Wednesday, October 29, 2014

UIS testing private market for expanded student housing

University of Illinois Springfield is turning to the private sector to expand student housing already at 97 percent of capacity.

Plans include a 100-bed mixed-use residential and retail facility on 14 acres at the west edge of campus, Chancellor Susan Koch said. No tax dollars would be used, said Koch, who added that she would like to see groundbreaking as early as next spring.

The University of Illinois Foundation, which owns the land, is accepting developer proposals through Nov. 20.

“This is really driven by the need for more student housing,” Koch said.

Fall enrollment at UIS is just over 5,400. A little more than 1,000 students live on campus, putting residential occupancy at 97 percent, according to the university. There’s the added possibility now of Benedictine University at Springfield students transferring to UIS after Benedictine announced it would end its undergraduate program at the end of the current school year.

The developer would be granted a 50-year lease with a 25-year renewal option at a cost to the developer yet to be determined, according to a request for proposals. The mix of single- and multiple-bedroom apartments would have to meet UIS standards for student housing. Up to 15,000 square feet of retail space would be allowed.

“It could be gift shops, pharmacies, specialty stores, apparel stores, restaurants, casual food or coffee shops,” Koch said. “There’s just a variety of things we could do there.”

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 29, 2014.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Red Ribbon campaign promotes drug-free living to Chatham schools

Raising awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drugs. That's the goal of the Red Ribbon campaign

This week, Ball-Chatham students will engage in activities to promote a drug-free and healthy lifestyle.

Monday morning, University of Illinois Springfield student athletes visited each elementary school for assemblies on what it means to have academic and personal goals.

Ball-Chatham officials say the students get excited to see these student athletes. "They're like royalty to these kids. These kids really look up to them and hang on to every word they say so it's been such a blessing to have them come out and talk to us about the same type of things we're already talking about this week, making those safe and healthy choices and staying drug free and resisting peer pressure," said Kristin Ribley, Glenwood Elementary counselor.

UIS has invited the students to attend the UIS vs. McKendree soccer games on Wednesday at Kiwanis Stadium. Students can attend free of charge if they wear Titan gear.

The story was featured on WICS Newschannel 20 on Monday, October 27, 2014.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

International student enrollment rises at UIS

Efforts to increase the number of international students at the University of Illinois Springfield paid off in a big way this fall, with their numbers increasing to 827.

That’s more than 15 percent of the student body, and it is by design.

“We’ve been working very, very hard for the past three years to open our doors more effectively to international students,” UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said.

Many of the students came to UIS from India and China, with computer science and management information systems the most common majors chosen by international students.

The number of UIS international students increased 115 percent this fall over fall 2013.

“We’ve developed partnerships with higher education institutions in China, and our India connection is related to computer science,” she said. “Several years ago, students came over from India and did very well here. Through word of mouth, that connection has really spread.”

The increase was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 25, 2014.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UIS arts building to get upgrades

The University of Illinois Springfield expects to start work next month on a project that will significantly upgrade its Visual and Performing Arts Building.

The improvements include life-safety upgrades, including the heating and ventilation systems, dust removal, and upgrades to the outdoor kiln area. “The building will look the same when it is finished, but the enhancements will be tremendous,” said Chuck Coderko, director of construction at UIS.

The Visual and Performing Arts Building, erected in 1970, is one of the original east campus buildings at UIS. Coderko said the total $855,700 project will include a new ventilation system that will help in ceramics and painting areas where solvents are used. “It also will really help keep the dust out,” he said.

On the south side of building, an open-air kiln for ceramics will get new gas piping and burners that Coderko said will be “a huge improvement.”

The sculpture shop employs many power tools to work with wood and plastics, and a new compressed-air system, as well as a central vacuum system to handle dust, will be installed. Coderko said the old compressed-air system wasn’t as strong.

There also will be electrical upgrades and new stainless-steel sinks. “This will help to make it a better work environment for students and faculty,” he said.

The state of Illinois last week released about $334,000 from the Illinois Jobs Now! construction program for the project, with UIS allocating about $510,000 generated by student fees. The project construction cost is about $598,000.

Coderko said it took two years to get the project designed and bid. Work was supposed to begin last summer, but the project had to be rebid twice, which slowed the process. Although work will begin in about a month, it won’t be in earnest until school is out in May. The project should be completed about this time next year, he said.

The story was reported in The State Journal-Register on October 22, 2014.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

UIS volleyball sweeps Kentucky Wesleyan

Shelby Geers spiked home 10 kills Sunday afternoon at TRAC to key the Prairie Stars to a three-set sweep (25-18, 25-20, 25-22) over Kentucky Wesleyan.

Sunday’s victory finished off a weekend sweep by UIS (8-11) as the program set a record for wins since moving up to Division II.

Geer, who now has double-figure kills in seven straight matches, also had three digs and three block assists in the win over the Panthers (9-10). UIS sophomore Ashley Beaton had nine kills and six digs while junior teammate Nikki Madoch had two solo blocks to go with seven kills.

Lexi Hall, a freshman setter from Champaign, led the Stars with 17 assists. Rachelle Wiegand added 12 assists to go with seven digs and sophomore Kayla Katarzynski pitched in with 12 digs.

The win was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 20, 2014.

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UIS gets $600K for building upgrades

The University of Illinois Springfield is receiving nearly $600,000 from the state for improvements to its Visual and Performing Arts Building.

The governor’s office this week announced the investment of more than $598,000 from the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! construction program.

The improvements include life safety upgrades to the Visual and Performing Arts Building, including the heating and ventilation systems, dust removal and upgrades to the outdoor kiln area.

The Visual and Performing Arts Building, erected in 1970, is one of the original east campus buildings at UIS.

UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said the work isn’t expected to begin for another month.

The Illinois Capital Development Board will manage the construction project.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 17, 2014.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lincoln’s funeral subject of UIS lectures

With the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death and funeral approaching next year, the 12th annual Lincoln Legacy lectures at the University of Illinois Springfield will focus on Lincoln’s funeral.

This year’s speakers are James L. Swanson, senior legal scholar at The Heritage Foundation, and Richard Wightman Fox, professor of history at the University of Southern California.

Swanson, author of “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” and its sequel, “Bloody Crimes: The Funeral for Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis,” will present a lecture titled “I give you my sprig of lilac: The Death and Funeral of Abraham Lincoln.” Swanson also wrote “End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy.”

In his lecture, “What We’ve Forgotten about Lincoln’s Funeral and What We’ve Never Known,” Fox will examine what the loss of Lincoln meant to citizens of his time. Fox is the author of the forthcoming “Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History.”

The lectures are from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in Brookens Auditorium on the lower level of Brookens Library at UIS. The lectures and a reception and book-signing that immediately will follow are free and open to the public.

The lectures were featured by The State Journal-Register on October 15, 2014.

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Cyber Security Awareness Month

Cyber Security Awareness Month is a time all of us who rely on electronics, who also need to keep them safe from hackers, leaks, and malware.

The IT department at the University of Illinois Springfield is educating students on how to keep cell phones and computers safe. This month on campus, they're checking out student's devices from computers to phones to make sure they're virus free.

The devices can also receive a special piece of software to protect them.

"It's everybody's job to make sure their systems are as secure as can be, because what you don't know can hurt you in this sort of environment. Anywhere from malware being propagated to from not only the internet but now from your machine, so making sure that your systems are as clean as can be," said Clayton Bellot, Security Analyst at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Analysts suggest checking the security settings on your computer, and regularly updating for virus software you might have because new threats are always coming out.

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on October 14, 2014.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Saul Morse: UIS a true asset for the capital city

A recent State Journal-Register article about enrollment in area colleges and universities stated that the University of Illinois at Springfield has more students than at any other point in its 45-year history.

The fact that more than 5,400 students are enrolled — locally and online — got me thinking about the effect the campus has on Springfield and Sangamon County.

Many remember the transition from Sangamon State University to UIS in 1995. It is hard to imagine 20 years have passed. The year 2015 also will mark the groundbreaking for a new student union, adding a needed social element to the campus and serving as a welcoming gathering place for the wider community.

There are other aspects of UIS that we perhaps take for granted. More than 10,000 alumni live and work in Sangamon County alone. The experiences and education they received permitted them to advance in their chosen careers or to move into a new career.

We take for granted that regardless of the environment in which they work, the overwhelming majority of these individuals purchase housing, food and automobiles, visit restaurants, utilize services and generally keep our economy prospering.

More than 1,000 students reside on campus and utilize local services, stores and other facilities. And the university has more than 1,000 employees, most of whom are local, living in Sangamon and Menard counties in particular.

University faculty and students participate in community organizations and schools. Faculty, staff and students contribute thousands of volunteer hours to make the capital city a better place for all.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 10, 2014.

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Aydin Gonulsen to enter two halls of fame

This is a big weekend on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, and it’s a big weekend for the original face of Prairie Stars athletics.

UIS will induct its first Hall of Fame class as part of the homecoming festivities on campus.

The first induction class — which will be honored Saturday night beginning at 6:30 in the Public Affairs Center — is made up of Aydin Gonulsen (coach and administrator), Elias Shehadi (men’s soccer, 1976-79), Carla Jiminez Mills (women’s tennis, 1998-2000), Harold Christofilakos (friend of the Prairie Stars) and the 1986 NAIA championship soccer team.

Gonulsen, the Prairie Stars’ first soccer coach and athletic director and easily the university’s most recognizable athletic figure, actually has a double-induction weekend.

On Friday the 71-year-old Gonulsen will become a member of the Hall of Fame at Warren Wilson College, his alma mater (Class of 1965). He will be in Asheville, North Carolina, for the Friday ceremony, hop on a plane Saturday morning and plans to be in Springfield for the evening festivities.

That would mean membership in at least four halls of fame for Gonulsen. He’s also a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame and the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame.

The story was reported in The State Journal-Register on Friday, October 10, 2014.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

UIS Faculty Tackles Resolution on Academic Freedom

On Friday, the Campus Senate of the University of Illinois at Springfield will take up a strongly-worded resolution written in the aftermath of the Board of Trustees' controversial dismissal of Steven Salaita. 

He's the professor whose job offer at the university's main campus was rescinded after his critical and sometimes profane tweets about the Israeli conflict with Gaza. UIS Senate chair Jorge Villegas said the resolution is in response to the Board's position that tenure comes with a requirement of civility. 

“That is probably one of the most important elements of our academic enterprise, the freedom to do our academic research that we want to do and we should be free to say it the way that we want to say it,” Villegas said.

The story was reported by WUIS on Thursday, October 9, 2014.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Managing The Rising Cost of College

Of the many reasons you'll want to watch your money closely, there's this; the cost of a college education.

Some students at the University of Illinois Springfield say they're racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt each year.

According to the average cost to attend a private college is more than $30,094. For in-state residents at public universities, it is $8,893. And the price tag for out-of-state residents attending public universities is $22,203.

Students struggling to manage their money and get an education are well aware of the financial strains it puts on them, and their families.

"Scared! I need to get a job, because I'm still applying for jobs right now." Said Infiniti Starks, a freshmen at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Another freshmen at the University of Illinois Springfield, Marvell Anderson also shares this cause for concern. "That's a lot of money. So I'm kind of scared, but at the same time I can't really focus on that," he said.

Those two students say they're focused on getting an education first, and then getting a job after graduation to pay off their student loans.

Here are three things, you can do, to keep your debt under control: First, don't borrow more money than you must. Remember, you have to pay it all back, at some point. Second, keep track of how much you owe. Knowing this will keep you focused. Third, when the time comes to pay it back try to pay more than just, the minimum amount due.

The class of 2013, according to a survey, faces an average of more than $35,000 in debt.

This story was featured on WICS on Monday, October 6, 2014.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Paint The Cornfield Blue: UIS Homecoming

Amanda Murphy, University of Illinois Springfield Assistant Athletics Director, joined Sunrise This Morning to talk about the UIS Homecoming Celebration that kicked off on Monday.

The theme this year is Paint the Cornfield Blue. The Homecoming will feature a parade, athletics matches from several sports and lots of events from students all to generate school spirit.

The interview was featured on WICS Sunrise This Morning on Monday, October 6, 2014.

Watch the interview online.