Center for State Policy and Leadership

The Center for State Policy and Leadership promotes evidence-based policy and practice in the public sector.

This Center’s mission is carried out through research that informs public decisions and understanding; internships, training programs, and applied problem solving that strengthens public leadership; and journalism that educates and engages citizens in public affairs. The Center:

  • Researches, evaluates, and helps form effective public policy,
  • Educates citizens on public affairs issues, and
  • Provides leadership and professional development programs.

CSPL Executive Director Dr. David Racine Retiring

After 15 years at UIS in various roles carrying out the Public Affairs mission, culminating in his leadership as Executive Director of the Center for State Policy & Leadership,  Dr. David Racine is retiring on June 30.  He brought to this campus leadership experience as varied as his roles as Legislative Director to U.S. Senator John C. Danforth (MO) and Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Tom Kean of New Jersey (Trenton, NJ) to Advisor to President and then Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer of the Points of Light Foundation in Washington, DC, to Vice President of Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia, PA.

His leadership as Executive Director oversees the University’s unique Center for State Policy and Leadership, which includes the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies/Survey Research Office, Institute for Illinois Public Finance, NPR Illinois, Graduate Public Service Internship Program, Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program, Office of Electronic Media, Innovate Springfield, Illinois Innocence Project, and Child Protection Training Academy.

His title, however, does not begin to describe his contributions.  Internal to the Center, Dr. Racine has been a mentor and advisor as well as a leader and cheerleader to those leading the units he oversees.  His door was always open and no problem was too challenging for him to take on.

The struggle to define the defining roles of Public Affairs and Public Service has been part of the campus’ history from its founding.  Dr. Racine has been an indefatigable advocate for Center as the centerpiece for public affairs and public service research through some of the most difficult budgetary and bureaucratic times of the campus.  His objective success can be illustrated in the dramatic growth of departments, such as NPR Illinois, the Illinois Innocence Project and the Child Protection Training Academy. ​

The leadership and experienced voice that David Racine brings to the table will be sorely missed.


NPR Illinois Awarded First Place in 3 Categories of the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association





Molly Lamb name the new Executive Director of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership


Current CSPL Executive Director Dr. David Racine will retire the end of June.




2019 Annual Report

Each year, the Center for State Policy and Leadership issues an annual report highlighting key developments and accomplishments from the past year.

Previous Annual Reports

The UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI) is expanding to Chicago!


Illinois Innocence Project – POSTPONED

13th Annual Defenders of the Innocent Event

Featuring: The Exoneree Band and Amanda Knox!



Institute for Illinois Public Finance

IIPF Director and Distinguish Professor Dr. Kenneth Kriz presents his research on State and local government pension systems in new report

Are Illinois State and Local Governments Contributing Enough to Their Pension Plans to Pay Down Their Debt?


Dr. Arwi Kriz authored a new study regarding the efficiency of Illinois State Government.
Efficiency Across All States
Efficiency of Illinois Government





U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visits the Child Protection Training Academy simulation lab to learn how we’re training front line child protection workers and first responders how to better protect Illinois children.



Congratulations to the Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Intern
Hall of Fame Inductees

2018-19 Inductees:

David B. Menchetti

       John D. Nicolay

   Kevin G. Schoeben

Special Recognition was given to retiring UIS Faculty member Ronald D. Michaelson for his contributions to ILSIP and the PAR program.

Ronald D. Michaelson


2019 Samuel K. Gove Hall of Fame

Survey Research Office

Visit the Survey Research Office for the most recent release of the Illinois Issues Survey 


Child Protection Training Academy 

Newly Renovated Mock Courtroon in OEM TV Studio Serves as Training Lab for Child Protection Investigators

The UIS Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA), in partnership with DCFS, has a newly renovated mock courtroom located in the UIS Office of Electronic Media (OEM). The renovations were spearheaded by Professor Dathan Powell, OEM Director Cody Pope and CPTA Principal Investigator Dr. Betsy Goulet. The courtroom serves as the training lab for new child protection investigators and other frontline child welfare professionals. Judge John Mehlick, a retired Sangamon County Judge “presides” over the courtroom and numerous other volunteers from the Juvenile Court system lend their expertise.


Illinois Innocence Project 

Student Volunteer Inspired to Help Fix Criminal Justice System

UIS Senior Tyler Brown of Quincy, IL, recently went on his first prison legal visit and finally got to meet an Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) client whose case he has been working on over the past year. “It was incredible to meet him. He was nervous but sat calmly while the attorneys talked to him about every detail of his case. It was definitely a learning experience for me.”
Tyler was inspired to volunteer for IIP when he learned about prosecutorial misconduct in UIS’ Conviction of the Innocent class, taught by Project attorneys. “I was shocked by how some prosecutors choose to use false testimony by ‘jailhouse snitches’ to make a case against an innocent person.” Tyler will learn about another aspect of the criminal justice system by joining IIP’s policy team. He will track legislation emerging in the 2020 General Assembly that may threaten the prevention of wrongful convictions. After graduation in May, Tyler plans to take the LSAT with the goal of beginning law school in fall 2021.

University of Illinois Springfield students are helping to free the wrongfully convicted by interning and volunteering at the Illinois Innocence Project on campus.


Graduate Public Service Internship 

The Office of Graduate Intern Programs seeks experiential learning opportunities at state and local government agencies for UIS graduate students.

The Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI) is ranked as one of the Illinois’ premier governmental internship programs.

Innovate Springfield

Springfield’s first and only University-led Social Innovation and Business Incubator

UIS Survey Research Office Completes 2019 Sangamon County Citizen Survey

The 2019 Sangamon County Citizen Survey is the fourth iteration in an ongoing project that aims to evaluate resident assessments of the quality of life in Sangamon County. Results are based on a mail survey conducted by the Survey Research Office at University of Illinois Springfield of 652 randomly selected Sangamon County residents on over 60 questions across several different areas, including: culture and recreation, social well-being, health, education, economy, gambling, government    and civic participation, environment, and public safety.

Full Report Available Here

CSPL Institute for Illinois Public Finance Director Co-Edits New Book

Dr. Kenneth Kriz, Director      UIS Institute for Illinois Public Finance

Dr. Ken Kriz, Director of the Institute for Illinois Public Finance within the Center for State Policy and Leadership, is Co-Editor of a new book

Tax Increment Financing and Economic Development, Second Edition”.


Hear Sean Crawford of NPR Illinois interview with Ken Kriz

NPR Illinois logo

University of Illinois and the Illinois Innovation Network

Innovate Springfield, housed within the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership, is the first Hub of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN). Dr. Ken Kriz and Katie Davison, both with the Center, along with UIS Chancellor, Dr. Susan Koch, and Bruce Sommer, UIS Director of Economic Development, provided a presentation in May to the Citizens Club of Springfield regarding UIS and its’ participation in the IIN.


The UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership Welcomes Dr. Alan Simmons

Dr. Alan J. (AJ) Simmons is proud to be the new Director of the UIS Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) and the Survey Research Office (SRO). In his role, AJ hopes to help people, governments, and organizations collect actionable data to make informed, evidence-based, decisions. AJ previously worked in the SRO as the Graduate Research Assistant prior to completing his PhD in Political Science from Arizona State University and leading a team of researchers for the Arizona state government. He is married to Valerie and they have two daughters. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, their two dogs, reading, hiking, fishing, playing and watching soccer, and gardening.

Congratulations to the Bill Miller Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame Inductees

2019 Honorary Inductee Charlie Wheeler

Charlie Wheeler, III Public Affairs Reporting Program Director
Charlie Wheeler with Nancy Pistorius, daughter of Bill Miller

Congratulations to Charlie Wheeler for his honorary induction into the PAR Hall of Fame.  Charlie has been with the University for 25 Years!  

2018-19 Inductees:

Patty Culhane

Correspondent, Al Jazeera English
PAR Class of 1994-95

Natasha Korecki

National Correspondent, POLITICO
PAR Class of 1996-97

Trif Alatzas

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Baltimore Sun Media
PAR Class of 1988-89

View more photos from an amazing night here – 2019 PAR Hall of Fame

2019 CSPL Annual Convocation

The UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership held its’ Annual Convocation in April. Units within the Center provided highlights of activities for this past year. Below are a few photos from the event –

Select 2019 Convocation to see more photos and video from the event.


New Book on Capital Management
Co-Authored by Center Staff

Book Image
Published by IGI Global. (

This book describes, compares, and evaluates public infrastructure investment policy and practices in twelve countries based on principles recommended by public finance experts. The book finds that the best performers have a skilled workforce recruited through merit-based systems, are situated in relatively less corrupt countries, and are where decision makers are more saving- and investment-oriented. As an outcome of stronger strategic public infrastructure spending processes, these best performers tend to invest in public infrastructure networks more than other countries and are more efficient in their investment. Lead co-author Dr. Awri Srithongrung is a research fellow with the Center’s new Institute for Illinois Public Finance.


Center Releases New Statewide Survey

The 2018 Illinois Issues Survey is the first in a planned long-term project which examines the policy preferences of Illinoisans. The study examines policy issues relevant both at the state and national levels across a wide variety of areas. Questions pertaining to immigration, gun control, taxes and the economy, and education policy are asked. The study is designed in a such a way that the interested public and policy makers can make use of the results, which are representative of registered voters in Illinois.

This report references the overall results of the study (which can also be found in the “Topline” appendix on pg. 24) and compares results across a variety of demographic groups such as geography, political affiliation, and ethnic background. A total of 717 registered Illinois voters were surveyed in July and August, 2018 by telephone researchers at UIS. The margin of error for the survey is + 3.7% at the 95% confidence level. A brief methodological report is appended on pg. 23.

Research was conducted by the UIS Survey Research Office in the Center for State Policy and Leadership. This report was written by SRO Research Manager Matthew Case with assistance from Center for State Policy and Leadership Executive Director David Racine.

Download the report at 2018_Illinois_Issues_Survey.


Center Announces Innovate Springfield

Innovate Springfield joins the Center for State Policy and Leadership, becomes first hub of Illinois Innovation Network

Innovate Springfield, a downtown Springfield innovation and business incubator, has joined the University of Illinois Springfield’s Center for State Policy and Leadership, effective Aug. 1, 2018, under an agreement aimed at expanding economic growth, entrepreneurship opportunities and social progress in the capital city.

In joining UIS, the four-year-old incubator, founded in 2014 by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, will be the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN). The new initiative, led by the U of I System, was announced in fall 2017 and is being developed to accelerate statewide job creation and economic development through groundbreaking research and innovation.

Read more about the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network

The Center: News