Monday, March 30, 2009

Sangamon Auditorium's Class Acts series celebrates 500,000th attendee

By Courtney Westlake

Sangamon Auditorium
plays host to hundreds of shows and performances each year, including a series for students called Class Acts, which reached an exciting milestone on Monday, March 30.

"I want to let all of you know that since 1986, Sangamon Auditorium has welcomed half a million students, teachers and parents," announced Carly Shank, director of Audience Development & Communication at the Auditorium, during a Class Acts performance Monday afternoon. "This afternoon, we are pleased to celebrate our 500,000th Class Acts attendee."

The 500,000th person to attend a Class Acts performance was named Dominic, a third-grader from Christ the King school.

Class Acts is a performing arts series for youth at Sangamon Auditorium with the goal of presenting a diverse performing arts program in support of educational and cultural goals mandated by the State of Illinois. The 2008-2009 season is the 23rd season of Class Acts.

"We believe that performing arts are essential to our humanity. We want to present you with quality performances, and we want our performers to be proficient in their craft and want you to connect with the performances," Bob Vaughn, director of Sangamon Auditorium, told the audience Monday afternoon.

In celebration of the milestone, Sangamon Schools Credit Union, one of the sponsors of the series, donated tickets for a class to attend one of next year's performances. The school that won the drawing for the tickets was Owen Marsh.

Monday's Class Acts performance was called "Mad Science presents CSI: Live!" The Auditorium also announced the schedule for the 2009-2010 Class Acts season, which includes performances like "Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad" and "Rainbow Fish."

"We want you to come away from these performances and be intellectually-challenged and learn something new," Vaughn told the students gathered at Monday's performance. "If we do these things, we have the chance of changing someone's life."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Students give time over Spring Break to assist hurricane victims in Louisiana

By Courtney Westlake

Students with UIS’ Alternative Spring Break and Habitat for Humanity student organizations spent their spring breaks not only soaking up the sun in the south but also assisting Hurricane Katrina victims.

Twenty-four students and two supervisors made the trip to Mandeville, Louisiana to build homes in the southeast Louisiana area.

“We wanted to give back to them since they have been the area of the state that was really affected,” said Jaleesa Earthely, treasurer of the Alternative Spring Break organization. “We wanted to help them get back on their feet.”

“And we wanted to go somewhere hot,” she laughed.

Mandeville is about 30 to 40 minutes outside of New Orleans, and the population has greatly increased since Katrina as New Orleans residents moved more north, said Zach Berillo, another student on the trip.

The UIS group teamed up with a group of students from Wisconsin to work in a section called Carterville, which is an area of Habitat houses.

“We worked on three houses; the framework was already down, and we got to build up the structure,” Berillo said. “And later on, we got to look at some other Habitat houses whose structures were already up, and they were putting up drywall.”

Last year, Berillo accompanied the UIS Habitat for Humanity organization to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and said he enjoyed working outside this year in the nicer weather.

“It felt good because this year we got to be outside building, and I felt like we got to accomplish more,” he said. “We could definitely see how far we came through the building.”

This was the first trip planned by Alternative Spring Break at UIS and the group hopes to continue volunteering over Spring Break in the years to come. The first year was a great experience, Earthely said.

“Hopefully we’ll do it next year and probably go somewhere different,” she said. “The people were very friendly in Louisiana. They knew what we were coming down for, and they said ‘thank you so much’ and were really appreciative.”

Berillo encouraged other individuals or groups to consider helping out in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina.

“It was several years ago, and people don’t think about it as much anymore, but they still need a lot of help down there with rebuilding the areas,” he said.

Monday, March 23, 2009

English professor read poems at Walden Poetry Series

Nancy Perkins, Associate Professor of English and Past Chair of the English Department from 2003-2005, read a selection of her poems at the Walden Poetry Series in Concord, MA, on March 21st in celebration of the Spring Equinox. The poets read their works, as the host Douglas Bishop wrote, “in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau, poetry to celebrate the beauty of the natural world.”

Perkins publishes and reads her creative works under her first two names: nancy genevieve.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

UIS announces Fall 2008 Deans' List

A total of 471 students were selected for the Deans’ List for the 2008 fall semester. 78 are students in the College of Business and Management, 70 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 282 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 34 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, and 7 are non-degree or undecided.

To qualify for the designation, 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.

Download a PDF of the Fall 2008 Deans' List:

Monday, March 16, 2009

If you receive a Statement of Economic Interests form...

Some University employees are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests form under the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act. The Office of the Secretary of State will mail the forms to required filers today, March 16. If you receive one of these forms in the mail:

Submit the completed form to the University of Illinois Ethics Office by April 22, 2009. The University Ethics Officer will review and forward all completed Statements to the Secretary of State by the May 1, 2009 deadline.

Send the form via campus or US mail to University Ethics Office, Human Resources Building Room 20, One University Plaza HRB 20, Springfield, IL 62704-5407.

If you have questions about:

...Criteria for Filing-
Call the Ethics Help Line at 866-758-2146 or visit the University Human Resources Web site at or the University Ethics Office Web site at

...the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act-
Call the Secretary of State’s Office at 217-782-7017.

Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 Expanding Your Horizons conference helps girls explore careers in math, science and technology

By Courtney Westlake

Kelly Cochran, flight director for the Challenger Learning Center in Bloomington, was so thrilled with her experience while attending the Expanding Your Horizons conference when she was young that she decided to come back and teach a program during the 2009 conference.

"I love what I do, and I'm so pleased to be able to share it with other people," she said. "I've had a lot of people in my lifetime that have pushed me and helped me grow, and I like to share those tools and toys I've gained from other people. It's fun for me to be able to return and be one of those presenters who was so cool when I was a student."

Cochran was one of 45 professional women in fields of math, science or technology who led a program during the 22nd annual Expanding Your Horizons in Math, Science and Technology on Saturday, March 14, at UIS to give girls in 6th, 7th and 8th grades the opportunity to learn about various topics and careers within math, technology and science.

Participants chose to attend three interactive and hands-on workshops from more than 20 offered. The workshops focused on topics such as computer animation, bone engineering, photography, crime investigation, architecture, astronomy and much more.

Many cutting-edge careers of the future will involve science, math and technology and will be wide open to well-prepared young women. The workshops for the girls allowed participants to interact with successful local women who are scientists, physicians, engineers, architects and professionals in many other careers traditionally held by men.

Hundreds of local junior high school girls attended the conference, along with their parents who were able to attend workshops about planning for college and helping teens cope with stress.

"Twenty-two years ago, Expanding Your Horizons began on this campus with 50 girls participating; now we have 350 present today," said Sue Garland, co-president of the American Association of University Women- Springfield branch. The AAUW presents the conference each year, and it is co-sponsored by UIS and the Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois.

"This is an introduction to some of the many career possibilities that will be open to you," Garland told the participants. "There are 45 professional women here to share their knowledge and experience with you. Each has worked hard and overcome obstacles to get to their career of choice. They have helped open doors for you, the women of the future."

Carolyn Ringeisen, wife of UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, reminded the attendees that the most important thing they can do in life is to get an education.

"Women are desperately needed in the sciences," she said. "I'm always impressed at this event by the areas of sciences represented, so I hope you will find something that sparks your interest."

Presenters used a variety of materials and projects to give attendees an idea about what they do on a day-to-day basis in their careers in math, science and technology. Dr. Rachel Boyce, an equine veterinarian with O'Keefe Equine Health Service, even brought a furry, four-legged friend to campus.

"Becoming a vet is certainly one choice in order to spend your career with horses if you have slant toward biology," Boyce told the young girls in her workshop. "There are about 7 million horses in the U.S., and they all need veterinary care. So if it's something you're interested in, it's extremely rewarding, and I enjoy it very much."

Participants in Boyce's program, called "Horsin' Around," were able to listen to a horse's heartbeat, which beats at about half the rate as a human heart, she said, as well as feed him treats and brush him.

During Cochran's workshop, called "Building Strong Structures for Space - And Earth Too!", participants learned how to create modular polyhedrons as if they were building a structure for the moon. She used paper, clay and popsicle sticks for her projects to create the moon structures.

"And then of course, one thing you have to contend with on the moon is moonquakes, so we actually shake their structures to see what would happen to the structure in that situation," she said with a smile.

To view video, photo and written coverage from the 2008 conference, go here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Board of Trustees approves new MIS bachelor's degree at UIS

Establishment of a new bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) at the University of Illinois at Springfield was approved today by the U of I Board of Trustees. The degree, within the College of Business and Management, will now be reviewed for approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The undergraduate major in MIS will provide students with a business and information systems background that can be used to analyze, design, manage and implement complex information and decision-support systems and communication networks.

“The MIS major will give students a foundation in business and skills in management information systems,” said MIS Professor Rassule Hadidi. “The degree will have a business focus with a systems application set of skills, thereby bridging the gap between technical and business specialists.”

Hadidi noted that the degree will foster a collaborative learning environment to prepare graduates for positions in the private and public sectors capable of successfully responding to the business and organizational environment in a knowledge-based economy. “The current global economy relies heavily on global network infrastructure and information processing. Therefore, the demand for graduates of the program exists at local, national and international levels,” he said.

Following approval by the IBHE, the degree will be offered beginning in the fall of 2010. However, certain courses within the degree will be offered as soon as this fall.

The degree will be offered in a blended format whereby the number of on-campus sessions is reduced by half over the completion of the degree. Half of the sessions among the courses required are held online, reducing the need to commute to campus.

UIS already offers a Master of Science degree in MIS and graduate certificates in IT Project Management, Business Process Management, and Digital Organizations. Other degrees offered in the College of Business and Management are Accountancy (B.A., M.A.), Business Administration (B.B.A., M.B.A.), Economics (B.A.), and Management (B.A.)

At the UIS Peoria Center, the B.A. in Accountancy and in Management are offered as well as academic minors in Accountancy and Management Information Systems. Also, the Master of Business Administration is offered by cohort in an accelerated weekend format. The degree, designed to be completed in two years, is geared toward students who are working fulltime.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

UIS Trustee Craig McFarland designated official voting member for BOT

Governor Patrick Quinn has designated D. Craig McFarland, student trustee from the University of Illinois at Springfield, an official voting member of the U of I Board of Trustees. It is only the second time that a UIS student trustee has received that coveted designation.

The Governor gave McFarland voting rights for the remainder of his term on the board, which ends on June 30, after UIC Student Trustee James Winters resigned from his position on the board due to medical and personal reasons. Winters had been serving as the official voting student trustee.

McFarland, from Moline, Illinois, is a senior majoring in political science and communication. He served as the UIS Student Government Association’s Senator to Transfer Students in 2007-08. He is a member of the College Democrats, Students Allied for a Greener Earth, Model Illinois Government, and was active in Students for Barack Obama.

Each of the three U of I campuses elects one student trustee to serve on the board each year, and the governor designates one of the three as a voting member. The designation had always gone to either the Urbana or Chicago trustee until July 2006 when Sarah Doyle became the first student trustee from UIS ever to be given official voting rights. That designation was made by then Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The U of I Board of Trustees is comprised of 13 members appointed by the governor for terms of six years and three student trustees who serve one-year terms. The governor serves as an ex officio member.

UIS whips into 2009 Faculty and Staff Campaign

By Courtney Westlake

Faculty, staff and other participants got some home cookin' and donned country attire down home on the farm during the annual Faculty and Staff Campaign kick-off on Thursday afternoon, March 5.

"Whip Guy" Chris Camp, a whip cracker and entertainer, was also on hand to snap his whip at almost 900 miles per hour while performing whip tricks with volunteers.

Through the Faculty and Staff Campaign, staff and faculty are able to give a gift to the university, choosing how their funds will impact UIS' quality academics, athletics or other important areas. Gifts made to UIS assist with scholarships, enhance research, improve programs and much more.

The theme of this year's campaign is "We Grow the Best at UIS." Campus programs, offices and departments set up booths in coordination with the farm theme to showcase their work.

"We do grow the best at UIS; this is a great place for that, right here in the middle of the richest farmland in America," said Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. "We're proud of what we do at UIS every day in raising the best. Sometimes universities pride themselves on how successful students are before they get here, and we have plenty of students that meet that criteria, but one of the things we're really proud of is how successful they are when they leave, how we grow the best while they're here."

Ringeisen commended both faculty and staff for their exemplary work every day with the campus community, especially students.

"The way you care, the way you know people's names, the way you greet people... you solve problems, you volunteer your time off-hours, you counsel students," he said. "Now we're only a couple of months away from graduating another group of outstanding, successful, home-grown UIS students. I'm proud to say that my wife Carolyn and I invest in UIS, and we invite you all to invest in UIS, where we grow the best."

Vicki Megginson, associate chancellor for development and vice president of the University of Illinois Foundation, encouraged all attendees to visit all of the booths set up by the campus community and see what each department or program has to offer.

"We as faculty and staff here at UIS are really in the garden," Megginson said. "We work with the students, know what students need, know what programs need to flourish and to grow. Today is an opportunity for us to share with each other some of the ways we aspire, and hopefully inspire, to improve what we can offer and to ask each other for support through giving to do so."

"It's amazing what even small seeds can do; it's like small seeds that grow into wonderful, big plants," she added, "and we hope you consider that."

WUIS awarded two journalism honors in Illinois AP competition

WUIS 91.9, the public radio affiliate based at the University of Illinois at Springfield campus, received two journalism awards in the latest competition sponsored by the Illinois Associated Press. The news station was honored with second place awards in the categories of Best Investigative Report and Best Documentary.

State Capitol reporter Amanda Vinicky’s report called “The Representative Who Didn’t Show” about an Illinois lawmaker who wasn’t showing up for work was awarded second place in the Best Investigative Report Category.

Vinicky also collaborated with Illinois Issues Magazine State Capitol reporter Bethany Jaeger for a project that received second place for Best Documentary. That report, “Along the Autism Spectrum,” focused on three families affected by autism. The families discussed issues such as how they get schools to meet the children’s special needs, how they cope with awkward social situations, and how challenges change as the children grow.

“These awards demonstrate that WUIS listeners are getting quality journalism, not only at the national level from NPR (National Public Radio), but at the local and regional level from our own reporters,” said Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS General Manager.

Both WUIS and Illinois Issues are part of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

WUIS can be heard at 91.9 FM in central Illinois, 89.3 FM in western Illinois and on the web at The mission of WUIS media is to cultivate curious, civically-engaged audiences and enrich the community through independent journalism, programming and outreach.

Monday, March 02, 2009

UIS receives grant for Elluminate Vclass project

Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Services at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is the recipient of a grant in the form of a 50-seat Elluminate VClass for 2009. The grant, in the amount of $6,740 for the year, was awarded by Elluminate and the Sloan-C Consortium, a national organization comprised of more than 1,200 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning.

Elluminate is popular software used in higher education for live web conferencing and to conduct online classes. Vclass is a product of Elluminate and is a virtual classroom for between 25 and 200 students. It is customizable for the instructor, and it offers full audio recording capability.

UIS has utilized Elluminate for five years. In Schroeder’s grant application, he proposed research on the use of synchronous and recorded online learning sessions to deliver inter-institutional workshops to academic librarians located at seven universities spanning the country. Through the awarded grant, a series of in-service workshops will be offered collaboratively through Elluminate by the academic libraries at the seven member institutions of the New Century Learning Consortium, which was created and is led by UIS through a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Each institution will originate an ‘innovation’ or ‘best-practices’ session to be delivered through Elluminate interactively to librarians, faculty and students at the other six institutions. All sessions will be recorded and archived for further use and study, and topics will include areas such as library wikis and blogs, alternative search engines and more.

“By conducting this project across academic libraries at seven institutions, it is hoped that we will maximize the quality, breadth of topics, exposure, impact and future use of Elluminate at these universities located across the U.S.,” Schroeder said.

These sessions will be made available as Elluminate learning objects for classes in library and information science, information literacy, Internet in society and related topics. All content, outcomes and conclusions will then be documented and examined.

For more information, contact Ray Schroeder at 217/206-7531 or

Adjunct professor self-publishes first novel

Edward Beekman-Myers, adjunct professor of English and graduate of UIS, has self-published his first novel through an online publishing company called Create Space. The novel is the first volume in a series of outer-space novels and is titled “The Totally Gnarly Adventures of the Galactically Bitchin’ Comet Sweat!”

The book centers on the Milky Way’s most popular rock band, Comet Sweat, with lead singer Declan Slocomb. The band promotes love, happiness and health for every living creature in the galaxy through their lyrics, but offstage they find themselves in one misadventure after another.

Through their connections and newly forged relationships as they travel the galaxy, they spread their influence to all corners. They also catch the attention of an evil corporate viper named Vee’vee’n Klaar’ynn, who is willing to do whatever necessary to gain control of the galaxy, even if it means destroying Comet Sweat.

Beekman-Myers is the author of several novels and short stories, most with a science-fiction slant.

The “The Totally Gnarly Adventures of the Galactically Bitchin’ Comet Sweat!” is now available online at Amazon and Target, as well as at the UIS and Lincoln Land Community College bookstores and Comic Service.

For more information, contact Beekman-Myers at 217/299-2039 or