Wednesday, March 12, 2014

UIS students to spend Alternative Spring Break fighting hunger and homelessness in Washington, D.C.

A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield will spend their spring break working at soup kitchens and homeless shelters in Washington, D.C. Volunteers will be working in collaboration with the Youth Services Opportunities Program of Washington, D.C.

A total of 25 UIS students and 2 staff members will leave Springfield on Sunday, March 16 at 5 a.m. and return to campus on Saturday, March 22 at approximately 9 p.m. The students will spend the week living in a hostel and serving in local nonprofit agencies that address hunger and homelessness in the D.C. metro area.

Each day the group will work in smaller groups of three or four. The 27 participants will each serve approximately 40 hours over the course of the weeklong service trip totaling 1,080 hours of service provided.

The Youth Services Opportunities Program (YSOP) is a nationally recognized leader in providing high-quality volunteer service experiences. YSOP has been a pioneer in the field of service-learning, leading thousands of young people and adults in programs to encourage community participation and engaged citizenship through direct service to homeless and hungry people.

“Alternative Spring Break at UIS is a student-led effort. The students choose the location, organize the logistics, recruit members, and work throughout the year to raise necessary funds” said Mark Dochterman, ASB adviser and director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center.

This year’s trip will be supported by a $3,450 Venture Fund Grant from United Way of Central Illinois, which will offset the service related costs of the trip.

“It's a really humbling experience to go out and help the homeless and try to understand what poverty is and what it looks like in the United States,” said UIS student Brittani Provost. “However, I think the collective idea of our efforts is important as well. The idea of taking a group of about 25 UIS students and spending a week in another community while volunteering creates a really unique experience.”

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed in 2009 when students took their first trip to Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina. The following year, students traveled to Texas to help clean up damage from Hurricane Ike. In 2011, the students traveled to Tennessee to help clean up portions of the Mississippi River. In 2012, the students helped rebuild homes damaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav in New Orleans. Last year, students helped with revitalization efforts in the Florida Everglades.

For more information on Alternative Spring Break, contact Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Center for Academic Success opens creating a "one-stop" shop for student support

Leaders at the University of Illinois Springfield cut the ribbon on the new Center for Academic Success during a ceremony on March 11, 2014. The center is designed to be a “one-stop academic support shop” for students.

The center will bring together several academic support units on the fourth floor of Brookens Library. The Intensive English Program, International Programs, Internships and Prior Learning (formerly Experiential and Service-Learning), The Learning Hub (formerly the Center for Teaching and Learning), the Office of Advising Services (OASIS), and Testing Services will all be part of the new center. Testing Services will be located in the Human Resources Building.

“Our goals in creating the center were to capitalize on program synergies for enhanced quality, promote greater awareness of and access to important academic support services by undergraduate and graduate students from all four UIS colleges, and ensure cost-effective delivery of services,” said Lynn Pardie, UIS provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

About the support units: 

Intensive English Program
The Intensive English Program (English Language Support Services) is an academic, intensive English program that aims at assisting international students to develop their English language proficiency to the level needed to pursue their education at UIS. The curriculum follows the guidelines and standards set forth by the CEA (Commission on English Language Program Accreditation). The curriculum also promotes students’ acquisition of communicative competence by providing cultural learning opportunities outside the classroom. The program also offers university bridge courses which offer university credit and act as a transition from the IEP to the university.

International Programs 
International Programs encompasses three distinct areas: study abroad; support for international faculty and staff including visa and permanent resident applications; and working with faculty, departments and colleges on international initiatives. The Office offers many student abroad opportunities, including short-term study programs, full semester and year-long exchange programs, and the means to take advantage of programs offered by other universities and program providers. The Office supports visiting and permanent international faculty and staff in applying for visas and permanent residency. International Programs is also involved in international online education, collaborative efforts with universities outside the USA, and in the creation of affiliation agreements between universities.

Internships and Prior Learning
The Internships and Prior Learning Program stress practical experience, professional development, and the value of self-directed learning. The Internship Program is an individualized field experience that provides students with a unique opportunity to apply theory, expand knowledge, determine additional learning needs, explore careers, and develop a public awareness. Internships let undergraduates earn credit while test driving their majors. The Prior Learning Program offers courses that assist students in developing a portfolio of college-level learning that can come from work, volunteering, traveling, military service or other non-classroom life experiences. The office also houses service-learning course work that increases student awareness of community issues and require students to complete volunteer service hours.

Learning Hub 
The Learning Hub (Office of Student Learning Services) offers free help to students in improving skills in writing, math and statistics, accounting/economics, science, academic/study skills, and, through a peer tutoring program, virtually any subject taught on the campus. The Hub offers help to students at UIS in a variety of ways, including one-on-one appointments, both in person and online; supplemental instruction; online, in-class, or on-ground workshops; walk-in writing events; handouts and tutorials on the Hub website; and many more.

OASIS, the Office of Advising Services, Information, and Support serves entering first year students, some sophomores, and undeclared transfer students. Academic advisors help students determine courses each semester, monitor student progress, and connect students with other services on campus. OASIS serves as a resource to other academic and student service units on campus, as well as to college and faculty advisors. OASIS administers the Starfish early alert system, providing a campus-wide early identification and intervention program. OASIS also hosts a living-learning community, STARS, and a peer advising program that provides support to help new students transition into college life through individual and small group interactions with a peer leader.

Testing Services 
The Office of Testing Services, to be housed in the Human Resources Building, will assist faculty and staff with assessment services to admit and retain students and to assist the general public with proctoring services in a secure environment. We anticipate the office will open in early summer 2014.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Tracy Family Foundation donates $15,000 to program that teaches girls about technology

The Tracy Family Foundation, representing over 60 members of the Tracy Family, has given $15,000 in support of Girl Tech, a technology day camp for middle school girls, at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Robert and Dorothy Tracy founded Dot Foods, the nation's largest food redistributor with more than 100,000 products in 1960. Still family owned and operated, Dot Foods delivers more than 100,000 products nationwide.

The Tracy Family Foundation provides a way for family members to celebrate Robert and Dorothy's values of integrity and generosity and to share their business success with others.

The two-day Girl Tech camp at UIS, directed by Mary Sheila Tracy (no relation), camp coordinator and computer science instructor, seeks to increase computer literacy and excitement in girls, at the age when many begin to lose interest in technology. Activities include geo-caching with iPad, Scratch programming, molecular gastronomy and much more.

Among other benefits, the Tracy Family Foundation gift will add a one-day Girl Tech camp in Mt. Sterling, Ill., and a one-day engineering camp for high schools girls. The gift will also provide scholarships for lower-income girls in the Springfield area and provide other general support.

Over the years, Tracy family members have provided support to UIS for scholarships, including the Dorothy A. Tracy Teacher Education Scholarship Fund and the Manny Velasco Scholarship Fund. Family members have also supported athletics, WUIS, the Illinois Innocence Project, Sangamon Auditorium, the UIS Women's Center, Project Midstate Student Support for Teaching, and other programs.

"The Tracy Family Foundation's gift will enable us to introduce the girls to cutting edge technologies as the products hit the marketplace," said Mary Sheila Tracy. "This gift will also permit us to reach out to more diverse groups of girls and engage them in science, technology and engineering activities."

For more information, contact Sarah Jennings, UIS director of corporate and foundation relations at 217/206-6058 or email

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

UIS announces fall 2013 semester Dean’s List

A total of 524 students have been named to the University of Illinois Springfield Dean's List for Fall Semester 2013; 83 are students in the College of Business and Management, 31 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 338 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 60 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, and 12 are non-degree or undecided.

To qualify for the designation, a student must be an undergraduate who took at least eight graded semester hours and maintained a grade-point average of at least 3.75 for the semester.

The list is organized alphabetically by hometown.

PDF Download: Fall 2013 Dean's List

Monday, March 03, 2014

UIS commits to expanding study abroad program as part of nationwide effort

The University of Illinois Springfield is among 150 institutions nationwide pledging to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad over the next five years through the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Generation Study Abroad initiative.

“I'm delighted that UIS has joined the Generation Study Abroad Initiative,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “In a world of growing interconnectedness, studying abroad is important because it gives students a broader intercultural perspective and prepares them to thrive in increasingly multicultural communities and workplaces.”

As part of the initiative, UIS plans to increase promotion of study abroad opportunities and remove barriers that hinder students from study abroad. IIE has also committed $2 million for a Study Abroad Fund to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions.

“By pledging to double our study abroad numbers we are committing resources to increase opportunities and to help students meet the challenges of studying abroad including the additional expenses that may apply,” said Jonathan GoldbergBelle, UIS director of International Programs.

UIS recently joined the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), which adds another 150 institutions in 50 countries where UIS students can study abroad. UIS also has 13 independent study abroad agreements with universities in Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, England, France, Japan, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, and Spain.

UIS student Dexter Burns recently spent a semester at the University of Colima in Mexico thanks to a study abroad partnership. He previously traveled to Peru with a UIS study abroad seminar. Before coming to college, Burns had never left the U.S.

“I definitely would encourage other people to study abroad. It’s one thing to read about a foreign country, it’s another thing to actually be there,” said Burns.

Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation in study abroad so that the annual total reported will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade.

“With 2.6 million students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year, it is clear that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and participate in the global economy,” said GoldbergBelle.