Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Under the Dome" gives high school students and teachers a look inside state government

More than two dozen high school students and teachers from central Illinois spent a day as statehouse insiders at the capitol on Wednesday, March 24.

The University of Illinois Springfield’s “Under the Dome” is the state’s premier immersion event for high school juniors interested in government, politics, and public service.

“Most students when they come here to the capitol only get to see what the public gets to see, but because UIS has so many alumni engaged in government we’re able to take these high school students behind the scenes,” said Ed Wojcicki, UIS associate chancellor for constituent relations.

Wojcicki estimates UIS has hundreds, if not thousands of alumni working in state government in Springfield. UIS has been preparing leaders in government and public service since its founding 40 years ago.

Students and teachers spent the day behind the scenes at the statehouse on one of the busiest days of the legislative session. They talked with lawmakers and lobbyists, analysts and journalists, and got to see up close how policy is made in Illinois.

“I’ve never been to the capitol. This is actually my first day and… I never realized it was so busy and all these people were here, but it’s actually pretty cool,” said Ellisa Marsh a junior at Springfield’s Southeast High School.

The “Under the Dome” experience has inspired Marsh to take a closer look at a career in state government and she's already decided she wants to do an internship. She gives credit to “Under the Dome” for sparking her interest in politics.

“It opens a lot of doors and gives you opportunities. I never really had an interest in government until actually today,” said Marsh.

Allison Weidhuner, a junior at Greenview High School agrees it was worth spending a day at the capitol. She says she never realized how many people work at the capitol and the type of work they do.

“It helps you understand the whole process and get to know your government,” she said.

Wojcicki hopes the students take the knowledge they’ve learned back to their schools and that it inspires them in whatever career they choose.

“I hope they go home excited about state government. I hope they go home saying you know what I saw something in downtown Springfield I’ve never seen before. That was really interesting. I didn’t know that’s what happens in government,” he said.

The university is planning a similar “Under the Dome” event for Chicago area high school juniors on April 21. For more information visit

UIS government-related majors include Communication, Criminal Justice, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, Legal Studies, Political Science, Public Administration, Public Affairs Reporting and Public Health.

Monday, March 22, 2010

UIS students return home from Alternative Spring Break

A record number of University of Illinois Springfield students, who participated in Alternative Spring Break returned home on Saturday, March 20 knowing they made a difference.

The 45 students and 3 advisers spent a week in Galveston, Texas helping to clean up damage from Hurricane Ike, which struck in 2008.

“Just having the opportunity to be down there was amazing,” said Jaleesa Earthely, president of the UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization. “I just know we gave the community back hope and that’s what I was looking to go down there to do.”

The group stayed at a local elementary school in Galveston with other students from across the country, volunteering for 8 1/2 hours a day. The UIS students took on the project as part of the One Mission Initiative, a faith-based organization.

“Some of these houses that we went into hadn’t been touched for like a year or more. No one had been in there to redo siding or drywall and that’s basically what we were doing,” said senior volunteer Zach Berillo.

The UIS crew was split into three groups on the trip and worked on a total of three homes, along with other property. While working on land owned by the City of Galveston they got an unexpected visitor.

“The mayor pulled up and thanked us for our efforts and said the things that we were doing are long overdue,” said Kelly Thompson, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed last year, when students took their first trip to Mandeville, Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

National dissertation award named after UIS political science professor Chris Mooney

The American Political Science Association (APSA) has just announced that it is honoring University of Illinois Springfield political science professor Christopher Z. Mooney by naming a national Ph.D. dissertation award after him. Doctoral candidates worldwide can be nominated for the prize in the category of Best Dissertation in State Politics and Policy.

Beginning in 2010, the award will be given annually for the best Ph.D. dissertation in the field that is written in the previous calendar year at any university. It is awarded by the State Politics and Policy organized section of the APSA. Winners of the award and their dissertation advisers each receive a plaque, and the winners receive a $1,000 honorarium. The first award, for dissertations filed in 2009, will be presented on June 4, 2010 in Springfield, at the 10th annual State Politics and Policy Conference, a national political science conference hosted this year by UIS.

This new award has been named in honor of Mooney in recognition of his founding of State Politics and Policy Quarterly (SPPQ), an academic journal that he edited from 2001 to 2007 and has served as business manager of since 2001. Mooney was also instrumental in founding the annual State Politics and Policy Conferences. SPPQ and these conferences have helped lead the recent renaissance in the study of comparative state politics in political science.

"Many, many people at UIS and all over the country gave me an enormous amount of help in establishing SPPQ and these conferences. It's very gratifying to be recognized by my peers in this way,” said Mooney.

Mooney is a professor of political science with a joint appointment in the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at UIS. He studies U.S. state politics and policy, with special focus on legislative decision making, morality policy, and legislative term limits. He has published dozens of articles and books, including the leading college textbook in the field, State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform, and Lobbying Illinois - How You Can Make a Difference in Public Policy. Prior to arriving at UIS in 1999, he taught at West Virginia University and the University of Essex in the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Chinese professors visit Springfield elementary school

Two professors from the Harbin University of Science and Technology in China, who are visiting the University of Illinois Springfield, in an educational partnership met with students at a Springfield elementary school on Tuesday, March 9.

Yufeng Jiang, Dean of the College of Foreign Languages at Harbin University and Fuming Chen, a faculty member in the College of Foreign Languages are spending time at UIS visiting classes and doing research. They’re also making an effort to learn more about the community.

“I’m very impressed by the way people think about education,” said Jiang.

Iles Elementary School, part of District 186, started teaching students introductory Chinese this year in an effort to become part of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years program.

“They have a global idea of what the future will be like and what potential students already have,” said Jaing, following a visit to the school.

The UIS Office of International Programs is working to strengthen its relationship with Harbin University. A visiting faculty member took part in an exchange program last year, which could open the door for much more.

“We’re looking at faculty exchange, student exchange and variety of programs with them,” said Jonathan GoldbergBelle, UIS Director of International Programs.

The Harbin faculty looks forward to strengthening their bond with UIS and learning new ways to share knowledge.

“It should be a two-way street, for example we have some support from the United States for education to teach English,” said Jaing.

UIS has been working with other universities in China for close to 20 years.

Students to spend Alternative Spring Break helping with hurricane recovery

A record number of students from the University of Illinois Springfield will spend their spring break volunteering in Galveston, Texas helping with recovery efforts following Hurricane Ike.

The 45 students and 3 advisers will leave Springfield on Friday, March 12 and return to campus on Sunday, March 20. The group will stay at a local elementary school in Galveston with other students from across the country, volunteering for 8 1/2 hours a day.

The students will be primarily helping with rebuilding and refurbishing homes that were damaged by the storm. Volunteers will also be doing community outreach, visiting home-bound residents, helping to feed the homeless and assisting in other community-related activities.

“Lately there has been much focus on international disasters, but the devastation still felt in Galveston, TX due to Hurricane Ike in 2008 is a natural disaster our students felt compelled to help with after researching spring break volunteer opportunities. Whether it is in Texas or overseas, seeing our UIS students respond so enthusiastically to help others is a heart-warming experience,” said Kelly Thompson, director of UIS’ Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS students are taking on the project as part of the One Mission Initiative, a faith-based organization. The group’s mission is to “bring volunteers to Galveston to not only provide much needed help, labor, and support to the community here, but to also provide love, hope and encouragement”.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed last year, when students took their first trip to Mandeville, Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina.

For more information on volunteer opportunities at UIS visit the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center’s website at or contact Kelly Thompson at 217/206-8448 or

Monday, March 08, 2010

Statement of Economic Interests

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 on March 15. If you receive one of these forms in the mail:

Submit the completed form to the University of Illinois Ethics Office by April 23, 2010. The University Ethics Officer will review and forward all completed Statements to the Secretary of State by the May 3, 2010 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

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

President Ikenberry discusses budget and chancellor search

University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry spoke to UIS employees and answered their questions during a March 5, 2010 presentation in Brookens Auditorium.

Watch portions of Ikenberry’s comments on state funding, furloughs and the search for the next UIS chancellor in the video above.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

UIS receives national recognition for community service, named to President's Honor Roll

The University of Illinois Springfield has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognized more than 700 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.

“We are so pleased to be named for the second year in a row to the Presidential Honor Roll. Two of our top strategic goals at UIS are making a difference in the world and enriching individual lives. Our students, staff and faculty are committed to these goals, and it’s wonderful to see UIS be recognized for its efforts,” said Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen.

According to the UIS Volunteer Center director, Kelly Thompson, UIS was named to the honor roll for recognition of its various volunteer programs throughout the past year. Specifically mentioned in the honor roll recognition were its many mentoring activities within Springfield School District 186, including programs through Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as UIS’ recent collaboration with the Central Illinois Foodbank to complete a hunger study. For example, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Harvard Park Elementary School, approximately 15 UIS students completed over 400 hours of community service.

“Congratulations to UIS and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities,” said Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Our nation’s students are a critical part of the equation and vital to our efforts to tackle the most persistent challenges we face. They have achieved impactful results and demonstrated the value of putting knowledge into practice to help renew America through service.”

The Honor Roll includes six colleges and universities that are recognized as Presidential Awardees, with an additional 115 named to the Distinction List and 621 schools named as Honor Roll members. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

College students make a significant contribution to the volunteer sector; in 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service, according to the Volunteering in America study released by the Corporation. Each year, the Corporation invests more than $150 million in fostering a culture of service on college campuses through grants awarded by its programs; the education awards that AmeriCorps members receive at the conclusion of their term of service to pay for college; and through support of training, research, recognition, and other initiatives to spur college service.

The Corporation oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.

For more information contact Kelly Thompson, UIS Volunteer Center director at 217/206-8448 or

Monday, March 01, 2010

UIS Chancellor Ringeisen set to retire

Led decade of transformation at campus

SPRINGFIELD – University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen, who led the campus through a decade of transformation to become ranked among the top universities of its size, announced today that he will retire as chancellor effective October 31.

Ringeisen, 65, described his tenure at UIS since April of 2001 as the pinnacle of a long career in public higher education despite the nearly constant challenges during that time posed by state financial crises and the loss of state support for public universities.

Since Ringeisen took the helm, UIS has transitioned from a two-year, upper division institution of mostly commuter students to a four-year university with a more traditional, residential campus atmosphere while continuing to serve those commuter students. Enrollment has increased by 16%; UIS achieved a high ranking in U.S. News & World Report in 2009 and 2010 as one of the best small public liberal arts universities in the Midwest; and the campus is a nationally recognized leader in online education.

“It will be difficult to leave a job I love, an institution I love, and the city that has become a wonderful home to Carolyn and me. But every time we travel east to visit our two children and five grandchildren – maybe three times a year – we literally see them growing up too quickly. We want to be more a part of their lives, and our children want us to be there, too,” Ringeisen said Monday in announcing his plans at the Public Affairs Center.

UIS has seen substantial growth since Ringeisen arrived in 2001. Not only has enrollment increased 16% (4,288 in fall of 2002 to 4,961 in fall of 2009), but also faculty has increased 24% (170 to 211). Several facilities have been established (The Recreation and Athletic Center, Founders Hall, University Hall, the Quad and its colonnade, Emiquon Field Station, and the new Peoria Center downtown location).

Also during his tenure, UIS has successfully transitioned to a four-year university and led the movement from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

UIS has received nearly $23 million dollars in pledges and gifts in the “Brilliant Futures” campaign. Many new scholarships have been established.

“I am sure that we’ll be doing more reminiscing in greater detail sometime this fall,” added Ringeisen. “Today, all I really want to say is that I am absolutely confident that UIS has a great future. We have great leadership in our colleges. We have recruited and retained outstanding faculty, and we have an increasingly diverse student body that expects and receives highly personalized attention from our faculty and staff. It is an honor for me to be the chancellor here.”

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees is expected to consider Ringeisen’s retirement at its next scheduled meeting March 10 in Urbana.

Ringeisen is the fifth chief executive in the nearly 40 year history of the university. It was known as Sangamon State University for 25 years, and has been part of the University of Illinois since 1995.

Ringeisen previously served at East Carolina University as Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer. He was also Dean of College of Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Old Dominion University; and Mathematics Professor and Department Head at Clemson University. Ringeisen has been very active with various community organizations along with serving on many boards in Central Illinois. He will turn 66 years old on March 18.

Statement from University of Illinois President Stanley O. Ikenberry

“Chancellor Ringeisen and his team have moved UIS forward in many ways in the past nine years. I enjoy hearing people say how much they admire what’s happening at UIS, our youngest and smallest campus and certainly an outstanding one. UIS is well-positioned to advance and progress in every way, which is very good news for students and faculty.

Chancellor Ringeisen jokes that he has never had a good budget year since he arrived in 2001, and it’s true. He arrived at UIS just five months before 9/11. The fact that he has been able to lead so effectively in trying times is remarkable and impressive. At UIS, the academic programs are stronger than ever, and the quality of the faculty continues to get better and better.

Rich and his wife Carolyn, have been very good for the campus, the Springfield community, and the U of I family. On behalf of the U of I community, I commend Rich for his great leadership and wish him and his family all the best.”

Statement from Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy:

“I am very proud of what UIS is doing. Be assured that I am among those spreading the word about the great, small public liberal arts university that the University of Illinois has in Springfield. I have enjoyed getting to know Chancellor Ringeisen and working with him. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I extend our gratitude for the great leadership he has provided at UIS.”

Read Chancellor Ringeisen’s remarks, bio and accomplishments

Watch Chancellor Ringeisen's retirement press conference online