Saturday, December 28, 2013

Class requirement becomes a labor of love for college student

Jessie Edwards, a 20-year-old aspiring social worker, was looking for a project to fulfill a college class requirement.

Edwards, who is known for her unusually big heart, decided to take on a project in line with her reputation.

She discovered that there are 26 grade schools in Macon County, and many of their pupils do not have gloves.

So why not make sure all the children have their fingers covered this winter?

"I have a big passion for children in the first place," said Edwards, a junior at University of Illinois-Springfield. "My dream is to help children in the community."

Edwards looked over the charity landscape and discovered a gaping hole.

"There’s a coat drive, a food drive, but I never heard of a glove drive," said Edwards, during an interview at Dennis School, where she kicked off her marathon giveaway in early December on one of the first really cold days of the season.

With financial support from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office’s community outreach program, Edwards purchased 1,000 pairs of gloves from Dollar General. She bought 26 Christmas-themed bags, and placed about 40 pairs in each bag.

The story was published by the Decatur Herald & Review on December 28, 2013.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Former Sangamon State instructor is famed writer Mailer's authorized biographer

J. Michael Lennon said he had two reactions when he was tabbed to write the authorized biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Norman Mailer.

“One, was, OK, this is going to be a (huge) job,” said Lennon, 71, who spent two decades at Sangamon State University (now University of Illinois Springfield) as an administrator and instructor. “The other, of course, was that I was terrifically excited.

“But I knew if I was going to get it done, it had to be a total commitment.”

Lennon spent a monk-like four years writing “Norman Mailer: A Double Life” (Simon & Schuster), which came out in October to mostly positive reviews. That was after he did three years of research and interviewing friends, editors and family members of Mailer, who died in 2007.

Despite its imprimatur, the tome, which runs 900-plus pages, isn’t a hagiography of one of the most colorful literary figures of the 20th century. Lennon said that if he had Mailer’s approval, Mailer also had his back, giving him unfettered access to letters and other personal papers and in his interviews.

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

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

UIS reminding students guns not allowed on campus

People in Illinois can start applying for a concealed carry permit on January 5, but the University of Illinois Springfield is reminding students guns are still not allowed on campus.

In just two weeks, legal gun owners in Illinois can carry weapons with a permit, but the Firearm Concealed Carry Act doesn't change the status quo for college campuses. UIS campus police want to make sure students and visitors know the rules.

When students return from winter break, they'll see signs posted all over campus.

"When they come in the doors, they will actually see a sign that says you cannot bring a loaded weapon into the buildings," said UIS police officer Cindy Law.

Illinois' new concealed carry law kicks in next month, but that does not include college campuses. UIS students tell us they're relieved they won't be seeing weapons at school.

"There's been a lot more of guns getting into schools recently. Like some of the elementary schools. So I think it's good to help get that awareness out," said UIS junior Kelsey Hill.

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on December 24, 2013.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

UIS signs four softball players for 2015

Coach Mat Mundell and the University of Illinois Springfield softball program signed four players to national letters of intent on Thursday.

Tess Hupe (St. Charles), Jordyn Larsen (Channahon), Rachel Goff (Edwardsville) and Brittany Miller (Washington) will join the Prairie Stars’ roster for the 2015 season.

“The number one thing about this recruiting class is the players all have championship backgrounds. They have all played for some of the best travel programs in the state,” Mundell said.

The story was featured in The State Journal-Register on December 20, 2013.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

UIS announces Outstanding Master's Thesis/Project Award winner

The Research Board at University of Illinois Springfield announced the winner of its Outstanding Master's Thesis/Project Award.

Christopher L. Young, environmental studies, won for “Response of the Franklin's Ground Squirrel to Recreational Trail Development in Springfield, Illinois.” In addition, Nathan T. Grider, biology, received the Special Merit Award for “Growth, Condition, and Diet of Alligator Gar (Atractosteus Spatula) Released in Merwin Preserve.”

Other nominees were Adam Bell, educational leadership; Juanita Blanco, political science; Kristen Chenoweth, English; Ryan D. Nelson, history; and Blake Wood, communication.

The story was featured in The State Journal-Register on December 19, 2013.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

3D printing making museum artifacts more accessible

Mike Miller’s first exposure to 3D printing occurred in 2005 while serving as a resident artist at EIGERlab in Rockford, where he had access to a commercial 3D printer that jets multiple modeling materials simultaneously. Similar equipment costs in the $500,000 range.

He was behind the recent purchase of a $2,800 MakerBot Replicator 2X for the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Department of Art, Music and Theatre, where he serves as chairman.

The story was published on December 18, 2013 in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Prairie Stars' Kelly earns conference honor

Elizabeth Kelly has become the first player from the University of Illinois Springfield to be named Great Lakes Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week.

In the Prairie Stars’ two games last week, Kelly registered back-to-back double-doubles against Robert Morris-Springfield and Taylor, averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds per game.

She began the week with 14 points, 16 rebounds and three assists in the Prairie Stars’ 89-60 win over Robert Morris on Nov. 10. Four days later, she shot 5-for-9 from the field for 12 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and made two steals in a 75-72 overtime victory against Taylor.

 In the two games, she converted 12-for-17 (70.6 percent) from the field and 2-for-4 (.500) from the free throw line with 26 rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

The story was featured in The State Journal-Register on December 17, 2013.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

UIS alumni: Don't change Prairie Stars nickname

University of Illinois Springfield alumna Dana Goodrum wore with pride a blue “Prairie Stars” T-shirt Saturday during back-to-back basketball games at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

She’s one of the 510 UIS alumni who have signed an online petition opposing changing the schools’s athletic teams’ nickname, which dates back to 1977. Goodrum encouraged current students and alumni on Saturday to don “Prairie Star Pride” stickers and wave signs supporting the long-standing nickname.

“Our presence today alone, I think we’ve delivered a big enough message to the chancellor and to the community,” she said. The process of exploring alternatives to the Prairie Stars nickname began last year, when the Student Government Association conducted an on-campus survey that indicated 75 percent of respondents wanted a change.

Goodrum and another alumni representative, Shelly Runyard, handed a printout of the petition to UIS Chancellor Susan Koch and Student Government Association president Aaron Mulvey before Saturday’s games. Goodrum said Koch and Mulvey were “very attentive” and listened to their concerns.

The task force formed to analyze the potential name change is expected to submit a report to the chancellor within a month. Koch is expected to make a decision early next year.

The story was published on December 15, 2013 in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Accessibility upgrades coming at UIS

Work is expected to begin early next semester on upgrading accessibility at the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s office on Thursday announced a capital investment of more than $542,000 to upgrade accessibility at UIS.

The project was approved several months ago as part of Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! Program, but the contract for the work was only recently awarded.

“This work will upgrade accessibility on campus so all students, staff and visitors can have equal access to the university’s services and programs,” Quinn said in a press release. “The project will also employ a number of construction workers, which will help the local economy.”

The contract was awarded to Johnco Construction of Mackinaw, the lowest of seven bidders at $542,6000. It includes Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades including restroom renovation, new signs, assistive listening systems, additional handicapped parking and wheelchair accessibility accommodations, campus telephones and accessible drinking fountains.

The work also will include new fume hoods and emergency shower controls in science labs.

The story was published on December 13, 2013 in The State Journal-Register.

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Auction to benefit UIS art gallery

Artist ANN E. COULTER of Peoria has an art piece in the silent auction benefit at the University of Illinois Springfield that at least met its minimum bid (as of Monday).

Coulter’s “AWAY # 4” pastel drawing on vintage postcard had a minimum bid of $50. The piece’s pastel drawing offers deep blues in a landscape setting on a vintage postcard that has writings such as “c/o The Brickyard at New Bedford” and a 1-cent Benjamin Franklin postage stamp.

Broadly described as a landscape artist on Facebook, Coulter’s pastel drawings are from photographs she takes of “weedy little patches of nothing and nowhere” in central Illinois.

Coulter’s artwork is among dozens of original works of art donated for the UIS VISUAL ARTS GALLERY 2013 SILENT AUCTION BENEFIT.

Final bidding and a closing reception will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 at the gallery, Room 201 of the Health and Sciences Building at UIS. The UIS Music Camerata will perform from 5 to 7 p.m. during the closing reception.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on December 12, 2013.

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Quick start keys UIS women's basketall win

The University of Illinois Springfield opened the game on a 29-6 run and never looked back in an 89-60 victory Tuesday night over Robert Morris Springfield at the Recreation and Athletic Center.

The Prairie Stars shot a season-high 52 percent from the field, and the 89 points are the most they have scored this season.

UIS senior Elizabeth Kelly recorded her third double-double in as many games, scoring 14 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Senior Megan Bergerud scored a team-high 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting. Bergerud has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games.

Senior guard Alyssa Palmer chipped in with 13 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals. Juniors Cassie Wolfe and Gwen Zehner each added 10 points.

They win was featured by The State Journal-Register on December 12, 2013.

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Goff will continue playing at U of I Springfield

The decision to attend the University of Illinois Springfield to play softball has been the culmination of a lot of years and efforts on the field for Metro-East Lutheran’s Rachel Goff and it’s one she’s happy to have made.

Goff, who has also played select softball in the St. Louis Fusion organization since she was 12, thought UIS was the perfect fit for her future.

“It was definitely closer to home and I really liked the coaches,” Goff said. “It was really a beautiful campus. They’re definitely building their program and I look forward to helping them in the future.”

The Prairie Stars play Division II in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and finished 21-28 last season and 15-19 in the GLVC.

The story was published in the Edwardsville Intelligencer on December 12, 2013.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Springfield Day Saturday at UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield will host City of Springfield Day at its men’s and women’s basketball games Saturday.

The women’s team plays Taylor University at 1 p.m. The men’s team plays Trevecca Nazarene at 3 p.m. UIS will honor the 2013 State Journal-Register First Citizen Wally Henderson and previous award winners at halftime of the men’s contest.

Anyone who brings an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots will receive a half-price ticket.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on December 11, 2013.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prairie Stars supporters lobbying to retain UIS nickname

University of Illinois Springfield alumni opposing any change to the Prairie Stars athletic teams’ nickname will be pressing their case at this Saturday’s basketball games at UIS.

“We thought about setting up a table and taking the petition with us,” said Dana Goodrum, a UIS graduate and one of the organizers of a petition drive to encourage the school to retain the nickname it has had since 1977. “But we decided we’d just be there and talk with people during the games.”

She said alumni will be at both the men’s and women’s basketball games at The Recreation and Athletic Center wearing Prairie Stars shirts and providing Prairie Stars stickers to those who don’t have a logo shirt. They also are encouraging people to bring posters showing support for the current nickname.

“Our biggest hope is to see an overwhelming response to show the administration that current students may not understand the history of the university,” Goodrum said. “There are 37 years’ worth of alums who do.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on December 10, 2013.

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UI explores other pension options

The University of Illinois is looking into a supplemental retirement plan. Last week, after pension reform passed at the Capitol, UI President Bob Easter, sent a letter to staff stating leaders are exploring different options because the one on the table just isn't going to work.

The University of Illinois is known for its strong academics and research. That's why students and staff from all over the world choose to come here. But, that reputation could be in jeopardy.

"I don't know what to say to people to bring them here. 'Stay for the high taxes. Stay for a pension that might or might not happen.' I don't know how to sell the university anymore," said Jorge Villegas.

Villegas teaches at UIS. He's one of many who worry changes to pensions will drive away top-notch professors, creating a ripple effect throughout the university.

"They bring the best research, the bring the research dollars. You see students choosing based on who's doing the research at the university. Without them, really, the University of Illinois wouldn't be as strong as it is right now."

Villegas was featured on WCIA-TV on December 9, 2013.

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UIS' diamond in the rough

The University of Illinois Springfield is determined to have its new on-campus baseball field ready for the upcoming season.

That explains why first-year coach Chris Ramirez, recruiting coordinator Jordan Banfield and pitching coach Jason LaRocque spent one of the coldest days so far this winter preparing the bullpen area. Despite 24-degree temperatures that felt like 14 degrees and a strong wind, the trio was hard at work with rakes Thursday afternoon.

UIS begins practice Jan. 21, opens the season March 1 and plays its first home doubleheader March 15 against Missouri S&T.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on December 8, 2013.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Koch: Scholarship contributions invest in students' futures

The following is a part of a guest column written by UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. It was published in the December 8, 2013 edition of The State Journal-Register.

"December is a time of year when acts of generosity are perhaps more visible than usual; but, as chancellor of the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois, I see the very tangible impact of generosity every day all year round. The generosity I’m talking about is that of the friends, alumni and supporters of our university who invest in talented students by providing them with scholarships to attend college.

According to a recent “Who Pays” analysis, only about one-third of undergraduate students who attend UIS are able to pay for college using their own family resources. For the other two-thirds, the greatest obstacle to attaining a college degree is financial. It is a scholarship provided by a generous donor that makes all the difference."

Read the full column on the SJ-R website

UIS men's basketball team uses balance to beat Robert Morris

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team is receiving contributions from many sources, while Robert Morris University presently lacks the depth needed in games.

UIS got a balanced effort in a 93-79 non-conference win against RMU Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center. The Prairie Stars (3-4) have won the last four games against RMU (5-6).

Five UIS players scored in double figures. On the opposite end of the spectrum, guard Denzell Walker scored more than a third of RMU’s points. The only senior on the Eagles’ roster led all scorers with 32 points. UIS sophomore guard Jamall Millison scored a career-high 24 points, including five 3-pointers. Junior guard Jacob Williams added 22 points and eight rebounds.

“We got a lot of guys who can score the ball in different ways,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “We had 22 assists on 33 field goals. That’s good. We’re sharing the ball, making the extra pass and getting good shots. That showed in the first half. In the second half, we let up a little bit.”

The win was reported by The State Journal-Register on December 8, 2013.

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Iowa senior headed to UIS to play golf

Southeast Polk senior Jordan Neyens has signed to play golf at the University of Illinois at Springfield next year.

Neyens averaged 47.6 strokes per nine holes last season for the Rams.

She selected the University of Illinois at Springfield following a recent campus visit.

“I really enjoyed the campus and like how the class sizes are smaller. Plus, I really connected with the team. The weather is warmer, too. I don’t like snow,” Neyens said.

The story was featured in the Des Moines Register on December 6, 2013.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

State of the arts: Allison Lacher

Allison Lacher was an accomplished installation artist when she moved to Springfield from Utah a few years ago to accompany her husband who had been hired as a professor in the business department at UIS. A frustrating period of dormancy followed, but Lacher has since rallied to become an essential conduit for the local fine art scene.

Her position as manager of the Visual Arts Gallery at UIS, where she is also an instructor, has provided a link to the local arts establishment and gives her a legitimacy that has been useful in forging connections between Springfield and the wider world of art.

In addition to presenting visiting artists at the university gallery, she has been able to facilitate connections between the local grassroots Pharmacy collective and similar groups in other towns. This year she, along with UIS Visual Arts Gallery Director Jeff Robinson, volunteered time to help found and curate the DEMO Project, a sui generis, artist-run gallery located on the campus of the Springfield Art Association. The DEMO Project continually presents work by eminent, contemporary artists from Chicago, New York City and elsewhere.

Lacher was featured by the Illinois Times on December 5, 2013.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bergerud tops 1,000 career points

Lyndi Tedder’s layup with five seconds left on the clock lifted Oakland City to a 73-71 win against the University of Illinois Springfield in a non-conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Senior Megan Bergerud missed a 3-pointer for UIS (1-4) with one second remaining. She finished with a game-high 24 points to become the first UIS player to surpass the 1,000-point scoring mark in NCAA Division II. She has 1,007 career points.

The Prairie Stars’ Elizabeth Kelly added 12 points and 17 rebounds, 12 on the offensive end.

The game was featured by The State Journal-Register on December 4, 2013.

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UIS baseball adds three recruits

Gabe Acevedo, Todd Phelps and Trevor Smith have signed letters of intent to play baseball in 2015 at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Acevedo is a third baseman at Oakton Community College in Iowa. Phelps is an outfielder at Jackson College in Michigan. Smith is a pitcher and outfielder for Fort Zumwalt East High School in suburban St. Louis.

Fourteen recruits have signed with the Prairie Stars during the early signing period.

The story was featured by The State Journal-Register on December 4, 2013.

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UI, other universities oppose pension proposal

University of Illinois President Robert Easter and other leaders of the state's public universities have come out in opposition to the pension reform plan expected to be called for a vote on Tuesday.

In letters sent to House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and other legislative leaders, Easter and the presidents of Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University and other state universities expressed "profound disappointment" in the legislation.

Easter and his staff spent much of Monday reading the 325-page bill posted that morning. As expected, it calls for a number of changes: the cost-of-living increases for retiree payments would be based on years of service and the consumer price index; it proposes a cap (currently $109,971) on how much salary can be used to calculate pension benefits; and it pushes back the retirement age for some workers, among other changes.

"It's pretty straightforward," Easter said about his opposition to the legislation. "The COLA adjustment and other provisions just make it, we think, a very significant impairment to higher education in Illinois and in particular, our ability to recruit and retain the kind of faculty and staff we need to be the kind of university the state wants us to be," Easter told The News-Gazette.

The story was published in the Champaign News-Gazette on December 3, 2013.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

International students get a taste of Thanksgiving

University of Illinois Springfield employees Bud and Cathy Price had a not-quite-traditional Thanksgiving Wednesday, to be followed by another, more recognizable version today.

The Prices, both in their 60s, figure their traveling days are over, so they occasionally have the world over to their house for dinner. Wednesday was one of those times.

Six UIS graduate students from India came to the Prices’ home Wednesday as part of a program that links international students with American host families to experience traditional American holidays and customs. About 30 students and 10 host families — UIS employees, students and their families, and community members — are taking part this Thanksgiving in the program coordinated by UIS International Student Services.

“We saw Thanksgiving only in movies and TV series,” said Patil Ameya, one of the students. “We want to get to know about it.”

Srujana Mulpuri said she had been in the United States for a month previously, but not at Thanksgiving. She wants to experience the tradition of a holiday for which she said there is no equivalent in India.

 “And I’m just expecting to meet everyone,” she said.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on November 28, 2013.

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UIS international students have first Thanksgiving

Several local students are experiencing Thanksgiving for the very first time.

The Office of International Student Services at the University of Illinois Springfield teams up exchange students with host families. The goal is to make sure everyone can feel the joy of the holiday even if they are thousands of miles away from home

This year 28 international students were able to sit down with eight host families for turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and all the other trimmings.

"Since we have Thanksgiving here every single year I had to ask my grandma. I said, 'Hey, how do you think about... Do you feel about... You know having strangers come to the house?' And see said, 'Oh no, that will be fun!'" UIS Student Abby Lawley said.

The "strangers" Lawley is referring to are Meenal Lanke and Mukta Misal. The girls came to America to study computer science at UIS. Their home is just outside of Mumbai on the other side of the world.

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on November 28, 2013.

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