Thursday, October 30, 2008

Luncheon recognizes achievements of UIS faculty

By Courtney Westlake

The outstanding accomplishments of faculty at UIS were acknowledged at the 16th annual Faculty Recognition Luncheon, which was held Thursday, October 30 in the Sangamon Auditorium Lobby of the PAC. The event, started in 1985, recognizes the scholarly achievements of current and emeriti faculty for the previous calendar year and pays tribute to all of the faculty members for achievements in areas of research, published articles and other writing, creative works, grants, book reviews and professional presentations.

"When you say the word 'university,' what it means is a community of scholars, scholars who are eager to share their experiences and scholarship with students," said Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. "What a diverse group of scholars we are. The thing that we all have in common, no matter what our scholarship area is, is this gleam in the eye, this 'want to know.' That spark we all have in common is the essence of scholarship."

Provost Harry Berman took the time to point out the various fields, interests or recent achievements of faculty members at UIS during the luncheon presentation.

"More than anything, a public, liberal arts university is a public university where there is an active commitment to the values associated with a liberal arts education," Berman said. "Being in a public, liberal arts university has much to do with the seriousness with which faculty approach the undergraduate general education experience and the faculty's commitment to what is often referred to as liberal learning."

Meena Rao, vice president of academic affairs at the University of Illinois, traveled to town for the occasion to congratulate the faculty on their recent achievements and thank them for their contribution to the mission of the university.

"The annual Faculty Scholarship Recognition events are a favorite of mine because they highlight the many achievements of faculty as scholars, as researchers and as teachers," she said. "We cannot forget that the university's principle resource is its faculty. The excellence of our academic programs is directly related to the quality of our faculty."

During the Recognition Luncheon, Dr. Rosina Neginsky, associate professor of Liberal Studies/Individual Option, Women’s Studies and English, was named University Scholar, an award honoring and rewarding outstanding teachers and scholars at the three U of I campuses. The prize comes with a grant of $10,000 each year for three years for research and scholarly activities.

Neginsky is a literary scholar, translator, author and poet. Her primary interests include European literature and cinema, women writers and the symbolist movement in Europe.

"Her enthusiasm for learning, culture and the arts is infectious," Rao said. "She actively encourages her students, her colleagues and the larger Springfield community to join her in learning about other cultures, which is so necessary in the world we live in today."

Dr. Barbara Burkhardt, last year's University Scholar, presented Neginsky with the University Scholar pen.

"Her zest for the life of the mind is really contagious, and certainly has enriched me and I'm sure many of you too," Burkhardt said.

Neginsky thanked many of her mentors and colleagues for their inspiration, and discussed her scholarship and upcoming projects.

"My teaching has always inspired my research, and my research always inspired my teaching," she said. "I’m grateful to be with you here today, and I’m honored."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WUIS fall fund drive ends close to goal

Public radio station WUIS 91.9 finished its fall fund drive short of its goal; however the station still raised nearly $125,000 to support programming. WUIS' goal for the drive was 1,400 pledges; almost 1,300 pledges were received. The on-air portion of the drive was conducted October 16 through 24. A pre-drive renewal campaign accounted for approximately one quarter of the total pledges.

Listener support from two annual fund drives is the station's largest source of revenue, covering 30 percent of the WUIS budget. Pledges can still be made online.

The fall drive occurred in the midst of the station's coverage of the current economic crisis, which led Development Director Randy Eccles to reflect, "Considering the mood, listeners stepped up and were generous in their support." Eccles said that many listeners commented that they would like to make a larger gift, representing the value they feel WUIS provides, but couldn't afford it.

General Manager Bill Wheelhouse said that while total funds pledged were down from campaigns in the past two years, he was pleased with the response. "Many listeners let us know that the in-depth reporting on the economy and elections were major reasons they listen to WUIS," he said. "It is gratifying to know there are so many passionate supporters of public radio in the region."

WUIS hopes to cover the shortfall with additional events and alternate fundraising plans, such as the WUIS Passports Tour listener trip to Belize. In March, Statehouse reporter Amanda Vinicky will accompany listeners to the Central American country for a tour led by Dave Cox of Lincoln Land Community College. Everyone who made a pledge during the fall fund drive has a chance to win a spot for two on the trip.

WUIS is listener-supported and a National Public Radio affiliate. WUIS content is available in the Springfield/Central Illinois area in HD at 91.9 FM, in West-Central Illinois at 89.3 FM, and worldwide online. The station's mission is to satisfy a curious, engaged audience through programming and community outreach. Program schedule, events, and other information is available online, or call the station at 217/206-6516.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

UIS Brookens Library to hold student art exhibit and competition

Brookens Library at the University of Illinois at Springfield will host a juried student art exhibit and competition, based on themes from the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The event is part of the library's participation in the Big Read program and is open to all currently registered students at UIS.

Entries must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 3. The grand prize winner will have an opportunity to display his or her work at jimiArt gallery in downtown Springfield.

An opening night reception and awards ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 7, in Mary Jane's Café, located in Brookens' lower level. To accommodate the event, which is free and open to the public, the library will remain open until 7 p.m. that evening.

Artwork will remain on display on the second level of Brookens Library through Saturday, December 20, which is the end of UIS' 2008 fall semester.

Sponsors of the event are Bevande's, The Friends of Brookens Library, jimiArt, Jeffrey Alans, Walmart, and the UIS Bookstore.

Additional information, including a downloadable entry form

UIS hosts international conference

UIS hosted the 30th Annual Conference of the Association for Integrative Studies October 23 to 26. The conference theme, "Interdisciplinarity and the Engaged Citizen: Higher Education, Public Policy, and Global Awareness," highlighted a number of aspects of UIS' current educational mission.

Karen Moranski, associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, was the program chair. She noted that the choice of UIS as conference host "signifies UIS' growing national reputation in the area of interdisciplinary and integrative studies." Moranski will serve as AIS president for 2010-2012.

The more than 160 conference participants came from 26 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Chile. Approximately 25 UIS faculty members presented papers; the Center for State Policy and Leadership and the Experiential and Service Learning Program provided pre-conference workshops; and Larry Golden, UIS professor emeritus and a director of the Downstate Innocence Project, was a keynote speaker.

On October 23, a dinner in the Public Affairs Center was highlighted by historian and author Dr. Roberta Senechal's address analyzing the events of the Springfield Race Riots.

The Association for Integrative Studies is an interdisciplinary professional organization founded in 1979 to promote the interchange of ideas among scholars and administrators in all of the arts and sciences on intellectual and organizational issues related to furthering integrative studies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Three Join UIS Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame

The Bill Miller Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame will honor three graduates from the University of Illinois at Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program who have distinguished themselves in the field of journalism. Mary Bohlen, Kevin Finch, and Ray Long will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at The Inn at 835 on Monday, November 17.

The Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame was named in honor of Bill Miller, an award-winning journalist who served as the program's director for 19 years. After a semester of classroom study, students work six months in the Capitol covering state politics while being supervised by professional journalists. Over 550 students have completed the program since the first class graduated in 1973. Illinois Issues, the state's leading public affairs magazine, and WUIS-91.9, the capital city's NPR station, established the bi-annual event in 2006. Both are units of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

Mary Bohlen, associate professor and chair of the UIS Communication Department, is in her 25th year of teaching journalism. She supervises nine full faculty members, six adjunct instructors, and nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate students. In 2008 she received the university's Pearson Faculty Award for Teaching, an annual honor given to one faculty member for outstanding teaching. Following her PAR studies, Bohlen was employed by United Press International full time as a Statehouse reporter for five years covering Illinois state government, especially the Illinois Senate; LPGA golf tournaments; Big Ten football; primary and general elections; and federal and state court cases. She also wrote numerous features covering Illinois. Bohlen left UPI in 1982 to become press secretary for the Illinois Senate Democrats and began her teaching career in 1983. She is a co-founder of the Springfield-area Association for Women in Journalism and a past president of the Springfield-area Women in Communications. She received her B.S. in journalism from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1972 and her master's from UIS in 1976.

Kevin Finch is a national Edward R. Murrow Award-winning broadcast journalist with 23 years of experience in radio and TV news. Finch is news director at WISH-TV, the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis, having served as assistant news director there as well. In his tenure as news director, Finch's station has won several national and regional honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award; several regional Emmys; and the Indiana AP Outstanding News and Weather Operation Awards. Prior to WISH-TV, he spent 13 years at the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis. Early in his career, he covered news for radio and TV stations in Morton, Peoria, Springfield, and Champaign. Finch has reported on major political events, serving as executive producer and organizer for 15 election nights and 10 televised political debates for U.S. Senate, governor, and other offices. He has covered four national political conventions, a presidential inauguration, and the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton. Finch guided coverage of 9/11 from Washington and covered the anniversary of that event in New York a year later. He also produced reports from Washington on the start of the current war in Iraq. He is the recipient of numerous national and regional awards. Finch received his bachelor's degree in 1981 from Murray State University and his master's from UIS in 1986.

Ray Long has written about Illinois government and politics for more than 25 years. He is a reporter in the Chicago Tribune's Statehouse bureau, where he has been since 1998. Previously he ran the Associated Press bureau in Springfield. Long covered Mayor Richard M. Daley, City Hall, local courts, Cook County Board, and state government for the Chicago Sun-Times. He worked local, state, and federal beats for the Peoria Journal Star. Currently, he is president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association, a position chosen by colleagues in other news organizations. Long is a founding member of Capitolbeat, formerly known as the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, a nationwide organization promoting excellence in state government coverage. He is the author of a chapter about investigative reporting in the book A Guide to Statehouse Reporting. His experience includes writing about numerous scandals, questionable public spending, massive budgets, ethical lapses of government figures, and major legislative issues under four governors, including one sentenced to prison. He has received local, state, and national awards for spot news, enterprise, investigative reporting, and news analysis from numerous organizations. The Illinois AP awarded Long the 1997 Charles Chamberlain Award, a staff honor recognizing a reporter's storytelling ability. The National Commission Against Drunk Driving presented Long and a Tribune colleague its 2002 media award for a series of articles that led to the revocation of more than 3,000 licenses of drivers whose convictions -- including 67 percent of those reckless homicide offenders in prison or on parole -- had gone unrecorded in state driving records. Long received his bachelor's degree in 1980 from what was then Sangamon State University and is now UIS, and his master's from UIS in 1980.

Christi Parsons, national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, will be speaking at the event. Parsons joined the Tribune's Washington bureau two years ago to cover the presidential election. A 19-year veteran of the paper, she covered city and suburban politics before moving to Springfield to write about state government in 1995. She is a 1989 graduate of the University of Alabama, where she was recently named a Distinguished Alumna. She holds a master's in the studies of law from Yale Law School.

The Hall of Fame event at The Conservatory at the Inn at 835 begins with a 5:15 p.m. reception, followed by the program and induction at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35, and are available until November 5 by calling Illinois Issues at 206-6084.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UIS professor receives Fulbright grant

Dr. Calvin Mouw, associate professor in the department of Political Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has received a Fulbright grant to lecture in Slovenia.

He will spend the 2009 spring semester, from January through May, at the University of Ljubljana, doing research on comparative political behavior and lecturing on electoral politics, political institutions, and public policy in the United States.

"I'm pleased because it allows me to spend time in an area of Europe that is relevant to my research on political behavior and electoral politics," Mouw said. "And the current presidential election and economic crisis in the United States make the lectures on American politics more relevant than usual."

Slovenia became an independent republic in 1991 and now has a stable multi-party democratic system, although modern democratic electoral politics is still a new concept in the country. Mouw's research focuses on examining patterns of electoral behavior across electoral systems at different stages of democratic development.

"While not directly relevant to my research or teaching, Slovenia is nevertheless interesting because of its role in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and the resulting conflict and war in the Balkans," Mouw said.

Mouw wants to bring the knowledge, research, and experience he gains back to UIS, where he hopes it will advance and enlighten his teaching and research.

"When you spend an extended period of time in a country you learn and gain experiences that you do not get as a tourist," he said. "I'm looking forward to building contacts with the people of Slovenia that will last a long time."

Each year, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars awards 800 traditional Fulbright Scholar grants to college or university faculty and professionals to lecture and conduct research abroad. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Awards recognize the recipient's globally important teaching, research and service; in addition, they provide an opportunity for faculty to further their areas of expertise or pursue new directions in research.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is managed by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

Monday, October 20, 2008

UIS dedicates memorial for professor

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Hilary Frost-Kumpf encouraged all who knew her late husband, Lee Frost-Kumpf, to be inspired by his contributions to the campus and to the world during a dedication on Monday evening, October 20, during which UIS dedicated a scholar tree and bench in memory of Lee, who passed away five years ago and served UIS from 1996 to 2003.

Several people got up to speak about Lee and share personal stories from his time at UIS, including Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, Provost Harry Berman, Dr. Steve Schwark and Dr. Mike Lemke. They each spoke of Lee's energy, thoroughness, focus and inspiration.

"He lived in a world where imagination fueled ideas, and ideas were the engine for creating reality, and I think that was special about Lee," Lemke said. "He painted a picture of what he saw of the future and made you a part of that painting, and after listening to Lee's plans, you really wanted to be a part of that picture."

If Lee were to sit on his memorial bench with a cup of coffee in hand, he'd recognize the changes he helped make at UIS, Lemke said.

"The solid stone bench is well-grounded just like Lee. And his ideas, like the growing tree, live on at UIS and in his many friends," he said.

Joan Buckles, superintendent of the grounds crew, and the UIS grounds workers put a lot of thought and work into making Lee's memorial a fitting and special tribute, Hilary said.

Hilary said she has two hopes for the memorial. The first is that it will inspire everyone who knew Lee to think of him and to build on their own visions for the campus and the visions shared with Lee.

"But I hope that the memorial itself will have second purpose," she said. "Every day people who didn't know Lee will pass that spot and see that plaque. They will know that a worthy person is being honored there for his contributions to the world."

"My hope is that they'll stop for a moment, read the words, and they'll think 'what will I do in my life to be worthy of a plaque that someone will place in honor of me?' And then I hope they'll be more committed to their own personal contributions, making the world a better place. If both of these kinds of inspiration occur, then Lee's contributions will continue for many years to come."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Larry Golden is finalist for First Citizen Award

Larry Golden, professor emeritus of Political Studies and Legal Studies and a co-founder of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at UIS, was one of 10 finalists for the 46th State Journal-Register First Citizen Award.

The First Citizen Award is presented annually to a local resident who has "amassed a lifetime of service to the Springfield community." This year's finalists were recognized and the winner was announced at a breakfast ceremony held October 17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Students working with the Innocence Project help investigate cases of individuals who have been wrongly convicted. In addition to his work with the project, Golden is active in the American Civil Liberties Union and was involved in the voting-rights lawsuit that forced changes in Springfield city government in the 1980s.

Bill Clutter, Innocence Project director of investigations, called Golden the "ultimate community organizer. He would probably have that commitment wherever he lived," said Clutter. "The fact that he lives in Springfield is really our gain."

Golden arrived on campus at then-Sangamon State University in 1970; he retired from full-time teaching in 2004.

"I consider myself very lucky that I made the choices that I made and stayed here," he said, adding that he doesn't know exactly why he works to benefit people he doesn't know.
"It's important to be a good citizen," he said. "It's important to think about the nature of the world we live in."

Golden was nominated for the award by Guerry Suggs, himself a former First Citizen.

Businessman and community volunteer J. Garth "Butch" Elzea was this year's winner. Other nominees were William Boyd, retired vice president of Memorial Medical Center; Julie Cellini, board member of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation; Leland Grove Police Chief Mark Gleason; architect Earl Wallace Henderson; retired dentist Joseph Link; Springfield Ballet Company co-founder Grace Luttrell Nanavati; Paul O'Shea, planning and design coordinator for the city of Springfield; and physician Diana Widicus.

The finalists and winner were chosen by a nine-member board from nominations submitted by community members.

See more about the award, including profiles of the finalists

Thursday, October 16, 2008

AmeriCorps volunteers participate in Opening Day Ceremonies

By Courtney Westlake

A group of sixteen UIS students joined dozens of people from around the state at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield to participate in the Illinois AmeriCorps Opening Day Ceremonies at the Capitol and celebrate the opportunity to make a difference.

"Today has been really amazing," said UIS sophomore Josephine Marquez, an AmeriCorps member. "I have seen people from all the way back home in the Chicago area."

The 2008-2009 Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar Fellows AmeriCorps Program is an initiative that creates opportunities for students to work together as agents of civic change in their local communities and on their campuses. UIS is one of only seven universities in the state that participates in this AmeriCorps Education Award program.

Students selected to be in the AmeriCorps program have demonstrated academic potential as well as an interest in service and civic engagement activities.

"I love volunteering; I started in high school," said Jackson Kern, a freshman. "When I got to UIS, I found out I could get a grant for $1,000 for being in AmeriCorps and doing 300 hours of service. It's well worth it; you get to meet a lot of new people."

Marquez said she has been volunteering for years as well and jumped at the chance to live in the Leadership for Life wing in Lincoln Residence Hall and volunteer through AmeriCorps.

"When applying for college, UIS had a service wing, and to me, I thought it was a great idea to be living with people who did service," she said. "This year, Kelly Thompson (director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center) has come in and revamped everything. I figured it'd be great to be with people who love to do service."

The UIS students who participated in Thursday's events were thrilled with the opportunity to meet others in the AmeriCorps program and participate in the Opening Day Ceremonies.

"I find it amazing that you can find so many people who are also interested in service and are doing something to impact their community," Marquez said.

Campus' recycling video available

The UIS recycling education video is now available online and on YouTube
See Part 1
See Part 2

Copies on CD are also available by contacting Marc Klingshirn at 6-8341.

This 20-minute video was produced completely in-house with support from the campus' DCEO recycling grant.

For more information, contact Tih-Fen Ting at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lincoln Legacy lecture discusses presidential elections

By Courtney Westlake

In the midst of one of the most important presidential elections in decades, the Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series drew parallels between the presidential campaigns of 1860 and 1864 and the current campaign on Wednesday evening.

The topic of the 2008 Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series, which was held on Wednesday, October 15, in Brookens Auditorium, was "Lincoln and Presidential Campaign Politics." The Lincoln Legacy lectures bring Lincoln scholars and experts from around the country to Springfield to discuss issues and topics relevant to society today as well as in Lincoln's era.

Dr. Jennifer Weber, assistant professor of History at the University of Kansas, discussed "How Lincoln Handled the Anti-war Movement." Dr. Silvana Siddali, associate professor of History at St. Louis University, spoke about "Lincoln and the Constitution in Civil War Era Presidential Campaigns." Illinois State Historian Dr. Thomas Schwartz served as moderator for the event.

Lincoln faced harsh criticism from the outset of the Civil War. Weber discusssed some of Lincoln's qualities that Americans today believe made him a great leader.

"Those same qualities, had the North lost the war, would be the qualities I think that we would cite for Lincoln being a failed president," Weber said. "What it comes down to, a lot of Lincoln's reputation rests on the victories of the military armies."

Siddali examined the relationship between the Constitution and presidential campaigns. Presidential campaigns of the time caused American voters to consider a number of crucial issues, including the issue of slavery.

"The Civil War era elections changed the Constitution and were in many ways an important referendum on the U.S. Constitution," she said.

The biggest similarity between the current presidential election and the election of 1864 is the impact of the election on the future of the country, Weber said.

"The great comparison at this point with the election of 1864 is this: we are in a nation that is experiencing a profound economic crisis, and everyone in the country is aware of that. Likewise, everyone in the country is aware that however they cast their ballot in this election is going to decide the future of this country for at least the next generation," Weber said. "It's a transformative election."

Both speakers commended UIS for hosting the Lincoln Legacy series.

"I've been to Springfield many times, and I love it every time I'm here; it's a joy to be here," Weber said. "I think the Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series is a terrific idea, and there's no better place to have it."

The speakers agreed that the relevance of the topics were crucial at this point in time in the country's history.

"We're facing one of the most important presidential elections, certainly the most important of this century. It's going to be a crucial decision," Siddali said. Remembering Lincoln's ongoing legacy during this time is important, she said. "We have to remember that Lincoln was the president who made the United States what it is today because the Civil War endangered the union of the states, and what better place to honor his legacy than Springfield."

Poll finds UIS students favor Obama

If the election were held today, an overwhelming majority of University of Illinois at Springfield students would vote for Barack Obama, according to a campus poll taken between September 25 – October 4, 2008. Pollsters found that most students are not swayed by the vice presidential candidate, and the economy and gas prices are the major influences on their vote. The poll was part of a class project for the Interviewing 465 class in the Communication Department at UIS.

A total of 384 students were interviewed on campus, giving the poll a 95% confidence level +/- 5%.

Of those polled, 289 were registered to vote. If they had to vote today, 257 said they would choose Obama, and 96 said they would vote for John McCain. Only 31 said they would choose a third party.

More than two-thirds of those polled said the vice presidential candidate did not affect their decision on who should be president. More than 60% of those polled said age is not an important factor in their choice for presidential candidates.

When reviewing election issues that have the most influence on their votes as students, 40% of respondents said the economy had the most influence on their vote, followed by gas prices, the war, healthcare, and finally homeland security.

Nearly 62% of those polled believe their vote matters. And three-fourths of those polled were registered to vote.

The poll was conducted on the UIS campus as part of a class project. The Interviewing class researched polls, election issues, and the candidates and then spent considerable time formulating the seven questions that were asked of students. The questions and the results are listed below.

1. Are you a UIS student?
Yes – 384

2. Are you registered to vote?
Yes – 289
No – 95

3. If the election were today and you had to choose between McCain, Obama, or a third party, who would you vote for?
McCain - 96
Obama - 257
Third party - 31

4. Did the presidential candidates' choice for vice president affect your decision on who should be president?
Yes - 117
No - 267

5. Do you believe age is an important factor for presidential candidates?
Yes - 141
No - 243

6. Which election issue from this list has the most influence on your vote?
a. economy - 152
b. gas prices - 95
c. the war - 73
d. healthcare - 47
e. homeland security - 17

7. Do you think your vote matters?
Yes - 237
No – 147

For more information about the poll, please contact Lana Kains at 414-5956 or Mary Bohlen at 206-7362.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UIS wins national award for quality online education

The University of Illinois at Springfield has won the 2008 Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education from the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C). UIS received the national award for innovative work in using quantitative data in a process of continuous quality improvement to assure excellence in online teaching and learning.

"This inaugural award is one of the highest honors to be granted by the Sloan Consortium," said Ray Schroeder, director of UIS' Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning (OTEL). "It recognizes the quality and leadership of our online program among the consortium's nearly 1,500 member institutions."

Shown left, OTEL staff are (from left): Ray Schroeder, director; Carrie Levin, assistant director.; Bill Bloemer, research associate; Deborah Antoine, instructional designer; Shari McCurdy Smith, associate director; and Emily Welch Boles, instructional designer.

"We are especially honored to receive this award named after the recently-retired president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Ralph Gomory. The support of Dr. Gomory and the foundation have been invaluable in helping UIS become a national leader in the quality, scale, and breadth of online learning that it provides," Schroeder said.

The Sloan Consortium, comprised of nearly 1,500 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning, is a national organization dedicated to quality online teaching. It was created with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The award to UIS was among nine given by the Consortium this year for exceptional online education. The University of Central Florida also received the Gomory Award.

In 2007, UIS won the national award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching & Learning Programming from the Sloan Consortium. In 2002, the Sloan Consortium awarded Schroeder the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual. And in 2003, Burks Oakley II, visiting research professor in OTEL, received the award.

Online course work began at UIS in 1998 with 30 students. This fall, a total of 1,200 students are enrolled in UIS' 16 fully online degree and degree-completion programs. About half of UIS' 4,711 students are taking at least one online class.

With substantial support from the Sloan Foundation and others, UIS has embraced online learning, integrating online courses and programs into its mainstream curriculum. Online classes are taught by the same faculty members and adjunct faculty who teach on campus. More than 135 UIS faculty members are teaching at least one online course this fall.

The Sloan Consortium will present its 2008 awards at the 14th Annual International Conference on Asynchronous Learning Networks: Improving Learning in a Networked World on November 6 in Orlando, Florida.

For more information about UIS' online program, please contact Shari McCurdy at 206-7360 or go to

UIS Archives is source of materials for PBS documentary

Program on the Handy Writers' Colony will air nationwide

Inside the Handy Writers' Colony, a PBS documentary that will air nationwide on Thursday, October 23, drew extensively on archival materials housed in Brookens Library at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The program will air locally on the HD (High Definition) channels of WILL and WSEC at 9 p.m.

Founded in 1950 by Lowney and Harry Handy in Marshall, Illinois, the Handy Writers' Colony flourished for approximately 15 years. During that time it supported numerous young writers, many of whom subsequently published their work. Its most famous resident was novelist James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity.

The program explores the turbulent years of this literary experiment through flashback sequences and interviews with former colony residents, Marshall townspeople, and scholars. Narrated by Nick Clooney, the film features the voice of Jane Alexander as Lowney Turner Handy.

In 1983, J. Michael Lennon and Jeffrey Van Davis of then-Sangamon State University produced a television documentary titled James Jones: Reveille to Taps, which also aired nationally on PBS. While researching this documentary, Lennon and Van Davis acquired a large collection of material – photographs and hundreds of letters and pages of manuscripts written by Jones and others associated with the Colony – that is now preserved in the UIS Archives as the Handy Colony Collection. This collection is open to researchers, and has been a resource for several books, articles, and papers.

For the new documentary, UIS Archivist Thomas Wood assisted writer/director/producer Dawn Shapiro of Chicago-based Woodlawn Avenue Productions in selecting materials from the Handy Colony Collection. Some interview footage from the earlier documentary is also featured in Inside the Handy Writers' Colony.

For more information, go to or, or contact Thomas Wood at 217/206-6520.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

UIS announces move to NCAA Division II

By Courtney Westlake

It was a great day to be a Prairie Star on Wednesday afternoon, October 8, as UIS announced that it will be joining the Great Lakes Valley Conference for the 2009-2010 academic year after receiving an invitation into the conference.

"I'm pleased to announce that the GLVC Council of Presidents by a unanimous vote of 13-0 voted to extend membership invitations to the University of Illinois at Springfield and to Maryville University in St. Louis to bring our membership to 15," said Jim Naumovich, GLVC commissioner. "We very much look forward to welcoming our two new additions to conference competition next year."

The conference's expansion to 15 teams is the largest membership in its 30-year history, with five teams in each of three divisions. UIS will join Quincy, Lewis, St. Joseph’s (Ind.) and Wisconsin-Parkside in the new Central Division.

The Prairie Stars are currently part of the American Midwest Conference. UIS will complete its move to NCAA Division II next academic year.

"Today is one of the most memorable days for the University of Illinois at Springfield and its athletic department. I'm very excited and extremely pleased," said Dr. Rodger Jehlicka, athletic director at UIS. "Today it's a great day to be a Prairie Star."

The university has been in discussion about joining the Great Lakes Valley Conference for several years.

"One of the reasons I've been excited about the GLVC from the very beginning is because of the kinds of universities that are in the conference, and of course, it's such a highly-regarded conference in terms of athletic competition," said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.

Ringeisen called the move a "very exciting moment for UIS" and said it verifies the positive changes and the achievements of the athletic program over the past few years.

"Among other things, we've moved from five athletic teams to 10, heading to 11," he said. "And at the same time, the university itself has been changing in ways that are all positive."

The Great Lakes Valley Conference is now the second largest conference in Division II in the country, Naumovich said. The addition of UIS into the conference is a "great fit," he said.

"UIS brings a very outstanding academic program, a solid athletic program and the geographic proximity and the current footprint of the GLVC were all positive factors in deciding to extend an invitation," he said. "We look forward to including the Prairie Stars in our schedule for next year."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Homecoming evokes pride in UIS

By Courtney Westlake

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

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

Local economic indexes predict above normal activity

Results of two economic indicators released on October 7, 2008, show that Springfield, as well as some sectors of the Sangamon County economy, can expect above normal activity in the coming year.

The biannual Springfield Enterprise Index was developed by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the U of I.

The Sangamon County Business Economic Outlook Survey is a joint project of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

Download a pdf file of the news release issued by the Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Flag raised for National Coming Out Week

By Courtney Westlake

In celebration of National Coming Out Week, a group of students, staff and faculty gathered in front of the Public Affairs Center to raise a rainbow-colored flag that will hang directly under the UIS flag for the entire week.

"Flags are critical symbols," said Jim Korte, assistant dean of students at UIS. "People fight and die over flags; people live for flags. We salute them, we put our hands over our hearts, and we respect what they symbolize. For those of us at the university, having it fly on the staff with our UIS flag is very important. It is a symbol of how far we have come institutionally and as a university in our acceptance, tolerance, respect and celebration of who we are as a community."

Universities are important communities, Korte said, UIS boasts a "great multitude" of diverse students.

"We've come a long way," he said. "We now have a Diversity Center existing on this campus that was barely a dream a year ago. We have a resource office that is in a very public area on our campus, and we have students stopping by on a daily basis."

Through celebrating diversity and respect of different races, sexual orientations, ethnicities and backgrounds, the university and community are beginning to "layer" their resources and ensure the services provided today will be available tomorrow, Korte said.

"We have come to the point of tolerance, the point of acceptance and the point of respect, and hopefully today it is the beginning of a celebration of our future," he said.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

UIS faculty member named Ameren Distinguished Professor in Business and Government

Dr. Karl A. McDermott (at left) has been named the first Ameren Distinguished Professor in Business and Government at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Dr. McDermott received the honor from Dr. Ron McNeil, Dean of the College of Business and Management, and UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen during an investiture ceremony held September 25 on campus.

"Our strategic plan is carrying us forward with confidence and purpose as we pursue our three primary goals – academic excellence, enriching individual lives, and making a difference in the world," said Chancellor Ringeisen. "It is occasions like this one, the investiture of one of our distinguished professors, that have helped us reach this point and that will assure our success in realizing our vision. The Ameren Professorship in Business and Government symbolizes how far we have already come."

Dr. McDermott's special area of expertise is public utility regulation. He most recently served as vice president of National Economic Research Associates and before that he was a commissioner with the Illinois Commerce Commission, where he initiated an investigation of alternative restructuring options.

Prior to joining the ICC, Dr. McDermott taught economics at Illinois State University, where he was co-founder and president of the Center for Regulatory Studies and helped establish a public utility program. He has been a senior research associate at the National Regulatory Research Institute at Ohio State University, as well as a consultant to a number of entities, including Argonne National Laboratory, the Illinois Legislature, and the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources. McDermott is widely published in professional journals and has lectured extensively on regulatory reform and restructuring, in this country and abroad. He has also assisted a number of Eastern European countries in their efforts to develop regulatory structures and privatize and restructure utilities.

Thanking Ameren for its generosity in providing funds for this endowed professorship, Chancellor Ringeisen noted, "The leadership of Ameren Illinois Utilities have demonstrated by this endowment their belief and confidence in this institution. They understand that you cannot have a great community without a great university, and you cannot have a great university without a great community. Today we honor Ameren, and we are grateful that you share our vision."

Ameren Illinois Utilities President and CEO Scott Cisel and Commissioner Robert Lieberman of the Illinois Commerce Commission also took part in the ceremony.

Investiture as a named professor is one of the highest honors that a faculty member can receive. This is the second endowed professorship within UIS' College of Business and Management, the other being the National City Distinguished Professorship in Banking and Finance.

Ameren Illinois Utilities serve 1.2 million electric customers and nearly 850,000 natural gas customers over 43,700 square miles in Illinois. Its parent company, Ameren Corporation, is among the nation’s largest investor-owned electric and gas utilities.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Potato sculpting held as part of homecoming activities

By Courtney Westlake

Castles, construction hammers and flowers filled the tables of the Public Affairs Center Food Emporium Patio on Wednesday afternoon.

Students and other campus community members stopped by the patio area on Wednesday to create mashed potato sculptures as part of the Homecoming Week activities.

"It's just a fun activity to add into the Homecoming schedule," said Beth Hoag, assistant director of Student Life. "Our theme for Homecoming this year is 'Pardon our Dust' so we're 'constructing' out of mashed potatoes."

The idea for the event came out of nowhere, Hoag laughed.

"I just thought it would be fun, and who doesn't love playing with their food?" she said.

Campus members were recruited from the Food Emporium to join in the activity during lunchtime.

"We've had pretty good showing," Hoag said. "We have feathers and wobbly eyes and food coloring, and you can just make whatever you want. We try to make it around the theme of 'Pardon our Dust' or UIS-related, but we're flexible. You can make whatever you want."

Participants constructed a wide variety of creations, from a pretty rose to a pumpkin to funny-looking characters to a Colonnade.

"It's something completely different that helps to make people aware of Homecoming," Hoag said. "It's a fun things to do in between classes."

For more information on Homecoming, go here.