Friday, November 30, 2007
Millions of people throughout the nation have now heard of UIS thanks to a two-part report this week on National Public Radio. NPR Correspondent Larry Abramson interviewed several UIS faculty and students for the report about online learning and teaching. He decided to visit UIS after learning about the national award this university received in October for institution-wide excellence in online learning and teaching programming from the Sloan Consortium. Abramson was impressed with what he found at UIS. You can listen to or read the report at the UIS Online website. I want to thank all of our faculty and staff involved in online programming for helping put UIS in the national forefront of online education.
Field Station takes shape
UIS' new field station at the Emiquon Preserve is really taking shape and will soon be completed. The station is located on a hillside overlooking the Emiquon floodplain along the Illinois River near Lewistown. That's about 55 miles northeast of Springfield. Under the direction of UIS Professor Mike Lemke, the station will provide resources and space for teaching, learning and research about floodplains. The primary focus will be on the Emiquon floodplain, a vital ecosystem of the Illinois River that is now being restored to some semblance of its rich and diverse biological past, according to Dr. Lemke. He said that as the preserve is transformed, the station will measure, record and experiment to help tell the scientific story by establishing a baseline of information about the land, the water and the organisms. "In cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and The Illinois State Museum, UIS will lead the effort, with scholars from many other institutions also taking part in the teaching and research at Emiquon," he said. The station will give our students and faculty an outstanding opportunity and put UIS on the map in far-reaching ways.
Every scholarship tells a story
On a bright and sunny day in November, the Public Affairs Center lobby was filled with the hum of good conversation and the aroma of delicious food. The occasion was the annual luncheon program for 2007 scholarship recipients and the donors who make the scholarships possible. This event sets the mood for Thanksgiving -- we are, indeed thankful for every donor and grateful for every deserving student. Each scholarship tells a story about honoring and remembering others in the name of helping students succeed. Only the names and details change. "Quilts" were the theme of this year's luncheon, and there were some beautiful ones just taking shape on display. "Each seam and square takes time and effort, but in time those seams form a work of art," said Sarah Quigley, recipient of the Suzanna Kay Shiner scholarship. One of the luncheon speakers was Amy Green, president of Springfield's American Association of University Women (AAUW). The association, which has given two endowed scholarships to UIS, plus two current-use ones, is now working to endow two more scholarships. One way the association raises money for these scholarships is by raffling off a hand-made quilt. Enjoy these photos at the scholarship luncheon website.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The art of giving
UIS has received a very special gift from Robert and Ruth Vogele -- a collection of more than 20 prints by leading American contemporary artists. Pieces from this impressive collection will be hung throughout campus for students, staff and faculty to enjoy. UIS Professor of Visual Arts Jonathan Perkins said the Vogeles' gift "will be enduring and enriching for Visual Arts classes as well as for the overall campus environment." He is particularly pleased to have works by Dine, Lewitt, Perlstein and Jiminez in the collection. The Vogeles, both graduates of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, are no strangers to UIS. Previously, they donated a mechanical statue to UIS by renowned sculptor Michael Dunbar, one of our own graduates (Community Arts Management MA, '76). The sculpture is going to be installed in Brookens Library. We are so grateful for gifts of art such as these, which create a richer and more satisfying campus atmosphere and help us to continue building cultural life at UIS.
Monday, November 26, 2007
UIS in the news
News and stories about what's happening at UIS are now easy to find in just one location. Click on "News" on the UIS homepage and you'll find the latest news headlines, recent feature stories, and some articles about UIS that have appeared in external publications. You can also read the "Reporter's Notebook" by UIS writer Courtney Westlake, watch a News Bureau video, or read my blog. The links can be found here to all the news about UIS that's fit to print, video or podcast. I'm beginning to catch on to this new communications lingo!
UIS athletes help others
Athletes at UIS find opportunities to help others all year long. During the winter, the women's volleyball team gives clinics for elementary and junior high volleyball players. Soccer team members work with youth players on improving skills and participate in a Habitat for Humanity project. The men's basketball team conducts instruction camps for Blessed Sacrament School, Denim and Diamonds benefits for local hospitals, and the Boys and Girls Club. Throughout the year, the women's basketball team works with Cox Children's Center, Big Brother/Big Sister, and the American Cancer Association's Think Pink program. The men's and women's tennis teams provide free tennis clinics for children not able to pay for classes, volunteer to serve in a food line, and serve as volunteers for The Crisis Center of Springfield. Golf team members conduct golf course appreciation projects at Piper Glen Golf Club during the fall, and the women's softball team gives hitting and pitching instruction for younger players and reads to pre-K classes in Pawnee. I'm very proud of all these athletes and their coaches who reach out to others in so many ways.
TRAC traffic speeds up
An acceleration in traffic at the new Recreation and Fitness Center (TRAC) means more calories are being burned at UIS this fall. Or so it would seem. Director of Recreational Sports JT Timmons reports that there has been a steady increase in card swipes at the center this semester. He said faculty and staff tend to use TRAC from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; students, faculty and staff from 3:15 to 6:15 p.m.; and students from 8:15 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. Intramural participation has increased in nearly every sport with volleyball posting more than a 55% increase in participation over last year. Reservations can be made for the racquetball courts and the three arena courts by going to the Recsports website. Everyone at UIS, employees and students alike, are encouraged to take advantage of the health, fitness and wellness opportunities that TRAC provides.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Thankful for UIS campus community
As chancellor of this growing and dynamic university, I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. UIS' star has continued to rise during the past year with successful accreditations of both the College of Business and Management and the university as a whole. We have won some national awards that set us apart from the pack, and some of our faculty members have received distinguished awards and honors for research and scholarship. We are becoming a more diverse campus in terms of ethnicity, race, and age, which contributes to a richer and more meaningful learning environment. Our students have many opportunities to stretch their minds, exercise their bodies, and become engaged in a wealth of causes and activities on and off campus. I am excited about what is happening at UIS and grateful for the community of UIS faculty and staff who make it all happen. To each of you I send a special thank you and a wish for a peaceful and abundant Thanksgiving.
Honoring university's founders
"Founders Hall" is the name of our new residence hall, a tribute to members of the Springfield community who helped establish this university, known as Sangamon State, in the late 1960s. The name of the 200-bed hall, now in early stages of construction, also honors the charter administrators and faculty who broke new educational ground with innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Classes were first offered in fall 1970, so that means this university will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2010. That's an ideal time to recognize those leaders and individuals whose visions inspired the formation and shaped the development of this university (known as the University of Illinois at Springfield since July 1995). We have taken the opportunity to recognize in a permanent way our indebtedness to our founders. The very good news is that some of them are still living, so we'll be thinking of more ways to honor them in person in 2010.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
UIS earns Chancellor"s Cup for third year
The spirit of charitable giving is alive and well at UIS. Thanks to the generosity of our faculty and staff, UIS has won the SECA campaign's Chancellor's Cup for the third year in a row. The Cup is awarded to the public university that has the highest percentage of participation. This relatively small campus continues to lead the other 11 public universities in the state in the percentage of faculty and staff who give to the campaign. And, for the seventh year in a row, UIS has exceeded its own campaign giving goal. We have raised $41,623.40 so far, passing this year's goal of $40,043.00. Employees may continue to give to SECA through November 30. It warms my heart to know how responsive UIS employees are to the needs of those less fortunate in our city, state, nation, and the world.
Monday, November 12, 2007
UIS makes its online mark
It was a great pleasure to hold the 2007 Sloan Consortium Award in my hands as it was presented to UIS by Ray Schroeder and his team, who have put this university in the national forefront of distance learning. I couldn't help but notice how heavy the award plaque was as we prepared for the photo-op this fall. Somehow that seemed appropriate since the award is for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching and Learning Programming, the highest honor a university can receive for online education. That definitely carries weight as UIS builds its reputation as one of the leading, small public liberal arts universities in the nation. There are many people to thank for this "institution-wide" award including those who work in the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning as well as the 148 different faculty members, both full and part-time, who are teaching online classes this semester.