Friday, April 23, 2010

UIS Professor Karen Swan honored with Columbia University Distinguished Alumni Award

Karen Swan, Ph.D. a professor in the Teacher Leadership program at the University of Illinois Springfield and the James J. Stukel Distinguished Professor in Educational Leadership is being honored.

Swan has been selected to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Teachers College at Columbia University. The Columbia Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology will be hosting a graduation luncheon on May 18, 2010, at the Teachers College where Dr. Swan will receive her award.

Swan is recognized as a leading researcher in the nation when it comes to the effectiveness of online teaching and learning. In 2006, Dr. Swan received the Sloan Consortium for Asynchronous Learning Networks Award for “Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual.” This award recognized her for national innovation, research and service in online learning.

Swan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction from Keene State College, and Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees in Instructional Technology from Columbia University.

Read our previous coverage on Swan’s distinguished professor award

Read a feature story on Swan’s work involving online learning

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

WUIS statehouse reporter honored with Associated Press awards

WUIS/Illinois Public Radio statehouse reporter Amanda Vinicky is being honored for her coverage of hard-hitting news and feature reporting.

Vinicky won two first place awards in the Illinois Associated Press Broadcaster’s Association 2009 Journalism Excellence Contest. In the category of Best Investigative Report/Series she received first place for her piece “Tracing Blagojevich’s Hidden Bank Deposits”. She also received first place in Best Light Feature with her piece “The Quest for Healthy Fare at the Fair”.

"One of the many things I love about my job is that I get to cover hard-hitting, political news, but that I also have the chance to produce fun features. It's an honor to receive awards that reflect both of those priorities. That wide range is why I love listening to WUIS too," said Vinicky.

Vinicky has been reporting for WUIS public radio for four years out of its bureau in the state capitol press room. During that time, Vinicky has covered major events like the impeachment of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. She’s a 2003 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in Journalism and Political Science. In 2005 she earned her master’s degree through the UIS Public Affairs Reporting program.

Listen to one of the award-winning reports:
“Tracing Blagojevich’s Hidden Bank Deposits” - Blagojevich Bank Deposits.mp3 (PC only)

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

UIS "Education Technology" blog ranked in top 50 by Web site

The UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service’s blog “Education Technology” has been ranked #33 in a national list of similar blogs by the website The Learning Master.

This list of the top 50 education technology blogs includes writers, technicians and social media experts that are all teachers. The UIS blog is ranked in the “on the ground” category for offering news, tools and methods of using technology in the classroom.

Ray Schroeder, Director of COLRS has maintained the blog daily since he started it in 2002. Schroeder is a Professor Emeritus of Communication with three dozen years of teaching experience on the Urbana and Springfield campuses. He has taught more than 30 online class offerings.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Student named finalist in national college photography contest

Sue Huskins, a UIS Communication graduate student and photography teaching assistant to Mike Duvall, Professor of Communication, has recently been notified that she is a finalist in the 29th Annual College Student Photography contest co-sponsored by Photographer’s Forum Magazine and Nikon.

Out of almost 14,000 entries from the United States, Canada, and around the world, Sue’s submitted photograph, “Hidden from View”, has placed in the top 4% finalist selection group. “Hidden from View” was taken with a medium format camera and processed using traditional black and white darkroom developing techniques. Also exhibited in the case are other tradition chemical black and white medium format photographs from Huskins’ portfolio.

Judges for the contest include Nell Campbell, photo editor of Photographer’s Forum Magazine; Douglas Manchee, chair of the photography department at Rochester Institute of Technology; Mark Takeuchi, faculty, Art Center School of Design, Pasadena; and Barbara Vilander, faculty, University of California at Santa Barbara.

Finalists are published in the 2010 “Best of College Photography Annual”. This is the second time Huskins has been a finalist in this photo contest (2008) and marks the third year in a row a UIS student has been selected to receive this honor. Huskins’ has also been a finalist and published in both the 2008 and 2009 “Best of Photography” annuals, after entering the contest designed for non-professional photographers.

A series of Sue Huskins’ digital photographs can be seen in the Office of Communication located on the 3rd floor of the UHB.

View some of her photos from the 2008 contest

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Student Newspaper The Journal wins several awards

The Journal brought eight awards back to Springfield this past weekend, including two first place awards, following the 2010 Illinois College Press Association’s annual conference.

Professional journalists from around Illinois awarded The Journal’s editorial board with a first-place plaque for an editorial published in fall 2009. Current editor-in-chief Luke Runyon also won first place for headline writing.

The winning editorial titled, “Got a problem? Try something besides Facebook,” tackled the issue of student apathy and the role of social media in that phenomenon. Judges commented that the piece was “a thoughtful, interesting take on the tired, old ‘student apathy’ editorial.”

Members of the winning editorial board include Andrew Mitchell, Kate Richardson, Valeree Dunn, Brittney Meyer and Runyon.

Current and former staff members also picked up several awards. Former public affairs reporter Laurel Bollinger won second place in the sports news story category.

Former editor-in-chief Amanda Dahlquist and reporter Greta Myers won third place for headline writing in BEYOND magazine. Current assistant editor for news Richardson and Runyon won third place for feature page design also in BEYOND magazine.

Conference judges also awarded honorable mentions to former reporter Chris Ray for critical film review and to Runyon for sports news story. Sports reporter Marcus Johnson, former photographer Chris Izatt and Dahlquist won an honorable mention for sports page design. Izatt also won an honorable mention for sports photo.

The Journal competes against other nondaily papers at Illinois universities with enrollment numbers over 4,000 students. Schools in this category include Bradley University, Columbia College, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, University of Chicago and roughly 10 other schools.

The Illinois College Press Association includes more than 30 four-year universities from all over the state. At each annual conference, school newspapers may submit work from the previous year in 29 categories.

Click here to view a previous video about The Journal offers students hands-on experience in journalism.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

UIS library professor selected for leadership conference

Christine Ross, assistant professor of Library Instructional Services at the University of Illinois Springfield and director of Collections and Research Services at UIS’ Brookens Library, is one of 30 Illinois librarians who were selected to participate in Synergy: The Illinois Library Leadership Initiative, a year-long program designed to develop future leaders in the library professions in Illinois.

The group of librarians will attend three sessions and work in a unique environment with other developing leaders, experienced Illinois library leaders and nationally-recognized speakers. The goal of the program is for each individual to develop leadership skills that can be applied in local, state and global arenas.

“I am truly honored to have been nominated and chosen to participate in this year’s Synergy Initiative,” Ross said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues from across the state and bringing back to Brookens Library the experience and ideas I gain through my participation.”

The Synergy seminars will be held April 20 through 22 in Utica, August 3 through 5 in Grafton, and October 26 through 28 in Lisle. The seminars are sponsored by the Illinois State Library and the Illinois Library Association.

“Synergy participants will be exposed to new strategies and new ways of thinking about the future of the library profession,” said Illinois State Library Director Anne Craig. “We must be proactive and seek out new library leaders and keep our libraries growing and vibrant in the coming years. I am confident that our Synergy participants will help us chart a course for the future that encourages citizens to enter the library profession and become library leaders, while maintaining our libraries as cornerstones of our communities.”

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UIS team places in Cisco NetRiders competition

University of Illinois Springfield students Steve Fischer and Ryan Stalets competed in the 2009 Cisco NetRiders Skills Challenge in Chicago, Illinois on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. They advanced from the Statewide Qualifier placing first in the top 10 highest-scoring teams from across the state of Illinois.

Fischer and Stalets were invited to the Stage Two Competition at the Cisco Systems office where they placed third. Ken Gaines, Cisco Area Vice President, presented the awards as well as an invitation for both Fischer and Stalets to spend a day with a Cisco Systems Engineer.

The Stage Two competition held at Cisco included a theoretical session, answering 100 questions in 60 minutes, followed by a hands-on session, troubleshooting a five router network scenario.

Fischer is a senior from Springfield, Illinois majoring in Computer Science at UIS and is completing an Internship at Archer Daniels Midland. Team Captain Ryan Stalets from Riverton, Illinois is currently a UIS freshman majoring in Computer Science and is employed by the Ball-Chatham School District.

“This is an exciting opportunity to visit a leading-edge global industry leader with state-of-the-art technology, meet with IT professionals, and compete with peers in an interactive environment,” said Janis Rose, instructor of Computer Science at UIS.

Cisco is playing a critical role in the US economic recovery by preparing students for the sustainable jobs that government, education and industry all agree will fuel America’s ability to innovate and compete, not just today, but in the future. As the focus turns to infrastructure, Cisco’s Networking Academy provides students with critical networking skills to design, build and maintain the infrastructure highway that both the public and private sector now depend on for sustainability.

For more information about the awards contact Janis Rose, instructor of Computer Science at or 217/206-8246.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

UIS Outstanding Master's Thesis Award

The University of Illinois Springfield Research Board has awarded Communication master’s student Kelsi Megan Kerns with the UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for the 2008-2009 academic year. Kerns wrote her thesis on the topic of Does Hannah Montana Really Do Homework? A Content Analysis on the Portrayal of School in the Popular Disney Channel Series.

Eight graduate programs nominated finalists for the award. Each of the submitted thesis/projects have, thus, already received departmental recognition for excellence and will be publicly honored at a reception on January 25, 2010.

The Research Board was impressed with the high quality of all these scholarly works. Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Projects: 2008-2009

The thesis/projects of the following students received their departments’ Outstanding Thesis or Project Awards for 2008-2009.

Communication - UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for 2008-2009
Kelsi Megan Kerns
Committee Chair: Kathy Jamison
Does Hannah Montana Really Do Homework? A Content Analysis on the Portrayal of School in the Popular Disney Channel Series

Jaclyn Michelle Negor
Committee Chair: Michael Lemke
Review of Secondary Production Concepts and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Production Estimates from Two Illinois River, IL Wetlands

Nicole Louis
Committee Chair: Deborah McGregor
The Healthiest City in the World: Chicago and the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918

Erin Tepen
Committee Chair: Sara Cordell
Beyond the Masquerade: The Hysteric's Discourse in Edith Wharton's House of Mirth and the Age of Innocence

Environmental Studies
Abby Hahne
Committee Chair: Tih-Fen Ting
Communicating Risk through Use of an Interactive Mapping Application: Designing and Publishing Illinois Superfund Risk Information for the Federal Site Remediation Section of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Human Services
Kristen Bein
Committee Chair: Denise Sommers
Harnessing Our Collective Power: Research on the Creation of a Feminist Management Model

Liberal and Integrative Stuides
Michael J. Kim
Committee Chair: Karen Kirkendall
Skills Coaches as Part of the Educational Team: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Teaching of a Basic Surgical Skill in the Laboratory Setting

Management Information Systems
Isaac Lee Abbs
Committee Chair: Yifeng Zhang
A Web-Enabled Data Mart for the City of Tucson Election Data

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Priyanka Deo honored with Student Laureate Award

University of Illinois Springfield senior Priyanka Deo will be honored with the Student Laureate Award during a ceremony at the Old State Capitol in Springfield on November 7, 2009. Deo is the only recipient chosen to speak at the ceremony out of a group of more than 50 students.

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

“Coming from India, it is personally a great honor for me to be recognized as an Illinoisan for my academic and extracurricular career. Winning this award makes me more determined to do great things and contribute to the betterment of our world in the future,” said Deo.

Deo is now a U.S. citizen and preparing for a career in law. Since her freshman year, Priyanka has held an internship with the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. She has been involved in several extra-curricular activities, including forensics team and women’s varsity tennis team. Ms. Deo serves as a peer tutor and mentor for UIS’ Capital Scholars Honor Program, and as the Chairperson of the Housing Residence Council. She recently chaired National Model United Nations and won best delegate out of 400 students from competing universities. That honor presented her an invitation to the Global United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland this past summer.

Priyanka has been recognized in front page articles by the Chicago Tribune and State Journal-Register for her work with the Innocence Project, and has won a national tournament in parliamentary debate. She is trained in classical Indian dancing and does choreographing for various international festivals and off-campus shows in the Springfield area.

Priyanka is majoring in Political Science in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. With all of her interests and activities, Priyanka has still maintained a 3.98 GPA at UIS, and is currently a resident assistant on campus. She plans to pursue a JD/PhD in international criminal law.

In addition to receiving the Student Laureate Medallion Priyanka will also receive a certificate of achievement and a check for $150 to cover travel and other expenses.

For more information contact Blake Wood, UIS Public Relations at 217/206-6716 or

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

UIS graduate receives award from Illinois Broadcasters Assocation

Greg Bishop, 2009 graduate of UIS with a degree in Communication, was recently awarded an Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Award in the category of Medium Market Radio for Best Use of New Media. Bishop is a producer, director and editor at WMAY-AM Radio.

The award ceremony, which was sponsored by the Illinois National Guard, was held on July 17 in Peoria. Bishop was one of several members of the WMAY staff who received awards.

Bishop’s award was given for a video he compiled of WMAY’s “Rally for Common Sense,” which was broadcast on the radio station in May 2008. The video was shot at the State Capitol Building during a rally held to encourage the governor and General Assembly to act on several ongoing issues at the time.

“I believe that the video I submitted was chosen because of the content and its relevance,” Bishop noted. “It captured the flavor of the audience and the message from the event, all while being upbeat and current. I was truly honored and pleased with the award.”

There are several different categories in the Silver Dome Awards in both large and medium markets, including best humorous and non-humorous commercials, best talk-show host, best station Web site, best reporter and more.

WMAY is owned by Mid-West Family Broadcasting, which also owns and operates three additional stations including 92.7 FM WQLZ, Alice at 97.7 FM, and Light Rock 98.7 FM WNNS.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Kim Rutherford wins 6th annual CAPE award

Kimberly Rutherford, disability services specialist in the Office of Disability Services at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is the recipient of the sixth annual Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award at UIS. The award was presented at a reception held April 30 in the Public Affairs Center Restaurant on campus.

The CAPE Award recognizes U of I academic professionals for their efforts in three general categories: work projects, professional development and affiliations, and contributions to their units. While the number of recipients and the amount of their awards varies by campus, UIS recipients receive $500 for personal use and $500 for their departments.

“Even though we only have one honoree, this award really recognizes all of the academic professionals for all that they do for UIS,” said Jerry Burkhart, chair of the Academic Professional Advisory Committee. UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen made the official presentation of the award and congratulated all the nominees.

Nominating materials from a UIS student read, “Had it not been for Kim Rutherford, I would have been unable to achieve what I have achieved; I would have been unable to graduate. I never would have made it without Kim.”

Accepting the award, Rutherford said, “I want say thank you to everyone on the list of nominees. All of you do so many good things for our students, and that’s what we’re all about.”

All academic professionals at the U of I are eligible to receive the CAPE Award. Nominations are reviewed by campus committees and candidates’ names are forwarded to the chancellors, who make the final selections.

Other UIS nominees for the 2008 CAPE Award were: Clay Bellot, academic technology service specialist in Information Technology Services; Munindra Khaund, multimedia education coordinator in Information Technology Services; Janette Kirkham, coordinator and placement developer in the Applied Study Office; Jim Korte, assistant dean of students; Tulio Llosa, director of educational technology in Information Technology Services; Mae Noll, undergraduate academic adviser; Candy Powers, assistant to the dean of the College of Education and Human Services; Shawn Craig Shures, assistant director/graduate intern recruiter for Graduate Intern Programs; and Bill Wheelhouse, general manager of WUIS.

The Academic Professional Advisory Committee at UIS is an elected body whose function, as defined by University statutes, is to furnish a channel of communication between academic professional staff and the administrative officers of the University.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

UIS professor receives educational honor at annual conference

Dr. William Phillips, UIS associate professor of Educational Leadership, received the Van Miller Distinguished Scholar Practitioner Award recently at the 2009 Illinois Association of School Administrators Annual Conference.

The Van Miller award is given to recognize "outstanding contributions through their actions and leadership to the field of education in the state of Illinois."

Van Miller served as a Superintendent in Ridgefield, CT., earned a doctoral degree at Harvard and then came to the University of Illinois as a faculty member in 1947. He is considered one of the first scholars in the area of education administration.

The list of past recipients of this award includes Illinois superintendents, professors of education, Illinois state superintendents and others recognized for their special contributions from a variety of perspectives.

The criteria for the award include: Change Agent, Scholarly Practitioner, Professional Commitment and Mentor.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Student named finalist in photography competition

By Courtney Westlake

When UIS student Andy Mitkos decided to enter an international student photography competition, he opted at the last minute to "thrown in" a few more photos than he had chosen originally to "round out" his entry, he said.

It was one of the last-minute photos that impressed the judges.

Mitkos was selected as a finalist in the 29th Annual Student Photography Contest sponsored by Nikon and Photographer’s Forum Magazine. His photo, titled “Any Landing You Can Walk Away From...,” will be published in the Best of College Photography Annual 2009.

The winning photograph captures a scene of a plane underwater that Mitkos took while he was scuba diving off the coast of Aruba. He used an underwater housing for camera, which weighs about 50 pounds including the camera.

“I’ve always loved photography, and I had the fortune of being able to get really good camera few years back,” he said. “I like to use photography in everything I do.”

Mitkos is currently earning his degree in mass communications and has taken two photography courses with Professor Michael Duvall. He also works fulltime at Lincoln Land Community College as a blackboard system administrator.

He said he is thrilled to be among the finalists in the competition.

“Professor Duvall suggested it to me, and I entered it not expecting anything to happen,” he said. “I got collection of what I thought were my best pictures and just hoped to get some kind of recognition.”

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Provost receives Chamber of Commerce award

Dr. Harry Berman, provost of UIS, received the President’s Award at the 140th Annual Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Gala & Banquet on January 23.

This award, one of three prestigious awards announced at the banquet, goes to the individual or organization who demonstrates outstanding commitment and dedication to the Chamber.

During 2008, Berman served as chairman of the Continuum of Learning Steering Committee. He led hundreds of community members through the process of launching and establishing the initiative. The Continuum of Learning is an initiative by The Chamber, United Way of Central Illinois and the Sangamon County Community Foundation to ensure everyone is Sangamon County is Ready to Learn, Ready to Work and Ready to Succeed.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Computer Science grad student wins 2nd in international contest

By Courtney Westlake

Tejesh Morla
, a graduate student in Computer Science, recently won second place in the General Students category of the MySQL and GlassFish Contest sponsored by SUN MicroSystems. The contest challenged participants to create a web application using MySQL and Glassfish along with Java, Morla said.

"It's a global contest; anyone can participate," he said. "I found out about it because of an email sent by Dr. Ted Mims (computer science department chair)."

Morla's 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.

Morla says the project took a lot of time and research.

"It was a tough task," he said. "At one point, I thought I would never make it. I had problem where mySQL stuff was not syncing with the Java."

The contest began on September 2, and October 22 was the deadline to submit a project, Morla said. He found out he won 2nd place while he was on Thanksgiving break vacationing in Las Vegas.

"One of my friends always says there should be something in your resume which would tell the difference from others, so I thought I should participate in that to get some experience," he said. "I am very excited and can't believe that I happened to win."

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rosina Neginsky named UIS University Scholar for 2008

Rosina Neginsky (left), associate professor of Women's Studies, English and Liberal Studies/Individual Option at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has been named University Scholar for 2008-2009. She is one of 15 faculty members, and the only one from UIS, chosen for this award honoring and rewarding outstanding teachers and scholars at the three U of I campuses.

University Scholars receive $10,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities.

Materials nominating Neginsky described her has an "outstanding example of someone whose scholarship and teaching are excellent and intertwined." She is an international scholar who brings to UIS a "perspective that includes multiple languages and a rich cultural mix."

Neginsky has published two collections of poetry: Under the Light of the Moon and Juggler, which were both released in Russian and English. Her book Zinaida Vengerova: In Search of Beauty, is in its second edition and another book, Salome: The Image of a Woman Who Never Was, has been accepted for publication.

Neginsky is also the founder of the UIS International Film Festival, has organized three European film festivals, and has given guest lectures in Paris. She was recently awarded a strategic academic initiatives grant to organize a 2009 symposium on the Symbolist movement.

Neginsky teaches courses on ancient Greek and biblical motifs in European literature, European cinema, international women writers and the Symbolist Movement in Europe. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The University Scholars program was inaugurated in 1985 when the U of I Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary. The program's purpose, then and now, is to strengthen the University in meeting today's challenges and tomorrow's promise. Faculty do not apply for this award; they are nominated by their peers. A committee of senior faculty makes the final selection.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson receives ITA Award of Excellence

Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, associate professor and director of theatre, has received the Award of Excellence in the College/University Division from the Illinois Theatre Association. The award was presented during ITA's 2008 Convention, held at Illinois State University in September.

Each year, the ITA recognizes both individuals and organizations for significant contributions in promoting quality theatre throughout the state. Recipients are nominated by the Illinois theatre community.

Thibodeaux-Thompson has served as a board member and co-chair of the ITA College/University Division and was co-chair of the organization's 2007 convention.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meeks honored with alumni award

Loretta Meeks, professor of Teacher Education, is the recipient of the 2009 Alumni Achievers Award from the School of Education and Human Performance at Winston Salem State University, North Carolina. The award recognizes Meeks for professional achievements and contributions to the field of education and the community. It will be presented at the Winston Salem Founder's Day Convocation in late October.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UIS instructor receives award for small business

Donna Rogers, instructor of management in the College of Business and Management at UIS, was among five recipients recognized at The Springfield Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards Luncheon on July 1. The Small Business Awards Luncheon is an annual event recognizing outstanding entrepreneurs and business advocates in our community.

Rogers received the award of The Home-Based Business Owner of the Year, which recognizes an owner whose business is based in the home for more than two years. Roger is the owner of Rogers HR Consulting.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Student named finalist in photography contest

By Courtney Westlake

When Sue Huskins was involved in an accident at work that left her without the use of her right hand in 1999, she was forced to quit her job at a print shop. She took that opportunity to go to college, first receiving her associates degree from Richland Community College in Decatur and now working toward her bachelors at UIS.

"That's where I found photography, and I love it; it's my passion," she said.

At UIS, Huskins is majoring in visual arts with a focus on photography, which she studies under professor of communication Michael Duvall. It was after one of Duvall's classes that Huskins noticed a brochure for the 28th Annual Student Photography Contest.

And from among the more than 4,000 students who entered this year's contest, Huskins was selected as a finalist in the competition, and her photo titled "Repetition in Glass" will be published in the "Best of College Photography Annual 2008."

"I just happened to find the flyer for the competition in Professor Duvall's lab and just thought I'd try; it doesn't hurt to try," she said. "I was very surprised. I was hoping to be at least maybe recognized a little bit, but I never dreamed I'd make it in the top five percent."

Huskins captured her "Repetition in Glass" photograph while on a trip to Chicago.

"My friend and I went on bus trip to Chicago, but instead of going to the art museum we were supposed to go to, we spent the whole day downtown looking for shots that we liked. We drug each other all around the town," she said. "I like reflections, I like using the camera to get odd angles. And I like to get every day items that people see but pass by and don't really recognize."

Because her accident left her without the use of her dominant hand, Huskins must hold her camera differently than most people to capture her images.

"Since the shutter release button is located on the right side of the camera, I cannot use it in the normal position. When using a camera, I turn it upside down, resting it on the top of my bad hand," Huskins said. "Doing it this way, it leaves my left hand free to manually focus and set the shutter speed and the aperture. It also puts the shutter release button on the left side on the bottom where it is easily accessible with my left thumb."

Huskins said she decided to come to UIS because of its close proximity to Decatur and due to all of the positive things she had heard about and read about UIS. Eventually, she said, she'd like to continue her education and pursue a master's degree.

"I'd like to do freelance photography but also maybe teach photography in a community college setting," she said.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Women's Center hosts annual Garden Party

By Courtney Westlake

The Women's Center held its annual Garden Party and Awards Ceremony on Thursday afternoon, May 1, at the Women's Peace and Friendship Garden at the campus pond.

The Center gave out two awards: the 11th Naomi B. Lynn Award for Contribution to Environment for Women at UIS and the 4th Women's Issues Caucus Student Activism Award.

Nominees up for the Naomi B. Lynn award were Dr. Heather Dell, associate professor of Women and Gender Studies, Amanda Page, student, and Dr. Kent Redfield, professor of Political Studies. Nominees for the student activism honor included Jimmy Brower, Amanda Looney, Katelyn Murray, Renee Rathjen and Ashley Rook.

Dell was selected as the recipient of the Naomi B. Lynn Award. She recognized that she could not have gotten the award by herself and thanked many of those who supported and encouraged her.

"Heather's work is deep in the core of human condition," said Lynn Otterson, director of the Women's Center. "Students respond well to what Heather Dell teaches, and how she teaches and mentors. The students I know never leave what they learn in Heather's class at the door."

Brower received the honor of the WIC Student Activism Award. Brower served as the chair of Queer-Straight Alliance, was involved with the Women's Issues Caucus and coordinated the Great Midwestern Wigout, among many other activism roles he held on campus.

"I think we can do great things at UIS; I'm committed to that, and I know all of you are," Brower said. "I couldn't be more honored to be one of the nominees with these five people. They're my peers, and I've worked with them so hard doing so many things over the past five years, and I owe a lot of that to all of you."

Before the awards were given, Otterson told the gathered crowd about the significance of the Peace and Friendship Garden, which was built in 1997. Many aspects of the garden, such as the chimes, bench, birdhouse and more, were added in honor of the recipients of the Naomi B. Lynn Award each year.

"This garden is a communal effort of the community; it's a wonderful thing," Otterson said. "It really does continue to grow every year."

Naomi B. Lynn, former UIS chancellor, was present during the event and commended the Women's Center for its work, as well as the efforts and dedication of the nominees.

"I wanted to congratulate each and every one of you," said Lynn. "You're our next generation; that's what it is all about, and that's why we're here."

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kim Hayden named CAPE award winner

By Courtney Westlake

Kim Hayden, director of the Graduate Public Service Internship program, was given a top honor on Tuesday afternoon as she was named the recipient of the 2008 Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award, also known as the CAPE Award, during the 5th annual CAPE ceremony.

The CAPE Award honors all Academic Professionals at UIS by recognizing one outstanding AP each year. The AP nominees are judged on three criteria: work projects, professional development and affiliations, and contributions to one’s unit. The winner receives $500 in cash for personal use, and another $500 is given to the winner’s department.

This year's nominees included Hayden, Tom Ambrose, Michael Bloechle, Linda Cox, Tammy Craig, Andy Egizi, Lori Giordano, Dana Goodrum, Janette Kirkham, Jim Korte, Holly McCracken, Lynn Otterson, Rogelio Salvador, Barbara Selvaggio and Lisa Whelpley.

"Even though we only have one honoree, this award really honors all of the academic professionals for all that they do for UIS. Academic professionals work across all disciplines on campus, so that makes being an AP so interesting," said Jerry Burkhart, chair of the Academic Professional Advisory Committee.

Chancellor Richard Ringeisen congratulated all the nominees and recognized the past recipients of the award, including Barbara Ferrara, Tavia Ervin, Sherry Hutson and Shari McCurdy, before he announced Hayden as this year's award winner. Hayden was presented with a personal plaque and another with her name that will hang in the Chancellor's office.

"Not only is it an honor to have the opportunity to work with so many outstanding academic professionals, staff and faculty on this campus but through GPSI, I have had the opportunity to really play an active role in the mission of the university," Hayden said. "I'm deeply grateful for this moment, and this award really is for all academic professionals."

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Online course receives Humane Society award

By Courtney Westlake


Throughout history, human beings have defined our humanity primarily in reference to animals. After all, Psalm 23 in the Bible begins “The Lord is my shepherd…,” making it necessary to understand the relationship between shepherds and sheep to understand the passage.

“Without animals we could not be ‘human’,” said Dr. Boria Sax. “They have given us a repository of vivid metaphors, images, relationships, aspirations and ideals that pervade human culture. But to preserve its vitality, culture must retain contact with that source.”

Sax, an adjunct faculty member in the philosophy department at UIS, had written many books on human-animal relations before he was asked by Dr. Peter Boltuc to design an online course for UIS focused on philosophy and animals in 2006. In 2007, he revised the course to a broader focus and renamed it “Animals and Human Civilization.”

In recognition of academic excellence of the course Sax created focusing on the relationship between people and animals, the course won a Distinguished New Course Award in the national Animals and Society awards program of the Humane Society of the United States in December. Selections are made based on depth and rigor within the topic, impact on the study of animals and society, and originality of approach.

“I was extremely pleased; no external vindication can ever substitute for a personal faith in what one does, but, in any case, I am deeply honored to receive the award,” Sax said. “Human-animal relationships are getting a lot more attention recently in almost all fields from social work to computers and philosophy.”

Sax said he believes it is extremely important to study the relationship between humans and animals in order to get a better sense of who we are as humans. His course examines social, religious and philosophical perspectives on animals from pre-Biblical times to the present, especially the ways in which animals have provided essential metaphors for social divisions along lines of tribe, gender, class, race and other categories, he said.

For example, as Sax points out, warriors have always identified with predators such as the lion, but in Christianity, God is symbolized by the sacrificial lamb. Also, wealth in the Bible is measured by herds of animals, not money.

“Human relationships with animals are characterized by an extraordinary combination of passion and intellectual complexity,” Sax said. “That makes these relations an ideal subject for reflection by students who are developing their analytic and writing skills.”

For receiving the honor, a monetary award will go to UIS. Sax said he hopes UIS will bring in speakers, such as Native American storyteller Joseph Bruchac, who might provide interesting perspectives on human-animal relations.

“Over a decade ago, I started an organization called NILAS (Nature in Legend and Story). I would be especially pleased if the speakers and the prize money might be used to establish a presence for NILAS on the campus of the State University of Illinois at Springfield,” he said.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

UIS Students Honored at Tournament

By Courtney Westlake

Sarah Wellard had never competed in a debate tournament before, but with the encouragement from her more experienced teammate, Priyanka Deo, she found something she not only enjoys but excels in.

On Saturday, December 1, Wellard, a junior at UIS, and Deo, a sophomore, won top honors at the 20th annual "Study Break Debate Tournament" at Webster University in St. Louis. The two were the single undefeated team among the 23 teams participating.

Additionally, both also won individual "speaker" awards, with Deo earning the "top novice speaker" designation, and Wellard ranked ninth.

Deo said she had debated in high school and wanted to do it again at UIS, and Wellard said she decided to get involved with debate after taking an Oral Communication class with Thomas Bartl. Bartl is the faculty adviser of the UIS Forensics Team, which Wellard and Deo belong to.

"I was surprised with a lot of the format; I didn't really know what was going on until we got going, but Priyanka definitely helped me a lot," Wellard said.

During the debate, the pairs debate against each other and are given a topic they have to argue. Wellard and Deo were given topics such as making the school year 12 months and the Patriot Act.

"We just really don't know what's coming at us; it's very random," Deo said. "We just have to go in and do our best."

The team said they are definitely planning to continue debating together, with another tournament coming up in January.

"It was a great experience; we'll definitely do it again," Wellard said.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Burkhardt Named University Scholar for UIS

By Courtney Westlake

As a renowned author of the biography 'William Maxwell: A Literary Life,' Barbara Burkhardt is no stranger to hard work and dedication.

"It was a very long process," Burkhardt said, with a laugh. "I did my master's thesis on (Maxwell's) novel 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' and then when I went to get my Ph.D., I did a dissertation on a more broader range of his works. It was 10 more years beyond my Ph.D. that I worked on the book."

Burkhardt, an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Springfield, was recognized for her contributions by being named University Scholar for 2007-2008. She is one of 13 faculty members, and the only one from UIS, chosen for this award honoring and rewarding outstanding teachers and scholars at the three U of I campuses. University Scholars receive $10,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities.

Burkhardt holds a Ph.D. in American literature from UIUC and a master's degree in English from UIS. She has been a member of the UIS faculty since 2001 and teaches graduate seminars on postmodern fiction, Mark Twain, and writers of The New Yorker, as well as courses on the American novel, Midwestern literature, and American women writers.

Burkhardt is thankful and humbled by being named the recipient of the University Scholar honor.

"It really was the biggest honor I've ever received," she said. "I feel very fortunate to be on faculty here, let alone be named as the University Scholar. I really want to use the funds that go with that to do more work like I've been doing. I'm going to be working now on a biography of the publisher Alfred Knopf, who was Maxwell's publisher, but also the publisher for Willa Cather, John Updike and more."

Burkhardt's biography on William Maxwell was the first major critical study of the Illinois writer's life and work, and drew high reviews from publications such as New York Newsday, The Washington Post, USA Today, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly.

Burkhardt said she credits many of her fellow professors and colleagues at UIS for her successes and is grateful to UIS for providing such wonderful opportunities for her.

"I think about the scholars here who have inspired me, some of whom received the scholar award in the past," she said. "When I spoke to the campus at the luncheon, I spoke about the joy of scholarship. We really are a teaching campus, and the joy of scholarship is really something I try to pass on to my students."

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Sloan Consortium Award Presented

By Courtney Westlake

From the time that UIS began as Sangamon State University, there has been an emphasis on access to learning through whatever technology is available at the time.

"Given this history, it was natural in the late 1990s for UIS faculty to engage in the latest emerging technology: web-based construction, online education," said Provost Harry Berman. "Over time, some of our best teachers found that this new medium of instruction had its own distinctive strengths."

On Monday, November 12, the campus community celebrated the steady growth and excellence of UIS' online learning with the presentation of the Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching & Learning Programming award, given by the Sloan Consortium.

The Sloan Consortium is a national organization dedicated to quality online teaching and is comprised of more than 1,200 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning. The award to UIS was among six given by Sloan this year for exceptional online education, and UIS was the only institution to receive an award for institution-wide teaching and learning programming.

The award was given on Nov. 7 in Orlando at the annual Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning, which draws more than 1,000 attendees both nationally and internationally.

The Sloan Consortium's awards programs were started in 2001 to recognize excellence in online education and include five awards: two for individuals and three given to institutions, said Burks Oakley, UIUC Professor Emeritus and charter board member for Sloan-C.

"I'd like to point out that the Sloan-C awards are selected by a very distinguished panel of our peers ," Oakley said. "So it's especially rewarding that our peers think so highly of what we are doing. It's also very important for our online students because they're going to be able to say they earned their degrees from an institution recognized nationally for its quality, scale and breadth of its online learning."

The award is an honor to everyone: students, staff and faculty, who really bring the meaning of "blended campus" to life, Chancellor Richard Ringeisen said.

"What has skyrocketed is how the online development we have here has really blended into the campus, and that the technology that's been used to develop this wonderful online learning is present not just in online learning but all throughout campus," he said.

Currently, Berman acknowledged, online majors make up more than 22 percent of UIS enrollment and about a third of the credit hours generated from the last academic year were online classes. This fall, half of UIS students are taking at least one online course and half of UIS faculty regularly teach online courses.

"That's an awful lot of extension of this new technology into everything we do on campus," Berman said. "Online learning has fundamentally changed UIS."

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Monday, October 22, 2007

UIS Receives National Award for Online Learning

By Courtney Westlake

From two classes with 30 students to 220 classes with about 4,000 students, the University of Illinois at Springfield has grown its online program by leaps and bounds since the program first began in 1998.

In recognition for the university’s leadership in the area of online learning, the Sloan Consortium announced Monday, Oct. 22, that it has selected UIS as the recipient of the Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching & Learning Programming award.

"I’m really excited about this award particularly because it’s a national award that recognizes excellence in teaching and learning online, and UIS is receiving this award among all the thousands of colleges and universities who teach online," said Ray Schroeder, director of the Office of Technology – Enhanced Learning.

"For our campus, this is particularly significant because we’ve been a leader in online learning, and we really were a pioneer in the late 1990’s in beginning to deliver our online programs," Schroeder added. "Now we have programs like philosophy, history, computer science and more that really aren’t represented in online learning at other universities."

The Sloan Consortium, comprised of more than 1,200 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning, is a national organization dedicated to quality online teaching. The award to UIS was among six given by the Consortium this year for exceptional online education, and UIS was the only institution to receive an award for institution-wide teaching and learning programming.

The award will be presented on Nov. 7 in Orlando at the annual Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning, which draws more than 1,000 attendees both nationally and internationally, Schroeder said.

"After we receive this honor, we'll present the award to Chancellor Richard Ringeisen and Provost Harry Berman because it truly is not an individual award, not a department award, but a university-wide award," Schroeder said.

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