Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Record number of Illinois higher education professors and K-12 teachers take UIS course on teaching online

The University of Illinois Springfield ION Professional eLearning Program’s Overview of Online Instruction course has seen a large jump in enrollment, as more Illinois higher education professors and K-12 teachers are wanting to learn how to better teach online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Course enrollment jumped from 793 students in 2019 to 1,819 students so far in 2020. Just recently, 1,153 students completed the course during the April to July term.

“We’re glad that educators are turning to UIS to learn how to teach online,” said Vickie Cook, UIS executive director of online, professional, and engaged learning. “UIS has been recognized as a national leader in online learning. We believe that we are all stronger when we stand together.”

The Overview of Online Instruction course explores topics, such as accessibility, course design, learning objectives, communication, multimedia use, micro learning, instructor presence, feedback and equity.

Instructors from schools, such as Oakton Community College, McHenry County College, Kankakee Community College and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have completed the course. ION created special sections for UIC and McHenry County College.

A UIC faculty member who took the course, said “ION eased my concerns about online education, demonstrated my practices in previous teaching and provided me with new insights on how to conduct effective online education.”

Another faculty member added, “I think that this experience gave me valuable insight into what it may feel like as a student taking my online class in the fall.”

The Overview of Online Instruction course was originally designed for higher education faculty, but has been updated for fall to include relevant content for K-12 teachers.

“Sharing our expertise in online learning with K-12 educators is an extension of our promise of world class teaching,” Cook said. “More and more K-12 teachers are being asked to teach online due to COVID-19. We want to make sure they’re prepared to enter the virtual classroom.”

The next term for the Overview of Online Instruction course will begin Aug. 24. Students can learn more about the course, register and pay online at

ION is also holding two free webinars for K-12 educators:
  • Aug. 6 2:30 p.m. - Leveraging Google Classroom to Save Time and Be More Efficient
  • Aug. 13 10 a.m. - Zoom Tips and Tricks to Use with Your Students

Monday, July 20, 2020

UIS Good as Gold awards honor more than 50 local volunteers, businesses and organizations

The University of Illinois Springfield, Junior League of Springfield and the United Way of Central Illinois honored more than 50 Sangamon County volunteers and businesses during the virtual 12th annual Good as Gold Ceremony. The winners were announced in a video released Monday on the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center’s website.

The Good as Gold Ceremony was started in 2008 to honor people, businesses and organizations who freely give their time and talents to make Sangamon County a better place to live.

Distinguished Volunteer Award 

Bert Morton of Springfield was honored with the 2020 Distinguished Volunteer Award. For many years, Morton has given back to the Springfield community in a variety of avenues. He has been an active member and advisor to the Springfield Jaycee’s for more than 25 years.

Morton was one of the key individuals in Springfield to advocate for those suffering from HIV and AIDS at a time when such advocacy was not popular. He helped establish the Springfield AIDS walk and supported the establishment of the Springfield AIDS Resource Association. Morton is actively involved in coordinating fundraising, outreach, and mentoring efforts to the Coalition of Rainbow Alliances (CORAL) organization, including an annual fundraising event that raises CORAL more than $20,000 annually.

For Acorn Equality, Morton is a sponsor of two scholarships providing opportunities for students to gain access to college. He is instrumental in planning key fundraising events including Trivia Nights and the Annual Art Auction for Fifth Street Renaissance.

Morton has donated more than $10,000 to the renovation of the Hoogland Center for the Arts. He and his husband, Lee Korte, were one of 16 couples who sued the state of Illinois for the right to marry 2013. They have been true trail blazers that have impacted lives of numerous people.

The 2020 Distinguished Volunteer finalists include Philip Chiles, Tiffany Mathis, Rose Russell, Cathy Schwartz and Janel Veile.

Star Student Award

University of Illinois Springfield junior social work major Sundae Johnson of Springfield was honored with the Star Student Award for her volunteer efforts. She was nominated by St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church and Habitat for Humanity.

She is also an active member of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church. Within her Church, Johnson is a singer in the praise band and leads the monthly “God’s Girls” Bible Study.

With her training as a Stephen Minister, she offers prayer, encouragement, listening, and support to members in their time of need. Johnson also serves on the Dismantling Racism Committee, which works to identify and address the issues of diversity in the congregation.

Despite obstacles while growing up, Johnson has managed to stay positive and has provided a good home for herself and for her son. She has compassion for those who are hurting and a willingness to reach out to those who need her help. Whether she is helping to plan activities or service projects as a member of the Family & Youth Ministry Team, visiting a church member as a Stephen Minister, or serving on a committee, Johnson gives her all to any project she undertakes.

Finalists for this award include Ben Paoletti and Luigi Cabantog.

Star Staff Award

Ali Nizamuddin of Springfield, associate professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored with the Star Staff Award for his volunteer efforts in the community. He was nominated by Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County.

According to the organization, Nizamuddin has been a wonderful partner in connecting them with the Muslim community, adding that he is dedicated to his faith, members of the Islamic Society of Greater Springfield (ISOGS) and the Springfield community in general.

Nizamuddin helped to partner an interfaith build with Habitat, and was an important part of the organization, discussion and implementation of the committee for this build. He engaged the Muslim community in all aspects of this projected build – even organizing the volunteers from ISOGS to assist with the slight 'refreshing' of a house that was turned back to Habitat. Habitat and ISOGS volunteers worked side by side to complete the renovation.

Because of Nizamuddin and members of ISOGS, the new homeowner was able to move into a handicap-accessible home that fit his needs.

Youth Volunteer Award 

Jaylynn Adina Rynsburger of Springfield was honored with the Youth Volunteer Award. She was nominated by the Boys & Girls Club at Saint Patrick’s Catholic School.

As a youth mentor at the after-school enrichment program, she volunteers twelve hours each week as a teaching assistant with the kindergarten students. She shares her talents with students who truly need role models in their lives.

“Her sense of dedication, consistency, and affection are nurturing to all students. The students look up to her as a trusted friend,” said her nominators.

Finalists for this award include Preston Brondyke, Wyatt Clark, Danielle Kraft, Jaden Saunders-Hammond, Logan Sikorski, City of Springfield Mayor’s Youth Council and Sarah Williams.

Heart of Gold Community Awards

Thirty-one local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: Cathy Allen, Kristina Barbee, Chris Blum, Ginny Conlee, Sarah Croft, Karalyn Donley, George Fairchild, Scott Germeraad, Vivian Graf, Lynn Handy, Tate Hartman, Dorothy Hart, Elaine Kuhn, Tiffany Lapp, Eden Lawson-Langiano, Dick Livingston, Stephanie Martin, Teresa McElwee, Tina McRae, Wanda Nettles, Donna Nichols, Brady Odom, Mary Ann Pohl, Brenda Staab, Kevin Stevenson, Kay Titchenal, Nancy Vereen, Robert Weis, Joyce Wilson, Fred Young and Leeza Zavelsky.

Organization Agent of Service Award

The winner of the 2020 Organization Agent of Service Award is Eta Psi Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

The Chapter has logged more than 2,500 hours of service from its members in more than 40 different area programs including: providing school supplies and fulfilling classroom needs for George Washington Middle School and Harvard Park Grade School, March of Dimes March for Babies Campaign, Central Illinois Blood Bank blood drive, Financial Literacy Empowerment Expo, Project Vote with the Springfield Urban League, Thanksgiving basket give-a-way, Central Illinois Food Bank food distributions, Illinois Department of Public Health World Aids Day, prison inmate assistance "street clothing" collection, prostate cancer awareness workshop, Blue and White Epilepsy Awareness Walk, Salvation Army bell ringing, Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Rally, Boys & Girls Club, community Easter egg hunt and minority business week.

In addition to awarding $4,000 in scholarships to area high school seniors, the Chapter also hosts the Sigma Beta Club (SBC) for 15 young men, ages 12 through 18. The SBC participants are mentored and tutored throughout the year to become the next generation of leaders.

The men of Phi Beta Sigma are college educated and come from various careers including physicians, lawyers, business owners, state administrators, law enforcement, educators and school administrators. These men serve as role models and much needed counselors, mentors and sources of inspiration.

Finalists for this award include Fifth Street Renaissance/SARA Center, Illinois Prairie Pastel Society, and The James Project.

Business Honor Roll 

A total of 12 Sangamon County businesses were named to the Business Honor Roll sponsored by the UIS College of Business and Management. The honor roll recognizes businesses that have made giving back to our community a priority.

Three businesses were listed at the top of the honor roll as Golden Distinction Winners, including AlignLife of Springfield Chiropractic & Natural Health Center; Kerber, Eck, and Braeckel; and Bank of Springfield.

Other businesses making this year’s honor roll include Formea Insurance Group, Inc.; Koch, Sylvia, and Associates-Ameriprise Financial; Marine Bank; Memorial Medical Center; RSM US LLP; Sangamon Reclaimed; Serious Lip Balm; The Storyteller Studios; and United Community Bank.

For more information about the awards, please visit, email or call 217-206-8635.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

UIS announces Spring Semester 2020 Dean's List

The University of Illinois Springfield has released the Dean’s List for Spring Semester 2020. A total of 675 students were selected; 85 are students in the College of Business and Management, 51 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 437 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 76 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and 26 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, maintained a grade-point average of at least 3.75 for the semester and had no incomplete grades awarded for the semester.

Below you'll find a printable list of student's names listed by the city of residence on file with UIS Records and Registration.

Spring 2020 Dean's List PDF | Spring 2020 Dean's List Excel

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 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

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.