Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Women's Golf: UIS women’s golf earns NCAA Division II regional berth

For a fourth straight season, the University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team has qualified for the NCAA Division II regionals.

The Prairie Stars are seeded eighth in the 12-team East Regional, which will be played May 6-8 in Owensboro, Kentucky at The Pearl Club.

The top-four teams, as well as the top-four individuals not on qualifying teams, will advance to the NCAA D-II National Championships May 14-18.

UIS placed third over the weekend in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships at Panther Creek Country Club. In the previous three regional appearances, the Prairie Stars have finished fifth, sixth and 11th.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 29, 2019.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Women's Softball: UIS softball clinches fifth seed in GLVC tourney

The University of Illinois Springfield softball team wrapped up its regular season with a Great Lakes Valley Conference sweep over William Jewell College on Sunday, defeating the Cardinals.

UIS scored two runs out of the gate in Game 1 while Jaycee Craver and Addison Bryant shut down host William Jewell the rest of the way.

Craver earned the win, going four winnings and allowing five hits. Bryant gave up three hits and one run in three innings. Morgan Edwards homered for the Stars and had two RBIs.

UIS will commence the GLVC tournament at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria this Thursday at 10 a.m. against No. 4 Maryville.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 28, 2019.

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Men's Baseball: UIS baseball picks up 13th straight win to keep pace in GLVC race

University of Illinois Springfield starting pitcher Justin Revels had never been ejected in his career. 

That is until Senior Day of all games.

It will make a fun story to tell for days to come after Revels and the Stars overcame a series of contentious calls in their 3-2 Great Lakes Valley Conference victory over University of Indianapolis on a brisk Sunday afternoon at UIS Baseball Field.

“That’s definitely something I won’t ever forget,” Revels said of the regular season home finale. “Good thing it happened later in the game in the seventh inning. I knew my team was going to have my back. “I pitch with a lot of emotion as you can see and out of all of the things I’ve done on the mound, I’ve actually never been tossed. It’s kind of crazy. It’s a first for everything.”

Revels, who was a National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association NCAA Division II pre-season All-American, fanned eight and gave up just one run and five hits.

"He’s as competitive of a player as I’ve ever coached and you saw that today,” UIS coach Chris Ramirez said of Revels. “He’s out there fighting every pitch, competing. The emotions probably got the best of him at the end and he got ejected, which was unfortunate. But then we went to Nick Alvarado at the end for a two-inning save. “That’s a big win against a good team and we’re getting to the end of the season. It felt like a playoff game and we’re starting to get that environment and it’s starting to feel like postseason, so it makes it fun.”

The Stars earned their first NCAA Division II tournament appearance after putting together a 29-game winning streak towards the end of the regular season in 2018.

“The Stars are definitely hot right now,” said Revels, who has a 2.88 ERA. “I think as a whole, we’re coming together really well. No one’s getting down on someone else doing bad. Everyone’s picking each other up and we’re making plays in the field and we’re hitting and scoring a lot of runs.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 28, 2019.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UIS students clean up litter at Springfield Lake Marina

You might think the ocean is littered with garbage, but small waterways are too.

Environmental students from the University of Illinois Springfield picked up litter from the Springfield Lake Marina Tuesday.

Not only are they cleaning garbage from the lake, but researching just how much Illinois water is polluted.

"We've moved past the element of surprise and now we're just trying to see what steps we can do to encourage the community to clean up litter and prevent it from getting here in the first place," Ann-Marie Hanson, an environmental studies professor, said.

The students will now sort all the garbage they find, count it and weigh it.

This story aired on Fox 55 News on April 23, 2019.

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Men's Baseball: UIS wins 10th straight with doubleheader sweep over UMSL

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team extended its winning streak to a season-best 10 games on Tuesday.

The Prairie Stars swept a doubleheader at the UIS Baseball Field over Missouri-St. Louis by scores of 12-0 and 4-3.

One of the nation’s leaders in runs score, John Sechen, set the tone early in both games.

In the opener, he hit a leadoff homer in the first which sparked the team to grabbing a dominant 11-0 lead after three innings. In the second game, he scored twice in the first two innings as UIS took an early 4-1 lead.

That proved to be just enough as the Prairie Stars held off a late Missouri-St. Louis rally.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 23, 2019.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Men's Golf: Daniel Miller leads UIS men’s golf team to 6th place at GLVC Championships

University of Illinois Springfield’s Daniel Miller manufactured five birdies Monday to wrap up the Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Championship at Panther Creek Country Club in a tie for 17th place at 6-over par.

He finished the final round 2-under 70 after going 1-over 73 and 7-over 79 in the first two rounds. 

Miller’s 6-over total paced the UIS men’s golf team, which shot a 298 in the last round to take sixth place.

The Prairie Stars, however, missed the final spot to reach the four-team semifinals Tuesday.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 22, 2019.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Susan Koch: A pathway to opportunity for this year’s graduates

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 April 20, 2019.

Today’s UIS Perspectives column appears with finals week fast approaching, students completing end-of-semester assignments and, by last count, 1,273 students eligible to participate in the 48th University of Illinois Springfield commencement ceremonies in a few weeks. 

This will be my eighth UIS commencement and, like every faculty and staff member, I’m proud of our graduates — each of whom has worked with great determination to earn their University of Illinois degree. 

There is no greater satisfaction for me, as Chancellor, than meeting students the fall of their first semester, observing the transformative experience that UIS provides and ultimately sharing with them that special “handshake moment” on the commencement stage. 

This year, Tiffany Wentworth and I will share one of those moments — with her entire family, including her beloved grandmother, proudly witnessing her achievement. A soon-to-be graduate of the Capital Scholars Honors Program and a member of the Prairie Stars volleyball team, Wentworth has had a memorable four years at UIS. 

“When I visited campus, Coach Salinas told me I could be an impact player,” says Wentworth. “Now, a few years later, my teammates have become my family away from home and winning the conference championship this year was the ‘cherry on top’ for me.” 

Wentworth is graduating with honors as one of the first students to complete the new Exercise Science major. She has been accepted to the prestigious University of Kansas Physical Therapy and Rehabilitative Science program where she will pursue her doctorate in Physical Therapy. 

Eric Myers has followed a less traditional path. After earning bachelors and masters degrees in business and working in the health care sector, Myers realized he really wanted to be a teacher.

“I did some research, and the UIS teacher certification program appealed to me,” says Myers, “in part, because it offers an online option that would enable me to continue working and remain close to my family.” Myers is completing his student teaching this spring at Richwoods High School in Peoria and has already accepted a teaching position for next fall at Morton High School in Morton.

“I’m so excited about this new direction,” says Myers. “I learned to ‘think outside the box’ from UIS professors like Jennifer Martin, and my new employer is looking for exactly that.” 

Eight 2019 Commencement participants will be graduating with the doctorate in Public Administration. One of them is Sophia Gehlhausen-Anderson

“My mom has always been a huge inspiration to me,” says Gehlhausen-Anderson. “She is from Finland and she always loved to study — earning four masters degrees.” “Balancing work with family and my studies has been the biggest challenge,” Gehlhausen-Anderson continues. “I really appreciated the cohort model in the doctoral program. Members of my class got to know each other well and, with guidance from wonderful faculty, we all learned from everybody. I learned so much.”

The vision statement for the University of Illinois Springfield declares UIS will provide a “pathway to opportunity.” I’m confident we have fulfilled that promise for Wentworth, Myers, Podipireddy, Gehlhausen-Anderson and all the others who will participate in the 2019 commencement ceremonies.   

Read the entire article online.

UIS graduate students raise funds to help veterans

Graduate students at the University of Illinois Springfield are fulfilling their semester assignment of engaging with the community in part by organizing a fundraising campaign to help veterans.

Students in the Social Justice and Advocacy class in the Human Development Counseling graduate program at UIS were given an assignment this semester to engage in the community.

One group of students in the class is raising money to donate to Joe Blankenship of Springfield, who is a certified dog trainer who trains service dogs for veterans for free.

 “Students within the class, I leave it very open for them, for the most part, to identify an issue that they’re interested in and to create and carry through an advocacy project,” said Holly Thompson, associate professor of human development counseling, who specializes in and co-coordinates the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Area.

“One group of students in my class this semester have identified, of course, the issue of serving veterans, especially with support and service animals as their topic of interest. In the organizing of this, they’ve done a wonderful job.”

The student group raising money for Blankenship had planned a Counselors with Tails 5k fun color run for Saturday, May 4, but had to cancel the event due to lack of registrants.

As of Friday morning, seven tickets were sold for the 5K, said Megan Finch, a member of the student group organizing the event. “We just haven’t had enough ticket sales in order to continue. We were trying to get 150, and we weren’t able to reach that goal,” said Finch, 29, who is in her last year of graduate studies and is currently interning with Helping Hands of Springfield, which serves the homeless.

“We’re already raising some funds on Facebook, and we’re accepting donations from people who have expressed interest in what we’re doing, so we’re still going to be making a donation to him. It just won’t be through the fundraising event. It’ll just be whatever we can raise on our own for him.”

The deadline for donating to benefit Blankenship is Saturday, May 4.

This story was published in The State Journal-Register on April 19, 2019.

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UIS hosts annual STARS symposium

The University of Illinois Springfield hosted its annual STARS symposium to celebrate the scholarly and creative works of its students.

This is the eighth year that the symposium has taken place.

The event featured the works of over 75 graduate and undergraduate students from all academic disciplines.

Displays ranged from results from students' year-long research, artwork by visual art students and even live music from student musicians.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 19, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Women's Softball: Craver sets UIS career strikeout record

Jaycee Craver made more UIS history on Friday afternoon, as she became the University of Illinois Springfield softball program’s strikeout queen.

Craver threw a shutout in the second game of the doubleheader, helping the Prairie Stars split with Lewis.

Craver tied the career strikeout record in the first inning, and then recorded her 360th career strikeout to end the second. She passed former teammate Ali Haesele who broke the record last season.

Craver would add three more strikeouts in her start. She pitched five innings in the 8-0 run-shortened game, and allowed two hits, one walk, and one hit-by-pitch.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 19, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball wins in extra innings

Chris Monroe singled in John Sechen with the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning and the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team added two more runs to record a 9-6 baseball win on Wednesday over Missouri-St. Louis.

Sechen started the 11th with a walk and reached second on a passed ball. He went to third on a sacrifice bunt before Monroe drove him home. Sechen scored two runs and Zach Speaker went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Brandon Bannon had a solo home run for UIS, which improved to 25-11-1.

The Prairie Stars led 6-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Missouri St. Louis tied the game to send it to extra innings. Brayden Jensen pitched two innings for the win and Trent Sidwell closed out the 11th to earn the save.

UIS used nine pitchers and posted 16 strikeouts.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 17, 2019.

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STARS Symposium: Alchemist Review launch

The University of Illinois Springfield presents the 8th annual Student Technology, Arts and Research Symposium (STARS).

UIS undergraduate and graduate students will showcase their research and creative activities through short talks, poster presentations, art exhibitions, and musical and theatrical performances throughout the three-day event to be held at the UIS campus.

The symposium gives the community a chance to learn about the variety of work being done by students and gives businesses the opportunity to network with potential new talent.

STARS will host the launch of The Alchemist Review. The Alchemist Review is a journal of literary fiction, poetry and visual arts dedicated to publishing dynamic works by emerging writers and artists in the university community. It provides a forum for collaboration and exploration within the ever-evolving world of literary publishing, and is edited by undergraduate and graduate students at the university.

This story appeared in the Illinois Times on April 18, 2019.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

University of Illinois Springfield tabs Matt Brock as men's basketball coach

After building Missouri Baptist into a force to be reckoned with in the NAIA the past four seasons, Matt Brock will try to do the same at the NCAA Division II level.

Brock was announced as the University of Illinois Springfield's men's basketball coach Monday afternoon.

He accrued an 87-40 record over four years at Missouri Baptist starting in 2015 and finished this past season 28-5 while winning the American Midwest Conference regular season title and reaching the NAIA tournament for the first time in 14 years.

The Spartans also set school records for wins and achieved the highest national ranking in program history, getting as high as No. 3 in the country.

"When I talked to people about the job opening at UIS, Matt Brock was the one name that kept coming up," UIS athletic director Jim Sarra said in a press release. "In order to win a championship in the GLVC, you have to have one of the top defenses in the league, and Matt has a proven track record in building great defenses. He has also built his program with players with high academic achievements and good character in the community. I am excited to welcome Matt and his family to the Prairie Stars family."

This story appeared in The Pantagraph on April 15, 2019.

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UIS Announces 2019-2020 Broadway Series; THE COLOR PURPLE, WAITRESS, and More

The University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center announces their 2019-2020 Madden Broadway Series.

This series features 5 national touring productions that are new to the Sangamon Auditorium stage. 

Long-time Broadway series subscriber Mrs. Peggy Madden of Decatur, Illinois, is this year's title sponsor. "It is a pleasure to support Broadway programming in our region," said Mrs. Madden, adding, "I am especially thrilled that UIS continues to look for ways to keep ticket prices affordable, including adding a $24 ticket option this year, considering how expensive these same shows are in New York these days."

UIS Performing Arts Center Director Bryan Rives pointed out that the lower ticket price option was made possible due to the financial generosity of Mrs. Madden.

She is truly a great supporter of ours. Our overall costs continue to rise, but her personal support is the reason we are able to offer these lower ticket price options. A five-show subscription option for only $70 total is unheard of elsewhere. But Peggy made it all possible."

Beautiful - The Carol King Musical - Friday, October 18, 2019, 7:30 PM
Waitress - Friday, February 14, 2020, 8:00 PM
The Choir of Man - Wednesday, March 4, 2020, 7:30 PM
The Color Purple - Friday, April 10, 2020, 8:00 PM
The Play That Goes Wrong - Thursday, May 7, 2020, 7:30 PM

This story appeared on www.broadway.com on April 15, 2019.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Men's Baseball: Trio leads UIS past Bearcats

John Sechen, Chris Monroe and Brandon Bannon combined to drive in seven runs to carry the University of Illinois Springfield past McKendree 10-0 in a matchup of in-state Great Lakes Valley Conference rivals.

Sechen and Monroe each homered for the Prairie Stars.

UIS scored four runs in the third inning and capped off the game with six runs in the seventh and final inning.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 12, 2019.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Roscoe student to present at national conference

University of Illinois Springfield student Madelyn Minnick of Roscoe will present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research on April 11-13 at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Minnick is one of five U of I Springfield students to present at the conference.

Students submitted abstracts and were selected in a competitive process by the UIS Undergraduate Research Steering Committee.

The students represent multiple programs and colleges.

Approximately 4,000 students from around the country will present their research and creative activities.

This story appeared in The Rockford Register Star on April 9, 2019.

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Men's Baseball: UIS bats around twice, down Lewis

The University of Illinois Springfield sent 22 batters to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings against Lewis University on Tuesday, and the Prairie Stars converted 12 runs in the two innings to defeat Lewis 17-3 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at UIS.

Brandon Bannon shined above the five UIS batters with multiple hits, going 3-for-3 with six runs batted in and three runs scored. Bannon smacked a two-run home run in the fourth inning. He drove in three with a double in the fifth, and walked with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Alec Altmyer got the win. He pitched five innings, allowing three hits and one earned run and striking out four.

UIS is 21-11-1, including 12-9 in the GLVC.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 10, 2019.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

UIS education department gets donation from Horace Mann

Horace Mann, a Springfield-based insurance and financial services company for educators, has given $2,500 to the University of Illinois Springfield’s teacher education department to pay for a dual credit course for Sangamon and Menard County high school seniors.

The goal of this dual credit course is to encourage more students to become teachers in the wake of the state-wide teacher shortage, according to a press release.

The dual credit course, called “Foundations of American Education,” started in fall semester 2018 with 18 students from eight area high schools.

“School officials and administrators tell us that finding teachers is becoming more difficult,” Marita Zuraitis, Horace Mann president and CEO, said in a statement. “We hope this program will encourage more high school students to explore the educator profession and give them a jump start on their college degree.”

A report by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that the teacher shortage is especially an issue in central and southern Illinois.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 8, 2019.

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Women's Golf: Espinosa, Queller lead UIS to first place

Maria Espinosa garnered first place to lead the University of Illinois Springfield women’s golf team to the Triton Invitational title Monday at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis.

Espinosa grabbed the lead Sunday with a round of 73 and beat out fellow teammate Jennifer Queller by just two strokes with another 73 to total 146 in the tournament.

Queller, who was runner-up, shot a 78 Sunday and surged toward the top with a 70 on the second day for a total of 148.

UIS finished with 616, four strokes ahead of second place Lindenwood University.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 8, 2019.

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

University of Illinois Day celebrated in the Capitol

Wednesday was the 10th annual University of Illinois Day at the Illinois State Capitol.

All three universities came together to advocate for funding for U of I.

They are pushing to enhance many programs in the university system that school officials said could boost the economy.

"For students to stay in Illinois and go to Illinois universities - not just the University of Illinois, but others," Chairman of U of I Advocacy Committee Randy Witter said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on April 3, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

UIS Women's Center hosts Women's Leadership Reception

In honor of Women's History Month, the University of Illinois Springfield's Women's Center hosted its culminating keynote event, the Women's Leadership Reception.

The reception included a panel discussion, featuring five Springfield women who have achieved great success.

It was held exclusively for UIS students as an opportunity to provide words of wisdom about what it means to be a female leader in 2019.

"There are still many barriers that women face in leadership. We tried to bring people from a diversity of backgrounds to come because those barriers might be different, depending on what field you're in but oftentimes they're very much the same," Program Director Rexanne Whorton said.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on March 26, 2019.

Watch the story online.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Jim Sarra sets sights high for UIS athletics

Closing in on completing his third academic year, University of Illinois Springfield Director of Athletics Jim Sarra is pleased with how far the school’s athletic program has come, but he still says there is much more ahead.

Sarra, who was hired in August 2016, doesn’t just want to raise the Prairie Stars’ athletic profile, he wants it to become a gold standard. And not just for central Illinois or the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

“Our vision is to be the premier Division II public athletics department in the Midwest,” Sarra said Tuesday in an interview about the current coaching vacancies in the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

Sarra wants to see more local products given the opportunity to play at UIS. The softball and men’s basketball team are peppered with players from The State Journal-Register’s coverage area. The baseball, volleyball and men and women’s soccer teams have a combined nine from the area. None exist on the women’s basketball roster. Sarra said the next two basketball hires will have to have an “inside-out” recruiting approach, which means start in Springfield and work out from there.

When Chatham Glenwood High School graduates Cole Harper and Peyton Allen suited up for the men’s basketball home opener this year, Sarra saw plenty of fans on hand — even if they were fans of the Titans.

“I think it’s important to recruit locally when we can. It also engages the community and we saw it this year, especially on the men’s side,” Sarra said. “I chuckle . . . there was more black and red and white in the crowd (for Glenwood) than there was blue and gold (UIS) because of Cole and Peyton.” 

Getting the athletic department to match Sarra’s vision is likely closer now than when he began. 

“We’ve seen some success over the last couple of years — probably a lot faster than I anticipated — but that’s because a lot of these coaches bought into what we’re doing and we’re not using anything as an excuse anymore,” Sarra said.

“When we made the transition to Division II from NAIA, it was hard and tough and we’re slowly catching up — and at some point, we’re surpassing other institutions that have been Division II for a long time,” Sarra said.

“Personnel-wise, there are still some things we need but at the same time, we’re pretty well set,” Sarra said. “You always want to get bigger and better. Facilities is probably the one place we’re lacking a little bit but that’s OK because we’ve got a plan in place and we’re strategically planning to put things in place to help us excel.”

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on March 27, 2019.

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