Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Local family impacted by travel ban

Dozens of people came together in Springfield Monday night to voice their opposition to President Donald Trump's executive order that temporarily bans refugees and immigrants from entering the U.S.

Like many people around the country, the Buxton family, a local Springfield family, is affected by this ban.

Ellie came to the U.S. 10 years ago from Iran-- she came on a student visa to get her master's degree.

The Buxton's are expecting their second child and hoped to have help from Ellie's mom who lives in Iran and has visited the U.S. a couple times. Once, to help take care of the Buxton's first son. But now, that may not get to happen.

"What scares me now is, it's just the uncertainty of the situation. When am I going to be able to see my family again? When can I go back and when I go back, can I come back?" asks Ellie Khorasani, a professor at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Ellie, who has applied for citizenship but still only has received her green card, says she doesn't know when she'll get to see her family in Iran again. She worries if she leaves, she won't be allowed to get back to her husband and son.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 and Fox 55 on January 30, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Men's Basketball: UIS' Vince Walker sets 3-point record

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore Vince Walker set a program single-game record with seven 3-pointers in the Prairie Stars' 92-65 loss to No. 25 Wisconsin-Parkside on Thursday.

The previous record of six was held by five players.

Walker finished with a career-high 29 points. The Prairie Stars take a three-game losing streak into their Great Lakes Valley Conference contest at 3 p.m. Saturday against Lewis.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 27, 2017.

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Full slate of African-American History Month activities at UIS, LLCC

The University of Illinois Springfield and Lincoln Land Community College have scheduled a variety of events and activities during February to observe, appreciate and enjoy African-American History Month.

UIS's theme is POWER (Perseverance, Opportunity, Wealth, Education and Responsibility.)

Most of the events on the two campuses are free and open to the public.

UIS let students have a say in the events being planned, according to student program adviser Justin Rose, who is helping coordinate the month's activities.

"We started the planning process back in September and heard from the student body about the kind of things they wanted to see that speak to their culture," Rose said. "We called a series of meetings all the way up to January to flesh out these activities. These events speak to the campus at large and their cultural and social activities." "If students feel vested in the process, they are more likely to come. Students say, 'I put my name on this and I helped the event come to life,'" Rose said.

"The goal of every cultural event we do is to educate the campus on things they might not have experienced or know too much about." African-American History Month events at UIS begin Wednesday with a Candle Light Vigil starting at 10 a.m. in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby, where students and community members are invited to light a candle and say a few words about people they have lost.

The UIS Engaged Citizenship Common Experience Speaker Series will screen the Netflix documentary "13th" at 6 p.m. Friday in Brookens Auditorium followed by a panel discussion featuring Illinois Innocence Project exoneree Teshome Campbell.

The Know Your Heritage Bowl at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the Student Life Building will feature UIS students competing in a trivia game to learn about people and things that affect the way we see society today.

The Black Male Collegiate Society Induction Ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, in rooms C and D of the Public Affairs Center.

A Soul Food Festival on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Student Life Building Gym will feature food along with performances of poetry, dance, singing and stepping.

The final UIS event of the month, "Black Lives Matter: Through the Prism of Fredrick Douglass," is a UIS Engaged Citizenship Common Experience Speaker Series presentation that starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, on the lower level of Brookens Library.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 28, 2017.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

UIS presenting seminar on effective lobbying

Lobbying doesn't have a great reputation, but the University of Illinois Springfield hopes to help change that Friday, with a seminar teaching the ins and outs of the practice. The day-long seminar "The Third House: State Lobby Essentials" will have speakers ranging from lobbyists to university faculty.

Barbara Van Dyke-Brown, director of legislative internships and advocacy programs at UIS, expects the $300 seminar to attract both beginners and experienced lobbyists who are looking to master their craft.

"Generally, we attract people who are getting into it for the first time or have been lobbying on their own," Brown said. "There's a variety of folks who attend, like general citizens who are part of organizations or even people who want to know how it all works."

Brown said it was important for the seminar to feature an array of speakers from different political backgrounds to show that lobbying is important no matter the political viewpoints. "It's important to have a balance reflected on the agenda," she said. "We try to line it out and talk about the basics on what it means to lobby, then we go into strategies and tactics, and it's all lobbyists who are presenting. It's very practical."

This marks the first time in six years that UIS has presented the seminar, but Brown hopes to have the campus host it annually. "We do have a focus at the university on public affairs," she said, "and it's a good fit and makes sense."

Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and one of the speakers, said lobbying is an essential way for a person's voice to be heard.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 26, 2017.

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People in the News: Tyler Jones

Porta High School senior Tyler Jones, of Petersburg, was admitted to the University of Illinois Springfield and awarded a $38,000 Capital Scholars Honors Program Dean's Scholarship for tuition over four years.

The scholarship is based on GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Jones plans to major in biology.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 24, 2017.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Oblique Frontiers Opening Reception

The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery is pleased to present "Oblique Frontiers", an exhibition of ceramic works from artist Tyler Lotz.

The exhibit will open on Thursday, January 19 and run through Thursday, February 16. A reception will take place on Thursday, January 26 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Influenced by both natural and mediated landscapes, a longing for the wilderness, and failed attempts to conjure personal experiences in the landscape, Lotz's ceramic sculptures are fragmented and illusive abstractions that can elicit a single place and time or an amalgam of time, experiences, and desires.

The Visual Arts Gallery is centrally located on the UIS campus in the Health and Science Building, Room 201. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This story appeared in the Illinois Times on January 26, 2017.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Shelbyville H.S. senior earns UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program Scholarship

Tyler Pasley of Shelbyville, a senior at Shelbyville High School, has been admitted to the University of Illinois Springfield and awarded a Capital Scholars Honors Program Chancellors Full Ride Scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded based on GPA and ACT/SAT scores and can be renewed for a total of four years if the student maintains college GPA requirements.

At UIS, Pasley will major in biochemistry. “I love the small size, and I felt comfortable when I visited,” said Pasley.

At Shelbyville High School, Pasley runs cross country and track. He is president of the National Honor Society and is a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout. He is a member of the principal's cabinet, the Spanish Honor Society, Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) and Mathletes.

The CAP Honors Program is a selective undergraduate program combining high standards and emphasis on excellence with a small residential college model, enrolling only about 100 first-year students each year. The program brings together intellectually strong students with talented, dedicated faculty to create a unique academic environment within the greater UIS community.

This story appeared in The Shelbyville Daily Union on January 23, 2017.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

U. of I. plans tuition freeze, major enrollment growth

University of Illinois is rolling out an ambitious effort to boost enrollment by 15 percent over the next five years, growing the three campuses to more than 93,600 students.

School leaders are aiming to add around 12,150 students by 2021, pinpointing increases in undergraduate programs at the Chicago campus, and graduate and online programs in Urbana-Champaign.

The move comes as the university system tries to attract more Illinoisans and underrepresented minorities. As part of the battle to remain an attractive option for those students, university leaders also are poised to approve a tuition freeze for incoming Illinois students for the third straight year.

U. of I. President Timothy Killeen is scheduled to detail the enrollment plan at Thursday's board of trustees meeting in Chicago. Trustees also are to vote on the tuition rates.

"We have found that a lot of the reasons that qualified students leave the state is on the basis of cost," Killeen said. "We need to be competitive on cost. We need to do that to preserve our talent."

All three campuses were directed to create enrollment strategies last summer, school officials said.

Springfield would add more than 1,000 students by introducing new programs, improving marketing for its online courses and broadening its recruitment territory. Five new undergraduate programs, two new concentrations, two new graduate certificate courses and one new master's-level program would be added in Springfield. Officials also would more aggressively target downstate Illinois and the East St. Louis area for prospective students.

Should the initiatives prove successful, officials project the three schools would grant 10,000 more degrees between now and 2021. That also would be an aggressive goal. The schools awarded 21,517 degrees in 2016, about 2,100 more than in 2011.

Should trustees agree not to raise tuition for in-state freshmen, it would be the longest streak of unchanged admissions rates in four decades. Administrators are proposing the same base tuition for first-year Illinoisans that the university first established in the 2014-15 school year. Incoming students would continue to pay $12,036 at Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 at UIC and $9,405 in Springfield.

This story appeared in the Chicago Tribune on January 19, 2017.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Men's Baseball: White Sox coach to speak at banquet

Chicago White Sox bullpen coach Curt Hasler is the guest speaker for the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team's fourth annual First Pitch Banquet on Feb. 4 at Lincoln Greens Golf Course.

Hasler spent his entire professional playing career with the White Sox as a pitcher. He was chosen in the 21st round of the 1987 Major League Baseball draft out of Bradley. He pitched for five years in the minors. He had a career record of 3430 and a 3.51 earned run average. The upcoming season is his 30th in the White Sox organization and his first in the majors.

Hasler's daughter, Alyssa Hasler, is a volleyball player at UIS.

A social hour begins at 6 p.m. The program starts at 7 p.m. Charlie Parker's Diner is providing the food. Silent and live auctions will take place. To purchase tickets call 503-6968 or email UIS baseball coach Chris Ramirez at chris.ramirez@uis.edu.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 14, 2017.

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Women's Basketball: Cunningham carries Stars

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore Syerra Cunningham posted ninth double-double and the Prairie Stars rallied to a 59-53 win over McKendree in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game Monday.

She recorded 19 points and 16 rebounds. UIS trailed 29-22 at halftime and 42-37 at the end of the third quarter. Cunningham had 15 points and 14 rebounds in the second half.

Destiny Ramsey's jumper put UIS ahead for the first time eight minutes two seconds remaining. The Stars led 43-42 and never trailed again.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 16, 2017.

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Women's Basketball: Cunningham breaks UIS women's rebounding record

University of Illinois Springfield senior Syerra Cunningham became the program's all-time leading rebounder Saturday, but the Prairie Stars fell 86-66 to Rockhurst in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game.

Cunningham needed eight rebounds to set the record. She collected eight rebounds against the Hawks.

Cunningham passes Elizabeth Kelly, who grabbed 625 rebounds from 2011-14.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 14, 2017.

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Men's Basketball: Stars' Harmon scores 29

Senior Paxton Harmon scored a career-high 29 points and the University of Illinois Springfield edged McKendree 92-89 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game Monday.

Harmon was 10-for-14 from the field and 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. The Prairie Stars have won two of their last three conference games.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 16, 2017.

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UIS students' efforts benefit local organizations

More than 100 University of Illinois Springfield students honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday by giving back to the local community and helping needy people abroad.

For the fifth straight year, UIS students volunteered as part of the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Stop Hunger Now, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Concordia Village, Ronald McDonald House, Serving Jesus Willingly Urban Ministry, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital, Springfield Urban League, Hope Thrift Store and Computer Banc all received volunteer help. Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, said the goal of the day of service is to encourage students to be more civic-minded.

The volunteer help was especially beneficial to local nonprofits that have cut staff because of the ongoing state budget impasse, he noted. "Many organizations are just trying to keep the doors open, so any help they get is appreciated," Dochterman said.

For the first time this year, students also partnered with the North Carolina-based nonprofit Stop Hunger Now, which aims to combat world hunger. Dochterman said dozens of students packaged more than 10,000 meals at the UIS campus consisting of dehydrated vegetables, rice and a micro-nutrient blend that will be shipped abroad.

UIS senior Sean Flamand helped prepare the meals at the Student Life Building on the UIS campus. He's volunteered on the Day of Service before and always finds the experience to be rewarding, he said. "I really like getting in and doing the work because they always need the labor," Flamand said.

Earlier in the day Monday, UIS students walked in the NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March and participated in a panel discussion about race relations across the country.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 16, 2017.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Men's Basketball: Harmon, Stars get first GLVC victory

University of Illinois Springfield senior Paxton Harmon poured in 27 points and hit six 3-pointers and the Prairie Stars won 89-85 against William Jewell Thursday.

It is the first Great Lakes Valley Conference victory this season for UIS (6-8 overall, 1-4 in GLVC). The win snapped a four-game losing streak. UIS led 41-38 at halftime.

UIS sophomore Vince Walker scored 14 points and made four 3s.

The win was reported by The State Journal-Register on January 13, 2017.

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Eagle Days are announced at Emiquon

Family-friendly Eagle Day events will be held at various locations throughout the day in Fulton and Mason County Saturday, Feb. 4.

See eagles at the Emiquon Preserve Visitor Use Observatories where spotting scopes will be provided for eagle and bird watching along with hot cocoa, a warming station and displays. Additionally, the University of Illinois-Springfield Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon will provide a microscopic view of Emiquon. Events will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (weather permitting).

Activities and parking will be at the Lakeside Observatory located directly off State Route 78/97. For additional information call 309-547- 2730.

The story was reported by the Canton Daily Ledger on January 12, 2017.

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Illinois' 100th General Assembly sworn in

Illinois' new General Assembly was sworn in Wednesday. Legislators face another year of budget problems as the state remains billions of dollars in debt.

From the State Capitol to the University of Illinois at Springfield, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly took the oath of office Wednesday amidst hopes that the body's 100th session may prove more successful than the last in finally resolving the budget impasse that has plagued the state over the last year and a half.

"I believe we can grow the economy, create jobs, without hurting families," State Rep. Mike Madigan said.

Madigan handily won re-election as Speaker of the House, with only one member of his party abstaining. Outside the auditorium, demonstrators both for and against Madigan made their case.

The story was reported by ABC 7 Chicago on January 11, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Women's Basketball: Campus Report

Chasitee Shroyer of Freeport, who suits up for the University of Illinois Springfield women's basketball team, scored two points in two minutes of play as UIS downed Quincy University 82-53.

UIS is 7-5 overall and 1-3 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

This article appeared on the JournalStandard.com on January 10, 2017.

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Men's Basketball: UIS seeking first conference win

The University of Illinois Springfield and William Jewell are both trying for their first Great Lakes Valley Conference win when they meet in Liberty, Missouri Thursday night at 7:30.

The Prairie Stars are 5-8 overall and 0-4 in the conference. William Jewell (3-9, 0-5) is in last place in the eight-team West Division.

UIS is in last place in the eight-team East Division.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 11, 2017.

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Women's Basketball: UIS women hit the road

The University of Illinois Springfield's first road game of 2017 is Thursday night against William Jewell in Liberty, Missouri.

The Great Lakes Valley Conference game between the Prairie Stars and Cardinals begins at 5:30 p.m.
UIS senior Syerra Cunningham needs 19 rebounds to become the all-time leader in program history. She needs 22 to set the career record for offensive rebounds.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 11, 2017.

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Bringing college football to Springfield? New UIS athletic director could be the man for the job

College football in Springfield is all but a pipe dream now. However, the new athletic director at the University of Illinois Springfield – who has extensive experience in bringing football to a collegiate program – may spur hope that one day the capital city could be a hotspot for football on Saturday afternoons.

Last June, Jim Sarra was named athletic director at the University of Illinois Springfield. In his first six months, Sarra has settled into his new environment. “I really enjoy being here,” Sarra stated. “When I first got here and took the position, I felt like we had a tremendous opportunity to expand what was here previously.

Previously the deputy director of athletics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Sarra was instrumental in bringing football to UTSA in 2012.

In contrast, Sarra commented on the prospects of UIS showcasing football. “It’s a huge undertaking,” he admitted. “The first thing you want to do is bring somebody in to do a feasibility study, to determine whether or not you should have football here.

Having football would be an opportunity to expand the brand and spur growth within the university, Sarra said. He assessed the local high school football scene. “Everybody loves Rochester. Everybody loves Glenwood. Everybody loves Sacred Heart. There’s an affinity where, unless you take that entire program and put it here, you’re not going to have the same affinity, so you pull a couple kids from these schools and it makes up a little difference,”

Nevertheless, Sarra was optimistic when asked whether or not football will see the light of day at UIS. “There’s no reason not to. You still have an opportunity here on the UIS campus where there’s enough land to do something.” Sarra recommended Kiwanis Stadium, site of the men’s and women’s soccer games, as a possible arena for football. “You can do something similar here and make it worthwhile. I think it’ll be great for the university,” he said.

Sarra points out that the key for developing football is enrollment. According to a September press release by UIS, the school had registered 5,428 students in the fall 2016 semester. Despite the total being the second largest student body in school history, Sarra states that the enrollment has to be 7,000 to 10,000 students to bring the sport on campus,

Sarra has lofty goals for the school to grow while he is in charge. “The true vision here is to be the premier Division II public university athletics program,” he said.

This story appeared in The Illinois Times on January 12, 2017.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

UIS Chancellor talks tuition freeze

For the third straight year, the University of Illinois is not increasing base tuition for incoming freshman.

University of Illinois Springfield officials said that despite hard times for universities across the state, they believe that affordability for quality education is their top priority.

They are holding off on hiring staff to fill openings, and are making due in order to best serve their students.

"Even though, on the one hand, a tuition increase would certainly benefit our budget," UIS Chancellor, Susan Koch, said. "We are going to forgo that increase again this year in the interest of access and affordability."

University of Illinois in Springfield has the lowest tuition rates of its three campuses. It's just over $9,000 for the year. Chancellor Koch said this has helped in student growth each semester.

This story appeared on Fox Illinois on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

Watch the store online.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

UIS News: UI System proposes third-straight in-state tuition freeze

The University of Illinois ranks high in the Big Ten on a measure it would rather not: tuition and fees. For several years, it has had the third-highest tuition and fees in the conference, behind only Northwestern and Penn State. But the UI is proposing its third consecutive tuition freeze for in-state freshmen next fall.

Graduate students, freshmen from other states and international students would see a 1.8 percent tuition increase.

If approved, the tuition freeze for Illinois residents would be the longest in 40 years, according to the university.

The UI had a four-year freeze from 1974 to 1977. "I don't know how long we can keep our tuition flat for Illinois residents, given our state situation," Executive Vice President Barb Wilson told UI trustees Monday. "But we're committed for one more year."

A budget impasse reduced state funding for the UI system over the last two years by about $750 million as legislators could only agree on temporary stopgap funding measures. "We are working hard to keep education affordable," Wilson said. "The future is the question."

Trustees reviewed proposed tuition, fees and housing rates for the UI's three campuses in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana at the board's Audit, Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee. The full board will vote on the measures Jan. 19 in Chicago.

As proposed, base tuition for in-state undergraduates next fall would match rates for the 2014-15 academic year — $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago and $9,405 in Springfield.

UI President Tim Killeen said the goal is to keep a UI education affordable and accessible to all students.

This story appeared in The News-Gazette on January 10, 2017.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Susan Koch: Award winners cite benefits of a liberal arts education

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 January 7, 2017.

"When Illinois residents think about the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois, the University's longstanding reputation for preparing public servants for leadership in government and related sectors is often top of mind. 

While that association is most certainly appropriate, a broader institutional value at UIS is our commitment to providing all students, regardless of major, with an outstanding liberal arts education. 

In fact, UIS is one of only 30 universities nationwide - and the only university in Illinois - that is part of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, a selective organization that drives awareness of the value of high-quality liberal arts education in an affordable public college setting. 

The term "liberal arts" refers to studies that are considered essential to an exceptional undergraduate education. It includes the humanities (the arts, English, history, foreign languages, literature and philosophy), the social sciences (anthropology, communication, economics, geography, psychology and sociology), the sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) and mathematics (algebra, calculus, geometry and logic). 

And what are the benefits of a liberal arts education in the year 2017? I asked that question of four exceptional UIS faculty members - each of whom has received the University of Illinois "University Scholar Award" within the past few years. 

The University Scholar Award is given for outstanding teaching and research and is the highest honor a University of Illinois faculty member can receive. Hua Chen, a professor in the UIS Biology Department, responded: "The biggest benefit of a liberal arts education is that it empowers individuals to deal with the complexity, diversity and change that living in the 21st century demands."  
One take-home message after studying this topic is that I hope students have learned to think critically when they enter the workforce and they have learned to be more engaged and informed citizens." 

According to David Bertaina, a professor in the History Department at UIS, a liberal arts education is "not just about filling up gaps" in students' knowledge. "At a liberal arts institution like UIS, faculty want to be an important part of students' intellectual formation," he says. "Professors are excellent resources, and some of the best learning opportunities are through discussions and interactions outside of class. Success requires a whole set of connections and experiences, and a liberal arts education helps make those connections and experiences possible.""

Read the entire column online.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Basketball: UIS Splits The Day With Quincy

Both the men's and women's basketball teams were in action on Saturday.

UIS Men's Basketball lost to Quincy 81-71. Junior Guard Eddie Longmeyer had a career day and finished with 24 points.

The UIS Women's Basketball team, led by Destiny Ramsey, defeated Quincy 82-53. Ramsey finished with 18 points.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on January 7, 2017.

Watch the video online.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Women's Basketball: UIS' Syerra Cunningham closing in on rebounding record

There's no need to look at a statistics sheet to determine how many rebounds Syerra Cunningham gets in a game. The 6-foot-1 University of Illinois Springfield senior forward has the marks on her body to prove how hard she works in the paint.

Cunningham is one of the top rebounders in NCAA Division II. She's tied at No. 8 with 11.8 per game. She is the Great Lakes Valley Conference's No. 1 rebounder.

"It gets a little tough underneath the basket," Cunningham said. "I went to a dinner party. I had a dress on and I had a huge bruise. I went to shake someone's hand and they asked what happened. I said, 'I must have got that from a game.' They said, 'What kind of game like rugby?' I said, 'No. I play basketball.'"

Cunningham is chasing several rebounding records. She is on pace to move to the top of the UIS' all-time list. She ranks No. 2 with 591 rebounds.

"She believes she's going to get every rebound," UIS coach Mark Kost said. "That's what great rebounders have, the mentality that every time the ball is shot I'm going to go get it. Then she's blessed with great hands. Strong hands. When she gets a hand on it, it's hers."

Cunningham gives UIS more than a strong rebounding presence. She's second on the team in scoring and averages 12.4 points per game. She's an effective shooter with a 59.5 field goal percentage. She's posting the best numbers of her college career.

In spite of being a starter in all three of her seasons with UIS, Cunningham is more confident than ever. A lot of it has to do with her fitness level. "This summer I really went hard at it," Cunningham said. "I was like, I have one season to prove to everybody and this isn't something that is only going to happen for 10 or 11 games. It is going to be all season."

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 4, 2016.

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