Monday, April 28, 2014

UIS to hold 43rd commencement ceremony on May 17 in downtown Springfield

Commencement ceremonies for the University of Illinois Springfield will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, Ninth and Adams streets in downtown Springfield. Of the 1,311 students eligible to graduate, 732 will participate in the ceremony.

Tickets are not required for admission and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no reserved seating except for special needs such as interpretive services and wheelchairs. The doors to the main floor of the center will open at 3 p.m.

Walgreens executive Donovan Pepper is the UIS Commencement speaker 

The UIS Commencement speaker will be UIS alum Donovan Pepper, national director of local government relations for Walgreens. He is responsible for local legislative and lobbying efforts at the municipal and county levels in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Pepper earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political studies from UIS. As a student leader in the early 1990s, he was so highly regarded as Student Government Association president that his peers renamed the student leadership award after him while he was still a student. For the past twenty years and counting, the SGA leader who demonstrates the most outstanding leadership earns the Donovan Pepper Award.

Prior to his position at Walgreens, Pepper served as director of government relations for the Illinois Restaurant Association. He also worked for SBC (now AT&T) and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and served on the appropriations and substantive committee staff for the Illinois House Democrats, where he focused on areas of transportation, higher education and consumer protection.

He serves on the board of directors of the Civic Federation, the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, HFS Chicago Scholars, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Business Council, the Schaumburg Business Association, and the University of Illinois Alumni Association. He is the past President of the Chicago Area Public Affairs Group (CAPAG).

Pepper received the UIS Alumni Association Loyalty Award for exceptional alumni service in 2008. Despite all of this, Pepper considers his most significant moment at UIS as meeting his future wife, Heidi Waltner-Pepper, who is also a UIS graduate (M.A., Community Arts Management). They have two children.

Evelyn Brandt Thomas to be awarded honorary doctorate degree

Business leader Evelyn Brandt Thomas will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. She is the co-owner of BRANDT, a multi-million dollar international agriculture company based in Springfield.

Today, at 90 years of age, Brandt Thomas continues to perform an active role in the business, going to work nearly every day. She has also been active in philanthropy for many years, making significant contributions to 4-H and many other non-profit organizations in central Illinois as well as to the University of Illinois campuses in Springfield and Urbana. She has encouraged women to pursue careers in business through her support of the Evelyn Brandt Thomas Scholarship at UIS.

Faculty & student marshals announced 

Donald Morris, Professor of Accountancy, has been chosen to serve as grand marshal. The student speaker will be Zachary Sullivan, who will graduate with a master’s degree in political science.

Faculty and students in each academic program select one graduating student who best exemplifies the goals and spirit of that program to serve as student marshal for the ceremony.

This year’s marshals are:

Accountancy: Anna Cadmus – B.A., Megan Canny – M.A.

Biology: Sara Peterson – B.S., Patricia Strutz – M.S.

Business Administration: Daniel Sears - B.B.A., Stacy Bergen - M.B.A., Sripada Kuber – M.B.A. (Peoria)

Chemistry: Ritesh Uppuluri – B.S.

Clinical Laboratory Science: Brittnee Wojciechowski – B.S.

Communication: Aaron Mulvey – B.A., Kecheng Lu – M.A.

Computer Science: Andrew Webb – B.S., Matthew Derber – M.S.

Criminal Justice: Jarod Medbery – B.A.

Economics: Richard Rockwood – B.A.

Educational Leadership: Jennifer Durbin – M.A.

English: Jacob Cross – B.A., Margaret Burns – M.A.

Environmental Sciences: Omonike Ayorinde – M.S.

Environmental Studies: Makenzie Riedle – B.A., Emily Cross – M.A.

Global Studies: Dexter Burns – B.A.

History: Michael Martin – B.A., William Lear – M.A.

Human Development Counseling: Lucy Parker – M.A.

Human Services: Sarah Erude – M.A.

Legal Studies: Anna Corcoran – B.A., Monica Prisco – M.A.

Liberal and Integrative Studies: Kathleen Brinkmann – M.A.

Liberal Studies: Sarah Trigg – B.A.

Management: Bobby Lee Stark – B.A. (Peoria), Ashley Tague – B.A.

Management Information Systems: Ankit Patel – B.S., Simi George – M.S.

Mathematical Sciences: Jacob Boehm – B.A.

Philosophy: Jeffrey Cosby – B.A.

Political Science: Elizabeth Kelly – B.A., Ryan Warner – M.A.

Psychology: Brianna Werner – B.A.

Public Administration: Lauren Gibson – M.P.A., Betsy Goulet - D.P.A.

Public Affairs Reporting: Chacour Koop – M.A.

Public Health: Logan Kirbach – M.P.H.

Social Work: Cary Kasten – B.S.W.

Sociology/Anthropology: Megan Bott – B.A.

Teacher Leadership: Caryn Tierney – M.A.

Visual Arts: Jemilla Sadick Raji – B.A.

A number of events are planned for graduates, their families and guests, beginning with a reception for Peoria-area students on Friday, May 9. Separate brunches for CAP Honors graduates and online degree graduates are scheduled for Saturday morning, May 17.

Admission to some commencement events is by invitation only. Updated information, including a complete list of events, is available from the commencement website at

The ceremony will be webcast live at DVDs ($25) can also be ordered from the Office of Electronic Media, phone 217/206-6799. For more information, go to the UIS Commencement website at

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good as Gold Ceremony honors over 50 Sangamon County volunteers and businesses

The University of Illinois Springfield Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center and the Junior League of Springfield honored more than 50 Sangamon County volunteers and businesses during the annual Good as Gold Ceremony. The event was held on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 in the Sangamon Auditorium Lobby at UIS.

Distinguished Volunteer Award 

Glenn Allison, an 84-year-old lifelong resident of Sherman, was honored with the 2014 Distinguished Volunteer Award. Allison volunteers a minimum of 15 hours a week at Memorial Medical Center and 10 hours weekly at the Illinois State Military Museum.

This year marks his 21st year as a volunteer at Memorial and 12 years as a volunteer at the Military Museum. He is a veteran of the Illinois National Guard and served in the Korean War.

Allison considers his volunteering a serious commitment. He firmly embraces the mission statements of both organizations, as if he was a salaried employee.

As a younger man, Allison served on several boards and committees for the Village of Sherman, St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church, The Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis Club, and other professional organizations. He was awarded a plaque from the Sherman Volunteer Fire Protection District for his 32 years of exemplary service and dedication of the highest level.

Finalists for the Distinguished Volunteer Award included A. Edward Hohenstein from Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County, Mark Puczynski from Springfield Public Schools, Thomas Tomlinson from the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and Mary Yokem from the Foster Grandparent Program.

UIS Star Student & Star Staff Awards 

UIS student Mallory Beck of Springfield was honored with the Star Student Award for her volunteer efforts. As vice president of the UIS Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, she’s helped organize clothing and food drives, trips to nursing homes, and a “Kids Night Out” fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Beck is also planning a “Sports with Diabetes” camp for children afflicted with Type 1 Diabetes and their families on May 3, 2014. Other UIS students nominated included Matt Dobill, Jill Gossett, and Fred Jackson. The Star Staff Award was given to Pamela Hammond-McDavid for her work with the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center, her service to Grace United Methodist Church’s National Commission on Religion and Race, and for serving as a founding member of the Good as Gold Committee.

Community and Organization Awards 

Community member Katie Engle from West Side Christian Church was honored with the Youth Volunteer Award for efforts to coordinate and a two-day community Thanksgiving meal at Harvard Park Elementary called “Feast for 500”. She also helped with another effort to provide pajamas and books to Harvard Park students. She continues to be an active supporter at Harvard Park as a reading mentor, 'room sister' and office helper. Others nominated for the award include Abigail Judge, Katelyn Judge, and Erin Monroe.

Thirty local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: Grace Adloff, Jo Ellen Bretz, Judy Brown, John Craner, Debra Elmore, Lynn Evans, Scott Gauvin, Timothy J. Granzeau, Pauline Halm, Pam Hargan, Lisa Higgs, Wes King; Ted LeBlang, Sandy Linehan; Faraji Martin, Ikenna Martin, Nancy Eckert Martin, Harry McKinney, Joan McKinney, Cindy Murdock, Beth Nestler, Jeff Patton, Christine Phillips, Deb Philo, Deanna Planitz, Megan Swanson, Angela Try, Joyce Wilson, Mary Jo Woolsey, and Beth Yong.

Springfield Health Check was recognized with the Organization Agent of Service Award for its contributions to the community. The organization offers free health fairs for businesses and organizations. The group works one-on-one to set up wellness programs with local businesses and organizations to improve health, engagement, and productivity. Others nominated for the award include Habitat for Humanity, First Christian Church, and the 21st Century “R” Rescue Team.

Business Honor Roll 

A total of 12 Sangamon County businesses were named to the inaugural Business Honor Roll, sponsored by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. The honor roll recognizes businesses that have made giving back to our community a priority.

Businesses making this year’s honor roll include America Ambulance Service, Bank of Springfield, BUNN, CEFCU, Illinois National Bank, Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP, Noodles and Company, the Orthopedic Center of Illinois, PJP Auto Enterprises, Quaker Steak & Lube, SCHEELS, and Terry Farmer Photography.

For more information about the awards, please visit, email or call 217/ 206-7716.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Under the Dome teaches students about careers in state government

High school students from around Illinois got a behind the scenes look at state government during the University of Illinois Springfield's annual "Under the Dome" day on April 8, 2014.

“They see how bills get passed, how they get introduced, how lobbyists work, and how staffers work,” said Joan Sestak, UIS director of community relations. “It gives them an opportunity to see in-depth what it’s like to work in state government.”

The students started their day at UIS where they boarded buses to the Illinois State Capitol. Once they arrived, they took a tour, learned about the legislative process, and met with lawmakers.

“Especially for someone like me, who wants to go into politics, it is a way to really keen my interest in coming to something like this. It’s really an opportunity to understand what’s going on in state government,” said Austin Straley, a student Chicago’s Gordon Tech College Prep.

What makes the tour unique is the access UIS alumni provide and the knowledge they share with high school students during their visit.

“They wouldn’t get this experience on a normal tour of the capitol. Our alumni work with us and are able to take them back behind the scenes,” said Sestak.

Rochester High School student Kara Kestner has been to the capitol before, but for her Under the Dome was a unique experience.

“Today has been made special by the attention students are getting,” said Kestner. “It’s a one of a kind experience. You can’t get this in a classroom or just on a regular tour.”

The day is also designed to highlight the abundance of opportunities to study state government at UIS, while showcasing experienced faculty members.

“What we hope they really take away is that they look at careers in public service. That they think about those things they could study as they get ready to enter college,” said Sestak.

UIS has hosted the “Under the Dome” event for the past six years. For more information on the next “Under the Dome” event, visit

Thursday, April 03, 2014

UIS and SIU School of Medicine researchers to collaborate thanks to endowed fund

Four faculty members from the University of Illinois Springfield and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine have been awarded inaugural grants from the Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D., Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research.

Richard Moy, M.D. (1931-2013), former dean of the SIU School of Medicine, and his sons Philip and Eric Moy created the $250,000 endowed fund at UIS in honor of their wife and mother, former professor Caryl Moy (1932-2010). The fund supports faculty from UIS and the SIU School of Medicine who do team-based research. Caryl Moy taught for 21 years at UIS (then Sangamon State University) beginning in 1970. She also served as a clinical professor at the SIU Medical School.

Karen Reinke, Ph.D., UIS associate professor of psychology and Jeffrey I. Bennett, M.D., SIU assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, will be examining whether electroencephalography (EEG) can help predict the success of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment in adults with major depressive disorder. They also will examine the kinds of changes that take place in the brain during TMS treatment that correspond with improvement in depression.

Wiley Jenkins, Ph.D., SIU associate professor and science director for the Population Science Program, and Dennis Ruez, Jr., Ph.D., UIS associate professor of environmental studies, will use geographic information system technology to investigate potential associations among occurrences of various kinds of cancers, coal mining activity, and arsenic in drinking water.

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