Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Local recruits bring new energy to UIS men’s basketball

2016-17 RECORDS: 9-18 overall; 4-14 in Great Lakes Valley Conference

A LOOK BACK AT LAST SEASON: Injuries plagued UIS throughout the season. The biggest injury was to redshirt sophomore forward Bahari Amaya. He tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a knee two games in, but is cleared to play this season after rehabbing from surgery. The Prairie Stars’ playing rotation last year included one senior (Paxton Harmon) and one junior (Eddie Longmeyer). The other players were freshmen and sophomores. Longmeyer scored a team-high 14.3 points per game and 4 assists per game. The Stars’ other returning double-digit scorers are junior guard Vince Walker (11.6 ppg) and junior center Zach Steinberg (11.1 ppg). Steinberg averaged a team-leading 8 rebounds per game and collected eight double-doubles. Walker hit a team-high 66 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Lijah Donnelly averaged 8.9 ppg and 2.8 apg and started 15 games last season. Sophomore forward Kaj Days made 13 starts.

STANDING OUT: Look at a UIS roster and the names of two local players jump out. Freshman guard Andrae Williams and freshman forward Collin Stallworth are the first UIS players from the area since the 2010-11 season. Williams scored 12.4 ppg for Lanphier High School, which placed fourth at the Class 3A state tournament. Stallworth was a star two-sport athlete at Rochester High. He ranked second in the Central State Eight Conference with 8.4 rpg and averaged 12 points. They could join the list of current players who saw considerable playing time as freshmen. Junior guard Logan Gonce, sophomore forward Brandon Van Sant, Amaya, Walker, Steinberg, Days and Donnelly played regularly in as freshmen.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 31, 2017.

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UIS women’s basketball looking to finish games off

2016-17 RECORDS: 9-17 overall; 3-15 in Great Lakes Valley Conference

A LOOK BACK AT LAST SEASON: The Prairie Stars lost nine contests by nine points or less. UIS avoided not ending the season on a sour note. It snapped a 10-game losing streak with a win over McKendree in the season finale. A bright spot for the Stars was forward Destiny Ramsey. She was named to the GLVC third team along with UIS senior center and all-time leading rebounder Syerra Cunningham.

STANDING OUT: Cunningham is gone, but Ramsey is back. She was UIS’ top scorer last year with 12.1 points per game. She was also first in steals (44) and blocks (32). Senior guard Shelbi Patterson is also a big-time player. She started her first three seasons and averaged 10.3 ppg. She averaged a team-high 2.3 assists. Guard Tehya Fortune started all 26 games last season as a freshman and averaged 8.5 points. She also poured in a team-high 49 3-pointers. New to the fold is junior guard Valerie Meissner who was a starter for Lake Superior State last season. She averaged 8 points and a team-high 4.5 assists per game for the Lakers.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 31, 2017.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Jerry Seinfeld to perform at UIS in January

Jerry Seinfeld will return to Sangamon Auditorium this winter for what will be the comedian’s fourth visit to the venue over the past 15 years.

The stand-up comedy show is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 18th.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Nov. 3. and will be available at the Sangamon Auditorium ticket office, on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield, by calling 206-6160 or visiting www.sangamonauditorium.org.

An online presale begins Wednesday. Ticket prices are $150, $80 or $65. Seinfeld previously sold out performances at Sangamon Auditorium in 2003, 2005 and 2009.

Seinfeld is best known for his comedy sitcom on NBC in the 1990s.

In recent years, he has starred in the web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” where Seinfeld picks up a fellow comedian in a classic car and they have a conversation over coffee.

Seinfeld is currently one of the top-grossing touring acts in entertainment.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 26, 2017.

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UIS men and women’s soccer ready for postseason

Sunday’s first-round Great Lakes Valley Conference Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament game between Quincy and University of Illinois Springfield isn’t your typical No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed matchup.

The Prairie Stars are seeded eighth, but they had nationally ranked Quincy on the ropes last weekend.

UIS took a 2-0 lead until Quincy cut the deficit in half less than a minute later.

Quincy, No. 12 in the NCAA Division II rankings, avoided the upset by scoring two goals on handball penalties in the final four minutes and won 3-2.

“We take away a lot of confidence from that game,” UIS women’s soccer coach Erin Egolf said. “We competed really well. Our girls challenged for every 50-50 ball. More importantly, when we had the ball we kept possession. We had a consistent effort that first 86 minutes. We just had some unlucky calls."

The UIS women’s and men’s soccer teams are both making history.

Each has qualified for the GLVC tournament for the very first time.

UIS joined the conference in 2009.

The Stars will play Lewis on Sunday in the first round of the GLVC Men’s Soccer Championship Tournament. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. in Romeoville.

"We’re confident,” UIS men’s soccer coach Adam Hall said. “We’ve beat Lewis already, so we know what we can do. We just need to get the job done when we get the chance on Sunday.”

The Stars have a chance to make more history. If they can get a ninth victory, they’ll break the program record for wins in the single season in the NCAA Division II era.

Both teams are eager to show what they can do in tournament play. “We know going in we should be able to compete,” Egolf said. “Now we’ve got to just show up and do it. Our team is finally seeing that we can be good and we can be a top team.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 27, 2017.

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Subdued hues and strange shadows at University of Illinois at Springfield

Newspaper is often the first ephemera we come to understand.

It’s an impermanent medium that we try to make permanent over and over again, whether it’s a yellowing comic strip on someone’s fridge or a historical front page tucked away in the closet.

In that sense, newspaper is also typically our first lesson in the power of print and how our stories become tangled up and tactile through ink and paper.

The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery digs into this dynamic with “of strange shadows,” its current show from Texas-based collaborators Leslie Mutchler and Jason Urban.

Pulling at the threads among color, print and collective memory, Mutchler and Urban pair hues of low saturation with images of protest and violence that examine the 1960s and ’70s — moments of political unrest “too familiar and yet distant” to our own time.

This story appeared in The Chicago Tribune on October 30, 2017.

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Dual credit: UIS offers biochemistry course to SHG students

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School senior Cole Taylor has found out quickly that high school and college-level courses aren’t the same.

Taylor is one of 18 SHG seniors enrolled in a new dual-credit biochemistry course at University of Illinois Springfield.

The class is the first time UIS has offered high school students college credit for a course taught by a university faculty member — associate professor of biochemistry Stephen Johnson.

The high school seniors meet three times a week for two-hour 15-minute sessions, with an extra three-hour lab on Fridays.

Johnson, a parent of seven children, said he came up with the idea after speaking with fellow parents at SHG and teachers at the school about ways to enhance the science program.

The course gives students a jump-start on college because they have an opportunity to earn credit, but, perhaps more important, exposes them to college, he said.

“It gives students who want to be a doctor a chance to see biochemistry before they go into premed. Maybe they decide they’re not interested or, more importantly, decide maybe they want to do more,” Johnson said.

The biochemistry class starts with a review of general chemistry and then goes beyond what is taught at the high school level, Johnson said. The lab work also is more in-depth than what high school students are typically exposed to. For example, students learn how to separate DNA, Johnson added. 

Johnson said he hopes the pilot program will expand for more dual-credit classes across UIS.

In addition, he also hopes to expand it to other high schools.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said the dual-credit program has great potential in attracting students to UIS.

“These are really talented kids and students that we would love to have at UIS after they graduate,” she said. “We look forward to talking to Dr. Johnson about how it went and seeing how we can expand it into other areas.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 29, 2017.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball improves to 17-8

Taylor Bauer hit a match-high 14 kills and the University of Illinois Springfield posted its sixth straight victory with a 25-22, 25-14, 25-16 win against Maryville Saturday.

It is the longest win streak in the program’s NCAA Division II era.

Other notable performers in the Great Lakes Valley Conference match were Tiffany Wentworth with 37 assists and Jailyn Borum with 17 digs. Alyssa Hasler added five blocks.

UIS is 17-8 overall and has an 8-4 GLVC record.

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

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Women's Soccer: Stars earn first GLVC tourney berth

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s soccer team won 1-0 against Rockhurst Wednesday to qualify for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship for the first time in program history. 

Sophomore Erin Bolskar’s game-winning goal earned the Prairie Stars the eighth and final spot.

Bolskar scored her first goal of the season off freshman Kayla Meyer’s throw in with 30 minutes left in the second half at Kiwanis Stadium.

It was a do-or-die game for UIS. Rockhurst would have advanced to the GLVC tourney instead of UIS if the Hawks had won.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 25, 2017.

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"of strange shadows" Opening Reception

The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery is pleased to present "of strange shadows" from Texas-based collaborators Leslie Mutchler and Jason Urban.

The exhibit will open on Thursday, October 26, and run through Thursday, November 16. An artist reception will take place on Thursday, October 26, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The exhibit, "of strange shadows," is an investigation of color, print and collective memory. Contrasting a subdued primary palette with gray images of residual protest and violence, artist-collaborators Mutchler and Urban look back to the 1960's and 1970's as captured in printed matter from the same era.

Both teach in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin where Mutchler is associate chair and director of the AAH Core Program and Urban is head of the studio division's print area.

This article appeared in the Illinois Times on October 26, 2017.

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UIS Theatre Department launches degree program with production of ‘Machinal’

When she chose the 1920s drama “Machinal” as the University of Illinois Springfield’s fall theater production, director Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson felt a certain sense of deja vu.

The play, opening Friday for six performances at the UIS Studio Theatre, depicts a young woman “struggling to find her place in what (the playwright) perceived as an overly mechanized, automated, unfeeling society and culture,” said Thibodeaux-Thompson, associate professor of theater at UIS.

Its main character also experiences sexual discrimination and harassment, pressure to conform to society’s expectations of women, and a growing sense of alienation, with tragic results.

“It can be difficult to distinguish whether Treadwell was writing about the 1920s or the 2010s,” Thibodeaux-Thompson said, especially since adverse treatment of women in entertainment, politics and other fields continues to make news on a daily basis.

“Certainly times have changed, but how much, and how far?”

“Machinal,” written by Sophie Treadwell, depicts a young stenographer who marries her boss but finds him repulsive and controlling. Desperate to escape her loveless marriage, she has an affair with a younger man, kills her husband and is tried for his murder.

“She is a victim of her time,” said Sherri Mitchell, a newly enrolled theater major who plays the young woman’s mother.

Mitchell said her own character “represents the ugly side of what it meant to be a woman” with no financial security apart from a breadwinning man. “She represents the life most women had been living then,” focused only on the drudgery of daily survival, she said.

The show also marks another milestone for the UIS Theatre Department: the official launch of its bachelor’s degree program in theater, approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education last year.

“Having a BA in theatre is a great asset for the campus and makes it a robust liberal arts university,” added Thibodeaux-Thompson, whose husband Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, associate professor and director of theater, and assistant professor Dathan Powell round out the theater department faculty.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 25, 2017.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

UIS launches chemistry course for high schoolers

A group of high school seniors are studying chemistry at the University of Illinois Springfield this semester, as part of the university’s first dual credit course.

The course, which includes 19 seniors from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, earns students college credit and is taught at the UIS campus by Associate Professor of Chemistry Stephen Johnson.

Johnson said organizers hope the class will help students consider important health careers.

“We thought this would be the perfect chance for them to see the health field industry, all the way in through advanced biochemistry, but at a survey level,” Johnson said.

Some students are considering those careers. “I’d like to major in biochemistry in college,” said student Taylor Rahn. “Chemistry and science are my favorite things to do in school, so when I found out I could take this class, I knew that I really wanted to.”

Students in the class attend two lectures each week and one weekly lab.

Johnson said students in the class pay a discounted fee.

This story aired on WAND News  on October 24, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Men's Soccer: UIS Men's Soccer earns 1st GLVC Tournament berth

The University of Illinois Springfield took home a 3-0 victory on Quincy on Sunday and that win punched the Prairie Stars' ticket to its first Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament.

The win over the Hawks also moved UIS to 8-6-1 on the season, the most conference wins since moving to a division two program.

This article appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 23, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Donation to upgrade virtual servers at UIS

A college computer science program has claimed a new donation.

The University of Illinois Springfield plans to use a gift of over $26,000 from State Farm Insurance to upgrade its virtual server farm.

The Department of Computer Science took in a check on Monday. One educator said the money provides a boost the university needs.

“We offer 80 percent of our classes using (the) virtual service,” said Svet Braynov, computer science associate professor at UIS. “This fall we’re experiencing deadlocks and problems with the virtual server. That’s because they are running out of capacity.”

The UIS virtual server farm helps about 1,200 students throughout the academic year and involves more than 2,200 machines.

“Without this help, we would not be able to offer what we offer today to our students,” Braynov said.

This story appeared on WAND TV on October 23, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer pounces on Quincy

A trio of goals in the first 24 minutes carried the University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team to a 3-0 win against Quincy at Kiwanis Stadium Sunday.

Senior Naba Alzhyri scored 23 seconds into the Great Lakes Valley Conference game. Junior Alex Zarco scored a few minutes later for the Prairie Stars. Zarco added a second goal at the 24-minute mark.

UIS closes out the regular season at home against No. 2 Rockhurst Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 22, 2017.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

UIS students could study at newly proposed Chicago research center

University of Illinois Springfield students would have a chance to study at a proposed new public-private research center near downtown Chicago, UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said Thursday.

The University of Illinois announced plans for the Discovery Partners Institute on Thursday. 

According to the university, the new research institute would be developed on a site along the Chicago River in the city’s south loop neighborhood, where researchers will work with students and businesses to support “next-generation innovation and workforce development.”

The development company Related Midwest donated the land.

The U of I hopes to complete a plan for the research center next year. The plan will include a timetable for opening and other details of the $1.2 billion institute, which will be operated principally through private donations and partnerships with business and industry.

Koch said Thursday she was excited about what the prospects of the facility could mean in attracting students to UIS and preparing them for the workforce.

The institute, she said, would work similarly to a study-abroad program, where UIS students would spend a semester or more in Chicago. Students in numerous majors could potentially utilize the facility, including computer science, management information services, data analytics and information security, she said. “The sky is the limit on what the possibilities will be,” Koch said. 

Northwestern University and the University of Chicago are partnering with the U of I on the institute. U of I president Timothy Killeen said in a statement the center is intended to bring together faculty, students and companies to collaborate on research and turn it into new products and companies.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 19, 2017.

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Downtown, UIS campus to find corridor connection

It will soon become easier for people to visit a college campus in the Springfield area.

Final approval has passed for the 11th Street Extension Corridor, which will connect downtown and the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

The city has worked on the project for several decades.

An influx of U.S. government money will pay for 80 percent of a $7 million cost.

People in the Springfield area should expect bike routes and walkable areas along the corridor, which is scheduled to be done by summer of 2018.

This article appeared on WAND on October 19, 2017.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

17 business, education leaders named to EDC board

The heads of University of Illinois Springfield and Lincoln Land Community College, as well as top executives from some of the city’s largest companies, have joined the board of directors for a proposed Sangamon County economic development corporation.

Each of the 17 is expected to commit $25,000 to $50,000 annually toward operation costs estimated at $1.5 million to $2 million a year, according to an announcement from the county on Wednesday. 

“This is a fantastic start to our new effort. Frankly, even better than I anticipated,” county board Chairman Andy Van Meter said in the announcement.“Coupled with this kind of private-sector leadership, we are building great momentum toward a new and improved way of doing economic development in Sangamon County.”

In addition to UIS Chancellor Susan Koch and LLCC President Charlotte Warren, members named Wednesday head some of Springfield oldest and largest employers, including Bunn Co., Horace Mann Educators Corp., Springfield Electric Co., O’Shea Builders, local banks and insurance companies, engineering firms and health-care employers.

 A study released by the county last week recommended creation of a private-public EDC to better coordinate local job retention and creation initiatives in the face of slow-growing population, income, property values and employment.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 18, 2017.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Area colleges: Illinois-Springfield announces plans for fieldhouse

Athletic director Jim Sarra announced Tuesday that the University of Illinois Springfield plans to build a 92,000 square foot indoor fieldhouse that will impact all 17 sports at UIS.

It is expected to have a six-lane rubber track and areas for pole vault, long jump, triple jump and throws. It will also have turf infield, baseball and softball hitting tunnels, a golf hitting and training area and multi-purpose flooring to accommodate tennis, volleyball and basketball.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 18, 2017.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

UIS men, women set records for soccer wins

In men's soccer, Rhys Wallace scored on a penalty kick and the University of Illinois Springfield’s 1-0 victory over Lewis Sunday tied the school record for Great Lakes Valley Conference wins.

UIS won its seventh conference match, tying the previous record set in 2013.

The Prairie Stars are 7-6-1 overall and 7-4-1 in the GLVC.

In women's soccer, Meghan Delaney’s scored the game-winning goal in the first half and the University of Illinois Springfield won 1-0 against Lewis at Kiwanis Stadium.

The Prairie Stars broke two records for the women’s program.

They set the single-season record for wins with an 8-4-4 record, topping the seven matches won in 2016.

UIS also set the record for Great Lakes Valley Conference wins in a season with five. It bettered the old mark of four set in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The Stars are 5-4-3 in the GLVC.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 15, 2017.

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UIS starts basketball practice on Sunday

Sunday marks the first day NCAA Division II basketball teams can officially practice and the University of Illinois Springfield women’s squad is kicking off the day by manning the start and finish lines of the Springfield Marathon.

After the coaching staff and players wrap up their volunteer work, they’ll hit the hardwood. “I like the enthusiasm of our team,” UIS women’s basketball coach Mark Kost said. “I like the competition that we are going to have within the team for playing time.

 UIS men’s basketball coach Bill Walker will have almost a month to prepare the first game on Nov. 10 against Malone University in Canton, Ohio.

“On paper it’s my deepest team,” Walker said. “We still only have one senior (Eddie Longmeyer) on scholarship, but we have a fairly veteran team without having a lot of seniors. Zach (Steinberg)Vince (Walker)Logan (Gonce) and Bahari (Amaya) are in their third year and the three freshmen last year all played a lot.”

Walker has a new member of his coaching staff. Assistant Vincent Grier was an All-Big Ten first team selection at Minnesota in 2005.

Walker was an assistant at Minnesota recruited Grier, who signed with the Miami Heat after college and played overseas.

For the first time since the 2010-11 season, UIS has area players on the roster with the addition of Rochester High School product Collin Stallworth and Lanphier graduate Aundrae Williams.

UIS struggled through injuries to a 9-18 overall record and 4-14 Great Lakes Valley Conference record last season.

Under Kost, UIS women’s team finished 9-17 overall and 3-15 in the GLVC. “I’m looking forward to that finally over the two-year period we have full roster and we have our classes evened out,” Kost said.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 13, 2017.

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Springfield Marathon helps boost Springfield's economy

Runners from all over laced up their sneakers Sunday morning for the 5th annual Springfield Marathon, which started and ended on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

Organizers said there was even one runner from India.

"About 30 percent of our runners came in from out of town," said Bill Stokes, the race director for the Springfield Marathon.

Those out of towners are boosting Springfield's economy, according to race organizers.

"I stayed at a hotel here in town and I ate out and I think it does good for the economy and brings visitors into the place," said Christy Patterson, a runner from Decatur.

More than 600 people came out for the race.

People said, not only do they spend money in Springfield, but the race gave them a chance to see what a new city has to offer.

"I'm not from here so just seeing Springfield's campus, you know if I ever decide to go back to school it's a nice place," said Angela McFadden, a runner from Carbondale.

Race participation was up 20 percent from just last year. Many racers said it was a trip well worth it.

This story appeared on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 15, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Marketing Justice: ‘Law-Mart’ Examines For-Profit Law Schools

First established in the early 2000s, a handful of for-profit law schools say they’re on a mission to diversify the legal profession.

Before becoming an assistant professor of legal studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, Riaz Tejani spent three years teaching at a such a school.

Tejani incorporates that experience into his new book, “Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools.”

“At first I thought this would be an opportunity to teach an underserved population that historically had been kept out of the legal profession. The percentage of minorities at these for-profit law schools is 35 percent, much higher than not-for-profit law schools,” says Tejani.

“Law Mart” identifies the financial incentives that separate the country’s five for-profit law schools from their non-profit peers.

“The main difference is that their surplus income is given to investors, instead of being reinvested in the school,” says Tejani. With less than half of students passing their state bar exams and some of the highest rates of student loan default, Tejani questions whether these for-profit law schools actually profit students.

Tejani's interview appeared on WTTW Chicago Tonight on October 11, 2017.

Watch the interview online.

State Journal-Register - Our View: Fundraising initiative points to even stronger future for UIS

The following is an editorial from The State Journal-Register that appeared on October 11, 2017.

The University of Illinois Springfield is arguably already stellar. 

It boasts excellent public affairs programs, offering students unmatched hands-on experience through internships at the Statehouse. The Computer Science Department has been designated a national Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, which aims to reduce vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure. The Illinois Innocence Project has been involved in freeing 10 people who were wrongly imprisoned. 

Past studies have shown UIS and its alumni provide $176.8 million in income to the local economy. 

Dig into just about any program at the university and you’re likely to find something outstanding. 

And yet, the title of the school’s new fundraising campaign — Reaching Stellar: The Campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield — is fitting, too. It indicates that no matter how good, UIS will continue to strive toward even greater excellence. 

The new $40 million fundraising campaign — of which $18.5 million has already been raised through gifts, grants and pledges — is an ambitious goal that if achieved, can help accomplish that vision. 

The largest fundraising campaign in UIS’s history was announced Tuesday and will go through 2022.  
It’s appropriate that a priority goal of the campaign would be the UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, which will examine the legacy and lessons of the nation’s 16th president. 

With his museum and library, home and tomb already here, UIS is the perfect place to establish the national base for scholarship, teaching and public history about Abraham Lincoln’s life, leadership and legacy.

A successful program would involve research, course work and policy development, according to UIS officials, and connect UIS students with local opportunities to delve into Lincoln’s life and find ways to connect Lincoln to a national and international context. 

Other areas to benefit from the effort include scholarships, academic excellence, facilities, technology and programs that contribute to the public good, such as National Public Radio Illinois, the Illinois Innocence Project, Sangamon Auditorium and others. 

Read the entire editorial online.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

UIS announces $40 million fundraising campaign

A center that will study the legacy and lessons of Abraham Lincoln is just one of the goals of a new $40 million fundraising campaign announced at University of Illinois Springfield Tuesday evening. 

The campaign, which will continue through 2022, is the largest in the university’s history.

In addition to the UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, other areas to benefit from the fundraising include scholarships, academic excellence, facilities, technology and programs that contribute to the public good.

Programs that contribute to the public good include National Public Radio Illinois, the Illinois Innocence Project, Sangamon Auditorium and others.

“At the University of Illinois, we have one goal at the core of our mission: to transform lives and serve society,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch in a press release. “This fundraising campaign is a strategy for taking UIS – with donors’ help – toward greater excellence and greater impact for our community, our state and beyond.

The fundraising campaign is called “Reaching Stellar: The Campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield.” During Tuesday’s event at the school, alumni, staff and students were on hand to talk to guests about the importance of the fundraising priorities.

UIS has already secured about $18.5 million toward its $40 million fundraising goal. University of Illinois campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago are conducting their own fundraising efforts.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 10, 2017.

Read the entire article online.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Women's Cross Country: Litchfield cross country runners do well for UIS

Lexi Throne, of Litchfield, finished 37th in the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships.

The outing was hosted by Olivet Nazarene University and held at the Aspen Ridge Golf Course in Bourbonnais.

The University of Illinois Springfield freshman finished the 5,000-meter race in 20 minutes, 17.1 seconds.

Alexandria Quarton, of Litchfield, also an Illinois-Springfield runner, also competed in the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships. Quarton took 64th in 21:10.7.

UIS took seventh with 154 points.

This article appeared in The Journal-News College Report on October 10, 2017.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Centennial Park signs warn bicyclists of Franklin’s ground squirrels

The term “share the trail” is taking on new meaning at Centennial Park with the addition of new signs to warn bicyclists to be on the lookout for Franklin’s ground squirrels.

The species is threatened in Illinois, and a colony of the reclusive rodents live in the tall grass along the south end of the Sangamon Valley Trail in and near Centennial Park.

The squirrels cross the trail to get to different areas of grassland, which is why researchers at the University of Illinois Springfield have teamed up with the Springfield Park District to put up the warning signs along the trail.

Already this year, the UIS researchers have discovered the carcasses of two Franklin’s ground squirrels that were apparently hit by bicyclists. One of the dead squirrels was pregnant. “Their average litter size is up to seven pups,” said Tih-Fen Ting, an environmental scientist at UIS.

“If you take out one reproducing female, you are seeing potentially seven fewer squirrels. We just want people to slow down and pay attention. Also, we are seeing increased usage and traffic on the bike trail. That’s another reason we want people to be careful.”

Juvenile male Franklin’s ground squirrels leave the colony when they get older and head out to find females in another colony. Due to habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, they don’t always find a new home.

Ting’s current study started in 2013, and during that time, she hasn’t recorded a single new male originating from a different colony and finding the colony near Centennial Park, or any of the Centennial Park juvenile males finding another colony.

There is another colony south of Chatham, but so far, there is no evidence that the two groups intermingle. That means some of the males are staying where they’re born and there’s a danger of inbreeding at both sites. Inbreeding isn’t good for the overall health of the colonies.

As far as Ting can tell, the males that leave the Centennial Park colony either fall victim to predation or are they hit by a car as they look for another colony. “Last year, we had three males dispersing beyond Curran. We tracked them all the way toward New Berlin down Old Route 54,” Ting said. 

Unfortunately, the squirrels met the same fate as the other male juveniles that left the Centennial Park area in search of a mate. “They died. They died as bachelors,” Ting said.

So far this year, Ting and the other researchers have trapped 53 individuals at the Centennial Park site, including the bike trail. That’s down from 68 last year and 84 the year before. Ting is trying to find out why the numbers are falling. “I suspect the local population has become isolated,” Ting said. 

As far as researchers know, the colony of Franklin’s ground squirrels along the Sangamon Valley Trail is densest colony in the state. There also are documented Franklin’s ground squirrel colonies at the Barnhart Prairie Nature Preserve near Urbana and an abandoned railroad bed in Vermilion County.

Previous attempts to release Franklin’s ground squirrels into reconstructed Illinois prairies were not successful. That’s one of the reasons it’s important for bicyclists to keep an eye out for the squirrels when they are riding near the park.

Dog owners also are being asked to take extra care. Ting said she’s grateful for the park district’s help in putting out the signs and also for limiting mowing to preserve the tall grass. “They are very responsive,” Ting said of the park district.

Leslie Sgro, president of the Springfield Park District, said the district has a role to play in both recreation and conservation. “We have 75 acres of wild prairie in part to help the ground squirrels thrive. That was intentional,” Sgro said.

“We love beautiful open spaces and we love all of the critters that thrive in those spaces. In any urban or suburban environment, it’s really important that as we grow as a community, we make sure that there are beautiful spaces not only for the people, but also for the animals that live there.”

The warning signs near Centennial went up about a month ago. There also are dispensers on the signs that hold information brochures on the Franklin’s ground squirrel. Ting has already gone through about 300 brochures, which she sees as a good sign.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 8, 2017.

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Video from The State Journal-Register.

UIS golf teams changing plans after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico is a long way from Springfield, but the destruction on the island caused by Hurricane Maria is impacting the University of Illinois Springfield men’s and women’s golf teams.

The Prairie Stars were scheduled to host the UIS Island Getaway Oct. 30-31 on the River and Ocean courses at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa in northeastern Puerto Rico.

Due to the conditions in Puerto Rico, UIS men’s and women’s golf coach Frank Marsaglia said the tourney will not be held there.

According the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar website, the resort is hosting government agencies and other relief teams staying in Puerto Rico to assist recovery efforts following the hurricane.

UIS has wrapped up its fall schedule in Puerto Rico every season since 2013.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 8, 2017.

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Susan Koch: International Festival a 40-year tradition of diversity and 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 October 8, 2017.

The Fall 2017 calendar at UIS is, more than ever, brimming with inviting events for students, faculty, staff and campus visitors. Myriad entertainment options at Sangamon Auditorium, guest speakers examining a wide variety of timely issues, and a full slate of Division II athletic contests provide almost daily opportunities for engagement, learning and enjoyment. 

In addition to all of the above, a very special event will occur on Nov. 3 when TRAC (The Recreation and Athletic Center) will be transformed into a global festival grounds. It’s the 40th anniversary of the UIS International Festival — the longest running student-led event in the history of the campus. 

The story of the festival starts with Gerlinde Coates, who served as the University’s first Director of the Office of International Student Services. 

In 1977, Coates was employed in the campus Learning Center helping international students improve their English. She proposed an international potluck as a way to acquaint the campus and the Springfield community with the “beautiful cultural assets” that international students represent ... and the rest, as they say, is history! 

That potluck in 1977, attended by a small number of enthusiastic guests, has grown to become a major campus/community celebration — much loved by hundreds of participants who come to enjoy international food tasting, cultural exhibits, demonstrations and artistic performances from around the world. 

At the same time, the number of international students attending UIS has increased — with more than 600 students from 42 countries enrolled this fall. 

Erika Suzuki, program coordinator in International Student Services at UIS, is leading the Festival Planning Committee. “With our increasingly interconnected world, developing a better understanding of different cultures has never been more important than it is today,” says Suzuki. “We’re especially excited about this year’s festival theme — ‘Anniversaries’ — and we’re looking forward to what our community partners, exhibitors and performers will do to feature the theme.” 

Suzuki also reports that international alumni have received special invitations for this year’s celebration and she is hopeful some will return to campus to enjoy the celebration and see how the campus has grown since they graduated. 

Hilary Frost, UIS faculty member and chair of the Global Studies Program, is also a member of the Festival Planning Committee. “It’s important that we create opportunities to recognize and celebrate diversity,” says Dr. Frost. “The International Festival is a terrific opportunity to see worlds and cultures come together and share through languages, foods, arts, performances and personal stories. The Festival is a signature event that amplifies the many international studies courses across the entire curriculum at UIS.” 

The International Festival is free and welcomes guests of all ages. Festival activities begin at 5 p.m. and conclude at 8 p.m. Friday, November 3, in TRAC. Please consider this your personal invitation!

Read the entire column online.

New UIS-UIC nursing program difficult but high-quality, students say

Expecting to graduate in the spring from one of Springfield’s newest training programs for future registered nurses, Thomas McClure of Chicago interviewed last week at Memorial Medical Center for jobs in three different intensive-care units.

“I would definitely love to work at Memorial, for sure,” said McClure, a senior nursing student at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing’s RN program at the University of Illinois Springfield. The 30-year-old former Chicago resident hasn’t received an offer from Memorial yet, but he said he is hopeful about the future and grateful to be part of UIC’s challenging nursing program. 

“I’ve learned a lot,” said McClure, a former U.S. Army medic. “I’ve been very lucky to be here when it’s so highly rated.”

With its first class scheduled to graduate in 2018, the Springfield regional program director said the start-up has been successful, and interest by potential future nursing students is growing.

“We’re on the cutting edge of what’s going on in nursing and in health care,” said Cynthia Reese, director of the Springfield regional campus of the UIC College of Nursing. There’s an almost constant need for registered nurses at Springfield-area hospitals and other health-care facilities, she said.

The UIC program awards graduates a bachelor’s degree in nursing, making them eligible to take a national exam to become a registered nurse. Students also can become registered nurses after obtaining associate’s degrees in nursing at programs, such as the one operated by Lincoln Land Community College. But hospitals and other institutions are encouraging students to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing, or go through “bridge” programs to a bachelor’s if they have an associate’s in nursing, Reese said.

Research indicates patients do better, and become victims of medical errors less frequently, when their care is provided by a registered nurse with a bachelor’s, or BSN, apparently because of students’ more in-depth studies on nursing- and science-related topics, Reese said.

Nurses with BSNs “just have a broader education,” she said. A BSN degree can offer more opportunities for advancement than an associate’s in nursing. And Reese said a bachelor’s is required before a nurse can pursue a master’s or doctorate in the female-dominated field if she or he wants to teach nursing students or become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife.

The program at UIS was launched as a partnership between UIC, UIS and Memorial Health System.

Memorial is providing $1.25 million over a multi-year period for students in the freshman and sophomore “pre-nursing” years at UIS and in the junior and senior years, when students go through actual nursing classes and work in clinical settings at Memorial Medical Center, HSHS St. John’s Hospital and other locations. Memorial also chipped in $750,000 over a three-year period to help support the program and cover costs that include salaries for instructors, Reese said.

Twelve nursing students are expected to graduate in the spring. There are 32 junior nursing students currently, and officials hope to admit 48 junior-level students in fall 2018.

If enough nursing instructors can be hired, as many as 64 junior-level nursing students will be admitted by fall 2019, and that number will remain consistent for the future, Reese said.

Nursing students recently got to start using a new nursing laboratory on the UIS campus that was created with about $300,000 from UIC.

Some of the UIC money came from Memorial’s start-up contributions, with the rest coming from non-state funds through the College of Nursing funds, Reese said.

The UIC program, which also offers regional nurse training sites in Urbana, Rockford, Moline and Peoria, prides itself on teaching “evidence-based” nursing practice, Reese said.

Students in Springfield get to take part in lectures and presentations with students at other UIC campuses through high-end video conferencing technology. Their instructors are on par with teachers at the main campus in Chicago, Reese said.

Feedback from students at the Springfield campus has been positive, she said. “They like the faculty, they like the program. They say it’s hard,” she said. McClure and two other senior nursing students seconded that.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 8, 2017.

Read the entire article online and watch a video clip.

Women's Golf: UIS women’s golf places third at Findlay Fall Classic

University of Illinois Springfield junior Maria Espinosa tied for seventh and the Prairie Stars finished third out of 14 teams at the Findlay-Beall Fall Classic Monday.

Espinosa shot rounds of 75 and 74 for a 149. She carded four birdies in the final round.

UIS shot 619 for third place.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 9, 2017.

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball ties its DII wins record

The University of Illinois Springfield tied the program’s NCAA Division II record for wins in a single season with a 25-13, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23 victory against the University of Missouri-St. Louis Friday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The Prairie Stars earned their 11th victory, tying the record set in 2009 and 2016.

It was the third straight Great Lakes Valley Conference win for the Stars.

UIS’ Taylor Bauer notched 18 kills.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 6, 2017.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Men's Basketball: UIS hosting Tip-Off Dinner

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team is holding its annual Tip-Off Dinner Oct. 22 at The Recreation and Athletic Center. Tickets cost $250.

Guests will receive and all-access look at practice, a UIS jacket and a meal provided by Nelson’s Catering. Guests also will compete with the team in a shooting contest and meet with athletes. Coach Bill Walker will lead a question-and-answer session.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 5, 2017.

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Parents of college students and high school seniors headed that way should be busy filling out financial aid paperwork — if they haven’t already.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (better known as the FAFSA) determines eligibility for all financial aid, including Illinois’ grants for lower-income students.

The old FAFSA application period opened on Jan. 1, and you couldn't complete the form until you'd filed your taxes. But as of last year, the federal government decided to accept “prior prior” year’s taxes, which means families can use their 2016 tax returns to file as early as Oct. 1.

Carolyn Schloemann, financial aid director at the University of Illinois Springfield, says some folks take that start date very seriously.

"High school guidance counselors, I was told last week, some of them set up some FAFSA completion workshops at midnight,” she says. “How many of those happened across the state I can't tell you, but I know that there are a few schools, especially up in the Chicagoland area, that did that."

The story was reported by NPR Illinois on October 3, 2017.

Read the full story online. 

Area colleges: UIS volleyball sweeps Truman State

Courtney Schutt tallied 25 digs and Tiffany Wentworth recorded 36 digs for the University of Illinois Springfield in a 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 win against Truman State Tuesday.

Taylor Bauer contributed 14 kills in the Great Lakes Valley Conference match.

The Prairie Stars (10-6, 4-3) have five wins in the last seven matches.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on October 3, 2017.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Illinois Innocence Project honors Wrongful Conviction Day

Thousands of flags could be seen on the University of Illinois Springfield campus Monday, one for each solved wrongful conviction case.

"There are 2,096 flags there, and that's a very interesting number because just last week, when we bought those flags that was the number. Now it's over 2,100 and that's just in a few days. Each one of those flags represents a person who has been wrongfully convicted but exonerated in the United States" said John Hanlon, Executive and Legal Director of the Illinois Innocence Project.

The Illinois Innocence Project used International Wrongful Conviction Day to highlight the number of wrongful conviction cases.

"I think the public is not aware of how many people are wrongfully convicted." said Christine Ferree, a former intern, who now works for the Illinois Innocence Project.

Since it's founding, the Illinois Innocence Project has helped exonerate ten people, all with help from undergraduate interns.

"They are the ones who tackle all of that and send out response letters and forms, and all the other things that we do. Without students, we are not here. The experience that they are getting in real legal cases is irreplaceable." said Hanlon.

"It felt like I would be making the most difference here. I could get experience in other internships and might even get paid, but here you can feel like you are actually doing something." said Jaclyn Fabing, an intern at the Illinois Innocence Project.

UIS is one of only two campuses who use undergraduate students to help in exoneration cases.

This story aired on WAND News on October 2, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Illinois among most expensive states for college tuition

Illinois is one of the most expensive states to go to college in the U.S., reports the Associated Press. It has the fifth most expensive in-state college tuition in the nation, AP reports.

The cost of getting a bachelor's degree in Illinois has many worried that students will leave the state to go to college.

University of Illinois Springfield senior, Edwin Robles, said he knows several people who left Illinois to go to college because of money. "I think it's pretty sad especially because I'm from Illinois," Robles said.

"I think that tuition rates across the country are high. It hurts a lot knowing that the state of Illinois is the fifth in the nation."

UIS Spokesman, Derek Schnapp, said higher tuition in Illinois has many worried students leaving the state. "Many of the universities across the state are seeing many students looking across the border, and it's something we need to take care of," Schnapp said. "We want to have our own students here in Illinois. They contribute to the economy."

With tuition at about $9,400 per year, Schnapp says UIS is less expensive than several other universities in central Illinois.

"We actually went up with Illinois residents this past year, enrollment," he said. "Last year 67 percent of our students were from Illinois, this year we're at 72 percent."

Schnapp says he doesn't know why tuition is higher in Illinois.

The associated press reports Illinois is among four states that cut higher education funding over the last two years.

The University of Illinois in Champaign costs about $15,700 per year. The University of Illinois Chicago costs about $14,800 per year.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 2, 2017.

Watch the story online.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Men's Soccer: UIS men’s soccer team starting to fly high

September was a great month for the University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team.

The Prairie Stars have just one loss in the past seven games. They sit in third place in the 15-team Great Lakes Valley Conference standings with a 5-1-1 league record. 

The program cracked the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional poll for the first time ever last week when it ranked 10th out of 10 teams.

The Stars had never before earned a regional ranking in their nine-year NCAA Division II history. “It’s a great achievement, but we can’t get our heads caught into that,” UIS senior midfielder Naba Alzhyri said. “That only matters at the end of the season. For now, we’re keeping our heads focused and we will keep pushing to try to get the best out of this year. I think we’ve got something special.” 

After being voted 10th in the GLVC preseason coaches poll and starting out 0-2, UIS is 5-3-1 overall and doing the little things that could add up to big things as the season goes on.

GLVC games are played on Fridays and Sundays. In four Friday matches, UIS is 4-0.

Contributions to the Stars’ record seem to be coming from everywhere. Eighteen players have started at least one match. UIS coach Adam Hall is averaging a rotation of 19 to 20 players per game.

“I like to reward those who have had a good week in training,” Hall said.

 Hall is asking a lot of all his players. A winning record at the end of the season has eluded UIS since it joined the Division II ranks.

The Stars last finished above .500 in their final season in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in 2008. They had a 7-5 record that year.

UIS has never made an appearance in the GLCV Soccer Championship Tournament.

In 2016, it missed qualifying for it by one spot.

The top eight teams will compete in the single-elimination tourney later this month. The Stars are hoping they’re a part of it.

“We still have a long way to go,” UIS senior defender Khalid Dhalla said. “We’re only about halfway through the season. “We’ve come a long way since freshmen year. Coach (Hall) has recruited a lot of players and it has really lifted the level a play a lot.”

This article appeared in The State Journal Register on September 30, 2017.

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Men's Golf: Stars’ Bagur finishes second, UIS wins

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore Louis Bagur shot a 4-under-par 68 in the final round and tied for second in the Dan Salisbury Memorial Intercollegiate at Panther Creek Country Club.

Bagur shot a 79 in the first round and had a two-day total of 3-over 147.

UIS junior Steffen Heckele finished fourth at 148. He had rounds of 73 and 75.

The Prairie Stars placed first out of nine teams with 600 strokes.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 1, 2017.

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Women's Golf: Queller, UIS win Salisbury Invite

Freshman Jennifer Queller and senior Brooke Hill went 1-2 and the University of Illinois Springfield won the Dan Salisbury Memorial Collegiate at Panther Creek Country Club.

Queller shot a 5-over-par 149 for a two-stroke win and medalist honors in the two-day event.

She fired a 75 Sunday and carded a 74 Saturday. Hill shot a 151.

She opened with a 73 and had a 78 in the final round.

UIS placed first out of six teams with a 616.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 1, 2017.

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Women's Soccer: Stars, Southern Indiana match ends in tie

University of Illinois Springfield senior Regina Bolin’s goal with four minutes remaining in the second half forced overtime, but the match ended in a 1-all tie with Southern Indiana at Kiwanis Stadium.

UIS and Southern Indiana played two scoreless overtime periods.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 1, 2017.

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