Friday, December 18, 2009

UIS graduate students collect holiday gifts for needy children

The holidays will be a little brighter for 53 elementary students at Feitshans Academy in Springfield this year thanks to a group of UIS graduate students.

The Graduate Public Service Internship -Student Association collected toys as part of its annual “Giving Tree” project. UIS students, faculty and staff selected ornaments from the “Giving Tree” that contained a child’s name and age. The donors then purchased gifts to donate to the children.

“I would say every kid ended up with 2 or 3 different gifts. We had over 100 presents. We had one special donor who provided stockings for each one of the kids and they were all age appropriate,” said Lynsey Graham, GPSI-SA president and MBA student.

The graduate students gathered together to wrap all the presents that were collected before delivering them to the students at Feitschans Academy. All of the elementary students were nominated for a gift based on their need by the school.

“Every year we’ve done this it’s gotten bigger and bigger, more and more successful and more people are participating, so it really gives me hope in the future it’s going to grow where we can help even more people,” said Laura Weems, GPSI-SA member and communications graduate student.

The graduate students say they had fun shopping for the presents and it brought back childhood memories of their own.

“It was great to go pick something out and really put thought into what I liked at that age,” said Weems.

For more information on the Graduate Public Service – Student Association visit:

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UIS Computer Science student among winners in international contest

Tejesh Morla (left), a graduate student in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is among the recent winners in the MySQL and GlassFish Contest sponsored by SUN MicroSystems.

Morla won second place in the General Students category of the contest, which challenged participants to create a web application using MySQL and Glassfish along with Java. His winning project was a basic web application that responds to customers' needs to register on a site to place and view orders, as well as administrators' needs to view and list all registered customers. He then created an in-depth blog entry that detailed the steps he took to develop his application and how he used MySQL and GlassFish in the process. Second-place winners in each contest category received $250.

Morla said he first heard about the global contest through an e-mail sent by UIS Computer Science Department chair Dr. Ted Mims, adding, "One of my friends always says there should be something in your resume that sets you apart from the others, so I thought I should participate to get some experience."

He said that the project took a lot of time and research. "At one point, I thought I would never make it," he said. “But I am very excited and can't believe that I happened to win."

UIS' graduate program in Computer Science is oriented toward students interested in the design, analysis, and implementation of software programs. Graduate students must complete a comprehensive closure exercise to demonstrate the ability to formulate, investigate, and analyze a problem and to report results in writing and orally.

Founded in 1982, Sun Microsystems, Inc. is a multinational vendor of computers, computer components, computer software, and information technology services.

For more information, contact Mims at 206-7326.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

History graduate wins UIS outstanding master's thesis award

Heather Wickens has won the University of Illinois at Springfield's Chapin Outstanding Master's Thesis award for the 2007-08 academic year. Her thesis – titled "The Lasting Legacy of Eliza Lucas Pinckney" – was chosen from among 11 theses and projects nominated by graduate departments at the university.

Wickens' work describes the major influences that shaped American agriculturist Eliza Pinckney into a figure of historical significance and her key role in the development of her sons -- Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Thomas Pinckney, military and political leaders during the Revolutionary period.

Dr. Deborah McGregor, associate professor of History who chaired Wickens' thesis committee, noted, "Heather's thesis is carefully articulated and thematically developed. It establishes historical context for Pinckney's notable achievements and presents a history of a strong woman whose life as a scientist and a parent significantly contributed to the creation and preservation of the South Carolina elite during the Revolutionary period."

Wickens received the master of arts degree in History in May 2008 and currently lives and works in Boston.

Michael Rossetto, who earned a master of arts degree in Biology, received a Special Merit Award. Rossetto's thesis was titled "The Effectiveness of Cryogenic Practices to Preserve a Sediment Bacterial Assemblage from Central Park, New York." Dr. Michael Lemke, associate professor of Biology, served as his committee chair.

Rossetto's work focused on the identification and recovery of culturable bacteria from a representative sediment community. The first part of his study used a traditional, nutritionally rich clinical media for growing bacteria, while the second part used a technique that suggested that trace minerals and simple organic molecules represent the partially "starved" state of a bacteria in nature and thus favored culturing of both common and novel strains.

Noted Lemke, "I am proud of Mike's accomplishments and his significant contributions to the field. His thinking went from having a fundamental understanding of the biological world to commanding an exceptionally insightful line of investigation that embraced advanced molecular techniques as well as the appropriate application of traditional methods."

The UIS Research Board reviews nominated theses and projects and makes the final selection. Lynn Pardie, UIS associate vice chancellor for graduate education and research, said that the board was impressed by the high quality of each of the nominated reports. "Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task," she said.

Other students who were nominated, their theses or projects, and their programs, are: Karina Kazintseva (Communication), "Scrutinizing the Process of Second Language Acquisition Through a Lens of the Cultural Capital Theory"; Sheldon Linker (Computer Science), "A Knowledge Base and Question Answering System Based on Loglan and English"; John Barrett (Educational Leadership), "Cross-Curricular Vocabulary Instruction Utilizing Brain Based Treatment"; Meghan Harmon (English), "And to Her Astonishment, There Was No Blood: Comprehending the (Fictional) Suicides of Quentin Compson and Milkman Dead"; Kris McDonald (Environmental Studies), "Program Evaluation of the Eco-U Summer Nature Camp"; Paula Dal Canton (Human Development Counseling), "An End to Bullying Begins with Teachers: An Informational Workshop for Middle School Teachers"; Julia Ramirez (Human Services), "Lit from Within: Insights into Successful Aging from the Dominican Sisters of Sacred Heart Convent"; Brent Judd (Liberal and Integrative Studies), "William Faulkner and the Symbolist Movement: Absalom, Absalom as a Reflection of Mallerme's L'Apres-mide"; and Stephen Newell (Management Information Systems), "An Information System Architecture and Maturity Model to Support State and Local Government Homeland Security."

All 11 students will be honored at a reception to be held in February 2009.

Research Board members are Pardie, who serves as chair; UIS faculty members Jason Barker, Thomas Clausen, Denise Somers, and Chris Mooney; and Lenore Killam, staff in UIS' College of Public Affairs and Administration.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

U.S. News & World Report gives UIS top rankings

U.S. News & World Report’s 2009 Edition of America’s Best Colleges ranks the University of Illinois at Springfield as the best public university - Master’s category - in the state of Illinois and the fourth best public university in that category in the entire Midwest. The Master’s category includes colleges and universities that provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs but only a few, if any, doctoral programs.

The prestigious rankings placed UIS at 26 on a list of 71 top public and private colleges and universities in the 12-state Midwest region that includes, in addition to Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. UIS was ranked 4th best among the 15 public universities on the list.

“This really represents a singular moment for this institution and one toward which we’ve been building for a long time,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. “We had no idea that UIS would be ranked so high and certainly didn’t expect to be ranked the best public university in our category in the entire state of Illinois and the 4th best in the Midwest. To say we’re thrilled is an understatement.”

Ringeisen said that it came as a surprise to be ranked so high particularly because it was the first time that the university was eligible for such rankings. “We were not eligible to be ranked by U.S. News until two years after we graduated our first class of freshmen,” he said. “That fact alone – being given such high marks the first time we were eligible to receive them – is particularly gratifying.”

UIS enrolled its first class of freshmen to the Capital Scholars Honors Program in fall 2001.

The rankings are based on several key measures of quality including peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving.

U.S. News also gave UIS a high ranking in a category called “Great Schools, Great Prices” for being among only five public universities in the Master’s category in the Midwest with students who graduate with the least debt. UIS was the 3rd best on the list with a total of 71% of its students graduating with an average debt of $12,309.

Ringeisen credited Provost Harry Berman, the deans and faculty in UIS’ four colleges, and the enrollment management staff for their tireless efforts in building the quality and reputation of the university. “These incredible rankings are a direct result of the dedication and hard work of our faculty and our academic and student affairs staffs.”

UIS offers 22 bachelor’s degrees, 20 master’s degrees and one doctoral degree in Public Administration.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

UIS graduate signs copies of new book on campus

By Courtney Westlake

UIS hosted a book signing with award-winning author Carol Manley on Wednesday evening, June 11, in the Public Affairs Center restaurant. Manley signed copies of her latest novel, Church Booty, which was a runner-up for the third annual Tartts Fiction Award.

Manley is a 2003 graduate of UIS and received her master's degree in English. She is currently a guest editor of the People's Poetry column in Illinois Times.

In 2006, Manley won a $7,000 Illinois Arts Council fellowship, as well as first place, third place, and seven honorable mentions in the categories of literary/mainstream short fiction and non-rhyming poetry in a contest sponsored by Writer's Digest.

Church Booty is Manley's second story. After her daughter got in a car accident a few years ago, and then Manley became involved in a couple of churches, these experiences led her to develop the characters and plot in Church Booty, she said.

Manley feels Church Booty could have easily been the winner of the Tartts Fiction Award, but, as evidence of her strong writing, it is the first time that the editors published the runner-up novel in addition to the winner.

"I've come in second to stories I haven't thought were as good as mine, but they're more dignified," Manley said. "But they've never done this before, never published the runner-up."

Manley said she has heard from her publisher that the people working on editing and publishing the book have enjoyed reading it. And to her credit, there was nothing they changed in the book, she said.

There have been delays in the book's release, but that didn't stop UIS professor emerita and Manley's mentor Dr. Jackie Jackson from organizing the book signing on Wednesday.

"It's exciting. It's all Jackie Jackson; she put it all together and pressured me," Manley laughed. "I'm really surprised and happy to see all these people. I think that people really like the book."

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two UIS online degree programs ranked among "best buys" in national survey

Two online degree programs at the University of Illinois at Springfield – the master of science in Computer Science and the master of science in Management Information Systems – were rated among the top dozen programs in a recent national survey conducted by, the only consumer-oriented, online degree clearinghouse in the country. The survey looks at tuition costs at accredited, distance-learning computer science and information systems degree programs nationwide.

The survey, "Top 29 Ranked Best Buys, Online Graduate Degrees in Computer Science and Information Technology," identifies trends in online degree pricing that directly impact consumers as they go online to earn degrees. The "Best Buy" designation indicates that the programs have been reviewed and judged to offer a high-quality distance degree to a national audience at tuition rates well below the national average and recognize an institution's efforts toward making quality education more accessible through innovative delivery methods coupled with fiscally responsive practices.

The number one spot in the survey went to Columbus State University (Georgia) with a cost of $5,436 for an online master's degree in Applied Computer Science. UIS' master's of science in Computer Science, at number five, cost $8,032 and the master's of science in Management Information Systems, at number twelve, cost $11,044. The most expensive degree in the survey, an M.S. with an Information Systems concentration, was offered by Baker College, in Michigan, at a cost of $17, 325. Honorable mentions were made to three institutions – in Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri – each with costs of over $18,000.

GetEducated CEO Vicky Phillips noted, "College costs at residential programs have skyrocketed in the last decade; however, the same is not true for online degree programs. We launched our national Best Buy award program to spotlight and promote the true affordable gems of higher education."

UIS' graduate program in Computer Science is oriented toward students interested in the design, analysis, and implementation of software programs. Graduate students must complete a comprehensive closure exercise to demonstrate the ability to formulate, investigate, and analyze a problem and to report results in writing and orally.

The master's degree in Management Information Systems is designed to provide the professional administrator/manager with a balance between technical expertise and organizational knowledge in the application of information technology to solve business problems. All MIS graduates must complete a graduate project or thesis, the nature of which is contingent on the individual's career goals, or complete the MIS Capstone course.

UIS presently offers eight master's degree programs completely online: Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Human Services Administration, Legal Studies, Management Information Systems, Public Administration, Public Health, and Teacher Leadership.

Online undergraduate degree programs include Business Administration, Computer Science, Economics, English, History, Liberal Studies, Mathematics, and Philosophy. UIS also offers certificate programs and many individual courses online.

See the complete results of the survey.

See more information about UIS Online.

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