End-of-year Message, May 2017

Dear Colleagues:

With much-anticipated graduation just around the corner, we have experienced another academic year with extraordinary successes as well as some some adversity. No matter the challenge — when we apply our collective wisdom, creativity and energy — we can meet it, solve it and emerge stronger.

In this spirit, I offer my profound gratitude to campus leaders who devoted untold hours and commitment into often thankless assignments: Campus Senate Chair Ranjan Karri, APAC Chair Maureen Hoover and CSAC President Jo Barnard. UIS student leaders also deserve special mention – my thanks to Austin Mehmet for serving as SGA President and to Nathan Hoffman for representing UIS as Student Trustee on the UI Board of Trustees. Ranjan, Maureen, Jo, Austin and Nathan took on major responsibilities in an effort to strengthen and promote UIS, and they deserve our appreciation.

I’m pleased to announce, as you likely already know, that a tentative agreement between the University administration and the new UIS faculty union has been reached. A ratification vote for the new contract was scheduled for today. As we move forward with this new collective bargaining unit on campus, we are committed to working together to realize more of the aspirations of our students, faculty and all those who belong to out university family.

It has been my pleasure to share in celebrating the contributions and successes of several exceptional UIS staff members this year, including:

  • Barbara Cass, Online Program Coordinator, CAPE Award for outstanding performance by an Academic Professional
  • Tisha Palmer, Administrative Aide to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, CARE Award for excellence in Civil Service
  • Joy Thibadeau, Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Graduate Education, UIS Employee of the Year

Faculty honors awarded this year included:

  • Dr. Peter Shapinsky (History) – University Scholar
  • Dr. Amy McEuen (Biology) – Pearson Award for Outstanding Teaching
  • Dr. Jorge Villegas (Business Administration) – Spencer Award for Exemplary Service
  • Dr. Scott Day (Educational Leadership) – Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Dr. Cheng-Chia (Brian) Chen (Public Health) – Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award

These honorees, and so many others on our campus, exemplify “Leadership lived” and inspire our community every day.

Last year at this time, we were giddy over the groundbreaking for the new UIS Student Union and now we are less than a year away from cutting the ribbon at its grand opening. Having joined Director of Facilities and Services Chuck Coderko for several group construction tours already, I have been struck by the incredible space and beauty of this campus-altering project. It is going to exceed the expectations of everyone and I hope you’ve saved Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. on your calendar for the grand opening. (Note: you can still monitor live construction progress during daylight hours.)

After unveiling our exceptional Abraham Lincoln sculpture last year, we took another step in beautifying our campus with the addition of the Shakespeare Garden. This project required careful attention to detail, planning and execution; Brian Beckerman and the entire grounds crew not only unveiled the garden with panache, they have maintained it as an eye-catching and inviting new destination for students, staff and visitors to our campus.

As I’ve done before, allow me to highlight some examples of the great work of our colleagues and students this past year:

The Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) certification program, under the direction of Professor Betsy Goulet, was named one of only three Gunderson National Child Protection Training Center-approved programs in the United States. The UIS CAST certification program was launched in the spring semester of 2015 and uses a Residential Simulation Lab and mock courtroom on campus to teach students how to better protect at-risk children and families.

Students from the UIS Clinical Laboratory Science Program captured the state title in the Student Bowl competition at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.

Hundreds of UIS Students helped collect a record 14,085 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank on Halloween night for Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods.

The Illinois Innocence Project helped with the release of a Decatur man who was wrongfully convicted and had been imprisoned for 18 years. Six UIS students assisted on his case.

In one of the largest volunteer efforts of the year, more than 100 UIS students participated in the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The students volunteered at ten Springfield locations.

The College of Business and Management’s accreditation by the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) was reaffirmed. The UIS College of Business and Management was first accredited by AACSB International in 2007 and the last reaffirmation took place in 2012. AACSB is known for advancing quality business education programs worldwide.

Several UIS student-athletes were named all-conference (All-GLVC) this year in their respective sports. Some other highlights this Spring include: the UIS women’s golf team advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals; UIS golfer Talon Supak advanced to the NCAA Central/Midwest Regional; UIS women’s tennis team advanced to the GLVC tournament for the first time in program history; UIS baseball player Michael Rothmund was leading the entire country in all three NCAA Divisions in home runs (24) as the Prairie Stars began GLVC postseason play.

The Athletic Academic Honor Roll included 171 student athletes with 20 earning a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Tomorrow, UIS will have the largest number of students participate in Commencement in the history of the university. Of the 1,836 students eligible to graduate, 1,270 will participate in the ceremony and it will be my privilege to shake the hand of each one of them. As part of our celebration, Memorial Health System President Ed Curtis will be awarded an honorary degree and provide some words of inspiration for everyone in attendance.

Thanks to you, we are maintaining the positive momentum of our campus. As we close another academic year, thank you so much for all that you’ve done to contribute to another great year at UIS. I remain so proud to be your Chancellor because I believe so deeply in the promise of our campus.

Have a great summer, everyone!

With all best wishes,

Susan J. Koch, Chancellor

Chancellor Susan J. Koch