Wednesday, July 08, 2020

UIS releases “Return to the Prairie” plan detailing the safe return of students for fall classes

The University of Illinois Springfield released its 18-page “Return to the Prairie” plan on Wednesday, which includes detailed guidance on how students will safely return to campus for fall classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UIS will offer on-campus courses in the form of both on-ground and blended classes. Blended classes will combine face-to-face and remote instruction. All courses will be completed through remote instruction beginning Wednesday, Nov. 25. Additionally, UIS will continue to offer fully online courses.

Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth will be required on campus when a six-foot physical distance from others is not possible. Face coverings are required in all common areas, which includes classrooms.

“It is our best intention to unite us in public health and safety, and we are committed to providing a high-quality experience regardless of the circumstances in which we may find ourselves,” said UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney. “Whether our Prairie Stars are learning via on-campus instruction or remotely, UIS is committed to and capable of providing a high-quality university experience to everyone who calls UIS home.”

Classrooms and laboratories, common, meeting and event spaces will be set up and organized to facilitate appropriate social distancing and will be cleaned and disinfected daily by building service workers.

Students will be allowed to live on campus in single and double occupancy residence halls, townhouses and apartments. Guests will not be allowed in residence halls, and the number of move-in days will be extended to limit congestion and follow social distancing guidelines.

Carry-out options will be encouraged at the UIS Student Union Food Studio with no self-service options available. Seating in dining areas will be arranged to encourage social distancing, and additional barriers will be placed between diners and staff members.

COVID-19 testing will be available to all students on campus through Campus Health Services. UIS is also exploring ways to participate in the SHIELD research initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which would allow all UIS community members to participate in the less-invasive COVID-19 testing program.

The “Return to the Prairie” plan was created by two teams focused on academic planning, student affairs and community engagement. The teams were tasked with developing plans, policies and procedures for fall 2020 course delivery and accompanying student life programs to deliver a premier educational experience, while adhering to federal, state and local guidelines for health and safety on campus.

The full “Return to the Prairie” plan is available on the UIS website at uis.edu/fall2020. The plan and website will be updated as COVID-19 conditions and situations change.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

UIS certified as a StormReady® University by the National Weather Service

The University of Illinois Springfield has been certified as a StormReady® University by the National Weather Service.

According to the National Weather Service, StormReady® universities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.

The UIS Police Department participated in severe storm spotter training and worked with the National Weather Service to create a StormReady® plan.

“The StormReady® certification was something we felt would help reinforce our dedication to the safety of our community,” said Donald Mitchell, chief of the UIS Police Department. “While we felt that we were following the best practices for notifying our community of hazardous weather, this certification allowed us the opportunity to have weather experts evaluate our systems to help us improve. I’m proud to have the endorsement of the National Weather Service showing our efforts are right on track.”

To be officially StormReady®, a university must: establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public, create a system that monitors weather conditions locally, promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

“This is clearly the result of the leadership, extensive planning, and commitment by you and those at the UIS Police Department, and cooperating departments on campus. The willingness, of more than a dozen of your staff members, to complete severe storm spotter training was exceptional,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

The StormReady® recognition will be valid for three years, expiring on Feb. 27, 2023, at which time it can be renewed.

For more information, contact Blake Wood, UIS assistant director of public relations, at 217-206-6716 or bwood8@uis.edu.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney outlines goals for university

University of Illinois Springfield Interim Chancellor Karen M. Whitney outlined her goals for the upcoming school year. Whitney summarized 10 objectives in an email she sent to students, faculty and staff on July 1, her first day as interim chancellor.

"I want to keep moving the university forward," Whitney said. "My aspiration is to advance the projects and other plans that Chancellor Koch and university leaders have put in motion, along with the goals I have presented."

Topping her list is working with the U of I System and UIS leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders to ensure that high quality, teaching, learning, research and service continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anti-racism and social justice is another area Whitney will focus on. She plans to work with the UIS campus community to build upon efforts to advance the university's values of integrity, civic engagement, diversity, strategic thinking and accountability through teaching, learning, research and service.

Organizational improvements and strengthening the university's budget model are also among Whitney's goals. She said these can be accomplished through working with all units of the university and the system Chief Financial Officer as they continue to identify efficiencies.

"I look forward to working and communicating with students, faculty, staff and other UIS-connected community members and alumni," Whitney added. "In everything we do, students will come first.”

Whitney highlighted working with the Provost, the Enrollment Management team, and deans to enhance student recruitment efforts, implement the Common Application platform, and increase both undergraduate and graduate student enrollments.

Other goals include finalizing college and department realignment efforts, labor union relations, advancing work within the UIS Strategic Compass, community outreach, completing the Reaching Stellar Campaign, and the university’s innovation agenda. 

Whitney was named interim chancellor on June 3 by University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen. Susan Koch retired June 30 from the university after serving as chancellor for nine years.

Whitney is a nationally recognized higher education leader. She is president emerita of Clarion University in Pennsylvania and most recently served as interim chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She has been working alongside Koch for the last three weeks.

UIC and UIS announce guaranteed pathway for undergraduates to earn UIC nursing degree

The University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois Springfield are announcing the creation of a joint undergraduate nursing curriculum that, for the first time, will guarantee a spot for incoming freshmen in UIC’s highly ranked nursing program.

The agreement, which will begin in the fall of 2020, will allow a student who is interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to apply to the Springfield campus, or UIS, as a freshman. If accepted, the student would be guaranteed admission to the UIC College of Nursing BSN program on the Springfield regional campus when they achieve junior-level standing.

Under the initiative, dubbed UIS-UIC Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions, or UIS-UIC GPPA, first-time freshmen will have a guaranteed place in the UIC College of Nursing BSN program. The initiative will have similar requirements as UIC’s Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions (GPPA) program, which calls for more rigorous requirements for admission to specialized career pathways.

“It’s an opportunity for very competitive students to have this pathway guaranteed for them,” said Kevin Browne, vice provost for academic and enrollment services at UIC. “We guarantee admission to the BSN degree, which is a major threshold to enter the health care industry.”

If students are not accepted into the program as freshmen they still could apply to UIC’s BSN program as a junior or senior without the guaranteed acceptance.

“We’re elated to provide talented freshmen the security of knowing they have a spot in our highly-ranked program,” UIC College of Nursing Dean Terri Weaver said. “I hope that will make the UIS-UIC program the first choice of every high school senior in central and southern Illinois who wants to become a nurse.”

Since 2015 the UIC College of Nursing has had a home on the UIS campus, where students attend classes and receive hands-on experience working in medical facilities such as Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. Accepted students to the UIS-UIC Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions initiative, would be UIS students for the first two years and would transition to be UIC students for the last two years of their undergraduate studies while remaining on the UIS campus.

UIS interim chancellor Karen Whitney, who began July 1, said the partnership continues the great work being done by the universities.

“The Nursing program at UIS continues to be a valuable asset to the Central Illinois region,” Whitney said. “Our successful partnership with UIC with a guaranteed pathway for incoming freshmen encourages more students to pursue their degree at UIS, providing more highly qualified BSN graduates to meet the critical health-care needs in our community.”

The effort is designed to help increase the number of students in the program, said Cynthia Reese, director of the Springfield regional campus of the UIC College of Nursing. The hope also is to meet the need for more nurses.

“We’re a new program; we just graduated our third class this spring and we are still growing. We want to grow to make more of an impact on the health care of the residents of central Illinois,” Reese said. “There is a critical need for nurses in central Illinois, and we are trying to fill this gap.”

For more information please go to the UIS-UIC nursing webpage.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

UIS' Illinois Innocence Project helps free man who was wrongfully convicted of murder

Nathaniel Onsrud walks out of the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois on June 23, 2020, with Chrissy Ferree from the Illinois Innocence Project.

A Rock Island County man’s 2008 murder conviction was vacated and he walked free from the Menard Correctional Center on June 23, 2020, due to the efforts of the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) at the University of Illinois Springfield and attorneys of Erickson & Oppenheimer, Ltd. (EO) in Chicago. Newly discovered evidence proves that Nathaniel Onsrud was not responsible for the death of his infant son.

Onsrud’s conviction was vacated after it was discovered that exculpatory documents were not disclosed to defense counsel that provided additional evidence that Onsrud is innocent. The Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s Office supported the request of IIP and EO to vacate Onsrud’s conviction and release him immediately.

“Our client, Nathaniel Onsrud, maintained from day one he had nothing to do with the tragic death of his infant son,” said IIP Chicago Legal Director Lauren Kaeseberg. “For the past 13 years, Nathaniel has fought to clear his name and has been through the unimaginable ordeal of losing his baby and then being wrongfully convicted of murdering him. We are so thankful that the State’s Attorney of Rock Island County has acted in the interests of justice and that we can bring Nathaniel home today.”

In May 2007, Onsrud’s four-month-old son, Dax, who had been born 10 weeks premature and had significant medical complications, became unresponsive while in Nathaniel’s care. After emergency medical treatment at home, Dax was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Initial medical examinations did not reveal foul play and the forensic pathologist brought in to consult on the case was reluctant to determine the death was a homicide. After investigators focused on Onsrud, they had multiple meetings with the pathologist to devise a new (yet erroneous) theory – that he had caused Dax’s death. Onsrud was subjected to two interviews and finally, after continual questioning, made some ambiguous statements that the investigators determined was a “confession.” Ultimately, based in large part on this “confession,” Onsrud’s defense attorney at the time encouraged him to plead guilty.

False confessions played a role in the wrongful conviction of 96 individuals in Illinois – nearly 30 percent of Illinois’ 331 exonerations since 1989, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

“To call this an injustice is a colossal understatement,” said Michael Oppenheimer of Erickson & Oppenheimer. “This was a grotesque, coordinated effort by corrupt cops, an unscrupulous and malicious prosecutor and a dishonorable medical examiner. They worked together, for the sake of their own careers – far outside all bounds of the law – to destroy an innocent man and his family forever.”

“However, I would like to commend the current Rock Island State’s Attorney, Dora Villarreal, for her dedicated leadership role in working to right this horrible wrong,” Oppenheimer added.

Nathaniel Onsrud is one of approximately 100 innocent Illinoisans whose cases have been reversed after they pled guilty, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

“Our criminal justice system is fundamentally broken and we see that in large part in guilty pleas, where a vast number of people, once they are trapped in the system, take pleas to avoid hefty sentences threatened by the State,” said Kaeseberg.

In addition, Onsrud’s case is the latest example of the reversal of cases nationwide in which faulty science was used to convict innocent people where no crime had actually occurred.

Onsrud is the 16th client of the Illinois Innocence Project to be released or exonerated.

Read Rock Island State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal's press release about Onsrud's release.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

UIS plans for safe return of students in fall 2020




The following message was sent by the University of Illinois System to students, faculty and staff on June 18, 2020.

Dear students, faculty and staff:

We are very pleased to announce that on-campus educational activities will resume this fall at the University of Illinois System’s three universities, with a hybrid mixture of in-person and online classes. Of course, our collective decision assumes that Illinois stays on track to meet Phase 4 requirements established by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan that allow reopening of classrooms.

Plans to restore in-person instruction were developed through weeks of exhaustive review that brought together literally hundreds of key stakeholders and considered every available option, from a full return to traditional instruction to remaining fully online.

Throughout, this work was guided by two, intertwined core principles – promoting the safety of our campus communities while maintaining the academic excellence that is synonymous with our best-in-class universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. In the process, faculty, staff, administrative leaders and students drew upon the insights of our own healthcare and education experts, as well as best practices of peer institutions and guidance from state and local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The result is a thoughtful, science-based approach that will bring our universities back to life, with a campus experience that will look somewhat different. But the life-changing benefits will be the same – academic programs that lift students to the careers of their dreams, research that drives discovery and progress, and a healthcare enterprise that provides both patient care and innovation.

A system-wide coordination committee assisted groups at each of the three universities that have worked over the past few weeks to develop detailed plans for reopening. Each university will be providing details of their unique, campus-based plans within the next few weeks, including starting dates and calendars for their fall semesters. But here is a summary of elements that will be common to all:

Instruction 
  • Classes will be a mixture of in-person and remote instruction to provide the physical distancing that inhibits spread of the virus.
  • In-person courses and classroom schedules will be adjusted appropriately to ensure physical distancing and safer traffic flow.
  • Accommodations will be made where possible for students and faculty in vulnerable and at-risk groups, and for students who cannot come to campus due to travel restrictions or other considerations.
  • Classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily.
  • Reusable, washable masks will be provided to all students and required in all classrooms, and hand sanitizer will be widely available in all buildings.
  • Training for faculty and instructors is being provided over the summer to sustain high-quality online and distance instruction with state-of-the-art technologies and virtual modalities.
University housing/dining
  • Residence hall occupancy will be limited to two students per room.
  • Outside visitors will not be allowed in residence halls.
  • Quarantine areas will be created to accommodate students who test positive for COVID-19 or display symptoms.
  • Dining halls will largely provide packaged meals for carryout, and in-person dining will be limited.
  • Common areas will be cleaned and disinfected regularly, and hand sanitizer will be available.
  • Use of these common areas will be limited, and physical distancing will be observed. 
Campus life
  • The size of gatherings will be based on standards under the state reopening guidelines in force this fall and beyond.
  • Use of auxiliary facilities such as recreational centers will be limited to preserve safety. 
  • Outside visitors to campus will be asked to follow physical distancing and wear masks in public places. 
Research
  • Research activities will continue a ramp-up that began over the summer.
  • As in classrooms, masks will be required and other safety measures will be followed.
  • Research will continue to support treatments, vaccines and other measures related to COVID-19. 
Employees
  • Most faculty and staff will continue a phased-in return to work that began in June and will be completed by the start of the fall semester, though some will continue to work from home to reduce campus density.
  • Flexible work-from-home guidelines will be developed for the benefit of vulnerable employees and those with family-related considerations.
  • Work areas will be cleaned regularly, and hand sanitizer will be provided.
  • Masks will be required in publicly shared spaces and reusable masks will be provided to all employees.
  • We will continue engagement with our labor unions to discuss the impact of these plans.
Testing and notification
  • Our scientists are piloting cutting-edge testing procedures for the COVID-19 virus that are accurate, cost-effective and scalable to the whole university community and provide same-day results.
  • We are partnering closely with local public health authorities to notify individuals at risk for infection and mitigate spread, through a combination of manual and rapid app-based approaches.
  • All app-based software will protect individual privacy so that positive test results are shared only with the user, and no location data will be required, collected or shared with third parties. Local public health departments will be provided test results based on required local, state and federal regulations. 
General safety
  • Training will be required for all students and employees to ensure compliance with physical distancing and other COVID-related safety measures.
  • Hand sanitizer or disposable wipes will be available at building entrances, elevator lobbies and in common and high-traffic areas.
  • High-touch surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons will be disinfected multiple times daily.
  • Flu shots will be strongly encouraged for all students, faculty and staff to lessen the possibility of dual outbreaks when traditional flu season begins. 
The pandemic is still evolving, so our plans will be flexible and nimble. We will monitor campus safety and the latest guidance on the virus, and will adjust plans as needed to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the communities we call home.

Our plans for fall could not have been developed without you, and we are deeply grateful to everyone who shared their time and talents to guide us. And we know that you will now help lead the way again, modeling the safety protocols that are essential to make our plans a success.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a test unlike any in our 150-year history. But thanks to your commitment and creativity, we have done more than just answer challenges to our operations. You are supporting the leading-edge medical treatments and scholarship that are helping the state manage the crisis and move beyond it. You are helping show the life-changing power of our universities – in real-time – that will write new chapters in our long legacy of excellence.

Be safe, enjoy your summer and we look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Sincerely, Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System
Barb Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, U of I System Robert J. Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield
Karen M. Whitney, Interim Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield

Thursday, June 11, 2020

UIS drops admissions-test requirement for 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic

The University of Illinois Springfield will not require college bound high school seniors to submit standardized test scores as part of the application process for fall 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Illinois Board of Trustee’s Executive Committee on Wednesday approved a one-year moratorium on the entrance requirement because large numbers of high school students have not been able to take standardized tests, due to school closures and the unavailability of SAT or ACT tests, since March.

“Test-optional is an opportunity to meet the needs of Illinois’ citizens, economy and civic landscape by facing today’s challenges using both, the tried and true and the new,” said Natalie Herring, UIS associate provost for enrollment management. “This benefits students and families by removing pressure, cost and barriers. Our diverse state deserves and requires diverse options for post-secondary education and credentials aimed at keeping Illinois talent in Illinois.”

UIS currently reviews prospective freshman applications through a holistic admissions process. For those applicants who still choose to submit test scores, those scores will be considered. The impact of COVID-19 sparked UIS to be test-flexible with current freshman applicants wishing to begin this August. Fall 2020 applicants missing scores were given the opportunity to respond to essay prompts as a pathway to admission.

Last year, UIS announced that admission application fees for all students who enroll in 2020 would be waived. Applications from all students who wish to apply for fall 2020 classes at UIS will be accepted until August 24.

International students applying for fall 2021 admission will still be required to submit evidence of English proficiency through the Test of English as a Foreign Language, International English Language Testing System and Pearson English Language tests.

A number of other universities around the country have set pandemic-related test-optional policies in recent months.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

UIS and the Illinois Municipal League partner to publish the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal

The Illinois Municipal League (IML) announced a partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) to publish the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal.

Since 2016, IML has published the Journal as an educational tool that provides elected officials with academic research on the issues facing Illinois and its 1,298 cities, villages and towns. Additionally, it provides an arena for academics to publish their scholarly work on important topics, like public pensions, tax increment financing and other local government issues.

“This new partnership allows IML to continue expanding its benefits to our members by addressing some of the greatest challenges facing our state and providing solutions, which are needed now more than ever before as communities face decreased revenues that fund crucial programs,” said Brad Cole, IML executive director. “We are happy to join with the University of Illinois Springfield and look forward to the continued success of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal.”

“A hallmark of this partnership is the blending of theory and practice made possible by balancing the talents and experiences of public officials delivering frontline municipal services with the input and observations of scholars who study and observe the role of municipal government in the state,” said Robert W. Smith, dean of the UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration. “This is something needed today more than ever to solve problems and improve municipal government and systems for all citizens in the State of Illinois.”

UIS’s College of Public Affairs and Administration will spearhead the development of content for the Journal. IML will publish and distribute the Journal widely to local and state elected officials, as well as academic and professional organizations around the country.

Three principal UIS faculty members will be involved in editing the Journal. Kenneth Kriz, UIS Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Director of the Institute for Illinois Public Finance; Beverly Bunch, UIS Professor of Public Administration; and Arwi Kriz, a visiting Research Fellow in the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership.

“We are very excited about providing government officials throughout the state with the most current research on issues that affect the state and its local governments. When challenges to governance are more severe then they have ever been, the state university system is befitting to shed light on best practices in governance, forces that affect governments and choices that governments face,” said Kenneth Kriz.

“We will be working with scholars across the state to synthesize and share research on various economic, financial, social, legal and environmental issues. We will address topics such as the potential impacts of different alternatives, the types of factors that are important to consider, and what has worked, or not worked, in other governments. We are pleased to be collaborating with IML on this project,” said Bunch.

The fifth volume of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal is scheduled to be available in December 2020.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Veteran university leader Karen Whitney named interim chancellor at UIS

Karen M. Whitney, a nationally recognized higher education leader, has been selected to serve as interim chancellor of the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen announced today.

Whitney is the president emerita of Clarion University in Pennsylvania and recently served as interim chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She takes over from Chancellor Susan J. Koch, who has announced plans to retire from UIS effective June 30. Whitney’s appointment as interim-designate, pending approval by the Board of Trustees, is effective June 8, allowing her to work alongside Koch for a period before assuming the role of interim chancellor on July 1.

Killeen said Whitney will bring a wealth of relevant experience to UIS and its more than 4,200 students and more than 1,100 faculty and staff.

“Karen has deep experience working with higher education boards, administrative leaders and faculty, building consensus around common goals,” Killeen said. “At Clarion, she led an institution that is very similar to UIS in size, scope and mission. She is an ideal choice to build upon Susan’s work, which strengthened UIS and put it on the road toward becoming a regional force for progress.”

Whitney said she was excited to be selected to guide UIS as it searches for a permanent chancellor, particularly leading the university during the COVID-19 pandemic, a period she said only heightens the need for the kind of education UIS provides.

“I’m thrilled and honored to come to Springfield to lead a university at this incredible moment in time,” Whitney said. “I am drawn to the mission and vision of the institution, the way UIS has positioned itself to be the capital city’s university with an emphasis on leadership development – that is, I think, an extremely important role in American society today.”

A nationwide search for a permanent chancellor is expected to begin later this year. Whitney’s appointment is for one year or until a permanent chancellor is named.

As interim chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in 2017-18, Whitney led 14 universities serving more than 100,000 students and employing more than 12,000 faculty and staff. The system has a $2.3 billion annual operating budget.

Whitney used her expertise in higher education finance and administration to work closely with Pennsylvania lawmakers regarding budgetary issues. In addition, she collaborated with civic and business leaders to ensure continued investment in the Pennsylvania State System’s campuses and appreciation of the value they bring to the state.

She also worked with the system’s 14 presidents to increase enrollment and foster stronger partnerships and leadership development across the system.

During her seven years as president of Clarion, Whitney led the university’s 5,200 students and more than 700 faculty and staff through both reorganization and the transformation of academic priorities. Based on the needs of regional industry and its workforce, Clarion became a leader in offering innovative professional programs in business, education, health and human services.

Before leading Clarion, Whitney was vice chancellor for student life at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from 1999 through 2010. Previously, she served in leadership positions at the University of Houston and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

She holds a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in higher education administration, a master's degree from the University of Houston in public administration and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Houston.

Whitney was chosen from a field of candidates referred by The Registry, a firm that specializes in identifying leaders to fill interim roles in higher education. The candidates met with both Killeen and Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Wilson. Killeen and Wilson also consulted key stakeholders at UIS.

Koch has led UIS since 2011, a period during which the university added programs designed to meet the needs of local and regional employers, including degrees in information systems security, data analytics, theatre, exercise science and nursing. Under her leadership, UIS achieved record fundraising that helped build the new $21.7 million Student Union and increase scholarship support.

Koch has been appointed UIS chancellor emerita, effective July 1.

“Susan has been the ideal leader for UIS, a capstone to a tremendous career,” Killeen said. “We wish her and her husband, Dennis, a rewarding and well-earned retirement.”

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Susan J. Koch named chancellor emerita at UIS

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday appointed outgoing University of Illinois at Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch as chancellor and vice president emerita.

Koch has announced her retirement from UIS effective June 30. The appointment, which will be effective July 1, confers upon her these honorary titles, which reflect her longstanding service to the university and University of Illinois System.

Koch has been chancellor at UIS since July 2011 and has led the university through a period during which it expanded academic program offerings and increased both its fundraising and its partnerships with the city of Springfield as well as outlying areas.

“Susan’s leadership and vision helped broaden the horizons for the University of Illinois at Springfield and prepare it for a future of increasing impact on the community it serves,” U of I System President Tim Killeen said. “With this emerita appointment, we’re thrilled to both honor her legacy and cement her place in the university’s history.”

Koch expressed pride in the university and in its progress.

“It has been a privilege to serve as chancellor at UIS and vice president of the U of I System for the past nine years,” Koch said. “I’m proud of all we’ve done together at UIS to create an exceptional and personalized university experience for students and I look forward to following the continued growth and success of the entire U of I System.”

Since Koch became chancellor, UIS added programs designed to meet the needs of local and regional employers, including information systems security, data analytics, theater, exercise science, and a new bachelor of science degree in nursing through a partnership with University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Memorial Health System.

Under her leadership, the university also achieved record fundraising that helped build the new $21.7 million Student Union, provided an increase in scholarship support, launched “The Sangamon Experience” exhibition space and research initiative, and laid the groundwork for the planned Center for Lincoln Studies.

Koch was instrumental in the university’s 2018 acquisition of Innovate Springfield, the downtown innovation and business center that became the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network.

Koch also oversaw the expansion of the university’s NCAA Division II athletics program, whose teams have won individual and conference championships.

Trustees were scheduled to meet Thursday in Springfield but instead met and voted virtually.

Monday, May 11, 2020

UIS celebrates the graduation of 1,179 students during virtual commencement

The University of Illinois Springfield celebrated the graduation of 1,179 students during a virtual commencement celebration on May 9, 2020. The virtual ceremony included a special video honoring graduates where their degrees were officially conferred by University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen.


The traditional in-person commencement at the Bank of Springfield Center was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UIS continues to plan and prepare for a rescheduled in-person ceremony for our graduates at a to-be-determined date later this year.

As part of the virtual commencement, UIS also launched a website that includes the names of all of the 1,179 graduates, virtual gifts and a free t-shirt giveaway.

The May 9 ceremony also marked Susan Koch's final commencement as UIS Chancellor.

UIS partners with CWLP to keep Lake Springfield clean by deploying new cigarette butt voting bins


The University of Illinois Springfield Field Station at Lake Springfield has partnered with Springfield’s public utility City Water, Light, and Power (CWLP) to test the effectiveness of new “this or that” cigarette butt voting bins to curb litter near Lake Springfield.

The bright yellow bins were purchased and installed by CWLP and are stationed in three locations around the lake, Marine Point, the Lindsay Boat Launch and the boat launch just east of Spaulding Dam.

The bins encourage cigarette smokers to properly dispose of their litter by using discarded butts to cast their vote to several questions, such as “which team is better cubs or cards,” “would you rather be fishing or hiking” and “do you call it soda or pop?” After the bins fill up, the cigarette butts are collected and properly recycled.

“These ballot bins have been used around the world,” said Anne-Marie Hanson, UIS associate professor of environmental studies. “The company that produces the bins claims that studies have found the bins have reduced cigarette butt litter by 46 percent. Most of the bins have been deployed in cities on high traffic sidewalks and common areas for smoke breaks, so we are interested to see our results around the lake.”

So far, the UIS researchers have been encouraged by the results of the Lake Springfield study. Twenty-four hours after the bins were deployed they already had several cigarette butts disposed of in the voting bins.

“Cigarette butts continue to be the single most collected item in beach clean-ups and litter surveys, from central Illinois waterways to city streets to ocean coastlines,” said Hanson. “In addition to leaching harmful toxins into the environment and being mistakenly consumed by fish and birds, cigarette butts are primarily made of plastic (all those fibers in the filter are plastic).”

The UIS researchers hope the bins bring more attention to cigarette butts and remind people that they are litter and harmful to wildlife, fish and local waterways.

“Cigarette butts have become such an everyday part of the landscape, that in many situations they are not seen as litter and are assumed to be less harmful than other types of litter,” said Tom Rothfus, director of UIS field stations. “This is a very different strategy than the typical anti-litter sign, and we hope it will get people talking about cigarette butt litter in a new way.”

Rothfus says the bins will stay in place for the immediate future, but may be moved around to different locations as the UIS researchers learn more about where they are successful and where they are not.

“If there is success, the number of bins will likely be increased. We are also interested in potentially working with the City of Springfield to deploy these bins in other areas,” said Rothfus.

For more information on the project, contact Anne-Marie Hanson at 217-206-8162 or ahans4@uis.edu or Tom Rothfus at 217-206-7418 or troth3@uis.edu.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

UIS to host a free public webinar on how to prepare to reopen your business

The University of Illinois Springfield Office of Economic Development and Innovation, College of Business and Management, College of Public Affairs and Administration and Innovate Springfield will host a free public webinar on how to prepare to reopen your business during COVID-19 from 12-1 p.m. Friday, May 8.

On May 5, Governor J.B. Pritzker released Restore Illinois, the plan to reopen our state outlining the conditions that trigger the multiple phases and determine when and how we can operate. Anticipating and preparing for each phase of reopening is critical to planning for our organizations and reopening the economy. This week’s panelists will put the governor’s plan in context by highlighting case studies from across the country and globe. Exploring these examples will help guide our decision-making, and help us forecast when and under what conditions we can move forward.

Pritzker’s plan divides the state into four regions. Opening our Central Region seems less dependent upon what is happening in Chicago and more dependent on how the virus is impacting the other county in our region, including Champaign County. Monitoring the impact of the virus across those counties will be important to predicting how we might progress or regress through the phases.

The online panel discussion will feature Blair Rowitz, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Carle Health and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs for Carle Illinois College of Medicine; Molly Lamb, Deputy Director of Health Protection at the Illinois Department of Public Health; Dave Oberg, Vice President for Illinois Association of Museums; Ranjan Karri, Professor of Management (Strategy and Entrepreneurship) at UIS College of Business and Management; and Robert Smith, Dean of UIS College of Public Administration.

Participants are encouraged to register for the event at go.uis.edu/COVIDwebinar, however registration is not required. Zoom video and call in connection information can be found on the registration page. This webinar part of a series aimed at providing the local community with expert information and quality resources to navigate these challenging times. For more information, contact Bruce Sommer at 217-899-3186 or bsomm2@uis.edu.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln awards $5,000 grant to the UIS Cares Food Pantry

The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln has awarded a $5,000 grant to the UIS Cares Food Pantry to help eliminate food insecurity for students currently living on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant comes from the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Greater Capital Region of Illinois, a fund providing charitable assistance throughout central Illinois.

“We have relied very heavily on funding this year due to an increase in student need,” said Jill Hawkins, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center. “The amount that we had in the food pantry fund is drastically lower as we near the end of the academic year. This grant has come at a critical time as we continue to provide for students on campus.”

The UIS Cares Food Pantry, located in student affairs building, is dedicated to making sure that every UIS student has what they need to be successful. UIS Cares helps bridge the gap and provide students with the fuel needed for their academic success.

A micro pantry was recently opened in the west entrance of the Student Union to better serve students. Food is available to students living on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Donations are also accepted and can be added to the shelves at any time.

Students visited the UIS Cares Food Pantry 305 times during Fall Semester 2019.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

UIS helping private and community colleges and state agencies transition to remote learning

The University of Illinois Springfield Center For Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) is helping Illinois private and community colleges and state agencies transition to remote learning as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 1997, UIS has been at the forefront of institutions engaged in online learning and the uses of technology in instruction.

“The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) has received national recognition as a leader in online learning. COLRS staff maintains the highest quality of knowledge in delivery of online learning and is pleased to be able to share this knowledge with our colleagues across the state,” said Vickie Cook, UIS executive director of online professional and engaged learning, research and service.

Based on a request from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, UIS is providing private and independent colleges across the state with a resource page that includes tips to teach remotely, how to put content online, how to provide lab classes online and how to make digital content accessible for students. UIS will also be offering a free webinar for private and independent colleges on April 13 and for private business and vocational schools on April 14.

Additionally, the UIS ION Professional eLearning Programs are providing short question and answer videos to assist with moving materials into online formats including digital accessibility, how to use universal design and other remote teaching tips for Illinois colleges through their social media platforms, YouTube and LinkedIn.

UIS is also assisting several state agencies, including the Department of Human Services, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Central Management Services, in moving face-to-face professional development to online programming.

The UIS Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) program will also be offering a new non-credit course in online overview that will open on April 20.

Go to the ION COVID-19 resource page to register for the free webinars and signup for the online overview course.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

UIS extends deadlines, waives fees and offers virtual assistance during COVID-19

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Office of Admission is taking several steps to make it easier for prospective students and families to learn about the Springfield campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UIS has extended its decision date for incoming fall 2020 freshmen from May 1 to June 1 to give students and families more time to learn about the campus.

Additionally, application and enrollment fees for freshman, transfer and graduate students are being waived for summer and fall 2020. UIS is also waiving the essay requirement for freshman and transfer applicants.

Virtual one-on-one appointments (as late as 7 p.m. to accommodate working adults) with UIS admission counselors and weekly Wednesday webinars are also being offered to give students a chance to learn about UIS and ask questions.

“It’s more important than ever to remind students, especially here in Illinois, that UIS offers all the perks of going away to college, with close to home comfort,” said Natalie Herring, UIS associate provost for enrollment management. “It’s just as important to remind working adults and those with families that one third of UIS students are online learners.”

In addition to traditional on-campus degree programs, UIS offers 52 online programs for students who want to earn a flexible and cost-efficient degree. UIS’ online programs are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus courses. Learn more at uis.edu/online.

UIS also stands ready to help students who want to transfer to the Springfield campus or earn a master’s degree.

“UIS offers 20 master’s degree programs for students who want to continue their education,” Herring said. “We also have transfer experts who can help students retain their maximum amount of credits from other institutions.”

Prospective students and families who are interested in learning more about UIS should visit uis.edu/admissions/visit to schedule a virtual one-on-one appointment or RSVP to attend a weekly Wednesday webinar.

UIS was recently ranked the top public regional university in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report.

For more information, contact the Office of Admission at 217-206-4847 or admissions@uis.edu.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

UIS announces May commencement ceremony will not take place due to COVID-19

The following email was sent by the University of Illinois System on March 17, 2020.

Dear students, parents, faculty, staff and friends:

We are very disappointed to share the news that commencement ceremonies will not take place as scheduled in May at our universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Diplomas will be mailed, and we are exploring possible alternatives such as rescheduling and/or hosting virtual events to honor the Class of 2020. You will hear more from leadership of your universities in the days and weeks to come.

This was an outcome we had hoped to avoid. Commencements reflect the very core of our mission and provide a richly deserved celebration for both our graduates and the proud parents, family, friends, faculty and staff who supported them along the way. Every year, ceremonies across the U of I System draw anywhere from a few hundred people at school- and college-based commencements to more than 20,000 at Urbana’s university-wide event.

Even small turnouts, however, would far exceed the guidance issued last weekend by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the virus. The new guidelines call for cancelling or postponing all large gatherings for at least the next eight weeks – a timeline that brings us within days of our May commencements.

We know you share the goal of those restrictions – protecting yourselves and the well-being of your family, friends and the broader community, particularly the most vulnerable among us. We are proud of your sacrifice and your success, Class of 2020, and we promise we will find ways to honor your achievements.

Sincerely,
Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System
Barbara J. Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Illinois System
Robert J. Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield

Thursday, March 12, 2020

University of Illinois Board of Trustees approves new UIS infrastructure and facilities master plan

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved the University of Illinois Springfield’s new infrastructure and facilities 2020 master plan during its March 12 meeting in Urbana.

The new master plan will guide investment decisions and enhancements to existing campus facilities, new construction, parking/road network, landscape and utilities that will support a more flexible, adaptable, responsible and sustainable campus.

“Created with the input from hundreds of stakeholders, this master plan is a visionary roadmap with opportunities to support the university’s momentum and growth in both reputation and enrollment,” UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said. “This master plan will better position UIS to provide a pathway to opportunity and a space of possibility for both undergraduate and graduate students.”

The master plan calls for UIS to create a larger presence in its existing footprint, particularly along 11th Street where commercial development is encouraged, allowing UIS to become a more prominent destination and asset to the Springfield community, central Illinois and beyond.

The master plan includes strategic renovations to existing campus buildings, as well as construction of several new facilities including a new Public Safety Building; a Library Learning and Student Success Center; a Child Development Center; an Information Sciences Building and a Business Building, among others. The design process for the new Library, Learning and Student Success Center is expected to be announced this spring. Funding for an Innovation Center in downtown Springfield was announced as part of the UI’s Illinois Innovation Network earlier this month.

Several athletics projects are also part of the master plan, including construction of a baseball/softball complex, tennis complex, golf training facility and a natatorium (pool complex) as part of The Recreation and Athletic Center. An Athletics Field House, a possible public/private partnership, is also part of the plan.

Some other projects mentioned in the master plan include enhancing university gateways, developing the east and west quads, reserving land for a future solar energy farm and realigning several parking lots and streets.

“The UIS 2020 Master Plan will create a more cohesive campus,” said Chuck Coderko, UIS associate chancellor for administrative affairs, facilities and services. “Building systems, utilities and transportation networks will be modernized to create a more sustainable and inviting living, learning and teaching environment for our students, employees and visitors to campus.”

The master plan was designed by the St. Louis-based Lawrence Group during a 15-month process. The four main goals of the master plan were to cultivate a premier educational experience, support a vibrant campus life and culture, implement growth strategies and foster partnerships.

“This master plan allows us to ‘dream big’ about the future growth of the university and will serve as a road map as we work hand-in-hand with our elected leaders, the University of Illinois System and our community to fund the projects,” Coderko said.

You can view an executive summary of the new UIS master plan by visiting go.uis.edu/masterplan.

UIS extending spring break for students by one week, courses to be delivered remotely starting March 23

The following message was sent to UIS students, faculty and staff on March 12, 2020.

Dear UIS Community —

By now we hope you have read yesterday’s communication from President Killeen and the three University of Illinois chancellors regarding the steps the UI System is taking to protect our students, faculty and staff amid the increasing COVID-19 threat to public health. Safety is our top priority, and we are taking this rapidly evolving situation seriously.

We realize our UIS community has many questions following yesterday’s announcement. We intend to communicate with you often to address these questions, and this morning we want to share with you some pertinent information.

Most importantly, after consultation with the COVID-19 Response Team, we have decided to extend Spring Break for students by one week (March 16-22) to enable faculty and staff to effectively migrate courses to alternative delivery methods. Courses will resume in their new formats beginning March 23.

Students: During this extra week of Spring Break, the campus will remain open, including residence halls and dining services. While we encourage you to stay home as much as possible to limit possible exposure, you may return to campus if you wish to do so. Please check your UIS email for communication from faculty regarding plans to complete your courses through remote teaching or other formats. Student employees have the option of returning to their on-campus jobs as scheduled, but we ask you to communicate with your supervisor if you do not intend to follow your planned work schedule. Students who need technology assistance should contact the Helpdesk at 217-206-6000 or email techsupport@uis.edu.

Faculty and staff: The UIS campus remains open, and all faculty and staff are expected to work as usual. Ensuring the non-interruption of instruction is a top priority for UIS and the UI System. An Instructional Continuity Planning Subcommittee is already working to help faculty transition to successfully deliver courses using remote technology. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage provides resources to assist faculty with remote course delivery. Every course at UIS has a Blackboard course site. Through Blackboard, you can send emails and post announcements to your students. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage lists many other technologies at UIS that can be used to remotely deliver content, conduct instructional activities and interact with students. ITS will be providing workshops next week to help faculty with technology. COLRS is available to help in any way at 217-206-7317 or at colrs@uis.edu.

Travel: All university-sponsored international travel for students, faculty and staff is prohibited, along with nonessential domestic travel, until further notice. Additionally, personal international travel is strongly discouraged, especially for those with underlying health conditions. We also urge anyone considering personal domestic travel to use caution and exercise good judgment.

Events and meetings: UIS is suspending university-sponsored, in-person events and meetings with 50 people or more using campus facilities effective March 13. If appropriate, organizers should seek alternative ways of conducting events and meetings, such as livestreams or conference calls. University-sponsored events include those planned by registered student organizations. UIS also strongly recommends reconsidering the need for any in-person meetings at this time, regardless of attendance size, and if necessary, to practice appropriate social distancing and other preventative measures. For updates on Performing Arts Center events, visit uispac.com.

Moving forward…

Many people across our university have been planning for weeks to be prepared for this situation. The UIS COVID-19 Response Team and many others have worked in concert with local, state and national public health officials and taken precautionary steps, including sanitation activities across campus and contingency planning to ensure we can effectively meet the needs of students, faculty and staff.

The UIS Campus Relations team will be updating our COVID-19 website, uis.edu/covid-19, frequently. We highly encourage all faculty, staff and students to monitor this website for updates as well as your university email for announcements. An email address, covid19@uis.edu, has been established for anyone who wants to submit a question about the UIS response to COVID-19.

There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Sangamon County or within the UIS community to-date, but we strongly encourage all members of the university to follow personal health practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including proper handwashing and avoiding large groups.

These are challenging times, which we understand can cause stress and confusion. Please be assured that everything being done is in the interest of, first and foremost, protecting the health and safety of our university community. UIS Health Services and the Counseling Center remain available to assist students who have concerns or questions.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we navigate this extraordinary situation.

Susan Koch, Chancellor
Dennis Papini, Provost
Clarice Ford, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

UIS classes to be taught remotely in response to COVID-19 situation

The following message was sent to U of I System faculty, staff and students on March 11, 2020.

We write today to share new policies for the University of Illinois System and its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, all designed to protect the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The proactive policies are focused squarely on doing our part to help curb the virus. Fortunately, there have been no confirmed cases among our faculty, staff and students. But such cases have been increasing in Illinois and our experts say early intervention is the best option to limit the spread.

Our policies will adopt best practices endorsed by state and national health officials by minimizing face-to-face exposure in classrooms and other types of large gatherings, and by limiting international and domestic travel. They were developed with guidance from the leading-edge healthcare experts across our universities, who have been consulting daily with a leadership team composed of the president, the chancellors and the provosts from all three universities. We will continue to monitor the outbreak and stay in constant contact with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health, local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other universities around the state and the nation.

The new policies were carefully crafted to safeguard our students, faculty and staff without compromising the world-class education and the groundbreaking research discovery that are synonymous with the U of I System. They are:

Instruction
  • Courses at each of our three universities will immediately begin migrating to online or alternative delivery mechanisms to provide the social distancing that helps limit transmission of the virus, with a goal of completion by March 23. Classes will be held at their currently scheduled times.
  • Online and other alternative learning methods will continue until further notice, but our expectation is that it will be temporary and students will be updated regularly via email and updates on system and university websites.
  • Students have the option of studying remotely from home or from their campus residence after spring break.
  • Our campuses will remain open and ready to serve students, including residence and dining halls.
  • Each university will provide specific guidance for their students regarding both academic and housing arrangements.
  • Faculty and staff will continue their work on campus, including research, and human resources offices will provide guidance for work conditions that foster safety and for employees who suspect exposure or infection and must self-quarantine. 
Events
  • Events with more than 50 attendees that are university-sponsored or hosted by registered student organizations will be suspended indefinitely, effective Friday, March 13.
  • Events may occur via livestream or other telecommunications, or be postponed to a future date.
  • Please check with each university for specific guidance.
Travel 

  • All university-sponsored international travel is prohibited, along with non-essential domestic travel until further notice.
  • Personal international travel is strongly discouraged, and we urge caution and the exercise of good judgment for personal domestic travel. 
Leaders of our three universities will share further information for how these policies will be implemented to address the specific educational and safety needs of their campus communities. UI Hospital and clinics will provide additional protocols to address the unique needs in providing care for their patients.

We recognize the many challenges this will create for our students, faculty and staff. We pledge to do everything in our power to support you during this temporary move to safeguard your health and the health of people in the communities we call home.

Our policies are rooted in our expert scientific knowledge base and exhibit an abundance of caution to take care of each other until the COVID-19 outbreak eases. We are all in this together, and appreciate your support and understanding.

Sincerely,

Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System
Barbara J. Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Illinois System
Robert J. Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield

UIS Career Development Center selected for CIC-SHRM Diversity and Inclusion Award

The Career Development Center at the University of Illinois Springfield was chosen to receive the Central Illinois Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers Diversity and Inclusion Award during the organization’s annual recognition event earlier this month.

The award honors outstanding work in the area of Human Resources from within member organizations as well as the community at large.

The UIS Career Development Center was chosen for its success identifying the needs of each type of student on the diverse campus; (including traditional, non-traditional and international) and cultivating their skills and abilities for a professional career.

“The UIS Career Development Center provides a wide variety of resources to students to prepare them for a successful future in the workplace both before and after graduation,” said a nominator.

The Career Development Center was recognized for hosting the annual and successful Career Connections Expo, which gives students and community members exposure to diverse industries and an opportunity to network with professionals and peers.

“We are honored to be recognized for our work in collaborating with local professionals for the benefit of both UIS students and the larger Springfield and Sangamon County communities,” said Kathyy Battee-Freeman, director of the UIS Career Development Center. “Through this work we are reaching a diverse population and help
ing strengthen the Illinois workforce.”

Friday, March 06, 2020

UIS COVID-19 response and resources

The University of Illinois Springfield has established the UIS COVID-19 Response Team to monitor our university's preparedness in response to the growing global concern about the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Currently, we are NOT aware of any COVID-19 cases on the UIS campus.

UIS has created a webpage to serve as a resource for all UIS stakeholders seeking information and updates about the impact of the COVID-19 virus on our university community. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

UIS-developed Child Protection Training Academy to be replicated in southern Illinois


The Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) first developed at the University of Illinois Springfield, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), will be replicated through a new partnership with the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine.

The academy’s southern Illinois site will train DCFS, law enforcement and other frontline professionals in methods to better protect at-risk children from abuse in the southern region of the state.

The UIS CPTA was the first statewide simulation training project in the country that provided a child protection training laboratory for frontline professionals and students. Since its founding in 2016, the UIS CPTA in Springfield has trained more than 700 new child protection investigators using a residential simulation lab located in a small house on campus and a mock courtroom.

“The CPTA team is extremely excited to transfer the knowledge we have learned over the past four years to our partnership with SIU,” said Betsy Goulet, coordinator of the UIS Child Protection Training Academy. “The new academy site will expand opportunities and provide a realistic environment for training other allied professionals in the southern region.”

The UIS CPTA was awarded state funding for the expansion, after submitting a request to DCFS. The CPTA team, SIU School of Medicine leaders, the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children and community leaders are working together with DCFS to identify a physical location in proximity to the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus for the new simulation lab.

In partnership with DCFS, the CPTA expanded to Chicago in 2019 with simulation labs in a DCFS field office on Emerald Drive and 63rd Street. Since the program’s launch in April 2019, 102 investigators have been trained at the Chicago Academy site.

“Expanding to other parts of the state is a vital part of our plan to help protect all of the children in the state of Illinois,” Goulet said. “This expansion will give more child protection investigators and law enforcement personnel access to vital training that has proven itself to be effective.”

The Children and Family Research Center at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been evaluating the UIS model since 2016, indicating positive responses to simulation training. The third year of evaluation data indicates the CPTA appears to be positively impacting turnover at DCFS. Non-simulation-trained investigators (hired before 2016) are twice as likely to leave DCFS at the 18-month mark versus investigators who have been simulation-trained.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New UIS online course gives business professionals the chance to become data analytics ninjas

The University of Illinois Springfield is offering a chance for business professionals to become data analytics ninjas through a new highly marketable Splunk fundamentals course that can be completed online in only a month.

Splunk is a platform that can search, monitor and analyze massive amounts of data from any source to obtain real-time insights. The platform reduces the time spent organizing data, which means businesses can make decisions faster.

“Business professionals who take this course will become instantly marketable,” said Somnath Bhattacharya, dean of the UIS College of Business and Management. “Put simply, data analysts are valuable, and with a looming skills shortage on the horizon, as more and more businesses and sectors start working with big data, this value is only going to increase.”

The Splunk platform will be used throughout the course to teach students the fundamentals of big data and data analytics. By utilizing Splunk, students will learn how to collect, index, search, analyze and visualize data in one place. The class is designed to prepare students to pass the Splunk Core Certified User exam.

“Strong demand for data analytics skills is boosting the wages for qualified professionals,” said Rob Kerr, UIS associate director of continuing and professional education. “As the demand steadily increases and the supply remains low, data analytics professionals are getting paid more and more.”

Registration for the March 19-April 16 course is currently open. The deadline to apply for the first session is March 6. For more information on the course, registration and other scheduled sessions, visit uis.edu/cape.

The fundamentals course is being offered through a partnership with the UIS College of Business and Management, UIS Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) and bitsIO, Inc., a local Springfield business and Innovate Springfield member.

bitsIO, Inc., who will lead and facilitate the course, is a leading Splunk Elite Partner. As one of the leading Splunk partners in the industry, bitsIO, Inc. has over two decades of expertise in the IT domain and a track record of deploying Splunk technologies to national and international companies.

For more information, contact Rob Kerr, UIS associate director of continuing and professional education, at 217-206-8644 or rkerr6@uis.edu.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

UIS announces Fall Semester 2019 Dean’s List



The University of Illinois Springfield has released the Dean’s List for Fall Semester 2019. A total of 599 students were selected; 82 are students in the College of Business and Management, 48 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 382 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 57 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and 30 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 2019 Dean's List PDF | Fall 2019 Dean's List Excel


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Gov. Pritzker announces funding for UIS Innovation Center


University of Illinois President Tim Killeen and Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Feb. 12 that the State of Illinois is moving forward with capital funding for the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) and Discovery Partners Institute (DPI).  The UIS Innovation Center will receive $15 million in state funds as part of the $500 million appropriation. The IIN is a connected system of university-, community- and industry-based hubs that will work together to drive innovation and economic development across Illinois.

"This is great news for UIS and Springfield," said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. "The governor's announcement to move forward with $500 million in capital funding for the Illinois Innovation Network and Discovery Partners Institute puts us one step closer to realizing our vision for a downtown innovation center, to include an expanded Innovate Springfield. We look forward to the release of a portion of our $15 million appropriation relatively soon so we can move forward to the design phase of our plan in Springfield."

The Innovate Springfield business incubator in downtown Springfield, part of UIS' Center for State Policy and Leadeship, was the first hub in the IIN and will continue to play a pivotal role in the UIS Innovation Center. 

The UIS Innovation Center will be a modern space located in proximity to the Illinois State Capitol.

The Center will focus on five strategic areas.

1. Business Incubation and Acceleration UIS will expand Innovate Springfield's incubation activities and launch new business acceleration and workforce development initiatives in collaboration with industry and local research partners.

2. Technology & Research Commercialization The Center will capitalize on assets from the Discovery Partners Institute and the IIN at-large to resource local researchers, corporate research-and-design staff and entrepreneurs to bring new products and services to market.

3. Social Innovation UIS will expand its evidence-based social innovation activities and partnerships by providing collaborative space for philanthropies, social service agencies, faculty researchers, students and lawmakers to analyze and implement improvements to existing programs or cultivate new services.

4. Public Policy Research UIS' Center for State Policy and Leadership will join other policy institutes from across the state to provide lawmakers a central location for research, analytical and design-thinking services on a variety of critical issues.

5. Workforce Development and Education The Center's location within the heart of state government and regional industry will allow UIS to expand existing graduate-level internship and fellowship programs, and launch new innovative workforce and professional education initiatives to support regional employers. 

The UIS Innovation Center will be one of 15 hubs in the IIN, which links every public university in the state and U of I College of Medicine locations in Peoria and Rockford. Projects planned at other hubs will apply to technology, manufacturing, transportation, health and wellness, the environment and entrepreneurship.

The University is currently in discussions over possible downtown locations for the UIS Innovation Center. 

Friday, February 07, 2020

UIS Chancellor Koch announces retirement, led university since 2011

Susan J. Koch, chancellor of the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) since 2011, announced Friday she will retire as chancellor of UIS and vice president of the University of Illinois System effective June 30. She is currently the longest-serving chancellor of the U of I System.

During her tenure, Koch has provided leadership and vision for UIS, which is ranked the top regional public university in Illinois by U.S. News & World Report.

“The past nine years have been among the most fulfilling of my career, and it has been a privilege to work with so many outstanding faculty, staff and students,” Koch said. “I love the university and the community my husband Dennis and I have called home for nearly a decade, and I am so proud of everything this young university has achieved.”

U of I System President Tim Killeen said Koch will leave a legacy that will be felt by students for generations.

“Susan’s leadership and persistence have enriched UIS’s academic excellence, provided new opportunities for students, expanded and beautified the campus and laid the groundwork to do even more,” Killeen said. “I am grateful for her commitment, her friendship and I wish her and Dennis nothing but happiness in their much-deserved retirement.”

Since her appointment in July 2011, UIS has added numerous academic programs to meet the interests of students as well as the needs of local and regional employers. They include programs in information systems security, data analytics, theater, exercise science, and a new bachelor of science in nursing through a partnership with University of Illinois at Chicago and Memorial Health System. With Koch at the helm, UIS also has successfully recruited two University of Illinois Distinguished Scholars – Ken Kriz in public administration and Graham Peck in Lincoln studies. The additions are part of an initiative to attract senior star faculty who can help transform the system’s three universities through their exceptional teaching and scholarship.

Record fundraising under Koch’s leadership has resulted in construction of a new, award-winning $21.7 million Student Union, the first on the UIS campus, and an increase in scholarship support to improve students’ access to a UIS education.

Koch has led many successful fundraising endeavors for UIS. The Brilliant Futures Campaign, completed in 2012, surpassed its $28 million goal. The current Reaching Stellar Campaign, set to conclude in 2022, has raised more than $33 million of its $40 million goal to date.

Private giving has also led to the creation of “The Sangamon Experience,” a unique exhibition space and research initiative opened Jan. 30 that will support faculty and students and spur new research, teaching and community engagement about the Sangamon region of Illinois. A new Center for Lincoln Studies, also supported by private gifts, will open later this spring.

Koch was instrumental in the university’s August 2018 acquisition of Innovate Springfield. In joining UIS, the downtown innovation and business center became the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, a network of research and education centers across the state led by the U of I System. They will partner will the system’s Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago to foster the innovation and talent that drives progress and economic growth.

Her leadership has also led to expansion of the university’s young Division II athletics program, whose teams have won individual and conference championships. At the same time, Prairie Stars student-athletes this past fall earned the highest collective grade-point average (3.38) in university history.

Koch has secured several awards from the U of I System’s Chester Fund, a privately funded endowment to support the acquisition of significant artwork for campus beautification. Acquisitions include “The Young Lawyer,” a Lincoln sculpture by George Lundeen; a Shakespeare Garden featuring “Shakespeare,” a sculpture by James Price; and works by Sanford Biggers and Lisa Williamson for the Student Union.

“While I am looking forward to having time that my husband and I can devote to enjoying our family and to unlocking new possibilities to grow and contribute, this was a bittersweet decision,” Koch said. “What makes it easier is my confidence that UIS will continue to be an asset for our community and our state thanks to dedicated colleagues, alumni and donors who believe in our vision to be a pathway of opportunity for the thousands of students we educate each year.”

“To have played a small part in the success of our university is a gift I will always treasure,” Koch added.

Killeen said there will be a timely and transparent leadership transition process.

Koch is the sixth chief executive in the nearly 50-year history of the university. It was known as Sangamon State University for 25 years and has been part of the U of I System since 1995.

Koch’s career encompasses more than four decades in education, with the last 35 years in higher education. Before her appointment as UIS chancellor, Koch served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northern Michigan University. She also served as associate provost and graduate dean at the University of Northern Iowa, where she began her career in higher education as a professor of community and public health.

Koch earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from Dakota State University in South Dakota and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Northern Iowa. In 2016, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in public service from Dakota State University. Koch is also the author of a widely read monthly column, “UIS Perspectives,” for Springfield’s State Journal-Register and has been active with several community organizations along with serving on many boards in central Illinois.