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

Thursday, March 07, 2019

UIS study finds “bedazzled” recycling bins don’t increase recycling behavior on campus

UIS students Caleb Froidcoeur and Marissa Jones stand next to a "bedazzled" recycling container used in the study.
A recent study conducted by students and faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield has found that “bedazzled” or more aesthetically pleasing recycling bins did not increase recycling behavior on the Springfield campus.

The waste management study, funded by a $3,654 PepsiCo Recycling grant, was conducted from October 1 to November 16, 2018. The researchers randomly deployed both “bedazzled” recycling bins featuring colorful nature photos with phrases, such as “thanks for pitching in,” on them and traditional blue recycling bins in main campus buildings to test their hypothesis.

“The idea for the study was built on research that found nature scenes in product marketing create a positive emotional response for consumers who are less concerned about environmental issues,” said Carolee Rigsbee, UIS assistant professor of management. “We thought positive emotions from viewing nature scenes would also increase recycling behavior, but we did not find this outcome using the bedazzled containers on the UIS campus.”

The 20 “bedazzled” recycling bins and 20 standard blue recycling bins purchased by the PepsiCo Recycling grant will still be put to good use on campus. The UIS Department of Residence Life will be deploying the recycling containers in residence halls and near townhouses/apartments to increase recycling convenience.

“Education will be a big part of this effort to increase recycling on campus,” said Marissa Jones, a UIS environmental studies major who helped conduct the study. “We’ll be working with RAs and the Residence Life leadership team during upcoming training sessions. The idea will be for them to spread the word to students and become champions for campus recycling.”

Rigsbee points out that the collaboration between students and faculty was an important part of the research study. UIS faculty members Jorge Villegas, interim associate dean of the College of Business and Administration, and Megan Styles, assistant professor of environmental studies also helped with the study.

“Even though the bedazzled bins did not prove effective, we were able to identify common forms of contamination in our recycling bins, and we're designing an education program to help eliminate confusion about these items,” said Styles. “We also found that our campus is good about recycling paper, but we really need to improve when it comes to plastics and metals.”

In addition to the new recycling bins in campus housing, the student-led UIS Green Fee Committee has recently implemented a number of sustainability initiatives on campus including low emission vehicle (LEV) parking spaces, reusable water bottle refilling stations, a sustainable garden for Cox Daycare Children Center, a bicycle repair station located under the overhang at south entrance of PAC and added nine new bikes to UIS Campus Recreation’s bike rental program.

“Sustainability on campus is important to me because we are facing a time in which we must overcome climate change,” said Caleb Froidcoeur, a UIS environmental studies major who helped conduct the study. “UIS needs to participate in the global movement towards more sustainable practices because we aren’t just saving the Earth. We are saving our species from extinction.”

The research project, along with other student projects, will be presented at UIS’ annual Student Technology, Arts, and Research Symposium being held April 17 to 19.

UIS Professor Layne Morsch leading the way with open educational resources

University of Illinois Springfield senior Hailey Hollinshead and Associate Professor Layne Morsch met with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and others this week to discuss the Open Textbook Pilot program at the Department of Education.

The pilot is a $10 million federally funded competitive grant program for higher education institutions to create new and open educational resources and expand the use of textbooks to save students money.

Open college textbooks are textbooks that are freely available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers and others to freely access the materials.

Hollinshead was able to use an open, online textbook in her organic chemistry class, taught by Professor Morsch at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Morsch has served an integral role in securing open education resources for students. He is the Organic Chemistry Content Curator under a $5 million FIPSE grant (Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education.) He has partnered with LibreTexts, a provider of open educational resources.

“To me, it is an issue of social justice,” said Morsch. “Students with less financial resources shouldn’t be disadvantaged by not having the same textbooks that other students can afford to buy. Before I switched to open educational resources, my organic chemistry textbook cost around $300, now that I use LibreTexts it’s free.”

According to a survey by U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, 65 percent of students in 2017-2018 decided not to buy a textbook because of the cost and 94 percent of those students worried it would negatively affect their grade.

“Open textbooks provide an affordable and effective option for students and faculty," said Durbin. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to build on the federal investment in open textbooks in Fiscal Year 2020.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

UIS announces Fall Semester 2018 Dean’s List

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

A total of 585 students were selected; 90 are students in the College of Business and Management, 52 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 355 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 22 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 2018 Dean's List PDF | Fall 2018 Dean's List Excel

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

UIS-SIU Medicine co-hosted Art Express class helps individuals with memory loss express their creativity

Individuals with memory loss and their care partners are finding a way to express their creativity thanks to a partnership between the University of Illinois Springfield Human Development Counseling Program (HDC) and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders.

Art Express classes are held every Wednesday afternoon in the Banner Bunch room at Hope Presbyterian Church, located at 2211 Wabash Ave. in Springfield.

The program 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, partnering with individual participants.

“The mission of Art Express is to provide persons with memory loss disorders an outlet to creatively express themselves without needing memory or communication skills,” said Schaver. “Although memory is often impaired early in the course of disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, creativity is often alive and well, even in the more advanced stages of a disease. Art Express clients benefit from the therapeutic effects of participating in art expression, as well as from interacting with other clients, the students and the volunteers.”

In 2018, Art Express hosted an average of 20 clients, 11 students and four volunteers every Wednesday and presented an art exhibition and reception entitled “Hope, Love, Art” where seniors were able to showcase their work. The program will host another exhibition and reception on February 24, 2019.

Seniors who have participated in the program say the class “gives them enjoyment” and a chance to socialize and have conversations with others, while having fun creating artwork.

“I remember one of our participants who reluctantly joined the program believing that he had no artistic ability and doubting whether this program was really for him,” said Lee. “He discovered over time, much to his surprise, that he had quite a considerable talent for drawing, composing and producing beautiful colored pencil images – so much so that he eventually purchased his own set of colored pencils so that he could continue to work on his drawings at home. I will never forget the day he came to class, proudly holding up his latest production, grinning broadly, and proclaiming, ‘Look! I am still becoming!’”

The Art Express program was founded in 2012. Persons with memory loss are referred to Art Express through the SIU Medicine Memory & Aging Clinic. Some attend class with a family member, while others attend with another care partner or attend alone.

“One of the best aspects of this program is that it focuses on what still works, not what is broken” said Lee. “We believe that each person is still capable of growing and developing, no matter where they find themselves in terms of their memory loss. I tell them ‘we are all still becoming.’”

For more information on the class, visit SIU Medicine’s website.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

UIS in-state tuition to remain frozen for a fifth straight year

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday, January 31, 2019, approved a tuition freeze for in-state freshmen next fall for a fifth straight year, extending an affordability initiative that is now the longest run of back-to-back freezes in more than a half-century.

Trustees also approved 2019-20 tuition for non-residents that will hold increases to the rate of inflation or less, along with student fees and housing costs for the system’s three universities, including the University of Illinois Springfield.

The fifth straight year of unchanged rates for Illinois freshman is the longest since a seven-year freeze from 1962 to 1968.

President Tim Killeen said the ongoing efforts to hold the line on tuition are rooted in a commitment to access and affordability that has helped drive system-wide enrollment to record highs for six straight years. Since the fall of 2014, when in-state tuition last increased, enrollment has grown system-wide by 7,420 students, or 9.4 percent, to a record 85,960 students.

That includes 3,345 more Illinois undergraduates, which increased 7.8 percent across the system from the fall of 2014 to the fall of 2018. The in-state tuition freeze has helped the U of I System lead efforts to halt an outmigration to colleges in other states, which causes long-term harm to the Illinois economy because studies show that graduates typically stay to work in the state where they study.

“This historic tuition freeze is providing life-changing opportunities for even more Illinois students, and fueling the pipeline of world-class talent that is crucial to move our state forward,” Killeen said.

Under the state’s guaranteed tuition law, rates for incoming students from Illinois will remain unchanged for four years. The measure was enacted in 2004 to help students and families plan for the cost of a public university education by fixing tuition rates for the four years required to complete most undergraduate degree programs.

Because of the guaranteed tuition law, Killeen said in-state students who enroll next fall will pay the same rate for their senior year in 2022-23 as students who enrolled in the fall of 2014 – nearly a decade earlier.

Nationally, tuition and fees rose by an average 2.5 percent at four-year public colleges and universities for the 2018-19 academic year, based on the latest survey by the College Board, a non-profit association representing U.S. colleges and universities. During the first four years of the U of I System’s freeze, tuition and fees increased by a cumulative average of 11.8 percent among four-year public colleges and universities, according to the College Board.

Base tuition for in-state undergraduates next fall will mirror rates that have held steady since the 2014-15 academic year – $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago, and $9,405 in Springfield. There also will be no change to undergraduate tuition differentials at any of the universities. Differentials cover the additional costs of providing the highest-quality education in selected areas of study.

Along with freezing tuition, the U of I System has ramped up internal efforts to protect the most financially vulnerable students. Over the last decade, total institutional financial aid – including tuition waivers, grants, scholarships and fellowships – has increased almost threefold to $231 million a year, exceeding total aid from state and federal sources. Through state, federal, university and donor-provided financial aid, half of undergraduates pay less than full sticker price across the system’s three universities.

Undergraduate fees/housing 

The board also approved mandatory student fees and room-and-board rates for the 2019-20 academic year.

The fees exclude student health insurance rates, which will be set in the spring. Fees approved Thursday help fund costs such as operating campus recreational facilities, student unions, career services, athletics, counseling centers and libraries, and also help with facility maintenance, renovations and utilities.

Those mandatory fees will remain unchanged in Springfield at $2,426 a year. Fees will increase 0.9 percent, or $28, to $3,086 a year in Urbana-Champaign. In Chicago, fees will increase 3.6 percent, or $116, to $3,308 a year, largely to finance debt service for expansion and remodeling of campus student centers.

In Springfield, room and board will remain the same. A standard housing and gold meal plan will remain unchanged at $10,810 per year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

UIS cancels classes Tuesday night and Wednesday due to the extreme cold

Due to severe cold temperatures, UIS evening classes are canceled for Tuesday night, January 29 (evening classes are defined as any course that begins at 5:30 p.m. or after) and all classes are canceled for Wednesday, January 30. This is for both the Springfield and Peoria campuses. Online classes are not canceled. In addition, Liberal Leave Policy for employees is in effect for tonight and tomorrow. 

It is important to note that even when classes are canceled the campus does NOT fully close. If, for safety reasons, employees feel they need to leave early or are unable to commute to campus, they should use vacation/personal leave as applicable. Employees with questions regarding requesting absence time due to weather conditions should consult with their supervisors. 

If you must go outside, please dress appropriately and limit your time outdoors. The safety and well-being of our campus community is our highest priority. 

Weather-Related Hour Changes:

Brookens Library & ITS Help Desk: 
Closing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, open Wednesday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Student Union:
Closing early at 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

TRAC - Campus Recreation 
Closing at 10 p.m. Tuesday, evening fitness classes canceled
Open Wednesday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., all fitness classes canceled
Open Thursday at 8 a.m., morning fitness classes canceled

Note: The UIS Performing Arts Center’s Broadway performance of “Rent” is still scheduled in Sangamon Auditorium for Wednesday night, January 30 at 7:30 p.m. 

Below is a link to the Inclement Weather information on our website.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Four UIS projects part of a new, nearly $2 million U of I System arts and humanities initiative

Renovations to the University of Illinois Springfield Studio Theatre, the creation of a Hip-Hop Xpress mobile classroom, a cultural heritage tourism project and expanded arts and humanities-based exhibits and events are part of a new, nearly $2 million initiative announced by the University of Illinois System on January 25, 2018. The initiative is aimed at emphasizing the impact and influence of the arts and humanities across Illinois.

System-wide 14 projects were selected from more than 50 proposals in the first year of the Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities, launched last summer by President Tim Killeen to enhance and celebrate the arts and humanities at the system’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

“The arts and the humanities are essential to providing a well-rounded education, crucial to fostering conscientious citizenship in communities, and foundational for the creative contributions that are needed within every economic sector,” Killeen said. “This initiative sends a message around the state and the country that the arts and humanities are a priority here.”

The original plan was to provide up to $1 million each year over the next two years to support faculty projects. But Killeen said so many strong proposals were received, including many multi-year and multi-university collaborative initiatives, that initial funding was increased to cover more projects over a two-year period. The program will be revisited in 2020.

The program is supported by the offices of both the President and the Executive Vice President, using funds devoted to faculty development.

Projects involving University of Illinois Springfield faculty or facilities include:

UIS Studio Theatre Renovations, $150,000 
Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, Bryan Rives (Springfield) 
This project will support major structural improvements to the University of Illinois Springfield Studio Theater. Located in the Public Affairs Center Building on the UIS campus, the theater is a variable-use performance space able to seat about 200 people. Renovations and technology upgrades, including new seating, a new curtain system, lighting and sound, will provide a modern and professional performance venue for UIS Theatre and Music faculty and students. The intimate venue also will support smaller regional and national touring performances, opening the campus to wider community involvement.

The Hip-Hop Xpress, $150,000 
Adam Kruse, Malaika McKee, William Patterson, (Urbana Champaign), Tiffani Saunders (Springfield) 
The Hip-Hop Xpress is a project involving the creation of an internet-enabled school bus to be equipped as a multi-user music production and recording studio. Using music, dance, visual arts and technology, the bus will travel to communities and classrooms across the state, teaching youth about African-American history as well as cultural innovations spurred on by Hip-Hop. The mobile classroom will work with U of I Extension offices to reach youth organizations across Illinois. The project’s goals are to further integrate the arts into people’s lives and help develop Hip-Hop studies on all three campuses.

The Mythic Mississippi: I-Heritage as Public Engagement and Economic and Social Development, $180,000 
Helaine Silverman (Urbana-Champaign), Devin Hunter (Springfield) 
This public engagement project will help a selection of downstate Illinois communities to identify points of cultural heritage as a means of creating themed tourism routes along and near the Mississippi River. Faculty and students from the two campuses will conduct research collaboratively with local governmental, business and educational partners aimed at achieving sustainable strategies and effective policies that will foster local economic and social development. A website and high school-level teaching modules also will be produced. The project will culminate with a national symposium on the use of heritage tourism for community development.

The Humanities Innovating New Knowledge (THINK), $150,000 
Barbara Ransby and Jennifer Brier (Chicago), Kathryn Oberdeck (Urbana-Champaign), Devin Hunter (Springfield) 
THINK will bring together more than 30 faculty from across the U of I System’s three universities as well as community leaders to create an infrastructure for producing arts and humanities-based exhibits and events in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, and Springfield. The project will include educational opportunities for students, pop-up installations that engage historical and contemporary issues in these respective communities, and scholar-practitioner working groups to address social problems, such as violence, wealth disparity, incarceration and human rights.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Innocent man represented by UIS Illinois Innocence Project receives executive clemency 23 years after his death in prison

The Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield is pleased to announce that Grover Thompson, who was wrongfully convicted in 1981 and died in prison in 1996, has received executive clemency based on actual innocence by former Gov. Bruce Rauner. This is the first posthumous exoneration to occur in Illinois and only the 21st such exoneration nationwide, as documented by the National Registry of Exonerations.

“We applaud Gov. Rauner for bringing justice to an innocent man who had no chance to fight for himself,” said John Hanlon, executive director of the Illinois Innocence Project. “We also applaud members of Illinois law enforcement who recognized Grover’s innocence years ago and, with incredible involvement and devotion, fought with us to clear Grover’s name 23 years after his death.”

Lt. Paul Echols (retired), of the Carbondale, Illinois Police Department, was instrumental in uncovering Thompson’s innocence. While investigating several cold case murders in Carbondale, Lt. Echols along with Detective Jimmy Smith, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, obtained a confession from serial rapist and murderer Tim Krajcir for the crime Thompson was wrongfully convicted of committing.

The case caught the attention of two Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Law students working for the Illinois Innocence Project. In 2011, Thompson’s nephew, S.T. Jamison, and the Illinois Innocence Project filed an Executive Clemency Petition with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board asking for Thompson’s posthumous exoneration. No one opposed the petition. In December 2015, Gov. Rauner denied Thompson’s exoneration without explanation.

“Grover’s case is the poster child of injustice,” said Lt. Echols. “In my 28 years as a police officer and 10 years as a criminal justice professor, this was the most disturbing case of injustice I have ever seen. I’m proud to have been part of the team that finally found justice for Grover.”

In 1981, 46-year-old Thompson, a black man, was traveling by bus to visit family in Mississippi and stopped to rest in a Mount Vernon, Illinois, post office lobby. At the same time, Krajcir, a white man sometimes mistaken for a dark-complexioned man, broke into 72-year-old Ida White’s home and stabbed her repeatedly while she resisted his attempts to rape her.  

The police quickly set their sights on Thompson after a neighbor reported a black man fleeing the scene. Despite that, Thompson, who was found sleeping in the post office across the street, could not have committed the crime due to a disability and was not wearing clothing that fit the description of the attacker. He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

“Uncle Grover suffered a tragedy that never should have happened,” said S.T. Jamison, Grover’s nephew, from his home in Minnesota. “He was an innocent black man just trying to get home to his family and he never came home.”

“I am thrilled beyond words that his innocence has finally been acknowledged,” he said. “I thank the good people of the Illinois Innocence Project and God for justice for my dear Uncle Grover. I also am grateful to Gov. Rauner. I and my family members are unspeakably elated!”

Posthumous exonerations are extremely rare. Of the 2,363 exonerations documented since 1989 by the National Registry of Exonerations, only 20 are posthumous. Ten of those posthumous exonerations are of individuals, like Thompson, who died in prison.

“We’ve learned about the many reasons wrongful convictions happen, including tunnel vision and witness misidentification,” said Brandon Klages, a UIS senior and student worker at the Illinois Innocence Project. “Grover’s case is an example of how police can build a case around an innocent person because of their race and class, instead of allowing the evidence to lead the way.”

Lt. Echols details Thompson’s story in chapter 21 (titled “Another Victim”) of his book “In Cold Pursuit: My Hunt for Timothy Krajcir – The Notorious Serial Killer.” All proceeds from the book support the Nine Angels Memorial Scholarship at Southern Illinois University, named for the victims of Krajcir.

“I am very pleased Grover’s family finally has closure, confirming what they knew so many years ago, that Grover did not commit this crime,” said Lt. Echols, who received the Illinois Innocence Project’s “Defender of the Innocent” award in 2018 for his commitment to bringing justice to Thompson. “This closes another chapter in the sad stories caused by Krajcir. May Grover now rest in peace.”

UIS online bachelor’s degree programs ranked 33rd best in the country by U.S. News & World Report

The University of Illinois Springfield’s online bachelor’s degree programs have been ranked 33rd best in the country out of more than 348 institutions by U.S. News & World Report. The January 15 ranking put UIS among the top 10 percent of best online bachelor’s degree programs in the United States.

UIS’ online master’s degree programs were also ranked highly by U.S. News and World Report. The management information systems (MIS) online master’s degree was ranked 33 out of 150 in the non-MBA business category, while the UIS online master’s degree in education was ranked 77 out of 299 degrees.

“This is an important recognition that UIS continues to provide exceptionally high quality online learning experiences that are ranked among the top ten percent of those universities that were evaluated,” said Ray Schroeder, UIS associate vice chancellor of online learning. “The U.S. News rankings are thorough. They are the most credible among online learning rankings, assessing best practices and validated outcomes in direct comparison to the other top online learning programs nationally.”

In evaluating the best online bachelor’s degree programs, U.S. News & World Report assessed schools in four general categories including engagement – promoting student participation in courses and interaction with instructors and classmates, service and technologies – incorporating diverse online learning technologies allowing greater flexibility for students to take classes from a distance, faculty credentials and training – employing instructors with academic credentials that mirror campus-based programs and expert opinion – a survey of high-ranking academic officials.

U.S. News selects factors, known as ranking indicators, to assess each program in the categories outlined above. A program's score for each ranking indicator is calculated using data that the program reported to U.S. News in a statistical survey and a peer reputation survey.

UIS offers 14 online bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, communication, computer science, English, health care informatics, history, information systems security, liberal studies, management information systems, mathematical sciences, philosophy, political science, psychology and teacher education.

“Online degree programs provide access for students who are working, have families, and many other responsibilities in their lives,” said Vickie Cook, executive director of the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service. “Online programs also offer a learning modality that provides students with more control of their learning, high impact strategies that assist with learning, more personalized attention and ability to interact directly with faculty.”

According to census data, a total of 1,636 students were enrolled in online at UIS during Fall Semester 2018. UIS online students reside in 45 states, 82 counties in Illinois and 11 foreign countries. Almost 90 percent of online majors have a mailing address outside of Sangamon County.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Somnath Bhattacharya named the new dean of the UIS College of Business and Management

Somnath (Som) Bhattacharya has been named the new dean of the College of Business and Management at the University of Illinois Springfield. Bhattacharya served as dean of the Gus Machado School of Business and professor of accounting at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, since 2014.

“I am delighted and humbled to be joining the students, staff and faculty of the College of Business and Management at UIS,” said Bhattacharya. “As one of the university's critical components, the College of Business and Management is at the threshold of many opportunities. My vision, as dean, is to work closely with the College’s students, faculty, staff and UIS administration to lead the College in achieving greater academic excellence, visibility, enrollment growth and financial stability.”

Bhattacharya has also taught at Florida Atlantic University, where he served as associate, interim and acting dean of the College of Business for several periods between 2012 and 2014. Prior to those appointments, he was director of the Florida Atlantic School of Accounting from July 2006 to December 2011. He has also taught at the University of Texas at El Paso, University of South Florida, Lebanon College, Fort Hays State University and Northern Arizona University.

“Bhattacharya brings to UIS more than 25 years of experience in teaching and higher education, including more than 12 years as an administrator,” said Dennis Papini, UIS vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost. “Among his strengths, noted by the search committee, were his experience with developing entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary programs across colleges, and experience with Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation and international outreach.”

Bhattacharya holds a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in accounting from the University of South Florida, as well as an M.B.A. with a concentration in management information systems from Northern Arizona University.

His research interests include enterprise resource planning systems’ impact on adopting companies, the impact of eXtensible Business Reporting Language on adopting companies and measuring the return on investment of corporate information technology investments. He has more than 30 journal publications in these areas in journals, such as, the Journal of Information Systems, the International Journal of Accounting Information Systems and Issues in Accounting Education.

Bhattacharya will serve as dean designate starting February 16, until the University of Illinois Board of Trustees can vote on his full appointment on March 14. He will replace Ronald McNeil, who retired as dean of the UIS College of Business and Management in 2018.