Friday, September 20, 2019

UIS rebrands LGBTQIA+ training program to encourage and expand inclusion

The University of Illinois Springfield Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services has rebranded its LGBTQIA+ training program for supportive students, faculty and staff allies on campus in an effort to encourage them to take even more actionable steps towards inclusion.

Since 2001, UIS has offered Safe Zone training in several formats. However, this semester the training has been rebranded as Brave Space training in an effort to encourage difficult conversations that affirm LGBTQIA+ people with the additional expectation that participants will assess themselves, their departments and student groups for inclusive practices and policies.

“For the past 25 years, Safe Zone-type programs on college campuses have always been about supportive allies hanging a sign to show they were safe to come out to as a sexual or gender minority, while encouraging conversation with others that have questions about LGBTQIA+ people,” said Kerry Poynter, director of the UIS Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services. “The name change reflects the UIS Safe Zone Committee’s desire for members to take brave steps to engage in difficult conversations that affirm LGBTQIA+ people.”

Participants who previously completed Safe Zone training will be asked to go through a recertification process to achieve Brave Space status. Individuals who complete the training will be given a new Brave Space sign to hang in the office or campus living space letting others know they are supportive of LGBTQIA+ people and issues.

“We think the name change and our recertification process to achieve the new sign will communicate that a supportive ally does more than just a hang a sign and support students that are coming out, but will take actionable steps for inclusion as well as advocacy,” said Poynter.

During the Brave Space training process, participants sign up for sessions where they go through National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) bias and prejudice training and learn about the history of LGBTQIA+ people and issues. Participants can also take classes to learn more about safe dating, pansexuality and bisexuality, religion and transgender.

Participants will receive extensive examples of actionable items and tips on how to be more inclusive in their departments and/or student organizations and daily life. A confidential dialogue will be facilitated that allows members to share their own experiences and attempts to advocate and/or intervene as allies to gender and sexual minorities. Small group dialogues will give opportunity to create and share examples of how they intend to be inclusive. Each participant will receive and sign a pledge check list that are based on content from the advanced sessions.

The UIS Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services provides education, advocacy, support, mentoring and a safe space for sexual and gender minority students at UIS including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, genderqueer, queer, questioning, intersex and asexuals (LGBTQIA+). They also work with heterosexual and cisgender students to become more informed and supportive allies in an effort to create a more inclusive and affirming campus climate.

For more information on Brave Space training, contact Kerry Poynter at 217-206-8316 or or visit

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

UIS Public Administration Department earns public procurement accreditation from national organization

Photo Courtesy: @ArkansasNIGP
The University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Administration Department has received accreditation in public procurement from NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement. UIS is the first recipient of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing’s (NIGP) academic accreditation - earning two certificates.

UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration Dean Robert Smith and Adam Williams, Ph.D., director of the UIS Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program, were presented the certificate of accreditation at the NIGP forum held in Austin, Texas on Aug. 25.

According to NIGP, the certificate of accreditation reinforces the credibility of UIS’ Public Administration Department, an accomplishment that is highly regarded by the institution's administrators, faculty, alumni and students.

“The certificate and the achievement is a testament to the academic institution's high caliber of educational content, execution, and real-world experience,” said NIGP in a press release. “The UIS program is built on key strategic procurement competencies with demonstrated resources and effective course planning, design and instruction.”

According to Rick Grimm, NIGP CEO, "The University of Illinois Springfield's Department of Public Administration represents an elite and innovative higher education academic institution. It's an honor and privilege to have UIS earn NIGP's inaugural accreditation.”

“We look forward to the ability to work closely with the NIGP and its various chapters to provide quality educational opportunities and assist in the training of the coming generations of procurement professionals,” said Williams. “It is our hope that the membership will work closely with UIS in the continuous development of the content for these students and create a pipeline for the profession for years to come.”

NIGP's higher education accreditation distinguishes those academic institutions that offer dedicated procurement certificates or procurement concentration programs in public administration which meet or exceed rigorous standards and best of class practices.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

University of Illinois Springfield reports largest freshman class in school history

Freshman enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield grew by more than 18 percent according to Fall Semester 2019 census numbers released today. The total number of first-year students stands at 373, compared to 316 last fall semester, making it the largest incoming freshman class in school history.

“We are pleased to see the substantial increase in the size of our freshman class again this year,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “It affirms that an increasing number of prospective students and their families are choosing UIS for a student-centered undergrad experience - an experience that provides uniquely personalized educational opportunities that prepare our graduates for success in their careers and their communities.”

More than 90 percent (336) of the new freshmen are Illinois residents and 49 percent have self-reported as a minority. UIS saw an increase in the percentage of its student body (76.6 percent up from 75.5 percent last year) coming from Illinois. The university has a total of 3,276 students who are Illinois residents.

The number of students living on campus also increased by 8 percent. A total of 1,038 students are living on campus, up from 957 students in fall 2018. The campus occupancy rate is 93 percent.

After the first 10 days of classes, the total number of full-time students remains unchanged from last fall at 2,369. There were 300 fewer part-time students enrolled this semester. The total number of students enrolled in fall classes at UIS stands at 4,275 compared to 4,575 students in fall 2018. Total undergraduate enrollment stands at 2,674 students compared to 2,814 in fall 2018. The number of graduate students decreased from 1,761 in 2018 to 1,601 in 2019.

There are a total of 557 African American students enrolled this semester comprising 13 percent of the student body. International students encompass 8.7 percent (373) of students enrolled. Students who self-identify as Hispanic comprise 8.1 percent (348) of this year’s student body and Asian students comprise 4.6 percent (197).

Earlier this week, U.S. News & World Report announced UIS was ranked the fourth best public university in the Midwest Regional category and the top public regional university in Illinois in the 2020 rankings. UIS was also ranked as one of the best ethnically diverse campuses in the Midwest category.

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

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

Monday, September 09, 2019

UIS ranked the fourth best public regional university in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report

The University of Illinois Springfield has been ranked the fourth best public university in the Midwest Regional category and the top public regional university in Illinois by U.S. News & World Report in 2020 rankings released today.

Overall, UIS moved up three spots among public universities in the Best Regional Universities – Midwest category this year, having been ranked seventh in the 2019 rankings.

“UIS’ outstanding faculty and staff are committed to providing every student with a premier educational experience both in and out of the classroom,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “This prestigious ranking reflects the positive impact of our outgoing investments to enhance the academic quality and reputation of the University.”

According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the factors it looked at in determining the ranking include retention and graduation rates, faculty resources (such as class size and faculty salary), academic reputation, financial resources available to students, how well students performed academically in high school (including ACT/SAT and high school percentile rank) and alumni giving.

“Our students – a dedicated mix of first-time freshmen, returning and working adults, transfer, graduate, international, online, resident and commuter scholars – bestow this honor on us by seeking out UIS to transform themselves, each other, their families and communities,” said Natalie Herring, UIS associate provost for enrollment management.

UIS was also ranked as one of the best ethnically diverse campuses in the Midwest category with an overall Diversity Index of 0.50. According to U.S. News & World Report, the closer a school's number is to one, the more diverse the student population. The data was drawn from UIS’ fall 2018 total undergraduate student body.

Since 2006, UIS has been ranked consistently among the top 15 best public regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. The full report and additional data can be found at

For more information on the UIS rankings, contact Derek Schnapp, director of public relations, at 217-206-6716 or

Friday, August 23, 2019

UIS Survey Research Office releases results of the 2019 Sangamon County Citizen Survey

The University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office has released the results of the 2019 Sangamon County Citizen Survey. The survey is funded by the United Way of Central Illinois, the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership.

The survey aims to establish benchmarks and evaluate changes in residents’ assessments of quality of life in Sangamon County. In addition to responses to recurring questions, the survey solicits public opinion on topical issues affecting the county.

Overall, the survey found that 52 percent of respondents think Sangamon County is headed in the right direction, compared to 62 percent in 2017. A total of 63 percent of participants said the county is an excellent or good place to live, compared to 69 percent two years ago, but similar to 2013 and 2015.

“Consistent with previous years, respondents have mixed attitudes towards the area,” said A.J. Simmons, Ph.D., director of the UIS Survey Research Office. “Some things are rated positively, such as the area being welcoming, livable and a solid place to raise kids. Folks have some concerns though. They want to see more growth in the area, both in the economy and the size of the population, and they have concerns around obesity, opioids and mental health.”

“It is disappointing to see respondent’s perceptions about Sangamon County declining 10 percentage points since 2017 and interesting that those who were not born in Sangamon County have more positive perceptions on all questions asked about the County,” said John Kelker, president and chief professional officer of the United Way of Central Illinois.

When asked how likely participants would be to recommend moving to Sangamon County, residents between the ages of 18 to 34 responded higher than any other demographic at 62 percent. Fifty percent of all respondents said they were likely to recommend moving to the area and 84 percent of participants consider Sangamon County to be welcoming. However, 57 percent of participants have considered moving out of the county in the past year.

“Respondents who say they have considered moving cite lower taxes and economic development as the top two changes that could get them to stay,” said Simmons.

The survey overwhelmingly found that 89 percent of residents believe growing downtown Springfield is important to Sangamon County’s economy, while only 27 percent rate the state of Sangamon County’s economy as excellent or good. Respondents also view the region as having several challenges when it comes to retaining and attracting businesses and talented workers.

When asked about confidence in local, state and federal elected leaders Sangamon County residents report lower levels of confidence in local and federal elected leaders, but higher confidence in state elected leaders than in 2017. Forty six percent of 2019 respondents say they have confidence in local elected leaders and 24 percent are confident in state and federal leaders.

When it comes to education, 72 percent of parents surveyed think the quality of education their child receives at local schools is either excellent or good.

On the topic of race relations, 71 percent of survey participants describe race relations in the area as very or fairly good, while 29 percent describe them as very or fairly bad. When it comes to racial discrimination, 18 percent report experiencing poor treatment due to their race or ethnicity. The survey found white respondents are more likely to have a positive view on race relations in the area compared to other groups.

“The Citizens Survey is a valuable resource for ensuring that decisions we make accurately reflect local needs,” said John Stremsterfer, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln. “I’m encouraged that the majority of respondents think that our community is welcoming, but we clearly have many opportunities to do better, specifically around retaining and recruiting talent and improving race relations.”

Results of the Sangamon County Citizen Survey are based on 652 randomly selected Sangamon County residents who were surveyed by mail on more than 60 questions across nine different areas, including: culture and recreation, social well-being, health, education, economy, gambling, government and civic participation, environment, and public safety.

The full Sangamon County Citizen Survey is available on the UIS Survey Research Office website. Questions about the survey may be directed to A.J. Simmons, Ph.D., director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217/206-8109 or

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

University of Illinois Springfield announces 24 new faculty appointments for Fall Semester 2019

The University of Illinois Springfield has announced 24 new faculty appointments for Fall Semester 2019. Fourteen faculty members will teach in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, two in the College of Business and Management, two in the College of Education and Human Services, five in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and one the Capital Scholars Honors Program.

Miranda Andrews, chemistry instructor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Her research interests include chemistry education, organic and inorganic chemistry, and photochemistry. Outside of work, she enjoys video and board games, hiking and camping and trying/making new foods.

Corey Burns, chemistry instructor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, holds a doctorate in chemistry from Texas A&M University. His research interests include chemistry, inorganic chemistry, chemical education and teaching method development. His personal interests include tabletop games, baseball and bad movies.

Kerry Cox, clinical assistant professor of educational leadership in the College of Education and Human Services, holds a doctorate in education from Illinois State University. Her research interests include gifted education, school leadership and PH‐12 Educational Policy. Outside of work, she enjoys fitness and exercise, gardening and fishing.

Diana Dabek, honors instructor and coordinator of honors composition & student support for the Capital Scholars Honors Program, earned a doctorate in English from the University of Miami. Her research interests include early American literature and culture, rhetoric and composition studies and writing across the curriculum. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, running, traveling and hunting for antiques.

Ty Dooley, assistant professor of public administration in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, earned a doctorate in public policy–community development from the University of Arkansas. His research interests include social justice, human capital development, program implementation and education. His personal interests include hiking, chess, family, dining and general camaraderie.

Scott Faingold, communication instructor and director of student media in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a master’s degree in communication from the University of Illinois Springfield.

Scott Fenton, English and modern languages instructor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a master’s degree in creative writing (fiction) from Indiana University. His professional interests include contemporary short fiction, LGBTQ+ studies and first‐year writing pedagogy. His personal interests include reality TV and drag.

Roya Gholami, associate professor of management information systems in the College of Business and Management, holds a doctorate in management information systems from the National University of Singapore. Her research interests include IT value (economic, environmental, societal), IT for development and healthcare information systems. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, reading, singing Persian folk songs and international relations.

Amanda Hughett, assistant professor of legal studies in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, earned a doctorate in U.S. history from Duke University. Her research interests include law, social movements, and criminal justice policy in the United States. Outside of work, she enjoys reading and writing, cooking, travel and jogging.

Jordan Hyde, assistant professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, holds a doctorate in applied social psychology from Brigham Young University. His research interests include cultural psychology, race and cultural diversity and intergroup relations, diversity and philosophy of science. He is the husband to Victoria, daddy to Anthem and Eliza, and enjoys TV/movies, piano and singing.

Sunshin Lee, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a doctorate in computer science from Virginia Tech. His research interests include big data analytics and machine learning. Outside of work, he enjoys fishing.

Yifei Li, assistant professor of mathematical sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a doctorate in mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include mathematics, discrete mathematics, algebraic combinatorics, Poset Topology and related Representation Theory. Her personal interests include drawing, painting, reading novels and “watching my kid play.”

Joshua Lively, assistant professor of environmental studies in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, holds a master’s degree in geology from the University of Utah. His research interests include the evolutionary patterns of organisms (especially marine reptiles and freshwater turtles) during periods of globally warm climate in deep time. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, bird watching, fishing, watching college football and tennis.

Christie Magoulias, associate professor of educational leadership in the College of Education and Human Services, holds a doctorate in educational administration from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Her research interests include leader influence on school culture, trauma‐informed care, Resiliency Theory, children’s experiences represented in literature, the teacher shortage and recruitment of male teachers. Outside of work, she is the “acting director of operations” for a family of five, raising sons and animals, while traveling and exploring.

Frank Marsaglia, visiting instructor of computer science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, holds a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois Springfield. His professional interests include computer networking and security. His personal interest include golf.

Amirreza Niakanlahiji, assistant professor of computer science and information systems security in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a doctorate in software and information systems from the University of North Carolina–Charlotte. His professional interests include cybersecurity, cyber deception, cyber threat analytics and network security. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking and cooking.

Sevilay Onal, assistant professor of management information systems in the College of Business and Management, holds a doctorate in industrial engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Her research interests include operations and supply chain management. Her personal interests include fossil hunting.

Graham Peck, distinguished professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a doctorate in history from Northwestern University. His research interests include Abraham Lincoln, antebellum Illinois, antislavery politics and the origins of the Civil War. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, walking, swimming and talking with friends.

Jason Piscia, assistant professor of public affairs reporting in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, earned a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield in 1998. Piscia previously worked in The State Journal-Register newsroom for 21 years, serving most recently as digital managing editor. He has two children, ages 9 and 5, with his wife Joni and enjoys traveling and watching movies.

Roberto Rincon, political science lecturer in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, is expected to earn a doctorate in political science from the University of Illinois at Chicago this year. His research interests include issues of race and social justice with a focus on the politics of recognition as it regards Afro‐Mexican communities in Mexico and the U.S. His personal interests include travel, music, fiction – an extension of a commitment to diversity, experiential learning and thinking the common.

Livia Woods, assistant professor of English and modern languages in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a doctorate in English from the City University of New York. Her research interests include Victorian literature and culture, women’s and gender studies, pedagogy and composition. Her personal interests include yoga, running, cooking, puppies and babies.

Yingyuan Yang, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, holds doctorate in computer science from the University of Tennessee. His research interests include cyber‐security and machine learning. Outside of work, he enjoys playing the piano.

Jae Yom, assistant professor of allied health/exercise science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a doctorate in exercise science from the University of Georgia. His research interests include biomechanics, knee injury and sport medicine. His personal interests include skiing and hockey.

Diana Zaleski, psychology instructor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a doctorate in educational psychology from Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include educational psychology, educational policy, educational measurement, assessment and evaluation. Outside of work, she enjoys volunteering in the community.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

UIS welcomes more than 300 new students on Move-In Day 2019

The University of Illinois Springfield welcomed more than 300 new first-year, graduate and transfer students to campus during Move-In Day on August 20, 2019.

Heavy rain and thunder caused a brief pause in move-in activities, before more than 150 volunteers resumed helping new students carry in everything from refrigerators, to futon couches, televisions and clothes.

“It's a great day,” said Brian Kelley, UIS director of Residence Life. “It's a little weather problematic, but hopefully it will pass and we'll get everyone moved in safely.”

Incoming UIS student Skylar Hayes from Mount Pulaski, Illinois says she was lucky enough to beat the rain and got moved in before the storm hit.

“It was actually pretty smooth. Even though it was raining it was like really smooth. I think it took 20 minutes,” she said.

Parent David Ptak from Princeville, Illinois says it was a breeze moving his son Nate into Lincoln Residence Hall thanks to the campus volunteers.

“We backed up the van. It was unloaded and by the time I got back from parking the car everything was up in the room and it's been wonderful. Everyone has been a great help,” said David.

Students like Kaylee Nichols of Mendon, Illinois and Laclaudia Williams of Cicero, Illinois have both been counting down the days until Move-In Day.

“I'm ready to get away from home and start a new chapter in my life,” said Williams.

Incoming students say they chose UIS because of the small class sizes, affordable price and the supportive community.

“I’m from a smaller school and this like feels like a smaller community and I like that,” said Hayes.

Fall Semester classes at UIS begin on Monday, August 26. Upperclassmen students will start returning to campus on Friday, August 23.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Local 5K race donates $2,000 to the UIS-SIU Medicine co-hosted Art Express class

The Springfield-based Fat Ass 5K & Street Party for Charity has donated $2,000 to the Art Express class co-hosted by the University of Illinois Springfield and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

The Art Express class, which began in 2012, helps individuals with memory loss and their care partners express their creativity through art projects. The class is held every Wednesday afternoon in the Banner Bunch room at Hope Presbyterian Church, located at 2211 Wabash Ave. in Springfield.

The money donated by the Fat Ass 5K will be used to cover the cost of art supplies and to help reimburse Hope Presbyterian Church for coffee supplies and materials purchased to hang the participant’s art.

Art Express is led by Karen Lee, UIS clinical instructor of Human Development Counseling, and Maggie Schaver of the SIU Medicine Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders. Graduate students from the UIS Human Development Counseling Program, community and church volunteers also assist with the class.

Persons with memory loss are referred to the Art Express class through the SIU Medicine Memory & Aging Clinic.

Read previous coverage about Art Express.

Monday, July 01, 2019

UIS announces Spring Semester 2019 Dean’s List

The University of Illinois Springfield has released the Dean’s List for Spring Semester 2019. A total of 531 students were selected; 71 are students in the College of Business and Management, 42 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 331 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 64 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and 23 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 2019 Dean's List PDF | Spring 2019 Dean's List Excel

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

UIS to welcome hundreds of new students during seven KickStart Orientation sessions

The University of Illinois Springfield will welcome hundreds of new first-year students to campus during seven KickStart Orientation sessions this summer.

The two-day overnight events help students understand UIS requirements, gives them a chance to meet their fellow classmates and learn their way around campus.

“Students get information about student accounts and billing, meal plans, financial aid and academic exceptions,” said Lisa McGuire, UIS director of new student orientation and parent relations. “They have an opportunity to interact with their peers and have a little bit of fun.”

Cameryn Hodges, an incoming freshman from Belleville, is looking forward to starting her college education at UIS.

“I'm excited to meet a lot of new people and to find out a lot about the opportunities,” she said. “I'm just excited to meet the new people before I actually start school and so then I know some people."

Fatima Velasco, an incoming accountancy major from Waukegan, says she chose UIS because “it gave me the most financial aid and also it was in state.”

For other students, such as Ben Norris and Elie Krasnican, it’s hard to believe that high school is over and they’re starting a new chapter in their lives.

“It's kind of settling in, you know, I'm realizing I'm actually going here. I'm going to be walking these sidewalks soon, going to classes, so it's really hitting me,” said Norris.

“I was ready to get out of high school, so I'm really excited to come here, but just walking around and stuff it starts to, you know, like set in and I'm like oh my goodness I'm actually going to go here,” said Krasnican.

McGuire says that UIS expects a large incoming freshman class this year, which means they’ve had to add an additional orientation session.

“This will be probably our biggest first-year class ever in the history of the University,” she said. “We've only been admitting first-years since 2001. We had to open up our July 15th and 16th session and so it's already half full, so as we continue to admit students and students continue to accept admission we've got a spot for them.”

For more information on orientation, visit

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New colorful sculptures by artist Lisa Williamson installed outside of the UIS Student Union

The University of Illinois Springfield recently installed three sculptures by California-based artist Lisa Williamson outside of the Student Union Building, which open in January 2018.

The artwork was made possible thanks to the John N. Chester Estate Fund, an endowed gift fund created with the intent of adding to the attractiveness of the University of Illinois campuses.

Williamson’s sculpture series, entitled “Obstruction, Reflection, Transition” combines bright colors with high reflectivity stainless steel.

“The high reflection of the stainless steel, I really love the idea that it's reflecting the architecture, it's reflecting the foliage, it's reflecting the change in seasons. For me, color is a huge part of the work,” said Williamson.

Now that the artwork is in place, the UIS Grounds Crew plans to add decomposed granite pathways up to and around the sculptures. They also plan to add native plants surrounding the area and eventually plant buffalo grass on the berm.

UIS Student Union Executive Director Ann Comerford hopes that the new artwork will spark conversation among students and visitors and lead to a greater interest in art.

“Maybe it will spark some curiosity about artwork and they will go and explore and learn more,” said Comerford. “Maybe they'll stand outside and two people will argue about it and one will love it and one will hate it and that's great!”

Williamson says she’s happy that her first long-term public art exhibition will be displayed on a university campus for students to enjoy.

“I was really interested in how public sculpture interacts with both not only the landscape, but the people that are integrated into that landscape and so for me it was really exciting that this is going to be a university installation,” she said.

Comerford hopes the sculptures will become as popular as other landmarks on campus, such as the colonnade and Lincoln Statue, and evoke memories when alumni return to campus.

“I hope that these three pieces also evoke that for our students and they remember it and they go on and tell stories and they come back and they're like 'oh my gosh they're still here.' I love that and that's exciting,” said Comerford.

The Student Union also recently added artwork inside, including a quilt by New York-based artist Sanford Biggers. It was also made possibly by the Chester Estate Fund.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

UIS releases complete list of 2019 graduates

A total of 1,274 students earned degrees from the University of Illinois Springfield at the conclusion of the spring semester on May 11, 2019, 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 2019 Graduates in Excel | May 2019 Graduates PDF

For photos, video and more from the 48th UIS Commencement Ceremony, visit

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Students celebrate graduation during the 48th annual UIS Commencement ceremonies

The University of Illinois Springfield held two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at the Bank of Springfield Center in downtown Springfield. Out of the 1,274 UIS students who were eligible to graduate, 745 participated in the ceremonies.

 UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch presided over the ceremonies, welcoming thousands of guests. She reflected on the importance of earning a University of Illinois degree and the “pathway to opportunity” that degree will create for the 2019 graduates.

“You will make a difference in the world,” said Koch. “In saying that, I am not talking about an abstract ideal. Each of you—with your own skills, aspirations, contributions and achievements—will leave a mark on this world, and it’s such an honor to know that UIS will have helped play a part in your future success.”

During the second ceremony, Koch presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters to former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara in appreciation of her inspirational leadership in public service and distinguished contributions to the community and the University of Illinois.

“I cannot even begin to express my feelings of gratitude for this honor,” said Hasara. “It’s been nearly 50 years since my mom offered to help with my 4 children, under 8, so I could enroll in the new university that was about to open here and complete my college degree and fulfill my goal of becoming an elementary school teacher.”

Hasara would go onto be elected to the Sangamon County Board, Sangamon County Circuit Clerk, Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate. She was the first woman to be elected Springfield mayor and served two terms from 1995 to 2003. She also served as a member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2017.

Koch was joined on stage by University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen during the second ceremony. Killeen spoke about how students have always been at the center of the University of Illinois System’s mission since its founding a century-and-a-half ago.

“We were created to open our doors wide to every deserving student, not just the privileged few, providing an education that would transform their lives, one by one, and collectively sendoff new waves of talent year after year to lift the fortunes of our state, our nation and our world,” he said.

The student commencement address was delivered by Jeffrey Nevins, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication. He currently works as the technical director/show systems manager at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Nevins reflected on his educational journey at UIS, which started in 1994.

“I’ve finally finished,” he said. “In that 25 years, I’ve learned a lot – both in school and out. So, like every other middle–aged white guy you’ve ever met I’m going to regale you with all of my wisdom. And as an added bonus, it’s in the form of a numbered list!”

Nevins went onto share his list of wisdom on topics ranging from self-care, to always sitting in the front row and always backing up your files. He also told the audience that you’re “never done learning,” “no means no” and “it is far better to be kind than right.”

“Congratulations to my fellow 2019 graduates,” he said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to learn alongside of you. And in the words of Abraham Lincoln: ‘I bid you God-speed.’”

Dignitaries on stage during the ceremony included faculty grand marshal Hilary Frost, associate professor of political science; Shaina Humphrey, UIS student trustee on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees; Jeffrey Lorber, vice chancellor for advancement and senior vice president of the University of Illinois Foundation; Pattie Piotrowski, university librarian and dean of library instructional services and Dedra Williams, secretary of the Board of Trustees.

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:

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

First students to graduate from UIS’ new public policy bachelor’s degree program

A group of four students will make up the first graduating class of the University of Illinois Springfield’s new public policy bachelor’s degree program. Students first started to enroll in the program in Fall Semester 2016.

The degree is designed to give students comprehensive training in the field of public policy, including applied policy implementation and program evaluation. The degree prepares students for careers as lawmakers, policy analysts, legislative aides, community activists, lobbyists and attorneys.

“This program was started as a way to provide students who are interested in government and politics with a more applied curriculum and to utilize our location in the state capital to allow students, who already are interested in government, a chance to start interning and working in the field,” said Magic Wade, UIS assistant professor of political science.

In addition to what students learn in the classroom, they are also required to complete a six credit-hour internship with a state, local government or policymaking agency as part of the public policy bachelor’s degree curriculum. The internships are designed to introduce students to various post-graduate professional options.

The four students expected to graduate Saturday, May 11, 2019, with their bachelor’s degrees in public policy include Tristan Akers of Cambridge, Jason Edwards of Springfield, Andrew Jarmer of Springfield and James Wheeler of Rochester.

Jarmer says he decided to major in public policy because it is a hands-on program “based on real-life problems and solutions,” which makes it different from a traditional degree in political science.

“In contrast to political science, which is more based in theories and abstract concepts, public policy is essentially a study of how we, as a society, choose our priorities and act upon them. You can learn quite a bit about a society/government/group of people by examining their agenda and policy decisions,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Jarmer, who is also earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, plans to continue to work as a campaign/office staffer for the Democratic Party of Illinois before starting law school.

Wheeler, who is also active in politics as a political staffer for the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association transferred to UIS from Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) to earn his bachelor’s degree in public policy.

“It is wonderful,” he said. “I was very lucky to seamlessly glide from graduating at LLCC to studying at UIS in this new program, and am thankful that it was implemented at the time that it was.”

Following graduation, he plans to apply for state jobs and earn his master’s degree in political science, with a focus on public law, at UIS.

Edwards also transferred to UIS from LLCC and currently works at the Illinois State Capitol as a senate page. He also plans to earn his master’s degree in political science at UIS following the completion of his bachelor’s degree.

“When I started this degree, I really didn’t know what to expect or how it would go, but I have to say it has arguably been the best decision I have made here at UIS,” said Edwards. “I learned such a great amount of information about past, current, and future topics and subject matters that affect all of us citizens here in our own state and our country.”

Akers, who is a dual public policy and political science major, currently interns for the Illinois Senate Republican’s District Planning and Member Services staff. He will be attending law school following graduation from UIS. He says he chose the public policy degree because it was unique.

“I figured it would give me a step up,” he said. “It feels good knowing that many others will follow in our footsteps.”

The UIS public policy bachelor’s degree curriculum addresses questions surrounding the ethics of policy-making, the conditions in which policies are made, how programs should be implemented, and whether they are effective. Courses provide in-depth consideration of health, education, labor law, social welfare, environmental, or agricultural policy while equipping students with the tools to participate in the advocacy, drafting, and analysis of public policy.

For more information on the UIS bachelor’s degree in public policy, contact Magic Wade at 217/206-6523 or Students may apply online at

Monday, April 29, 2019

UIS to hold two commencement ceremonies in downtown Springfield on May 11

The University of Illinois Springfield will hold two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at the Bank of Springfield (BOS) Center, Ninth and Adams Streets in downtown Springfield. Of the 1,274 UIS students eligible to graduate, 744 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.

Former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara to receive honorary doctorate 

During the 5:30 p.m. ceremony, UIS will present an honorary doctorate of humane letters to former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara in appreciation of her inspirational leadership in public service and distinguished contributions to the community and the University of Illinois.

Hasara, a member of the university’s first enrolled class, holds two degrees from UIS. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology/elementary education in 1972 and a master’s degree in legal studies in 1992.

Hasara began her storied career as a teacher, then moved into public service as a member of the Sangamon County Board in 1975 (at the time, the only woman among 29 county board members). She went on to be elected Sangamon County Circuit Clerk in 1980, Illinois State Representative in 1986, Illinois State Senator in 1993 and Mayor of Springfield for two terms from 1995 to 2003. She was the first woman ever to be elected Mayor of Springfield. Following her government career, Hasara served as a member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2017.

“Karen Hasara is one of the most influential leaders and public servants in Illinois,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “Her long career in government and education is rooted in Springfield, but has benefitted countless citizens from all over the state.”

Hasara’s leadership and passion for social justice has led to her involvement in numerous organizations over the years. Currently, she is a trustee of the Springfield Mass Transit District, and is involved with the World Affairs Council of Central Illinois and the Sangamon County Community Foundation. She is also an active volunteer at St. John’s Hospice in Springfield.

Throughout her career, Hasara has been a dedicated and vocal supporter of the University of Illinois Springfield. She played a critical role in building a strong relationship between Springfield and UIS and currently serves on the UIS Alumni Board and the University of Illinois Alumni Alliance. At UIS, she established a scholarship for qualified students with financial need and has previously served on the Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board, the Alumni Leadership Roundtable and is a founding member of the UIS Alumni SAGE Society. She is the recipient of the 1996 UIS Alumni Achievement Award.

A fifth generation native of Springfield, Hasara places a priority on giving back to her community. She founded the Women4Women organization and is active in philanthropy including Dining for Women. She and her late husband, Jerry, are the parents of seven children and have five grandchildren.

Student speaker and faculty grand marshal announced 

Springfield resident Jeffrey Nevins, who will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication, has been chosen as the student commencement speaker. Nevins is currently the technical director/show systems manager at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. He will speak about his educational journey at UIS and offer some wisdom to the Class of 2019.

Hilary Frost, associate professor of political science and Global Studies Program director, has been named the faculty grand marshal. Frost holds a doctorate in cultural geography from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in international studies from the University of Iowa, a master’s degree in public administration with specialization in arts administration from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State 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: Kayla Susanne Mackie-Carlson – B.A. (Peoria), Jenna L. Upchurch – B.A., Michelle Marie Dankoski – M.A.

Biology: Kiana Renee Davis – B.S.

Biochemistry: Chantz A. Pinder – B.S.

Business Administration: Abbie Jean Mulkins – BBA, Matthew Ryan Hutchison – MBA (Peoria), Diana Marion – MBA

Chemistry: Craig Allen Meredith – B.S.

Clinical Lab Science: Deric Rosenberger – B.S.

Communication: Olivia S. Cacciatori – B.A., Andrea Renee Duvendack – M.A.

Computer Science: Alfredo Carigga – B.S., Chad Matthew Putnam – M.S.

Criminology and Criminal Justice: Joli Rebecca Schroeder – B.A.

Data Analytics: Zeki Can Kavgaci – M.S.

Economics: Tristan M. Hodgson – B.A.

Education: Kristina Ann Gashaw – M.A.

Educational Leadership: Alicia Ann Redfield – M.A.

Elementary Education: Taylor Jayann Bauer – B.A.

English: Maura Sommer Freeman – B.A., Amanda Rae Dinardo – M.A.

Environmental Sciences: Joshua Rai – M.S.

Environmental Studies: Caleb Joe Froidcoeur – B.A., Beth Louise Kramer – M.A.

Exercise Science: Karah L. Bell – B.S.

Global Studies: Maame Ekua Dede Aggrey – B.A.

History: Ciara J. Koepke – B.A., Eric Michael Bridges – M.A.

Human Development Counseling: Meeko Taylor Dane Reddick – M.A.

Human Services: Ozetta Michelle Ann Knox – M.A.

Information Systems Security: Keith Alan Clark – B.S.

Legal Studies: Joshua Leo Zanger – B.A., Brittany Nicole Meador – M.A.

Liberal and Integrative Studies: Justina Lynn Schacht – M.A.

Liberal Studies: Mary Christine Braun – B.A.

Management Information Systems: Sheryl Ann Spejcher – B.S., Raghunath Subramanian – M.S.

Mathematical Sciences: Stefanie Kristine Springer – B.A.

Philosophy: Kimberlee Pompa – B.A.

Political Science: Jacob C. Tebbe – B.A., Erik F. Motyll – M.A.

Psychology: Marsha Kathleen Darlington – B.A.

Public Administration: Brendan Dominick Mitchell – B.A., Anjanette Williams – M.P.A., Sophia Maria Gehlhausen – D.P.A.

Public Affairs Reporting: Grant Alexander Morgan – M.A.

Public Health: Johanny Nazareth Martinez – M.P.H.

Public Policy: Tristan T. Akers – B.A.

Social Work: Rachel Yvonne Andreatta – B.S.W.

Sociology/Anthropology: Abriana S. Robinson – B.A.

Theatre: Sherri Doe Mitchell – B.A.

Pre-commencement events planned

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 11, in the Student Union Ballroom. The Capital Scholars Honors Program will also honor its graduates that day with a 9 a.m. brunch on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UIS Good as Gold awards honor more than 60 local volunteers, businesses and organizations

The University of Illinois Springfield, Junior League of Springfield and the United Way of Central Illinois honored more than 60 Sangamon County volunteers and businesses during the 11th annual Good as Gold Ceremony. The event was held on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at the UIS Student Union.

The Good as Gold Ceremony was started in 2008 to honor people, businesses and organizations who freely give their time and talents to make Sangamon County a better place to live.

Distinguished Volunteer Award 

Donna Jean Gibney of Springfield was honored with the 2019 Distinguished Volunteer Award. Gibney has been involved in leadership roles within two local organizations since 1996: King’s Daughters Organization (KDO) and the Sangamon County Medical Society Alliance (SCMSA).

“During my service with both of these organizations, I ended up overseeing a major restructuring of each, first while president for KDO and later while chairperson of the board for SCMSA,” she said. “I had always been dedicated to each and offered a large amount of my time to each, but I will say that being involved in the restructuring processes, especially for KDO, made me even more passionate about and dedicated to them and their missions.”

From a personal perspective, Gibney feels that volunteering involves being productive beyond just family and friends.

“My belief is that volunteering is critical to the well-being of any community, not just our local community. There are not enough financial resources to pay for all the work that needs to be done, often that desperately needs to be done,” said Gibney. “In thinking of the big picture, without volunteers of all sorts giving their time freely, our society would suffer horribly, not just locally, but nationally and even globally. Each one of us volunteering in our local community is part of a much bigger picture."

The 2019 Distinguished Volunteer finalists include Cheryl Garvin, Joe O’Beirne, Mark Pence and Barb Walker.

Star Student Award 

Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) student Sonia Kenney of Springfield was honored with the Star Student Award for her volunteer efforts.

Kenney was accepted into Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County’s Homeownership Program in August of 2017 and did not hesitate jumping right into her position from the start. She attends LLCC, works two jobs, has three teenage daughters, and still finds the time to volunteer and make a difference.

“Volunteering to me is not being obligated to do something kind,” said Kenney. “Something that’s meaningful to not only the volunteer, but also to the organization or person I am doing it for. Volunteering is doing something from the heart. It doesn’t require compensation.”

As a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, she has worked at the Restore and has also volunteered on five home build sites. Her volunteer work has helped other families’ lives, and she has been a positive example to these other families.

Other organizations through which Kenney has volunteered include the St John’s Breadline, various schools throughout District 186, the Special Olympics and the Girl Scouts.

Star Staff Award

Angela Try of Chatham, a public relations specialist at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored with the Star Staff Award for her volunteer efforts in the community. Try is a Girl Scout leader for Troop 6130 in Chatham, and her daughter is an Ambassador Girl Scout. Try has also served six years as the committee chair for Cub Scout Pack 79 in Chatham, and her son is currently a Cub Scout.

“There’s no other feeling like doing something for others with no expectation of it being returned. It’s how my husband and I live our lives,” said Try. “Leading by example and teaching my kids, and the other youth that I work with, about service to others is the most important aspect of volunteering to me.”

Try teaches middle school faith formation classes at St. Joseph the Worker in Chatham, has volunteered to attend Catholic Heart Work Camp with the high school students and has been involved with the Glenwood High School speech team, serving on the booster executive committee.

“I only hope I’m leaving a legacy of kindness, thoughtfulness and genuine integrity in my wake with the youth and people that I come in contact with,” she said.

Youth Volunteer Award

Chatham Glenwood High School senior Athena Try, daughter of Carl and Angela Try, was honored with the Youth Volunteer Award. For 13 years, Athena Try has served the Chatham Girl Scouts and the Girl Scout community of central Illinois by volunteering throughout her elementary and high school years. She has racked up approximately 200 hours of volunteer service in just this past year alone.

As a younger scout, she earned her bronze award by hosting a World Thinking Day/Princess event for the Girl Scout community. As an older Girl Scout, she has taken on more leadership and responsibility in the community of Chatham as well as the Girl Scout community as a whole in central Illinois.

“By being present and leading activities in the community, Try has encouraged young girls to become leaders by providing them a strong example,” said her nominator. “She serves as a role model in and outside of Girl Scouts and demonstrates daily what service and leadership truly mean. Athena has taken the leadership quality that scouting has taught her and applied it to several school and church organizations.”

As part of her volunteer service, Try designed and built a reading garden at Matheny-Withrow Elementary School in Springfield. The project took a year-and-a-half to complete.

“This selfless project has given the students of Matheny-Withrow Elementary School a beautiful reading garden to enjoy,” said her nominator.

Finalists for this award include Kylie McMillan, Emily Monroe and Gwen Rees.

Heart of Gold Community Awards 

Thirty-one local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: Carl M. Affrunti, Judith Barringer, Michael Blitstein, Stacey Ann Bredemeyer, Connie Butts, Thomas J. Byerly, Nancy Canady, Cindy Denby, Andrea Fuchs, Dr. Sam Gaines, Sarah Goleman, Tiffani Graham, Tammy Gilchrese, Carol Gruwell, Diane Hayes, Jim Keys, Rita Keys, Jamie Kuhlmann, Paul Layton, Patricia Leamon, Rena Leggitt, Rochell Logan, Megan Mitchell, Robert J. Moore, Sharon Nichols, Lori Payne-Mullett, April Poole, Matthew Scrivano, Beth Sonneborn, Eileen G. Tepatti and Joann Wente.

Organization Agent of Service Award

The winner of the 2019 Organization Agent of Service Award is King’s Daughters Home (KDO). The organization has been serving the seniors of Sangamon County for the past 125 years. From the beginning in 1893, the focus of KDO has been on the well-being and health of all seniors in Sangamon County, and in 1895 the Home for Women opened for those who had no other means or family to care for them.

“We have nine, what we call circles of friendship, that are made up of 350 members,” said Brenda Staab, president of KDO. “We do not have staff here. Everything we do here is volunteer. Of the 350 circle members, more than half are active volunteers.”

From 2006 to 2018, KDO has awarded more than $1.3 million in grants to more than 160 organizations in Sangamon County that serve the needs of seniors. Beyond granting $200,000 each year to support organizations that help seniors, KDO members volunteer their time with the organizations it supports.

Last year, KDO volunteers contributed approximately 5,000 hours of service. Members have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Senior Services of Central Illinois, the Loami Food Pantry, the First Presbyterian Church food pantry, Land of Lincoln Honor Flights and the Fair Hills Residence at the Illinois Presbyterian Home.

Business Honor Roll

A total of 21 Sangamon County businesses were named to the Business Honor Roll sponsored by the UIS College of Business and Management. The honor roll recognizes businesses that have made giving back to our community a priority.

Three businesses were listed at the top of the honor roll as Golden Distinction Winners including the Butler Funeral Homes and Cremation Tribute Center, Illinois Educators Credit Union and Marine Bank.

Other businesses making this year’s honor roll include AlignLife of Springfield; Bank of Springfield; Formea Insurance Group, Inc.; Horace Mann; Illinois REALTORS; Kerber, Eck & Braeckel; Koch, Sylvia, and Associates - Ameriprise Financial; Memorial Health System; President Abraham Lincoln Springfield - A DoubleTree by Hilton; Scheels; Sangamon Reclaimed; Sensible Innovations; Serious Lip Balm; Springfield Electric Lighting & Design/Springfield Electric Supply Company; St. Joseph’s Home of Springfield; UNDERDOG Sports, Memorabilia & Games; United Community Bank and Wells Fargo.

For more information about the awards, please visit, email or call 217/ 206-8448.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

UIS students win awards from the International Society for Advancement of Management competition

A group of University of Illinois Springfield students, who are members of the Society for Advancement of Management (SAM) student chapter brought home two awards from the 2019 International Management Conference held March 27-30, in Orlando, Florida.

The team placed third in the International Collegiate Business Skills Championship.

Turner Clark received first place in the Extemporaneous Speech Competition and the UIS Chapter president - Mike Kirchgesner also served as the Social Media Ambassador for the conference.

“It has always been my goal to create experiences and memories for others and to help inspire people to achieve their full pot
ential,” said Kirchgesner, who was competing for the second time.

During the International Business Case Competition, UIS students competed against 23 other colleges and universities presenting solutions related to a business case about Hard Rock Café International. The case involved determining a strategic vision and creating a recommendation the company should take to improve, sustain, turn around, or correct its performance.

“There are so many great networking opportunities at these conferences to help college students prepare for life after college,” said Kirchgesner.

UIS students participating were; Mike Kirchgesner, a business administration major on the pre-med track from Springfield; Turner Clark, a business administration major from Swansea; Shreyas Shirish, a management information systems major from Mumbai, India and Rohith Madamshetty, a management information systems major from Telangana, India.

The UIS chapter and competition team are advised by Hasan Kartal, Ph.D., assistant professor in management information systems.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hundreds of students take part in the 27th annual Springfest competition

Hundreds of students participated in the 27th annual Springfest competition at the University of Illinois Springfield in April. Springfest is one of the longest running student traditions on campus, which started in 1992.

Students competed in fun events, such as the Scavenger Hunt, Flag and Chant, Game of Games, Trivia Night and Sports Day. During Sports Day, students competed in everything from flag football to the annual mud tug-of-war.

Students also gave back to the community by helping to build a Habitat for Humanity home.

This year, 31 teams made up of more than 300 students took part in the week-long event.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Horace Mann donates $2,500 to fund UIS dual credit teacher education course for high school seniors

Horace Mann, a Springfield-based insurance and financial services company for educators, has donated $2,500 to the University of Illinois Springfield Teacher Education Department to help cover the cost of a dual credit course for high school seniors in Menard and Sangamon counties.

The goal of the dual credit course titled “Foundations of American Education” is to encourage more students to become teachers.

“We are always looking to provide solutions for our educator customers and find ways to attract students to this noble profession,” said Marita Zuraitis, Horace Mann president and CEO. “School officials and administrators tell us that finding teachers is becoming more difficult. We hope this program will encourage more high school students to explore the educator profession and give them a jump start on their college degree.”

According to a recent Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools survey, 89 percent of central Illinois school districts and 92 percent of southern Illinois districts are having issues with staffing teaching positions with qualified candidates.

“This unique program provides a local long-term solution to the teacher shortage crisis that Illinois and the nation is facing today, and creates an exciting partnership with UIS, Horace Mann and our local school districts to help our own students become future high-quality teachers,” said Jeff Vose, regional superintendent of schools for Sangamon and Menard counties. “I want to thank Horace Mann for their generous gift of $2,500 to help support tuition costs for these approximately 15-20 high school students from our region to attend these teaching courses at UIS.”

The dual credit course started in Fall Semester 2018 when 18 students from eight area high schools enrolled. The course is only the second dual credit option to be offered by the University of Illinois Springfield in its nearly 50 year history. Seniors earn both college and high school credit for completing the dual credit course.

“This course allows students to get a head start on their teaching degree and to provide the foundation of education at all levels”, said Scott Doerr, a UIS adjunct instructor who teaches the course and superintendent of the Nokomis School District.

The “Foundations of American Education” course counts toward general education credits for students who attend UIS to complete their bachelor’s degrees. The credits can also transfer to other institutions in the state if a student should choose to complete his or her education degree elsewhere.

Thanks to the support from Horace Mann, the cost of the course to high school students will be minimal. Students will be responsible for the cost of textbooks (rental, used and online options are available) when the course starts in August. Local students who are interested in the course should talk to their high school guidance counselor to register by the May 4 deadline.

Monday, March 25, 2019

UIS Student Union wins excellence in design award from the Association of College Unions International

The University of Illinois Springfield’s new Student Union building was honored with a Facility Design Award of Excellence from the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) during a ceremony in Indianapolis on March 25, 2019.

According to the ACUI, the award encourages and recognizes excellence in the design of student-centered facilities that support campus community building and student learning. In reviewing the building, ACUI assessed criteria, such as the building’s connections with the community, campus and environment in which it sits. They also reviewed the planning and design process, including how the use of creative materials, input from students, and inclusion of partners shaped the project and its goals.

The UIS Student Union was designed by Workshop Architects of Milwaukee, Wisconsin & Dewberry of Peoria, Illinois to LEED® Gold guidelines, with sustainable features which include a green roof, energy efficient lighting, rainwater reclamation system and radiant flooring in select areas.

Since the building’s opening in January 2018, the Student Union has helped to energize campus life, creating a vibrant social environment in the heart of campus.

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.

This is the second design award for the building. In November 2018, the building was honored with an excellence in design award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

UIS students help with hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and Florida as part of Alternative Spring Break

Two groups of students from the University of Illinois Springfield are spending their spring break helping to rebuild Puerto Rico and Florida, following Hurricanes Maria and Michael, as part of an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip.

A group of 14 students and two staff members are volunteering in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, while 9 students and two staff members are working near Panama City Beach, Florida. Both groups left campus in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 9 and will return late in the evening on Saturday, March 16.

The two groups are working in partnership with Community Collaborations International (CCI). The students are helping with eco-restoration efforts, building renewable and sustainable homes and volunteering with early childhood education programs.

“After seeing the impact of last year’s trip to Texas, helping with disaster relief from Hurricane Harvey, we knew we wanted to continue with relief efforts,” said Madison Reuss, a UIS senior from Nashville, Illinois who is president of Alternative Spring Break Student Organization. “In the beginning, we thought we would only be doing a trip to Puerto Rico, but after high demand from many people wanting to get involved with ASB, we created a second trip that also would focus on disaster relief. Taking on this task and planning two trips was no easy feat, but in the end we knew it would be worth it.”

This trip marks the 11th 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 am excited about Alternative Spring Break this year because we were able to plan two trips and take on an international project, two things ASB has never done before,” said Ben Paoletti, a UIS sophomore from Batavia, Illinois who is vice president of Alternative Spring Break Student Organization. “The opportunity for ASB to help others has grown exponentially in 2019 and I can't wait to see our impact on the people and communities we are going to serve. I would also like to take this time to recognize all our supporters and donors because without them this trip would not be possible.”

For more information on Alternative Spring Break, contact Jill Hawkins, Alternative Spring Break advisor and director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center, at 217/206-8635 or