The Know Your U program was launched in August 2019 as a system-wide effort to provide our dedicated employees with opportunities to learn more about the wonderful university they work so hard to support.

The program is designed to provide eligible staff with ways to discover and experience, during their normal workday, the initiatives, research, academic programs, history, and infrastructure at our universities.

Supervisors are strongly encouraged to promote Know Your U engagement for staff in their units and to consider ways to build these experiences into department/unit team building.  The overall goal is to help our valuable staff learn about the exciting and transformational activities that occur across our institutions and to provide ways of enhancing pride in our workplaces.

Upcoming Know Your U Events

Emiquon 2023 Registration

Registration for the Know Your U: Emiquon Nature Preserve Event is live! All permanent Academic Professional and Civil Service employees who have been employed for 6+ months are eligible to participate with supervisory approval. Participants will tour the Field Station and public use areas of the Nature Preserve. If time permits, we will also gather water samples to view in the lab. Attendee spots are limited, so please register now!

To register for the Emiquon trip, please use the link below.

Register for Emiquon 2023

Past Know Your U Activities

November 2022: Moon Party

In November of 2022, Dr. John C. Martin, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics, provided an exclusive opportunity for UIS employees and their guests to learn about the UIS Campus Observatory and to see the moon during a peak time for viewing, as well as amazing views of stars and planets.

UIS Employees pose for a photo on the UIS Observation Deck.
UIS employees pose for a photo on the UIS Observatory deck.
UIS employees observe the sky through a telescope.
UIS employees observe the sky through a telescope.
photo of the moon
UIS employees observe the sky through a telescope.
UIS employees observe the sky through a telescope.
Person sitting at a registration table at the entrance to the UIS Observatory stairwell. stairwell.
Dr. John Martin gives a tour of the UIS Observatory.
Dr. John Martin gives a tour of the UIS Observatory.

February: Acting with Missy Thibideaux-Thompson

In February 2020, employees got to join faculty member, actress, and director Missy Thibideaux-Thompson for a special mini-acting class.  Participants got to learn the basics of voice projection, movement, theater history, acting techniques, and how to put it all together to start ACTING.  Missy talked about what it is like to present to a audience, her favorite roles, answered questions about theater life, how to get involved in productions here at UIS, and in all, taught us some valuable lessons about feeling silly and being ourselves. Learn more about the UIS Theater department.

We missed having you there, but look below for all of the other events scheduled each month of the academic year!

January:  Tour of the Allied Health Athletic Training, Exercise Science and Medical Lab Science

In January, employees enjoyed a tour of the Allied Health facilities and learned about the evolution of the program here at UIS.  Employees learned about the various rooms, technology, and equipment used by this innovative program.  If you missed the tour, or, just want to learn more about the Health Sciences program. at UIS, you can visit the Health Sciences website. A big Thank You to Dr. Celeste Weuve, Program Director, for taking the time to show us all another aspect of what makes UIS different!

December Know Your U:  WUIS/NPR and the UIS Archives

In December, employees got the experience of recording messages for the annual campaign drive for NPR, see the inner workings of the radio station, and even took a trip through the UIS Archives.   A big Thank You to Tom Wood from the UIS University Archives and Beatrice Bonner from NPR for showing us more about our University!

November Know Your U:  Catering and Culinary Arts with Randy Williams!

On November 12th, employees joined Randy Williams and a few members of his staff to learn about proper table setting, see the special china used for events with the Chancellor, see a demonstration of some of the special equipment our culinary workers use, eat a properly cooked chicken breast and even got to learn how to make a fruit dip, a marinade, and mini turtle dessert cups.  Best Part:  We got to take them home!

Randy and the staff assisting him gave us all a great experience with an area that not all of us get to see in our University.  Did anyone else know we have an oven that can cook 16 pizzas in 17 minutes AND has a water hose attached to clean it out without having to touch it?  Or, that our culinary workers actually clean the plates BEFORE putting them through the dishwasher which uses a special environmentally safe cleaner?  Or, if they need potatoes peeled, they are done by hand because it is less wasteful than the machine peeler?  Who knew that Chef Howard makes incredible gumbo, or that he and Randy are both incredibly experienced teachers that take a great joy in seeing their students master the arts of the culinary craft?  Well, now you do, and hopefully you can join us in the future for more events with Know Your U.

A big thank you to Randy and all of the incredible culinary and catering staff.  To watch them all perform their jobs with such excellence, precision, and personal attention is a joy.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Student Union for a meal lately, stop by and watch all of our talented staff in action and enjoy one of the best prepared meals in town (and don’t forget to thank them for everything they do for us)!

The October Experience:  Emiquon

The Therkildsen Field Station connects researchers and students of all ages to the Emiquon Preserve by supporting education and exploration of its complex wildlife and habitats.  On October 4th, a group of UIS employees visited Emiquon wildlife preserve where they went on a guided tour with Tom Rothfus.

Dr. Rothfus received his Ph.D. from the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago in 2005, where he studied invertebrate paleoecology. Before coming to UIS, he served as the Director of the Gerace Research Centre, San Salvador, The Bahamas, where he became increasingly interested in protected areas and the application of the fossil record to conservation questions. Tom currently serves as the Director of UIS’s Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon. His current research interests focus on the Emiquon Preserve and the Illinois River, and include a range of topics from utilizing the shallow fossil record to assess changes in ecological communities, to exploring the semi-aquatic mammal community of the Preserve using camera traps, to evaluating the extent to which litter (plastics in particular) is entering our freshwater systems.

Employees visit Emiquon as part of Know Your U program on October 4th, 2019


Permanent full- or part-time civil service and academic professional (including visiting) staff who have been employed for six months or more are eligible to participate.

Know Your U Activities

Know Your U activities should be those that foster an understanding of and connection to the University of Illinois and present an opportunity to learn about some facet of the university, preferably outside the employee’s normal scope of responsibilities.

Activities already officially designated as Approved Events (Release Time) are not considered activities under the Know Your U Program.  For example, Rising Stars, Employee of the Month/ Employee of the Year Recognition Receptions or Department staff retreats.

  • Example Activities
    Each university and the system offices will maintain a list of suggested activities that would qualify for this program.Examples could include attending a scholarly talk on campus, visiting a lab to learn about cutting-edge research, arranging a tour of a new facility on campus, and/or attending a professor’s investiture.Examples for UIS include:
    • UIS Community Garden -participate from weeds to seeds to harvest.
    • Take a non-guided tour of the student union (play some games, dine, enjoy the fire pits).
    • Check out the newly renovated Brookens Library (More than just books!)
    • Attend a Star Party on the library rooftop.
    • Check out The Recreation and Athletic Center (TRAC). Get a free fitness assessment, take a fitness class (first class free), learn what’s at the TRAC.
    • Attend an APAC/CSAC Fourth Friday event.
    • Attend a student research presentation or dissertation.
    • Register to read to a child at the Cox Childcare Center.
    • Check out the UIS Music Department.  Learn what courses are offered; sit in on a performance.
    • Check out the Art Studio.  View art in the gallery and learn about programs.
    • Visit the Field Station by the Lake.
    • Attend an ECCE series event.
    • Attend a Lincoln Legacy Series event.
    • Attend a campus speaker event.
    • Attend a UIS Athletics Event.
    • Take an online class LinkedIn Learning (offered by ITS) and Mango (offered by Brookens Library).  What can you learn today?
    • Attend or volunteer to help at the Stars Research Symposium
    • Ride along with a UIS Police Officer.  (Contact Police Department for details.)
    • Attend a Student Preview Day and take a Campus Tour (Contact Admissions for details.)
    • Volunteer to help on student move-in day.
    • Volunteer at Springfest
    • Discover the Shakespeare Garden and learn about the flora within Shakespeare’s works.
    • Contact the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center for volunteer opportunities that take place on the UIS campus.
    • Shadow Human Resources (Contact HR office for details.)
    • Other: be creative!UIS HR will be collaborating with other campus entities to offer organized events and guided tours throughout the academic year.  Possible ideas (subject to change!) include:
    • Tour the Residential Simulation Lab. September 12, 2019 
    • Experience Emiquon on October 4th, 2019
    • Back of House of Catering/Banquet Foodservice guided tour. (Sample decadent turtle cups, pineapple and Princess Fruit Dip and learn Chef’s secret recipe!)
    • Tour WUIS. December 3, 2019 3pm  
    • Tour UIS archives.  December 6, 2019 2pm  
    • With Tour Dept. of Allied Health which consists of Athletic Training, Exercise Science and Medical Lab Science programs.  January  17, 2020  2:30pm to 4:30pm
    • Attend a mini acting class taught by a UIS Theatre professor.  February 27, 2020
    • Learn about the Illinois Innocence Project.  March 30, 2020 10:45am PAC (postponed until further notice)
    • Tour Innovate Springfield.  April 2020 (postponed until further notice)
    • Visit a UIS Greenhouse & Take a Campus Landscape Tour.   May 2020 (postponed until further notice)
    • Tour a Residence Hall and Student Housing. Tour the Nursing Department and see how this UIC program works.   June 2020 (postponed until further notice)
    • Take a guided tour of COLRS and attend a Generation Z workshop.  July 2020 (postponed until further notice)
    • Tour the Performing Arts Center.  August 2020 (postponed until further notice)
    • Get a behind the scenes tour of Illinois State Museum’s Research and Collections Center and learn about ISM’s partnerships with UIS.  Sept 2020 (postponed until further notice)

Time Usage

Length of Time

Up to eight (8) hours may be granted each academic year (August 16 – August 15).  Activities typically will be in one- to two-hour increments and can be done individually or in groups. Once an employee uses eight (8) hours of time in an academic year, the employee is not eligible again under the Know Your U Program until the next academic year.

Employees will be granted this time during their normal work day and should NOT use accumulated vacation leave or floating holidays when participating in an approved event under this program. This program cannot be exchanged for a day off from work; it may be used only to participate in activities related to the University of Illinois. Additionally, department/unit events (e.g., office retreats; holiday events; team building workshops) should not count towards the employee’s eight (8) hours of activity time. Unused hours will not carry over into the next academic year and have no monetary value if not used.


Participating in the Know Your U Program should be arranged at a time that is workable for both the employee and the department. When requesting to participate, the employee must provide his/her supervisor with as much advanced notification as possible. Supervisors may deny the request based on operational needs.

Employees should obtain prior supervisory approval before attending or participating in a Know Your U activity by using the Know Your U Time Request form.

Reporting Activity Time

Time spent participating in an approved activity is considered work time during the normal scheduled work day and is not subject to overtime and should not extend an employee’s workday or workweek. Civil Service non-exempt (overtime eligible) employees should report the time as regular straight time in the appropriate time reporting increments. There is no reporting requirement for overtime exempt academic and civil service employees as there is no leave usage.

Know Your U Reporting

Benefits Continuation

Because activity time is considered work time, employees continue to receive the same State and University benefits. All State-paid contributions continue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to commonly asked questions can be found on the Know Your U FAQ.

Who to Contact with Additional Questions

Contact Human Resources if you have questions about this program: (217) 206-6652