Thursday, August 16, 2018

UIS to offer a new dual credit course in an effort to encourage high school students to become teachers

UIS Teacher Education major Gabby Zeigler student teaches a class in 2015.
The University of Illinois Springfield’s Teacher Education Department will offer a new dual credit course for high school seniors in Menard and Sangamon Counties in an effort to encourage them to become teachers.

This is only the second year that UIS has offered dual credit courses, taught by University faculty members, to local high school students. The seniors will earn both college and high school credit for completing the course.

The dual credit course being offered is titled “Foundations of American Education.” The series of classes will provide students with an introduction to U.S. public and private K-12 schools through an exploration of the history and philosophy of education. The course counts toward general education credits for those students who attend UIS to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The students get a head start on their college credits and a chance to see what teaching is about from the other side of the desk,” said Cindy Wilson, chair of the UIS Teacher Education Department. “Given the current teacher shortage, any efforts toward encouraging future teachers to enter the profession, to see the joy that is possible when someone they are teaching experiences a light bulb moment, well, that’s a good thing.”

The course will be offered on the UIS campus on Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. starting on August 29, 2018. The course will be taught by Scott Doerr, a UIS adjunct teacher education instructor and superintendent of the Nokomis School District. The course is open to any senior who attends a high school in Menard or Sangamon Counties.

The dual credit Teacher Education course will cost high school students $50, plus the cost of a textbook (rental, used and online options are available). Students can sign up for the course by talking to their high school guidance counselor before August 22.

“The cost is almost negligible, so this course will give parents a bit of a tuition break,” said Wilson. “The course also gives UIS an opportunity to recruit students and let them experience a college course before they graduate.”

While the course fulfills the introductory requirement for the UIS Teacher Education Program, the credits could also transfer to other institutions in the state if a student should choose to complete his or her education degree elsewhere.

“This is the latest dual credit program where high school students can earn college credit at UIS,” said Fernando Planas, UIS director of admissions. “We believe that many of the high school students participating in the dual credit programs will find UIS to be an outstanding academic institution with exceptional opportunities and a great place to pursue their college degrees.”

In August 2017, UIS Associate Professor of Biochemistry Stephen R. Johnson offered the first dual credit course for high school students at UIS. A group of 18 students from Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (SHG) took part in the pilot program. The dual credit chemistry course will again be offered to SHG students during the 2018-2019 academic year.

For more information on the course, contact Cindy Wilson, chair of the UIS Teacher Education Department, at 217/206-6386 or

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"Hired!" social media campaign highlights 2018 graduates with jobs

A University of Illinois Springfield social media campaign is highlighting students who graduated with a job. The "Hired!" campaign was featured on the UIS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages in the summer of 2018.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

UIS to host a 4K for Cancer team running to raise funds and awareness

The University of Illinois Springfield will host a 4K for Cancer team during their more than 4,000 mile, 49 day cross-country run from San Francisco to Baltimore to raise funds and awareness for young adults with cancer.

The team of 19 runners, made up of college-aged students, will spend two nights on the UIS campus.

The runners are expected to arrive in Springfield on July 19 between 2-4 p.m. and depart Springfield on July 21 around 6 a.m.

The team traveling through Springfield left San Francisco on June 17 and is expected to finish in Baltimore on August 4.

4K for Cancer is a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a non-profit organization dedicated to supplying support, awareness and education for young adults with cancer.

The non-profit's program focuses on uniting communities and people across the country who have been affected by cancer.

This is the 17th year 4K for Cancer has sent young adults on a journey across the country in an effort to inspire hope and unite communities in the fight against cancer.

According to 4K for Cancer, more than 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year. Young adults (ages 15-39) face a variety of unique challenges with a cancer diagnosis including fertility preservation, social isolation, lack of insurance, delayed diagnosis and more.

Monday, July 02, 2018

UIS announces Spring Semester 2018 Dean’s List

The University of Illinois Springfield has released the Dean’s List for Spring Semester 2018.

A total of 519 students were selected; 77 are students in the College of Business and Management, 39 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 323 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 66 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, and 14 are non-degree seeking or undecided.

In order to qualify for the Dean’s List, 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.

Below you'll find a printable list of student's names listed by the city of residence on file with UIS Records and Registration.

Spring 18 Dean's List PDF | Spring 18 Dean's List Excel

Monday, June 18, 2018

UIS students and faculty conduct research in Ghana, West Africa as part of a study abroad trip

A group of seven University of Illinois Springfield students and three faculty members are spending their summer conducting research in Ghana, West Africa as part of an international study abroad trip.

The UIS students and faculty are investigating the prevalence and risk factors for diabetes, hypertension and hepatitis C co-infection with HIV among the Ghanaian population. They are also assessing water quality by collecting samples from local sources and testing for coliform, E. coli and other harmful properties.

The UIS delegation arrived in Ghana on June 5 and will finish their research on July 24 when they return to the United States. They are partnering with the University of Health and Allied Sciences School of Public Health in Hohoe, Ghana.

“Ghana offers opportunities for exceptional educational experiences within a diverse multi-cultural environment,” said Josiah Alamu, UIS associate professor and chair of public health. “UIS students are gaining clinical, laboratory, and fieldwork experience on this trip. They are also learning about a new culture, which will help make them better global citizens.”

In addition to Alamu, UIS faculty members Dennis Ruez, associate professor of environmental studies, and Kamau Kemayo, associate professor of African-American studies, are also part of the trip.

UIS students and faculty have previously traveled to West Africa in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016 to conduct water quality and other public health assessments in The Gambia.

This is the first time that UIS has sent students to Ghana for a summer study abroad program.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

UIS welcomes the Class of 2022 during KickStart Orientation

The University of Illinois Springfield is welcoming hundreds of new students and their parents to campus during summer KickStart Orientation events in June, July and August. A total of six different orientation sessions are planned.

The two-day overnight events helps students understand UIS requirements, meet their fellow classmates and learn their way around campus.

“We’re doing an overview of information for parents and students,” said Lisa McGuire, UIS director of new student orientation and parent relations. “They’ll meet with an advisor, they’ll register for classes and they’ll get their UIS ID card.”

Incoming freshman Kloee Schmulbach of Spaulding says she chose the University of Illinois Springfield because it is close to home. She’s planning to live on campus, but is comforted by the fact she’s only 15 minutes away from home.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It doesn’t feel right to be out of high school, so I’m excited to take the next step towards my education.”

Trenton Newberry, an incoming freshman from Anna, Illinois, is a little further from home. He decided to come to UIS because of its location in the state capital. He plans to major in political science.

“I think it will be a lot easier than a bigger campus to make meaningful relationships and being in the state capital for political science it will be really nice to find internships and other opportunities,” said Newberry.

Student Orientation Leader Autumn Harris says she looks forward to welcoming new students to UIS each summer. She says the orientation leaders at her freshman orientation impacted her decision to attend UIS, now she’s excited to welcome the next generation of students.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with them,” she said. “I want to get to know the incoming freshman, so that way when they come for school I want them to be able to come talk to me.”

Incoming student Natalie Kirkbride of Pana feels she made the right decision in attending UIS.

“You get the University of Illinois degree, but you don’t have to go to Champaign or Chicago to get it. You’re kind of close to home and a smaller campus and it’s really nice to be here,” she said.

McGuire hopes that students leave KickStart Orientation with the information they need to succeed at UIS.

“I hope they feel more comfortable, that parents have an understanding, as well as students, about the resources here on campus and they meet the people that are here to help them.”

For more information on orientation, visit

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

UIS Society for Human Resource Management student chapter wins national Superior Merit Award

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has awarded a 2017-2018 Superior Merit Award designation to the University of Illinois Springfield SHRM student chapter for providing superior growth and development opportunities to its student chapter members.

This is the second year in a row that UIS has earned the distinction.

Over the past year, the UIS SHRM chapter has held educational events for students, attended a diversity workshop, participated in th
e state conference and competition, published an article, hosted a fundraiser and volunteered.

Sonia Vo, former UIS SHRM president said, “The organization functions as an important vehicle for promoting the field of human resource management to UIS students. It was created to encourage and support student, especially those in a management major, in creating, building, and continuing their career preparation.”

The SHRM student chapter merit award program, which began in 1972, was created to encourage student chapters to require ongoing excellence in the following areas: student chapter requirements, chapter operations, chapter programming and professional development of members, support of the human resource profession, and SHRM engagement.

For more information on the UIS SHRM chapter, visit their website, UIS Connection or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Questions may be directed to advisers Donna Rogers at or Ashley Miller at

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

UIS releases complete list of 2018 graduates

A total of 1,520 students earned degrees from the University of Illinois Springfield at the conclusion of the spring semester on May 12, 2018, pending completion of university requirements.

Below you'll find a printable list of graduates' names and degrees listed by the city of residence on file with UIS Records and Registration at the time of graduation.

May 2018 Graduates in Excel | May 2018 Graduates PDF

For photos, video and more from the 47th UIS Commencement Ceremony, visit

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hundreds of students graduate during the 47th annual UIS commencement ceremonies in downtown Springfield

The University of Illinois Springfield held two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at the Bank of Springfield Center in downtown Springfield. Out of the 1,520 UIS students who were eligible to graduate, 978 participated in the ceremonies.

UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch presided over the ceremonies, welcoming thousands of guests. She offered the graduates some advice and reflected on the importance of earning a college degree from a University of Illinois campus.

“The promise that we make to our students can be summed up in two words: Leadership lived. Leadership is lived on the UIS campus every day and I trust that each of you has your own Leadership lived story as a result of your UIS experience,” said Koch. “I am supremely confident that you will indeed make a difference in the world with your leadership.”

Koch also congratulated first generation college graduates and thanked family and friends for supporting their students and encouraging them to succeed.

During the second ceremony, Koch was joined on stage by University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen who reflected on the important lessons students have learned from faculty and the future achievements that await them following graduation.

Killeen said he hopes graduates leave UIS with the principles that define the University of Illinois System in mind.

“Lead with the integrity that your time here has instilled,” said Killeen. “Speak up and speak out for fairness, for equality and for open, respectful and productive debate of divergent ideas. Go with pride and with confidence.”

The student commencement address was delivered by Christopher Vemagiri Marbaniang, who graduated with a master’s degree in public health. He has been an activate student on campus, involving himself in a number of clubs and organizations including the Student Government, the Student Organization Funding Association and Public Health Club just to name a few.

Vemagiri Marbaniang told the audience how his UIS experience changed his life and the lives of his friends for the better. As a person who is a “hybrid of different ethnicities”, he said he felt welcomed on the UIS campus.

“At UIS, one thing I loved was that I belonged here as I got a chance to embrace who I am,” he said. “We come from different cultures, backgrounds, religions, beliefs, races, ethnicities and nations. Yet, there is one common link, the passion to learn and become leaders in our communities.”

Vemagiri Marbaniang reflected on all of the fun times he’s had a UIS – late-night study tables at the library, Springfest, the friends he’s made through the University Bible Fellowship and the moments he’ll cherish from his involvement in UIS Theatre productions.

However, he also addressed the “adversity, pain, confusion, uphill climbs, and battles” that some students faced in order to earn their college degree.

“I think today we have all become leaders in our own right and are ready to face obstacles,” he said. “The thing about leaders that lead by example is that they do not lead from the front, dominating and forcing their way, but lead from behind and watch the next leaders rise. That is the essence of true leadership.”

He ended his speech with some words of advice for the graduating class “be bold, be kind, and be respectful. Congratulations and welcome to the professional world!”

University of Illinois Board of Trustee member Edward McMillian, UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Dennis Papini and UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford also spoke at the ceremony.

Photos and more video are available at the commencement website:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

UIS to hold two commencement ceremonies in downtown Springfield on May 12

The University of Illinois Springfield will hold two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at the Bank of Springfield (BOS) Center, Ninth and Adams Streets in downtown Springfield. Of the 1,520 UIS students eligible to graduate, 978 will participate in the ceremonies.

The first ceremony for students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will begin at 12:30 p.m. The second ceremony for students in the College of Business and Management, College of Education and Human Services and College of Public Affairs and Administration will start at 5:30 p.m.

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 will open an hour before each ceremony. Overflow seating will be provided in the lower level of BOS Center.

Student speaker announced

Christopher Vemagiri Marbaniang, who will be graduating with a master’s degree in public health, has been chosen as the student commencement speaker. He was born in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, but calls Tuscaloosa, Alabama home.

At UIS, Vemagiri Marbaniang has been a cast member for several UIS Theatre productions since 2015, is treasurer of the Student Government Association, chair of the Student Organization Funding Association, a senator on the UIS Campus Senate, vice president of the UIS Public Health Club, treasurer of the Kappa Beta Colony of Delta Kappa Epsilon at UIS and a worship leader for the University Bible Fellowship. He is also a member of the UIS Mock Trial team.

Since Fall Semester 2017, he has interned at the Illinois Department of Public Health as part of the Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI).

Following graduation, he hopes to combine his two passions, public health and theatre, by becoming a public health educator. He has currently been accepted into several public health Ph.D. programs across the country.

Faculty grand marshal announced 

Charles Wheeler III, long-time director of the UIS Public Affairs Reporting program, will serve as faculty grand marshal. A veteran newsman, Wheeler came to UIS following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.

For the last 19 years of his Sun-Times tenure, Wheeler was assigned to the newspaper’s Statehouse bureau. During that time, he was elected to 16 consecutive one-year terms as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and served for many years on the PAR program and admissions committees.

He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University, Winona, Minnesota, majoring in English, and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Student marshals announced

Faculty 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: Stacey Denise Hall – B.A. (Peoria), Elani Lynn Godar – B.A., Quentin Kuntzman – M.A.

Biology: Veronica Onjel Tellez – B.S.

Biochemistry: Jacob Thor Hughes – B.S.

Business Administration: Patrick Michael McMeen – B.B.A. (Peoria), Mary Elizabeth Hazard – B.B.A., William Franklin Blue – M.B.A., Keith Andrew Tanner – M.B.A. (Peoria)

Chemistry: Nathan D. Maulding – B.S.

Clinical Laboratory Science: Taylor R. Cooperider – B.S.

Communication: Kayla Renee Nevill – B.A., Mary Beth Williams – M.A.

Computer Science: Bradley Michael Neale – B.S., Bhavyanshu Parasher – M.S.

Criminology and Criminal Justice: Amanda Marie Mullin – B.A.

Economics: Erik M. Thulien – B.A.

Education/Teacher Leadership: Amber Renee Brown – M.A.

Educational Leadership: Kylee Marie Orr – M.A.

Elementary Education: Connor C. Brillhart – B.A.

English: Raven Wilson – B.A., Lauren Elizabeth McPherson – M.A.

Environmental Studies: Levi William Reed – B.A., Rebecca A. Fiedler – M.A.

Global Studies: Luke Raymond D'Elia – B.A.

History: Andrew J. Duggins – B.A., Corinne Elizabeth Mayfield – M.A.

Human Development Counseling: Jacob Louis Hopkins – M.A.

Human Services: Jessica Ellen Carmany – M.A.

Information Systems Security: Bryce Combs – B.S.

Legal Studies: Mathew Musipa – B.A., Nicole Meyer – M.A.

Liberal and Integrative Studies: Crystal Ann Aymer – M.A.

Liberal Studies: Toni Beth Johnson – B.A.

Management: Melissa Jean Lyons – B.A.

Management Information Systems: Nathan R. Cass – B.S., Christopher Barton – M.S.

Mathematical Sciences: Joseph A. Bacidore – B.A.

Philosophy: David John Millar – B.A.

Political Science: Brock Matthew Titlow – B.A., Joseph M. Astrouski – M.A.

Psychology: Samantha M. Morin – B.A.

Public Administration: Alison Marie Storm – M.P.A., Amy Marie Leman – D.P.A.

Public Affairs Reporting: Michael Joseph Miletich – M.A.

Public Health: Regina Nneamaka Adigwe – M.P.H.

Social Work: Lorinda Marie Guariglia – B.S.W.

Sociology/Anthropology: Amanda Jean Buchanan – B.A.

Theatre: Colin W. Vancrey – B.A.

Visual Arts: Abigail Jean McKinnie – B.A.

A number of events are planned for graduates, their families and guests before the ceremonies at the BOS Center. The annual Online Graduates Brunch will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, in the Public Affairs Center. The Capital Scholars Honors Program will also honor its graduates that day with a 9 a.m. brunch at the Student Union.

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 ceremonies will be webcast live at DVD copies of the ceremonies can be purchased from the Office of Electronic Media for $25. Orders can be placed by phone at 217/206-6799 or at

For more information, go to the UIS Commencement website at

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Eleven inaugural “Innovator of the Year” awards handed out to central Illinois organizations

The University of Illinois Springfield, Innovate Springfield and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine handed out eleven “Innovator of the Year” awards to organizations during the inaugural Illinois Capital Innovation Competition Awards on April 6, 2018, at the UIS Student Union.

More than 100 individual applicants applied for award consideration. The goal of the awards were to identify, celebrate and engage area innovators in the Sangamon County area and bring them together to collaborate with leaders from industry, social impact organizations and government.

Megan Luckey and Khara Koffel of Jacksonville, founders of Serious Products, received the “Innovator of the Year” award in the startup category. The two are the inventors of Serious Lip Balm, a company that hand makes all-natural lip balm out of beeswax, sweet almond oil, shea butter, lanolin and scented lip balm oil.

In the business solutions category, Barnabus Helmy of Springfield, creator of The Puck at SmashToast, was honored with an “Innovator of the Year” award. The Puck is a small device which allows smartphone control of any TV, speaker or other machine which accepts an infrared signal. One Puck can control multiple devices, allowing users to “toss the remote.”

The roots category honored innovation that has been applied outside of the area by an innovator who has roots in central Illinois. Andrew Arenz, owner of Spare Accessories, who grew up in Auburn, Illinois, won the “Innovator of the Year” award in this category. Arenz invented the patent-pending Reel Rack, the only spare tire cover that holds fishing poles securely on your spare tire.

The “Innovator of the Year” award for UIS research was presented to Yanhui Guo, Ph.D., UIS assistant professor of computer science, for his work in computer-aided microcalsifications (MC) in the detection of breast cancer using DCNN classifiers.

An award was also presented to UIS student Miranda Mogle, a business administration major from Chatham, who started Good News Now. Good News Now is a news content aggregator that screens out unpleasant news stories providing consumers with only positive news, which studies show leads to overall greater emotional happiness for children and adults.

The “Innovator of the Year” honor in the government solutions category was awarded to the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology’s Blockchain Initiative, which is made up of a consortium of Illinois state and county agencies. Blockchain and distributed ledger technology has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust and make a leading contribution to the State’s digital transformation.

The award in the community solutions category was given to the Community Health and Support Team at the SIU Center for Family Medicine for the CHIS intensive care coordination outreach model. Award-winners include Tracey Smith, DNP, Dr. Nichole Mirocha and Meghan Golden with SIU Medicine and Janice Frueh, clinical associate professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. CHIS programs provide crisis intervention, brief treatment and connection to longer term community and primary health care. The CHIS multi-pronged approach is a proactive and comprehensive program currently providing immediate health care linkage to stabilize participants through a variety of evidence-based programs.

In the health care application category, the “Innovator of the Year” honor went to Dr. Gregory Mishkel and Amy Durako with the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Program (ERAS) at Prairie Cardiovascular. As part of the ERAS program, patients can connect with their doctors through the Seamless MD app. The app is provided at no cost to patients and has resulted in a decrease length of stay for open heart surgery patients, has increased compliance with cardiac rehab and decreased use of opioids for pain management in patients utilizing the app.

Ashim Gupta, Ph.D. and Dr. Michael Neumeister with the SIU School of Medicine and Sohyung Cho, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, were honored with the “Innovator of the Year” award for medical device. They invented a syringe system for fluid separation during surgery that helps reduce the time a patient is under anesthesia, as well as the time the surgeons and anesthesiologist are in the operating room.

SIU School of Medicine physicians were also honored with the “Innovator of the Year” award in the medical research category. Andrew Wilber, Ph.D. and Christopher Chambers, Ph.D. along with Jeffrey Miller developed a hemoglobin gene therapy to treat Sickle Cell Anemia and Beta-thalassemia. Each year, 300,000 – 500,000 babies are born with one of these disorders.

An honorary “Innovator of the Year” award was presented to Zack Kerker, Derek Parris, Jared Phillips, Kevin O'Dea, Andrew Harby, Beth Neuhoff, Michael Hulvey and Danielle Outlaw with Neuhoff Media in Springfield for their digital, on-demand, personalized delivery of sports information in Sangamon County.

The awards competition was open to researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, startups, existing businesses, institutions, social entrepreneurs, non-profits and other individuals who currently live in and around Sangamon County, who have lived here at some point in their lives, or are willing to relocate here.

For more information, contact Bruce Sommer with the UIS Center for Entrepreneurship at 217/899-3186 or

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

UIS students spend Alternative Spring Break helping with Hurricane Harvey relief in Texas

A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield are spending their spring break helping to rebuild Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

A total of 21 students left Springfield on Sunday, March 11, at 3 a.m. and will return to campus on Saturday, March 17, at approximately 11 p.m. as part of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip.

The group is in Beaumont, Texas where they are partnering with Community Collaborations International (CCI). The students are gutting/mucking homes, clearing debris and helping with reconstruction projects. The students are staying at a church in Beaumont while they volunteer.

“ASB decided to go to Texas because at the time we started planning this year’s trip Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters were happening in the United States,” said Hailey Hawkins, a UIS senior and president of Alternative Spring Break. “We knew ASB would be a great opportunity for students at UIS to help with the emergency relief projects and serve those affected by the natural disaster."

This trip marks the 10th anniversary of Alternative Spring Break at UIS. Students first traveled to South Dakota in 2008 to help Habitat for Humanity with a building project. Since then, they’ve traveled to the Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas helping with disaster relief, eco-restoration efforts and early childhood education programs. Students have also helped to feed the homeless at soup kitchens in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

"I love to spend my spring break with ASB not only because it is a great chance to travel to new places and connect with other students, but also because you get a different sense of purpose and meaning when you give your spring break to help those in need in a place you have never been before,” said Hawkins, who has been on four ASB trips. “I love helping other students have that experience as well.”

For more information on Alternative Spring Break, contact RJ Swartz, AmeriCorps VISTA for the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, at 217/206-6586 or

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

UIS Illinois Innocence Project client who spent 22 years in prison acquitted after new trial in DuPage Co. arson murder case

A DuPage County judge found William (Bill) Amor not guilty of arson murder today. Amor, a client of the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield, served 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

The victory comes after two weeks of testimony between January 24 and February 2, 2018, at which attorneys presented new arson-related scientific evidence in the 1995 Naperville arson case. Similar testimony resulted in Judge Liam Brennan vacating the initial conviction in April 2017. Amor was released from custody in May of 2017 and has been free on bond.

The Amor case is believed to be the first of its kind in the state of Illinois, where a court issued an official finding that modern fire science is “new science” under the legal definition of “newly-discovered evidence” entitling an innocent person to a new trial.

Upon his acquittal, Amor said, "This is the end of a nightmare for me. I have fought to clear my name for the last 22 years and I am so grateful that I was able to have my day in court for the truth to be heard. I am looking forward to starting the next phase of my life as a free man, no longer labeled as a murderer, for the first time in a long time."

Bill Amor was represented by a team of attorneys, including lawyers from the Illinois Innocence Project, the Exoneration Project and Cozen O’Connor. Amor’s trial team was Lauren Kaeseberg, Illinois Innocence Project Chicago legal director; Tara Thompson, staff attorney for the Exoneration Project; Erica Nichols Cook, formerly of the Illinois Innocence Project, now pro bono counsel for Amor and currently director of the Wrongful Conviction Division for the Iowa State Public Defender; Lauren Myerscough-Mueller, staff attorney for the Illinois Innocence Project; and Kevin Caraher, of the law firm Cozen O’Connor.

On the evening of September 10, 1995, Amor and his wife left their Naperville apartment (which they shared with Bill’s mother-in-law, Marianne Miceli) to go to a drive-in movie. They were gone for several hours and when they returned, they found that a fire had broken out at the apartment and Miceli had died from smoke inhalation.

Amor would be convicted two years later, on September 17, 1997, of murder and aggravated arson for setting the fire that caused Miceli’s death. Amor was convicted based upon faulty fire investigation and a purported confession to starting the fire in a way that experts recently testified is scientifically impossible. With the exception of the false confession, Amor has maintained his innocence from day one. He was ultimately sentenced to 45 years in prison.

The alleged false confession was given to police after two weeks in jail, following 15 hours of questioning and immediately after Amor had been served divorce papers in the interrogation room at the police station. The confession included details as to how Amor purportedly started the fire with vodka and a lit cigarette – which all experts, including the State’s own witness, testified is not possible.

“Justice has finally come for Mr. Amor in DuPage County. This took an army and we formed quite a team with the Exoneration Project and Cozen O’Connor, coming together to exonerate Bill,” said attorney Lauren Kaeseberg, who represents Bill Amor. “We have known for a long time that Bill is innocent and a terrible injustice occurred. While it took far too long, we are thrilled by today’s verdict finally exonerating Bill. We look forward to seeing Bill live his life, finally truly free, after so long.”

At the trial, nationally recognized arson experts testified about advances in fire science that discredit the original conviction in this case. The new evidence includes scientific proof that the way Amor claimed the fire started in the confession is impossible, and modern fire science actually shows that Amor was not even in the apartment when this fire started.

“Science matters. The truth matters. We are elated to have corrected this injustice and to be able to bring Bill justice after two long decades,” said Tara Thompson, staff attorney at the Exoneration Project. “This case presented a unique chance to objectively prove that the confession in this case is false – science proves that this so-called confession was fundamentally untrue and coerced.”

“I am happy and relieved for Bill- this has been a long journey over many years," said attorney Erica Nichols Cook. “Bill and his family have suffered due to his wrongful conviction and retrial. He is looking forward to the future.”

The Illinois Innocence Project looks forward to celebrating Amor’s exoneration at the Project’s annual Defenders of the Innocent award dinner in Springfield on April 28, 2018, at the Crowne Plaza Springfield.

Monday, February 05, 2018

UIS announces Fall Semester 2017 Dean’s List

The University of Illinois Springfield has released the Dean’s List for Fall Semester 2017.

A total of 570 students were selected; 88 are students in the College of Business and Management, 50 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 349 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 65 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, and 18 are non-degree seeking or undecided.

In order to qualify for the Dean’s List, 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.

Below you'll find a printable list of student's names listed by the city of residence on file with UIS Records and Registration.

Fall 2017 Dean's List PDF | Fall 2017 Dean's List Excel

Monday, January 15, 2018

UIS students volunteer at nine locations as part of the national MLK Jr. Day of Service

More than 100 students from the University of Illinois Springfield spent their day learning and volunteering in the community as part of the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 15, 2018.

Students started their day on campus with breakfast and a simulation experience, and then participated in the Springfield NAACP Unity March and a community town hall at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.

Following the town hall, students spent their afternoon volunteering at nine locations in Springfield. Students sorted donated computers at Computer Banc, prepared items for sale at the Habitat ReStore, sorted medical supplies at Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, painted at Inner City Mission, sorted and organized books at the Northside Children’s Community Library (located in the basement of Third Presbyterian Church), helped around the house and sorted donated items at the Ronald McDonald House, cleaned up and repaired classrooms at the Springfield Urban League and sorted and preparing art kits for patients at HSHS St. John’s Hospital Women and Children’s Center.

On campus, students made 15,000 bookmarks to be distributed to Springfield District #186 elementary students, in partnership with the United Way, during an event in the UIS Student Union Ballroom.

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off."

Sunday, January 14, 2018

University of Illinois Springfield cuts ribbon on new $21.75 million Student Union Building

The University of Illinois Springfield officially opened the new $21.75 million Student Union Building during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, January 14, 2018. The first-ever student union will serve as a social hub for student life and foster a greater sense of community on the growing campus.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch was joined by U of I President Timothy Killeen, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder and student leaders in cutting the ribbon.

“This building, the next step in the growth and success of this young university, is important for many reasons,” said Koch. “Most of all, it is important to our students and our future students and I have no doubt it will enrich the entire academic community here on campus and the larger Springfield community in ways we haven’t even yet imagined.”

The two-story, 50,000-square-foot student union anchors the campus’s south quad, providing campus dining services, a Starbucks coffee shop, a ballroom with seating for up to 450 people and a Student Leadership Center that houses student government, volunteer offices and workspaces for student organizations.

In her opening remarks, Koch thanked the UIS student leaders who saw a compelling need to build the facility; U of I System leadership; faculty, staff and students who served on the planning committee, architectural partners, UIS staff who made the building possible and donors for their generous support.

“As these visionary people know well, a project like the UIS Student Union is a big aspiration,” said Koch. “It’s a game-changer and without the generosity of our donors it would still be only an aspiration and not the beautiful reality you see around us today.”

Approximately $6.25 million in private funds has been raised towards the $8 million goal to fund the construction of the $21.75 million facility. The private fundraising effort continues. The remaining cost will be paid through campus funds and a construction fee that students approved in 2012.

“For a long time, here in Springfield, we have wanted a versatile, central location that’s sole purpose is to tend to the needs of the students and surrounding community,” said Garrett Nimmo, a sophomore economics major and president of the UIS Student Government Association. “Our students, as well as myself, are very excited to have this new facility to call our own.”

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 lacked the central gathering place that student unions provide at most colleges across the nation.

“It reflects a commitment to the student experience here at UIS that is so deep and unwavering that this state-of-the-art building rose amid an historic state budget impasse and without a dime of taxpayer support,” said U of I President Timothy Killeen. “The credit goes to you – our students, alumni and supporters – for your support and generosity and to Susan and her team for their hard work and persistence to make this long-held dream a reality.”

An open house immediately followed the ribbon cutting. Food Service and Starbucks will begin regular operations in the building when students return to campus for the beginning of Spring Semester 2018 classes on Tuesday, January 16.