Friday, May 27, 2016

UIS Economic Outlook Survey finds Sangamon Co. businesses are worried about the state's finances

The Survey Research Office at the University of Illinois Springfield has released the Spring 2016 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey. The study examines the economic perceptions, expectations and evaluations of Sangamon County businesses as well as public and non-profit organizations.

The spring 2016 survey reveals that economic expectations for the economy of Sangamon County have decreased slightly since the spring of 2015 across all economic sectors. More than a third of respondents (36%) expect to see a decline in the state of the overall economy in the next 12 months. Similarly, 27% say that overall employment will decline, and 25% think that revenue will also decrease in the next 12 months.

Regarding respondents’ expectations for their own firms/organizations, views are more optimistic. More than half of those surveyed (53%) say they expect their own sales to increase in the next 12 months. Likewise, 46% expect profitability to rise in the next year and 45% think that the overall status of their businesses/organizations will improve in the coming year. However, these percentages show declining optimism if compared with the fall 2015 survey, when 67% of respondents expected sales to go up, 52% looked for profitability to increase and 53% believed the overall status of their firms would get better.

Respondents were asked to identify the three biggest challenges for their business over the next 12 months from a list of pre-identified challenges. A majority (54%) report that the state’s government finances are going to be one of the biggest challenges facing them in the next 12 months. Employers also identified government regulations and taxation (42%) and consumer confidence (37%) as important challenges looming in the year ahead.

The report also analyses the impact of the state budget impasse on Sangamon County’s businesses and organizations. Respondents identified gross sales (54%) and profitability (47%) as the two business aspects more likely to be negatively affected by the current budget impasse.

Across economic sectors, the survey finds that respondents in the retail trade and the medical/ health care sectors are the most likely to indicate that the budget impasse has affected their organization negatively, whereas those in the finance/ insurance/ real estate sectors were the least likely to indicate the state budget impasse affected their organization in a negative way.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, public sector organizations and non-profits are more likely than private businesses to think that the budget impasse will have a negative effect on the overall status of their organizations in the next 12 months.

The Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey has been conducted biannually (March and September) since 2008. The results for 2016 are from 262 local organizations that were contacted in March via mail surveys and email invitations using Qualtrics Research Suite, a platform for online surveys.

The Spring 2016 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey is sponsored by the UIS Chancellor’s Office, the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership and The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the methodology and the full report, please visit the UIS Survey Research Office website at

Questions about the survey may be directed to Juan Carlos Donoso, director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217/206-7956 or

Thursday, May 26, 2016

UIS releases complete list of 2016 graduates

A total of 1,716 students earned degrees from the University of Illinois Springfield at the conclusion of the spring semester on May 14, 2016, pending completion of university requirements.

Below you'll find a printable list of graduates' names and degrees listed by the city of residence on file with UIS Records and Registration at the time of graduation.

May 2016 Graduates in Excel | May 2016 Graduates PDF

For photos, video and more from the 45th UIS Commencement Ceremony, visit

Sunday, May 15, 2016

More than 1,100 earn degrees at 45th UIS Commencement ceremony

The University of Illinois Springfield held its 45th Commencement ceremony on May 14, 2016 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield. A record 1,106 students took part in the ceremony, making it the largest commencement in the university’s history.

UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch presided over the ceremony, welcoming over 6,000 guests. She reminded graduates about the important milestone of earning a college degree.

“Along with your family and friends, I want you to know how proud I am of you today,” said Koch. “I’m grateful to the UIS faculty and staff and to all who helped get you to this day and who are here to honor you and celebrate your achievements.”

Koch also congratulated first generation college graduates and thanked family and friends for supporting their students and encouraging them to succeed.

“I trust that each of you has your own ‘Leadership lived’ story as a result of your UIS experience. I am supremely confident that you will indeed make a difference in the world with your leadership,” said Koch.

Koch was joined on stage by campus leaders and University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen who challenged students to “create a choir that shifts the tenor of the national discourse”.

“You can do it by taking the high road. Always the high road. Think UIS, your Alma Mater, breath in and out – take that high road and replace mean-spiritedness with public-spiritedness whenever and wherever you see it – again and again and again,” said Killeen.

The 2016 Commencement address was delivered by UIS alumna and Springfield native Donna Sollenberger who was part of the first graduating class of Sangamon State University, now UIS. Since 2009, she has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Health System.

She was honored with the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award in 2005 and named one of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare.

Sollenberger told the story of her daughter who was struggling to decide between a higher paying job in the business world or a lesser paying job at a non-profit.

“I asked her which of the jobs energized her. What job ignited her passion? Which job would make her want to get out of bed every day and go to work? After all, we spend as much time at work as we do at home, if not more,” said Sollenberger.

Following Sollenberger’s advice, her daughter took the non-profit job that she loved and has never looked back. She told the graduates to follow their hearts.

“Do what inspires you; do what ignites the fire of your passion for life and for work. We spend too much time at work not to be passionate about what we do with our careers. Yes, money helps pay the bills, but it should not be the sole or primary reason for your decision. Your happiness and fulfillment in life matters more,” she said.

The student commencement address was delivered by Robyn Nicole Crutchfield of Matteson, Ill. who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication. She was an active member of the student body during her years at UIS, having been involved in leadership positions with both the Black Student Union and Alternative Spring Break.

“Graduating is one of the most exciting and trying times in our lives,” Crutchfield told the audience. “On one hand, we’ve gotten this degree that we’ve worked so hard on, despite each and every one of our circumstances. On the other hand, our loved ones favorite question is ‘what are you going to do next?’”

Crutchfield encouraged her fellow graduates to LIVE (love, inspire, vocalize, experience) as they move forward with the rest of their lives. She told the audience to love and be compassionate in your words and actions, to inspire others by telling your story, find your voice and use it, and to go out and try something new. Finally, she told them to be proud of their education and everything they have already accomplished in their lives.

“Be proud of your alma mater and remember the time you spent here for the rest of your life,” she said. “These memories you have will be stories to tell for a lifetime.”

University of Illinois Board of Trustee member Karen Hasara, UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Lynn Pardie and UIS Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford also spoke at the ceremony.

Photos and more video are available at the commencement website:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

UIS unveils statue of young Abraham Lincoln

The University of Illinois Springfield unveiled The Young Lawyer, a 6' 4" statue of Abraham Lincoln sculpted by renowned artist George Lundeen, on May 10, 2016. The statue is located on the quad between the Public Affairs Center and University Hall west of the colonnade.

“Every campus needs significant landmarks that create a sense of identity and history,” said Chancellor Susan Koch. “UIS is a young campus and the only such landmark on the campus (until today) has been our beautiful colonnade.”

The statue depicts a happy Lincoln as he would have appeared when he was studying to become a lawyer in his late 20s or early 30s.

“It seems to me in this remarkable statue that George has captured the vital spirit of the young lawyer in Springfield,” said Michael Burlingame, the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair for Lincoln Studies at UIS.

Chancellor Koch was joined at the unveiling by University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen and student Faith Hook, who helped to uncover the statue.

“I imagine years from now Lincoln’s outstretched hand on this statue will appear gold, as students grasp it for good luck,” said Hook.

Lundeen, an artist known for his highly polished bronze statues of historical figures, spoke thanking the university and those who helped him create the statue.

“This has been a fairly long process,” said Lundeen. “We started this about three years ago, but it’s been a wonderful journey and I want to thank Chancellor Koch.”

The statue was made possible by the John N. Chester Estate Fund, an endowed gift fund created with the intent of adding to the attractiveness of the University of Illinois campuses.

Burlingame closed the ceremony by reflecting on what he thinks Lincoln would have to say about the statue.

“Here we have Lincoln smiling and I would like to think he is saying to the students, as they admire the statue, work, work, work, quarrel not at all, and enjoy your time here and thank god you’re getting a college education,” said Burlingame.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

UIS breaks ground on first-ever student union building on campus

The University of Illinois Springfield broke ground on a new $21.7 million student union building on May 4, 2016. The first-ever student union will serve as a hub for student life and foster a greater sense of community on the growing campus.

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen was joined by UIS Chancellor Susan Koch, and Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder for the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Today marks a historic moment in the life of the Springfield campus,” said Koch. “This groundbreaking today is the culmination of years of planning, imagining, negotiating, campaigning, fundraising and I will admit, no small measure of strategic whining and complaining on the part of the Chancellor.”

The two-story, 50,000-square-foot student union will anchor the campus’s south quad, providing campus dining services, a coffee shop, a ballroom with seating for up to 450 people and a Student Leadership Center that will house student government, volunteer offices and workspaces for student organizations. The facility is scheduled to open in January 2018.

"I'm deeply grateful to all of you for your generosity and support and to Susan and her team for their hard work and persistence to make this dream a reality," said Killeen.    

More than $5.3 million in gifts have been raised and officials say they will meet their $8 million fundraising goal before the facility opens. The remaining $13.7 million will be paid through campus funds and a construction fee that students approved in a 2012 referendum. 

“I want to thank our donors, some of whom are here today. As our donors know so well, a project like the Student Union is a big aspiration and we set a big fund-raising goal of $8 million to match that aspiration – an unheard of goal for this campus,” said Koch. 

The new facility will fill a void that officials say has grown since UIS became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. The campus was originally founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University, catering to upperclassmen and graduate-level students, but is now a traditional four-year school that lacks the central gathering place that student unions provide at most colleges across the nation.

William Brothers Construction Inc. of Peoria will be the general contractor for the project. Subcontractors include E.L. Pruitt Co. of Springfield, Commercial Mechanical Inc. of Dunlap and Foster Jacob Electric Inc. of Peoria. Dewberry Architects of Peoria and Workshop Architects of Milwaukee, Wisconsin developed design plans for the new facility. 

Professional services will be provided by Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc. of Springfield, TRC Worldwide Engineering, Inc. of Springfield, Massie Massie & Associates of Springfield, and Ricca Design Studios of Greenwood Village, Colorado. The building will be constructed to achieve U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification.