Friday, March 26, 2010

Grounds crew works to keep UIS campus beautiful

The University of Illinois Springfield grounds crew is responsible for maintaining 370 acres of landscaping on campus every year. It’s a big job for the crew of 10 people, but one they feel passionate about.

“We’re trying to make sure everything looks good for the public and everyone concerned who utilizes the campus,” said Joan Buckles, UIS horticulturist and grounds worker supervisor.

The grounds crew is in charge of all of the campus turf, perennial beds, trees, shrubs, and parking lot areas on campus. During the winter they clear snow from campus streets and sidewalks, but it’s during the spring when they’re busiest.

“This is a hectic time of the year because of weather and getting things cleaned up before dormancy breaks,” said Buckles.

Crews have been busy laying mulch, which will allow them to plant annual flowers on campus in early May. Buckles expects many of the trees on campus to start blooming even earlier.

“Springtime is beautiful on this campus. There are just so many flowering trees,” she said.

Buckles has identified more than 300 varieties of trees and plants growing on the 750 acre UIS campus. She gives a lot of the credit to early campus planner, who invested in high quality trees and shrubs.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

UIS Admissions Counselors keep busy visiting local high schools

Amanda Bly
knows how to multitask. As a UIS Admissions Counselor she’s out the door every morning at 7:00 visiting an average of 3 high schools per day along with stops at community colleges.

Bly is one of eight admissions counselors who travel around the state and beyond meeting with prospective students and answering their questions about the University of Illinois Springfield.

“More and more people through my 4 years have gained some familiarity with the campus and they realize we provide students with a U of I degree,” said Bly.

When she’s not on the road, Bly is making follow-up calls, sending emails and postcards to students she’s met. She covers an area from Sangamon County to the Indiana border.

Bly says most frequently students ask her about the cost of tuition, what majors UIS has to offer and class size.

“I really like the small classrooms and I’m just really excited. I really like it,” said high school senior Mallory Beck.

Beck will graduate from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield this May and she’s already committed to attending UIS.

“She (Bly) told us about the teachers and how they have a close relationship with their students,” said Beck.

SHG senior Will Pufundt is looking forward to attending UIS for two reasons. He wants to join the new men’s baseball team and is also excited about the small class sizes.

“I really like the hands on teaching, because I don’t think I could do well without the hands on teaching,” said Pufundt.

UIS is hoping to admit 350 new freshmen next semester in an effort to boost the undergraduate population. The ultimate goal is to top an enrollment of more than 5,000 total students.

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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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Monday, February 15, 2010

Professor speaks on democratizing higher learning

Kenneth Oldfield, emeritus professor of public administration at UIS, recently spoke to students and administrators at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on the need to democratize higher learning by recruiting more students and faculty of working class origins to that campus.

The forum theme was “Class Matters: Understanding the Experiences of Low-Income and Working Class Students on Campus.”

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Monday, February 08, 2010

UIS Theatre faculty and student take part in play reading downtown

UIS Professors of Theatre Eric and Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, as well as UIS Theatre student Ben Beams, will be performing in a play reading of William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night on Saturday, February 27 at 7 p.m. at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in downtown Springfield.

Kevin Purcell is the director, and other cast members include Aasne Vigesaa, Larry Smith, Tom Lawton, Troy Thomas-Pfaffe, Cassie Poe, and Nicole Sylvester. Audience members will be invited to read a few of the play’s smaller roles.

Over the Moon Productions is presenting the reading, and the performance is free and open to the public. Over the Moon Productions is a local theater group that also raises awareness and funds for causes related to its productions.

The Renaissance music group FEALTY will play for the reading. They will play pre-show music starting at 6:30 p.m. at the top of the circular stairs inside the Old State Capitol and will also play during the actual reading.

Twelfth Night; or What You Will was written by William Shakespeare in about 1600 and has many of the elements common to Elizabethan romantic comedy, including mistaken identity, separated twins, and gender-crossing disguise.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Professor publishes article in periodical

Kenneth Oldfield published “Our Cutting Edge Isn’t Cutting It: Why Public Administration Should Be The First Discipline To Implement A Social Class-Based Affirmative Action Plan For Hiring Professors” in the latest issue of Administration and Society, a referred periodical.

Oldfield proposes that his field honor its commitment to diversity and being a “cutting edge” discipline by hiring more professors who were raised in working class families.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

UIS online students build community for "mid-lifers"

Amy Reeves decided to return to school after applying for a new position at her place of employment when she was told she would need a bachelor’s degree to be considered for an interview. Madeleine Ward said she simply wanted to continue her education in a more structured manner, so she is better able to contribute to society, and now hopes to go on to law school.

Reeves lives in Carlinville while Ward resides in Chicago. The two women met through the liberal studies program at UIS and bonded over going back to school in the “third age,” the age identified as being after young and middle but before “old.”

“Madeleine and I discovered we were in that same age group. We had a project to do about verbal arts and community, and Madeleine suggested a new community of older students (50+),” Reeves said. “It sounded so unique and on target that I jumped at the chance to work on it with her. The more we talked and the more Madeleine, in particular, dove into our subject matter, the more we realized just how much we could hopefully do for others like us.”

Reeves and Ward are now using social media tools to their full advantage to create a community of “third age” students. They hope to bring together other students who are in their age range and who need a community of support and encouragement to continue and finish their education. According to the office of Institutional Research at UIS, there were 277 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students who are over the age of 50 at the university both online and on campus in fall 2009.

One of their first steps was creating a blog, found at

They created the blog so that others might help to enhance and complement the community of third age students and add information about the difficulties or successes of their school experience. Though the blog was started for a class project, they have plans to continue posting, increase readership and provide resources to other students.

The pair are currently blogging under the pseudonyms Betty and Veronica, who are characters from the Archie comics, popular when they were pre-teens and teenagers. They said they feel the history of the Archies is a bridge from their youth to today’s mid-life coed.

“It is important that a mid-lifer who is new to blogging or new to our blog realizes that we truly understand them; we’re from the same generation and remember many of the same things that happened throughout the years,” they wrote in a paper for class.

Reeves and Ward have also set up a Twitter account (ArchiesFriends) and Facebook page to bring together older students returning to school.

“They need to know they are not alone, and instead of getting information by trial and error, we can answer each other’s questions without each having to re-invent the wheel,” Ward said. “We would love to attract more students; all are welcome to join.”

Because so many older adults who return to school take classes online, especially at UIS, the two classmates felt that an online community made the most sense.

“I just hope we can reach out to others, who are debating about attending school,” Reeves said. “It’s so much different now; my program is solely online so I can work at a different pace that if I had to attend a class two or three times a week. I didn’t know online programs were even offered until I discovered UIS’ programs. How many others are out there like me?”

If you are interested in more information, contact Ward at 312/590-6129.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

UIS jumps on Google Wave for online learning tool

The University of Illinois Springfield is riding a new wave of online education.

UIS is one of the first universities in the nation to begin using Google Wave - an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration - for online learning and teaching, beginning in October 2009.

“We’re really excited to be working with Google Wave here at UIS,” said Ray Schroeder, director of the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service. “One of the wonderful features of this new product is that it combines the Web 2.0 technologies that we have been accustomed to using on an individual basis. It molds all of these into a kind of an email or wiki format. And it enables students and others to use Web 2.0 technologies in a collaborative fashion.”

Wave was developed to answer the question: “what would email look like if we were to invent it today?”, Schroeder said. The product was released to developers in May and to the public as a beta in October.

“Email was invented nearly 40 years ago. As we developed technology over time, email was created to emulate snail mail and IM, or instant messaging, was more to emulate telephone conversations,” Schroeder said.

A wave, on the other hand, can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly-formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more. In developing Wave, Google looked at “the way in which we can use technologies as they exist today rather than as analogs for technologies developed years ago,” Schroeder said.

And the new technology allows for many opportunities within the online classroom. Wave enables students to connect not only with each other in the classroom, but with people all around the world, Schroeder said.

“The technology allows for all kinds of collaborations,” he said. “You can drag and drop documents right into a wave rather than as attachments. You can come up with final product that can be saved and shared with a broader group.”

Other features of Google Wave include the ability to embed web pages, bring up live weather forecasts, look at maps and instantly change those maps to satellite views, Schroeder said. There is also a feature that will translate between different languages.

One of UIS’ efforts in testing the online teaching capabilities includes a collaboration outside of the classroom between students at UIS in the “Internet in American Life” course taught by Schroeder and Burks Oakley and students in energy studies at the Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland. The students are discussing the impact of the Internet on the perception of energy sustainability in Europe and the United States.

“Wave provides an opportunity to collaborate with people in other countries, and in our case, we collaborated with people in Ireland,” Schroeder said. “It’s phenomenal - our students meeting in a wave.”

COLRS also has several upcoming projects regarding Wave, including multiple national presentations, online workshops through the Sloan Consortium and training sessions for UIS faculty on using Wave. Two training sessions have already been conducted on campus.

“UIS is really out in the forefront of this,” Schroeder said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to use this technology to reach beyond our campus and our online program. It breaks down institutional and geographical boundaries.”

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Sangamon Auditorium patron donates funds for handrails

Patrons at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium no longer have to worry about taking a tumble on the steep stairs thanks to a generous gift.

Pam Reyhan has been enjoying shows at the auditorium for the past 15 years and knows how tricky the stairs can become, especially in the dark. When she was asked if she’d be willing to help finance the installation of handrails to prevent patrons from falling, the choice was simple.

“I hate to say it, but I’m getting to an age where I need them and all my friends need them,” said Reyhan.

Reyhan donated the funds to purchase and install the handrails for the 2,018 seat auditorium, which opened in February of 1981.

“I talked to the architect about why they had designed the railings the way they ultimately emerged,” said Robert Vaughn, Sangamon Auditorium director. “(The architect) said I was a lot younger then.”

Associate Chancellor of Development Vicki Megginson led the effort to secure the funding, while Facilities & Services Administration Executive Director David Barrows came up with the design.

The handrails were installed by the beginning of the 2009-10 season and the auditorium hasn’t experienced a single fall since. Vaughn says in the previous season, before the handrails, they had nine minor falls reported by patrons.

“We are very grateful for Pam’s support in doing this and helping us with the project,” said Vaughn.

Reyhan’s family has owned Sangamo Construction in Springfield for almost 100 years and she’s glad to be able to give back to the community.

“I’ve had so many complements. You have no idea the number of people who have come up to me and said we love the handrails thank you so much,” said Reyhan.

Reyhan says she also enjoys the fact that her gift to the university will be long lasting, helping others long into the future.

“It will last until they fall apart and they need new ones and I hope to god I’m not here then,” joked Reyhan.

For more information about Sangamon Auditorium visit:

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perkins reads poetry as co-Featured Poet in New Hampshire

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, associate professor of English, was the co-Featured Poet at the Poetry Corner in Nashua, New Hamshire, on December 11. The other co-Feature Poet for the evening was David “Doc” Cote, who has been hosting this poetry venue for over twenty years.

This reading was Perkins' fourth Featured Poetry Reading since completing her Spring 2009 Sabbatical to research, write and revise her poetry for her third NYX book, NYX: Sister of Erebus: A Memoir in Poetry.

“The public readings help the editing process by allowing me as the writer to actually hear how the work resonates with a real audience," Perkins said. "After four readings and because of the listeners’ facial and verbal feedback, I know that many of the poems are ready for publication, and I have begun to submit those poems. ”

Perkins publishes and reads her creative works under her first two names: nancy genevieve.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

UIS alum publishes first book

Laura Bynum, a graduate of UIS with her bachelor's degree in communication, has published her first novel, called Veracity. It will be sold in Barnes & Noble, Borders and other bookstores across the country beginning in January 2010.

In 2006, Bynum won the Rupert Hughes Literary Writing Award at the Maui Writer’s Conference and was picked up by Simon & Schuster. According to her Web site, her Literary Agent is Dan Conaway and her Books to Film Agent is Sylvie Rabineau of Rabineau, Wachter, Sanford & Harris.

Bynum lives with her husband and three daughters in Virginia and is currently writing her second novel and first full-length screenplay.

She will be holding a book signing for her new book in Springfield at Borders on January 5.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

UIS' Diversity Center director will be keynote speaker at Martin Luther King Jr. service

Dr. Clarice Ford, director of the Diversity Center at UIS, will be the keynote speaker for The Springfield Ministerial Alliance of Springfield and Vicinity’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March and Memorial Service on Sunday, January 17, at Union Baptist Church, in Springfield.

The 18-minute march will begin with a brief meditation at 3 p.m. on Freedom Corner in front of the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. at 2nd Street and Capitol Avenue, where the Illinois State Library is located. Church, the Student Gospel Choir at UIS, will sing at the statue and lead the singing along the route. The march will proceed to Union Baptist Church, where the Ministerial Alliance Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Service will begin at 4 p.m. The UIS choir and the Southeast High School Gospel choir will perform there as well.

Ford was formerly the pastor of the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Rome, Georgia and was associate dean of Students at Berry College for five years. She earned a Ph.D. from Fielding University, Santa Barbara, California. She is a member of the NAACP, Eastern Star Miriam Chapter #47, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Charter Member of the National Military Women Memorial, has earned the Pennsylvania Black Achiever Award and is a member of the Mayor’s Commission on Diversity and Human Relations.

Winners of the 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest will deliver their essays during the Memorial Service. The essay contest is sponsored each year by the Alliance and is open to area elementary, middle school and high school students.

The event is open to the public.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

ITS multimedia education coordinator presents social media session at Museum

Munindra Khaund, Multimedia Education Coordinator for Information Technology Services at UIS, is presenting at a brownbag session at the Illinois State Museum on Wednesday, December 9.

The topic is "Building Communities of Interest with Social Media: Using Facebook." The session is geared toward organizations looking into Facebook as an outreach tool to build communities of interest.

More information on the session can be found online here. The session is free and open to public.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Students analyze first semester with Capital Scholars composition projects

Freshmen in the Capital Scholars Honors Program at UIS had a chance to look back over their first semester at both the good and the bad during a project for Capital Scholars course 111, Honors Composition.

To wrap up the class, the students completed bibliographical projects analyzing themselves and the changes they’ve seen in their personal lives since coming to college at UIS. The dozens of projects were then presented and explained to several different Capital Scholars instructors on Wednesday morning in the lobby of the Public Affairs Center.

“I thought it was a really good project because I got to reminisce back to the beginning of the semester and think back on everything and put it all into art,” said Breanna Ligaya, a freshman in biology.

Amy Spies, coordinator of Composition and Academic Support for the Capital Scholars Honor Program, said the goal of the project was to give students the opportunity to critically analyze their learning experiences for the semester.

“It required them to look at each experience with more than just how they felt at that time, but to look back and recognize what they learned and how that experience contributed to who they have become,” she said. “Some changes are good and some are not so good, which they recognized, and they’ve included the bad as well as the good in their presentations.”

Students created everything from poster boards to sculptures to collages. One student even hung notes and pictures on himself with yarn.

“It was a lot more fun than writing a paper; being able to be creative in a regular writing class was really fun,” said freshman Melissa Frost.

And according to the students, the intent of the project was a success.

“It really helped me see me as a person and how I grew,” Ligaya said.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Video message from Chancellor Ringeisen

Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen has a video message about the U of I Board of Trustees’ visit to the UIS campus and the latest on the search for a new U of I President.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

UIS shows off research and achievement using Pecha Kucha presentation style

UIS faculty and students used the groundbreaking presentation style known as Pecha Kucha to show members of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees their accomplishments during a reception on Wednesday, November 10, 2009.

Pecha Kucha, pronounced "pe-chak-cha" started in Japan in 2003 and when translated into English means “chit-chat”. During a Pecha Kucha event, speakers use images that match the topic they are discussing. The presenters are often limited to five minutes a piece or less to discuss their topic. The format allows for a “mixer” like style where people are often standing and moving around, but still listening to the message.

The Board of Trustees Pecha Kucha presentation featured a variety of topics with the goals of engagement, enlightenment, and energy in mind.

The following faculty and students spoke at the event:

“Building the Brainstem” – Rebecca Landsberg, Assistant Professor of Biology

“From UIS to the Real World” – Sarah M. Hartwick, UIS Graduate Student and Illinois Legislative Staff Intern through the Center for State Policy & Leadership

“Remembering Rickets” – Deborah Kuhn McGregor, Professor of History and Women & Gender Studies

“Re-Thinking Education” – Ray Schroeder, Professor Emeritus / Director of the Center for Online Learning, Research & Service and Shari McCurdy Smith, Associate Director of the Center for Online Learning, Research & Service

“Sustainability in Mind” – Tih-Fen Ting, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

“Global Scholarship and the UIS Music Classroom” – Sharon Graf, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology

“Ancient Peru Study Abroad” – Stanislaw Adam Lipski, UIS Capital Scholars Honors Undergraduate Student, double-majoring in sociology/anthropology and political science

“Civic Engagement at UIS” – Kelly Thompson, Director of the UIS Volunteer Center, Division of Student Affairs

“Nanotechnology in Central Illinois” – Keenan Dungey, Associate Professor of Chemistry

“UIS’ Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon” – Michael Lemke, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the UIS Emiquon Field Station and Michael Purnell, Emiquon Advisory Board Member and UIS Alumnus

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

UIS Computer Science Professor speaks at International conference

Dr. Keith Miller, the Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois Springfield recently spoke at the Unmanned Systems Canada Conference in Victoria, British Columbia.

The annual conference was about “unmanned vehicle systems,” which include remote controlled tanks, the Mars rovers, and Predator missile launchers, and was attended by military, industry and academic experts.

“I was speaking on the ethics of UVS design, development, and deployment. The session was well attended, and the discussion was lively, spilling over after my time was up,” said Miller. “People at this meeting are making life and death decisions about robotics and munitions, and they seemed open, even eager, to explore the issues. I was told that ethics questions were raised in other sessions, but that my session was the one that tackled the issues most directly.”

The trip was made possible by funds from Schewe Professorship that Miller received in September, 2009.

“A year ago, I would have said ‘no’ to this invitation. They didn't offer to pay my way, and it wasn't a cheap trip. But with the Schewe money, and with my goal of involving different global voices in a book project, this was a natural,” said Miller.

Miller has been invited back to speak at next year’s meeting in 2010, possibly in an expanded format.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Third annual Dr. Matthew Holden, Jr. Symposium Lecture held at Jackson State University

University of Illinois Springfield Professor of Political Science Dr. Matthew Holden, Jr. was recently honored during the annual symposium and lecture that bears his name. The event was held on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Dr. Holden is the first Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at UIS and is a nationally recognized expert on public administration, politics and law, urban politics and racial and ethnic relations.

"I had never expected to have a lecture named for me, and at first would not agree. But it has happened and frankly is wonderful. It is greatly encouraging that others perceive one’s own work as an example to be cited. The lecture is an effort to disseminate knowledge on a broad basis, not merely inside the classroom but to a public and community outside," said Dr. Holden.

The Symposium Lecture was given by Dr. Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Economics at Brown University. The title of the lecture was “Barack Obama and the Future of the Black Prophetic Tradition”.

“The first three lecturers—Ira Katznelson, Theda Sokocpol, and now Glenn Loury ---are all persons of such caliber that they outrank oneself by a long mile,” said Dr. Holden. “Next year’s invited lecturer, Dianne Pinderhughes, will equally enrich the list. Her work on African American participation, and the Voting Rights Act, will also be relevant to the course I am going to offer on “The Changing Regime".

Dr. Holden was not able to attend this year’s lecture, due to teaching commitments at UIS, but his wife, Dorothy, was able to represent them both at the symposium.

In 2004, Dr. and Mrs. Holden donated their personal library of more than 4,000 volumes to the Jackson State University Center for University Scholars. The Center facilitates faculty research productivity and encourages academic discourse. It hosts an annual symposium for recipients of summer research grants. In recognition of Professor Holden’s accomplishments and his generous donation to JSU, the Center has named a reading room and this lecture in his honor.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Assistant Professor of Biology receives national grant to study brain stem development

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development grant to the University of Illinois Springfield.

The $216,150 grant will help Assistant Professor of Biology Rebecca Landsberg, Ph.D. continue her research into the region of the brain known as the brain stem, which is involved in regulating sleep, breathing, and coordination of movement.

“While much is known about the function of the neurons in this region we are just beginning to get an appreciation for how these neurons arise during fetal development,” said Landsberg. “Furthermore, during gestation this region of the brain is susceptible to environmental influences such as retinoic acid (a common ingredient in facial cream) and alcohol.”

Landsberg will study the molecular events that occur during development that results in the production of different types of brain stem neurons and the effects environmental influences have upon this process.

The grant will be used to provide research opportunities in developmental biology to UIS undergraduates. Student who seek to begin a career in science greatly benefit from early exposure to the scientific research process.

“I greatly appreciate that the NIH recognizes the value undergraduates can bring to the research efforts at a school such as UIS,” said Landsberg.

The project described was supported by Award Number R15HD059922 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on the research contact Assistant Professor of Biology Rebecca Landsberg, Ph.D. at 217/206-7338 or by e-mail at

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Professor to give presentation on Abraham Lincoln video from documentary series in Denmark

UIS Assistant Professor of Digital Media Liz Murphy Thomas will be presenting at a Visual Anthropology conference titled "Transcultural Montage" at the Moesgaard Museum at the University of Aarhus in Denmark from August 24 through August 26.

The presentation will be a discussion of the Abraham Lincoln video from her series titled "Let Us Praise Famous Men." "Let Us Praise Famous Men" is a series of videos that document the creation of historical icons through film and media. (The video and a more detailed description can be found here.)

Previously this piece had been exhibited in the “Dead Video / Live Video Festival” of the Boston Cyberarts Festival 2009 hosted by the Massachusetts College of Art and at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee where Murphy Thomas was the Lincoln Bicentennial keynote speaker.

In November, Murphy Thomas will also present on this work at a conference titled "Between History and Myth: Politics and Political Use of Abraham Lincoln" at the University of Milan in Italy.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Clarice Ford will speak at Springfield banquet

Dr. Clarice Ford, director of the UIS Diversity Center, will be a speaker at the 90th Anniversary Banquet for Calvary Baptist Church and the East Springfield Nehemiah Project for urban renewal. The event will be held August 23 at the Northfield Inn Conference Center at 2 p.m.

The Nehemiah Project built 25 affordable home new homes last summer. Thirty more are planned this summer.

Banquet tickets are $50.00 each. For ticket information, contact Calvary Baptist Church at (217) 544-1424 or A few tickets will also be available at the door.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Commencement Moments 2009

UIS' 38th Commencement Ceremony was filled with emotional and celebratory moments as hundreds of students received their diplomas on Saturday, May 16, 2009.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

UIS Forensics participates in Readers Theatre Tournament

At the beginning of May, UIS Forensics participated in the American Readers Theatre Association National Championship Tournament at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California.

Hilary Holmes, Niesa Patton and Samarth Rajendra performed an original Readers Theatre titled "Dream On," documenting the development of the American Dream throughout the country’s history. The UIS theatre was one of a few "world premieres," designating a theatre that had not been performed in competition prior to this event.

The performance was well-received and named a nominee for a special jury award recognizing achievement in script writing.

For information concerning UIS Forensics, contact Thomas Bartl, Director of Forensics, at

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Monday, May 11, 2009

New admissions counselor focuses on international students

By Courtney Westlake

More and more college students today are looking to go beyond the borders of their native countries to study abroad, and that has become a positive thing for United States and for UIS.

Though facts like the U.S. is one of the most expensive countries in the world when it comes to education can sometimes deter students from other countries from seeking to study here, universities like UIS also have a lot of offer, and that is what Samba Dieng is using to counteract those drawbacks.

Dieng arrived at UIS in December 2008 as the first-ever international admissions counselor who specializes in international recruiting. Dieng, who was born in Senegal in West Africa, received his master’s degree in international relations and political science from Indiana State University and decided to pursue a career working with international students.

“Recruiting international students is crucial to any institution,” Dieng said. “International students bring differing perspectives to the classroom and to the dormitories. They are great addition to any campus. International students also bring in tuition dollars, which is important.”

International recruiting had not been a priority at UIS in previous years due to the fact that UIS has only recently become a four-year institution, Dieng said, but that is changing. UIS now has an international recruiting taskforce on campus to discuss issues involving international students and recruiting strategies.

“A well-reasoned approach, especially for an institution that has not really been in this business before, is to target very specific areas, like Asia and Latin America, instead of trying to recruit from all parts of the world,” Dieng said. “Specializing in specific areas will help us not only with understanding the cultures there but also with our future and where we want to have a presence five or 10 years from now.”

Competing on the international scene can be extremely challenging, especially being in competition with countries like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, who are not only very aggressive in terms of recruitment but also have country support, Dieng said.

Additionally, the effects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were tremendous as students found it difficult to get a visa to come to the U.S. and the U.S. lost much political credibility in other parts of the world, he said. More recently, the current economic crisis has also slowed down international recruitment because students are worried about the future of the U.S.

And soon, an initiative called the Bologna Accord in Europe will allow European students to move freely to any country in Europe – up to 40 different countries – to study, Dieng said, which could present another challenge in recruiting European students to the U.S.

“That being said, I think we have a whole lot to sell,” he noted. “I don't know of any other country that spends more on students’ success that the United States. You go to any institution and you see an advising center, a writing center, a diversity center - all sorts of centers and organizations focused on students’ successes.”

Part of Dieng’s job is finding out what matters to international students who are looking to study abroad and why UIS and its academic programs could be a good fit for them, which is key to UIS’ success in international recruiting.

“We need a more nuanced funnel when we’re dealing with international students,” he said. “We need better communication because they ask so many more questions than domestic students. We need to mention things like small class size – a 12 to one ratio with faculty – as well as location and safety.”

“The quality of education itself matters a whole lot to international students, and besides location and quality of education, safety matters the most,” he added. “I think any institution needs to put in the time, personnel and resources in order to be successful with the international recruitment initiative.”

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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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Students receive honors at Model United Nations conference

A class of 12 students from UIS attended the annual National Model United Nations conference, held April 7 through April 11 in New York City, and was honored with the Distinguished Delegation Award for their efforts at the conference.

Model United Nations is a conference that simulates an actual United Nations meeting. More than 300 groups of students from schools internationally attended the conference, each representing a specific country. The group from UIS was chosen to represent Croatia.

This is the first year that a course was designed specifically to learn about and attend the conference, said Adriana Crocker, professor of political science and teacher of the class. In past years, a group of students from the UIS Model United Nations Club attended the conference.

“I felt like the students were much better prepared,” Crocker said. “In class, we discussed Croatia, its history, culture, relations with other neighboring countries, and we also studied how the UN works.”

Each of the students served on various committees during the conference. Students defended the committee they wanted to serve on in class and were placed on those committees by their arguments and interests. Some students served in groups of two on larger committees, while other students represented Croatia by themselves on smaller committees.

“One of the most interesting challenges, I thought, was that you have to throw your own personal ideas aside and have to portray and represent Croatia, even if it’s not what you believe personally is best,” said Dustin Morrison, who represented Croatia on the World Trade Organization committee along with classmate Marko Markovic.

In addition to the group’s Distinguished Delegation honor, several UIS students also received individual awards at the conference. Kelsey Quinn received the Best Delegate Award from among more than 400 delegates. Priyanka Deo was honored with the Best Chair Award for her role in serving as chairman of the General Assembly. Deo served as chair for more than 450 delegates.

“I really got to know the rules and procedures,” she said. “I was aware of Croatia’s viewpoints because we had studied them in class and discussed them before the conference, but it was interesting to see all of the other countries’ viewpoints on issues. It was a really fun experience.”

Both Deo and Quinn have been invited to attend a conference in Switzerland this summer based on their exemplary efforts at Model United Nations.

“I have to congratulate our students; it was quite an accomplishment to receive those awards and honors,” Crocker said. “It was a great experience for our students. They got to learn about foreign policy and diplomacy and also got to hear from and learn about different students from across the world.”

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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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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Schroeder addresses conference at UM

Ray Schroeder, director of the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning, gave a plenary address at the annual Teaching and Technology Conference held recently at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

See a pdf copy of The Messenger, the UMSL newsletter, for additional information.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

UIS Prairie offers sustainability and opportunities to university

By Courtney Westlake

The state of Illinois had 22 million acres of prairie up until the 1820s, but since European settlers moved into area, there are now less than 2,500 acres. Caring for the prairie areas that remain is now extremely important, such as the beautiful prairie located on the south area of the UIS campus.

“We have such small remnants of prairie still left,” said Dr. Tih-Fen Ting, assistant professor of Environmental Studies. “By losing this part of the native ecosystem, we also put out a lot of other species that are associated with prairie, whether it be birds, mammals or insects. We hope that we can increase biodiversity locally and also help species that still depend on prairie for survival and reproductive needs.”

Prairie is a French word meaning ‘meadow,’ Ting said. A prairie system is made up of lot of grasses and flower species and is very productive. Prairie grasses and forbs have deep root systems, and once a plant dies, its roots decompose and become part of the soil.

The prairie at UIS was established in 1991 by the student organization Students Allied for a Greener Earth (SAGE). Bob Raebig, who was a SAGE member and later became the environmental health and safety officer at UIS, played a tremendous role for the prairie restoration, Ting said, and when he passed away in 2004, Ting took responsibility of maintaining the prairie, along with help from Joan Buckles, UIS superintendent of grounds.

“We can use this as a living laboratory to teach students about the prairie and its ecosystem,” Ting said. “Even though it’s only three acres right now, it’s still a nice opportunity to have that living laboratory on campus for students to be able to learn more about a prairie ecosystem.”

Having a restored prairie on campus is beneficial not only to the campus community but to the environment and to sustainability in general.

“Sustainability is a broad issue in the sense that it involves not only environmental stewardship but social responsibilities and economic wellbeing,” Ting said. “There are many ecological benefits the prairie can provide. It increases biodiversity in a human-dominant landscape. And it does not preclude the opportunity for other species to be able to co-exist with us, which is important for sustainability.”

The prairie is also appealing for its aesthetic value and provides a natural setting for people to come, Ting said.

“It's such a beautiful place, and I think people will get inspiration for all kinds of work,” she said.

In the early days, a prairie was maintained by fires from lightning or grazing done by bison, Ting said. Now, UIS uses the method of fire-prescribed burns to maintain the health of the prairie ecosystem. The Friends of Sangamon Valley assists UIS in conducting species inventory and prescribed burns.

“Those are the ways to prevent trees, brushes and shrubs from taking over the prairie ecosystem. We try to mimic the natural force with controlled fires,” Ting said. “The fire will help release nutrients from vegetation back to the soil so it will enhance soil productivity and help other plants to grow. It also helps to control a lot of invasive species as well.”

The UIS prairie gives the campus community the opportunity to be immersed in a different kind of natural setting, Ting said.

“I encourage everyone to come here. It’s right on campus, on west side of the Strawbridge-Shepherd House,” she said. “There are beautiful species and grasses. You can come, meditate, take a nice walk, and it will probably help with your day.”

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Welcome Week 2008

UIS celebrated Welcome Week 2008 in August to greet new and returning students to campus. Welcome Week activities included an open house at the Diversity Center, the Chancellor's Picnic, the Involvement Expo on the Quad, the Foot in the Door Job Fair, a trip to Knight's Action Park and much more.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Current UIS students give advice to first-timers

Current students at UIS weigh in on the university and what it is like to arrive as a freshmen, and give veteran advice about getting involved on campus.

Shana Stine, senior: The cool thing about UIS, and really any college campus, is however active you want to be, you can be. It's all up to the student how much they want to do. There are tons of things to do: Sangamon Auditorium has Broadway shows, Student Life is always offering crazy things, you can go in to downtown Springfield, or just go to a movie and hang out. Living in the dorms gives you a great chance to meet everyone, and you can do a lot of group study or just a lot of group fun. And don't be scared of the laundry machines; laundry is not that bad.

Derek Rhoads, sophomore: It is so easy to get involved at UIS; there are so many things to do. Get out of your safety bubble. We all have this place we feel comfortable in, and the worst thing you can do is stay there. The best thing you can do is just get out and meet new people, and not let the nervousness of somebody different keep you from interacting with them because you're going to learn a lot of new things. We get to experience diversity instead of just talk about it, and I promise you your life will be changed because of the other lifestyles you run into.

Priyanka Deo, junior: I would say to bring a lot more stuff than you think you'll be able to for your dorm room because it's a lot bigger than you think here, which is nice. And don't be nervous about coming here at all because it's one of the best experiences you'll ever have. The small campus is really beneficial because you can get so involved in so many things, and there are a lot of leadership positions available.

Jordan Haley, senior: As far as UIS goes, my favorite thing is the community. It's big enough that you always have the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and make connections around campus, but it's small enough that you can get to know friends really well and your professors really well. As a freshmen, you'll get a ton of emails about events going on around campus - go to those events, show up at stuff and you won't have a problem getting involved.

Freshmen coming in need to remember that they're here for school and because they need to build skill in a certain area so that they can graduate and get a job; I think you realize that as a senior and not as a freshman. The other thing they need to remember is that you're only going to have the opportunity to be an undergraduate once and live in a residence hall once, so you need to make the most of it and embrace the whole experience.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Barrows named Associate Chancellor for Administrative Affairs

Dave Barrows has been appointed Associate Chancellor for Administrative Affairs at UIS. Barrows has been employed on campus since 1993, serving as campus architect/assistant director of the Department of Physical Planning and Operations, and most recently as executive director of Facilities and Services. In his new position, he will assume additional oversight for the campus’ Conference Services office, new Office of Sustainability, and new Parking Services unit. Facilities and Services is responsible for building and grounds maintenance and remodeling.

Barrows was previously employed as a senior project manager with the state of Illinois' Capital Development Board, where his responsibility included projects at the Secretary of State's and Attorney General's offices, the State Police, Capitol Complex power plant, and the complexes at the SIU School of Medicine and at UIS. Before that, he was a project architect with Fischer-Wisnosky Architects, Inc. in Springfield.

He holds a master's degree in Architecture from UIUC, and is a licensed architect in the state of Illinois.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Grounds crew keeps campus beautiful rain or shine

By Courtney Westlake

At times like the bright, sunny, 75-degree days that Central Illinois has been experiencing, members of the UIS grounds crew have been hearing many comments about how lucky they are to have outside jobs.

But weather like this is a definite rarity for the crew.

"We get a lot of comments that people want our jobs on days like today. But on days like the hot, humid days of the summer or the cold windy days of winter, we don't get too many people asking to trade places," laughed grounds supervisor Joan Buckles, who has a degree in ornamental horticultural from UIUC and has been at UIS since 1991.

The UIS grounds crew, committed to the exterior of the campus rain or shine, consists of 11 members, plus Buckles. The grounds crew cares for all of the trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, turf, parking lot, sidewalk maintenance and more.

"Pretty much everything outside, we've got work to do on it," Buckles said. "We've got 370 acres we maintain. The university owns 750 acres, but only 370 of those are landscaped at this time."

A beautiful campus is important to the sustainability of the university and attracts people to visit and attend school at UIS.

"It's first thing potential students and their parents see when they come to campus," Buckles said. "It's important to have a neat, tidy, landscaped area. It shows off the buildings, and it creates a nice place for people to relax and play. Additionally, the Sangamon Auditorium in the PAC brings in a lot of the general public."

The grounds crew has several upcoming projects for campus. One of the biggest includes two new soccer fields that were planted in the spring and are expected to be ready in the fall.

They will also have their hands full with the new landscaping for Founders Hall when the building is completed in August, and they plan to do some correction for drainage issues, and possibly create gardens out of those, in lower campus areas, Buckles said.

"We see maintenance issues and try to eliminate them or make the maintenance easier on them by landscape design," she said. "And we just keep expanding along with all the construction. There are new landscape issues that come along with all that, and it's just ongoing."

Buckles speaks very highly about the diligence her crew has shown throughout the years while creating a more appealing campus, maintaining the grounds and handling any problems that arise.

"This is a very dedicated crew that we have right now, very knowledgeable, and there are a lot of landscape backgrounds in most of the individuals," she said. "They've done an excellent job at keeping the campus looking neat and tidy at all times."

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

UIS graduates nearly 1,300

Nearly 1,300 students received degrees at UIS' 37th commencement ceremony on May 10.

See a printable list of graduates' names and degrees


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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Commencement celebrates exciting and surprising journey

By Courtney Westlake

Life has a way of surprising us.

That was the theme of the speech from student commencement speaker Denean Vreeland as she spoke to her fellow graduates, celebrating their common commitment, college career and all of the surprises along the way.

Hundreds of graduates gathered in their robes and gowns on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, May 10, to receive their hard-earned diplomas in the presence of their proud friends and families with happy tears and beaming smiles across their faces.

Years of dedication and hard work culminated into an exciting and emotional ceremony celebrated by the graduates, many members of the UIS community and people from around the country and world.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke served as the commencement keynote speaker, and UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen and University President B. Joseph White also gave remarks during the ceremony. White challenged the graduates sitting before him to be people of high integrity and professionals of high integrity.

“This is the happiest day of the academic calendar; I’m so happy to be able to share it with you,” White said. “I want to congratulate the graduates, and I want to thank all of the families and friends for all of their support and sacrifices. It’s really taken your love and support to get all of the graduates here.”

Vreeland, who received her degree in math and will be teaching the subject at Pawnee High School, said she was extremely excited to be chosen as the student speaker and could hardly believe her graduation day had finally arrived.

“It’s so exciting to be at the end,” she said right before the graduation ceremony. “This thing I have anticipated for so long is finally here. I really had a tremendous experience at UIS.”

Vreeland's speech was a surprise to her parents, who were in attendance. With the element of surprise being the focus of her presentation, she urged her audience not to equate surprise as being unprepared or naive.

“Each of us today has worked hard to reach this moment in our lives. For most of us, it has required careful planning and dedication,” she said. “Despite these carefully laid plans, though, I am certain each of us has encountered our share of surprises. Speaking from a later season of life, I can tell you there are always surprises ahead.”

Vreeland acknowledged the online learning at UIS, noting that she was rarely physically present on campus but was grateful for the opportunity to study and take classes online, while still feeling like she was an important part of the university. She encouraged her fellow students, both online and on-campus, to explore new possibilities and “not be afraid to open new doors.”

“Those areas least explored are sometimes those that hold the most wonderful surprises,” Vreeland said. “Our professors here at UIS have given us the tools we need to succeed. We have learned how to understand problems and come up with our own solutions. They have encouraged us to think critically and independently.”

And when it comes to planning for the future, Vreeland quoted a sentence from actor Steve Carell’s character in “Dan in Real Life” when he says “Maybe we should tell them this...plan to be surprised.”

“As we leave this ceremony today, no matter what your plans, I invite you to look for and embrace all of life's surprises,” Vreeland said.

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Online students enjoy UIS campus before commencement

By Courtney Westlake

Beth Trimble and Susan Greene became fast friends after Trimble was searching for a "study buddy" while she completed her bachelor's degree in math online at UIS. Years of support, encouragement and friendship ensued, and the two met face-to-face for the first time in 2007 when Greene traveled from her home in Lawrenceville, Ill. to see her online friend graduate.

On Saturday, May 10, it was Trimble's turn to make the trip from her home in California to celebrate as Greene received her degree in math with a minor in teacher education from UIS.

"I couldn't have asked for anything better on my graduation than for her to be here," Greene said. "I feel like my day is complete since she is here. She has been a major support system for me, along with my husband Tony."

Dozens of students and their families, many of whom had never set foot on the UIS campus before, traveled from near and far to participate in UIS' commencement ceremony on Saturday. Before the ceremony, however, graduating online students were able to be a part of the campus in the morning during a celebratory brunch in the Public Affairs Center.

Students hailed from all over Illinois and from as far away as California, Delaware, New Jersey and Florida. The graduates, online coordinators and program faculty were all recognized during the brunch.

"As graduates, you represent much of all that is good and great about the university," said Chuck Schrage, vice president of alumni relations. "Your accomplishments as students, your future achievements, the way in which you live and the values by which you live will have a significant impact on UIS. It's true what many have said: alumni are the truest measure of a great university."

Online graduates from UIS live and work throughout all 50 states and many other countries internationally.

"We have a wide reach with these programs," said Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. "I really want to congratulate you and thank you for choosing this university. We are very proud of these programs."

There was a wide mix of emotions during the brunch as the graduates met many campus community members for the first time and celebrated with their families and friends.

"I'm relieved, excited. It's been a long road," Greene said.

Both Trimble and Greene said they will always feel a connection with UIS, and especially with each other and their programs. Being teachers will also continue to keep them close, Trimble said.

"I don't think we'll ever lose that connection," Greene said.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

David Dodds Henry lecturer speaks on higher education

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, presented the 26th David Dodds Henry Lecture at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 3, in Brookens Auditorium.

The focus of Ward's presentation was "Higher Education and the Global Knowledge Economy: Affordability and Accountability Redefined." Following his presentation were responses from Judy Erwin, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Naomi Lynn, Chancellor Emerita at UIS and Gary Plummer, president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. There was also a reception held after the program.

The David Dodds Henry lectures were established in 1971 by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and the U of I Foundation to honor President Emeritus David D. Henry, who served as chief executive officer of the University for 16 years, from 1955 until his retirement in 1971.

Ward, who is a chancellor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke about the major changes in higher education over the past decades especially in terms of affordability.

"It doesn't really matter whether we talk about five, 10 or 15 years, but that the role and how we view the role and how funding is made up has changed dramatically," he said. "There is a sense that higher education, like many other sectors of the economy, is now in a global setting. Higher education is being seen by more people as critical to our future, and in that sense, our role has changed."

Tuition for public universities and colleges has increased tremendously due largely in part to lack of state funding, Ward said, but the challenges that plague higher education now have happened so gradually that many aren't aware at "how radical the changes are." It is hard to find a university president in the public sector who isn't concerned with providing the capital to find a way to "keep the excellence flourishing," he said.

"The problem is that I think in addition to these challenges and fears of global competition is we forget that over the past 25 years the role and funding of higher education has also changed," Ward said. "It doesn't mean to say that the money should come from the government, but it does mean to say some renewed funding will be needed."

Ward likened higher education's affordability to a swinging pendulum. He said many people believe that higher education and government are simply swinging back and forth between good times and bad.

"I say to those people 'the pendulum fell off its pin', " he said. "That doesn't mean we should lose our values. We now have to redefine that context through which we can fulfill our values. That pendulum's not just going to swing between good times and bad times now; they're different times."

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Cox Children's Center stands out

By Courtney Westlake

On a recent Wednesday at the Cox Children’s Center, members of the three-year-old class carefully spread tomato sauce on small circles of dough before placing handfuls of cheese on top.

“They’ve been really interested in pizza and eating pizza, so we’re doing projects about pizza and how it’s made,” explained center director Stacey Hembrough.

Hembrough, who first worked as a consultant and supervisor at the center before stepping into the director position, where she has been for four and a half years, has been working with children for 20 years and obtained her bachelor’s and master’s in early childhood education. Serving in administration was a personal goal as well, she said.

“I like the involvement with other directors in the community; I like the involvement with all of the children and all of the families,” Hembrough said. “When you’re a teacher, you are kind of isolated in your own classroom, whereas this way, I get to have a relationship with everyone.”

The Cox Children’s Center, located on UIS’ campus, accepts infants through school-age children, who are present in the summer only. When school is in session, there is a class for babies ages 6 weeks to 15 months and a class for toddlers ages 15 months to 24 months, as well as classes for two-year-olds, three-year-olds and pre-kindergarten children, Hembrough said.

While the environments in each of the classrooms may differ because of the ages, the same philosophies stand. The center has an interest-driven curriculum that is focused on engaging students in hands-on projects and providing them with quality interaction, Hembrough said, such as the case of the children making pizzas. The center strives to utilize an educational philosophy called the Reggio Emilia approach, which views children as very capable and strong, Hembrough said.

“A lot of Americans tend to view children as needy, and we believe a little differently,” she said. “We set up an environment to challenge them, provoke them and to make them discover things and wonder.”

Due to the strong curriculum as well as the diligence of its staff, the center recently became one of the first early childhood programs in the country to earn accreditation through a new system of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the leading organization of early childhood professionals. The process is voluntary, and reaccreditation must be achieved every five years.

“It was a year-long self-study and was very intensive,” Hembrough said. “We spent almost two years challenging each other to take risks and not be afraid of change. We found out in November that we received it.”

The accreditation, philosophy and many other aspects set the Cox Children’s Center apart from other childcare centers in the area, Hembrough said.

The staff expectations in regards to education, experience and training hours are very high, and there is very little turnover among staff members. The ratio of children per adult in the classroom is small in order to promote interaction, Hembrough said, and the center provides the only accredited infant center in Central Illinois.

“We also have an open door policy and encourage lot of parent involvement,” she said. “I think parents are starting to realize importance of quality and starting to become aware of what to look for when they're looking for early childhood care, so those things stand out.”

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Staff members represent UIS in cavalry band

By Courtney Westlake

Although dressing in Civil War period garb while performing songs from that time is exciting, two UIS campus community members have found that the clothing gets a little hot during the summertime.

"It isn't real good in the summer because it's wool," laughed Beverly Bunch, who is an associate professor in public administration. "But in the winter, it feels much better."

Despite the occasional heat, Bunch and Rose Schweikhart, who works as the dean's assistant in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, are both enjoying the opportunities they have to perform with the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Band, part of the Volunteer Regiment.

The band has been active since August 2006, which is when Schweikhart first began playing with the group. Bunch has been involved with the band since March 2007. She said she enjoyed hearing Schweikhart play around campus and town, and Schweikhart asked her to join, which she gladly accepted. Additionally, Todd Cranson, who is assistant director of co-curricular music at UIS, conducts the band.

Although the band members don't ride horses while playing like the Civil War bands did, "almost all of the music selections played are arrangements from bands that existed in the 1860s," Schweikhart said, except for one piece which is a more modern arrangement.

"That's what makes it a lot of fun, that we get to play period instruments and music from that era," Bunch said. "They're hard to play in tune, and that makes it challenging, but it's nice to be playing music from that era on instruments from that era."

Schweikhart plays a baritone, which has a tenor sound like trombone, she said. Normally, Bunch plays the French horn but as the horn wasn't around during that time, she has taken up the E Flat Alto.

The Volunteer Band and Regiment are based on the actual Cavalry that was out of Springfield, Bunch said, and it is fun to hear old stories about the band and its members.

At some point during the war, Schweikhart said, bands were cut because they were a large expense on the Army, so in many regiments - including Springfield's - officers themselves paid band members more salary to keep them in action, which was an extra $1 per month.

Bunch and Schweikhart said they are thrilled with the opportunity to share the music, and the history, of the Civil War time period with the community.

"I love that we get to play period music on a period instrument. And especially around here, people are so appreciate of the history, especially from the Civil War era," Schweikhart said.

The Cavalry Band performs at various locations around town, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, UIS and more. Schweikhart and Bunch are particularly looking forward to their next gig: taking part in the Cavalry Band's performance at the 1860s Period Ball held in honor of Lincoln’s 200th birthday at the Executive Mansion on February 9.

"We hope people come to our concerts; we have a lot of fun, and we love having an audience," Bunch said. "Everybody there loves what they are doing; we like brass, and we love the Civil War context."

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't Make Excuses During Holiday Season

By Courtney Westlake

The holiday and winter season is the number one time for people to stray from their workout routine. But although schedules are more hectic with shopping, parties and out-of-town trips, with a little planning, you can ditch the excuses and remain on track with healthy living.

"It's an easy excuse for people to fall off the wagon, but don't just make it an excuse," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the Recreation and Athletic Center, or TRAC. "There's always ways to slip in a quick workout, such as taking the stairs at work. Stay focused on your workouts, stay focused on what you want in your lifestyle."

Exercise plays a huge role in healthy living because it helps with your overall well-being, Jillson said.

"Especially for students, we have a lot of things going on," she said. "Right now it's finals, so there is a lot of stress, and working out can help relieve some of that stress."

Jillson suggested interval training for a quick workout to get in strength conditioning and cardio. If you aren't able to make it to your gym, try crunches, pushups and lunges at home as part of your exercise routine. Eating habits also play a big part in healthy living, especially during the holidays, Jillson said.

"Maybe eat before you go to a holiday party; have a small meal before you go to the party, so you don't attack the snack table," she said. "Or just have a little sampling of each hors d'oeuvre or item, and you'll at least be on the road to success with party after party."

If you are wanting to add an exercise routine to your lifestyle or mix things up, Jillson encouraged the campus community to check out the TRAC.

"We have wonderful state-of-the-art equipment and personal training that will be at a significantly reduced rate than any other club you'll find in town," she said. "We also have group exercise programs, ranging from kick-boxing to yoga. It will help people get right back on track or at least help them understand why it's important to exercise and what they can be doing to reach their goals."

"Everyone does a New Year's Resolution," she added. "You might as well add health and fitness to it."

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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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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Service Learning Provides Unique Opportunities for UIS Students

By Courtney Westlake

Cristina Bowman, a UIS sophomore and Springfield native, hadn't given much thought to homelessness and hunger until she decided to take a service learning course at UIS.

Bowman's class, Learning and Serving: Hunger and Homeless, requires that everyone meet certain amount of hours toward assisting and bettering the local community.

"We spend 20 hours at St. John's Breadline, and 40 hours working on group project, which is collecting items like plastic bags, small plastic containers, tea and sugar (for the clients of the Breadline)," Bowman said.

The Service Learning Program was started as an effort to get students involved in volunteer and service opportunities, and is currently led by service learning coordinator and professor of applied study Kathy Guthrie.

Under the new curriculum set by the campus senate in 2005 called ECCE (Engaged Citizenship Common Experience), students must fulfill 13 hours in various categories such as U.S. Communities, Global Awareness, a Speaker Series and more. Guthrie sets up courses that connect community service to academic credit under the ECCE requirements.

Past and present courses on community service focus on issues, including hunger and homelessness and the environment, Guthrie said. There are also online courses that center on general service and a new course that will be offered in the spring on social change and leadership.

"It's important to get not only students but any individual to think about how they can be active and involved in their community," Guthrie said. "Everyone is passionate about something, but it's finding that passion and actually acting on it."

Recently, students taking the course on environmental issues created an anti-littering campaign for city and worked with waste and recycling manager within Public Works. The students recruited high school students to pick up trash one day around the State Fair Grounds. Fifty to 60 high school students showed up to work with three UIS students, which sparked residents in the surrounding area to join the students in cleaning or offering them beverages, Guthrie said.

There is also a current group of UIS students performing service at the Animal Protective League, working with the animals and providing advocacy for the animals, she said.

For her hunger and homelessness class, Bowman is working on an additional, individual project that includes videotaping the guests of the Breadline, asking questions such as "how has the breadline helped you?" Then she will compile the information for the Breadline to help them better their services.

"It's really opened my eyes to the problems in the community," Bowman said. "We do need to help the homeless around here. My projects may seem a little small, but I know I'm doing my part in helping the community of Springfield."

As for the future of the service learning program, Guthrie is working to start an immersion program for students to provide service in other parts of the country or internationally.

"There seems to be a lot of interest in that, so once those (courses) get established, that will be quite popular because it's taking people out of the area they're used to living in and being engaged in and taking them to another part of the country they've never seen," she said.

Ideally, Guthrie hopes to build the program up and inspire students to find their passion and make a positive social change.

"I think a lot of time people get stuck and think 'I can't make a difference' or 'I can only give one hour of community service a week, a month or a year' and so then they feel it's such a small amount, they don't even do that," Guthrie said. "That hour does make a difference."

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