Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Journal staff takes home record number of awards at ICPA convention

Staff members of The Journal, the student newspaper at the University of Illinois at Springfield, received 12 awards at the 26th annual Illinois College Press Association convention, held February 20 and 21 at the Doubletree Hotel in Chicago.

Professional journalists and advertising professionals from throughout Illinois judged entries from more than 30 college newspapers across the state. Others schools that UIS competed against included Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, DePaul University, Loyola University, Columbia College, University of Chicago, Bradley University and Northeastern Illinois University.

Students from The Journal and Beyond, The Journal’s news and features magazine published once a semester, won awards in both the open division, which included daily and weekly student newspapers from Illinois, as well as the weekly division for student publications from universities and colleges with enrollments of 4,000 or more.

Three of The Journal’s awards came from the open division. Deborah Crandall took second place for an advertising design that included a graphic of a photo taken of the UIS Colonnade with well wishes for a good summer from Student Affairs. David Amerson’s review of a Springfield sports bar received third place, and Luke Runyon took an honorable mention for his review of a band.

In the weekly division, editor-in-chief Amanda Dahlquist and former Journal public affairs reporter Pete Nickeas won a first place award for their photo essay of pictures taken during Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s visit to Springfield during summer 2008. Luke Runyon also earned an honorable mention for his photo essay of the 2008 UIS Springfest.

Second place went to the Journal Editorial Board in the editorial competition for a piece in which they encouraged students to take seriously their right to vote for the UIS Student Government Association candidates and encouraged candidates to run for the SGA in order to make a difference at UIS.

David Clary also won a second place award for a sports photo he captured showing a UIS soccer player after a losing game.

Greta Myers took third place for a feature story about a couple dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, and Michael Omenazu received a third place award for a sports game story when he wrote about the first UIS women’s soccer team and its inaugural game.

Brittney Meyer received an honorable mention for a column on her first-person account of skydiving, and David Clary received an honorable mention for his column about UIS’ quest for NCAA status. An honorable mention also went to Robert Jackson for a sports feature story when he wrote about the impact of the fans on the game.

UIS student publications adviser Debra Chandler Landis noted, “I am very proud of the students and the honors they received. While Journal students typically win at least some awards each year in the ICPA contest, the 12 awards is a record number for us.”

For more information, contact Landis at 206-7717 or dland2@uis.edu or contact The Journal at journal@uis.edu.

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UIS reconfigures Doctor of Public Administration program

The University of Illinois at Springfield is currently accepting applications for its newly reconfigured Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) program. The application deadline to be considered for acceptance into the program this fall is April 15.

The new program is designed for the working professional and has evolved into a degree that incorporates a candidate’s skills and life experiences into a plan of study that uniquely anticipates a lifetime of learning and application, according to DPA Program Director William Miller. “While having a common core covering essential subjects in public affairs and administration, the program allows a student to choose the elective specializations that fit his or her individual career aspirations,” Dr. Miller said. “It is the perfect blend of scholarly standards and real-world innovation.”

The previous DPA program, with an emphasis on graduates going into or continuing in the academic arena, has graduated about 15 students during the past several years.

Located in UIS’ College of Public Affairs and Administration, the DPA program’s mission is to advance the education of experienced practitioners interested in improving their understanding of public management and public policy.

“These individuals can make a significant contribution to bridging the gap between practice and scholarship. This is done by developing a capacity to bring practitioner experience to the scholarly community and in turn translating the scholarly contributions back to the world of the practitioners,” said Patrick Mullen, a professor in the DPA program.

In the fall of every odd-numbered year, a cohort of 15 students is admitted to the program. They focus on a variety of policy and administrative issues while attending core classes in the evening.

After two years in core classes, students take electives and begin their dissertation work. Depending on how many classes they take per semester, students complete the degree in about four years. Many students hold full-time jobs while attending classes.

For information about applying to the program, please contact William Miller at (217) 206-6310 or dpa@uis.edu. For more information about the DPA, visit the UIS web site at www.uis.edu. Click on A to Z at the top of the page, then on D. You will find the DPA listed there.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Technology Day focuses on sustainability

By Courtney Westlake



The 9th annual Technology Day was held at UIS on Wednesday, February 18 with the focus of "EnviroTech: Educational Technologies that Advance Sustainability."

Dr. Donald Spicer, associate vice chancellor for Information Technology and CIO at the University of Maryland, delivered the keynote address to start off the day's events. Spicer spoke on "IT’s Role in Campus Sustainability Efforts."

"Sustainability is an effort to leave the earth as we found it," Spicer said. "If anyone can provide leadership in sustainability, it's probably higher education's job to do so; it's the place that society looks to for research. Campuses look to building construction and waste management for sustainability efforts, but they don't look at IT often. IT is part of the problem, but it's definitely part of the solution too."

Small demonstrations and presentations followed the keynote speech until 4:30 and included topics such as teaching and learning techniques, resources, services and other creative uses of technology.

Several UIS students prepared demonstrations about the ways they have used technology as individuals or through the organizations that they help to run or work for. Evelyn Ivy's topic was on "Social Network: Trend or Fad, and Marianne Downey spoke on "The Use of WIKI to Organize Professional Development Training."

Debra Tudor gave a presentation on the "Showcase of Technologies Used by UIS Student Organizations," and Shana Stine spoke about "UIS, Orphans and the Internet."

Like many UIS student organizations and student-run groups today, Stine takes full advantage of all that the Internet has to offer, including social media resources, for her organization Jump for Joel. Jump for Joel was started in response to Stine's volunteer trip to an orphanage in Kenya in 2007.

Several other UIS students have gotten involved in the organization, and thanks largely in part to increasing awareness through technology, the group has raised more than $30,000 to help the orphanage. The Jump for Joel crew utilizes tools like Facebook, Twitter (which is a microblogging site), YouTube and more.

"We use the Interney to raise awareness and money, and we do that a lot through our web site, www.jumpforjoel.org," Stine said. "We also use the Internet to collaborate with others in the area and across the world on our projects. And we use it to save money and waste because we don't use paper and postage."

Instead of newsletters and phone calls, Jump for Joel disseminates information about its activities and about the orphanage online through podcasts, blogs and Facebook applications.

"It's truly amazing what the Internet has allowed us to do: feed children from halfway across the world, raise money to send one of those kids to college and make a huge difference to the whole orphanage," Stine said.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UIS names first James J. Stukel Distinguished Professor

Dr. Karen Swan, professor in the College of Education and Human Services at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has been named the first James J. Stukel Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership. She assumed her duties on January 2.

The James J. Stukel Distinguished Professorship was created by the University of Illinois Foundation to honor James Stukel, the 15th president of the University of Illinois system (1995-2005). The professorship includes support for research and grant work and was created for a candidate who possesses expertise in and scholarly accomplishments relating to online teaching and learning issues.

Dr. Larry Stonecipher, dean of the UIS College of Education and Human Services, noted, “Karen Swan is recognized as the leading researcher in the nation with regard to effectiveness in online teaching and learning. Her work in communities of inquiry as well as a host of aspects of cultivating and assessing quality in the online teaching and learning process is leading the emerging best practices in the field. We are most fortunate to have Dr. Swan on our faculty.”

Swan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction from Keene State College, and Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees in Instructional Technology from Columbia University.

She came to UIS from Kent State University, where she was Research Professor at the Research Center for Educational Technology in the College & Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services since 2003.

In 2006, Dr. Swan received the Sloan Consortium for Asynchronous Learning Networks Award for “Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual.” This award recognized her for national innovation, research and service in online learning.

During the spring 2009 semester, Dr. Swan will teach two online graduate courses and continue her research on a collaborative project called “Thinking with Data,” which is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The project involves the development of a middle school data literacy curriculum and its testing in two middle schools in Kent, Ohio.

The professorship will allow Swan to embrace her love of teaching within the Department of Educational Leadership, in addition to supporting ongoing and future research projects.

A formal investiture ceremony honoring Swan is being planned.

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Diversity Center receives award from SCCF for book fund

The Sangamon County Community Foundation has awarded a grant to the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Diversity Center to establish a UIS Book Fund for first-generation students from Sangamon County.

The book fund will provide funds up to $350 for textbooks for first-generation students from Sangamon County. To be eligible for the award, students must be incoming freshmen and demonstrate financial need. The fund will go into effect in July, and students must apply for the award through the Diversity Center. The center is currently seeking donors to add to the fund.

“The UIS Diversity Center is dedicated to help first-generation students to stay in school, achieve their dreams, and becoming contributing professionals following graduation,” said Dr. Clarice Ford, director of the Diversity Center. “The high cost of books should not defer a dream for our students at UIS. This grant from the Sangamon County community Foundation allows us to make a difference between a student staying in college or having to drop out.”

The UIS Diversity Center was established in 2008 with the goal of fostering a supportive environment for students to develop an understanding of differences through educational, cultural and social programming activities and to assist in the recruitment, transition and retention of ethnic minority and underrepresented students at UIS. The Diversity Center promotes intercultural dialogue and other initiatives to create a campus climate that welcomes diversity and eliminates intolerance and stereotyping.

The Sangamon County Community Foundation is a county-wide charity with the mission of building permanent endowments as charitable capital for the local community. The Foundation also promotes effective grant-making to serve both the current and future needs of the greater Springfield area.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Brazilian professor visits UIS and Emiquon for research

By Courtney Westlake







Dr. Luiz Felipe Machado Velho decided he couldn't pass up an opportunity to travel to the United States to participate in scientific research, so he gave up his "summer vacation" to work and learn at UIS and the Emiquon Project this winter. Velho is currently visiting UIS from the State University of Maringa, located in southern Brazil.

UIS has been connected with scientists from the University of Maringa for many years. Dr. Mike Lemke, professor of biology at UIS, traveled to Brazil several years ago and even co-wrote a published paper with Velho's colleagues in Brazil.

"Dr. Lemke came to Brazil and started a collaborative project with our group, who has also been working on big rivers," Velho said.

Velho said this is his first visit to the United States, and he thinks it is a "really great" area. He has been living in UIS campus housing, and his family is also visiting with him since it is summer in Brazil, and they are on break. Being from Brazil, this is the first time he and his family have seen snow, ice and winter.

Velho said he especially loves the Emiquon Field Station and surrounding area, including Thompson Lake. Emiquon, located about an hour northwest of Springfield, is one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the country, and the field station, which was dedicated in spring 2008, is directed by Lemke.

"It's a beautiful, amazing place," Velho said. "It was very fun to be there during this ice period. I've been used to taking samples in a boat in Brazil. Here, we walked on the ice and cut the ice to take samples."

While Velho and Lemke both work on microbes in freshwater systems, Lemke specializes in work on bacteria, and Velho works on protozoa, which are simple-celled organisms only slightly more complex than bacteria. The two brought their expertises together to work on a project at Emiquon.

From March to November in 2008, Lemke and his crews collected water samples from Thompson Lake and Lake Chautauqua. They are currently discovering information about the water quality conditions and how the microbes respond.

"Felipe's work complements mine, helping me to bridge the ecological links from nutrients to bacteria to protozoa," Lemke said. "The picture that is developing is fascinating. The bacteria community definitely is responding to the weekly changes in the water. We are just now uncovering the protozoa patterns."

There is a second aspect to Velho's work at Emiquon as well. He is also trying to find new molecular techniques to identify the very small and complex protozoa, he said.

Lemke said he was honored to collaborate with Velho on this project.

"The group from U of Maringa, Brazil, are experts in floodplain studies; it is a privilege to have him working with us," Lemke said. "We hope to describe the microbial community in floodplain lakes like Thompson. A better understanding will allow us to understand linkages between nutrients, lake conditions, and links to other parts of the food web."

Velho said he hopes to return to UIS and Emiquon in the near future and looks forward to working together with Lemke on future endeavors.

"Our intention is to get a real collaborative project together and bring UIS students to Brazil and of course bring students from the U of Maringa here," he said.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

CNN interviews UIS students about Obama's visit to Springfield

By Courtney Westlake



Springfield was in the national spotlight on Thursday, February 12, as the city and the nation celebrated the 200th birthday of 16th President Abraham Lincoln, which also included a visit from current president, Barack Obama.

UIS students caught a bit of that spotlight on Thursday afternoon as five of them were interviewed by CNN in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in downtown Springfield. The students spoke about what Obama's visit means to the city and about Obama's election in general.

The students who were interviewed included Guila Ahern, Yolanda Beaman, Charles Olivier, Mike Ziri and Renee Rathjen. One topic that was brought up during the interview was Barack's support for the U.S. troops. Ahern noted that her brother was introduced to Obama before he was sent to Iraq, and the two corresponded.

"I thought it was very impressionable to have senator contacting him overseas," she said. "I think Barack's support of the troops is to be commended."

Rathjen spoke about Obama's support for the homosexual community and gay rights.

"I think this is the first time a politician has really gone out there to include our community," she said. "He has always supported our community, and he even had a specific part of his campaign of "Obama Pride."

CNN's reporter discussed the phenomenon that occurred during Obama's election in which he inspired thousands of Americans to register to vote and become involved in politics.

"As an African-American male, I feel like Barack Obama is really (representative of) the American dream; that's what really mobilized me and inspired me to donate money to his campaign," Olivier said. "All of us contributed to phone banking and reaching out to donors in any way we could."

Ahern echoed his sentiments and commended Obama's campaign.

"The way that he mobilized donors that have never donated to a campaign before was just remarkable," she said. "Calling your college students and your other grassroots organizations - it was just astonishing at how he was able to make it work."

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UIS receives national honor for service-learning and civic engagement

The University of Illinois at Springfield has been placed on the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts to the local community. The honor was announced Monday by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“This high honor is evidence that UIS is succeeding in its efforts to make community service a priority,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. “We at UIS believe that our students gain a greater sense of responsibility when they serve the community as part of their education.”

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. UIS was selected because of the scope and innovation of its service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and academic service-learning courses.

UIS student service projects include the Girl to Girl DreamSpeakers Program in which UIS female athletes serve as mentors to about 120 female students in grades 8 through 10 in the Springfield public schools. A mentoring program with Jefferson Middle School matches 20 UIS students with about 30 middle school students, and a service project that involves storm drain stenciling raises environmental awareness of what not to dump in storm drains.

“We don’t just pay lip service to community service, we strongly encourage service to others,” said Kelly Thompson, director of UIS’ Center for Volunteer and Civic Engagement. “Right here on campus we have a unique housing arrangement called the living-learning community in Lincoln Residence Hall. During 2008, those students who live on that wing served our local community through about 950 hours of service,” she said.

Thompson also noted that 2,400 hours of service were carried out in the community last year by UIS students involved in the Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar Fellows AmeriCorps Program. UIS is one of only seven universities in the state that participates in the AmeriCorps Education Award Program.

Other projects are the annual UIS Cares day during which students volunteer their time to bettering the community. Last year, students and several staff members spent time at Jefferson Middle School pulling weeds, planting flowers and taking part in other beautification efforts. UIS also sponsors the annual campus-wide Holiday Stars Project during which students, faculty, staff and community members donated several thousand pounds of canned goods to the Central Illinois Food Bank last year.

UIS also offers service-learning courses that combine academic learning and community service at the undergraduate level. Students earn college credit while providing community service to local non-profit agencies.

The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation, in collaboration with the Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

UIS experiences increase in spring enrollment

The University of Illinois at Springfield has experienced an increase in enrollment this spring. A total of 4,535 students are attending UIS, 105 more than last spring, or 2.3%. Most of the growth is due to a larger 2008 freshman class and more new students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

According to Marya Leatherwood, Director of Enrollment Management, more students tend to enroll at the university when the economy is struggling. “During times like these, they think about investing in an advanced degree, earning a certificate, or even pursuing another area of study in order to make a career change,” she said. “Our online degrees and evening and weekend formats make it easy for working adults to consider coming back to school.”

Leatherwood noted that UIS is seeing a “steady level of students enrolling who are not currently seeking degrees.” Many of those students, particularly at the graduate level, are pursuing certificates in professional areas of study, she said.

A total of 2,785 undergraduates are enrolled at UIS this spring, up 5.7% compared to last spring. However, the number of graduate students – 1,750 – is down 2.5% over last year. The 2008 freshman class comprised of 309 students, as well as 352 new transfer students and 342 new graduate students, are reasons why enrollment is up over last year.

Undergraduate programs with the highest enrollments are Business Administration, Psychology, Liberal Studies, Computer Science, and Accountancy. At the graduate level, Teacher Leadership, Computer Science, Management Information Systems, Public Administration, and Business Administration have the highest enrollments.

Online enrollments climbing
Students majoring in degree programs at UIS that are fully online are at an all-time high for a spring semester, said Ray Schroeder, Director of the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning. There are 1,177 online degree majors this spring, an increase of 98 students over last spring, or 9%. UIS offers 16 degrees programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels that are fully online. And enrollments in online classes at UIS have set a new all-time record of 4,058, an increase of 128 students over last spring.

“The continued growth of online learning at UIS is a reflection of the quality and reputation of the online undergraduate and graduate-degree programs,” Schroeder said. “In this time of economic and job insecurity, many students appreciate knowing that their online classes are portable; that is, they can follow the student wherever he/she lives and whatever work schedule comes their way.”

Schroeder said UIS has begun to offer more blended learning classes (where some of the class meetings are on campus and some are online). The initiative, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has resulted in a significant increase in blended class enrollments. A total of 237 students are enrolled in blended classes this spring compared to last spring’s total of 88.
Schroeder said a total of 155 UIS faculty members are teaching at least one online class this semester.

Looking ahead to fall, Leatherwood said applications for the freshman class are up by 25% compared to last year at this time. “More of our applicants are deciding earlier to make their enrollment deposits to ensure a place in the freshman class,” she said. Deposits are up slightly more than 50% compared to last year at this time.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Anthropologists and architects to study students’ use of library at UIS

The Brookens Library at the University of Illinois at Springfield is one of five recipients of a grant from the Illinois State Library. An award of $177,000 will be shared by five Illinois universities to study the research methods of non-traditional and underserved students in an endeavor called the Illinois “Anthropologists in the Library” project.

Additionally, a master plan study of the Brookens Library will be conducted this spring with funding provided from the University of Illinois Academic Facility Maintenance Fee Assessment (AFMFA). Information gathered from the “Anthropologists in the Library” project at UIS will be utilized by those involved in the master plan study to increase their understanding of how students use the Brookens Library.

The grant for the Illinois “Anthropologists in the Library” project is from the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the Illinois State Library, a part of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. It was awarded to address the question: “What do students, especially those in the underserved and non-traditional group identified by each library, actually do when they are assigned a research project for one of their class assignments, and what are the expectations of students, faculty and librarians of each other with regard to this assignment?”

The Brookens Library will study the approaches to research of traditional college-aged students and those of non-traditional, older students who commute to campus. Guided by project anthropologist Dr. Andrew Asher, the library will employ methods such as photo diaries, interviews and observation to gain understanding of how research assignments are approached by students.

Four other universities will focus on different populations. Northeastern Illinois University, the coordinator of the grant project, will study Hispanic populations. DePaul University will look at first-generation college students, first-generation Americans and students who work more than 20 hours a week off campus. The University of Illinois at Chicago will also study first-generation students, and Illinois Wesleyan University will focus their research on international, African-American, Latino-American and Native American students. UIS is the only member of the grant project that will also be studying students’ library facility requirements.

This study is based upon and extends the methodology of a groundbreaking study performed at the University of Rochester library in 2005 that used ethnographic methods to understand students’ needs and improve library services. One of the authors of the Rochester study, Dr. Nancy Foster, is serving as an adviser to the Illinois “Anthropologists in the Library” project.

The Chicago architectural firm Holabird and Root has been chosen to work with the UIS campus on the master plan study to produce a master plan for the Brookens Library. The architectural team will work with the “Anthropologists in the Library” project to get a multifaceted picture of students’ wants and needs from the library building. The Brookens Library building, dedicated in 1976, is the oldest permanent building on campus. The master plan will recommend a direction for the building to meet 21st century needs for library services and related teaching and learning services.

“These projects will allow us to hear from the students themselves as well as faculty members who assign research projects,” said Jane Treadwell, university librarian and dean of Library Instructional Services at UIS. “We will use findings from the studies to modify existing services or begin new ones, and the feedback from students will inform the design process for a renovated Brookens Library. We’re going to learn so much about what our students need and want from the library, and we plan to use our findings to make the library a better place.”

For more information, contact Jane Treadwell at 217/206-6597.

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