Wednesday, January 15, 2020

UIS Institute for Illinois Public Finance releases report on state government efficiency

A study released today by the University of Illinois Springfield’s Institute for Illinois Public Finance reports mixed results with respect to the efficiency of Illinois state government when compared to other states.

The study finds that Illinois state government is in a group of the most efficient states in three areas: higher education, environment and housing, and infrastructure. It is in the top 20 states for efficiency in welfare, and in the top half of states for public safety and health and hospitals efficiency.

However, the state ranks below average in efficiency in elementary and secondary education and near the bottom in transportation.

“The study is unique in that the measures of efficiency that are produced lead directly to recommendations for improving the efficiency of state government operations,” said Arwi Srithongrung Kriz, a UIS Institute for Illinois Public Finance research fellow who authored the study.

Recommendations in the study include increasing regional or centralized services shared by local school districts for the elementary and secondary education function and reducing capital project acquisition costs when it comes to transportation.

Srithongrung Kriz, an internationally recognized expert on efficiency measurement who holds a doctorate in public administration, developed measures of efficiency for eight functions of state government: higher education, elementary and secondary education, public welfare, health and hospitals, transportation, public safety, environment and housing and infrastructure.

She compares numerous measures of the things that government produces, such as the number of degrees awarded at public universities and the number of prisoners in correctional facilities with the costs of those services and the number of state employees in each function.

Srithongrung Kriz employed a methodology, which she says has been scientifically tested in many settings and is superior to measures used in previous analyses of state government efficiency.

The study is available in a longer working paper format that compares efficiency across all states and a shorter white paper version that focuses on Illinois state government.

For more information, contact Arwi Srithongrung Kriz at 217-206-8047 or asrit1@uis.edu.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

UIS to receive a $100,000 grant aimed at developing new programs to support minority students in STEM fields

The University of Illinois Springfield will receive a five-year $100,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant aimed at developing and implementing evidence-based programs that will support the academic success of underrepresented minority (URM) students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Lucía Vázquez, associate dean of the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will serve as one of the principal investigators on the project.

“Nationwide, minorities are underrepresented in the STEM workforce; also, of the students who start as STEM majors, about 40 percent of them switch majors and 23 percent drop out of college,” said Vázquez. “Given this situation and the prediction that the demand for professionals in STEM fields will increase in the near future (based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics), then it is imperative that we implement programs to promote the academic success of our minority students in these areas.”

The grant was awarded to the Illinois LSAMP STEM Pathway and Research Alliance (ILSPRA) through Chicago State University. ILSPRA is made up of a diverse group of 10 public and private universities and community colleges in urban and rural settings throughout the state of Illinois; these institutions will collaborate to achieve the objectives of this grant project.

One of the goals of the grant is to increase the participation of URM students in research through the establishment of faculty-student mentoring teams. A second goal is to provide students with academic support in gateway courses through the implementation of a learning assistant (LA) model, which has proven to be effective in increasing student performance. The end goal is to provide a variety of resources to ensure student academic success and to prepare the next generation of scientists.

At the end of the five-year project, the ILSPRA’s goal is to have significantly increased the number of URM students graduating with STEM degrees and joining the workforce or enrolling in STEM graduate programs.

“This is an imperative because there is a need to maintain the nation’s technological edge in an increasingly highly competitive global environment,” said the ILSPRA in their program summary.

In additional to developing actionable models to support URM STEM students, the ILSPRA team will also generate scholarly and peer-reviewed publications on broadening participation that will inform the entire STEM community on evidence-based practices that promote URM student success.

UIS online bachelor’s degree programs ranked among the top 10 percent in the country

The University of Illinois Springfield’s online bachelor’s degree programs have been ranked 33rd best in the country (out of 353 institutions) for a second year in a row by U.S. News and World Report. The 2020 ranking put UIS among the top 10 percent of best online bachelor’s degree programs in the United States.

UIS’ online master’s degree programs were also ranked highly by U.S. News and World Report. The management information systems (MIS) online master’s degree was ranked 41 out of 188 in the non-MBA business category, while the UIS online master’s degree in education was ranked 69 out of 309 degrees.

“Once again this year, U.S. News recognizes that UIS offers online programs that are among the highest quality in the country,” said Ray Schroeder, UIS associate vice chancellor of online learning. “We are most proud of the faculty, staff and students who make this national recognition possible.”

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

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

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

“UIS offers a unique perspective to online learning,” said Vickie Cook, executive director of UIS online, professional and engaged learning. “We believe that connecting students to exceptionally qualified faculty through strong instruction and online technologies is key to providing experiences that will serve students in their careers and in their lives. UIS faculty often share their experiences of working with great students who are developing the skills needed to be successful.”

According to census data, a total of 1,451 students were enrolled in online at UIS during Fall Semester 2019. UIS online students reside in 45 states, 83 counties in Illinois and 16 foreign countries and one territory (Guam).