Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Springfest 2010 kicks off with scavenger hunt

Over 300 students at the University of Illinois Springfield are competing in a week-long challenge known as Springfest to see who can rack up the most points.

Springfest kicked off on Monday, April 13 in the SLB gym with a scavenger hunt for over 200 items, which students couldn't leave campus to find. Participants were given 45 minutes to come up with as many items as possible.

“It was very hectic. I mean we were running all over the place trying to find stuff,” said Joshua Hoff, a junior communication major.

The celebration involves teams of no more than twelve people. In additional to the scavenger hunt they also face off in a trivia night, dress to impress event, flag-n-chant and more. At the end of the week, the team with the most points wins a gift card to the restaurant of their choice and the distinction of being Springfest champions.

“It’s a huge thing on campus. It’s a very big community building activity. Students get to know each other and you get to know your friends better,” said Leslie Reutter, senior criminal justice major and co-coordinator of Springfest.

Springfest events taking place include:
* Monday, April 12: Scavenger Hunt at 9:30 p.m. in SLB Gym
* Tuesday, April 13: Trivia Night at 9:30 p.m. in SLB Gym
* Wednesday, April 14: Dress to Impress (Career Development Center) at 9:30 p.m. in SLB Gym
* Thursday, April 15: Flag-N-Chant at 9:30 p.m. in SLB Gym
* Friday, April 16: Dance from 9 p.m. -12 a.m. in SLB Gym
* Saturday, April 17: Sports Day with BBQ Dinner--Performance by Absolutely Perfect

For more information, contact Lakeshia Washington or Leslie Reutter at uissacc@uis.edu or call 217-206-6463. You may also visit the Springfest website at www.uis.edu/studentlife/thingstodo/Springfest.html.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Cyber Defense and Disaster Recovery Conference brings national experts to UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield hosted the 7th annual Cyber Defense and Disaster Recovery Conference on Friday, March 12 in the Public Affairs Center.

“Protecting yourself and your business from international threats” was the focus of the conference organized by UIS' Computer Science department, in conjunction with InfraGard Springfield, an initiative of the FBI, and CSSIA, a regional center for cyber security. The event was open to businesses, schools and others who wanted to learn more about cyber security.

“We are really trying to bring something unique to the area. We don’t get too many speakers of that great quality in the central Illinois area,” said Janis Rose, UIS Computer Science Instructor and coordinator of the event.

Presentations covered topics on the present and growing risk to businesses and individuals from international threats, both by cyber and physical means.

“I’m liking the hands on experience because I can now take that back to my employer and use those skills,” said Derek Murray, a UIS graduate student.

Murray earned his undergraduate degree from UIS in Computer Science and is now working on his master’s degree, while working for a major insurance company. He has been looking forward to the conference as a means of professional development.

“It’s a way to get and exchange new ideas from some experts in the field both known nationally and internationally,” said Murray.

For more information on the Cyber Defense and Disaster Recovery Conference visit http://csc.uis.edu/center/conferences/cddr2010.html

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Illinois primary election examined by UIS political experts

Three noted University of Illinois Springfield professors recently took part in a community forum, answering questions about the upcoming Illinois primary election. The presentation was held on January 26 at the Public Affairs Center on campus.

Political experts Chris Mooney, Professor of Political Science; Kent Redfield, Professor Emeritus of Political Science; and Charlie Wheeler, Director of the Public Affairs Reporting Program presented insight and analysis and invited questions from the audience.

“It’s an opportunity we like to take, to get together and talk about elections. People get very interested and excited. You’ve got races that are close,” said Mooney.

The February 2 primary election features a battle for the GOP and Democratic nomination for governor, as well as the U.S. senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Political experts say it’s the governor’s race that could turn out to be the most interesting.

“If you look at the polling, you’ll see on the democratic side the two major candidates, Governor Quinn and Comptroller Hynes are within the margin of error for the polls. On the republican side, nobody seems to have emerged from the field,” said Wheeler.

The UIS political team takes hundreds of phone calls every year from members of the media looking for experts to speak on election and legislative topics.

“The media always need to get a fresh perspective that doesn’t come from one of the candidates or the parties,” said Mooney.

The primary forum was sponsored by Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science National Honor Society. The group plans to host similar forums in the future.

“UIS is sort of wired into state government and politics in a way that really makes us unique,” said Mooney.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

UIS offers technology workshops for alumni members

The University of Illinois Springfield is offering a series of technology classes to educate alumni on web trends and the latest technology.

The UIS Alumni SAGE Society and the College of Education and Human Services Alumni Council are sponsoring the classes to teach alumni about social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Participants are also learning about digital cameras, Kindles, flash drives, iPhones and BlackBerrys.

“Everything keeps changing and this has just sort of whetted our appetite. It’s an overview and makes me aware of how much more I need to know,” said Dee Clump, UIS alumnus.

This is the first time that UIS has partnered to offer technology classes to alumni members. The classes are taught by the UIS Information Technology Service staff and cost $10 per session.

“It’s a great way to tell our story and these are alumni, so we really care about them and it’s a great way also for them to find out what we’re doing and how technology’s changing,” said Munindra Khaud, ITS Multimedia Education Coordinator.

Alumni can still sign up for the final workshop entitled “Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning” on Friday, January 22, 2010. You must sign up in advance and pre-payment is required. To reserve a seat for the sessions contact munindra.khaund@uis.edu.

For a complete description of each technology workshop visit www.uiaa.org/uis or contact Alumni Relations at 217-206-7395.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

CAP Honors event helps students "stress bust" before finals

The Capital Scholars Honor Peer Mentoring Program at UIS helped students take a break before finals during its annual “Stress Busters” event on Thursday, December 10, 2009.

Students got the chance to make stress balls, play card games, paint, and play bags and water pong during the end of the semester celebration in the Lincoln Residents Hall great room.

“Right now is a good time to have it with the finals coming up. I don’t know how I would have done it otherwise,” said Chris Crockett, sophomore biology major.

“Stress Busters” is also a time for junior and senior peer mentors to connect with freshman students who are about to take their finals for the first time.

“I just felt after last year that I wanted to start giving back to the freshmen. Things that it took me awhile to learn, things I’d like to help them transition to college with,” said Brett Walker, senior CAP Honors peer mentor.

Other peer mentoring events focus on helping students with class, financial aid and adjusting to college life.

“This is our most looked forward to event,” said Mike Czarny, junior CAP Honors peer mentor.

Students were also treated to a variety of free food from cookies to a chocolate fountain.

“I think it’s really great to get everyone’s mind off of school and stuff. We came straight from lab and hurried over here because we were really excited about it,” said Jessalyn Fontana, freshman biology major.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

UIS vs. UIC basketball game trip

Students from the University of Illinois Springfield packed a charter bus and a van and headed to Chicago on November 14, 2009 to watch the Prairie Stars men's basketball team take on the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Student Michael Omenazu took a video camera along to document the trip and game. He interviewed students, staff, and Chancellor Richard Ringeisen along the way. You can check out the video he created by clicking on the YouTube video above.

The transportation for the students to the game was provided by a friend of the university.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hunger Banquet spotlights problems in U.S. and around the world

The University of Illinois Springfield Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center hosted the 5th annual Oxfam America Hunger Banquet in the Student Life Building Gym on Monday, November 16, 2009.

The featured speaker at the event was Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and author of the book “All You Can Eat”. Berg spoke on campus during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week.

“The reason we’re hosting it is on campus we’re trying to highlight that 1 in 6 individuals in the world today suffers from hunger, so we want to really raise awareness on our campus about hunger and homelessness,” said Kelly Thompson, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

UIS student volunteers helped to organize the Hunger Banquet where participants were broken up into different groups. Students that were selected to be low-income ate on the floor only receiving rice, while those selected to be higher income ate at the table.

“I am one of those children that came from a poverty stricken neighborhood, so I think giving back to the community is a very good thing,” said Monique Johnson, UIS sophomore social work major.

Berg says raising awareness about hunger is key to stopping the problem, but that’s not all that needs to be done.

“We really strongly believe that in New York City or here in downstate Illinois you cannot end this problem with just a little more charity alone. You need government leadership and a change in our economic policies,” said Berg.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

UIS honors Distinguished Alumni during annual awards

The University of Illinois Springfield Alumni Awards Dinner was held on Friday, November 6, 2009 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in downtown Springfield.

The University of Illinois Alumni Association hosted the annual event, which recognized and celebrated the achievement, distinguished service, humanitarianism and loyalty of UIS alumni.

“It is one of the Alumni Association’s signature events and I think one of the highlights for the University. We do these on each campus and tonight is time for UIS to shine,” said Loren Taylor, U of I Alumni Association President.

Read more about the winners of this year’s awards and their accomplishments in a previous news release.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

UIS hosts fair that helps students continue education

The University of Illinois Springfield Career Development Center and Office of Alumni Relations hosted the second annual UIS Graduate and Professional School Fair on Thursday, November 5, 2009 in the PAC concourse.

The event brought 31 graduate and professional schools from Illinois and the Midwest to the UIS campus.

“We’re having this because many of our students as undergrads are trying to decide what they’re going to do after graduation and what is required to meet their career goals,” said Gale Kilbury, UIS Career Counselor.

The fair allowed students to meet with many representatives at once and gain valuable information in a short amount of time.

“Definitely having them all here in one location is more efficient for us students than having to contact them all via e-mail or trying to go to all the schools and have an orientation,” said Teela Whyte, UIS senior social work major.

Kilbury says having a graduate degree will increase student’s marketability and help them land a better job in the career path they choose.

For more information contact Gale Kilbury in the UIS Career Development Center at 217/206-6508 or gkilb01s@uis.edu.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Students honored during 2009 Scholarship Luncheon

The University of Illinois Springfield honored more than 100 scholarship donors and their recipients during the 2009 Scholarship Luncheon on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby.

Nearly $200,000 in funds for scholarships come from donors who make an annual commitment to help UIS students pay for their education.

"For many of them it's the very first time that they will meet. For some of these students and donors they will form lifetime relationships," said Vicki Megginson, Associate Chancellor 0f Development.

UIS students apply for scholarships online through the Office of Financial Aid. The campus has a uniform application system that only requires a student to apply once. The information they submit is then matched with eligible scholarships.

"To get somebody to help me is very honorable. Ultimately I want to achieve my bachelor's degree in mathematical science, so I’m going to use that to teach," said Simon Wilson, UIS junior and scholarship recipient.

"I really appreciate what they've done for us and getting a scholarship really helps a student get through college and not having to worry about your finances and being able to concentrate on your academics," said Ivy Ingram, UIS senior and scholarship recipient.

For a full list of scholarship winners click here.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

International Festival brings world to UIS campus

The University of Illinois Springfield hosted the 32nd Annual International Festival on Sunday, October 25, 2009 in the Public Affairs Center.

The festival allowed participants to take a trip around the world in only a matter of minutes. Each PAC conference room was organized to be a different part of the world with Asian, European, American and African culture represented.

Students and community members preformed music and dance from different parts of the world in the Studio Theatre. Springfield restaurants donated native food for visitors to enjoy.

“Having people from different parts of the world interact with each other, learn from each other, appreciate one another is not only educational, but it helps us to get along better with one another,” said Rick Lane, UIS Director of International Student Services.

The International Festival has grown each year and organizers say more than 500 visitors took part in this year’s festival.

The theme for the International Festival was “Dancing Under the Stars” in recognition of the International Year of Astronomy.

Watch a slideshow featuring the International Festival: http://www.uis.edu/sightsandsounds/slideshows/international09/index.html

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Love Your Body Day" Fair teaches positive body image

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Women’s Center held a “Love Your Body Day” Fair on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 in the PAC Concourse to teach students about positive body image.

Women were able to create buttons with phrases such as “This is why I’m hot” and "I'm a big deal because..." to give them a sense of empowerment.

"In our culture we have so much attention and it grows all the time being paid to the outer person, to the body, to the image," said UIS Women's Center Director Lynn Otterson.

The UIS Women’s Issues Caucus also sold “This is what feminists look like” t-shirts and the Alpha Phi Omega club sold pink cupcakes as part of breast cancer awareness month.

UIS Recreational Sports taught participants about the effects of nutritional supplements and how to find your “happy weight”.

“Love Your Body Day” is part of a national annual event, which UIS celebrates each year.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

"Girls under the Hood" teaches car care lessons

Have you ever wondered how to change a flat tire or check your oil or tire pressure? The University of Illinois Springfield Women’s Center hosted a “Girls under the Hood” event on Thursday, October 8 to answer some of those questions.

Guest mechanics from Green Toyota Scion Audi Volkswagen started out by giving the ladies an overview of what to know, what to do, and how to talk to a mechanic. Participants then popped the hood on a Toyota Camry to do some hands on learning.

"Since a lot of the students come in and regularly don't know how to maintain their car because usually their fathers, brothers, uncles or maintenance people take care of it they may not be familiar with how to take care of it during the winter months," said Women's Center Graduate Assistant Lisa Koerkenmeier.

Students who attended the event were entered into a drawing with a chance to win free car detailing or a car maintenance gift basket.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

UIS raises pride flag as part of National Coming Out Week

The University of Illinois Springfield is celebrating National Coming Out Week on campus by showing its pride. A group of students, faculty and staff gathered in front of the Public Affairs Center to raise a rainbow-colored flag Monday, October, 5, 2009.

The first pride flag raising ceremony was held three years ago on campus and the celebration has been growing ever since. UIS Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen issued a statement in support of the LGBTQ community at UIS calling them "important members of the entire university community."

“I think for an institution to display our pride flag so publicly is very important and it really says we’re not ashamed to have you here, we’re proud of you,” said UIS student Renee Rathjen.

“This is just another example of showing this is a very inclusive university that everyone has value to us,” said Ringeisen

The flag will fly over campus for the entire week.

Other National Coming Out Week Events:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Meet the Author, Dr. Pierceson Book Signing, 4:00pm PAC Lobby

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Speak Out 1:00-5:00 UIS Quad

Friday, October 9, 2009
Safe Zone Training Phase 1 - 1:00-4:00 pm, PAC C/D (registrations reqd.)

For more information contact the LGBTQ Resource Office at 217/206-8316 or e-mail: LGBTQ@uis.edu.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homecoming 2009: Over the Rainbow Relay Race

University of Illinois Springfield students slipped into ruby red high heels to face off during the Over the Rainbow Relay Race on Wednesday. The relay was part of the Homecoming 2009 at UIS, but similar events sponsored by Recreational Sports are held every week as part of “Wacky Wednesday”.

The Student Life Office helped to bring in a giant inflatable bounce house to campus for students to run through. They first started off in the high heels having to maneuver between orange cones before ditching the heels and jumping inside.

“I have a lot of respect for women because I can’t do it and women walk around in high heels all the time,” said junior criminal justice major Andrew Crain.

The male and female students with the fastest time both got an “I Won Wacky Wednesday” t-shirt.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Homecoming 2009: Mashed Potato sculpting

University of Illinois Springfield students got creative with a popular mashed vegetable during Homecoming Week 2009.

Assistant Director of Student Life Beth Hoag came up with the idea for mashed potato sculpting last year. The event was such big hit she decided to bring it back again with a few rules. Students had to design something based on UIS or the homecoming theme “There’s No Place Like Homecoming”.

UIS Food Service prepared 25 pounds of “extra stiff” potatoes for students to use. They decorated the mashed wonders with everything from food coloring to feathers and glitter.

“It’s almost like play doh just a little softer,” said junior business major Baily Meek. “I wouldn’t have expected it to be like that”.

Volunteers judged each design on creativity and theme. The winner of the contest was rewarded with a $50 gift card.

Click Here for a full list of Homecoming 2009 events.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Toastmasters Club key to student success

The University of Illinois Springfield Career Development Center is working to improve the public speaking skills of students. The center has started a Toastmasters Club to bring in professional mentors from the community to work with students.

Employee Relations Recruitment Coordinator Rachel Hasenyager started the club. She says the skills that students are learning are key in job interviews. During the meeting students are called on to perform impromptu “table top” speeches. Students have a limited amount of time to talk about a subject they may know little about.

The Toastmasters Club also teaches students how to participate in the setting of a formal meeting. Every participant is introduced to the audience before they begin speaking.

Hasenyager says she hopes the club will also help teach leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

Students also get the chance to network with the professional mentors brought in from the community. Hasenyager hopes that will pay off once they’ve graduated and are looking for a job.

The club meets every other Friday at Noon in the Student Affairs Building (SAB) Room 50. The next meeting will be on October 9th, followed by October 23rd.

Toastmasters will welcome Springfield native Ed Hearn, who was crowned the 2006 World Champion of Public Speaking by Toastmasters International. Hearn will present his award-winning speech on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in the Public Affairs Center Restaurant.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UIS Homecoming and Family Weekend

The University of Illinois Springfield will be holding its annual Homecoming activities during the week of September 28 through October 3. UIS Family Weekend will also coincide with the events on October 3 and 4. The theme of Homecoming Week 2009 is “There’s No Place Like Homecoming.”

The schedule of events for the week is as follows:

Monday, September 28
- “Network: Strategic Alliances” from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Sangamon Auditorium Lobby. Beth Reutter of the Hospitality Program at the U of I in Champaign will present the program about networking skills. Go to www.uis.edu/careerservices to register or for more info or call 217-206-6508.
- Homecoming Pep Rally at 9:30 p.m. at The Recreation and Athletic Center (TRAC). First 200 students with ID through the door will get a free Homecoming T-shirt.

Tuesday, September 29
- Homecoming Court voting and Mashed Potato Sculpting from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Public Affairs Center (PAC) Food Emporium Patio (Rain Location: PAC Concourse).
- Make Your Own Spirit Wear at 9:30 pm in the Food Emporium. Paints, poster board and blank t-shirts are provided.

Wednesday, September 30
- Homecoming Court voting and Over the Rainbow Relay Race from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the UIS Quad
- Neo-Futurists performance at 9:30 p.m. in Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library. The Neo-Futurists are a collective of wildly productive writer/director/performers who create theater that is a fusion of sport, poetry, and living newspaper.

Thursday, October 1
- Homecoming Court voting and Come on 6’s dice game from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the PAC Main Concourse.
- Homecoming Dance at 9:30 p.m. in the Student Life Building gym. Dress is semi-formal.

Friday, October 2
- Volunteer Service Event from 1 to 5 p.m.
- UIS Women’s Soccer vs. Bellarmine at 5 p.m. at Kiwanis Stadium
- Student Cookout at 6:30 p.m. on the east side of Kiwanis Stadium
- Movie: Wizard of Oz at 7 p.m. in Brookens Auditorium
- UIS Men’s Soccer Game vs. Bellarmine at 7:30 p.m. at Kiwanis Stadium. A firework display will be held immediately following game.

Saturday, October 3
- Yellow Brick Road 5K Run/Walk at 9 a.m. at TRAC. Cost is $10 for UIS students; $15 for non-students and $20 the day of the event. Registration deadline is September 16, and t-shirts will be provided to those registered by the deadline.
- Educational Technology Showcase at 10:00 a.m. in Brookens Library 141A on the lower level.
- Family Weekend Luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in PAC rooms C and D. Reservations are required.
- UIS Homecoming Parade at 5 p.m. on the UIS Campus.
- Homecoming BBQ & Lawn Party from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the east side of Kiwanis Stadium.
- UIS Students vs. UIS Alumni/Faculty/Staff Basketball Game at 7 p.m. at TRAC

For more information, contact the UIS Student Life Office at 217/206-6665 or go online to the Homecoming Web site at http://www.uis.edu/homecoming.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Registered Student Organization Deadline

Now is the time for students to leave their mark on the University of Illinois Springfield campus. The Office of Student Life is taking priority applications for registered student organizations (RSOs) until September 15th.

Students are required to register on an annual basis and attend one student origination workshop. RSOs are required to have a written constitution and bylaws that govern the group along with a faculty or staff advisor.

UIS had more than 70 registered students organizations during the 2008-2009 academic year. They are separated into six different categories: Cultural/Diversity, Religious/Spiritual, Academic/Honorary, Political/Advocacy, Service or General Interest.

All student organizations fully registered by September 15th will be eligible for two $50 prizes.

Fill out the RSO registration form online: http://www.uis.edu/studentlife/Forms/Registration%20form%2009-10.pdf

For more information, visit the UIS Student Life Office Web site: http://www.uis.edu/studentlife/

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Early birthday party to be held for Lincoln

By Nick Rogers, for the University of Illinois at Springfield

Fire stoked in a belly or fear struck in a heart isn’t a traditional measure of success for a piece of music. For Jay Ungar, that essence is inherent to the hits of the ‘60s.

The 1860s, that is.

“Without recordings and radio and all that, many more people played an instrument, and everybody sang,” says Ungar, a fiddler and mandolin player. “It was part of the fabric of the culture. Music also had an effect during the war, when a powerful song like ‘Battle Cry of Freedom’ was said to actually affect the outcome of battle.”

The Civil War, and its preceding tensions, dictated the emotions behind much of America’s popular music from the 1840s to 1860s. However, those tunes echoed not just a tumultuously changing society or combat’s chaos, but also a trans-generational importance of home comforts, family milestones and community togetherness.

In that more joyous spirit, the University of Illinois at Springfield will host “An Early Birthday Party for A. Lincoln” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 in Sangamon Auditorium.

Headlining this musical bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birth will be Ungar and his wife, Molly Mason, who plays mandolin, guitar and piano. The duo is best known for “Ashokan Farewell,” a haunting instrumental immortalized in popular culture by its memorable use in “The Civil War,” Ken Burns’ 1990 PBS documentary. Ungar and Mason will perform that, along with many 19th-century tunes.

Accompanying them will be two Springfield arts groups with UIS connections – the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Band and the Springfield International Folk Dancers. Including those groups, says Sangamon Auditorium director Robert A. Vaughn, continues the auditorium’s ongoing mission to foster local collaboration and expand outreach.

“We’ve made great strides to improve that sense of university ownership while further strengthening collaborative ties with civic arts organizations,” Vaughn says. “It provides the opportunity to see the auditorium as more than just a place that people can go and see performances, but as a tool to enrich curriculum.”

For this artistic complement to Lincoln’s bicentennial birthday on Feb. 12, Vaughn purposely avoided scheduling it at the same time as other planned celebrations.

“I thought it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to try to crowd the calendar at that time, but to have a more modest celebration out on campus,” Vaughn says.

Modest, perhaps, but its deep fidelity to the time period is, in one instance, literal icing on the cake. Shortly after its mustering in 1861, the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry became one of few such regiments to have its own 12-member band. Today, the band is a 25-member group of central Illinois musicians who wear Civil War-style cavalry uniforms and play antique brass instruments and re-produced drums.

Conducting the cavalry band is Todd Cranson, assistant director of co-curricular music at UIS and director of the UIS band and chamber orchestra. Cranson’s polished-ebony baton, inlaid with silver, once belonged to the leader of the 2nd Iowa Cavalry Band, which frequently performed for Abraham Lincoln.

Cranson also has collaborated with Ungar and Mason on adapting their existing arrangements to include the cavalry band’s instrumentation. Although string groups and brass bands of the day often played the same songs, they rarely played together. Modern amplification has simplified blending the instruments, Cranson says.

Among the folk dancers joining the cavalry band onstage during “The Mary Lincoln Polka” will be Amy Zepp – a UIS graduate student in public administration and a graduate assistant at Sangamon Auditorium.

“People were just starting to learn the traditional polka that we think of today,” Zepp says of that selection’s period-specific choreography. “It will be similar to what people are familiar with now, but somewhat more traditional. The positioning of the couple will be farther apart, as such close dancing was considered inappropriate.”

Lastly, in the auditorium lobby after the performance, complimentary birthday cake – from a Mary Todd Lincoln recipe – will be served, along with punch and coffee.

When selecting Ungar and Mason to perform, Vaughn was particularly stricken by the suitability of “Ashokan Farewell.” Ungar composed the piece in 1982 as an elegy for the end of a musically memorable summer. Eight years later, Burns used it numerous times during “The Civil War,” and the tune propelled the soundtrack to a 1991 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album.

Ungar says he may have “unintentionally Americanized” the Scottish lament style with “Ashokan Farewell.” But it since has become synonymous with both the era’s musical style and a general sense of human sadness or longing.

“We hear from a lot of people who’ve not ever seen the ‘Civil War’ series who write me almost in shock, asking, ‘Why am I crying when I hear this tune?’ It’s gratifying to know it touches many people in that way,” Mason says.

“I thought it was embarrassing to play that tune with tears coming out of the corner of my eye,” Ungar says. “But when I saw it did the same for others, it was magical.”

Prior to the concert, Ungar will present a fiddling workshop discussing his music at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 in the Visual and Performing Arts Building. Those interested in participating may call (217) 206-8405.

Alongside “Ashokan Farewell” on the Jan. 31 program will be selections tied to the country’s mid-19th-century mood, Lincoln’s musical preferences and his political legacy.

“The Vacant Chair” sadly chronicles a family gathering with a seat left open in memory of a fallen soldier. A sing-along medley that Ungar and Mason dub “Hits of the ’60s” will touch on popular Union and Confederate melodies.

“We came to understand that the songs of the north were sung in the south and vice versa,” Ungar says. “We were still one cultural unit in some ways. Everyone knew all the songs, and the most powerful ones, the other side would have their own lyrics for them.”

Mason hopes to perform “Listen to the Mockingbird,” an 1855 song reported to be Lincoln’s favorite and one that has lived on as a fiddle-contest favorite.

“The identity in the music we’re looking at here has a very strong emotional content,” Ungar says. “It is very playable and danceable, and has lyrics that speak very directly of people’s feelings, inner life and higher goals to aspire to.”

“It’s one part educational and one part historical to a modern audience, but the major portion is for entertainment,” Cranson says. “The kind of thing it seems Abe liked the most is fun.”

Tickets for “An Early Birthday Party for A. Lincoln” are $37 and are available: online at http://www.sangamonauditorium.org/; by calling (217) 206-6160 or toll free at (800) 207-6960; or from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office.

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