Wednesday, March 16, 2016

U of I Board of Trustees awards construction contract for UIS student union

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved a contract Wednesday that will kick off construction of the first-ever student union at the University of Illinois Springfield, a $21.7 million facility scheduled for completion in January 2018.

Trustees awarded a $12.7 million contract to William Brothers Construction Inc. of Peoria, which will be the general contractor for the project. Four other contracts totaling nearly $6.1 million for plumbing, electrical and ventilation work also have been awarded, but did not require board approval.

The planned two-story, 50,000-square-foot facility has long been a top priority for UIS, providing a hub for student life and fostering a greater sense of community on the growing, 5.400-student campus in the state capital.

Trustees gave project and design approval for the new student union in January 2014, a move that allowed Chancellor Susan Koch and UIS officials to ramp up efforts to raise $8 million in private donations to build the new facility.

More than $5.3 million in gifts have been raised and officials say they will meet their fundraising goal before the facility opens. The remaining $13.7 million will be paid through campus funds and a construction fee that students approved overwhelmingly in a 2012 referendum.

President Tim Killeen praised Koch and her team for forging a public-private partnership that cleared the way for construction despite budget challenges in state government that have shut off a traditional pipeline for funding.

“This project required a lot of creativity and good, old-fashioned hard work,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to Chancellor Koch, our students and our donors for coming together to give UIS a new centerpiece that will serve students and the community for generations to come.”

The new facility will fill a void that officials say has grown since UIS became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. The campus was originally founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University, catering to upperclassmen and graduate-level students, but is now a traditional four-year school that lacks the central gathering place that student unions provide at most colleges across the nation.

Construction is scheduled to begin in May on the new facility that will anchor the campus’s south quad, providing campus dining services, a coffee shop, a ballroom with seating for up to 450 people and a Student Leadership Center that will house student government, volunteer offices and workspaces for student organizations.

Dewberry Architects of Peoria developed design plans for the new facility, which will be constructed to achieve U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification.

UIS students spending Alternative Spring Break volunteering in New York City

A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield is spending their spring break helping to fight hunger and homelessness in New York City as part of Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

A total of 26 students and 2 staff members left Springfield on Saturday, March 12 and will return to campus on Saturday, March 19. The group is partnering with the Youth Services Opportunities Project and is volunteering at soup kitchens and related service agencies.

“ASB decided to go to New York City because we thought the opportunity to work in an urban population would offer a different experience for students,” said Brittani Provost, student president of UIS Alternative Spring Break. “I think working with the homeless populations will be very eye opening and help us learn how we can make a difference in the U.S. and in our own community.”

While in New York City, students are sleeping on cots in a gym at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church near Central Park.

“When a student travels on an Alternative Spring Break trip, they often learn more about where they came from than where they visited,” said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center. “The next time they visit downtown Springfield and run across a person that is struggling, I can almost guarantee that student will have different feelings, reactions, and actions to that situation than they would have just a week before the trip.”

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. In following years, students have helped clean up damage from Hurricane Ike in Texas, cleaned up portions of the Mississippi river in Tennessee, helped rebuild homes damaged by hurricanes in New Orleans, helped with revitalization efforts in the Florida Everglades and worked with the homeless at soup kitchens in Washington, D.C. Last year, students helped with early childhood education and ecological sustainability projects in Biloxi, Mississippi.

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

Monday, March 07, 2016

UIS honored for strategic innovation in online education by national association

The University of Illinois Springfield is being honored as a national leader in online education. The University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) will present UIS with its award for Strategic Innovation in Online Education during its annual conference on April 8, 2016 in San Diego, CA.

The award recognizes an institution of higher education that has set and met innovative goals focused on online education and been strategic in the planning, development, implementation and sustainability in the line with the institutional mission.

“We are deeply honored by this prestigious national award that recognizes the vision and leadership of the university in applying technologies to enhance teaching and learning at UIS,” said Ray Schroeder, UIS associate vice chancellor for online learning.

In applying for the award, UIS submitted information about recent achievements in online learning showing how overall objectives were met.

“Being recognized for the online learning leadership and strategic planning that UIS is known for nationally is an exciting testament to the faculty who teach, the administrators who strategically plan for success, and for the students who have chosen UIS to achieve their educational goals,” said Vickie Cook, director of the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service.

UIS offers twelve undergraduate degree programs and eleven graduate degree programs online. Over 300 UIS faculty provide high quality online education experiences for students across the nation and around the world each semester.

U.S. News & World Report recently ranked all UIS undergraduate degree programs among the top 30 best in the nation. The Management Information Systems graduate business program was ranked 18th best nationally.

UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves more than 400 institutions, including most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America.

For more information, contact Ray Schroeder at 217/206-7531 or

Thursday, March 03, 2016

UIS receives $1.5 million gift for student union

Richard and Charlene Osborne, of Chicago, Illinois, and Scottsdale, Arizona, have made a $1.5 million commitment to the University of Illinois Springfield in support of the student union building.

Richard Osborne earned his MBA from UIS in 1973. He is Senior Managing Director of Madison Industries, a private equity firm in Chicago. Prior to joining Madison, Osborne served as CEO, Chairman and President of Scotsman Industries, Inc. Under his leadership, Scotsman sales grew from $150 million to $750 million. In 2013, Osborne received the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award—the University's highest honor bestowed upon graduates.

"The Osbornes' extraordinary gift for the student union demonstrates their generous spirit and strong confidence in UIS," said Chancellor Susan J. Koch. "Dick attended UIS in the early days of the university, and since his graduation, he has seen the university grow and flourish. With their gift, Dick and Charlene can know they will have a personal and lasting impact on the future of our campus. Their gift is that important."

The new student union at UIS, with its many spaces for people to gather, will provide a focal point for campus life. The largest lounge, a prominent feature of the first floor, will be known as the "Osborne Lounge." The union will also include campus dining services, a coffee shop, a ballroom with seating for up to 450 people, and a Student Leadership Center that will house student government, volunteer offices and workspaces for student organizations.

"When I received my master’s degree from UIS," said Osborne, "the school had just started its migration to the current campus. Since then the school has grown dramatically and is developing into a full scope university. Building a first-class student union is an important and needed step, allowing students to connect and create lifelong relationships. We are very pleased to support the student union project."

UIS students led the drive to bring the student union to campus. In 2012, they overwhelmingly passed a referendum approving a student fee that will help cover almost half the cost of the building.

"The student union will foster a greater sense of community and provide students a place to socialize—a feature the university is currently lacking. This centralized location will, essentially, increase retention among students," said Josh Lawson, president of the UIS Student Government Association.

The student union building has been designed by Dewberry Architects of Peoria working with Workshop Architects from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Other professional services consultants that were heavily involved in the design of the building were Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., TRC Worldwide Engineering, Inc., Massie Massie & Associates, and Ricca Design Studios. In November 2015, School Designs, an online resource for school architecture and construction, presented Dewberry with an Outstanding Design award for the UIS Student Union. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2016 for the $21.75 million, 50,000-square-foot building.

Philanthropic contributions to the University of Illinois Springfield are coordinated by the UIS Office of Advancement, in conjunction with the University of Illinois Foundation. For more information on contributions to the student union, contact Jeff Lorber, UIS vice chancellor for advancement, at 217/206-6058 or

Learn more about the UIS Student Union project by visiting