Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Appellate justices hold arguments at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield students had a chance to watch state appellate court justices in action on campus Monday.

Every year, the fourth district appellate court holds arguments in cases at a local university, and this year, it was at UIS.

Organizers call this a unique opportunity that allows those interested in law a chance to observe what those on the bench do.

"A lot of people don't even know what the appellate court is, or that we exist, and so by coming out to a university community and opening, our arguments are always open to the public but we get a bigger crowd when we come out to the university, they get to see first hand what the appellate court is all about," said Justice Carol Pope, 4th district appellate court.

The justices held an open discussion with UIS students and local lawyers after the arguments.

The fourth district hears cases from all over central Illinois and is based right here in Springfield.

This article appeared online on ABC Newschannel 20, Monday, March 30, 2015.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

U of I system hit with funding cuts

State lawmakers filled gaps left in this fiscal year's budget, and as a result state funded agencies are struggling to deal with less money in these final months.

State universities, such as the University of Illinois, say the state has already missed payments to them. Currently the U of I school system is owed just under $300 million dollars. Funds the school's Spokesman Tom Hardy says that they don't expect to see for a very long time.

"I think the university expected that something was going to take place in this regard. What remained unknown was just exactly how much," said Hardy.

Under this new law Governor Bruce Rauner is allowed to sweep special funds, and with the addition of a 2.25 percent cut across the board for state government, entities like public school are having their funding slashed. For U of I that totals up to roughly $15 million.

"We are never always quite sure at UIS what the impact on us will be because we are one of the three main campuses and we are not the majority of the spending that the campuses do," said Associate Professor at the University of Illinois Springfield Ryan Williams.

"We should not feel an impact in the classroom or the research labs," said Hardy when asked about the impact the university is expecting. He continued to say, "Except that maybe were not going to be able to put a new layer of paint or a tuck point here or there for the time being."

The story was reported by WICS-TV 20 on March 28, 2015.

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Softball: Prairie Stars split with Bellarmine

Junior Ashli King’s home run to left field in the fifth inning lifted the University of Illinois Springfield to a 1-0 win over Bellarmine in the second game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader Saturday at the Land of Lincoln Complex.

UIS sophomore Taylor Bowlby (13-2) struck out five, walked none and allowed three hits.

The win was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 28, 2015.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Night Star Parties return to UIS

Friday Night Star Parties 8-10 p.m. return on April 10, 17 and 24 at the UIS observatory on the roof of Brookens Library, University of Illinois Springfield.

Visitors learn about galaxies, the sun and stars and view Jupiter, the Moon and the Great Nebula Orion through telescopes.

Hosted by John Martin, assistant professor of astronomy and physics. Free. Weather permitting; for weather questions, call 206-8342 at 7 p.m. on the evening of the Star Party.

For more information, email jmart5@uis.edu or visit UIS Star Parties.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 26, 2015.

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Bowlby goes from nanny to star pitcher for UIS softball team

Taylor Bowlby was up to her arms in cookie dough when her phone rang in January.

The person on the other end of the line was University of Illinois Springfield first-year softball coach Shannon Nicholson. Nicholson was looking to add much-needed pitching depth.

Bowlby began her college career as a pitcher at Bradley. When Nicholson called, Bowlby was a student at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville and working as a nanny.

“I hadn’t planned on playing softball honestly ever again except for slow-pitch and maybe some summer stuff,” Bowlby said.

“I nanny for two boys and I was baking cookies with them when she called and asked me to come up on a visit. I came up for a visit. Two days later, I told her I wanted come here, and I moved here less than a week later.”

Things have moved quickly for Bowlby and UIS. She was accepted the very same day the spring semester started on Jan. 20 and has proven to be a great pickup for the 19-6 Prairie Stars.

On Monday, the sophomore right-hander was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week. She's 12-2 with a 1.79 earned run average, 64 strikeouts and 15 walks in 78 innings.

Bowlby is a key reason UIS is off to a solid start. The Stars have wins over nationally ranked Missouri-St. Louis and Wayne State and are in a three-way tie with No. 3 UMSL and No. 16 Southern Indiana for fourth place in the 16-team GLVC standings with a 6-2 record.

This article appeared online in The State Journal-Register on March 26, 2015.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

UIS to host Student Technology, Arts, & Research Symposium

Springfield officials are inviting community members to their fourth annual Student Technology, Arts, & Research Symposium on April 2 and 3.

During this event, UIS undergraduate and graduate students will present their creative activities and research through short talks, art exhibitions, music performances, and poster presentations.

Various presentations will take place in the Sangamon Auditorium Lobby, Public Affairs Center, and Brookens Auditorium.

All events are free and open to the public. To view a complete schedule of this symposium, visit the UIS STARS informational page.

This story appeared online on WAND on March 25, 2015.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Softball: Stars' Larsen gets walk-off hit

Freshman Jordyn Larsen propelled the University of Illinois Springfield to a 5-4 walk-off win over Quincy with a blooper to left field in the 12th inning of the first game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader at the Land of Lincoln Complex.

In the fifth inning, freshman Rachel Goff scored on a fielding error and cut Quincy’s lead to 4-3. UIS senior Lauren Hollinshead tied the game at 4 in the bottom of the sixth inning. She scored the tying run on an obstruction call against the catcher.

UIS sophomore Taylor Bowlby struck out eight batters, walked one and allowed five hits in eight innings.

The Stars (18-5 overall, 5-1 in the GLVC) have five straight wins. Quincy is 11-11 and 2-4.

The win was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 23, 2015.

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Baseball: Prairie Stars split with Maryville

Junior Adam Warda hit a two-run double and had three hits in the University of Illinois Springfield’s 12-7 win over Maryville in the second game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader.

Junior Aaron Kuper was 3-for-5 and collected three RBIs for the Prairie Stars (9-10 overall, 3-4 in the GLVC). Junior Matt Farrington was the winning pitcher with three strikeouts and four walks in seven innings.

Maryville held on for a 5-4 victory in the first contest.

UIS fell behind 5-1 after the Saints scored four runs in the sixth inning. The Stars scored three runs in the seventh. Junior Mark Self’s two-run single made it 5-3. Junior Lance LeBaron’s RBI double got UIS within 5-4.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 23, 2015.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Stars sweep Benedictine

The University of Illinois Springfield powered through rain and Benedictine-Springfield, sweeping a doubleheader 8-2 and 7-0.

The Prairie Stars’ pitching staff kept the Bulldogs at bay.

In the first game, Alexandria Smith struck out eight while giving up two hits and two runs.

In Game 2, Rachel Goff and winning pitcher Taylor Bowlby combined for a five-inning no-hitter. Bowlby, a sophomore, struck out four and allowed one walk in three innings.

UIS’ offense also looked strong, as freshman Jordyn Larsen went 5-for-5 across both games with a double and two runs scored. Ashli King went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in the first game, and Chelsea Minor, Amanda Gosbeth, and Lauren Hollinshead drove in two runs each in the second game.

UIS improved to 16-5 overall, and Benedictine fell to 3-20.

This article appeared online in The State Journal-Register on March 19, 2015.

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Shop24 Opens New Automated C-Store at U of I Springfield

Shop24 Global has installed its first automated convenience store in Illinois on the University of Illinois-Springfield campus.

The UIS Shop24 store is operated by UIS foodservices personnel. Located on the path between the on-campus dorm cluster and the student union, the Shop24 store complements other UIS amenities by increasing the variety of consumer packaged goods available on campus and providing 24/7 shopping convenience.

"Sales for the first seven days of operation exceeded forecast by nearly 40%," said Dave Brotherton, vice president of marketing and business development of Shop24 Global, Westerville, Ohio. "The results we saw are a testament to optimum site location and product assortment, the hard work of the UIS operations team, and their close collaboration with Shop24 client services to maximize uptime."

Shop24 is a self-contained, automated and refrigerated convenience store designed to enable 24/7 accessible consumer purchasing. A Shop24 automated c-store delivers more than 200 items ranging in weight from 1 ounce to 10 pounds in a well-lit, security-camera-monitored environment.

This article appeared online on CSPnet.com on March 18, 2015.

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The wrong guy: Witness misidentification leads to wrongful convictions

Angel Gonzalez was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he was driving the wrong vehicle.

Were it not for his 1979 Cadillac sedan, Gonzalez probably would have never become a suspect in a 1994 rape at an apartment complex in Waukegan. Gonzalez spent nearly 21 years in prison for the crime, until DNA evidence proved his innocence earlier this month.

He was released from prison on March 10, thanks in part to the Illinois Innocence Project, which is celebrating its second exoneration in less than a month.

Gonzalez’s case illustrates a common problem in the justice system: eyewitness misidentification often leads to the wrong person being punished.

The Illinois Innocence Project worked with the national Innocence Project on Gonzalez’s case, and on April 8, IIP is bringing two people who are leading a national campaign for reforming the justice system to Springfield.

Barry Scheck helped found the Innocence Project in 1992, making him one of the forefathers of the innocence movement in the United States. According to the National Registry of Exonerations maintained by the University of Michigan Law School, there have been 1,565 exonerations in the U.S. since 1989, many of them prompted by groups following Scheck’s lead.

His work served as the inspiration for the creation of the Illinois Innocence Project, founded in 2001.

The Illinois Innocence Project earned the release of Christopher Abernathy in February.

The two groups worked together to free Angel Gonzalez in early March after DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Fundamental flaws Eyewitness misidentification like in Gonzalez’s case is a leading cause of wrongful convictions, according to a tally of cases kept by the national Innocence Project.

Of the first 325 exonerations by DNA evidence in the United States, 235 of the wrongful convictions – greater than 72 percent – were caused by eyewitness misidentification.

In July 1984, a 22-year-old white college student named Jennifer Thompson was attacked and raped at knifepoint in her apartment by a young black man in Burlington, North Carolina. She was terrified as police later lined up seven men in front of her – separated by nothing more than a table – in a suspect lineup.

Although the police specifically said she needn’t feel compelled to pick a suspect and that her rapist might not even be in the lineup, Thompson assumed that he must be there.

Thompson selected Ron Cotton, who wound up spending 11 years in prison before DNA evidence cleared him in June 1995.

Two years after Cotton’s exoneration, Thompson contacted him to apologize, and the two became friends. They now speak at rallies against wrongful convictions, and their book, Picking Cotton, reached The New York Times’ best-seller list in 2009.

Thompson and Cotton are scheduled to speak at the Illinois Innocence Project’s Eighth Annual Defenders of the Innocent event in Springfield on April 8, 2015.

This story appeared online in the Illinois Times on March 19, 2015.

UI officials: Tuition off table for now, but plenty of cuts are possible

A tuition increase is off the table this year but just about everything else is on it at the University of Illinois if big budget cuts are enacted, top UI officials told lawmakers Thursday.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget calls for a 31.5 percent, or $209 million, reduction at the UI for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

In separate appearances before House and Senate appropriations committees, UI officials outlined possible areas for cuts: personnel, student employment, extension services, public broadcasting and more deferred maintenance.

But Republican members of both the Senate and the House prodded university officials to seek efficiencies and to embrace reforms, including changes in workers compensation and procurement policies.

At times, lawmakers seemed intent on getting UI President Robert Easter and Illinois State President Larry Dietz (who preceded him in both hearings) to endorse their partisan goals.

It likely was the final appearance before an appropriations committee for Easter, who officially steps down as president in May. "As I walked away, I thought, 'I won't have to do this again,'" he said with a smile minutes after wrapping up the Senate session. "I think the members are truly trying to help us in a very difficult situation. I didn't sense that it was an adversarial conversation at all. It was a conversation where they are trying to deal with some incredibly difficult issues. I don't envy them." 

Although Easter has appointed a "leadership group" to prepare for cuts, he said it's too early to say what the university's response will be once the budget reductions — which are considered inevitable at some level — are enacted.

"But the programs that a land-grand university traditionally has managed and are a service to the public have to be paid by public resources."

In citing cuts to public services — one of the traditional missions of the university — Easter mentioned extension services that are offered in all 102 Illinois counties, and public broadcasting. 

"We provide a myriad of services to the state," he told the House committee. "We operate a public broadcasting station here in Springfield for the benefit of the public. I'm not sure a year from now we can do that. We operate a public broadcasting station in Urbana for the same reason. They're valued. "Can we continue to do that and how do we fund that? One could argue that that should be public money, not tuition dollars that supports those things."

Later, though, Easter said he mentioned the public stations "because I was trying to think of an example that was tangible. I'm no more serious about that than any other thing. I don't want to create anxiety there." UI officials portrayed any tuition increases as a last resort.

This story appeared online in The News-Gazette on March 20, 2015.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Irwin's pitching helps UIS split with Quincy

Christopher Irwin picked up his first mound win of the season on Sunday as the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team split a doubleheader with the Quincy Hawks, winning 5-4 and then losing 10-0, at GCS Ballpark.

Irwin scattered eight hits over seven shutout innings with five strikeouts, improving his earned-run-average to 1.40 on the season.

Junior Richard England earned a one-out save, his second of the season.

Designated hitter John Schram went 2-for-4 with a double and three runs-batted-in. Junior Adam Warda had three of the team's nine hits in the game and is now batting .275 this year.

After Irwin pitched out of a two-on, one out jam in the top of the first, UIS got on the board in the bottom half of the frame. Junior Aaron Kuper hit a sacrifice fly to center field, plating Warda to give the Prairie Stars a 1-0 lead.

This story appeared online in The State Journal-Register on March 15, 2015.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

20 UIS students headed to Mississippi for Alternative Spring Break

Brittani Provost wanted to go somewhere different this year for spring break. She thought that the other 20 students involved in the University of Illinois Springfield's Alternative Spring Break would like to go somewhere different, too.

Each year, the student-led organization goes to a different part of the country and completes a service project during the week of their spring break. Provost, the president of Alternative Spring Break, said the group decided to go to Biloxi, Mississippi, this year.

The students will assist teachers in four different classrooms with preschool-age children. The students will also help with a project to prevent continuing erosion along the Gulf Coast.

"We knew we were looking for something youth- and education-related, and we were trying to create a new trip, somewhere we hadn't been before," said Provost, a junior anthropology and sociology major. "I think this is a good fit because it's youth- and education-related. We decided to add the erosion-prevention project because we thought it would be a good opportunity for the group to work together."

"We are partnering with the Land Trust of the Mississippi Coastal Plain," said Mark Dochterman, director of UIS' Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center. "We will most likely be planting trees, cord grass or another species that does well in wetlands and helps prevent coastal erosion," which is very problematic there. "Between Mississippi and Louisiana, the Gulf Coast loses approximately a football field worth of land a day," he said.

The $150 each student is paying is covering about half what it's costing the organization to travel to Biloxi, Provost said. The rest is collected through fundraisers the group puts on throughout the year leading up to spring break. They also accept donations.

To donate click here.

This story appeared online in The State Journal Register on March 14, 2015.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Education Officials Talk Tuition Waiver Plan

State education officials are now speaking out against Gov. Bruce Rauner's plan to eliminate Illinois' 50-percent tuition waiver for the children of university employees.

On Tuesday, one teacher called Gov. Rauner's plan, "a callout attack on university employees and their children."

The tuition waiver is available to any employee of a public university with at least seven years experience.

Teresa Szabo, an Associate Director in the Office of Development at UIS, has three daughters: one college graduate, one still in college, and one preparing for college. Szabo said the tuition waiver was a perk promised to her when she started working at UIS in 2000.

"I could be working in the private sector probably making a lot more money than I am now, but this is one of the perks that we were hired for," Szabo said. "That is always one of the factors I have to look at when looking at advancing my career because it is such a valuable thing to have."

Szabo said eliminating the waiver could mean her daughter looks out of state for the most-affordable college option. For now, the tuition waiver proposal is still just that -- a proposal.

This story appeared on Fox 55 on March 11, 2015.

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UIS students to volunteer in Mississippi during spring break

Some University of Illinois Springfield students have chosen to spend their spring break by helping with a coastal erosion project and working with children in Mississippi.

The students will work with preschoolers with art projects and reading, and will also volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club's after school program.

The students will also spend a day working with Land Trust of the Mississippi Coastal Plain on a coastal erosion prevention project.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed when students took their first trip in 2009 to Louisiana to help Habitat for Humanity build homes after Hurricane Katrina. In subsequent years, students have traveled across the country to volunteer their time towards various projects, from cleaning up damage from natural disasters to working with the homeless.

This story appeared online on WAND-TV on March 11, 2015.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Innocence Project Works To Clear Name Of Waukegan Man

A suburban Chicago man who spent 20 years in prison for abduction and rape has been exonerated after DNA evidence indicated he was wrongfully convicted.

Prosecutors say they had to exonerate Angel Gonzalez after DNA tests found the presence of bodily fluids from two men, who are unidentified. Gonzalez was convicted in 1994 of abducting a 35-year-old woman from her Waukegan home and raping her at another location.

The Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield worked in collaboration with the Innocence Project (NY) to obtain the exoneration.

The Illinois group was involved in another exoneration earlier this year when Chris Abernathy was released from prison. He served 30 years.

This story was published on the WUIS website on Monday, March 9, 2015.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

UIS Dance Marathon benefits Children's Miracle Network

Madeline Steinway, a sophomore from Chatham, was one of more than 80 University of Illinois Springfield students who danced the night away Friday to help the Children's Miracle Network at HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital.

Called Dance Marathons, similar events have been held at high schools and colleges across the country since 1991 to raise money for local Children's Miracle Networks hospitals. Friday was the first time such a marathon was held at UIS, and Steinway was happy to be a part of the event.

"I wanted to hang out with friends and have a good time," she said. "I like doing things that are for a good cause. I figured two birds with one stone. Plus, it will be a lot of fun."

The organizers of the marathon, UIS students LeAnna Kehl of Des Plains and Sophia Matthews of St. Louis, said the dancers were required to raise at least $20. Since this was the first event for UIS, their original fundraising goal was a modest $1,500.

"We quickly surpassed that goal," Matthews said. "Once we hit $3,000, we both cried. It was a pretty big deal. By the end of the night, we hope to be past $5,000."

The Dance Marathon was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 7, 2015.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Conference honors UIS pitcher Farrington

University of Illinois Springfield junior baseball player Matt Farrington has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week.

In his UIS debut, Farrington tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings to earn the Prairie Stars’ first win of the season 2-0 at Tiffin on March 1. The southpaw never allowed a runner to reach third base and recorded eight strikeouts with just one walk.

Farrington was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 5, 2015.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

UIS hopes to pick new mascot by April

The University of Illinois Springfield athletics department will retire Cozmo — its mascot — and start looking for a successor.

UIS decided in 2014 to stick with the moniker Prairie Stars after considering a new nickname.

A search for a replacement begins in March with an anticipated announcement in April. A campus mascot committee including broad student representation will convene to facilitate ideas from the campus community.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on March 4, 2015.

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Lawmakers look to recruit young leaders

Some kids dream about becoming doctors; others becoming teachers. But, if you dreamed of working in state government, a proposed piece of legislation might help.

The bill's goal is to get more young people engaged and employed in state jobs. It also creates a council of eleven people who are experts on issues affecting young people.

Senior Andrea Carlson is a political science and legal studies major at the University of Illinois-Springfield. She's headed to law school at UI next fall.

"I'd like to work in regulatory and administrative law." Carlson says she could eventually see herself working in state government.

The goal is to get more people, ages 18 - 25, employed in state jobs. Jobs which could turn into careers when current state workers retire.

"There's a ton of essential services that are provided by devoted public employees. The people who were out over the weekend, out plowing the roads, the people who are prison guards, the people who are child abuse investigators," said Charlie Wheeler, director of the UIS Public Affairs Reporting program.

The story was reported by WCIA-TV on March 2, 2015.

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New UIS head softball coach no stranger to Central Illinois

Shannon Nicholson is starting a new journey this season as head softball coach at the University of Illinois Springfield.

With a record of 8-3, a national tournament is likely in the foreseeable future for the Prairie Stars. Though, this may be Nicholson's first year as head coach, she's no stranger to softball in Central Illinois.

Her journey as a player began at nearby Chatham Glenwood. Nicholson took her game to the next level after graduating when she accepted a full scholarship at Illinois State as a pitcher.

There, she earned a number of awards, including Easton All-American and Athlete-of-the-year in '07. Nicholson says the opportunity to come back home and coach has been the best part.

"I think being from this area, you know how hard the girls work, and they're really great athletes to have so being able to coach here in Springfield it just ties everything together really", Nicholson said.

Nicholson was featured by FOX 55/27 Illinois on March 3, 2015.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Baseball: Prairie Stars split a pair in Nashville

The Prairie Stars completed their weekend by splitting games against Tiffin and Rockhurst Sunday.

Junior Max Beidrzycki pitched five shutout innings and struck out eight in a 4-3 UIS win over Tiffin. Nothing went right against Rockhurst in an 11-1 defeat.

The Stars built a 4-0 lead. Shortstop Kyle Hunsinger drew a bases-loaded walk to score Mark Self in the second. Then in the fourth, Will Stanka drilled an RBI triple to left center and eventually scored the team's third run on a Calvin Jimenez double down the left field line. In the fifth, Alex Bradley singled hom Adam Warda to make it 4-0.

Tiffin scratched across three runs after loading the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but the UIS bullpen shut the door after that. Junior Richard England pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save.

UIS baseball will be back on the field next weekend in a four-game series against Truman State. The games will be played at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.

The baseball team was featured by The State Journal-Register on March 2, 2015.

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