Wednesday, October 31, 2012

UIS expands online reach by partnering with California's Coastline Community College

The University of Illinois Springfield is among three universities partnering with California’s Coastline Community College to create a seamless pathway for students to earn an online bachelor’s degree.

“The model – developed at UIS and refined over the past dozen years - holds many advantages for students and institutions,” said Ray Schroeder, UIS associate vice chancellor for online learning. “It provides a near seamless melding of the community college and the university in the academic program of the student.”

Students will complete 30 credit hours of coursework at the community college and then be concurrently enrolled at UIS and the community college for the next two years – taking classes online at both UIS and the community college. During this period of time, the student receives an associate’s degree from the community college.

“Since the student is enrolled at both institutions, the libraries, learning centers, advising and other services of both the university and the college are available to assist the student in making smooth and steady progress toward the degree,” said Schroeder.

The student’s final 30 credit hours are taken at UIS, culminating in the bachelor’s degree. UIS offers seven bachelor’s degrees using this model including: Business Administration, Computer Science, English, History, Liberal Studies, Mathematics, and Philosophy.

The UIS one-two-one online learning model has proven very successful. It is now being expanded in a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Project led by the League for Innovation for the Community College. Joining UIS in the project are the Penn State University’s World Campus and the University of Massachusetts Online.

The partnership is expected to serve as a model for expanding the capacity at community colleges in California, which have been forced to turn way students due to budget cuts.

For more information, contact Schroeder at 217/206-7531 or rschr1@uis.edu.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

UIS Illinois Innocence Project helps innocent man gain freedom in Marion County case

The Illinois Innocence Project, housed at the University of Illinois Springfield, helped Anthony Murray, 40, of Chicago gain his freedom Tuesday. This is the fifth case where the project has helped a wrongfully convicted individual gain his or her freedom.

Murray was previously convicted of first degree murder 14 years ago for his alleged involvement in the death of Seneca Jones of downstate Centralia, Ill. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Murray is expected to be released Wednesday from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

In order to gain his freedom, he reluctantly accepted a plea for second degree murder and was released based on time served in prison. The plea, called an Alford Plea, allows an individual to gain freedom by pleading guilty to a lesser offense, while still maintaining innocence for the crime he/she is entering a plea. Murray has maintained his innocence throughout, but indicated he had served 14 years in prison, during which 15 relatives and friends had died, and he just wanted to go home to his mother and family.

“Given new evidence of Anthony’s innocence, it is clear that Anthony was not even at the scene of the murder,” said Larry Golden, executive director of the Illinois Innocence Project. “The original conviction was an injustice that should never have occurred. While we are pleased that Anthony can walk out of prison, he should have been able to do so as a fully exonerated person. This is just another injustice allowed by a criminal justice system badly in need of reform.”

Murray asked for the help of the Illinois Innocence Project, which engaged in an in-depth investigation of his case. That investigation yielded new and corroborating evidence of Murray’s innocence in the crime. However, the Marion County States Attorney insisted that Murray take the plea in order to be released.

Many students and staff from UIS, the Southern Illinois University Law School, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law, some of whom were present Tuesday, worked on Murray’s case under the overall supervision of Illinois Innocence Project Legal Director John Hanlon who led the effort to gain Murray’s release.

This is the second time this year that the Illinois Innocence Project has freed an innocent person for a crime they did not commit. The Project continues to work on 25 additional cases. It recently changed its name from the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project to the Illinois Innocence Project to reflect the fact that it is now accepting cases throughout Illinois in collaboration with the three Illinois public law schools at Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Southern Illinois University.

For more information on the exoneration, contact Illinois Innocence Project Legal Director John Hanlon at 217/206-8558.

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The Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) has a three-part mission: to evaluate and investigate cases for credible claims of an Illinois inmate's actual innocence, and, when appropriate, provide legal representation and/or other assistance toward proving the inmate's actual innocence; to encourage meaningful reforms toward preventing the conviction of innocent persons in the future; and to educate the public and provide important educational and experiential opportunities for students about wrongful convictions. Visit www.uis.edu/innocenceproject for additional information.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon talks about college affordability at UIS

 

Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon met with students, administrators, and faculty/staff at the University of Illinois Springfield on October 23, 2012 as part of her statewide College Affordability Summit.

Simon, who serves as the Governor’s point person on education reform, met with a group of UIS students who explained how they use federal work study and state grants to cover costs. Simon wants to maximize the use of state and federal funds to support higher education.

“It’s a tough request, particularly in a era when the state has zero extra money to be spending, so we have to be really careful about how we use our resources,” said Simon.

Nekira Cooper, a UIS sophomore studying criminal justice, receives the MAP grant, Pell grant, private scholarships, loans, federal work study and works off campus on the weekends to pay for college. Despite the challenges in piecing together college financing, Cooper remains positive and looks forward to joining the Air Force as an officer upon graduation.

“I grew up in a neighborhood where college wasn’t on anyone’s mind,” said Cooper, the first in her family to enroll in college. “I’ve stayed focused and kept my grades up – sometimes I can’t believe I made it to college.”

With cooperation from state, federal and higher education leaders, Simon believes increased transparency, targeted state aid and a permanent federal tax credit for middle class families would make college more affordable for Illinois students.

“As a state, we want to increase the proportion of working-age adults with a college degree or credential to 60 percent, up from 41 percent, by 2025. The only way we can achieve this goal is if college is affordable,” said Simon.

UIS is Simon’s sixth stop as she seeks to hold an affordability summit at each of the state’s public universities this fall.

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Monday, October 08, 2012

UIS celebrates 16th annual Homecoming



The University of Illinois Springfield celebrated its 16th annual Homecoming on Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Bright Lights, Blue City”.

Participants packed the campus for the annual Homecoming Parade, BBQ and the men’s and women’s soccer games on Friday, Oct. 5. Saturday featured the annual 5K Run/Walk, family entertainment, the UIS Students vs. Alumni/Faculty/Staff Basketball game, and homecoming dance.

As part of the U-Help, I-Help service event, the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center and Office of UIS Alumni Relations hosted 40 high school students from Springfield Public School's AVID Tutoring Program on Friday. UIS students talked to the juniors and seniors about what to expect in college and how to prepare. Students also prepared food to support a Habitat for Humanity build.

Members of the Capital Scholars Honors Program’s Class of 2007 reunited on campus on Saturday. Earlier in the week, a Homecoming Pep Rally and Scheels Spirit Games were held.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Associate Professor of English Lan Dong named the 2012 University Scholar at UIS

Lan Dong, associate professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been named University Scholar for 2012. She was the only UIS faculty member chosen for this award honoring and rewarding outstanding teachers and scholars at the three U of I campuses.

“She is a model teacher-scholar and a rising star in American literary studies,” said Lynn Pardie, UIS provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs. “She works across sociohistorical and cultural contexts, analyzes important themes and issues in literary and visual texts to increase understanding of race, ethnicity, and gender issues in Asian and Asian American literature.”

Dong has been an extraordinarily productive scholar since joining the faculty at UIS, publishing a major monograph, an edited collection of essays, and multiple journal articles and book chapters, as well as delivering numerous scholarly presentations at conferences in her field. She has been called “the world authority on the iterations of Mulan,” and her recent monograph, Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, has received very high praise.

She teaches a wide array of courses within her areas of expertise and at every level of the undergraduate curriculum – much to the delight of her students, both online and on campus. Despite the intellectually challenging nature of her courses, she is highly regarded as a passionate and talented teacher by her students as well as by her colleagues. Her courses are carefully designed and constructed to foster an appreciation for diverse cultures; to strengthen critical reading, analysis, and writing skills; to promote a sense of social responsibility; and to encourage collaboration and creativity.

“True to the model of an ideal teacher-scholar, whereby the integrity of teaching and research are preserved as separate but mutually influential and enriching endeavors, Dong has also contributed to the scholarship of teaching within her field, presenting and publishing on the teaching of graphic novels,” said Pardie.

Dong holds a B.A. in Chinese Literature from Beijing University, an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

As University Scholar, she will receive $10,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities. Faculty do not apply for this award; they are nominated by their peers. A committee of senior faculty makes the final selection.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Online learning organizations create a national e-learning alliance

Funded on a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), a task force comprised of representatives of leading national organizations in online and e-learning in higher education, has issued a report on the future of online learning in higher education. The Task Force includes representatives from the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC), the Association of Continuing Higher Education (ACHE), EDUCAUSE, the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C), UPCEA and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET).

The Summit on the Future of Online Learning held in Chicago in September 2011 addressed many of the issues facing online learning in higher education today. An outcome of the Summit was a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to convene an Inter-Organizational Task Force on Online Learning.

“Each of these organizations is deeply engaged in the development, delivery and support of high quality online education,” said Robert Hansen, CEO of UPCEA. “This report lays the foundation for working together with the goal of advancing the interests of the students and institutions we serve through quality online learning.”

The report, issued October 3, 2012, has six main objectives: 

1. Create the capacity to better inform online learning policy-making and regulation by establishing a formal alliance of organizations dedicated to advancing online education

2. Inform public policymakers and higher education leaders of the fundamental importance of online learning in serving the new “traditional” student: the adult learner

3. Make the connection between online learning, the economy, workforce development, and access, and communicate that connection to policymakers and higher education leaders

4. Give presidents and provosts the information and tools they need to make online education a key strategic asset for financial sustainability and mission fulfillment

5. Engage policymakers and other key stakeholders in conversations about new opportunities for innovation afforded by e-learning

6. Use the overwhelming body of research demonstrating the quality of online learning to dispel the lingering skepticism of policymakers and the public at-large

“This is a unique initiative among the leading national associations in online and e-learning in higher education,” said Ray Schroeder, Chair of the Task Force and Associate Vice Chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield. “In the rapidly evolving online environment, it is important that we draw upon the knowledge and experience of those who represent the colleges and universities who have demonstrated their commitment to quality and innovation in this field.”

For more information, contact Schroeder at 217/206-7531 or rschr1@uis.edu. Please visit www.upcea.edu to view the full report.

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Located in Washington, D.C., UPCEA serves more than 370 institutions of higher education with a focus on professional, continuing, and online learning. The Association provides its members with educational publications, programs, conferences, and services for the advancement of lifelong learning. UPCEA promotes awareness of the needs of adult learners and recognizes best practices in the field.

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