graduated with a degree in business administration in 2010.

The watch party was featured in a August 1, 2012, article in the State Journal-Register.

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English professor publishes new book on William Maxwell

A Springfield educator has written her second book about Lincoln, Illinois native and notable American author William Maxwell.

Conversations with William Maxwell, written and compiled by Barbara Burkhardt, has been released by the University of Mississippi Press. She also is the author of William Maxwell: A Literary Life, a 2005 publication.

Burkhardt’s new book collects more than 30 interviews, public speeches and remarks that span five decades of the esteemed novelist and New Yorker fiction editor’s career. The interviews collectively address the entirety of Maxwell’s literary work — with in-depth discussion of his short stories, essays, and novels.

Maxwell was born in Lincoln in 1908 and lived here — in houses on Eighth and Ninth streets and on Park Place — until 1923, when he moved with his father to Chicago. Many of his writings are rooted in his younger years in Lincoln.

Author Burkhardt is an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Springfield and holds a Ph.D. in American literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, William Maxwell’s alma mater. During the last 10 years of Maxwell’s life, she conducted extensive interviews with him on regular visits to his homes in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y.

Burkhardt's book was featured in a July 31, 2012, article in the Lincoln Courier.

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