Monday, March 31, 2014

Local college students hope internships lead to full-time work

The University of Illinois Springfield offers two work programs: One for undergraduate students and another for graduate students.

The Internship and Prior Learning Services program allows undergraduates to get work depending on their major, and in turn gain academic credit while completing an internship.

“The students get courses to go with the experience of the internship. We allow them to reflect back on what they learned in the workforce and what we can teach them better in the classroom,” said Sarah Stover, visiting assistant director of the program. Some majors require the internships for credit. However, all students are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I've had some students who have gotten full-time jobs after they graduated from just working for a couple of months with an employer,” said Kevin Beeson, visiting professor of the program at UIS.

UIS' Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI, or “gypsy”) was designed to provide graduate students a chance to qualify for an internship opportunity while pursing a graduate degree.

“The program allows the students to gain two things: real-world experience, and economic benefit towards paying off their tuition,” said Rance Carpenter, director of the GPSI program.

The programs were featured by The State Journal-Register on March 30, 2014.

Read the article online

Re-enactors put Civil War fashions on display at fair

The hoop skirts worn by fashion-conscious women in the 1860s weren’t as uncomfortable as they might appear.

Laura Reyman, a historical re-enactor who took part Sunday in the Civil War Fashion Fair at the Springfield Art Association, said that when worn correctly, the hoop skirts are comfortable.

About 20 re-enactors, both men and women, participated in the fair. They mingled with spectators, answered questions about their attire and put on a fashion show. They were dressed in a variety of outfits that showed how society was structured 150 years ago.

Holly Kent, an assistant professor of history at the University of Illinois Springfield, was wearing a formal black dress with grey accents. The black signified she was in mourning, but the gray indicated the loss had not occurred recently.

“The mourning period could be about 2 1/2 years for a husband. They went from full black to black with lighter accents. Then, they transitioned into lavenders and purples,” Kent said.

Only wealthy women had the resources to wear the proper fashions through all phases of mourning.

Kent was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 31, 2014.

Read the article online

The Prairie Stars have landed their own baseball field

Not a lot had changed as far as progress toward the construction of a baseball field at the University of Illinois Springfield from the time Barry Arnett and Adam Unes arrived on campus in August of 2010 to the time Chris Ramirez came to Springfield to interview for the vacant baseball coaching job in June of 2013.

“I took a couple pictures,” Ramirez, the Prairie Stars' first-year head coach said. “There was a backstop. There was fencing. That was it. It was a shell, no dugouts . . . ”

Saturday afternoon UIS conducted opening ceremonies at its on-campus baseball field. The Prairie Stars have had a couple of trial runs — a Great Lakes Valley Conference game with Missouri Science and Technology and a mid-week doubleheader with Robert Morris — but Saturday everything became official.

There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included Chancellor Susan Koch and her husband Dennis as well as athletic director Kim Pate. Colten Knoedler, the 6-year-old grandson of Bank of Springfield chairman Tom Marantz, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Bank of Springfield made a $60,000 donation to UIS that helped fund the construction of the baseball field.

The opening was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 30, 2014.

Read the article online

UIS baseball sweeps Bellarmine

The University of Illinois Springfield had 16 hits in the first game and 16 more in the nightcap on Sunday to sweep Bellarmine 8-5 and 11-5 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader at UIS.

The Prairie Stars won three of four in the weekend series against the Knights. Sunday’s sweep makes UIS 15-8 overall and 8-4 in the GLVC, with the 15 wins surpassing the previous UIS record for wins in a season (13 last year).

Jared Massengill, Logan Frye and Alex Bradley had three hits apiece for the Stars in the opener, with Bradley’s RBI double sparking a three-run fifth inning for UIS. Kyle Schildroth (2-1) got the win in relief as he struck out two, walked none and scattered four hits over the final 2 2/3 innings.

The wins were featured by The State Journal-Register on March 31, 2014.

Read the article online

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

UIS will not renew contract of men’s basketball coach Wierzba

An upset win at the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament earlier this month couldn’t help University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball coach Ben Wierzba keep his post.

UIS athletic director Kim Pate announced Tuesday that Wierzba’s contract will not be renewed for the 2014-15 season. A search for his replacement will begin immediately.

The Prairie Stars closed out their fourth year under Wierzba less than three weeks ago with a 10-18 overall record.

Wierzba had a 41-67 record at UIS and one winning season. Under Wierzba, the Stars qualified for three consecutive GLVC tourneys.

Citing university policy, Pate refused to give a reason Wierzba’s contract, which ends Aug. 15, was not renewed.

“We don’t comment on personnel matters,” she said.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 26, 2014.

Read the story online

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mundell gets 100th win at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield coach Mat Mundell got the 100th victory of his five-year career on Sunday as the Prairie Stars swept Great Lakes Valley Conference foe Wisconsin-Parkside by scores of 7-6 and 13-9 at the Land of Lincoln Softball Complex.

Mundell entered the season with 86 career victories. Sunday’s sweep gave him 100, with the Stars improving to 14-11 overall and 5-5 in the GLVC.

UIS trailed 6-4 entering the bottom of the seventh in the opener. But Shannon Ballegeer’s two-run single tied the score, and Tess Lamb followed with a single to score Ballegeer with the winning run.

Katelyn Weaver went 2-for-4 for UIS, with Alex Smith (8-6) going all seven innings for the pitching victory. The Prairie Stars scored in all six of their at-bats in the nightcap, highlighted by a six-run second frame. Lamb went 4-for-4 with three RBIs; Chelsea Minor went 3-for-4, and Ballegeeer went 2-for-2 to lead the UIS attack.

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 24, 2014.

Read the article online

UIS baseball gets win No. 10

The University of Illinois Springfield got three innings of one-hit relief pitching and scored three unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning Sunday to take a 5-3 win over Rockhurst in the first game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader.

The host Hawks came back to win the second game 8-2. It left UIS at 10-7 overall and 5-3 in the GLVC.

Blake Baker went 2-for-4 with a double for UIS in the first game, while Logan Frye went 2-for-3. Nick Sanders had an RBI double to give the Stars a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 24, 2014.

Read the article online

UIS golfer Ramirez cuts four strokes off her average

Becca Ramirez is proving to be a better golfer in college than when she played the high school and junior circuits.

Her sophomore season at the University of Illinois Springfield has brought five top-10 finishes with wins at the Frito Lay Intercollegiate in Philadelphia, Miss., in February and the UIS Beach Bash in Daytona Beach, Fla., Thursday. Those tourneys had small fields, but she also won the 27-player Dan Salisbury Memorial at The Rail Golf Course last October.

In a year, Ramirez has shaved four strokes off her freshman scoring average. She currently has the squad’s lowest average at 81 strokes.

An all-Central State Eight Conference golfer and state qualifier at Springfield High School, Ramirez estimates she averaged scores in the high 80s as a senior.

“I think maybe I shot a 79 once, but I don’t know for sure,” she said.

Ramirez was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 23, 2014

Read the article online

Thursday, March 20, 2014

UIS softball team opens Florida trip with victory

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team opened its spring break trip to Florida with a 3-1 victory Tuesday over Slippery Rock at Hancock Park.

Chelsea Minor scored the Prairie Stars’ first run in the second inning when she reached on a walk, moved to second on an error and scored from second on a passed ball. Minor drove in the third run with a fourth-inning single after Shannon Ballegeer had singled home a run earlier in the inning for UIS (8-9).

Winning pitcher Alex Smith struck out seven in six innings, walked four and gave up seven hits.

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 19, 2014.

Read the article online

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

UIS women’s soccer coach to start Girls Leadership Academy

University of Illinois Springfield women’s soccer coach Molly Grisham has been kicking around the idea of hosting a leadership academy for a long time.

“I always try when working with my team to give them leadership skills and life skills, but I think we need those at a younger age,” she said. “Not every high school athlete is going to go on to a college career, but they’re still leaders and their sports careers are still a big part of who they are.”

Grisham has established the Girls in Sports Leadership Academy. It will take place June 13-15 on the UIS campus. It is open to high school sophomore, junior and senior girls who participate in any sport. Students will stay overnight in a dormitory.

“We’re not going to be on the field doing Xs and Os,” Grisham said. “It’s all going to be in the classrooms. This is all about leadership.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 18, 2014.

Read the story online

UIS splits inaugural games at on-campus field

The University of Illinois Springfield split a doubleheader with Missouri S&T on Monday in the first games played at the Prairie Stars’ new on-campus baseball field.

UIS defeated S&T 3-1 in the nightcap after falling 4-1 in the opener.

In Game 2, UIS’ Alex Bradley tied the game 1-1 with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the first. The Prairie Stars took the lead for good in the second on Adam Unes’ solo home run, the first at the UIS field.

Brooks Rohrman ended the scoring with an RBI double in the fourth. Seth Krueger (2-0) was the winner for the Prairie Stars (7-4 overall, 3-1 in the GLVC). He didn’t allow an earned run on three hits, striking out three and walking three in five innings.

Kyle Schildroth pitched a perfect ninth to get his fourth save.

In the opener, S&T took a 2-1 lead in the fourth and never trailed again. The Miners took advantage of an error, a walk, and a hit by pitch in the inning. UIS’ only run came in the first on Luke Stewart’s RBI double. Stewart finished the game 3-for-3.

Results of the game were published in The State Journal-Register on March 18, 2014.

Read the story online

UIS students heading to D.C. for Alternative Spring Break

A group of students from UIS will be spending their spring break helping the homeless in our nation's capital.

The students will work at soup kitchens and homeless shelters in Washington, D.C.

A total of 25 students and two staff members are leaving early Sunday morning. Over the weeklong trip, they'll each work 40 hours helping those down on their luck.

Students themselves chose the location, helped recruit others, and raised money to make the trip possible.

"We go to a good university, we're getting a good education, but there are a lot of people across the country who aren't as fortunate," Alternative Spring Break Vice President David Sye said. "It's really important sometimes to take a step back and just help out other people."

The story was featured by WICS-TV 20 on March 14, 2014.

Watch the story online

Prairie Stars sweep doubleheader to open conference baseball season

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team swept its Great Lakes Valley Conference season-opening doubleheader, 6-1 and 6-2 over Missouri S&T at Lenz Field on Saturday.

Junior Luke Stewart went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a stolen base in the first game. Junior Alex Bradley was 2-for-3. UIS senior Barry Arnett improved his pitching record to 2-1 with three strikeouts and no walks.

In the second game, the Prairie Stars were down 2-0 to Missouri S&T (5-10, 0-2). Stewart’s sacrifice fly in the third inning made it 2-1.

The wins were featured by The State Journal-Register on March 16, 2014.

Read the article online

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A chat with UIS Athletic Director Kim Pate

The University of Illinois Springfield has come a long way with athletics in the past decade. Now a Division II school, UIS has added 6 programs in that time. That brings the total of teams to 11.

Yet, the expansion has also brought criticism from those who question if sports are part of the school's mission.

"My response is, it's part of education. Our student athletes are students first," said UIS Athletic Director Kim Pate.

She says student athletes learn a lot of life skills, including teamwork, conflict resolution and time management. UIS student athletes managed an overall average GPA of 3.17.

"We've been dedicating more resources and focus on academics," she said.

Pate also says it adds to campus life, giving students something to cheer for. She says it also provides a pathway to many students who might not otherwise go to college without an athletic scholarship.

The story was reported by WUIS Radio on March 12, 2014.

Read the story online

Coach sees positives down the stretch for UIS women's basketball

Just as the calendar was turning to February, the University of Illinois Springfield women started playing its best basketball.

“The whole month of February is probably the best I’ve seen us play,” UIS coach Chad Oletzke said. “The kids started to buy in and do what we were asking as a whole group in all different aspects. They were playing hard, communicating and doing the X’s and O’s right. Some people were shooting the ball better or defending better or executing better.”

The Prairie Stars were 2-8 in their last 10 games. Five of the losses, including an 82-77 overtime defeat to No. 15 Lewis, were by six points or less. UIS closed with a 7-19 overall record and a 3-15 GLVC record. The Stars won six overall games during the 2012-13 season and recorded the same conference record.

When it comes to the turnaround in competitiveness, Oletzke points to a special meeting of the players following a 73-51 loss to 18th-ranked Indianapolis Jan. 23.

“A lot of teams have meetings like that and it just really springboarded us from that point on,” Oletzke said.

The team was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 13, 2014.

Read the article online

GLVC tourney win highlights UIS men’s basketball strong finish

In a roller-season season, the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team rode a high in the end.

The Prairie Stars won their first Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament game to reach the quarterfinal round.

“We got back to guarding and gave ourselves a chance,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “We had different guys who could step up and score, but we had to stop people.”

The Stars produced a 10-18 overall record and placed sixth in the GLVC East Division with a 5-13 record. They finished with two more overall wins and one less conference victory than the 2012-13 season.

UIS’ season can be broken down into three parts. The Stars got off to a 5-7 start that ended with 106-99 road win against Quincy. In the next 13 games, they went 3-10.

The team was featured in The State Journal-Register on March 13, 2014.

Read the article online

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

'One Book, One UIS' author coming to campus

Those who participated in the University of Illinois Springfield’s “One Book, One UIS” initiative last fall may want to refresh their memories.

Katherine Boo, author of the award-winning book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” is speaking at UIS April 1 after having been unable to appear last fall during the group book-read.

The concept of a community reading project originated with the Washington Center for the Book in the late 1990s. The idea is to bring together people from varied backgrounds through the reading and discussion of a common book.

Jane Treadwell, UIS librarian and dean of library instructional services, came up with the idea for the “one book” initiative at UIS.

She solicited ideas from the Friends of Brookens Library and the campus and Springfield communities before deciding on Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.” The book won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2012, was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, and appeared on many best-book lists that year.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 11, 2014.

Read the story online

Lovett to perform at Sangamon Auditorium

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday for a concert featuring three-time Grammy Award-winner Lyle Lovett.

Lovett and His Acoustic Group perform at 8 p.m. May 10 at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Lovett’s hits include “She’s No Lady,” “Cowboy Man,” his duet with Randy Newman “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (from “Toy Story”) and his Grammy-winning performance with Al Green, “Funny How Time Slips Away.”

Tickets cost $50/$60/$100 and go on sale Monday at, or from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the auditorium box office or by calling 206-6160.

The story was featured in The State Journal-Register on March 11, 2014.

Read the story online

Monday, March 10, 2014

Susan Koch: University experience reaches to Emiquon

The following is a portion of a column published in The State Journal-Register on March 9, 2014.

"Some of the most important opportunities that make up an exceptional university experience occur well beyond the classroom and the campus. For many students who attend the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois, some of the best of those opportunities happen about an hour northwest of Springfield near Havana—at Emiquon.

In 2007, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service identified this 7,000-acre stretch of land along the western bank of the Illinois River to transform it from farmland back to its natural state—a river floodplain. The intent was to re-establish the ecological diversity that had once sustained generations of plant and animal life. This remarkably successful project represents one of the first and largest river reclamation efforts anywhere in the world.

Recognizing that the reclamation would be a unique opportunity, University of Illinois Springfield biology professor Dr. Michael Lemke, whose research focuses on freshwater ecosystems, proposed that UIS partner with the Nature Conservancy to establish a field station at Emiquon to study and document this immense experiment. Today, Lemke serves as director of the field station, and thanks to his leadership and the involvement of many other UIS faculty, staff and supporters, the UIS Therkildsen Field Station has become a thriving, year-round, interdisciplinary teaching and research facility that has hosted hundreds of scientists, teachers, students and interested visitors."

Read the full column online

Thursday, March 6, 2014

State historical society moving to historic home on UIS campus

It seems only fitting that the Illinois State Historical Society be housed in a historic building.

The society on Thursday is moving its headquarters from what its director calls an “invisible” location downtown to the Strawbridge-Shepherd House on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

The Strawbridge-Shepherd House, built in the 1840s, was scheduled for demolition in 2006 when the Elijah Iles House Foundation and UIS joined forces to stop demolition and begin restoring the house, which had been purchased in 1970 but was never used by then-Sangamon State University.

UIS owns the house on the south end of its campus, but leases it to the Iles House Foundation, which is subleasing it to the ISHS, said society executive director Bill Furry.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said the historical society moving to the house brings to fruition a dream of Robert Spencer, the first president of the university.

She said Spencer, in 1971, wrote to Robert Howard, president of the Sangamon County Historical Society, proposing that the Strawbridge-Shepherd House be preserved and suggesting it could be used by organizations with interests in historical preservation, history and community service.

The story was published in The State Journal-Register on March 6, 2014.

Read the article online

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Three UIS student-athletes earn GLVC honors

University of Illinois Springfield senior basketball player Megan Bergerud has been named Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week. The Virginia native had her best game in her final performance in a UIS uniform, scoring 31 points in a season-ending loss to McKendree.

UIS baseball senior Barry Arnett has been named Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week. Arnett is the first UIS baseball player to earn the league’s weekly honor. The Bartonville Limestone High School graduate led the Prairie Stars to a 4-1 victory over Northwood (Mich.) in the season-opener last Friday.

Molly Manietta, a first baseman on the UIS softball team, has been named Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week, the first time a member of the Prairie Stars has received the GLVC honor. Manietta batted .545 average for the week (6-for-11) with a .727 slugging percentage last week as UIS went 2-2.

The story was published by The State Journal-Register on March 5, 2014.

Read the article online

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

UIS wants more students studying abroad

The University of Illinois Springfield is pledging to double over the next five years the number of students it sends to study abroad.

UIS has joined the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad. As part of that initiative, IIE has committed $2 million for a Study Abroad Fund to be used by all its members to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions.

UIS will attempt to raise more money to help finance the program through private donations, said spokesman Derek Schnapp.

The Springfield school sent 51 students to study abroad in the 2012-13 academic year, which includes the summer semester. Generally, more students participate in the summer, although they don’t get as many credit hours by choosing that time, Schnapp said.

“In a world of growing interconnectedness, studying abroad is important because it gives students a broader intercultural perspective and prepares them to thrive in increasingly multicultural communities and workplaces,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch.

The article was published in The State Journal-Register on March 4, 2014.

Read the article online

Students heading to college this fall have lots to do now

High school seniors still have several months to go before graduation. But teens planning to attend college next fall have a lot they should be doing now.

“It's best to start planning for college as early as possible. By starting early, you and your guidance counselor can make sure that you're taking the correct subject courses that satisfy college admission requirements and provide you with solid academic preparation,” said Fernando Planas, University of Illinois Springfield director of admissions.

To figure out which college is best for you, Planas suggests taking a close look at each school that interests you.

“A college education is an investment in your future. Plan wisely, believe in yourself, focus on your goals, work hard, ask questions and use all the resources available to you. And don't forget to have some fun along the way,” he said.

The article was published in The State Journal-Register on March 4, 2014.

Read the article online

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bruenger, UIS men topple Truman State in GLVC Tournament

The University of Illinois Springfield took a history-making victory on Sunday as the Prairie Stars upset victory over Truman State 78-72 in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament at Pershing Arena.

UIS senior guard Regan Bruenger poured in a career-high 25 points and was 8-for-14 from the field as the 12th-seeded Prairie Stars (10-17) won a see-saw battle against the No. 5 Bulldogs (20-7).

It was the Stars’ first GLVC tournament victory after they suffered first-round losses each of the last two years.

“We guarded,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “We made them work for everything they had to get. We rebounded the ball really well. It was a complete effort. Everybody gave us something and it was all positive.”

UIS advanced to a quarterfinal against defending national champion Drury, 24-2 and ranked fifth in the NCAA Division II poll, at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. Drury defeated UIS 66-59 in a GLVC contest Feb. 8.

The win was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 3, 2014.

Read the article online

UIS baseball split with Timberwolves

Blake Baker had three hits with a home run and four RBIs for the University of Illinois Springfield in an 11-5 win over Northwood (Mich.) in the first game of a doubleheader.

Adam Unes and Jared Massengill each had three hits for the Stars.

The Prairie Stars jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Baker’s double in the fourth gave UIS a 4-2 lead. Unes hit a two-run home run to put the Stars ahead 6-2. Baker capped off the Stars’ scoring in the eighth inning with a two-run homer.

The team was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 2, 2014.

Read the article online

UIS softball team edges No. 14 Fort Hays State

Chelsea Minor drove in Tess Lamb on a double to left-center field to lift the University of Illinois Springfield to a 1-0 win over No. 14 Fort Hays State on Friday in the second game of a doubleheader.

Lamb had two hits in the contest for the Prairie Stars.

Alex Smith allowed 10 hits and one walk and had four strikeouts in seven innings for UIS.

The first game was scoreless through the first five innings and Fort Hays went on to win 4-1.

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 3, 2014.

Read the article online