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.