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Monday, April 07, 2008

Higher education redefined

We were fortunate to have Dr. David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, at UIS last week to talk about major changes in higher education during the past several decades. He stressed that public higher education is now in a global setting where competition is very rigorous. At the same time, tuition has risen dramatically due to declines in state funding. "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. In his presentation of the 26th David Dodds Henry Lecture in UIS' Brookens Auditorium, Dr. Ward emphasized that affordability and accountability in the global knowledge economy will need to be redefined.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Distinguished graduation speaker

UIS is honored to have Justice Anne M. Burke of the Illinois Supreme Court's First District as our graduation speaker this year. Throughout her many years in public service, Dr. Burke has provided a voice for society's most fragile citizens -- especially children. She was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court on July 6, 2006 after serving 11 years as a justice of the Illinois Appellate Court. Her judicial career began in 1987 when she was appointed the first woman justice of the Illinois Court of Claims. Among her many accomplishments are that she founded the Chicago Special Olympics in 1968 and later served as a director of that organization as it grew to become the International Special Olympics. We look forward to her address at our 37th commencement to be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

First Ameren Professor named

Dr. Karl McDermott, a vice president at National Economic Research Associates, has been named the first Ameren Endowed Professor in Business and Government at UIS. The professorship was established through a $500,000 gift to UIS from the Ameren Corporation and will be located within UIS' College of Business and Management. Dr. McDermott, who began his duties here on April 1, will teach, conduct research, and facilitate lectures and seminars for corporate, political, and civic leaders. We are very grateful to Ameren for this gift and for sharing this university's focus on the future. Professorships like this one help strengthen the academic fiber of the university. A formal investiture ceremony, honoring both Dr. McDermott and Ameren, will be held this fall.

Showcasing the arts

Here's a great combination: an art exhibit, music recital, theater, and good food. That's what Arts Night has in store on Friday, April 11. It's a wonderful opportunity for UIS to show off its talent in a variety of ways. The evening will begin with the opening of a juried alumni art show at 5 p.m. in the Visual Arts Gallery, followed by a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception in the gallery. That event is sponsored by the Office of UIS Alumni Relations and the Visual and Performing Arts at UIS. A recital by the UIS Chamber Orchestra will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Office of Electronic Media's TV Studio. And at 8 pm. in the Studio Theatre, UIS Theatre will present Period of Adjustment by Tennessee Williams. That's a lot of enjoyment packed into one evening, so do yourself a favor and plan to join us for Arts Night at UIS.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cause for celebration

UIS' new Emiquon Field Station is now complete and ready for a grand opening on Friday, April 25. That's the day when the station, located at The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown, will be dedicated and open for tours. Under the direction of UIS Biology Professor Mike Lemke, the station will study, research and document the restoration of the Illinois River floodplain, one of the world's largest reclamation projects of its kind. I invite all of you to an open house and picnic at the station on Saturday, April 26, when tours of the Emiquon Preserve will be given. There will also be a slide presentation about the Illinois River and a talk about native peoples by Mike Wiant, director of Dickson Mounds, which is located near the station. Plan to bring the whole family for what promises to be a very fun and informative day. The Emiquon Preserve is located about 45 miles northwest of Springfield near Lewistown and Havana.

Monday, March 31, 2008

40th Anniversary on horizon

Fall 2010 will mark 40 years since this university began offering classes. That's an opportunity to celebrate our past, honor our traditions, and measure our progress. The SSU/UIS history is truly fascinating and involves many stories, some even true. An exploratory group headed by Joan Sestak has already begun thinking about how to observe the 40th Anniversary. They expect that the celebration will begin in fall 2010 and continue through the end of that year. Events that occur on an annual basis, such as UIS Homecoming and the UIS Alumni Annual Awards Program, will have an anniversary theme. Joan emphasized that the planning is in a preliminary stage and noted that "we don't want to upstage the 50th Anniversary." Let's see...I wonder how many of us will still be at UIS to celebrate the 50th?

"Founders Hall" on schedule

"Founders Hall" is really beginning to take shape despite a winter that created construction challenges. The main structure appears to be two weeks ahead of schedule, and the brick work is proceeding rapidly. Will the project schedule to complete construction in the next four months be met? Steve Roeschle, president of Core Construction Co., is confident that the 200-bed hall will be open for occupancy in August. That's good news because our enrollment projections for fall look very promising at this time. The new hall will feature a green roof, which will provide significant energy savings over time; a bookstore to serve the entire campus; and a grille that will seat 48-60 offering food service to the campus.

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Oh the Places We'll Go"

The annual Faculty & Staff Campaign celebration, which lasted throughout March, would have made Dr. Suess proud. We rhymed our way through the month using the book "Oh the Places We'll Go" as our inspiration. And the result was gratifying: a total of 37% of our employees made a gift to UIS, an increase over last year's 35.6%. In numbers, 270 individuals have given (46.6% of academic professionals, 37% of faculty, and 28.8% of civil service employees). I want to thank each of you for your vote of confidence in this university. And kudos to Vicki Megginson and her staff for putting on quite a show. If you haven't already done so, you can still give; all gifts received before the end of the fiscal year (June 30) are counted toward this year's goal and campaign.

Not business as usual

Dr. Richard Judd, UIS' National City Professor of Business Administration, received an exciting and important honor recently. He was invited by the Wall Street Journal to serve on its Opinion Leaders Research Panel, which is comprised of an elite group of business leaders from throughout the nation. The panel will be asked three or four times a year to provide opinions and advice on a host of important business and consumer issues. Dr. Judd is also director of UIS' Center for Entrepreneurship.

Elluminate recognizes UIS

UIS is among 11 institutions in the U.S. and Canada recently selected as 2008 Centers of Excellence by Elluminate, Inc., a leading provider of live eLearning and web collaboration solutions. The Center of Excellence program recognized this university's "progressive approach to change" by implementing Elluminate Live! in creative ways. Specifically, UIS has brought online and on-campus initiatives together, saved time and resources, and "effected powerful cultural change," said Shari McCurdy Smith, associate director of the UIS Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning. And congratulations to McCurdy for being named an Elluminate Hero. The honor was bestowed on her for being responsible for this university's acceptance into the Elluminate program.