Chapter 4: Scholarship
Excellence in scholarship is one of the major components of the UIS mission. As a university that values teaching and engagement in the world, UIS uses the Boyer model of scholarship as a framework for defining and assessing scholarly activities. This broad model of scholarship embraces the role of faculty as teacher-scholars and recognizes the importance of using scholarship to address problems and issues confronting society.
This chapter begins with a description of the scholarship portion of the UIS mission, followed by an overview of how that mission is being pursued. The second section addresses the relationship between scholarship and learning, focusing on the development of faculty as teacher-scholars, the engagement of students in scholarship, and the university’s support and recognition for scholarship. The next section discusses UIS’ scholarly contributions to society, the disciplines, and the community. The final section analyzes the strengths and challenges associated with the university’s pursuit of its scholarship mission.
This section presents the scholarship portion of the UIS mission and provides an overview of the university’s policies, activities, and future plans that support the pursuit of this mission.
The UIS mission affirms the university’s commitment to excellence in scholarship. The mission states:
UIS serves the pursuit of knowledge by encouraging and valuing excellence in scholarship. Scholarship at UIS is broadly defined. Faculty members are engaged in the scholarship of discovery, integration, application, and teaching. Excellence in teaching and meaningful service depends on a foundation of excellence in scholarship. (UIS Strategic Plan, p. 8)
The importance of scholarship is further emphasized in the university’s goals. Goal One of the strategic plan states that “UIS will achieve academic excellence through excellence in teaching and learning and excellence in scholarship” (UIS Strategic Plan, p. 23). The strategic plan states that:
UIS affirms its commitment to high standards of scholarly excellence based on varied forms of scholarship expressed in the Boyer model—an approach appropriate to a premier public liberal arts institution with strong professional programs that values teaching and engagement in the world. Consistent with [its] history, UIS will continue to support scholarship aimed at shaping and improving public policies and practices. Believing that active scholarship is essential to excellent teaching, UIS is committed to developing a faculty of teacher-scholars, students who collaborate with faculty on research and service projects, and staff who are engaged in advancing the professional practice in their fields. (UIS Strategic Plan, p. 25)
The UIS Faculty Personnel Policy stresses the importance of scholarship for faculty reappointment, promotion, and tenure. The Faculty Personnel Policy also describes the four types of scholarship under the Boyer model: discovery, integration, application, and the scholarship of teaching. UIS values teacher-scholars who are intellectually engaged in their substantive fields and in the pursuit of student learning.
Scholarly activities among UIS faculty are increasing. Using the same criteria over a three-year period as to what constitutes a scholarly publication or presentation, UIS faculty had 249 presentations and publications in 2005, which is a 19% increase over the number of presentations and publications in 2003. The number of faculty presentations and publications in 2005 is even more pronounced when compared to the 1996 level of 168. Some of this increase is due to a rise in the number of faculty, but much of it can be attributed to increased scholarly activity among faculty members. (More information on faculty presentations and publications is provided in the section of this chapter on The Connected Organization.)
A significant influx of new faculty will further strengthen UIS’ scholarly activities. During the past two years, the university has hired approximately 70 new faculty members to replace those who have left or retired and to address the needs of new or expanded programs. As of 2006-07, approximately one-third of the UIS faculty had been at UIS for less than two years. These new faculty bring a wealth of scholarly interests and productivity to the campus.
As indicated in the UIS Strategic Plan, UIS has a tradition of conducting scholarship that is “aimed at shaping and improving public policies and practices” (UIS Strategic Plan, p. 25). This tradition is exemplified through the research conducted by the Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL), as well as the scholarly contributions made by faculty in each of the four colleges. CSPL conducts applied research on a broad range of policy issues, including those issues related to the criminal justice system, the state legislature, public finance, the environment, and civic engagement. Faculty in the colleges have addressed diverse public affairs topics such as
- College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- Lyme disease dynamics in oak forests
- dealing with identity theft
- College of Education and Human Services
- creating inclusive and safe environments for gay and lesbian students and parents
- the importance of self-care in geriatric case management
- College of Business and Management
- bank insolvency issues
- the review of state legislation regarding the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act since E-sign
- College of Public Affairs and Administration
- the benefits of self-defense training for sexual assault survivors
- the new Gestational Surrogacy Act
UIS also provides opportunities for students to pursue scholarly activities in collaboration with or under the supervision of faculty. Such opportunities include undergraduate and graduate closure projects (e.g., senior seminar papers, master’s projects/theses, capstone course papers), applied research projects affiliated with units such as the Center for State Policy and Leadership or the Emiquon Field Station, and various other programs and activities that promote student scholarship. (For more information, see the section in this chapter on The Learning-Focused Organization.)
The UIS Strategic Plan provides a framework for the university’s pursuit of the scholarship mission. The strategic plan includes a series of action steps that address fostering student scholarship, supporting faculty scholarship, and addressing the physical and institutional infrastructure that is needed to facilitate scholarly activities. These action steps are discussed throughout this chapter. The university has already made significant progress in addressing these action steps. (See the Distinctive Organization section of this chapter for an overview of that progress.)
The strategic plan identifies interdisciplinary collaborative projects that will expand the university’s generation and dissemination of scholarship and help the university move closer to its vision. These projects include (1) the Emiquon Field Station, (2) the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service, (3) the Center for Geospatial Information Systems Applications, (4) the Experiential and Service-Learning Institute, and (5) the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. The university also will continue to support the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. These projects are discussed later in this chapter under the sections entitled The Learning-Focused Organization and The Connected Organization.
As UIS plans for the future, it is important for the university to use technological advancements to support faculty, staff, and student scholarship. For example, Brookens Library will continue to adapt its services to patrons for whom the Internet is the first stop in seeking information. Plans for the future include enhancing the Library’s web pages with transparent and intuitive navigation, RSS and CSS feeds, creating a digital repository, expanding the availability of audio books and podcasting materials, and increasing the presence of information about library resources and services in course management system pages. The Library has recently filled a library faculty position to work with the online programs to enhance library services for online students.
At UIS, scholarship and learning are interconnected. UIS values the importance of faculty who are teacher-scholars and students who are prepared for and engaged in scholarship. This is reflected in university policies, academic curricula, collaborative research projects and events, and the support and recognition that the university provides for faculty, staff, and student scholarship.
UIS is committed to developing a faculty of teacher-scholars (UIS Strategic Plan, p. 2). Teacher-scholars are able to integrate knowledge from their own scholarship, as well as the scholarship of others, into the student learning environment. This is beneficial in ensuring that program curriculums and course content are current and that students will be well prepared for productive careers. Faculty who are active in scholarship also serve as role models for lifelong learning.
Faculty Personnel Policy
The UIS Faculty Personnel Policy states that the four types of scholarship discussed in the Carnegie Foundation Report, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate by Ernest L. Boyer (what the UIS campus refers to as the Boyer model of scholarship), provide a suitable framework for evaluating scholarship at UIS. The UIS Faculty Personnel Policy (p. 17) describes the Carnegie categories as follows:
- Discovery has been the heart of the narrower definition of scholarship: original intellectual work such as basic research; or creative contributions such as artistic accomplishments. Discovery is important, but so are other forms of scholarship.
- Integration, which is often inter- or multi-disciplinary, gives meaning to isolated facts and puts them into a broader perspective making connections among and across disciplines and educating those who are not disciplinary specialists.
- Application is inquiry into the connection between theory and practice, and is commonly called applied research.
- Finally, the scholarship of teaching requires constant intellectual engagement in learning in the substantive areas of one’s teaching and in the processes and methods of teaching as a profession.
The importance of scholarship at UIS is also addressed in the new faculty orientation. Prior to new faculty orientation, the Provost’s office sends each new faculty member a copy of Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate as a means of acquainting new faculty with the Boyer model of scholarship. During the new faculty orientation or in a follow-up session, the Chair of the Campus Senate Personnel Committee makes a presentation to the new faculty on UIS faculty personnel policies, including the role of scholarship and the types of scholarship UIS values.
Scholarship is one of the criteria that are used in evaluating a faculty member who is applying for reappointment, promotion, or tenure. For reappointment, a faculty member “must document and demonstrate effective performance and accomplishment” according to the criteria for teaching, scholarship, and service as specified in the policies (Faculty Personnel Policy, p. 20). For a faculty member to achieve tenure and be promoted to Associate Professor, he or she “must demonstrate excellence in teaching” and “document and demonstrate a cumulative record of high quality in the combination of categories of scholarship and service as defined in Article 3; provided that his/her performance is, at a minimum, satisfactory in both categories” (Faculty Personnel Policy, p. 23). Promotion to Professor requires the faculty member to “demonstrate and document a clear record of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service” (Faculty Personnel Policy, p. 24).
Scholarly activities also are considered as part of the annual faculty review and merit process. Each faculty member prepares an annual report that documents his or her activities, including scholarship, for the past year. This report is used by the faculty in the program and college to review the faculty member’s performance and to make recommendations for merit and extra merit for exemplary performance.
The Campus Senate Personnel Committee periodically sponsors seminars to help faculty better understand the personnel evaluation policies and procedures. Related materials, such as PowerPoint slides and videos of the sessions, are made available on the Academic Affairs website.
Assessment, Faculty Survey Results
Given the emphasis on scholarship, it is important to assess the quality of the scholarship that is being produced by UIS faculty. The 2004 UIS faculty survey that was administered by the Campus Planning and Budget Committee asked respondents to rate the quality of scholarship in their department on a scale of 1 “very poor” to 5 “very good.” The mean rating was 3.77. (For comparison, the quality of teaching was rated 4.40, and the quality of service was rated 4.35.) Among the respondents, 57% perceived scholarship in their department as “good” or “very good,” while 13% perceived it as “poor” or “very poor.”
UIS Strategic Plan Action Steps
In recognition of the importance of pursuing excellence in scholarship, one of the action steps in the UIS Strategic Plan is to “create and maintain standards for scholarly excellence in each college/program” (Action Step 15). This action step will prompt discussions regarding the definition of scholarly excellence and will help faculty better understand expectations in terms of their scholarship.
The university engages students in scholarship through the academic curricula, as well as through other learning opportunities such as research assistants, internships, and programs and events that support and promote student scholarship.
Scholarship is integrated into the undergraduate curriculum. This integration shows in the baccalaureate goals and student learning outcomes and in the course work required for the majors, closure requirements, and discipline-based honors programs. The Capital Scholars Honors Program also integrates scholarship into its curriculum and activities.
In the adoption of the UIS Baccalaureate Goals and Student Learning Outcomes, Campus Senate Resolution 36-26, AY 2006-07, states:
By emphasizing scholarship skills in the service of the public good, UIS prepares students for lifelong learning and engaged citizenship. UIS prepares students to discover, integrate, apply, and communicate knowledge for the benefit of individuals, families, and communities.
The UIS Baccalaureate Goals and Student Learning Outcomes provide a list of student competencies, including the following related to scholarship:
- Exhibiting a knowledge of and ability to effectively locate, evaluate, interpret, and use information;
- Exhibiting a knowledge of and ability to use contemporary technologies;
- Identifying, interpreting, and analyzing quantitatively presented material and solving mathematical problems;
- Constructing intellectual projects independently and working effectively in collaboration with others;
- Expressing ideas, facts and arguments in a written format that depicts competency in the use of syntax, organization, and style appropriate to the audience (Campus Senate Resolution 36-26, AY 2006-07).
More than one-half of the undergraduate majors (in particular those in the natural, behavioral, or social sciences) require students to take at least one course in research or laboratory methods. In addition, about one-half of the undergraduate degree programs have a senior seminar or closure course, in which students usually are required to prepare a scholarly paper (see Undergraduate Closure Requirements).
Some majors offer additional opportunities for students to engage in scholarship. For example, students in the sociology-anthropology program have the opportunity to work on projects in archaeology, anthropology, and sociology both locally and abroad. Local options include a social science research methods course (SOA 411) in which students learn about conducting social research by choosing and designing a class project and conducting surveys and interviews with UIS students. Students also may conduct archaeological work in New Philadelphia, the earliest known town founded and registered in a state by an African American in the antebellum United States. In 2002 and 2004, undergraduate students joined a UIS professor for three and a half weeks in Blaubeuren, in southern Germany, to participate in a German-American research project on the Stone Age social and economic landscapes. In 2007, six undergraduate students and one graduate student received support to participate in a field course funded by the National Science Foundation to carry out test excavations on Neolithic sites near the modern city of Ulm, Germany.
During academic year 2006-07, the Undergraduate Council developed policies and procedures for the development of discipline-based undergraduate honors programs. The Biology Honors Program served as a model for the development of these policies. One of the central features of the honors programs is the preparation of a scholarly paper and the presentation of that paper in a public forum. In spring 2007, the Undergraduate Council approved new honors programs for the clinical laboratory sciences and chemistry programs. The university anticipates the development of additional honors programs in the future.
The Capital Scholars Honors Program (CAP Honors) sponsors research symposiums. In spring 2007, CAP Honors developed a freshman research symposium with the theme, “Thinking Outside the Bombshelter: Cold War Fear in American Culture” to showcase interdisciplinary research done in two CAP courses. The symposium offered students the opportunity to participate early in their academic career in a conference-like event and to present research to an academic audience. Senior honors students are required to turn in a paper and participate in a Capital Scholars Senior Symposium. Each student makes a 10-12 minute presentation based on a project or substantive research paper done in the last year. This can include a paper prepared for a course or in conjunction with the student’s experiential learning or service-learning project or a creative project in the arts or humanities.
In recognition of the importance of undergraduate scholarly activities, UIS is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). CUR is a national nonprofit professional organization whose purpose is to promote undergraduate research at colleges and universities across the country. CUR produces a quarterly magazine, sponsors an annual conference, conducts training, and does advocacy work.
Most of the graduate programs at UIS include a research course as part of the required coursework for the degree. In addition, UIS requires all graduate programs to have some type of closure activity. At the master’s level, the closure activity must include one or more of the following options: a master’s project, a master’s thesis, a comprehensive exam, or a capstone course with a paper requirement. Five programs require a particular type of closure activity, while the other master’s programs offer students a choice from among two or more types. Twelve programs require/allow a thesis, 14 require/allow a master’s project, five require/allow a comprehensive exam, and six require/allow a capstone course with a paper requirement (see Graduate Closure Requirements). In the Doctorate of Public Administration (DPA) program, the closure requirement is the preparation and defense of a dissertation.
The dissertations and master’s projects, theses, and capstone papers allow graduate students the opportunity to conduct in-depth research or analysis, to apply theory to practice, and to integrate material from their courses. For example, one of the environmental studies graduate students conducted an experiment in which she compared short- and long-term radon level measurements in central Illinois homes as the basis for her master’s thesis. UIS masters’ theses and projects are available through Brookens Library Archives and UIS dissertations are available through ProQuest digital dissertations.
Graduate Research Assistantships
Graduate students who are interested in obtaining additional research experience can apply for a graduate research assistant position. These positions provide tuition reimbursement and the waiver of select fees, as well as the opportunity for a student to work with one or more faculty or staff members on a scholarly project. Most of the research assistants are assigned to the Center for State Policy and Leadership and work on applied research projects related to public affairs, such as an analysis of the impacts of police overtime for methamphetamine cases and the evaluation of a new method for approving low-income children for the free school lunch program. Some research assistants are assigned to work with a particular faculty member or staff member on a special project. For example, a political studies student provided research assistance for a staff member who is writing a biography on a renowned Illinois politician, and a public administration student provided research assistance for a faculty member who was writing a book on Latino politics in Illinois.
Some UIS students conduct scholarly work in conjunction with their internships. The position descriptions for over 20 of the internships offered through the Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI) include some aspect of research. These internships include activities such as compiling and analyzing data from the HIV/AIDS surveillance program at the Illinois Department of Public Health, researching and writing reports on topics such as clean coal technologies and environmental regulations at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, assisting in the measurement of and writing reports concerning radon at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and reviewing laboratory reports on samples submitted by public water supplies at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Several internships with nonprofit organizations also involve opportunities for students to engage in scholarly work. For example, the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois has UIS interns work on research projects related to taxes and other state finance issues. The American Lung Association of Illinois, through GPSI, has an intern who prepares materials to explain and interpret specific environmental programs, such as those addressing radon, flexible fuels, and air quality.
Presentation and Publication of Student Scholarship
UIS faculty members encourage students who have produced exemplary scholarly work to make presentations at regional or national conferences. UIS Doctorate of Public Administration students have presented their research papers at conferences such as the American Society for Public Administration conference, Public Administration Teaching conference, and the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management conference. UIS graduate and undergraduate students have made presentations at conferences including the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting, Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Midwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, National Conference on Undergraduate Research, National Collegiate Honors Council, the Midwest Psychological Association-Psi Chi Division, Illinois Philological Association, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the American Public Health Association, and the National Environmental Health Association.
Some UIS students have co-authored articles or book chapters with faculty. Examples include undergraduate students in chemistry who co-authored an article in the Journal of Chemistry Education, a graduate student in communications who co-authored a book chapter on treating substance-addicted juveniles, and a group of Doctorate of Public Administration students who co-authored an article in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.
Showcasing Student Scholarship
UIS sponsors annual events providing students the opportunity to showcase their scholarly work. These events include the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award Ceremony, the Science Research Symposium, and the Verbal Arts Festival. These events allow students the opportunity to present their work in a public setting and to discuss their work with members of the campus and the broader community.
UIS theatre productions, music events, forensic debates, and visual arts exhibits also provide opportunities for students to engage in scholarly activities and showcase their work.
Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award
In academic year 2001-02, UIS began an annual Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award to honor outstanding UIS master’s theses. Each year, the UIS graduate programs are asked to nominate exemplary master’s theses/projects for review by the UIS Research Board. The university holds a reception in the spring to honor the winner and nominees. The winner makes a presentation about his or her research and posters are displayed that provide highlights of each of the nominated theses/projects. The nominees are encouraged to stand by their respective posters and respond to questions and comments by the attendees. In 2005-06, an external donor provided funding to sustain the program and the official name of the award was changed to the Chapin Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award.
The winner of UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in 2003-04 received a 2005 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award. The student’s thesis, “Uptake Analysis of Fluorescently-Labeled Hydrophobic Organic Phosphate Substrates by Aquatic Hydrophobic Bacteria,” was one of three winners chosen from among 56 nominations.
Verbal Arts Festival
UIS celebrates the joys of language and literature through an annual Verbal Arts Festival that is held in the spring. The festival includes a series of English-related events, including guest speakers from the UIS faculty and mainstream literary circles and an evening of selected readings from the UIS literary journal, The Alchemist Review. The preparation of this journal represents a 30-year literary tradition at UIS and includes creative writing projects selected from work prepared and submitted by UIS students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Students are in charge of reviewing the manuscripts, editing them, creating the layout, and overseeing the production of the publication. To prepare students for further publishing success, the guidelines for The Alchemist Review reflect those of other peer-reviewed journals. Other Verbal Arts Festival events have included plays written and produced by students, poetry readings, and literary and critical presentations.
Science Research Symposium
The UIS Science Research Symposium was established in 2001 to foster the spirit of inquiry, an instrumental component of a liberal arts education. The overall mission of this annual event is to expand the educational options in the arena of science by encouraging students to engage in applied research. The symposium aims to encourage scientific dialogue among the colleges and participants and to provide a forum for scientific dialogue between the faculty and students of UIS and other central Illinois colleges. Faculty and students from the following UIS departments have presented at the symposium: astronomy/physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, library and educational technology, mathematics, management information systems, psychology, and sociology/anthropology.
The symposium follows the traditional science conference format that includes oral and poster presentations. While about 10 oral presentations are made each year, the number of posters has increased from five to 15 in the past few years. During the same time, the attendance at the symposium has grown from about 40 to about 200.
Although open to both students and faculty, the Science Research Symposium has been from its inception a student-centered event. The symposium provides students with an opportunity to hone their presentation skills in a setting less stressful than a national scientific conference. In addition, students not only participate in event planning but also act as moderators and judges along with the faculty. Finally, the symposium gives students a chance to collaborate with faculty from their own and other UIS departments. They are prizes awarded for best poster session and best project.
Emiquon Field Station
UIS students have the opportunity to experience applied research at the Emiquon Field Station. In conjunction with the Nature Conservancy (a nonprofit organization), UIS has established this field station to study the transformation of a 7,400-acre farmland area to its natural state, a large river floodplain. This station, which is about 45 miles from Springfield on the Illinois River, supports the research of UIS students and faculty and allows UIS to work with the staff of the Conservancy and other collaborating scientists. (See later section in this chapter on the Emiquon Field Station.)
Online Student Research Symposium
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is planning an online student research symposium to be held in spring 2008. The symposium will include research presentations from online students presented in a scholarly online setting and will result in an online journal of student research. The symposium, which is being supported by a Strategic Academic Initiatives Grant from the Provost’s office, will include all of the undergraduate online programs in the college. The goals for the symposium are to strengthen the academic experience of online students, to build mentoring relationships between faculty and online students, and to strengthen the reputation of UIS as a leader in online teaching and learning.
Assessment, NSSE Results
Given UIS’ emphasis on student scholarship, it is important to assess the extent to which students are learning scholarly knowledge and skills. One means of assessing this is to examine questions that address aspects of scholarship from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) (see NSSE Data Summary). The NSSE results suggest that UIS undergraduate students are participating in scholarly activities at levels that are higher or comparable to students in other master’s institutions. (See Table 4-1) The only questions in which UIS responses were significantly lower than responses for other master’s institutions was “Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in” for freshmen in 2002 (although UIS responses were higher than other master’s institutions in the following two years) and “Work on a research project with a faculty member outside of course or program requirements” for senior students in 2002-2006.
UIS Strategic Plan Action Steps
The UIS Strategic Plan includes action steps designed to help facilitate increased scholarship among UIS students, including student and faculty collaborations on research projects. These action steps include:
- Create opportunities for collaborations in research and creative activities (Action Step 7)
- Revive and update intersession concept as an opportunity for faculty collaboration as well as student learning. (The “intersession concept” is discussed in Chapter 5 in the section on The Learning-Focused Organization.)
- Develop a mechanism for matching student and faculty research interests.
- Foster the scholarly activities of students (Action Step 9)
- Encourage and support student attendance at regional academic and professional conferences.
- Provide formal recognition and incentives for faculty who sponsor or supervise student scholarship.
- Find ways to support faculty/student interaction outside the classroom.
- Recognize faculty’s student project supervision efforts.
- Further develop student research symposia, building on the success of the UIS Science Symposium.
UIS supports and recognizes scholarship through (1) distinguished professorships, (2) the Distinguished Visitors Program, (3) scholarship awards and recognition programs, (4 scholarship workshops and brown-bag seminars, (5) financial support and time releases for faculty to pursue scholarship, (6) institutional units that support scholarship, and (7) as previously described, faculty personnel policies that include scholarship considerations in tenure and promotion decisions.
UIS established its first distinguished chair in 2001 and, since that time, has created an additional four distinguished professorships. Current distinguished professorships include (1) the Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, (2) the National City Distinguished Professorship in Banking and Finance, (3) the Hanson Professional Services Faculty Scholar, (4) the Ameren Professorship in Business and Government, and (5) the newly endowed Wepner Distinguished Professorship in Political Science.
UIS expects to fill the Wepner Distinguished Professorship with someone who has a superior record in teaching and scholarship, as well as expertise and scholarly accomplishments relating to the place of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois and American political development. The Wepner Distinguished Professor will have a joint appointment in history and will be expected to help UIS develop and maintain strong relationships with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and presidential studies.
Distinguished Visitor Program
In 2006-07, the UIS Chancellor established the Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitor Program. Under this program, distinguished scholars, artists, and public figures will be invited to campus for a period from several days to a week to engage with faculty and students. Activities and events may include guest lectures or performances, seminars, symposia, work on specific scholarly or creative projects, and informal discussions. In some cases, the distinguished visitor may deliver lectures or presentations that are open to the community. The first person to visit UIS under the Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitor Program will be a professor of history and gender and women’s studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Scholarship Recognition and Awards
Each year the university sponsors the Faculty Scholarly Recognition Luncheon. The Chancellor and Provost speak at the luncheon about the scholarly achievements of the faculty and a booklet is distributed listing the publications and presentations made by each faculty member during the prior year. The University Scholars Award also is presented at the luncheon, followed by a discussion by the winner about his or her scholarship. The University of Illinois University Scholars Program presents this award on an annual basis to a UIS faculty member who demonstrates scholarly excellence in both teaching and scholarship. The recipient of this award receives $10,000 annually for a period of three years.
UIS also recognizes scholarship through the Faculty Excellence Award, which recognizes sustained long-term career accomplishments at UIS in teaching and scholarship. This award ($4,000) provides the opportunity to recognize a faculty member who exemplifies a teacher-scholar and who serves as a role model for other faculty.
UIS recognizes scholarly contributions in various other ways. For example, the Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL) publishes an annual report that features its scholarly projects and recognizes the contributions of CSPL faculty, staff, and students. As previously stated, each year the university also recognizes outstanding master’s theses.
Scholarship Workshop and Brown-Bag Seminars
Various units on campus sponsor presentations or workshops on issues related to scholarship. For example, in 2007 the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences sponsored a workshop entitled “Scholarship: Making the Case.” This workshop included a faculty panel discussion on various types of scholarship and techniques for documenting scholarship in tenure or promotion applications. In 2007, the Provost’s office sponsored two brown-bag discussions on “The Fountain of Funding: Strategies for Securing Financial Support for Your Project” and another discussion on “Promoting Ethical Student Research.” In past years, the UIS Research Board and the Center for State Policy and Leadership have presented workshops on obtaining grants and writing for publication.
The university also offers opportunities for faculty to present and share their scholarship with their colleagues. For example, the College of Public Affairs and Administration has recently initiated a brown-bag series in which faculty present their scholarship.
Faculty support includes the following:
- Each faculty member receives an annual specified amount of funds for professional development and travel to conferences;
- Additional support is available through the Scholarly Presentation Support Program for faculty who are presenting scholarly work at regional, national, or international conferences;
- Supplemental funds are available through the Chancellor’s International Travel Support Program for faculty presenting at international conferences; and
- Some of the colleges and the Center for State Policy and Leadership have provided supplemental funding for faculty to make presentations at conferences.
Faculty may apply for Summer Competitive Scholarly Research Grants offered by the Office of the Provost. The Center for State Policy and Leadership and the colleges also provide funding for faculty research projects, usually through a competitive process.
Funding is available to UIS academic professionals each academic year to support professional development activities. Each academic professional who is employed at least 50% time may apply for up to $1,200 for use toward any aspect of professional development during the academic year. Examples include journal subscriptions, conference and meeting registration, conference travel, training workshops, and costs associated with a college course.
Students may apply for funding for research projects through the Office of Student Life’s Student Research Support Program. There also are funds available for particular types of student research. For example, income from the Skelton Endowment fund is used to help defray thesis expenses for graduate students in the Department of Environmental Studies whose research focuses on energy policy and energy research. Chapin Scholarships, which are made available through an endowment, support undergraduate or graduate student research that focuses on history, preferably United States history.
The science programs have had a growing number of students involved in research during the school year and in the summer. These students often are supported by internal or external grants and present their results at regional and national professional conferences. In 2006, the UIS science programs received a $60,000 Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program Grant to support summer student research projects. The grant is being paid out over three years and is being used to support four undergraduate science students in mentored, original research projects each summer. UIS is one of only 15 universities nationwide to receive this competitive grant. The science programs also have had students working on research at the Southern Illinois Medical School.
Non-Instructional Assignments and Sabbaticals
Faculty are eligible for non-instructional assignments (i.e., course releases) and sabbaticals to pursue scholarship. During the past three years, the university has awarded an average of 65 non-instructional assignments and seven sabbaticals per year for faculty to pursue scholarship. All of these sabbatical were for one semester.
According to the UIS Faculty Personnel Policy (p. 33),
A sabbatical leave may be used for one or more of the following purposes: improving professional competence in a field appropriate to the applicant’s professional responsibilities; undertaking a public affairs project; conducting research; engaging in artistic or professional creative activity; developing instructional materials such as texts or laboratory manuals; or other purposes such as general professional development and renewal.
A faculty member who takes a sabbatical is required to make a presentation on the sabbatical to his or her colleagues and submit a report to their personnel file the year after the sabbatical.
Assessment, Faculty Survey Results
Given the university’s various types of release time and financial support for scholarship, an important assessment issue is whether faculty perceive that they have sufficient resources to conduct scholarship. The Campus Planning and Budget Committee’s 2004 faculty survey addressed aspects of this issue. Respondents to the survey were asked to report “actual” and “ideal” allocation of time among seven activities. The mean response for scholarship was that faculty spent 9% of their actual time on scholarship, whereas ideally they would like to spend 19% of their time on scholarship. Respondents also were asked to rate various items on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating. “Funding scholarship activities” and “Funding scholarship projects” received mean ratings of 1.96 and 2.07, respectively. These results suggest that UIS faculty would like more time and financial support to conduct their scholarship.
- Increase funding, non-instructional assignment availability, and joint appointments for pursuit of faculty scholarly and creative activities (Action Step 12).
- Increase funding for staff professional development and scholarly activities (Action Step 13).
- Regularly distribute information to students and faculty about institutional support for scholarship (Action Step 11).
One of the university’s most important forms of support for scholarly activities is Brookens Library. The Library is a unit of Academic Affairs and the Dean of Library Instructional Services, who also is the university Librarian, reports to the Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
The mission statement for Brookens Library is:
At the heart of the intellectually rich, collaborative and intimate learning environment of UIS, Brookens Library selects, organizes, preserves, and provides access to and instruction in the use of information resources for research, discovery, and lifelong learning. (Brookens Library Strategic Plan)
The Library’s vision statement further emphasizes its goal to effectively serve the campus:
Working together creatively and using technology ingeniously, we provide excellent information resources and services to the UIS community.
Brookens Library supports UIS with a collection of more than 540,000 volumes (including nearly 11,000 e-books), 2,600 periodical subscriptions, 200,000 government publications, approximately 135 databases providing tens of thousands of full-text journal articles, 1,800,000 microforms, and 4,000 films, DVDs, and video tapes. The databases, full-text articles, and e-books are accessible from anywhere through a proxy server. In addition, most reserve material is now available electronically through the course management system.
The Library has strong print collections in the areas of Illinois politics and public administration. It serves as a depository for United States and state of Illinois government documents, providing access to an extensive print collection and an increasingly large online collection. The collection also includes maps, audio books, and music compact discs.
Archives and Special Collections make available to the public the most significant historical records of Sangamon State University (1969-1995) and the University of Illinois at Springfield, as well as regional history records and manuscripts whose research strengths support the university’s curriculum.
Brookens Library offers the UIS community access to a broad scope of databases, including the Web of Science Citation Indexes, ACM Digital Library, Science Direct, and Project MUSE, to which many universities of UIS’ size do not have access. The library also offers access to the LexisNexis Academic service and the related LexisNexis databases: Congressional, Environmental, Statistical, and State Capital. Examples of other databases include PAIS: Public Affairs Information Service, PolicyFile, and Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. To support the Legal Studies program, the Library subscribes to a number of law reviews and loose-leaf services published by West and BNA— publications that are generally only found in law libraries.
By partnering with the Urbana and Chicago campuses, the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), and other organizations to acquire these resources, the library realizes significant cost savings. Approximately 80% of the databases available at UIS are purchased at a discount that is negotiated through such group purchases.
The Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) is a statewide administrative agency that leads Illinois academic libraries to create and sustain a rich, supportive, and diverse knowledge environment that furthers teaching, learning, and research through the sharing of collections, expertise, and programs Through Brookens Library’s membership in CARLI, UIS students and faculty have access to the holdings of 65 other academic libraries in the state of Illinois, including the holdings of the library at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students may search CARLI’s I-Share catalog and request that books not owned by UIS be delivered to them at a library pick-up location of their choosing. CARLI’s I-Share database includes records for over 31,000,000 books, journals, and other information resources.
Library faculty (Instructional Services Librarians) provide information literacy instruction and reference services in a variety of formats and modalities, including course-integrated research sessions, credit courses, individual research consultations with graduate students, Information Desk interactions, and chat and e-mail reference. Each member of the library faculty is assigned to be a liaison with several UIS academic departments. The librarians work closely with the department’s faculty to develop the appropriate library collection and to support the UIS curriculum. Librarians also participate in campus curriculum and governance committees.
The library faculty and staff utilize new technologies to enhance user services. For example, in academic year 2006-07, the library implemented a new electronic search system capable of simultaneously searching across multiple databases, including the library catalog. In the past, searches were conducted within a particular database or across a family of databases that had the same structure. The new search capabilities save time and improve search results for library users.
Brookens Library also works collaboratively with other libraries in the use of technology. The library belongs to the Ask?Away worldwide cooperative reference service, which consists of chat and email reference. This service allows students and faculty to have their reference and research questions answered online and in real-time 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This accessibility is especially important to online and commuter students who may have geographical or time limitations that restrict the amount of time they can spend within the physical library building. Brookens Library also has joined a national effort to preserve electronic journals in perpetuity. The Portico membership (a joint membership with Urbana and Chicago) will assure that academic libraries will have access to electronic content without having to commit local human and computing resources to preserve the material.
In academic year 2006-07, Brookens Library piloted a “personal library adviser” service with the students in the Capital Scholars Honors Program. This program was based on the belief that students who have access to a specific, known librarian will show better information literacy skills at the end of the year than students who were not assigned a library adviser. If the pilot is successful, this service will be extended to other students.
Assessment, Brookens Library
Brookens Library has undertaken a variety of service quality assessments during the past few years, including (1) a couple of questions relating to the Library were included in the UIS Student Satisfaction Inventory conducted in spring 2001, 2003, and 2005 (see SSI Data Summary); (2) the Library administered its own survey in spring 2003; (3) the Library Dean conducted interviews with the chairs of each academic program between fall 2002 and summer 2003, (4) the Library administered the LIBQUAL Library Service Quality Survey during spring 2007, and (5)evaluations of one-time, subject-specific library instructional sessions are routinely conducted.
The Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) includes two statements about the library: (1) “library staff are helpful and approachable” and (2) “library resources and services are adequate.” For the first item, the gap between the importance of and the satisfaction with this item decreased from .58 in 2001 to .49 in 2003, and then increased to .81 in 2005. Compared to peer institutions, UIS students were more satisfied than students at other institutions in 2001 and 2003, but less satisfied in 2005 (although the 2005 difference is not statistically significant at a .05 level). (See Table 4-2).
Brookens Library also has tried to create a more inviting space. The Friends of Brookens Library have helped to create several student lounges in the building: the Friedman Lounge on level four which includes a small browsing collection; the Everson Lounge on level two with a CD listening collection; and the MacDonald Lounge on level one with a popular magazine collection and spaces for laptops. The university also plans to develop a new café on the first floor of the library. Additionally, in 2003 several copier rooms were converted to small group study rooms for student collaboration.
Brookens Library has addressed the need for contemporary technology to be available to students and faculty for check out. Currently, the Media Desk in the Library offers the following equipment for check-out: 19 digital camcorders, 16 digital still cameras, two NEC projectors, and five laptop carts, each with 10-24 wireless laptops for classroom use. This equipment is on a three-year replacement cycle. Forty-eight PCs and two Macintosh computers are available for use on the library public service floors.
In spring 2003, the Library and Information Technology Services sent out a user satisfaction survey to all UIS students, faculty, and staff with a valid e-mail address. The Library received responses from 340 people, including a good representation from undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty. In addition to satisfaction, the survey sought to determine what the main uses of the Library and Information Technology Services were, whether respondents used the Library in person or online, and how often they used the Library.
- When asked “How satisfied are you with the library and educational technology services at UIS,” 83.3% of the respondents reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with services.
- The main use of the library was for “getting books and journals” followed by “gateway to library databases.” All other uses fell at 20% or below, including “ask questions at Library Information Desk” (12.8%) and “producing multimedia” (11.2%).
- Approximately one-half of the respondents reported that they had either taken or taught an online course. Of this group, 84.1% reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with Library/Educational Technology services, a percentage similar to the overall satisfaction rate.
- Nearly one-third of respondents took the opportunity to offer specific suggestions as to ways the Library/Educational Technology could improve services. The Library is using these suggestions to identify areas for improvement.
The program review submitted by the Library in 2004 noted that “One of the motives behind the online survey of users in spring 2003 was to begin to establish a ‘culture of assessment’ within the Library and Information Technology Services.” The report notes “We are beginning to see that a ‘teaching library’ also needs to be a ‘learning organization.’ “
Interviews with program chairs found that (1) most chairs thought their faculty liaison was doing an outstanding job, (2) the most common suggestion for improvement was that the library should subscribe to more journals, and (3) some faculty were concerned about various issues relating to media, specifically the lack of a media booking system and the demise of the printed media catalog. As a result of the last point, the Library has developed an automated booking system and circulation has created a CD of all of the Library’s media holdings.
Many of the program chairs would like to see more instruction in how to use library resources, how to conduct basic research, and more help with evaluating Internet sites. Some found the restriction of leaving materials on e-reserves after the first semester to be troublesome— another area that has now been changed based on this feedback. The Library will now seek copyright permission for items that a faculty member would like to leave on reserve for a second semester.
The results of the LIBQUAL Library Service Quality Survey are expected to be available in summer 2007. The strengths and weaknesses across several dimensions that define service quality will be identified, which will allow the Library to access and improve library service to the UIS community.
The Library faculty workshop evaluations completed each semester have been favorable. On a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest, most of the ratings for the questions “I feel more confident/comfortable in using the Library as a result of this workshop” and “this workshop was helpful to me in achieving my academic objectives” were either a 5 or a 6. The majority of class instructors who rated the Library faculty workshops gave them a 6, the highest rating.
Brookens Library also uses benchmarking to assess its quality of services. Colleges and universities report statistics on a national basis to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), which publishes statistics annually, and the National Center for Education Statistics, which publishes its Academic Library Statistics (ALS) biannually. Brookens Library’s analysis utilized the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) institutions or Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) peer group institutions that were identified as Carnegie “Master’s/Professional” classification (plus one doctoral institution on the IBHE list) for its group of nine peer institutions.
On almost every measure reported by ACRL, Brookens Library exceeded its peer libraries. Only two elite private liberal arts universities, Trinity University and Union College, and the one doctoral institution, the University of South Dakota, had higher volume counts than Brookens Library. Trinity, Truman State, and Union College all had larger total library expenditures than UIS, but only Trinity and Union College spent more on library materials. A major difference between Brookens Library and these two libraries is the status of the library building. The libraries at both of these universities have undergone major expansion or renovation during the past few years.
Brookens Library also has compared itself to the private liberal arts colleges in Illinois that UIS uses for benchmarking in its campus strategic plan. On nearly every measure reported to ACRL, Brookens exceeded the figures reported by this set of colleges. For instance, Brookens at that time had 536,743 total volumes while the nearest competitor, Bradley University, had 435,366. However, several of these peer institutions are in the “Bachelor’s Degree” category rather than the “Master’s/Professional” category to which UIS belongs.
In spring 2003, the Library contracted with a building consultant to provide an assessment of the Brookens Library facility. The consultant, an experienced project manager for library building projects, brought in an architect with library design experience for parts of the assessment project. The report states that “key deficits include severe overcrowding and lack of growth space for the collection, technology, and services; lack of space for group collaboration and for opportunities for formal and informal interaction among library users, faculty, and staff; a confusing physical layout; an inefficient window system that creates uncomfortably cold and hot spaces; a poor lighting system; severe acoustical problems; worn, eclectic, and outdated finishes and furnishings; and inaccessible spaces as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).” The building assessment report was transmitted to the university’s physical planning office for further review. During the past two years, the Campus Planning and Budget Committee has recommended continuing support for the capital budget request for the major remodeling of Brookens Library.
- Identify research/scholarship space needs and include those needs in space planning (Action Step 10).
- Invest in Brookens Library and Educational Technology (Action Step 14).
UIS Research Board
Another unit that supports scholarship is the UIS Research Board, which is a Campus Senate Committee. The Research Board provides guidance and input to the administration on issues related to university research policies and practices, research support for graduate students, and programs to stimulate undergraduate research. The Research Board also serves as a review committee for the annual graduate thesis award and for university awards to support faculty scholarship, such as the competitive summer research funds. The Research Board has sponsored workshops related to the promotion of scholarship, addressing topics such as seeking external support, writing for publication, and time management.
Office of Grants and Contracts
The UIS Office of Grants and Contracts assists faculty and students in identifying possible grant resources and applying for grants. This office resides in the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and has primary responsibility for (1) internal approval of proposals submitted to external sponsors; (2) implementation of University of Illinois research-related policies, including conflict of commitment and interest, patents and copyrights, academic integrity in research and publications; and (3) review of research projects involving human or animal subjects. The office uses e-mail announcements and its website to make available information on funding opportunities and university research forms, policies, and procedures. It also prepares the UIS Grants and Contracts Bulletin, an annual publication that summarizes the number of proposals submitted each year and the grants and contracts that were awarded. The bulletin, which is available in hard copy or online, also describes the programs and services offered by the Office of Grants and Contracts.
Office of Development
In 2007, the UIS Office of Development hired an academic professional to assist in development, grants, marketing, and communication. One of the responsibilities of this individual is to help facilitate the development of grant proposals by faculty and staff. This person will help teach and coach others to prepare and manage successful grants and proposals.
Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies
In summer 2007, the Institute for Legislative Studies and the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies combined to create one unit, the Institute of Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLPS). ILLPS supports scholarship through research projects that are funded through grants. ILLPS will assist faculty who have joint appointments in the institute, as well as other faculty who are interested in working with the institute on particular projects, with the identification of grant funds, the preparation of grant proposals, and the budgeting and tracking of grant funds.
Survey Research Office
The Survey Research Office, one of the units of the Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL), offers faculty an on-campus means for conducting scholarly research that involves data collection through surveys. Some UIS faculty have incorporated services of the Survey Research Office into their grants. CSPL and the Survey Research Office have initiated scholarly activity as well by working with faculty and including theoretically relevant questions into surveys the office conducts. For example, a 2005 survey on politics and religion incorporated questions that lead to a scholarly article.
Center for Geospatial Information Systems Applications
One of the newest units that supports scholarship is the Center for Geospatial Information Systems Applications (GIS), which was established in academic year 2006-07. This center is equipped with state-of-the-art computing devices and the latest spatial data analysis/image processing software, which will be used to support GIS classes, workshops, and research activities in the UIS community. The center has established a campus-wide committee for collaborative geospatial research to promote multi-disciplinary teaching and research collaborations.
Center for Teaching and Learning
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides scholarly support services in the areas of writing, research, and issues related to the scholarly process, such as appropriately citing resources and avoiding plagiarism. CTL provides workshops, in-person and online tutoring, and makes handouts available through its website. In the past, CTL assisted both faculty and students with their scholarly activities, but as of 2006-07, it is focusing on the needs of students. This transition was in response to a recommendation by the CTL Task Force, which conducted a study of CTL and student needs during 2005-06. (See also Chapter 3.)
Scholarship provides a means for UIS to make a contribution to the disciplines, to society, and to the community. Through engaging in scholarly work, sharing the results, and making university scholarly support resources open to the public, UIS is able to stay connected to its constituencies.
UIS faculty share their scholarly work with their respective disciplines and also use their scholarship to address issues and problems facing society. UIS faculty and staff are active in professional associations, serving as presenters and discussants at conferences, reviewers of books and manuscripts for journals, and in various other roles. Some faculty and staff members are currently, or previously have been, officers in professional associations or members of executive and editorial boards.
Individual UIS faculty members share their scholarly expertise with the community through activities such as working with community groups or individuals, proposing and analyzing legislation, and working with state agencies or other entities on projects. For example, UIS science faculty members mentor high school students working on science fair projects. A professor in public administration with an expertise in Latino policies was instrumental in the passage of a new state law designed to help state agencies increase hiring among the Hispanic community at supervisory, technical, professional, and managerial levels. This professor also has been appointed to the Illinois Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
UIS also makes a contribution to the scholarly community and society through interdisciplinary collaborative scholarly work that is disseminated to local, state, national, and international audiences. Faculty in different disciplines collaborate on a variety of research undertakings, such as scholarship related to online learning, the Emiquon Field Station project, and applied projects administered or co-administered by the Center for State Policy and Leadership.
Center for State Policy and Leadership
The Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL) supports the UIS mission through its scholarship aimed at shaping and improving public policies and practices. Examples of ongoing or recently completed CSPL projects are highlighted below.
- The Sunshine Project, which is funded by the Joyce Foundation, is a multiple-year project which promotes public awareness and understanding of money in Illinois politics through research and outreach. The project produces searchable campaign finance databases and reports that are often cited in news stories and are accessible through the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform’s website.
- CSPL has a five-year grant to evaluate 14 after-school programs for academically at-risk children. The program provides 15 hours per week of academic tutoring, study groups, and recreation. Data are collected from students, parents, teachers, administrators, and staff through the use of questionnaires, report cards, school records, and program records.
- The CSPL staff evaluated a new direct certification (approval) program that was introduced by the state of Illinois as a means to increase the number of low-income students who are approved for the National School Lunch Program. This research was funded by the Illinois State Board of Education with federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Due to the interest in this study as a result of the Congressional reauthorization debates for the National School Lunch Program, the CSPL staff were invited to Washington D.C. to present their findings to the staff of the Food Nutritional Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Institute of Legislative Studies (which, as mentioned above, is now part of the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies) in CSPL published State Politics & Policy Quarterly, a peer-reviewed international academic journal from 2001, when the journal began, through 2006. This is the official journal of the State Politics and Policy section of the American Political Science Association and is included in Thompson/ISI’s social science citation index.
CSPL, in partnership with the Illinois Historic Preservation Society and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, sponsors the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. This is a long-term documentary editing project dedicated to identifying, imaging, and publishing, comprehensively in electronic form and selectively in printed volumes, all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime (1809-1865). This collection of documents represents an important reference source for Lincoln scholars and others who are interested in the life and times of Lincoln.
Downstate Illinois Innocence Project
UIS administers the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. The mission of this project is to provide assistance to attorneys representing downstate Illinois inmates convicted of crimes they did not commit and to prevent conviction of innocent persons in the future. The project goals are the exoneration of innocent persons convicted of felony crimes in downstate Illinois and the reform of the criminal justice system in Illinois and the nation through the education of students, citizens, and policymakers about problems, causes, and possible reforms of a criminal justice system that results in conviction of the innocent. This program offers the opportunity for faculty and students in legal studies, as well as other disciplines, to work toward improving the outcomes of the justice system.
Emiquon Field Station
The Emiquon Field Station, which was established to study the transformation of a 7,400 acre farmland area to its natural state as a large river floodplain, provides significant opportunities for sharing and generating knowledge about floodplain ecology, especially the Emiquon floodplain. The field station provides resources and a space to
- teach natural sciences and train students in field biology techniques, initially at the high-school, college, and graduate levels, and to continue to explore opportunities for other lifelong learners (e.g., grade-school field trips, regional citizens, online students throughout the country and the world);
- learn more about the natural processes of the floodplain, freshwater ecology, and restoration and management strategies; and
- research cooperatively by incorporating national and international experts through symposia and cooperative projects, by involving UIS professors across disciplines, by consulting regional experts intimately familiar with the rhythms of the river, and by applying the lessons of nature and restoration.
The field station facilitates “hands-on” learning in the field and in the laboratory for students of many ages and for their teachers.
The Emiquon Field Station will contribute to society through various means. From a scientific perspective, research at the field station may discover principles of nutrient export that can be immediately applied to practice or may pave the way for future discoveries. Better management of floodplains will likely have significant effects on Gulf Hypoxia, fisheries loss, and species diversity. The Emiquon restoration will become a model for improved floodplain management.
The field station also will have historical significance. The Emiquon region has supported different communities for thousands of years. Until 1923, when levees were built, Thompson Lake was famous for its abundant wildlife and attracted outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. The restoration is another chapter in the history of humans learning to live productively on the Illinois River floodplain.
- A political studies professor conducted research on opinion formation in developing democracies, specifically Eastern Europe, while he was at the National School of Political and Administrative Sciences in Bucharest, Romania in academic year 2003-04.
- Two professors have conducted research at the Southampton Solent University in England. A communication professor studied the British media system and British media education and how they compare to those in America. A business professor explored work-life balance issues. She also visited a Caterpillar manufacturing facility in Peterborough to establish a relationship with a Caterpillar United Kingdom counterpart and to be able to relate to Caterpillar International when teaching UIS students who work for Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois.
- A philosophy professor has been an invited speaker at various universities in Poland and serves on the board of several professional journals in Poland. This professor also has been instrumental in the coordinating and offering of two online courses that combined students from UIS and from The Warsaw School of Economics.
- A management professor has done extensive scholarship aimed at educating Chinese entrepreneurs about strategic management. He has had a book published by Peking University Press (in English) and by CITIC Press (in Chinese). He was a visiting scholar to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2001-02 and is regularly invited to serve as a guest instructor at the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University.
- A biology professor has conducted a comprehensive study of the various species of Mexican red oaks, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Many of these species are threatened by their ecosystems being cleared for pasture. Her research directly contributes to the conservation of the world’s biodiversity.
Online Learning Scholarship
Another area in which UIS is making a significant scholarly contribution to the professions and to society is in the area of online learning. Over the past decade, UIS has moved to the forefront of institutions engaged in online learning and the uses of technology in instruction. UIS faculty members’ responsiveness to adopting the Internet and other technologies for instruction has been followed quickly by their scholarship on online learning and emerging educational technologies. For example, UIS faculty have conducted scholarship or made presentations on issues related to teaching a philosophy curriculum online, information processing by individuals and virtual teams, factors promoting and impeding faculty willingness to develop and deliver online courses, electronic portfolios in teacher education, buddy-finding in the mobile environment, and web standards.
The UIS Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning (OTEL), through the blog of the director, has become a global clearinghouse for current news and research on online learning. This blog has been in continuous operation since June 2001 and, as of January 2007, had 6,500 searchable postings in archives. People from all over the world access this service.
UIS seeks to build on its record of online education accomplishment by establishing a Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS), one of the “Stretch Ideas” noted in the UIS Strategic Plan. COLRS will become the UIS hub for the study and application of online learning pedagogy, technology, and best practices. It will provide support for both original scholarly research and the dissemination of results. It will build synergies between discovery research and the enhancement of current online educational practices. COLRS will inform, empower, assist, and support the faculty of UIS in the delivery of courses, degrees, and certificate programs through the Internet. It will reach out around the globe to build exciting new online collaborations among educational institutions, government agencies, and businesses.
Experiential and Service-Learning Institute
UIS also is planning to establish an Experiential and Service-Learning Institute, one of the “Stretch Ideas” noted in the UIS Strategic Plan. This institute will draw on UIS’ expertise from an almost 40-year history of integrating experiential learning into the graduate and undergraduate curriculum. (See also Chapter 3 for a discussion of UIS’ experiential learning programs.) The institute will foster the scholarly investigation of experiential and service-learning and promote best practices to colleagues at other institutions.
The Experiential and Service-Learning Program was awarded funding under the UIS Strategic Academic Initiatives Grant program for the 2007-08 fiscal year to support two pilot programs. One pilot program will encourage and support faculty research on experiential and service-learning and the other will support student research.
Assessment, Scholarly Presentations and Publications
As part of the annual UIS Performance Report, the university tracks the number of scholarly presentations and publications made by UIS faculty. The number of scholarly presentations and publications made by UIS faculty has increased steadily from 168 in 1996 to 249 in 2005. (See Figure 4-1). The average number of presentations/publications per faculty member (tenured and tenure-track) has increased from 1.2 in 1997 to 1.6 in 2005. (See Figure 4-2).
During the past ten years (1996-2005), UIS faculty presentations and publications have addressed a variety of issues, including approximately 230 related to public affairs, 250 related to the scholarship of teaching, and 180 related to diversity issues.
- Organize a variety of forums to support faculty scholarly skills and activities (Action Step 6):
- Organize brown-bag series to encourage research collaboration.
- Promote discussion of achieving balance among the components of the faculty role, i.e., teaching, scholarship, and service.
- Conduct a dialogue on the multiple forms of scholarship and creative activities and the assessment of scholarship in its various forms.
- Conduct workshops on providing advice on the process of publishing scholarly works
In the area of scholarship, UIS connects with the community through the sharing and dissemination of scholarly information and perspectives and by making university scholarly resources available to the community.
Sharing and Disseminating Scholarly Knowledge
The university shares and disseminates scholarly knowledge to the community through a variety of means. This section highlights some of the ways in which that occurs.
The university hosts a multitude of public events in which UIS and other scholars share their knowledge and perspectives with the community. Annual events include the Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series, the Public Policy Summit, the Friends of Brookens Library Lecture, and speakers brought to campus to celebrate Constitution Day, Earth Day, and International Women’s Day. UIS also hosts or co-sponsors other events that are open to the public, such as The Crisis in Environmental Health Conference that was co-sponsored by the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies and the Illinois Environmental Health Association in 2007. In conjunction with this conference, the institute hosted two free public lectures each night of the conference.
The Center for State Policy and Leadership disseminates scholarly knowledge to the public through its programming for the WUIS-WIPA public radio station, its publication of Illinois Issues, its applied research projects conducted for state agencies and other entities, and its training for government employees. The programming for WUIS-WIPA includes nationally produced shows, as well as locally-produced shows, including “State Week in Review.” Illinois Issues provides analysis and in-depth coverage of important issues within the state, such as alternative energy sources, toxic chemical sites, and health care.
UIS also reaches out to other groups and organizations within the community. For example, over the years the Science Symposium has had a significant positive impact on collaborations with area universities (SIU School of Medicine, Illinois State University, and Millikin University), with agencies that foster research (Illinois State Police Research and Development Lab and Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy), and with select out-of-state universities and research centers (University of Wisconsin–Madison and American Museum of Natural History, New York). Local high school students engaged in research projects with UIS science faculty also present at the symposium. In response to the ongoing collaborations between UIS and science scholars from Springfield’s sister city in Japan, a poster was presented at the symposium in 2005 by a faculty member from the Ashikaga Institute of Technology.
Public Access to UIS Scholarly Facilities and Units
UIS offers public access to many of its scholarly facilities and entities. The community has access to many of the resources of the Brookens Library, including its collections, the Central Illinois Nonprofit Resource Center (CINRC), and the Archives/Special Collections. The new Center for Geospatial Information Systems Applications at UIS intends to become a central Illinois resource for geocoded data, spatial analysis research, and training. The center is open to companies and agencies with employees who need to be trained in how to use this technology and interpret the data as it relates to their business or purpose. The Survey Research Office in the Center for State Policy and Leadership is available on a contract basis for organizations and agencies that would like to have a survey prepared or conducted.
UIS understands the importance of reflecting on past performances and accomplishments as a means of identifying strengths as well as areas that need improvement. This section provides a summary of the assessment of scholarship at UIS, along with a discussion of how the university intends to make improvements to its pursuit of the scholarship mission in the future.
UIS’ major strengths in relationship to scholarship are summarized below.
- The importance of scholarship is noted in the UIS mission, strategic plan, and faculty personnel policies. The university embraces a broad definition of scholarship (discovery, integration, application, and the scholarship of teaching) that supports the pursuit of the UIS mission. UIS utilizes the teacher-scholar model that values faculty being engaged in their fields and sharing their work with students and others.
- The Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL) makes significant scholarly contributions through its applied research, engagement of students, training, public lectures and forums, and collaborations with agencies and the community. CSPL’s sponsorship of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series, along with the university’s two distinguished scholar positions related to the study of Lincoln, further the legacy of President Lincoln.
- As indicated by responses to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), UIS undergraduate students are obtaining scholarly knowledge and skills at or above the rate experienced at other master’s institutions.
- Brookens Library compares favorably in most areas measured by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) when compared to libraries at peer institutions, private liberal arts institutions in Illinois, and institutions in the Council of Public Liberals Arts Colleges (COPLAC). The Brookens Library uses the results from the assessment of library resources and services to identify and implement improvements.
Areas of concern or in need of improvement are listed below.
- Like faculty at other institutions, faculty at UIS face the challenge of balancing time devoted to teaching and service with time devoted to scholarship. The faculty survey results indicate that faculty want to be able to spend more time on scholarship.
- Until recently, the institution did not provide sufficient funds and support (e.g., travel funds) for scholarship and dissemination of scholarship. However, this area was identified as an important priority in the UIS Strategic Plan, and the funding for faculty and staff development and scholarship was increased by 67% in 2006-07.
As UIS continues to pursue the scholarship component of the UIS mission, it will be important to build on existing strengths and to address challenges and areas of concern. The university’s use of the Boyer model as a framework for identifying and assessing scholarship will allow the university to continue to pursue the scholarship of teaching and to conduct research in applied areas. This approach will help support the university’s focus on quality teaching and public affairs and civic engagement.
UIS’ new and existing collaborative projects (e.g., the Emiquon Field Station; the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service; the Center for Geospatial Information Systems Applications; the Experiential and Service-Learning Institute; the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, and the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project) will help the university enhance the generation and dissemination of scholarship. The university will also continue to make scholarly contributions through the applied research conducted by the Center for State Policy and Leadership.
One of the biggest challenges faced by UIS will be obtaining a balance between scholarship and the other demands on faculty time. Major new teaching initiatives (e.g., the new general education curriculum and the development of online courses and programs) have increased the difficulty of balancing teaching and scholarship. While some of the developmental aspects of these new initiatives will be less time-consuming in the future, it will be important for the university to consider how these initiatives and other possible new initiatives will impact scholarship.
The university has many of the components that are needed to support faculty scholarship, such as personnel policies that recognize and reward scholarship, funding for travel to conferences and competitive research grants, sabbaticals and non-instructional assignments to allow faculty time to pursue scholarship, the Grants and Contract Office to help identify funding opportunities and prepare proposals, and access to library materials. Looking forward, UIS will need to evaluate the effectiveness of recent initiatives to support scholarship, such as the increase in faculty development funds and the addition of a position in the Office of Development to assist faculty with grants.
UIS is engaging its students in scholarship through curricular and extracurricular opportunities. Some students are presenting their research at conferences and several have had joint research articles published with UIS faculty. However, more needs to be done to encourage both students and faculty to engage in collaborative research projects. Planned action steps, such as providing recognition and rewards to faculty who sponsor or supervise student scholarship, are a step in this direction.
The university will need to continually monitor performance indicators related to scholarship to help identify strengths and areas that need improvement. Key indicators include:
- Annual number of scholarly publications, presentations, juried exhibitions, and performances;
- Average number of scholarly presentations and publications per tenure-track/tenured faculty member; and
- Annual number of student presentations at campus, regional, and national scholarly and professional conferences.
UIS is making progress in the implementation of the strategic plan action steps that relate to scholarship.
- As previously noted, progress has been made in that the university has increased funding for faculty and staff development and scholarship by 67% in 2006-07. About one-fourth of the faculty took advantage of a new program that provides additional funds for faculty to attend a conference to present a juried paper.
- The university has established the Strategic Academic Initiatives Grant (SAIG) program to provide funds in support of collaborative professional activities that will promote the development of faculty as teachers and scholars in relation to campus initiatives.
- The university has established a Collaborative Projects Council, consisting of representatives from selected projects with the potential to bring high visibility to UIS research activities. The university has also hired a consultant to work with those projects on funding opportunities.
- The university is building a field station at the Emiquon site.
- In 2007, UIS opened a new Center for Geospatial Information Systems Applications (GIS), which is equipped with state-of-the-art computing devices and the latest spatial data analysis/ image processing software.
- Several of the colleges and the Provost’s office have sponsored brown-bag seminars and faculty development workshops that address issues related to scholarship and allow faculty to share their scholarship with their colleagues.
- The College of Business and Management has analyzed the scholarship produced by its faculty over the past five years and has developed policies for faculty scholarship. The College Faculty Development Committee has administered a summer research stipend program since 2001 to recognize and encourage faculty efforts to publish in peer-reviewed academic journals and, in 2003, approved a policy for distributing stipends to faculty who present at prestigious conferences in the field.