Monday, April 29, 2013

Online courses changing college classrooms

It was the sort of discussion that happens hundreds of times a day in America's college classrooms — an English professor and her students grappled with Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, "To a Skylark," trying to pry meaning from words written nearly two centuries ago.

This conversation, though, had a decidedly 21st-century twist. It was conducted in cyberspace, with the professor, Sara Cordell of the University of Illinois at Springfield, speaking over a chat room audio feed, and the students typing their impressions into a text box.

While the session lacked the intimacy of a face-to-face exchange, it nonetheless seemed to produce the illumination Cordell was after. As it ended, having uncovered the poem's themes of joy, loss and the limits of human existence, one student wrote, "I see so much more than before."

"I think students learn a lot more in my field online," Cordell said. "They have to take a lot more responsibility for their learning. They can't just sit there and stare at me and pretend that literature is a spectator sport."

Virtual education at the college level has exploded over the last decade, with one survey finding that about a third of all students today take at least one class online. The humanities, though, remain a relative rarity in the digital world.

The story was featured by the Chicago Tribune on April 29, 2013.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Vorreyer, UIS women shoot for golf Super Regional

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team is in good position as it heads into the Great Lakes Valley Conference championships scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Annbriar Golf Course in Waterloo.

The Prairie Stars are trying to earn a bid to an NCAA Division II Super Regional May 5-7 at Joliet Country Club.

“We are very close to it as a team,” UIS coach Frank Marsaglia said. “If we don’t, Abby Vorreyer has a real shot of making it as an individual.”

Vorreyer has won three tournaments this spring, including the UIS Spring Invitational at The Rail Golf Course on Sunday. Vorreyer broke her own 18-hole record in the first round with a 2-under par 70. She shot a 76 in the final round and broke another one of the records with a two-round score of 146 for a 10-stroke win.

Vorreyer also won the 140-player/24-team Perry Park Spring Fling in Kentucky last month.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 26, 2013.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

UIS students partner with Habitat to rehab homes

UIS students partnered with Habitat for Humanity as part of the university’s Springfest, according to Mark Dochterman, director of UIS’s Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

Springfest is a weeklong team challenge that includes a scavenger hunt and trivia night, among other activities.

Last year, Dochterman said organizers incorporated a service element. More than 200 students planted 3,500 native saplings in open spaces at Carpenter and Gurgens parks north of Springfield.

The project went well, except for a number of students contracting poison ivy, he said.

“(Partnering with Habitat) just seemed like a great way we could make a difference with the students we have,” Dochterman said.

Among the students to chip in Monday was Paige Heiser, a junior at UIS. Heiser cleared overgrown and dead brush at 2028 South Grand Ave. E. with other volunteers.

She said she enjoys volunteering because it’s important to give back to the community.

“You can have an impact on something on a larger scale, which makes you feel good,” Heiser said.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 23, 2013.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Anti-violence march emboldens women

The 35-degree wind chill couldn’t keep 19-year-old Ciara Woodcock from the annual “Take Back the Night” march at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Friday night’s march, now in its sixth year at the university, focuses on preventing violence against women. It’s designed to empower women, encourage them to speak out and foster an atmosphere of healing.

“It’s something important to stand up for. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little cold,” said Woodcock,” a freshman from Pawnee.

Estimates from the U.S. Centers on Disease Control and Prevention are that 20 percent to 25 percent of college women in the United States have experienced a rape or an attempted rape during their college career.

“While we care about violence against all persons, we recognize that sexual violence and relationship violence is much more likely to happen to women and girls,” said Lynn Otterson, director of the UIS Women’s Center.

In addition to the march, activities at UIS Friday included survivors’ stories, music and poetry.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 20, 2013.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

UIS baseball team hits 1,000 in service hours

Baseball is a numbers game, and there is a category where the University of Illinois Springfield squad outdistances most.

The Prairie Stars have logged a whopping 1,023 hours of community service over the course of the academic year.

“As time went on, we realized how much we actually accomplished,” junior Adam Unes said. “It was kind of neat to see it progress. Toward the end of this semester, we’re seeing all that work come together.”

Their charity work didn’t stop with the arrival of the first day of practice. The players and coaches have continued putting in hours. The coaching staff and three players answered a spur-of-the-moment phone call and unloaded an 18-wheeler filled with pre-built walls for Habitat for Humanity in a driving rain Tuesday. They’ve worked at other habitat sites and made an impact for four families.

“If you can help put a roof over someone’s head, that is something tangible,” UIS coach Mike Zandler said.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 19, 2013.

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UIS men's golf team faces GLVC challenge

The Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Golf Championship starts Sunday in Columbus, Ind., and the University of Illinois Springfield has its work cut out for it.

“At regionals, we didn’t play as well as we would have liked,” UIS coach Frank Marsaglia said of the Prairie Stars tying for 21st place. “Going into the regionals, we had a chance to move up in the standings for postseason, but we actually dropped. The only chance for postseason now is to win the conference championship.

“We have not beaten four of the teams out of the 15. It’s going to be tough to win.”

The GLVC championship begins with 54 holes of stroke play at Otter Creek Golf Course on Sunday and Monday. The top four teams after stroke play will compete Tuesday in medal/match play that will determine the tournament champion.

The team was featured on April 19, 2013 by The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Art-expression class lifts moods of patients

Jim Taylor never took an “art-expression” class before but says it helped him deal with some of the stress and frustration associated with his Alzheimer’s disease.

The free class is the first of its kind to be offered by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the University of Illinois Springfield in cooperation with the Prairie Art Alliance.

Organizers said the class has resulted in measurable gains by improving mood and promoting relaxation — among people with dementia and other memory disorders, and among their caregivers.

“The point is not about making beautiful art,” said class instructor Karen Lee, a member of UIS’s faculty. “It’s about expression. It’s just nice to be able to do a creative activity where you can just be a regular person.”

Graduate students from UIS’s human development counseling program have received college credit to assist people with memory loss while their caregivers join in the class.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 18, 2013.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Volunteers strike gold at UIS; Adams takes top honor

More than 40 Sangamon County volunteers were honored Tuesday during the annual Good as Gold ceremony at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Larry Adams, an Ameren gas operations supervisor, received the 2013 Distinguished Volunteer Award for his work at Matheny-Withrow Elementary School over the past 25 years.

The awards, which are in their fifth year, are sponsored by the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center and the Junior League of Springfield.

UIS students Samia Ahmad, Amanda Cummins and Paige Heiser were honored with Star Student Awards for their volunteer contributions.

Ahmad organized an on-campus Tie a Yellow Ribbon and toiletries donation campaign for troops, and Cummins helped organize the school’s Hunger and Homelessness Week. Heiser had a leadership role in the UIS Alternative Spring Break organization.

UIS International Student Series Program Coordinator Erika Suzuki received the Star Staff Award for her work with Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach.

The awards were featured by The State Journal-Register on April 17, 2013.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Topinka says tax dollars paying for debt

Monday is the last day to file taxes. You might wonder where your money goes. The Illinois Comptroller says, "down the drain."

Judy Baar Topinka says taxpayers see nothing in return and their money is going toward interest owed on unpaid bills; and the debt continues climbing year after year.

The state owes a lot of money to a lot of people. That's frustrating for Frances Chaplain. She works at UIS.
"There's no light at the end of the tunnel for it to stop, because every time you see something in the paper, it's just getting deeper and deeper every time," said Chaplain.

The state is working to pay down all that debt and is using your tax dollars to do it. So far this year, $47-million has been spent on interest alone; last year, about $86-million.

"The $86-million could go to the pension fund. It could go to human services. It could go toward building highways. Where does it go? To pay debt," said Ron McNeil, dean of the UIS College of Business and Management.

The story aired on WCIA-TV on April 15, 2013.

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UIS Faith and Learning Lecture Series

Dr. Bryan McGraw, Assistant Professor of Politics at Wheaton College presents “Faith, Politics, and the Problem of Evil” as part of the University of Illinois Springfield Faith and Learning Lecture Series at noon Thursday, April 18 in the UIS Public Affairs Center, Conference Room G.

Participants are encouraged to bring a brown bagged lunch to the lecture. Dr. McGraw will be speaking on the topic of what citizenship means for us today and how faith intersects with it.

The event was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 15, 2013.

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Top Teen finalist: North Mac's Kenadi Fuller

North Mac High senior Kenadi Fuller believes it’s important to be involved.

For four years, she’s worked with her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, serving as president during her junior and senior years.

“We encourage everyone to join. It doesn’t matter whether or not you personally are gay, lesbian or transgender. You can be an ally; you can be someone that is just curious, someone that doesn’t really know what they’re feeling,” Kenadi said.

Kenadi organized a fundraiser for the To Write Love on Her Arms national The Storytellers campaign from February to May 2012. The organization strives to offer help and hope to people who struggle with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

Because of Kenadi’s efforts, North Mac High raised $2,742 and won its fundraising division. The school of about 435 students finished fourth overall out of 139 schools in national fundraising for the spring 2012 campaign.

Next fall, Kenadi plans to attend the University of Illinois Springfield to major in history and French and minor in secondary education.

Fuller was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 16, 2013.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Susan Koch: Students, faculty mentors collaborate on projects for StARS

The following is a portion of a guest column written by UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. It was published in an April 14, 2013 edition of The State Journal-Register.

"Providing an abundance of opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty is a particularly strong feature of the UIS student experience, and the results of these opportunities were on prominent display on the Springfield campus just a few days ago at 'StARS.'

'StARS' stands for Student Arts and Research Symposium and this annual event offers a rich array of presentations and performances by UIS students, each of whom has collaborated throughout the year with a faculty mentor to complete an individual research or creative project.

According to the U.S. Council on Undergraduate Research, research and creative projects like those showcased at the UIS 'StARS' develop critical thinking, creativity, problem solving and intellectual independence and promote an innovation-oriented culture on the university campus."

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First Nature Trek to feature wild turkeys

Alan Harn definitely is talking turkey, whether or not anyone actually sees one.

Wild turkeys are the topic for the first Nature Trek, a collaborative project between Dickson Mounds State Museum and the University of Illinois at Springfield's Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon. As the museum's assistant curator for anthropology, Harn is the inaugural speaker in a series which will take place on the third Thursday of the month, spring through summer. It's a challenging choice, given wily wild turkey history.

"They're the most elusive gamebird - the most elusive game - in America," Harn says.

Apparently, that didn't help them much with our pioneer ancestors. Once-abundant turkeys disappeared from Illinois by 1910, thanks to a combination of overhunting and cleared forest lands. But in 1959, the birds were re-introduced to the Shawnee Forest in southern Illinois, unexpectedly thriving in the mix of cropland and wooded areas which remains. There are an estimated 135,000 wild turkeys in the state now.

The event was featured by the Peoria Journal Star on April 15, 2013.

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UIS to host Kid's Day Out

The University of Illinois Springfield Student Athlete Advisory Committee is hosting its annual Kid’s Day Out event at The Recreation and Athletic Center from 12:30-4:30 p.m. on April 28.

Kids ages 5-13 will participate in basketball, softball, soccer, baseball, cheerleading, tennis, volleyball and crafts. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

The cost is $20 per child and $15 for additional siblings. Proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

To register, email SAAC president Tina Buck at

The event was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 13, 2013.

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UIS baseball team splits with Drury

University of Illinois Springfield junior Josh Johnson’s two-out, three-run double in the eighth inning gave the last-place Prairie Stars a 9-8 win over Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division leader Drury in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday.

The Prairie Stars took an early 4-0 lead, then rallied from an 8-6 deficit with three runs in the eighth inning. Junior Kendall Hocker’s single loaded the bases for Johnson.

Sophomore winning pitcher Robert Spath had zero hits, zero runs, zero walks and one strikeout in three innings.

The Stars had a chance to win the second game after they took a 5-4 lead in the sixth, but the Stars couldn’t pull off the comeback and Drury won 9-5.

UIS junior Derek Shoman’s two-run single tied the game at 4-all in the fifth. Drury’s Colton Jones hit a grand slam in the sixth for an 8-5 lead.

The team was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 14, 2013.

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UIS softball splits against Rockhurst

Brooke Carroll hit home runs for University of Illinois Springfield in both an 8-0 win and a 12-9 loss to Rockhurst in a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader at UIS Athletics West.

Carroll’s two-run home run in the third inning of the second game propelled the Prairie Stars (17-19, 11-10) to the victory. Freshman Cheyanne Bowman threw seven strikeouts in five innings and allowed two hits and two walks.

In the first game, UIS held an 8-5 lead until Rockhurst scored seven runs in the top of the seventh. The Hawks are 19-14 and 7-10.

The team was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 14, 2013.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Baseball: UIS splits with Rockhurst

Kendal Hocker’s bases-loaded single with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the University of Illinois Springfield to a 5-4 win over Rockhurst and a split of their Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader on Sunday.

Rockhurst (14-12) outhit UIS 13-6 in the first game en route to an 8-1 victory.

Trevor Johnson went 2-for-3 for UIS (5-17) in the second game, which saw pitcher Robert Spath got the win in relief over the last 1 2/3 innings.

Derek Shomon and Tyler Lau had two hits apiece for the Prairie Stars in the opener.

The game was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 8, 2013.

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Softball: Bowman, Stars sweep Hawks

Pitcher Cheyenne Bowman got one win in relief and another in a starting role Sunday to help the University of Illinois Springfield sweep a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader from Rockhurst by scores of 1-0 and 8-6.

Bowman, now 10-8, pitched the last four innings of the 10-inning opener, limiting the Hawks to one hit. UIS finally broke through with a run in the top of the 10th when Tina Buck scored all the way from first base after a Rockhurst fielding error with one out.

The Stars’ Chelsea Minor went 2-for-3 in the opener.

The game was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 8, 2013.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

'Awake and Sing' paved way for modern theater

“Awake and Sing,” the spring production by University of Illinois Springfield Theatre, could be thought of as the granddaddy of ensemble casting, Method acting and other aspects of film and theater that today’s audiences take for granted.

“One of the reasons we decided to do it, is due to its historical significance,” director Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson said of Clifford Odets’ 1933 play about a working-class Jewish family from the Bronx confronting the Great Depression.

The play opens Friday at the UIS Studio Theatre for six performances.

“It was the first play to be produced by the Group Theater, many of whose members became icons of theater,” Thibodeaux-Thompson said.

The play was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 4, 2013.

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Weather no help for up-and-down UIS softball team

Seventy nine.

That is how many days passed between the first day of the season and the first time the University of Springfield softball team practiced on its home diamond. All sorts of weather — cold, snow and rain — have kept the Prairie Stars from practicing outdoors since the season began in mid-January.

After routinely practicing at an indoor facility or on concrete, UIS players and coach Mat Mundell finally practiced Wednesday on their home field at the Land of Lincoln Junior Olympic Softball Complex. They couldn’t have been happier, especially with 3½ weeks left in the regular season.

“Seventeen inches of snow kind of put a damper on practice,” UIS first baseman Brooke Carroll said. “We haven’t been able to realistically practice bunts and things like that.”

In spite of the crummy weather, UIS has played 28 games.

“I think it has put us as at a disadvantage a little bit this winter,” Mundell said. “Defensively, we haven’t been as sharp as last year. Our defensive play has showed that we’ve been stuck inside. Now that April is here hopefully it will get better.”

The Stars are fourth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference with a 7-6 record. UIS takes a 13-15 overall record, which includes victories over nationally ranked Central Oklahoma and Fort Hays, into a home doubleheader today against Maryville.

The softball team was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 4, 2013.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Older adults urged to get more physically active

Exercise doesn’t have to be elaborate or exhausting to improve health, a University of Illinois Springfield faculty member told a gathering of senior citizens Monday.

“Pick activities that you like,” said Dorine Brand, assistant professor in the UIS department of public health. “Don’t expect immediate results right off the bat.”

Brand spoke at a free luncheon at Third Presbyterian Church that was sponsored by the Greater All Nations Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Health Ministry.

Brand conducted an upbeat discussion with the audience about the negative side of aging and ways that physical activity have been shown to relieve stress, combat cardiovascular disease and diabetes, assist with weight control and make older people more mobile and productive.

“Motivation is a key thing,” Brand said after her talk.

Brand was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 2, 2013.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

UIS to offer credit for military experience

Both military veterans and active personnel will have a chance to earn college credit for their life experiences as well as share them with other service members in a new online class at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The eight-week online courses begin June 3. Current UIS students may enroll for credit for prior learning courses starting Monday.

The courses will allow service members to share their experiences through an online discussion board. Participants will be allowed to moderate discussions and suggest topics.

“Credit for prior learning is traditionally a way for older students, typically, to get college credit for life experiences,” said Kevin Beeson, visiting clinical professor of Experiential and Service Learning at UIS.

He used as an example a former drill sergeant taking an oral communications course.

 “They’ve already been yelling at recruits for 25 years,” he said.

Students in the courses also will keep journals and write portfolios about their military service.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 31, 2013.

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Woman gets clemency in husband's death

A woman who served 27 years of a life sentence for her husband's murder — despite not being present when he was killed — was among 87 people granted clemency by Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday.

Peggy Jo Jackson left the Logan Correctional Center on Friday and headed to South Carolina, where she'll live with her sister and mother and complete her parole, said Erica Nichols-Cook, an attorney with the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

She called Quinn's executive order "a victory for all innocent women that have suffered from serious domestic abuse."

Jackson, 57, was in shock when she got the news, Nichols-Cook said.

"I think she was just so overwhelmed," Nichols-Cook said. "She'd been waiting for this for a long time."

The Associated Press story was published on March 29, 2013.

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