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Donna McCracken


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This Year



History graduate wins outstanding master's thesis award

December 12, 2005

SPRINGFIELD – Patrick Pospisek has won the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis award for the 2004-05 academic year. His thesis, titled “Inspired Self-Interest: Motivating Factors in the Relocation of the Illinois Seat of Government, 1836-1845,” was chosen from among 11 theses and projects nominated by graduate departments at the university.

The thesis examines the transfer of the Illinois state capital from Vandalia to Springfield in 1837. Bill Siles, UIS associate professor of History who served as Pospisek’s adviser, noted that the work “changes the story of what historians wrote about these events over the last century.”

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Said Siles, “Patrick is a careful and very resourceful researcher and a careful interpreter of historical evidence.  His thesis argues that the move from Vandalia was not a matter of log rolling -- not the corrupt bargain that such a phrase suggests -- and that Lincoln, in particular, played no role in arranging for local financiers to more easily pay off the debt incurred when Springfield citizens made their bid to take the capital. He shows that Springfield regarded securing the capital as an internal improvement for the community, not as securing a mighty political institution.

“He is the first scholar to fully identify all the bond holders who raised the necessary funds and he shows how individual and public interest intersected to promote the city’s improvement as well as individual careers, profits, and the high status that followed. His work creates new knowledge by showing that standard histories are incomplete or incorrect on these matters,” Siles added.

Pospisek graduated from UIS in December 2004 with a master’s degree in History. He plans to pursue a degree in library science at the U of I campus at Urbana-Champaign.

Mark Danenhauer received a Special Merit award for his thesis titled “Determining an Optimal Degree of Local Involvement in the Management of a National Park.” 

Tih-Fen Ting, assistant professor of Environmental Studies, served as Danenhauer’s adviser. Ting noted, “Mark set out to answer one of the most important questions in the area of national park management -- specifically, whether or not the involvement of local communities in the management of parks has significant impact on the success of conservation efforts within the parks.”

Ting explained, “Several case studies have pointed out the importance of involving local communities in park management.  However, no study has examined the relationship between local involvement and conservation success within the park on a large scale, in terms of geographic distribution and sample size; Mark’s thesis did just that.

“He sampled and surveyed national parks with varying degrees of local involvement around the world, and was eventually able to base his study on a total of 54 parks, which is a uniquely large sample size for a protected area study.  Moreover, Mark was able to compare parks in developing and developed countries.

“Mark’s thesis was original,” Ting said. “His analysis was deep and careful.  His work also revealed the complexity of the issue and, I think, has made a nice contribution to the field of protected area study and conservation.”

Danenhauer graduated from UIS in May 2005 with a master of science degree in Environmental Sciences. Before coming to UIS, he spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. He is currently employed with the Utah Rivers Council.

UIS Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Harry Berman said the UIS Research Board was impressed by the high quality of each of the 11 nominated reports. “Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task,” he said.

Other students who were nominated, their theses or projects, and their programs, were Rikeesha Cannon (Communication), “Civil Religion or Public Theology: A Content Analysis of the Religious Communication of George W. Bush”; Nancy Elledge (Human Development Counseling), “Counseling Individuals with an Intersex Conditional: A Survey of Mental Health Professionals”; Carl Endorf (Management Information Systems), “Honeypots: An In-depth Analysis and Use in a Large Corporate Environment”; Amy Erickson (Accountancy), “A Comparison of Illinois to the Other Forty-Nine States by Use of Their Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports”; Amol Gaikaiwari (Computer Science), “A Web-based Corporate Directory Application Using LDAP”; Carol Link (Educational Leadership), “The Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, the Senior Citizens’ Assessment Freeze Exemption Act, and Their Combined Effect on Property Taxes”; Nathan Myers (Public Administration), “The Effect of Economic and Political Factors on State Policy Decisions to Expand Health Insurance Coverage”; Jessica Wiederholt (Human Services), “The Psychosocial Needs of Families Affected by Childhood Cancer: A Child Life Model”; and Suzanne Woods (Individual Option), “Women with Disabilities and Sexual Abuse: The History of Laws and Public Policy and Their Impact.”

All 11 students will be honored at a reception to be held early in the spring semester.

Research Board members are Berman, who serves as chair; UIS faculty members Sviatoslav Braynov, Martin Martsch, Amir Parssian, and Kent Redfield; staff member Laura Dorman; and emeritus faculty member Peter Wenz.


    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.