Tuesday, August 29, 2017

LGBTQA Resource Center at UIS renamed

The LGBTQA Resource Office at the University of Illinois Springfield officially changed its name Monday.

The change coming on the 10th anniversary of the office opening.

Staff with the newly named Gender and Sexuality Student Services know many of their students are still growing and maturing when they arrive and they hope their services will help students succeed both mentally and academically.

"We teach the campus the difference between biological sex and gender, and sexual orientation and gender expressions, in order to keep the campus more inclusive and understanding, and essentially the name really reflects what we're doing," said Kerry Poynter, director of the UIS Gender and Sexuality services.

This story appeared online at WICS Newschannel 20 on August 28, 2017.

Read the story online.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Police offer tips to stay safe on campus

University of Illinois Springfield Police say there are several simple ways to protect yourself on campus.

Officers say to stay off cell phones if you're walking alone. It'll allow you to be more aware of your surroundings.

They also suggest using the buddy system if you're out at night. If you don't have anyone to walk with, campus police do offer to walk with students at night to make sure they get home safe.

Women can also sign up to take a Rape Aggression Defense class, or RAD class. There are classes in September and February.

"We have some classroom instruction, but then it goes on to hands-on techniques that women can use,” UIS Police Officer Amanda Baughman said. “The program was created for women only, so it's specific to women’s needs and self-defense that they may need to use."

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 24, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

New UIS students move onto campus

Hundreds of new students arrived at the University of Illinois Springfield campus for Freshmen Move-In Day Wednesday morning.

Officials say approximately 245 first-year students moved in to the Lincoln and Founder Hall Residence Halls from 9:30 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Volunteers from UIS student organizations, sports teams, and campus departments helped the new students move in.

Many of the new students are excited to start their first semester at UIS.

Grace Negron, a freshman at UIS, tells WAND News, "I'm super excited. I've wanted to live on campus since the beginning of my senior year, and this is why I applied here. I love the area how small it is, but it's so beautiful here and I'm really excited to move in with my roommate and just to get a feel for the college life."

This story aired on WAND-TV on August 23, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Decatur native and UIS alumni A.D. Carson experiences Charlottesville turmoil

A Decatur native and University of Illinois Springfield alumni who witnessed last weekend’s deadly clash in Charlottesville said the scene played out with much more chaos than depicted on television. 

"The smell, the sounds, things flying through the air, and the bull horns and angst, in a so-called quiet American city," said A.D. Carson, a 1997 Stephen Decatur High School graduate who has gained national prominence for his study of hip-hop.

Carson, who has a doctorate degree from Clemson University and began writing rhymes as a child, is starting as an associate professor of Hip-Hop and the Global South at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville this fall.

Last Saturday, he joined counter-protesters assembled in response to Neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members arriving after the city decided to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured when the driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators.

On the eve of the rally, hundreds marched through the University of Virginia campus holding torches and chanting racist slogans. The next morning, many looked like they were dressed for war as they made their way to Emancipation Park, said Carson, who also taught English at MacArthur High School.

Carson joins the UVA faculty as somewhat of a rising star in the academic world — he gained headlines last year for completing a dissertation in the form of a hip-hop album that explores rhetoric, American social history, and art.

Carson has a bachelor's degree from Millikin University and a master's degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

This story appeared in the Herald & Review on August 18, 2017.

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UIS Student, Flota earns top intern award

Trevor Flota, business administration major at the University of Illinois Springfield and 2017 graduate has been awarded the Northwestern Mutual Top Financial Representative Intern Award. 

Flota finished as the first place intern in the country to receive the award, which honors his achievements as an outstanding performer for helping clients achieve financial security.

"Trevor is helping individuals and families in St. Louis and the surrounding communities build financial security plans to reach their financial goals," said Michael Van Grinsven, Northwestern Mutual internship program director.

"With the experience the internship program provides, Trevor developed a deeper understanding of the industry and is able to implement new skills that help make a difference in his clients' lives." 

Northwestern Mutual celebrates the 50th anniversary of its industry-leading financial representative internship program this year and to date, 50,000 students nationwide have participated in the program.

This story appeared in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on August 21, 2017.
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Abe’s Amble 10K: UIS' Pence repeats as men’s winner

The hills and humidity did their best Sunday morning to put a damper on the 40th Abe’s Amble 10K at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. But former Southern Indiana University teammates Tyler Pence and Julia Kohnen were able to scale those hills and rip through the heavy air better than everybody else. 

The 24-year-old Pence won his second straight Abe’s title in a tick over 32 minutes.

Pence, a two-time NCAA Division II track champion and seven-time All-American while at Southern Indiana, beat runner-up and 10-time champion Bryan Glass by 2:37, almost a half-mile.

Pence, assistant cross country coach at the University of Illinois Springfield, is training for two half-marathons in St. Louis in October and then the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon in November. He’s got his sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

A sub-1:04 in the half-marathon will do the trick as will a time of 2:19 in the marathon. “Today I came out to do the 10K at half-marathon pace,” said Pence, who is sponsored by First to the Finish and Rino Works gym. “So the pace I ran today is what my goal pace will be. “Actually I hoped to run faster than this. It’s good to kind of get used to running that pace.”

This article appeared online for The State Journal-Register on August 20, 2017.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Springfield exploring bicycle-sharing program

More residents and visitors to central Illinois cities, including Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, can now rent bicycles as part of bike-share programs.

A coalition of groups in Springfield is looking to make the capital city the next to implement a program where racks with five to 10 bicycles are set up around the city for people to rent on an hourly basis for a fee. They can then return the bike to any other rack.

Those involved in the effort say it’s a push to make the city more bike-friendly and provide another recreational opportunity for both tourists and residents.

“We think it would be a great addition to the tourist infrastructure but also give locals more reasons to come downtown and enjoy the area,” said Downtown Springfield Inc. executive director Lisa Clemmons Stott.

The coalition is meeting with companies that run bike-share programs and researching what has worked well in other cities. One estimate to start a program the group received is around $90,000. 

“What we’re looking at is more turn key,” said Nancy Barrett, an assessment and accreditation coordinator UIS and a member of the bike advisory council. “They come in and give you the bikes, they have the stations, (and) they provide the maintenance, all of that kind of infrastructure.”

Barrett said the University of Illinois Springfield has a popular bike-share program with 20 bikes that students can use for free. She’s looking for ways to expand that transportation option, particularly for international students.

“They’re depending on public transport, walking or biking,” Barrett said. ”We could use more bikes at UIS.”

Once the group has selected a vendor, which could happen as soon as this fall, they’ll begin recruiting local businesses and organizations to chip in, said Clemmons Stott.

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

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Preparing for Monday’s solar eclipse

Joey McLaughlin talks with University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Astronomy-Physics John Martin about the eclipse on Monday.

This interview aired live on 1240 WTAX Radio on August 16, 2017.

Listen to the interview online.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Susan Koch: UIS Community Garden is an educational experience

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 August 13, 2017.

Renowned British horticulturalist and writer Gertrude Jekyll, who created more than 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and America during her career, once said, “A garden is a grand teacher.” 

I like to think Megan Styles, an environmental anthropologist at the University of Illinois Springfield, may have been inspired by Jekyll’s words when she led an initiative at UIS to establish a now-thriving addition to the campus — the UIS Community Garden. 

Located near the historic Strawbridge Shepherd House, the garden was dedicated during Earth Week in April 2016 and has since become an important instructional facility as well as an engaging intersection for volunteers from the campus and the community. 

More than 200 volunteers have worked in the garden since its opening, and it has already produced over 300 pounds of fresh produce. 

"The UIS Community Garden has been student-driven,” says Styles. Students in Styles’ “Introduction to Sustainability” class designed the garden as a class project, studying various sustainable garden designs, creating a comprehensive plan and budget and determining the organizational approach that would best support a community garden project over time.

The garden features raised beds which help control weeds and handle drainage. Wooden compost containers and an in-ground vermiculture compost bin provide a steady supply of organic material that promotes soil microbes and plant growth. 

The garden includes many typical vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and broccoli, but thanks to heirloom seed donations from Springfield’s own Suttill’s Gardens and the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, more unusual varieties like sweet chocolate peppers, Ping Tung Long eggplant, fuzzy purple cauliflower and Red Russian kale are also thriving. 

City Water, Light and Power donated bee balm, butterfly bushes and milkweed varieties to help attract pollinators to the garden and support Monarch butterflies and other beneficial insect varieties. 

A GoFundMe campaign raised funds for the purchase of tools and other garden supplies. An increasing number of diminutive gnomes (mysterious contributions from an unknown donor) have taken up residence throughout the garden — adding an element of whimsy, charm and, of course, good luck.

Springfield resident Alana Reynolds is one of several regulars at the garden who often brings her daughters to pitch in at the work sessions Wednesday evenings. “The UIS Community Garden is a place to learn and share practical knowledge,” Alana says. “Any Springfield resident who visits the garden is sure to leave with some sense of worth — whether it be an armload of fresh veggies, a new friend or a skill that has been learned.” 

Looking toward the future, Styles would like to work with faculty colleagues to build more connections between the garden and the student experience at UIS, offering additional coursework and research opportunities. 

“The garden is first and foremost an educational space,” she says, “and we’ll make it even more educational and more sustainable as we continue to develop.” 

You can follow activities at the UIS Community Garden via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UISGarden, or better yet, grab your garden gloves and join us for a work session any Wednesday evening between 5 and 7 p.m. Volunteers are always welcome, and I can almost guarantee you won’t go home empty-handed.

Read the entire column online.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

UIS Professor John Martin: Southern Illinois will be epicenter for August 21 Solar Eclipse

Plans have been in the works for years at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and a vast portion of southern Illinois for the total solar eclipse which will translate across the campus sky on Monday, Aug. 21.

The total eclipse will cross the United States from Oregon to South Carolina during the afternoon hours of the day. A solar eclipse occurs when the orbit of the moon passes in front of the sun, causing darkness for a few moments during the daytime. According to NASA experts, southern Illinois will have the longest duration of darkness during the event, about 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

This is the first time in 99 years a total eclipse will be seen across the continental United States.

While the path of totality will be about 150 miles to the south of Pana, this area will be exposed to a partial eclipse – between 94 and 96% – according to University of Illinois Springfield astronomer Dr. John Martin. “Of course, in southern Illinois, the eclipse is total,” Martin said. “In the Pana, Decatur, Springfield, Jacksonville area, it will be a little less than totality. It won’t be quite as spectacular because the sun is so bright, even four or five percent of sunshine will be subdued. It will become just a little dark, something like a cloudy day.”

Dr. Martin has been with UIS since 2006 in the Physics and Astronomy Department. He is the host of the university’s “star parties” which are held periodically at night at the observatory at UIS.

In this area, Dr. Martin says the apex of the solar eclipse will occur around 1:18 p.m. on Aug. 21.
According to the NASA website, the event will begin at 11:52 a.m. and conclude at 2:44 p.m. in the Pana area.

He warns people – especially in this area – not to look directly at the eclipse because they could sustain eye damage. “Even with 97% of the sun blocked out, it can still damage the eyes,” he warns. “It would be like looking directly at an arc welding.” He suggests someone use a welder’s helmet glass to view the eclipse in this area. He said there are local retailers who have special eclipse glasses for sale.

However, the “100% safest way” to view the event is to make a “pin hole camera” and view it indirectly.

“Just seven years from now, in 2024, Carbondale will once again be in the path of totality of another eclipse,” Martin said. “But this eclipse will move from the southwest to the northeast. This is a very rare occurrence – something on the order of once every 1,000 or 2,000 years.”

This story was printed in the Pana News-Palladium on July 31, 2017.

Read the entire story online.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

UIS will review safety at Sangamon Auditorium

Officials at the University of Illinois in Springfield say an outside consulting firm will review safety issues at the Sangamon Auditorium following the death of a concertgoer this year.

University spokesman Blake Wood says Grey and Associates of Champaign will conduct the study, which is expected to cost about $5,000. Wood says university officials expect the results by September, but he wouldn't say if they'll be made public.

Police say 51-year-old John Kremitzki fell through an opening near the auditorium's main stage in March during a break in a Pink Floyd tribute show. Another patron, Greg Hoffman, was injured trying to help Kremitzki.

Wood says university officials will evaluate the report before deciding how to address any potential recommendations.

This story appeared on Peoria Public Radio WCBU 89.9 on August 8, 2017.

Read the entire story online.