Friday, January 31, 2020

Research from UIS raises concerns for underfunded pension systems

According to new research done by the University of Illinois Springfield's Institute for Illinois Public Finance, the state's public employee pension systems and downstate police and fire pension systems are not being adequately funded.

Distinguished Professor of Public Administration Kenneth Kriz said this is a big problem for the state. "Illinois is headed for a lot of pain, and a lot more pain than people even realize," Kriz said. "'There's not enough for them to be able to make payments they promised to workers as they retire." 

Kriz has been doing research on pensions for nearly 10 years and said the contribution levels are crucial, because there are only three levers policymakers can use to try to address pension funding shortfalls.

"You could in a lot of areas, either cut benefits or make workers contribute more for their benefits," Kriz said. "You can increase your contributions or you can get better returns out of your investments."

According to Kriz, the money for these pensions is mainly coming out of taxpayer dollars and ultimately, he said it comes down to the state raising taxes or cutting other services in order to be able to make the payments.

According to Kriz, the pension liability at the state level is estimated to be around $30 billion.

This story aired on WAND on January 30, 2020.

Watch the entire story online.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Women's Softball: UIS ranked No. 4 in GLVC preseason poll

UIS ranked No. 4 in GLVC preseason poll Coming off two straight NCAA Division II tournament berths, the University of Illinois Springfield is ranked No. 4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference preseason coaches poll.

The Prairie Stars had 170 total points and 16 first-place votes.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 29, 2020.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Men's Baseball: UIS baseball picked fifth in GLVC preseason coaches poll

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team was picked to finish fifth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s preseason coaches poll that was released on Tuesday.

UIS, which will be led by first-year coach Ryan Copeland, received 169 points in the poll.

The Prairie Stars finished one-game back of the GLVC title and appeared in the NCAA Division II super regionals last season. UIS won the league’s regular season championship in 2018.

The Prairie Stars have had the top offense in the GLVC the past three seasons and return all-conference position players in Chris Monroe, Brandon Bannon and Ruben Markham. Cameron Zunkel and Colton Hale, all-conference pitchers from 2018, also return to the team. Pitchers Jordan Mikel and Evan Snyder are Division I transfers expected to compete for innings.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 28, 2020.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Men's Basketball: Stars’ break slide against Lindenwood

University of Illinois Springfield senior guard Daniel Soetan sparked a 9-0 run with a 3-pointer past midway with under seven minutes remaining and the Stars snapped a five-game losing streak with a 95-88 Great Lakes Valley Conference victory over Lindenwood at The Recreation and Atheltic Center.

Soetan finished with a team high 22 points, shooting 10 for 13 from the floor, along with six rebounds and six assists.

Chase Robinson and Soetan helped UIS to a 53.3 field goal percentage in the first half.

Jesus Castillo followed up Soetan’s trey in the second half with another 3-pointer and Robinson converted the old-fashioned three-point play to put the Stars ahead by double digits.

Keymonta Johnson had 19 points and nine rebounds for UIS, going 6 of 6 from the free throw line.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 25, 2020.

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Women's Basketball: UIS women’s basketball breaks out of slump

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team pulled ahead 26-17 by halftime after a dominant second quarter and the Prairie Stars snapped a four-game skid with a 60-48 Great Lakes Valley Conference victory over Missouri-St. Louis on Thursday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

After falling behind 12-11 early in the second frame, Katelyn Rosner delivered the go-ahead jumper with 8 minutes 26 seconds remaining and teammate Tehya Fortune went on to score eight of the team’s next 13 points for a nine-point advantage at intermission. That included a 3-pointer at the buzzer, assisted by Jasmine Sangster. A pair of Lauren Ladowski free throws expanded the Stars’ lead to 34-19 with 6:41 left in the third quarter.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 23, 2020.

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UIS Prof Publishes Encyclopedia Of LGBTQ Politics

University of Illinois Springfield professor Jason Pierceson recently published an encyclopedia detailing LGBTQ politics. It includes profiles on candidates, officials and activists; a timeline of events; government documents; speeches; and court cases.

Pierceson, a political scientist, is the author or co-author of several books, including “Same-Sex Marriage in the Americas: Policy Innovation for Same-Sex Relationships,” “Courts, Liberalism and Rights: Gay Law and Politics in the United States and Canada,” “Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court” and “Sexual Minorities in Politics: An Introduction.

This story and interview aired on NPR on January 23, 2020.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Career Expo coming to UIS this February

People in central Illinois looking for a career have a great opportunity coming up in February.

The University of Illinois Springfield and Lincoln Land Community College will host the 2020 Career Connections Expo on February 6, 2020.

Whether you're a student, alumni or a community member, you're invited to attend the free event.

The Career Connections Expo will be held at the Recreation and Athletic Center on the UIS campus from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Representatives from more than 100 organizations will be attending the expo.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on January 22, 2020

Watch the entire story online.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

UIS students to pack 30,000 meals for Martin Luther King Jr. day

As we honor Martin Luther King Junior Day, on Jan 20th, the University of Illinois Springfield students packed up 30 thousand meals.

The meals will be donated to the Kumler Food Pantry, MERCY Communities, The Salvation Army, Helping Hands of Springfield, Inner City Mission, Grace Lutheran Food Pantry, Washington Street Mission, Asbury Children’s Supper Hour, St. Paul AME Church, District 186’s Feitschans Elementary School, and the UIS Stars Food Pantry.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on January 20, 2020.

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Friday, January 17, 2020

UIS, SIU make first joint remarks at DSI awards on downtown proposal

In a room filled with some of the city’s biggest movers and shakers Thursday evening, representatives from the University of Illinois Springfield and Southern Illinois University said they are still “planning” but hope to share their collective space needs and programming desires for a downtown university district soon.

“We are planning,” said John Charles, SIU’s executive director for governmental and public affairs, who spoke alongside Bruce Sommer, UIS’s director of economic development and innovation, at Downtown Springfield Inc.’s 27th annual awards dinner at the Wyndham Springfield City Centre.

“But, in the coming weeks, we look forward to solidifying a business plan and sharing with you our goals for this downtown innovation district.”

“When your industry, when your businesses grow, we all benefit,” Sommer told the several hundred in the room, which included several downtown business owners.

UIS re-established its downtown presence in August 2018 when it assumed control of Innovate Springfield, a social innovation and business incubator that now houses a hub in the Illinois Innovation Network. That University of Illinois system-led initiative is meant to foster economic growth through research and innovation by connecting hubs around the state to the flagship Discovery Partners Institute, a Chicago-based research institute.

Both institutions say that the project will have a greater impact if they work together along with the surrounding business community.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 16, 2020.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

UIS researcher studies government spending

A University of Illinois Springfield researcher studied state government spending from 2014 and found some promising signs if you are a concerned taxpayer.

The professor found that in 2014, the state was efficient in higher education funding.

The study took several outputs into account, including test scores out for education.

“We looked at multiple outputs,” said Arwi Kriz, UIS Institute for Illinois Public Finance research fellow. “So for higher education, we looked at four-year and two-year colleges, and then looked at enrollment and graduation rates and standardized test scores.”

Areas where the study found the state could improve in are secondary and primary education. The study found that Illinois ranks below average in those categories. However, this study focused on the year 2014, which is before the state revamped their school funding model.

The study found Illinois ranks among the best compared to other states in terms of higher education, infrastructure and housing. It is also in the top 20 when it comes to efficiency in welfare spending.

This story aired on WCIA Channel 3 on Jan. 15, 2020.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

UIS online bachelor's degree programs ranked among top 10%

The online bachelor's degree programs at the University of Illinois Springfield are receiving national attention.

U.S. News and World Report ranked the university's programs among the top 10% in the country. The programs ranked 33rd out of the 353 institutions. This is the second year the school's programs have ranked high on the list.

Right now, UIS offers 14 online bachelor's degree programs in the following areas: Business administration, Communication, Computer Science, English, Health Care, Informatics, History, Information Systems Security, Liberal Studies, Management Information Systems, Mathematical Sciences, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology and Teacher Education.

“UIS offers a unique perspective to online learning,” said Vickie Cook, executive director of UIS online, professional and engaged learning. “We believe that connecting students to exceptionally qualified faculty through strong instruction and online technologies is key to providing experiences that will serve students in their careers and in their lives. UIS faculty often share their experiences of working with great students who are developing the skills needed to be successful.”

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on Jan. 14, 2020.

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UIS receives $100,000 STEM grant

The University of Illinois Springfield will receive a five-year $100,000 National Science Foundation grant aimed at developing and implementing evidence-based programs that will support the academic success of underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

One of the goals of the grant is to increase the participation of minority students in research through the establishment of faculty-student mentoring teams. The end goal is to provide a variety of resources to ensure student academic success and to prepare the next generation of scientists.

Lucía Vázquez, associate dean of the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will serve as one of the principal investigators on the project.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 14, 2020.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Unreal Treadmill Sessions Push College Coach to Olympic Trials

Runners at the University of Illinois Springfield abide by two rules: Be a good person, and work harder than anyone else in the room.

Their coach, 26-year-old Tyler Pence, labors right alongside them, picking up trash during community service projects and logging up to 120-mile weeks in preparation for February’s Olympic Marathon Trials.

After a successful collegiate career, Pence wasn’t sure he’d continue running competitively. But when he headed back to his hometown to coach at UIS four years ago, he found himself motivated and challenged by his athletes. “I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach,” he told Runner’s World. “Here I am telling them what it takes to be good, and I wasn’t doing it at the time.”

By December 2018, his efforts paid off. In his second attempt at the distance, he ran 2:15:36 at the California International Marathon, finishing in 17th place and earning a Trials spot. At the same time, he’s led the UIS Prairie Stars from a brand-new program into contention for conference titles. The men’s cross-country team was the runner-up at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships in October, and the women placed sixth. And two of his runners, Taryn Christy and Blake Jones, qualified for this year’s NCAA Division II Cross-Country Championships.

“When you’re around hard workers, that’s contagious,” he said. “We hold each other accountable.”

His Trials training has also included a three-week stint at altitude in Colorado Springs over winter break, and he’ll line up at the Houston Half Marathon on January 19.

He doesn’t have a specific goal in Atlanta, and knows his first experience may come with a learning curve. As he tells his athletes, “You don't become great overnight.” Eventually, he hopes to mature into one of the fastest U.S. marathoners. He has big goals for his runners, too—for example, taking the full men’s and women’s cross-country teams to nationals next year—and he sees the two pursuits as entirely complementary.

His running has served as a valuable recruiting tool for the young coach, in addition to the personal fulfillment it brings. “I won’t be able to do this forever,” he said, of the dual roles. “But I don’t want to leave my life having questions of, ‘What if I would have tried?’”

This story appeared in Runners World on January 14, 2020.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

UI trustees set to look at 5-year-old freeze on in-state tuition

Tuition for in-state freshmen hasn’t changed in five years at the University of Illinois, and trustees will decide next week whether to continue that freeze. So far, administrators aren’t saying what they will propose. But they’ve noted recently that faculty hiring hasn’t kept up with enrollment gains, partly because the tuition freeze has limited income growth.

Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson declined to say whether the freeze will be extended for a sixth year. “We’re still in discussions with the board members,” she said.

Systemwide, income from undergraduate tuition has continued to grow in the five years since the freeze was imposed in fall 2015, from $750 million in 2014-15 to $830.1 million in 2018-19, after waivers were granted to veterans, children of employees and other students, according to UI data.

Separately, fees and housing rates have also continued to climb for all students. Undergraduates provide the bulk of tuition income, as most graduate students receive tuition waivers, and in-state students make up about three-quarters of all undergraduates.

The UI system plans to hire 500 new professors in over the next five years, on top of normal retirements and faculty departures.

UI officials are considering state funding levels, enrollment and financial aid resources as well as “what other institutions are doing,” she said. Trustees meet Wednesday in Chicago, where they will also consider fees and housing rates for 2020-21.

This story appeared in The News-Gazette on Jan. 10, 2020.

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Women's Basketball: Ladowski’s 18 plenty for Prairie Stars

Lauren Ladowski scored a game-best 18 points, made 6 of 9 field goals to lead the University of Illinois Springfield to a 71-46 Great Lakes Valley Conference win over William Jewell on Thursday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Ladowski was 6 for 8 at the free-throw line, grabbed three rebounds and finished with a 26 plus-minus in just 25 minutes played. Tehya Fortune netted 14 points and had two steals for UIS while teammate Makenna Fee tallied 11 off the bench.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 10, 2020.

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Men's Basketball: Efficient Johnson leads UIS to win

Keymonta Johnson shot 75 percent and finished with a game-high 23 points to lead the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team to a 92-63 win over William Jewell at The Recreation and Athletic Center on Thursday.

Johnson made 8 of 12 shots and was 5 for 6 at the free-throw line. Athens High School graduate Matt Wendling added 14 points for the Prairie Stars while Daniel Soetan added 12.

Lanphier graduate Aundrae Williams added eight points for UIS while Rochester’s Collin Stallworth had two.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 10, 2020.

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Monday, January 6, 2020

Men's Basketball: UIS men score big upset at No. 11 Indy

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team picked up its first Great Lakes Valley Conference victory thanks to its defense.

The Prairie Stars held Indianapolis to 36.8 percent shooting from the field and upset the No. 11-ranked Greyhounds 79-69 at Nicoson Hall on Saturday.

UIS shot 45 percent itself from the floor and 44 percent from beyond the arc, sinking 14 of 32 3-point attempts.

UIS had everything clicking early, jumping out by as many as 25 points midway through the first half. Daniel Soetan had 15 of his team-high 24 points in the first half. The longball fell early as well, going eight of 18 from 3-point range in the first half. Jesus Castillo went 6 for 10 from 3-point range, scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds off the bench. Soetan and Keymonta Johnson each had 10 rebounds.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 4, 2020.

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