Monday, August 26, 2013

UIS student union plans generate buzz on campus

Architects’ renderings of the University of Illinois Springfield’s proposed student union made their debut last week on a 16-foot wide billboard at the site and at a campus convocation.

“It has lots of students talking about it,” said Chancellor Susan Koch of the drawings of the $20 million building to be paid for mostly by student fees. “It’s creating tremendous excitement, and not just here at the chancellor’s office.”

With UIS fall semester classes starting today, Koch said if the university is able to stick to its time line, bids for construction will be sought by the end of 2014.

“We’re optimistic it could open in early 2016,” she said. “We’re right on schedule now.”

Students voted in April 2012 to increase fees to pay for construction of a union.

Starting in 2016, a full-time undergraduate student at UIS will pay $200 a semester to finance construction. Part-time undergraduates will pay $100 per semester, and graduate students will pay $25 per credit hour up to eight hours. Students enrolled in an online degree-seeking program will not pay any student union fees.

The story was published by The State Journal-Register on August 26, 2013.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Newcomers raise expectations for UIS men's soccer

University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer coach Jesse Miech isn’t holding back.

He is confident the Prairie Stars’ on-field product will be noticeably improved. UIS last had a winning record five years ago.

“The talent level has been raised,” Miech said. “The main thing is the speed and athleticism that we bought in. It balances us out and it’s going to allow us to be able to handle a lot of the teams in our conference.”

En route to a 3-14-1 overall record and a 2-12-1 Great Lakes Valley Conference mark last season, the Stars’ offense was stagnant and tallied only 16 goals.

Senior forward Mark Czarny led the way with four goals. Junior midfielder Nikita Fadeev had a team-high six assists. The two are among 11 returning players on a roster that features 10 newcomers.

“Coach has brought in a great group of guys,” UIS senior goalkeeper Jack Turanchik said. “This year could be special for us.”

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on August 22, 2013.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Make music with college students

If you play a musical instrument or sing, and like being around undergraduate students, you might find an outlet at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The UIS Music Ensembles are open to students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members, and rehearsals for several groups start next week in Room 33 at the Visual and Performing Arts Building on campus.

You can even get academic credit for these groups:
UIS Band: 4-5:50 p.m. Mondays.
UIS Chorus: 7-9:15 p.m. Tuesdays and 3:30-5:30 p.m. Thursdays.
UIS Chamber Orchestra: 5:40-7:30 p.m. Thursdays.

Other groups you can check out:

UIS Old Time Jam: 7-9:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.
UIS pep bands: The group performs at home basketball games

For more information, go online at, or contact Sharon Graf, director of co-curricular music, at 206-6570 or

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

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UIS athletics to host Backyard BBQ

The UIS Prairie Stars are hosting their second annual Backyard BBQ, a free event open to everyone, from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, August 24, 2013. It will take place on the north lawn of The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Lake Pointe Grill will provide free food. UIS sports teams will host “backyard” games like bean bag toss and washers. There will be prizes, a bounce house, face painting, an obstacle course and a live radio remote.

“We want it to be an event that attracts all ages,” UIS associate athletic director Travis Whipple said. “We really wanted it to be a bigger scale. We want it to be interactive. We want people to get to know our coaches and student athletes.”

The event was featured by The State Journal-Register on August 20, 2013.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Interview with UIS Chancellor Susan Koch

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch sat down for a conversation with WUIS on the show Illinois Edition. Topics include efforts to attract international students, a major building project, possible expansion in Peoria and getting more UIS students living in downtown Springfield.

When it comes to Peoria, UIS is interested in expanding its presence. Chancellor Koch says a market study will be done this fall. UIS has had limited class offerings in Peoria for years. Koch said it presents opportunities:

KOCH "It's a vibrant city. They are very excited. They understand the need for a public higher education presence, a greater presence. We've been there, as I've said, for a long time. And so I am looking forward to learning more about exactly the best decision about what we can do there."

Peoria's mayor wants to create a four year public university in that town. But he has met with Koch about UIS expansion. She says the market study will determine the next step.

Meanwhile, UIS is looking to build a student union on the Springfield campus. It is still in the planning stages, although the community will get to see an architectural drawing soon. Chancellor Koch says the student union will be the "social heart" of the campus. Students voted to impose a fee on themselves to help cover some of the cost. Koch says that's because students feel it will be an important addition....

"Really, the student union is going to be an essential element of building community for our campus. And based on what our students tell us, and all types of students -- commuter students, residential students, undergraduate and graduate students -- they feel that building this student union is the highest priority for our campus right now." 

But it will take time and more money to get the facility built. Koch says the school will launch a private fundraising campaign this fall. She says the student union will include the university's dining services, a coffee shop, a large multipurpose room and be home to a center for student leadership.

The story aired on WUIS on August 14, 2013.

Listen to the story online

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Susan Koch: UIS students to arrive on campus with smartphones in hand

The following is part of a guest column written by UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. It was published in the August 12, 2013 edition of The State Journal-Register.

"Students soon will arrive for the fall semester on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, and the image of this annual rite of passage is often one of students (with the help of their parents) hauling all manner of “essentials” into campus housing.

That image will most certainly be part of the scene when our residence halls open on August 21, but for increasing numbers of students, whether residential or commuter, undergraduate or graduate, the most important item they bring to college this year may be one that weighs only a few ounces and fits handily into their pockets—their mobile devices—their smartphones.

The fact is, mobile device usage influences the college experience even before students arrive on campus, playing a significant role in the college decision process."

Read the full column online

Thursday, August 8, 2013

UIS women's basketball adds four to host of returners

Second-year University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball coach Chad Oletzke spent some much-needed one-on-one time with his players before the spring semester ended.

“It wasn’t very long because of NCAA rules,” he said. “It was only about four weeks, but we did a lot more stuff in the spring as far as individual player development that we didn’t really have a lot of time for throughout the season.

“We only got eight to 10 hours of individual instruction, but they learned individually about different areas where they can improve and hopefully they’ve really worked on those this summer.”

The fall semester begins in just more than two weeks, and Oletzke is preparing for the return of old and new players.

UIS should step on the court Oct. 15 for the first day of practice mostly intact. The Prairie Stars last season had only one senior, part-time starting forward Ashley Coffey. Oletzke has 10 returning players.

The story was published in The State Journal-Register on August 8, 2013.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Letter: UIS builds ties with sister school

The following is part of a letter by Jonathan GoldbergBelle, director of UIS International Programs. It was published on August 4, 2013 in The State Journal-Register.

"I wanted to add to the excellent article on the Sister City Association of Springfield (SCAS). Working through the SCAS, the University of Illinois Springfield in 2000 established a sister school in Ashikaga, Japan, the Ashikaga Institute of Technology (AIT).

Starting in 2001 we have been sending delegations of students, staff and faculty to each other’s campuses for short programs focusing on language and culture. Zach Claflin, featured in the article, participated in our 2010 program and taught English to the incoming group of students from AIT in 2012.

This past June UIS sent two groups of students to Ashikaga, one for 17 days and the other for six days as part of a study program in China, Korea and Japan. In August/September AIT will send a group of students to UIS for 24 days.

In addition to classes in English and American culture on our campus, and a visit to our Biological Field Station at Emiquon on the Illinois River, we will take the students to see the Lincoln sites, the Dana Thomas House, the Illinois State Museum, the state capitol buildings, and locations connected to engineering such as IDOT, Hanson Professional Services, Standard Aero and sites arranged by the city engineer."

Read the full letter online

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Editorial: Throw community support behind UIS athletics

The following is part of a State Journal-Register editorial, published on  August 1, 2013.

"The relatively young University of Illinois Springfield and its Prairie Stars haven’t been in a position to bask in the same kind of good will and alumni support that bolsters more-established college athletic programs.

That’s all about to change, if coaches, athletes and administrators in the UIS athletic department have any say. They are embarking on a major effort to generate interest in and support for its sports program.

UIS’s athletic program has existed since 1977, when it established a men’s soccer team. Now an NCAA Division II college, UIS has five men’s sports programs — basketball, baseball, golf, soccer and tennis — and six women’s programs — basketball, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball."

Read the full editorial online