Friday, June 27, 2014

Smoking ban close to reality for Illinois' colleges

For years, smokers at Springfield's sprawling University of Illinois campus could smoke at designated spots. But those spots could disappear if Governor Pat Quinn signs a new law banning smoking from all state campuses. Some wouldn't mind seeing it go.

"It's kind of bothersome walking in front of a door going to class and there's a bunch of people smoking out front and you have to walk right through it," said student Jake Boehm.

UIS spokesperson Derek Schnapp said the university expects some difficulty in transitioning to being 100 percent smoke free, but the law would give them a year to finish the transition.

"It's more about awareness to let people know we're going to be a smoke-free campus," Schnapp said.

On large campuses, smokers will only have a few choices, either smoke in their cars or drive off campus to take care of their craving.

The story was reported by WCIA-TV on June 26, 2014.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

UIS tries to repair relationship with soccer alumni

For many years at Sangamon State University — now the University of Illinois Springfield — men's soccer was the show.

The Prairie Stars won National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championships in 1986, 1988 and 1993. They played in two World Collegiate Soccer Championships. They grew a large fan base, which was heavily involved.

After Aydin Gonulsen retired as coach and athletic director in 2001, longtime UIS supporters and the university began slowly drifting apart. By the time Gonulsen's replacement as coach, Joe Eck, retired in 2009, the rift was clearly evident.

Gonulsen was one of many who felt UIS had forgotten its soccer roots. They were upset for many reasons, including the perceived lack of funding, dismantling of the Friends of the Prairie Stars Athletic Association and the lack of displaying trophies, banners and national championship signs.

“There was a fractured relationship with the old athletic administration and the soccer alumni,” said Sam Tate, who played for SSU's 1986 championship team. “The alumni felt soccer wasn't supported as part of the athletic program at UIS.”

That has changed with the presence of men's soccer coach Jesse Miech and athletic director Kim Pate, who were hired in 2011.

“They reached out,” said Peter Christofilakos, who played for UIS in 2003. “They wanted to get everybody back involved and get everyone on the same page. They started to see we have a strong but small army that has been there and supported them.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 25, 2014.

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UIS women’s basketball team gets new look with nine transfers

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team will not look the same when it takes the court later this year.

That may come as a surprise to those who follow the Prairie Stars. When the season ended, it looked as if UIS would return seven players. However, only senior forward, Cassie Wolfe, senior guard Courtney Knuckles and junior Meredith Marti will be back.

When UIS coach Chad Oletzke learned following postseason interviews that Carly Goede, Nicole Collins, Jamie Cuny and Gwen Zehner weren’t returning, he set out to overhaul the roster. He has unveiled 10 new players. Nine are transfers.

“We pretty much had to re-work the roster with three returners,” Oletzke said. “The ones that aren’t returning ... it wasn’t that we didn’t ask them to come back. They had things happen in their personal lives and they decided not to come back.

“We had to really touch every position to get deeper and stronger.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 25, 2014.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

UIS’ Mundell takes softball post at Evansville

University of Illinois Springfield softball coach Mat Mundell is moving up in the world.

He has resigned to fill the same post at NCAA Division I Evansville

“It is a chance to coach at the highest level and see if we can compete there,” Mundell said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for our family and I to better ourselves. It was a tremendous opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Evansville announced Mundell, 34, as its new coach Friday afternoon. He replaces Mark Redburn, who resigned in May. Redburn had a five-year record of 90-175.

Much has changed in Mundell’s life in recent weeks. He and his wife, Kelly, became first-time parents May 30 with the birth of their daughter, Marlee.

Mundell, a native of Normal, arrived at UIS as a men’s basketball assistant. He coached the softball team for five full seasons and helped usher the Prairie Stars from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics to NCAA Division II in 2010. He was interim coach for a portion of the 2009 season and UIS finished 4-27. Since becoming head coach in 2010, he was 113-134.

“It was tough to say goodbye,” he said. We had a great group here.”

Mundell was featured by The State Journal-Register on June 22, 2014.

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UIS professor speaking at Korean War museum

The Korean War’s effect on the Cold War will be one of the issues discussed at an upcoming event at the Korean War National Museum in downtown Springfield.

Cecilia Cornell, associate professor of history and director of the Whitney M. Young Graduate Fellowship Program at the University of Illinois Springfield, is the featured speaker for the event. She will talk about how the international context of the Cold War helped define the nature and course of the Korean War and how the Korean War transformed the Cold War.

The event is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, June 28 at the museum, which is located at 9 Old State Capitol Plaza. It’s the third installment in the museum’s 2014 speaker series.

Cornell was featured by The State Journal-Register on June 23, 2014.

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UIS student-athletes picks up academic honors

Eight University of Illinois Springfield athletes are among 285 students who have earned the Great Lakes Valley Conference Council of Presidents’ Academic Excellence Award.

The baseball team’s Barry Arnett and Trevor Johnson appear on the list along with Ben Main, who is on the tennis team. On the women’s side, basketball player Elizabeth Kelly, golfer Casara Marsaglia, tennis player Megan Zumbahlen and soccer player’s Hannah Fyfe and Katlin Petersen received the honor.

To be eligible for the award, honorees must have completed their eligibility in his or her sport and maintained a 3.5 grade point average. They also must have a two-year minimum in the GLVC and fulfill 96 credit hours.

Six UIS sports programs received the Team Academic All-Great Lakes Conference Award.

The conference recognizes teams from member schools that have a 3.30 grade point average for the academic year. A record 109 GLVC teams made the list, including UIS women’s golf (3.50), women’s tennis (3.45), women’s soccer (3.42), men’s tennis (3.39), men’s golf (3.36) and softball (3.31).

The awards were featured by The State Journal-Register on June 21, 2014.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Starks inks with Illinois-Springfield

Bri Starks, a Hutchinson High School and Hutchinson Community College graduate, has signed to play basketball at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

With Starks’ help, HCC produced prolific results the past two years. The Blue Dragons went 35-1 this past season, only losing in the NJCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship game to Trinity Valley (Tex.).

In 2013, HCC finished third. Neufeldts instory Starks was part of a sophomore class that compiled a 71-3 record in their tenure.

The story was reported by the by on June 18, 2014.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Longtime UIS tennis coach Manny Velasco retires

The name Manny Velasco is synonymous with tennis in Central Illinois.

He has coached the sport for five decades. Until now. Velasco is retiring as the University of Illinois Springfield men’s and women’s tennis coach, effective Sunday. He remains the tennis director at the Springfield Park District’s Velasco Tennis Center and has held the post since 1976. The 76-year-old is retiring from coaching for multiple reasons.

“I don’t really want to because it is a part of my life, but it’s about time that I step aside,” Velasco said. “I have bad knees. I want to have a little bit more time in Florida. I don’t want to face the winters here. I want to leave it (coaching UIS tennis) open to some new blood.”

Velasco began coaching at UIS as the men’s coach in 1984. He took over the women’s program from Dominic Giacomini in 2007. Velasco was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Coach of the Year in 1992. He was a five-time Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year. His teams won multiple NAIA regional titles and made 14 NAIA national tournament appearances. He has more than 400 victories and has coached more than 200 players.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 14, 2014.

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U of I trustees seek input on presidential search

Town hall meetings are scheduled this month on each of the University of Illinois campuses to get input for the committee leading the nationwide search for a new president.

The meeting at the University of Illinois Springfield is the first and is scheduled for 11 a.m. June 23 in Room 3080 of University Hall.

The open-microphone forums will give faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members an opportunity to express their thoughts to help with the search, from the challenges a new president will face to the personal qualities needed for the position.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 14, 2014.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Susan Koch: UIS landscape team keeps campus beautiful

The following is a portion of a column written by Chancellor Susan J. Koch. It was published in The State Journal-Register on June 8, 2014.

"I often ask students what the deciding factors were in their choice of the University of Illinois’s Springfield campus as the place where they would pursue their college degrees.

Though academic reputation, small class size and reasonable cost are often mentioned, students also tell me that they fell in love with the campus itself when they made their first visit. I guess that’s proof that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In fact, research shows that a beautiful and functional campus is often a deciding factor in a prospective student’s college choice.

The University of Illinois Springfield campus consists of 750 acres, and it is, indeed, beautiful.

About half of the property is still Class A prime agricultural land—deep (and valuable) Ipava soil that rotates, like most active farmland in central Illinois, between crops of corn and soybeans.

A talented and dedicated crew of 12 landscape professionals and grounds workers maintains the other 350 or so acres of the campus. That includes 6.5 miles of streets and roads (13 of which are named after Illinois authors), 7 miles of sidewalks, over 400 different types of trees and shrubs, about 2,000 perennial and annual plants, a pond and acres of lawn and sports fields."

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Monday, June 2, 2014

UIS men's soccer team signs two

Springfield (Missouri) Glendale High School midfielder Ruell Chappell and Naperville Nequa Valley Neuqua Valley midfielder Munashe Nyamunduru will play for the University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team in the fall.

Chappell dished out 22 assists to rank second in the season record book in 2013. He helped Glendale cap the season with a fourth-place finish at the Missouri Class 3 State Tournament. He received all-conference and All-Southwest region honors. His club team, Springfield Soccer Club, won the NPL Gateway Conference Champion, Missouri State Cup and Midwest Regional Tournament. It advanced to the Youth National Tournament.

Nyamunduru played for Neuqua Valley’s regional championship team in 2013. He was a member of the Chicago Fire club team. His under-14 pre-academy squad was a State Cup finalist. He went on to play for the U-16 United States developmental academy team.

The new students were featured by The State Journal-Register on May 29, 2014.

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