Monday, September 29, 2014

UIS survey reveals growing positive expectations about the Sangamon County economy

A survey conducted by the University of Illinois Springfield Center for State Policy and Leadership, in partnership with The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, shows employers have growing positive expectations for their own business, their sector, and the overall Sangamon County economy. Expectations for the Sangamon County economy increased six points since Spring 2014.

The Fall 2014 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey studied local businesses and non-profits in order to gauge expectations across several economic indicators. The survey is based on the responses of 207 individuals representing various economic sectors including construction, manufacturing, retail, financial, and healthcare.

“In previous surveys, respondents’ expectations about their own business and sector have been more positive than for the Sangamon County economy overall,” said Ashley Kirzinger, director of the UIS Survey Research Office. “This continues to be true in the Fall 2014 survey, however, the difference in expectations is less.”

The Fall 2014 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey includes a section examining the assets and liabilities for doing business in Sangamon County. Respondents believe that “health care facilities and quality” is the greatest asset for doing business in Sangamon County while “total state taxes on business” is the greatest liability. The other top asset in Sangamon County is “proximity to colleges/universities/technical schools.”

Respondents were positive regarding all economic factors with the exception of contributions to non-profits in Sangamon County. While the Fall 2014 survey reports a slight improvement in expectations about contributions to nonprofits from the Spring 2014 survey, the overall expectation is still negative. In fact, this is the single item in the survey that has not rebounded since the recession in 2008.

The survey is sponsored by the University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor’s Office, the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS and The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on the survey, contact Ashley Kirzinger, director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217/206-7956 or

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UIS partners with the UIC College of Nursing and Memorial Health System to launch BSN program

The University of Illinois Springfield is partnering with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Nursing and Memorial Health System to offer students an opportunity to earn a UIC Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree on the Springfield campus.

“As Springfield’s medical district grows, there is a demand for additional highly qualified nurses in the area,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “This partnership will bring one of the top ranked schools for nursing in the country to Springfield, while helping to further boost undergraduate enrollment growth at UIS.”

The program can be completed in four years of full-time study and involves two phases: two years of pre-nursing and general education courses at UIS and two years of professional nursing courses, which will be delivered by UIC College of Nursing faculty at UIS. Admission to the professional phase of the BSN program requires recommendation of the UIC College of Nursing’s Admissions Committee after successful completion of the first-phase of coursework.

The addition of the Springfield Regional Campus of the University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing will help further expand its presence statewide. UIC currently has four regional campuses in Peoria, the Quad Cities, Rockford and Urbana. A full-time director will be employed to administer the program in Springfield.

“This Springfield partnership, between a nursing college ranked second nationally in National Institutes of Health funding, a health system with two Magnet-designated hospitals, and a university whose Capital Scholars Honors program is recognized for generating incredible leaders, will produce academically strong, critically thinking nurses, practitioners and midwives that will meet the health care needs of the people of central and southern Illinois,” said UIC College of Nursing Dean Terri Weaver.

The UIC College of Nursing is consistently ranked in the top 10 for nursing schools nationally and was recently awarded a #2 ranking in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The BSN program will be supported by a number of scholarships made available to UIS students by Memorial Health System.

“We are pleased to partner in this extraordinary initiative to increase educational opportunities for students to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees within our own community,” said Ed Curtis, president and CEO of Memorial Health System.

“This is a solid fit with our mission to improve the health of the people and communities we serve.” Classes are scheduled to begin in August 2015 when the first group of UIS students enrolls as freshmen. Interested students are encouraged to apply to UIS now by visiting

The first cohort of nursing students starting upper division nursing courses will begin in fall of 2016. It is expected that 32 students will be admitted in fall 2016 and 48 students in fall 2017. Beginning of fall 2018, 64 students will be admitted with the first cohort completing their BSN degree program in May 2018. Additional information about the program can be found at

For more information, contact Derek Schnapp, director of public relations at 217/206-6716 or

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Illinois Innocence Project at UIS awarded $249,999 federal grant to help wrongfully convicted

The Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been awarded a $249,999 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate credible claims of innocence and remedy wrongful convictions.

The grant will allow legal and student staff to continue working on potential cases where individuals are innocent and have been convicted of serious crimes.

"We would like to thank the Department of Justice for their continued support of the Illinois Innocence Project," said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch.  "The Project not only benefits the wrongfully convicted, but also UIS students who gain valuable experience by working on real life cases."

Since it's founding in 2001, the Illinois Innocence Project has assisted in the release of six people who were wrongfully convicted.  They provide their services at no cost, in conjunction with the inmate's private attorney.

"Cases where DNA is not available to exonerate an individual make up for 90% of those wrongfully convicted," said Larry Golden, founding director of the Illinois Innocence Project.  "This grant will help us bring closure to existing cases and to expand our efforts and look at other cases."

Wrongful Conviction Grant funding has allowed the Illinois Innocence Project to evaluate and investigate a broad range of non-DNA cases from arson and shaken baby syndrome to murder, where there is a credible claim of actual innocence.

"Today's funding is an important investment in the Illinois justice system," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in announcing the grant.  "These initiatives will help promote the fair and cost-effective administration of justice, help justice agencies quickly analyze evidence and solve crimes, and will help provide vital assistance and legal representation to those who have been the victims of crimes."

This is the second Wrongful Conviction Grant awarded to the Illinois Innocence Project by the Department of Justice.  The Project previously received a grant for $249,000 in 2011.

For more information, contact Larry Golden, founding director of the Illinois Innocence Project, at

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

UIS reports highest enrollment in history

Tops 5,000 students for the 5th year 

Fall 2014 enrollment at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois is up by nearly 300 students compared to the previous fall semester. According to the official fall census, the total number of students enrolled at UIS after the first 10 days of classes is 5,431.

That makes it the largest student body in UIS history and the fifth year enrollment has topped 5,000 students. Last fall’s enrollment was 5,137. The previous highest enrollment record was 5,174 students set in fall 2010.

“One of our highest priorities has been growing our enrollment, and we are pleased with this fall’s census. When students and families make the decision to pursue their educational goals at UIS, they know they will receive a high quality educational experience at the same time they are earning their University of Illinois diploma,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch.

There are also more students living on the UIS campus this semester. A total of 1,074 students live in campus housing, which means campus housing is 97.4% occupied.

“We continue to enhance student life on campus and our numbers obviously reflect that. It also shows the greater need for student housing on and near our campus. We continue to work with developers on plans to bring additional living space along the 11th street area,” added Koch.

Overall, the diversity of the student body is also growing. The number of international students enrolled at UIS increased by over 115% this semester. There are 827 international students enrolled at UIS this semester. Many of the students came to UIS from India and China. Computer Science and Management Information Systems are the most common majors chosen by international students.

The number of African American students enrolled grew by over 3.5%. There are a total of 634 African American students this semester compared to 612 in fall 2013. Students who self-identify as Hispanic comprise 4.8% (262) of this year’s student body.

Growth in online learning also continues, with a total of 1,689 students enrolled in online degree or certificate programs, a 4.9% increase over fall 2013. This semester, UIS online students reside in 48 of the 50 states, 70 counties in Illinois, and 9 foreign countries.

UIS is one of three campuses of the University of Illinois and provides students with a high-quality liberal arts education, exceptional public affairs opportunities, and outstanding professional preparation programs.

UIS has four core strengths: (1) a teaching-focused academic experience; (2) an abundance of opportunities to collaborate; (3) a right-sized supportive community; and (4) a tradition of educating public servants and leaders.

For more information, contact Derek Schnapp, director of public relations at 217/206-6716 or