Friday, August 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full Sangamon County Citizen Survey is available on the UIS Survey Research Office website. Questions about the survey may be directed to A.J. Simmons, Ph.D., director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217/206-8109 or asimm2@uis.edu.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 12, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read previous coverage about Art Express.