Thursday, August 30, 2018

UIS to offer new dual credit course

A new dual credit course for high school seniors in Menard and Sangamon counties will be offered by the University of Illinois Springfield's Teacher Education Department.

The goal is to encourage more students to become teachers.

This is the second year UIS has offered dual credit courses to area high school students.

The new course being offered is titled "Foundations of American Education." It counts toward general education credits for those students who attend UIS to complete their bachelor's degrees.

The dual credit Teacher Education course costs $50, plus the cost of a textbook.

This story aired on WAND TV 17 on August 29, 2018.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

UIS awarded first hub in statewide innovation network

The University of Illinois Springfield, through the recently acquired business and social innovation incubator Innovate Springfield, will house the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, state and local officials announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes months after state legislators appropriated $500 million in seed money to the U of I system-led initiative, which will have hubs across the state connecting to the Chicago-based Discovery Partners Institute.

The goal is to accelerate economic growth statewide through research and innovation.

“We could not be more pleased to be playing a key role to help facilitate this milestone moment in our collective history,” UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said. “I am confident the Springfield hub will be a smashing success.”

The university took ownership of Innovate Springfield on Aug. 1. It will be supported initially by $1.5 million seed money over the next three years from the university, city of Springfield, the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation and the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln.

Koch said the university has submitted a proposal to the DPI, which will likely tap into that $500 million for “a significant investment in building and expanding” the hub in downtown Springfield. 

For now, the incubator will continue to be located at 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, but it is widely expected that it will move in the near future to a larger location somewhere else downtown.

While Mayor Jim Langfelder has pushed for the university to have a presence on the YWCA block at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue, the university has yet to commit to a site. But no matter where the permanent home of the Springfield hub ends up being, university officials believe it has the potential to transform the city’s economy along with the broader region.

“Together, though, this effort will make Springfield part of a network that will be home to literally hundreds of world-class researchers, thousands of students and partners at top universities and corporations,” said U of I system president Timothy Killeen. “It will give this community access to the very best intellectual power that we can muster in every discipline.”

Killeen said the network has the potential to “foster pioneering discovery that will not just rival Silicon Valley, but leapfrog it.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 28, 2018.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

UIS acquires downtown’s Innovate Springfield

In a move that’s been alluded to for more than a year, the University of Illinois Springfield has acquired Innovate Springfield, the downtown social innovation and business incubator founded in 2014 to spur economic growth in the capital city.

The incubator, 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, was officially turned over to the university on Aug. 1. City and university officials, including U of I system President Timothy Killeen, will announce the acquisition at a press conference on Tuesday.

The move immediately bolsters UIS’s downtown presence and gives the university a solid foundation on which to apply for one of several statewide innovation hubs to be established as part of the University of Illinois system-led Discovery Partners Institute.

The incubator has received a $500,000 funding commitment for each of the next three years. The city of Springfield and Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation will contribute $100,000 each, with the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln chipping in $50,000.

With local support locked down, the University of Illinois has agreed to match the funding with an additional $250,000 per year for the next three years.

“This will have more of an impact on the university coming truly more into the community than I think anything since the founding of Sangamon State University,” said John Stremsterfer, president of the Community Foundation.

“To have a sign on the building that says ‘University of Illinois Springfield’ is a great symbol, but I think the substance of work that will be created here, and hopefully in a bigger, more robust facility soon thereafter, is really exciting for the city.”

The incubator was founded in 2014 as a subsidiary to the Community Foundation, but UIS was “always squarely in my mind to be an ultimate repository for Innovate Springfield,” Stremsterfer said.

Though UIS has been a member of Innovate Springfield since its founding, conversations about the university taking over operations began in earnest in late 2017. And once the things got rolling, it was a fairly smooth process.

“They’re already successful,” said UIS chancellor Susan Koch. ”... One of the first things our team is going to do is work with them to expand the impact of what they are doing.”

Stakeholders say the university’s takeover will provide the incubator programmatic support, sources of startup talent, talent to help guide and mentor entrepreneurs, access to the U of I system alumni network and additional financial resources.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 27, 2018.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Women's Volleyball: UIS' Alyssa Hasler breaks school career block record against MWSU

The University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars volleyball program has a new career block record.

Alyssa Hasler broke that record in the game against Missouri Western State University in the 2018 Capital Classic.

The record heading into this game was held by Audra Roach with 441.

Hasler holds it with 444 blocks.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 25, 2018.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Women's Volleyball: UIS starts with two wins in own tournament

The University of Illinois Springfield won its season-opening matches with a pair of straight-sets wins over Walsh and Cedarville on Friday in the Capital Classic Tournament at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS defeated Walsh 25-20, 25-20, 25-20 in its opener.

Brianna Bush recorded 13 kills and teammate Alyssa Hasler provided eight kills and a match-high seven blocks for UIS.

Tiffany Wentworth had 34 assists, along with 12 digs, and Jailyn Borum collected a team-high 16 digs for UIS.

The Prairie Stars handed Cedarville a 25-16, 25-19, 25-15 defeat in the nightcap.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 24, 2018.

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Good Deed: Thanks to the UIS women’s soccer team

Last weekend was the start of the fall YMCA soccer schedule and the University of Illinois Springfield Women’s Soccer team came out to help us get the season started.

With all of the demands on a student athlete’s time (and after a week of Coach Egolf’s two-a-day practices) these young women used part of their Saturday to volunteer as referees in a youth soccer league.

"They are a delightful group of young women and this is not the first time they have volunteered. We always enjoy their company and we really appreciate their contribution to this community program," said Brent Crossland, YMCA Soccer Referee Coordinator.

This story appeared in The State-Journal Register on August 24, 2018.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Freshmen students move in to UIS Wednesday

New freshmen students are calling the University of Illinois Springfield home!

The annual move-in day kicked off at UIS Wednesday.

 "Just getting to know everyone makes it more comfortable to walk around campus and just not be afraid of talking to new people," Freshman student Hannah Piel said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 22, 2018.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Women's Volleyball: University of Illinois Springfield Volleyball Preview

2017 was a breakthrough year for the University of Illinois Springfield.

“In a lot of ways last year was a huge year for us,” UIS coach Trey Salinas said.

The Prairie Stars posted their best NCAA Division II record, qualified for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament for the first time and just missed out on earning a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

They also put players on the all-GLVC team for the first time. An impressive preseason ranking is proof that UIS is a rising program.

The Stars are voted to finish third in the GLVC out of 14 teams in a preseason coaches poll.

Most of last year’s starters are back, including Alyssa Hasler and Taylor Bauer.

Hasler, a GLVC first-team pick, is 12 blocks from setting the program’s all-time blocking record and is on track to finish second in career kills. Bauer, who received GLVC second team honors, had a team-high 332 kills.

UIS hosts the 2018 Capital Classic on Friday and Saturday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 21, 2018.

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Women's Volleyball: UIS to host Capital Classic

The University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team will host the Capital Classic tournament Friday and Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center at UIS.

McKendree and Missouri Western both qualified for the NCAA Division II National Tournament, and each team in the Classic finished with a winning record last season.

UIS and McKendree are both preseason top-four picks in the GLVC, while Missouri Western is sitting just outside the top 25 national poll.

The Prairie Stars finished with a 22-11 record last season and reached the GLVC tournament semifinals.

UIS was picked third in the preseason GLVC poll, its highest ranking in school history.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 21, 2018.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

UIS track and cross-country teams clean up downtown Springfield

Members of the University of Illinois in Springfield track and cross-country teams were downtown Monday cleaning up Capitol Street.

One of their coaches said he wanted to find a way for the teams to give back to the community and worked collaboratively with Springfield Public Works to set up the event.

He said this is not only a good way for the team to bond but also to gain appreciation for their city. 

“Being a college team, we want to get our team together and do group work. So, this is another opportunity for us to get out and really do something, especially make a good impact for the city,"
UIS Cross Country and Track Assistant Coach Tyler Pence said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on August 20, 2018.

Watch the story online.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Susan Koch: A beautiful, functional and improving campus

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 19, 2018.

Though summertime at the University of Illinois Springfield entails a variety of both educational and recreational pursuits, the end of the academic year and the arrival of warmer weather also presents opportunities for campus improvements that will enhance the college experience for students as well as improve the environment for faculty, staff and visitors.

For students, research shows a functional and beautiful campus can be a deciding factor in their college choice and UIS students often tell me they “fell in love” with the campus itself when they made their first visit.

With a property consisting of about 750 acres and, with recent additions including the Lincoln sculpture, a Shakespeare Garden and the new Student Union, the UIS campus is, indeed, both welcoming and beautiful.

Chuck Coderko, Associate Chancellor for Facilities and Services, can attest better than anyone that Summer 2018 has been particularly busy!

“The biggest transformation underway this summer,” says Coderko, “is the main floor of Brookens Library — a project that started in mid-May and will be completed in early October.”

University libraries are no longer the quiet repositories of books they were when Brookens opened its doors about 40 years ago.

The renovation includes a more open layout, state-of-the-art LED lighting, modern and durable flooring, mobile furniture, and collaborative spaces that encourage group interaction and active learning. The project also adds a high-tech classroom for library instruction and workshops.

The second-oldest building on campus, the Public Affairs Center (circa 1980), has also been undergoing major improvements this summer including a new roof, completion of a stair rail safety project and various enhancements and safety improvements to Sangamon Auditorium, which launches its 2018-19 season September 16 with a performance by acclaimed comedian Jay Leno.

The newly acquired UIS Field Station at Lake Springfield, formerly the FOP lake club, is also undergoing transformation. Just a short walk from campus, the facility will enable easily accessible opportunities for education, research, recreation and community outreach on and near the lake. Director of Field Stations Dr. Tom Rothfus tells me several classes are already scheduled to use the new lakeshore location this fall.

Superintendent of Grounds Brian Beckerman and his talented team spend the summer months maintaining and improving the entire landscape which includes nearly 500 tree and shrub varieties, about 375 distinct flowers and ornamental grasses, and acres of lawn and sports fields for recreation, youth sports and intercollegiate athletics.

“We’ve adopted a more sustainable philosophy in recent years,” says Beckerman, “using native grasses and other materials that have natural beauty and require less mowing and maintenance. We’ve been pleased to work with the university’s new Green Fee Committee and others,” he continues, “on projects like the green roof on the Student Union (expected to achieve LEED Gold recognition later this year) and the campus community garden.”

“Members of the Facilities and Services team have a tremendous sense of pride and ownership in their work at UIS,” says Coderko. “If it touches the ground, it’s ours,” he continues, “and we want to make it better, safer and more enjoyable for students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Women's Volleyball: Bauer named UIS athlete of month

University of Illinois Springfield volleyball player and Watseka graduate Taylor Bauer has been selected as the Female Spotlight Athlete for the month of August.

Bauer garnered second-team all-Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) recognition in 2017.

The 6-foot senior outside hitter from Watseka set the UIS Division II school record with 332 kills.

Bauer also ranks third among UIS Division II single-season leaders with 379.5 points. She averaged 2.96 kills and 3.39 points per set, while finishing with a season hitting percentage of .221.

The Prairie Stars compiled a 22-11 overall record and a 12-6 GLVC record, which doubled the UIS Division II school record for wins and tripled the program record for GLVC wins. UIS earned fifth place in the GLVC standings, which is the program’s best conference finish. The Prairie Stars also secured the program’s first-ever GLVC Tournament berth.

This story appeared in Iroquois County's Times Republic on August 13, 2018.

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11th Street extension ‘an invitation’ for UIS, community interaction

It is only about a half-mile stretch of road, but University of Illinois Springfield officials and community leaders believe the 11th Street extension, which opened Saturday, will have a far-reaching, positive impact that will bind the city and university closer together.

The extension, which is five lanes (two in each direction with a center turn lane) with sidewalks and a bike lane, establishes the first-ever direct connection between downtown Springfield and UIS. 

Decades in the making, it began construction in early 2017. Its estimated price tag was $7 million, with $5.4 million covered by federal funding and the rest by the city.

“It feels great. I think not only is it a real achievement for the city, but I think it really is going to have a very positive impact on the interaction between the city and the university,” said UIS chancellor Susan Koch. ”... It’s going to make the downtown area more accessible to our students, but it’s also going to make the university more accessible to the community.”

Words like “interaction” and “cohesion” were common among those who spoke of the effect the connection will have on Springfield and the university.

Though within Springfield city limits, UIS has historically been at arm’s length from the city, separated from each other by Interstates 55 and 72 and, until now, the lack of a direct link between the two.

“Growing up in Springfield my whole life, people describe where UIS and Lincoln Land are in our town (as) — even though it’s only 10 or 15 minutes away — it’s way out there, it’s way out there on the edge of town,” said state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove. “And I think what this will do and what I hope it continues to do is spur those connections between the university and downtown.”

Jimenez, herself a graduate of UIS, said even up until a few days ago, she had to think about how she normally traveled to the university, with all its zigs and zags. 

Under the Dome Podcast Click to listen University officials say the opening of the street arrives at the “perfect time” as the university gears up to increase its presence in downtown Springfield.

UIS is preparing to apply for an innovation hub as part of the Discovery Partners Institute.

While not committed to a specific site and still formulating plans, Koch said, in addition to an incubator, a downtown university presence could include housing its Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center and Statehouse-based programs like the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program and the Public Affairs Reporting Program.

Koch, pointing to the new UIS Student Union and the variety of shows offered at the Sangamon Auditorium, among other things, said she hopes “the opening of the street as an invitation for (the community) to come out to campus.”

“People should remember, this is a public university. It doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the people of Illinois,” Koch said. “And they should feel like it’s theirs. And I think the opening of this street could be an invitation.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 11, 2018.

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Women's Basketball: UIS women’s basketball adds four players

University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball coach Mark Kost has signed four players, including three incoming freshmen.

Carson Vance is a combination guard. She averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals as a senior at Roselle Lake Park High School.

Point guard Lauren Ladowski received Associated Press all-state honorable mention honors in her final year at Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana.

Forward Ellie Mitchell helped Owensboro (Kentucky) Catholic High School reach the state quarterfinals last season.

Rounding out the list is forward Myka Roth, a transfer from Vincennes University.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 14, 2018.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

UIS debuts new entrance markers

A series of new entrance markers will greet University of Illinois Springfield students, staff and faculty returning for fall semester later this month.

The three signs, placed on West Lake Shore Drive, 11th Street at University Drive and on Shepherd Road, were installed last month. They feature a dark blue background with the university’s spelled out name emblazoned in white.

The cost — which included building the structure, installing it and landscaping the area surrounding it — was about $15,000, according to UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp.

Schnapp said the old signs, which featured the UIS dome logo, were in poor condition and out of date.

Materials from the old signage were recycled, he said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 4, 2018.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

UIS hires Slade to coach cross country, track teams

The University of Illinois Springfield has hired another veteran coach to oversee its cross country and track and field programs.

Scott Slade brings 30 years of coaching experience to UIS.

He replaces Mike De Witt, who retired in June after starting the Prairie Stars’ cross country program in 2015 and track and field program in 2016. De Witt had coached for 44 years.

The 54-year-old Slade is originally from Buffalo, New York, and began coaching in 1988. He is heavily involved in USA Track and Field. He is currently the national chair for development for men’s middle distances.

UIS athletic director Jim Sarra was Slade’s supervisor at UTSA.

“He saw me turn the program around at UTSA,” Slade said. “He saw that I built a competitive program there. That’s what he’s looking for me to do (at UIS).”

Slade’s first day at UIS is Monday.

Springfield High School graduate Tyler Pence will continue to serve as an assistant coach.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 2, 2018.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Interiority gets exteriorized at UIS Gallery

A smiley-face pin balanced on a wall-mounted thermostat; an infant’s onesie reflected in an antique mirror; an office lamp propping open a window shade.

The experience of walking through “Interior Space” – an installation which opened July 26 at University of Illinois Springfield’s Visual Arts Gallery – is something like wandering into a stranger’s sparse attic or onto the set of a dream sequence in a 1960s Italian film.

The work, by Allyson Packer, is spread throughout the entire gallery (occasionally even beyond its physical boundaries).

Packer, who is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a summer resident in the Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists program. Although at first glance it might seem like there is little or nothing on display, a little hunting gradually reveals a bounty of unlikely objects, including the ones described above, many of them displayed in even less likely ways.

The items, distributed throughout the space with deceptive precision and wit, were all borrowed from Springfield residents by Packer for the purpose of the exhibition.

Also at the UIS gallery on July 26 was a one-night-only multichannel audio installation by Normal, Illinois-based artist and composer ZW Buckley, entitled “faith comes by hearing.”

Buckley described the work as “exploring the themes of transience and permanence within Springfield’s Enos Park neighborhood.”

This article appeared in the Illinois Times on August 1, 2018.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sterling grad Stroup blossoming into a star for UIS

Her jersey number is 00, but Erin Stroup has been anything but a zero during her first two seasons for the University of Illinois-Springfield softball team.

The 2016 Sterling graduate came into college as an accomplished recruit for the Prairie Stars, and has made an immediate impact at the plate and in the field.

“After my first year, I learned so much that was going to help me,” Stroup said. “But I really didn’t expect to be as successful as I have, especially as soon as I started.”

Stroup also started her high school softball career in a large role as a 4-year varsity player for the Golden Warriors. She was an SVM all-area first-team selection as a junior after earning co-NIB-12 West MVP with teammate Lexy Staples and being tabbed to the second team of the Class 3A Illinois Coaches Association all-state team.

Illinois-Springfield coach Shannon Guthrie was aware that Stroup had started her junior and senior seasons as the Golden Warriors’ shortstop, but also considered her at second base and in the outfield. An injury to UIS’ starting shortstop right before the 2017 season gave the former Sterling star a chance to start right away, and she hasn’t relinquished the job since.

“When we recruited Erin, we could see the potential she had as a shortstop and offensively,” Guthrie said. “She had a really great career at Sterling. We knew she was going to bring a lot of talent. We wanted to have her bat in the lineup, but we weren’t sure which position she would play.”

This article appeared in the Sauk Valley News on August 1, 2018.

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