Thursday, November 20, 2008

History graduate wins UIS outstanding master's thesis award

Heather Wickens has won the University of Illinois at Springfield's Chapin Outstanding Master's Thesis award for the 2007-08 academic year. Her thesis – titled "The Lasting Legacy of Eliza Lucas Pinckney" – was chosen from among 11 theses and projects nominated by graduate departments at the university.

Wickens' work describes the major influences that shaped American agriculturist Eliza Pinckney into a figure of historical significance and her key role in the development of her sons -- Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Thomas Pinckney, military and political leaders during the Revolutionary period.

Dr. Deborah McGregor, associate professor of History who chaired Wickens' thesis committee, noted, "Heather's thesis is carefully articulated and thematically developed. It establishes historical context for Pinckney's notable achievements and presents a history of a strong woman whose life as a scientist and a parent significantly contributed to the creation and preservation of the South Carolina elite during the Revolutionary period."

Wickens received the master of arts degree in History in May 2008 and currently lives and works in Boston.

Michael Rossetto, who earned a master of arts degree in Biology, received a Special Merit Award. Rossetto's thesis was titled "The Effectiveness of Cryogenic Practices to Preserve a Sediment Bacterial Assemblage from Central Park, New York." Dr. Michael Lemke, associate professor of Biology, served as his committee chair.

Rossetto's work focused on the identification and recovery of culturable bacteria from a representative sediment community. The first part of his study used a traditional, nutritionally rich clinical media for growing bacteria, while the second part used a technique that suggested that trace minerals and simple organic molecules represent the partially "starved" state of a bacteria in nature and thus favored culturing of both common and novel strains.

Noted Lemke, "I am proud of Mike's accomplishments and his significant contributions to the field. His thinking went from having a fundamental understanding of the biological world to commanding an exceptionally insightful line of investigation that embraced advanced molecular techniques as well as the appropriate application of traditional methods."

The UIS Research Board reviews nominated theses and projects and makes the final selection. Lynn Pardie, UIS associate vice chancellor for graduate education and research, said that the board was impressed by the high quality of each of the nominated reports. "Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task," she said.

Other students who were nominated, their theses or projects, and their programs, are: Karina Kazintseva (Communication), "Scrutinizing the Process of Second Language Acquisition Through a Lens of the Cultural Capital Theory"; Sheldon Linker (Computer Science), "A Knowledge Base and Question Answering System Based on Loglan and English"; John Barrett (Educational Leadership), "Cross-Curricular Vocabulary Instruction Utilizing Brain Based Treatment"; Meghan Harmon (English), "And to Her Astonishment, There Was No Blood: Comprehending the (Fictional) Suicides of Quentin Compson and Milkman Dead"; Kris McDonald (Environmental Studies), "Program Evaluation of the Eco-U Summer Nature Camp"; Paula Dal Canton (Human Development Counseling), "An End to Bullying Begins with Teachers: An Informational Workshop for Middle School Teachers"; Julia Ramirez (Human Services), "Lit from Within: Insights into Successful Aging from the Dominican Sisters of Sacred Heart Convent"; Brent Judd (Liberal and Integrative Studies), "William Faulkner and the Symbolist Movement: Absalom, Absalom as a Reflection of Mallerme's L'Apres-mide"; and Stephen Newell (Management Information Systems), "An Information System Architecture and Maturity Model to Support State and Local Government Homeland Security."

All 11 students will be honored at a reception to be held in February 2009.

Research Board members are Pardie, who serves as chair; UIS faculty members Jason Barker, Thomas Clausen, Denise Somers, and Chris Mooney; and Lenore Killam, staff in UIS' College of Public Affairs and Administration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Students gives campus a Kenyan experience

By Courtney Westlake

A tiny, one-room hut with a cot sat in the lobby of the Public Affairs Center on Wednesday, giving passerby a glimpse into the lives of people living in the slums in Kenya, Africa.

The hut was part of an all-day exhibit set up by members of Jump for Joel, an organization started by UIS student Shana Stine after she volunteered for a month at a Kenyan orphanage called the Gathiga Children's Hope Home in July 2007. In July 2008, she returned again with five additional UIS students to work at the orphanage.

"This is an exhibit from our trip to Kenya this past July," Stine said. "We're coming and showing videos and pictures, and we have a model shanty up, which is something you would see in the slum areas for housing."

The exhibit was in coordination with National Hunger and Homelessness Week this week. Members of Jump for Joel had seen a local church do a similar demonstration and liked the idea of setting up a model of a Kenyan shanty to raise awareness of global poverty.

"So we thought we'd combine it with the gallery of photos that Shana had done last year," said Lindsey Lasley, who accompanied Stine to Kenya this past summer. "As we see people walk in the door, they stop and wonder why this hut is placed in the middle of lobby. Then they have been reading the signs that explain what is going on."

Stine said she hopes the display will help to create an understanding that poverty is a real issue, not simply a collection of statistics.

"There really are kids that are hungry in this world," she said. "And the pictures - the kids are absolutely beautiful. A lot of times when we talk about Africa, we talk about just poverty, but their joy is something you don't always see here in the U.S. They're so happy, so we wanted to show that."

The Kenyan experience is also hoped to raise awareness about Jump for Joel. The group passed out information about the various ways students, staff and faculty can get involved with the effort.

"We are a group of students here at UIS and at Lincoln Land who think we don't have to be apathetic. Our generation sometimes gets a bad rap for being indifferent and unconcerned, so this is our way of helping the kids who we met," Stine said. "We're not just taking a trip; we're following up on that with action."

UIS staff and alums take top honors in national competition

Several staff members at the University of Illinois at Springfield, as well as several alumni of UIS' Public Affairs Reporting program, were among the winners of the annual competition sponsored by Capitolbeat, the national organization of journalists covering state and local governments.

The awards -- honoring excellence in Statehouse reporting in print, broadcast and online media -- were presented at the organization's annual conference, held this year in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Bethany Jaeger, Statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Issues magazine and a 2004 PAR alum, took first place in the magazine columns category for her "State of the State" column, which appears in the print and online versions of the magazine. Jaeger's winning columns touched on such subjects as gun control, feuding Democrats, Cook County property taxes, and the outlook for state policy.

Jaeger also received a second place award in the single report category for magazines for her September 2007 article "Clinic in a school," which analyzed state and national policies that contribute to the demand for health care centers in high schools, yet hinder their growth.

Daniel C. Vock, a writer for and a 2000 PAR alum, won a third place award in the same category for his Illinois Issues article on why Illinois is a friendly place for immigrants.

Sean Crawford, Statehouse bureau chief for Public Radio station WUIS, won a third place award for radio beat reporting for stories he covered ranging from the deterioration of trust at the state Capitol to more lighthearted fare such as a plan to create a special a license plate for NASCAR fans.

Amanda Vinicky, WUIS Statehouse reporter and a 2005 PAR alum, won a third place award in the radio single report category for "The Truant Legislator," which focused on Rep. Rich Bradley (D-Chicago), his chronic absences during the legislative session, and the resulting impact on his district.

Together, Crawford and Vinicky won a third place award in the radio in-depth reporting category for "Making Little Cents," a series of reports on Illinois' problems in getting a budget put together.

PAR alums Ray Long (1981) and John O'Connor (1986) were also among those honored.

Long, of the Chicago Tribune, shared a first place award in beat reporting for wire services and newspapers over 75,000 circulation.

O'Connor, of the Associated Press, received an honorable mention in the single report category for wire services and newspapers over 75,000 circulation.

Capitolbeat, formerly called the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, has nearly 300 members across the country. Illinois Issues is a not-for-profit monthly publication focusing on analysis of public policy. WUIS is listener-supported public radio for central and west central Illinois. Both Illinois Issues and WUIS are part of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

UIS' Public Affairs Reporting program is a one-year master's degree program focusing on coverage of state government news. In addition to academic work, students serve six-month internships with newspaper, magazine, radio, television, wire service, or audio news service bureaus in the Statehouse pressroom in Springfield.

For more information, contact Dana Heupel, executive editor of Illinois Issues, at 206-6507.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

UIS learns about "spreading the peanut butter thin" at Hunger Banquet

By Courtney Westlake

Students, staff and community members got a small taste of what it is like to "spread the peanut butter thin" on Tuesday evening, November 18.

UIS hosted its third annual Oxfam Hunger Banquet in the Great Room of Lincoln Residence Hall on Tuesday. The event is held in observance of National Hunger and Homelessness Week.

The theme of the Hunger Banquet this year was "Spreading the Peanut Butter Thin," based on the book Spread the Peanut Butter Thin by Central Illinois author Leah Riley, who spoke at the banquet. Riley shared her family's story from a time just a few years ago when their annual household income was around $13,000, and she and her husband could barely afford to feed their children.

The family managed to keep their house, keep their lights on and keep their phone, in order to look for a better job. But they were denied food stamps originally and spent between $25-$50 each month on food for the family of four.

After Riley's husband became eligible to receive social security disability income, the family is now "OK," Riley said.

"Our three basic things that we lacked were water, food and heat," Riley said. "Water was a desperate necessity; you can't cook anything without water, so you might have food, but you can't cook it without water. And we couldn't buy food; we had no money."

"Four years later, we've never slid back, but we found we don't need what we thought we needed to live," she added.

During a Hunger Banquet, guests are randomly assigned high-, middle-, or low-income rankings and are served meals that range from gourmet fare to small portions of rice and water, depending on the guest’s designation. Instead of rice this year, however, guests were served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to keep with the theme of the event.

Donations of non-perishable food and canned goods were accepted for the 2008 Holidays Stars Project, a campus-wide holiday service initiative benefiting the Central Illinois Foodbank.

Oxfam America, an affiliate of Oxfam International, is a relief and development organization that works to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice. "Oxfam" was the original postal abbreviation for the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, which was started in England during World War II to provide relief to war victims in Europe.

The purpose is of the Oxfam Hunger Banquet is to heighten participants’ awareness of hunger in the U.S. and internationally.

"We are here today because more than one billion Americans and other people around the world suffer from hunger every day," said Lenore Cole, who helped to organize the event. "Almost 37 million Americans live in poverty. Equality and balance do not exist; stark inequalities prevail everywhere."

UIS Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning receives major award

The Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning at the University of Illinois at Springfield was among pioneers in the use of new media technologies to be honored at the 2008 SNCR Excellence in New Communications Awards ceremony hosted by the Society for New Communications Research on November 14 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The SNCR is a nonprofit global think tank dedicated to the advanced study of new communications tools, technologies, and emerging modes of communication and their effect on traditional media, professional communications, business, and society. These prestigious awards honor individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and media outlets that are breaking new ground in the use of social media, ICT, mobile media, online communities, virtual worlds, and collaborative technologies.

OTEL Director Ray Schroeder noted that award recipients comprised “some of the brightest leaders in the field of new media.”

Said Schroeder, “How exciting it is to know that UIS was so wonderfully represented among those who are shaping the future of emerging technologies and communications media! Just look at the others with whom we are listed -- Network Solutions, Dell, Cisco, IBM, United Nations University, Corel, and Lexis/Nexis, among many others.”

UIS’ award, in the category Online Reputation Management/Academic Division, was accepted by Shari McCurdy Smith, associate director of OTEL and one of the authors of the winning case study documenting UIS’ collective efforts in support of the campus’ online initiative. The complete text of the case study is available at

UIS also received a Commendation of Merit in the category of External Communications from SNCR for "Newsroom@Illinois Springfield," a website where many of the campus’ news and information web pages are consolidated into one central hub.

UIS’ Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning has as its mission the promotion of faculty use of the Internet and allied developing technologies to enhance learning, scholarship, and service. More information is available at

Additional information about the Society for New Communications Research is available at

Friday, November 14, 2008

Board approves updating UIS Campus Master Plan

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved updating the University of Illinois at Springfield Campus Master Plan Thursday to include land owned by the university outside the ring road. The update builds on the current plan, which includes only land within the ring road. UIS own 745 acres of land, about 230 acres of which are inside the ring road.

The Campus Master Plan is a "blueprint" for long-term growth and development of the physical campus. According to UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, the update was needed as UIS anticipates the need for modest campus expansion, additional services, and potential development outside the ring road. "We are talking about such things as a campustown-type mall, which would be located across from the townhouses on the west side of 11th Street," he said. "It could perhaps include a café, coffee shop, grocery store, pharmacy, pizza parlor, ice cream store, and more."

Ringeisen emphasized, however, that campustown won't become a reality until there is a private developer who feels there is enough traffic, enough students, and enough potential for businesses to survive, and is willing to partner with UIS. He noted that there are several reasons why campustown would be a viable investment. "The number of students living on campus has grown. This fall we have more than 1,000 residential students. Wal-Mart is now only two miles away, and more development such as apartments and a small mall has taken place on Toronto Road. That means traffic has increased on the 11th Street corridor even though the extension to Stevenson Drive is not yet complete."

He said other possible uses of land outside the ring road include additional athletic fields, active senior housing, and a golf driving range.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

UIS Bookstore cuts ribbon in new location

By Courtney Westlake

The UIS Bookstore is getting settled into its new home in Founders Residence Hall, where it is enjoying a brand-new store and expanded space for textbooks and merchandise.

To celebrate its new location, UIS held a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting for the bookstore on Thursday morning, November 13.

"Follett has enjoyed the 26-year relationship with UIS, and I'd like to thank everyone for coming out today and celebrating the new UIS Bookstore," said Linda Cunningham, a representative from Follett, the corporation that services the bookstore, during the ribbon-cutting.

As part of the celebration, store-goers were treated to refreshments, and drawings were held for prizes. Attendees could also purchase a single apparel or gift item at 20 percent off.

Aside from simply providing textbooks to students and other merchandise, many of the funds brought in at the bookstore help to support other services on campus, said Steve Chrans, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs.

"They've helped our childcare center, our food services department and things like that," he said. "It's a good business partner for us."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

U of I students may apply for Avery Brundage scholarships

Applications for the 36th annual Avery Brundage Scholarship competition for University of Illinois students who excel in both academics and athletics are being accepted now through Saturday, January 31, 2009. Applications can be submitted only online at

Full-time students, including incoming freshmen, graduate, and transfer students, may apply for Brundage scholarships. Grant-in-aid recipients may be eligible under specified conditions. Academic and athletic competence will be considered over financial need.

Undergraduate and transfer applicants must rank in the top 25 percent of their college, while incoming freshmen must rank in the top 25 percent of their incoming class. Graduate and professional students must be in good academic standing.

Students must also demonstrate "special athletic ability" in an amateur sport, and their participation must have been for personal development rather than as preparation for professional athletics. Previous winners represent a wide variety of sports from archery and tennis to swimming and wheelchair basketball. Last year, 19 winners were awarded $2,500 each.

Avery Brundage was a 1909 graduate of the U of I who competed in the 1912 Olympics and later served as president of both the U.S. and International Olympic committees. Before his death in 1975, he maintained his interest in the University through service as a member of the University of Illinois Foundation, President's Council, and Citizen's Committee.

Brundage established the scholarship in 1974 with an endowment to the U of I Foundation of $343,000. Over the past 35 years, 732 scholarships with a total value of $858,000 have been awarded.

Monday, November 10, 2008

SECA goal surpassed

The 2008 UIS SECA campaign has surpassed its original goal of $40,000 by nearly $1,280. This is the eighth year in a row that UIS has exceeded its goal.

Donation forms are still being accepted through the end of November. Send completed forms to Erica Michael, PAC 566A, MS PAC 563.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Prominent UIS alums to participate in Leadership Roundtable

The University of Illinois at Springfield will host 21 distinguished alumni from across the nation as the group gathers to participate in a Leadership Roundtable on Thursday and Friday, November 6 and 7, at the university.

The topic of the Roundtable, "UIS in the Global Marketplace," will focus on two main topics: What can UIS offer international markets? and What do students need to know to be prepared for today’s global environment?

The alumni will participate in meetings and panel discussions with UIS administrators, faculty, and student groups and will take part in a "speed networking" event with students. The Leadership Roundtable program is designed as a way to bring some of the best and brightest alumni together with educators to share their insights on the realities and challenges of the global marketplace.

"UIS is very fortunate to have among its alumni many extraordinary leaders," said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. "These individuals have graciously agreed to share their experiences and expertise with us through intensive discussions about how we can best prepare our graduates for the future."

Roundtable participants are: Linda Baker-Roby, professor, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and president, GII of Illinois, Inc. (BA, 1985; MA, 1987, DPA, 2004); Guoxing Chai, senior vice president, Risk Management & Analytics, Global Cards/Consumer Assets, HSBC bank (MBA, 1993); James A. Downing, founding executive director of Illinois Venture Capital Association (MBA, 1999); W. Robert Felker, chief administrative officer, Chase Capital and chairman of JPMorgan Futures Inc. (BA, 1974); Kathleen D. Gowin, senior vice president of sales, Global Treasury Services at Bank of America (MBA, 1987); Karen A. Hasara, first woman to be elected mayor of Springfield and former member of the Illinois Legislature (BA,1972; MA, 1992); Gordon S. Heddell, acting Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense (MA, 1975); Brenda J. Holmes, chair of the Governmental Relations Committee, Illinois State Broad of Education and member of the Finance & Audit Committee, commissioner for the Education Commission of the States (MA, 1972); Raju L. Indukuri, independent entrepreneur and founder of Valence Energy (MA, 1992); Cheryl Alters Jamison, author of more than a dozen cookbooks and travel guides (1977 MA); Donald Johnson, chairman and CEO of ATC Technology Corporation and lead director of Accuride Corporation (BA, 1982); Thomas E. Livingston, resident vice president, CSX Transportation for the State of Illinois (BS, 1990; MPA, 1997); Syma R. Mendelsohn, senior vice president of JZA Affinity, Inc. (MA, 1975); David W. Olien, senior vice president for administration in the University of Wisconsin System (retired) (MA, 1974); Fred Parsons, owner/operator of Westview Condos LLC and Troy Development, partner in Metro East Recycling Inc. (BA, 1981); Kevin Purcell, system managing director in organization and leadership development for Memorial Health Systems (MA, 1982); Michael S. Schwartz, chairman of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (MA, 1980); Thom M. Serafin, president and CEO of Serafin & Associates, Inc. (BA, 1973; MA, 1993); Donna Fitzgerald Sollenberger, chief executive officer of the Baylor Clinic and Hospital and executive vice president of Baylor College of Medicine (BA, 1971; MA, 1974); Stanley D. Tooley, president/CEO of Southwest Regional Rehabilitation Hospital (MA, 1976); and Phillip T. Zeni Sr., CEO and senior consultant of The NEXT LEVEL Management Consultants (BA, 1973).

Monday, November 03, 2008

UIS presents Marantz with advocate leadership award

The University of Illinois at Springfield has named Tom Marantz, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Bank of Springfield, as the recipient of the 2008 William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership at UIS.

The award honors a volunteer who has shown extraordinary leadership in supporting the development goals and efforts of the University of Illinois. It is named for William Winter, a 1942 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, retired chairman of the 7-Up Company, member of the U of I Board of Directors and Ambassador for the University of Illinois.

Marantz is a long-time avid supporter and advocate of the UIS Prairie Stars athletics programs. In 2004, he established the Jack Marantz Memorial Scholarship in memory of his late father. He also funded the purchase of a state-of-the-art scoreboard for the arena of UIS' Recreation and Athletic Center through the Bank of Springfield.

Marantz was also a featured speaker at the annual Scholarship Luncheon in 2004, where he discussed the importance of private giving in the development of a top university.

"Tom has been instrumental in increasing community awareness of the athletics corporate partnership program," said Nick Dolce, assistant athletic director for development at UIS, who nominated Marantz for the award. "He goes above and beyond anything asked of him, and he understands the importance of giving student-athletes the opportunity to attend college through private giving. He has never lost sight of the value of an education."

In addition to his contributions to UIS, Marantz also serves the Springfield community in a variety of ways, including director of the Springfield Urban League, director of the Springfield Redevelopment Corporation, past president of the Land of Lincoln United Cerebral Palsy and leadership panel of the United Way of Central Illinois.

Holiday Stars Project original goal surpassed

The 10 teams that took part in the campus' first Trick or Treat for Canned Goods competition on Halloween collected 2049 pounds of food, surpassing the original Holiday Stars Project goal of 2008 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank.

Sponsored by Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, the Holiday Stars Project is a campus-wide service initiative giving focus to UIS' efforts to make a difference in the local community during the upcoming holiday season.

Kelly Thompson, director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, said, "Given the students' enthusiasm and energy for this project and the wonderful response they received, the Project Committee challenges the campus community to help us double our first goal and collect 4016 pounds of food by December 4."

Members of the campus community can place donations of non-perishable food items in specially marked bins around campus, now through December 3. Everything collected during the project will be presented to the Foodbank on December 4.

For more information, contact the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at 6-7716.