Thursday, April 22, 2010

Springfield Police donate bicycles to UIS Diversity Center checkout program

The Springfield Police Department donated six unclaimed bicycles to the University of Illinois Springfield’s Diversity Center Go-Green Bike Checkout Program during a ceremony on Thursday, April 22.

The concept of the program is to loan bikes, free of charge, to the University community. A user completes an agreement checkout form, agrees to the terms and conditions of use, and can borrow the bike for five days.

“Many of our students are international students, so they come to UIS and their not able to bring their own bikes,” said Jeannie Capranica, Diversity Center program manager.

Students, who often don’t have cars, use the bikes to travel off campus to shop at the grocery store and other locations. Diane Sahagun is a sophomore Communication major, who often uses a loaner bike to get around. She’s glad to see more bikes being added to the mix, because often there’s a long waiting list.

“I think it will help students a lot and it will make a difference,” said Sahagun.

The Diversity Center currently has seven bikes that it uses for the program, but maintenance has been an issue. The bikes being donated by the Springfield Police Department are safety tested and ready for use.

Springfield Police Chief Robert Williams is a UIS graduate himself. His department decided to donate to the Diversity Center because he knows the bikes will go to good use.

“It just gives us an opportunity to reach into the community and do a very worth wild service,” said Williams.

Williams says many of the bicycles that were donated are either stolen or have sat unclaimed in the evidence room for a long period of time.

The Diversity Center is currently looking to expand its bike fleet. If you have a bicycle you’d like to donate to the program or to make a donation to the fund contact Jeannie Capranica at 217/206-6333.

Visit the Diversity Center website for more information on the checkout program

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

UIS student receives award for leadership and academics

University of Illinois Springfield student Brett Walker has recently received the William N. Wasson Student Leadership & Academic Award, given by the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA).

The award recognizes top undergraduate and graduate students who are participants of and/or employed by the Department of Recreational Sports at their university and honors outstanding student leaders who are active participants, employees or volunteers at their institution.

Walker, a senior legal studies major from Greenville, Ill., has been employed by the Department of Recreational Sports at UIS since the fall of 2007, first as a front desk attendant and currently as a facility supervisor. He was nominated for the award by JT Timmons, director of Recreational Sports.

“I’ve had thousands of students work for me over the years and have come to recognize the character and abilities that would exemplify the most worthy to receive this distinguished award,” Timmons noted. “Brett models these things while working for Recreational Sports, and it is also clear to me that he has become part of the fabric that is critical to influencing, and caring for, the learning environment here at UIS. His dedication to Recreational Sports and the university, as well as current and future students, is appreciated by many.”

Walker’s award is a plaque designed by NIRSA, and it will be presented at the Student Business Meeting of the annual NIRSA conference held in Anaheim, California on April 22.

“I was extremely excited and surprised to receive the award,” Walker said. “Just being nominated was really impressive and honorable.”

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Public invited to participate in UIS study abroad course in Japan

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Global Experience program will be offering a short course on Japanese language and culture in Ashikaga, Japan during the second and third weeks of June. Members of the public community, in addition to degree-seeking students, are invited and welcome to participate.

The daily schedule in Ashikaga will include instruction in Japanese language and culture on the campus of the Ashikaga Institute of Technology (AIT), UIS’ sister university in Japan. Participants will be able to experience a tea ceremony, Japanese cuisine, flower arranging, Buddhist meditation, calligraphy and Japanese martial arts.

Each day will include educational field trips including trips to the Mayor's Office and City Hall; the Civil Engineering Department and Environmental Studies Program at AIT; the Kurita Porcelain Museum; the Ashikaga Gakko, the oldest university in Japan; the Bannaji Buddhist Temple; a farm or factory and a public school. In addition, participants will attend field trips to the Nikko Nature Preserve and Shinto Temple complex and to Tokyo.

Lodging will be in a combination of hotels, guest houses and home stays. All expenses, lodging, meals (with the exception of a few lunches), local and international travel and entrance fees are included in the program fee. Tuition and university fees for degree-seeking students are not included in the program fee, however. It is anticipated that the program fee will be approximately $2,500, dependent upon international airfare.

The deadline for signing up for the course is March 26.

For more information and application materials, contact the UIS Office of International Programs at 217/206-8319 or email

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Children at Cox collect school supplies for local district

By Courtney Westlake

A small group of children from the Cox Children's Center enjoyed the outdoors on Wednesday morning, July 29, as they read books and sang songs by the Colonnade. But, more importantly, the kids greeted and thanked several staff and faculty members who stopped by to donate school supplies that the kids were collecting in a big green wagon to give to local schools.

"We're collecting school supplies for the kids that need them," explained five-year-old Ryan. Some supplies collected included "paper, glue, pencils, colored pencils, markers, crayons," Ryan said.

Ryan and classmate Blake agreed that it feels good to help out other children and share supplies they collect.

"We need to give other kids stuff so they can go to school," Blake said.

The Cox Children's Center on UIS' campus - which cares for infants through children age five during the school year, and through age 14 during the summer - does a few service projects every year to stay involved with the local community, said Stacey Gilmore, director of the center.

"We want to help kids understand why it's important, at an early age, to get involved with the community and help others who might need our help," she said. "This is something kids can relate to. They're fortunate enough that they can go to school and have the supplies they need to succeed. It's our goal is to help others get that same early start."

Children of UIS students attend school in the Ball Chatham district, so the school supplies collected at the Cox Center will be donated to that school district, Gilmore said.

"It's important for us to help those families," she said.

On Wednesday, some of the children at Cox gathered at the Colonnade to make it convenient for anyone wanting to donate to bring supplies out to the kids, but the Children's Center will also be collecting supplies at the center until August 4. Collection boxes are set up in each classroom of the facility.

Some supplies that are needed include: #2 pencils, 24-count crayons, backpacks, red pens, large erasers, Fiskar-brand scissors, folders with pockets, 3X5 lined index cards, yellow highlighters, rulers, tissues, compasses, 3-subject spiral notebooks, pen/pencil carrying cases, Scotch tape and much more. For a complete list, contact the Cox Children's Center.

Gilmore said they are extremely proud of the children's efforts at Cox to help collect supplies to donate.

"A lot of these families are not very well off themselves, but it's amazing to me that they still will make it a point to bring in something, even if it's just a box of crayons, to help their children understand that this is important," she said. "So we are proud that they take that responsibility on."

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

UIS expands student exchange programs with four new universities

The University of Illinois at Springfield has signed four new agreements with universities outside of the United States to expand its offerings and study abroad opportunities for students, staff and faculty.

UIS has signed a general affiliation agreement with the Universidade Estadual De Maringa (UEM), a state university in the State of Parana, Brazil. The agreement sets the stage for the development of student, staff and faculty exchange programs, collaborative research and team teaching. Faculty members from each university have already made visits to the other’s campus, and this June, Dr. Mike Lemke, professor of biology, and UIS student Rene Debelak will be visiting UEM for microbiological study of the Parana River.

UIS has expanded its cooperative endeavors with Heilongjiang University (HU) in Harbin, China. For more than 10 years, UIS and HU have been exchanging faculty, and with the new exchange agreement, the universities will now begin to exchange students.

The exchange is structured so that UIS students may study at HU for a semester, a full academic year or for part of or all of a summer term at HU. It is anticipated that UIS will offer a summer program in Chinese language and culture at HU during the summer of 2010.

UIS has also established a student exchange program with the University of Hull in East Yorkshire, England. Up to four students per year from each university will be able to study on the other’s campus while paying their home tuition. Students may study for a semester or for the full academic year.

Finally, UIS’ exchange program with the University of Colima in Mexico has been expanded to include an online component. Students from both campuses will be able to enroll in select courses in Political Science starting in the fall of 2009. Courses at the University of Colima will focus on the politics of Mexico, both domestic and international. Students will pay tuition and fees to their home campus.

These new programs complement the existing exchange programs UIS has already established with Saitama University in Japan, and Murdoch and Charles Darwin universities in Australia. UIS is also exploring opportunities in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dalian and Hangzhou, China and La Plata, Argentina. In addition, short-term programs for the summer of 2010 are being planned for Japan, Mexico, Poland, China and the Netherlands.

For more information on these new programs and on all UIS study abroad programs, contact the Office of International Programs at 217/206-8319 or email

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Homecoming evokes pride in UIS

By Courtney Westlake

Homecoming 2008 at UIS was held September 29 to October 4. Activities during the week included a pep rally, a program by a performing group called the Neo-Futurists, a performance by comedian Alexandra McHale and a Homecoming dance.

On Saturday, the Homecoming festivities culminated in a celebration that included a campus parade, a barbeque and night fireworks. Family weekend was part of Homecoming this year, and many students and their family members joined in the activities. Saturday evening was also the Homecoming soccer game, which resulted in a a 3-0 win for the Prairie Stars against the Eagles of Williams Baptist College.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Campus members attend NWSA conference

By Courtney Westlake

After attending the National Women's Studies Association conference last year in Chicago, Amanda Looney knew she couldn’t pass up the chance to go again, even though she had already graduated with her master’s from UIS and moved away from Springfield.

“I went last year, which is why I really wanted to go this year. It was a great experience, and I met a lot of people I really wanted to see again,” Looney said. “I'll definitely go next year.”

Six members of the campus community attended the 29th annual National Women's Studies Association conference from June 19 to 22 in Cincinnati. One of the highlights of the conference this year was its keynote speaker, sociologist Patricia Hill Collins, said Lynn Otterson, director of the Women's Center at UIS, who attends the conference almost every year.

"She talked in very creative ways using the Miss Universe Pageant, and its history over the years, and who wins, and what happens to who wins, to talk about race and gender in a neo-empire framework," Otterson said. "So it was important and interesting ideas she was talking about, and she was also a very good speaker."
In addition to the keynote speaker, the conference featured workshops, films, a book fair, and more. Otterson and Looney also both attended an extra day called "Women's Center Day" that took place before the actual conference began.

"My favorite part was the Women's Center Day; it was a separate day for women who work in women's centers," Looney said. "We break out in different sessions and network. I went to seminar entitled 'Building a Women's Center from the Ground Up.' It was really helpful for me because I'm starting out in my career, and I really like working in women's centers, so if I work in a new center somewhere, it would be beneficial to have that information."

Because the conference took place in the Midwest both last year and this year, UIS was able to take bigger groups than when the conference is held beyond a reasonable driving distance.

"When it’s nearby in the Midwest, we can take a university van and get lot more people there, so I really enjoyed this conference because we had six UIS people with us," Otterson said. "One of the most enjoyable parts was to travel in company and share experiences with people I already know well and to get to know a few others."
Renee Rathjen, a junior at UIS, said she was impressed with being able to see the various generations of women activists join together in one place.
"It was very neat to see the huge variety of generational experiences that led people into activism," she said. "You have the millennial generation, who has sense of entitlement, and then you have people who were there from the beginning, working on voting rights and those sort of things. We saw whole gamut of gender equity movement."
Participating in the conference is a great way to build relationships with other attendees in addition to your own group, Otterson said.
"I'm the only women's center director in town so this is my one chance a year to be in a room of up to 140 people who do my work," she said. "It's very useful, and I get a lot of great ideas. As you go over time, you make friends, so you can call or email these friends throughout the year to get advice or get best practices. It's so much easier to do if you have those relationships."

“It was so nice to get to know the women outside of school,” Looney agreed, “and really get a chance to talk to them on a personal level and talk to them about different women's issues. And one of my favorite feminist authors was there, Jessica Valenti, and I got to buy one of her books and we got it signed, which was cool.”

Rathjen, who is majoring in political science with a minor in economics, said she recently decided to add women and gender studies as another minor and enjoys tying all three fields together.

"I went to a lot of feminist economist workshops, which were really cool," she said. "I picked up a lot of books and journal articles that will assist me in analyzing some of the work and some of the information I brought back from Mexico, where I went with the 'Mexico and Globalization' class over spring break."

This conference, and many others in different fields, allows participants to learn about the latest research and new information, Otterson said. To have campus community members attend conferences and further their education is essential not only for networking purposes but because it offers an opportunity to learn a lot about the specific field and new topics within the field, Looney said.

“I went to a really heavy seminar about race and sex, and how those two things intersect and what that means to women's studies, and it was something I hadn't thought about before in-depth,” Looney said. “There were a lot of issues that I think about more or seek out more information on, and I want to read more books about certain topics now.”

“I think anyone that wants to should definitely go to conference because it's a really wonderful experience to have, not only with women on your campus but to learn more about other issues and yourself, and to meet new people,” she added.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Japanese Garden dedicated at UIS

By Courtney Westlake

Koto music played in the background and bonsai trees decorated the lobby of Sangamon Auditorium during a festive celebration and dedication of the Japanese Garden at UIS.

The Japanese Garden was given by Eileen Ensel as a living tribute to her late husband, Lee Ensel, who was very interested in the culture of the university. She decided on a Japanese garden after a tour of campus in May 2007, with Carolyn Ringeisen, wife of UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, Joan Buckles, horticulturist and grounds worker supervisor, and Vicki Megginson, associate chancellor for development and vice president of the U of I Foundation.

The garden is located on the east and southeast sides of the Public Affairs Center. Ensel chose the spot of the garden due to its proximity to Sangamon Auditorium and to student housing.

"So when students come in to class from the places they live, they walk right by the Japanese Garden," Chancellor Ringeisen said during the garden's dedication. "And equally important is that this is the way many, many people come to Sangamon Auditorium to our events."

Ensel is no stranger to giving to UIS. Already established are two scholarships for students: the Lee Ensel scholarship for students interested in pre-law and the Eileen Ensel scholarship which is based on financial need. Ensel also donates to the Chancellor's Excellence Fund.

"And now on top of all those things, we have this very beautiful Japanese Garden," Ringeisen said. "Thank you, Eileen; we get the special privilege of enjoying the garden and thinking of you when we do."

Japanese gardens can represent many things, such as nature, religious ideas, philosophic ideas, frugality, self-restraint and simplicity, said Buckles, who helped to complete the project. The Japanese-style garden at UIS is in a public area, so although it doesn't provide the atmosphere for reflection or meditation common to many Japanese gardens, it still serves to provide public awareness of the bond between UIS and Springfield’s sister city, Ashikaga, Japan.

Contrary to the American idea of a garden, plant material plays a secondary role in Japanese gardens, Buckles said. Pines, junipers, boxwood and gingko have been used in dwarf, weeping and bonsai forms to represent windswept landscapes. Grasses and iris have also been added.

"Rocks are the backbone of Japanese gardens," Buckles said. "In this garden, rocks have been used to represent mountains, the beginnings of a river bed, as well as the dry river bed itself which runs the length of the garden."

Other features included are a lantern, a rock bench and a granite bridge, which is a reclaimed piece of curbing from a downtown St. Louis parking lot.

UIS’ grounds worker Cliff Edwards, with the help of Brian Beckerman and Frank Moscardelli, designed UIS' Japanese Garden. Scott Day and Gary Trammell allowed Edwards and his crew to tour their own personal gardens, offering suggestions and sparking creative ideas.

Ensel said she was thrilled with the outcome of the project and thanked everyone involved.

"I just hope that you all enjoy it, that the staff, faculty and students here enjoy it," she said. "I'm just so pleased with it, and I think Joan Buckles, and everyone else, did a wonderful job."

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