Friday, December 30, 2016

People in the News: Debra Landis

Debra Chandler Landis, student publications adviser at the University of Illinois Springfield, was recognized with a Presidential Citation for her volunteer work as editor of the College Media Review, the online professional journal of the national College Media Association.

Her work includes recruiting and editing scholarly and popular articles pertaining to trends and activities in college media.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 28, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Women's Basketball: Big fourth quarter propels UIS women to victory

Shelbi Patterson and Destiny Ramsey tossed in 15 points apiece Sunday for University of Illinois Springfield in a 70-54 victory over Travecca Nazarene to begin play in the Kentucky Wesleyan Classic.

The Prairie Stars (5-3) outscored Trevecca in three of the four quarters and put the game on ice with a 24-point salvo in the final period.

UIS put the game away with a decisive 13-1 run in the fourth quarter. Ramsey put together her fourth game of the season in which she recorded at least 10 points, four rebounds, an assist, block, and steal as she continues to fill up the stat sheet. Patterson tied her career-high with five steals, matching her mark for the first time since November 24th of 2014 during her freshman campaign.

UIS will conclude the Kentucky Wesleyan Classic against the host school at noon Monday. UIS is 0-3 all-time against Kentucky Wesleyan but haven't played them since the 2012-13 season.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 18, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Springfield’s art scene is riding high

The UIS Visual Arts Gallery, on the campus of University of Illinois Springfield, where Allison Lacher works her day job as gallery manager has hosted an eclectic array of work this year, including an exhibition by St. Louis artist Lyndon Barrois, Jr., which took as its subject the late iconic musician Prince. “That was really timely in the context of Prince’s passing and it was a different show for us,” Lacher said. Other memorable exhibits this year included Washington, D.C.’s Paul Short who mounted an ambitious combination exhibition, lecture and workshop centering around cultural and economic stigmas associated with loitering. A recent two-person show by central Illinois figurative painters Amanda Greive and Stanley Bly turned out to be a big hit with attendees. “They presented a cohesive exhibition where their work was very much in dialogue with one another while maintaining their individual identities,” Lacher said.

The spring semester is slated to kick off at the gallery with an exhibition from Tyler Lotts, a professor of ceramics at ISU, followed by a March 2 presentation from Diaz-Lewis, a husband and wife collaboration between Alejandro Diaz and Cara Lewis. “Alejandro is a Cuban refugee,” Lacher explains, “and he and Cara have created an ongoing work entitled ‘34,000 Pillows’ in response to a congressional mandate stating that immigration and customs enforcement agents are required to maintain a quota of 34,000 detained immigrants per day in 250 centers around the country.” The couple is trying to make a pillow for every detainee of this mandate and will be bringing a “Pillow Workshop” to the UIS gallery along with other work.

“That’s the beauty of programming here at UIS,” Lacher said. “One month you might have a more traditional exhibition of figurative painting and then follow it up with a very socially conscious and culturally diverse project.”

The story was reported by the Illinois Times on December 15, 2016.

Read the story online. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Men's Basketball: Steinberg leads UIS men to 98-96 win over Harris-Stowe State

Sophomore center Zach Steinberg recorded his sixth double-double of the season in the University of Illinois Springfield's 98-86 win against Harris-Stowe State in a non-conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center Wednesday.

Steinberg collected 20 points and 14 rebounds. He grabbed five offensive rebounds.

The Prairie Stars were ahead 56-36 at halftime.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 14, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Erin Egolf promoted from interim to head coach for UIS women's soccer

Erin Egolf has been named the University of Illinois Springfield women's soccer coach after serving as the program's interim coach last fall.

She was an assistant for three seasons before taking over for Molly Grisham in July.

The Prairie Stars took a big step with Egolf as interim coach. UIS set the record for wins in a single season at seven and tied their Great Lakes Valley Conference record with four wins. The Stars produced a 7-11 overall record and 4-11 GLVC record.

Egolf is a Chatham Glenwood High School graduate and a former UIS player. She is the Stars' all-time leading goal scorer and holds several records.

Since the season ended in October, Egolf has continued to oversee the program, focusing on recruiting. "I've been to a couple of events," she said. "I went to one in St. Louis. I went to Memphis this past weekend. We're also getting things in order for the spring (season).

"It is absolutely and positively my program. Now I can plan for the future."

The success of the 2016 team helped land Egolf the head coach position. After completing a nationwide search for the next women's soccer coach, the entire search committee and myself felt strongly that Erin was the best possible fit for us to continue our quest for GLVC championships," UIS athletic director Jim Sarra said. "What she was able to accomplish on the field this season showed a glimpse of what the future can hold and we couldn't be more excited to have one of our most decorated women's soccer alumni taking us where we want to go."

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 14, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Women's Basketball: OCU suffers fifth loss of season to UIS Prairie Stars

The Lady Oaks fell to 2-5 on the year, losing 97-73 to the Prairie Stars of the University of Illinois Springfield. 

The Prairie Stars were led in scoring by Destiny Ramsey, who managed 19 counters. Shelbi Patterson chipped in with 18, while Caroline Kelty had a double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Syerra Cunningham also had a double-double, notching 13 counters and hauling in 11 missed shots.

UIS made 37-76 (48.7%) of their shots, going 3-11 (27.3%) from long range.

Both teams had 20 turnovers, while the Stars handed out 13 assists, three more than the host Oaks. 

This story appeared on 14 News on December 12, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Susan Koch: Nontraditional becoming traditional at UIS

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 10, 2016.

"If you picture the average college student as someone 18-22 years old who lives on campus, attends classes during the day and whose life includes an array of campus social activities - you may need to adjust your thinking. Adult learners, sometimes referred to as "nontraditional students," have been a growing presence on college campuses for several years.

That is certainly true at the University of Illinois Springfield, where, at the same time the number of traditional-aged students is growing, almost 41 percent of UIS undergraduate students this year are over the age of 24. And age is only part of the story. 

The National Center for Education Statistics has identified several interrelated characteristics that are common among nontraditional undergraduates. Besides age, these students often did not start college immediately after high school, attend school part-time while also working, are not financially supported by their parents, may have children or other dependents and are more likely to be a single parent. 

Adults start or return to college for a variety of good reasons - most seeing a college degree as a long-term investment that will improve their professional credentials, provide better career opportunities and enhance their overall quality of life. 

Ashti Dawson, a 35-year-old senior majoring in psychology, is one such student. A foster child from a young age, Ashti decided the military was her best financial option after high school. Eventually, a promotion in the National Guard brought her and her young daughter to Springfield. She earned an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College before enrolling at UIS. "With school, work and parenting obligations, there's a lot of responsibility and financial challenges," says Ashti, "but I always feel like I have been determined and persistent. ... and I love the psychology department." In addition to being a full-time student, Ashti is president of the Military and Veteran Club on campus. 

Many classes at UIS today include both traditional-aged and adult learners, and faculty greatly value the diversity that mix provides. 

According to Marcel Yoder, an associate professor in psychology, "Nontraditional students bring life experiences to class discussions that provide unique and powerful examples of the ways specific course concepts are illustrated in the world - points of view that would not otherwise be heard." 

Assistant professor of communication Ann Strahle has also taught many nontraditional students. "I've found these students often face multiple challenges," she says, "but the vast majority rise to the challenges and excel in the classroom. 

Nontraditional students tend to be well organized and focused and are already excellent multitaskers - considering the other responsibilities in their lives." Being able to take some or even all coursework online is particularly helpful to nontraditional students, who tend be balancing myriad other responsibilities. 

According to Vickie Cook, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service, about 1,500 students are pursuing their degrees online at UIS this year, which allows them to schedule time to study and participate in coursework based on their individual schedules. 

"Our faculty design online courses that engage students and promote a learning community," says Cook, "and online program coordinators provide sustained support and services to ensure a positive learning experience, and ultimately, program completion." 

Looking at the trending demographics of today's college student body, nontraditional may, in fact, become the new traditional. Whatever those trends, the Springfield campus is strengthened by the presence of both traditional and nontraditional students, and we'll continue to adopt practices and resources that help all students to succeed regardless of their age."

Read the entire column online.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Non-traditional students face challenges, rewards

At colleges and universities around the country, “non-traditional” students are making up a greater share of students, encountering challenges and opportunities along the way.

New research from the for-profit Strayer University and U.S. News and World Report finds that about 70 percent of Americans who have pursued a bachelor’s degree were non-traditional students, meaning they are either long past high school, are attending school part-time or are taking classes online.

The report notes that non-traditional students tend to be more diverse than traditional students, and points to other differences.

Attending school as a non-traditional student can be challenging, said Ashti Dawson, a psychology major at the University of Illinois Springfield, who is pursuing a degree after a career in the military. 

“Trying to balance my full-time education with being a full-time parent and employment … I’m pulled in a few directions,” Dawson said.

Still, she said there are benefits to attending college later in life; and says she has valuable skills and experience.

“A lot of the classes I’m in, there are students that are 19, 20, maybe 24, but they don’t have a lot of life experience and haven’t done very much,” Dawson said. “So I’m able to pull from that. That’s helped out a lot.”

This story appeared on WAND TV on December 9, 2016.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

UIS senior named Ms. Wheelchair Illinois USA

A senior at the University of Illinois Springfield was named Ms. Wheelchair Illinois USA.

 Alicia Woodman, a senior at UIS, was chosen from a field of 11 to represent Illinois at the National Wheelchair Pageant in Ohio this July.

Woodman says it's an honor to be able to represent her state, and she is using this as an opportunity to advocate for a message she believes in: Accessibility in businesses.

"It’s so important right now, with me graduating in May and trying to find a job," said woodman. "It’s so hard to find a job with accessibility and accommodations and stuff, so that's what I’m trying to do. I'm really excited about that."

Woodman says she is thrilled to represent a culture that isn't represented in pageants often.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on December 6, 2016.

Watch the story online.

U of I locations won't become 'sanctuary campuses'

The University of Illinois will not label its three campuses as sanctuaries for immigrant students illegally living in the U.S., school leaders said Tuesday as they pushed aside pressure from faculty and others to make the designation.

Petitions from students and faculty at campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield were among efforts by students and others at more than 100 colleges and universities around the country to make the schools sanctuaries for immigrants following President-elect Donald Trump's promises to crack down on illegal immigration.

U of I petitioners sought promises that student records would not be released and the school would not comply with any immigration enforcement action, as well designating someone on campus to help students seek tuition funding and other issues. But sanctuary status is not well defined as a legal concept and "may actually jeopardize our institution," University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen and the chancellors of the three campuses said in a statement Tuesday . "However, we will continue to do everything we can within the law to reassure, support and protect our students. Let us be clear -- that includes our undocumented students," Killeen and the chancellors said in the statement.

The university receives roughly $733 million annually in federal funding - about 13 percent of its $5.6 billion operating budget - that could be at risk if the university does not comply with immigration law, spokesman Tom Hardy said.

But what would happen if there were some kind of federal crackdown on students who are not legal residents of the country isn't clear, he said. "There's just a lot of unknowns and a lot of speculation. But what we do know is that we don't want to put our institutions and our people at risk of not complying with laws," Hardy said.

Faculty members at the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses who signed petitions said they were disappointed by Tuesday's decision. Lynn Fisher, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, was one of the faculty members at the Springfield campus who helped circulate a petition requesting that the school be made a sanctuary campus. She said Tuesday she hadn't yet had a chance to discuss the administrators' statement with her colleagues. "I was pleased to see the president and the chancellors making a statement that they want to do everything they can to reassure, support and protect undocumented students," Fisher said.

Petition drives and marches at campuses around the country followed Trump's pledge to reverse President Barack Obama's executive order granting temporary status to students living in the country illegally. Trump also promised during his campaign to create a "deportation force" and take federal funding away from sanctuary cities.

The Latino Policy Forum, a Chicago-based advocacy group, estimates that about 1,500 Illinois college students are in the country illegally.

This story, by the Associated Press, appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 6, 2016.

Read the entire story online.

Employers sought for UIS Career Connections Expo

Employer registration has opened for the 2017 Career Connections Expo at University of Illinois Springfield, scheduled for Feb. 16 at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event is an opportunity for students, alumni and community to meet with local employers.

Previous events have drawn an average of 400 students and alumni.

Employer booths are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

The registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Feb. 6. Employers can register through the CareerConnect online system.  Employers also can establish an online profile at no cost. UIS students and alumni can load resumes onto the site.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on December 6, 2016.

Read the entire article online.

Friday, December 2, 2016

About to get college degree, Illinois veteran excels at national cybersecurity competition

Dennis McDonald is proof that you can reach a goal if you don't give up.

McDonald is set to receive his bachelor's degree in computer science in two weeks at age 49. That in itself is an accomplishment, but there's more: McDonald was among three University of Illinois Springfield students to recently participate in one of the National Cyber League's annual competitions.

During the two competitions, students deploy anti-hacking measures to defend real-time network attacks. McDonald finished in the top 15 percent of both competitions in which he participated. He ended finishing 342nd of 3,070 in the first and 362nd of 2,736 in the second.

"It takes persistence. The challenges are pretty difficult. You have an eight-hour window to get it done," McDonald said. "It is pretty tedious but really interesting work. I felt great about how I finished, especially since there was a lot on there I haven't been trained to do."

McDonald has deftly handled curveballs in his life for years.

The Barry native joined the U.S. Navy's nuclear power program after graduating from high school in 1985. When he returned to the area, he worked as an electrician and ran a computer store.

"I always wanted to get my degree in computer science, but things happen," McDonald said.

Having a family, he said, as well as running a business, left him with little time to devote to higher education. In the late 1990s, he started attending John Wood Community College on an Illinois Veteran Grant and GI Bill benefits.

"Then I got custody of my kids, so I put that on hold," he said.

Undeterred, McDonald would return to earn his associate degree from John Wood, maintaining a 3.93 grade-point average. He enrolled in the University of Illinois Springfield's computer science program online, and has managed a 4.0 grade-point average.

"It's been tough balancing working full time and going back to school," McDonald said, "but getting this degree is something I've always wanted to do."

The story was reported by the Quincy Herald-Whig on December 2, 2016.

Read the story online.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shining a light on college campus security

From recent reports of violence at Ohio State University and even to the not-so-distant horrors at Virginia Tech, colleges must be constantly aware of student safety.

The blue security light poles are one of the ways students can stay safe and connect with law enforcement in minutes. 44 blue emergency lights can be seen throughout the UIS college campus. In just a press of a button, law enforcement is paged and will show up in minutes.

"We think with the security poles, we call them code blues, they're also a source of light on campus and we would think that it would hopefully deter other type of activity," said Derek Schnapp of UIS. 

Schnapp says it’s giving students, who often walk across campus alone or at night, a feeling of safety.

"I was very glad to see these when I came to UIS because I know what they do," said Jonathan Camacho, a junior at UIS. “If something is happening you can push the button for help and there's immediate, or not immediate but very fast, response.”

But these blue lights could be on the way out. Some colleges in the U.S. have already removed them due to cost and the rise in cellphones.

Southwind Park in Springfield removed their poles earlier this year. "Technology became outdated,” said Park Police Chief Limey Nargelenas. “The cost for purchasing the technology and then for monitoring -- the decision was made to go ahead and remove them.”

Luckily, the Park Police says Springfield park crime is typically low. However, the blue light poles were out of service for about a year before they were even removed. "You can't leave them out here when they don't work. For somebody it could be a false sense of security that they can run to it, call and get some help right away," said Nargelenas.

With a rise in violent crime on college campuses, UIS says despite the cost, these lights still serve a purpose. "To maintain every year it costs about $15,000 a year. That does not include man hours that our police officers do a test on them every week," said Schnapp.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on November 30, 2016.

Watch the story online.

UIS seeks 'sanctuary' status for immigrants

Professors at the University of Illinois Springfield are circulating a petition to make the school a sanctuary campus for students living in the U.S. without legal permission.

Lynn Fisher, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, said Wednesday that the petition is being circulated because of statements made by President-elect Donald Trump.

 “For example, (Trump) said he would repeal President Obama’s DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which helps many Illinois residents get access to a great public higher education,” Fisher said. “Also, there were references from President-elect Trump that he would consider creating a registry for Muslim citizens. We have many Muslim students. We think that these are issues a university campus has to look at.”

The petition, available at, lists several measures, such as asking the university to adopt a resolution that effectively bans Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and other immigration officials from the campus.

The petition also requests that the university instruct its security and police force to not act on behalf of ICE or other immigration enforcement agents.

The petition drive in Springfield is being done in conjunction with the two other University of Illinois campuses in Urbana/Champaign and Chicago.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 30, 2016.

Read the entire article online.