Monday, November 20, 2017

UIS scientists’ research on the Illinois River floodplain published in a special research journal issue

The restoration of the Illinois River floodplain is the focus of research by University of Illinois Springfield scientists in a newly published 200 page special issue of Hydrobiologia, the international journal of aquatic sciences. The restoration efforts are taking place at the Emiquon Preserve in Fulton County, Illinois.

UIS Biology Professor Michael Lemke co-guest edited the journal and was lead author on two articles exploring “Diversity and succession of pelagic microorganism communities in a newly restored Illinois River floodplain lake” and “Echoes of a flood pulse: short-term effects of record flooding of the Illinois River on floodplain lakes under ecological restoration,” as well was co-author on three other articles. Both the microbe and flood articles were co-authored with Keenan Dungey, UIS associate professor of chemistry.

“It’s unique for so many UIS scientists to contribute to research related to the same area of study,” said Lemke. “To my knowledge, this has not been done at the science level, at least since I’ve been at UIS. This is a whole 200 page special issue.”

UIS faculty members Hua Chen, associate professor of biology, and Amy McEuen, associate professor of biology, co-authored an article on “Carbon and nitrogen storage of a restored wetland at Illinois’ Emiquon Preserve: potential for carbon sequestration,” which was published in the special edition. UIS alumni Doyn Kellerhals, Michelle Randle and Sara Paver also contributed to the research.

In the issue, the scientists review the changes to the Illinois River over the centuries, yet emphasis is on a period of restoration at Emiquon during the period of initial restoration efforts to the connection to the IL River, thus providing a unique perspective for describing river ecology restoration. The papers describe (1) how planktonic microorganisms, vegetation, fish, and waterbird communities responded rapidly to flooding of former shallow lakes and wetlands that had been drained and used for dryland agriculture for 83 years; (2) how variation of hydrologic conditions favors biotic community diversity and conditions for carbon sequestration; (3) how fish populations imposed a trophic cascade and affected diversity, yet may not help control some undesirable fish species; and (4) how simulation models are useful in planning, but that restoration practice and management decisions must adapt to present conditions, involve trade-offs, and are influenced by competing stakeholder interests.

“Water level management remains the most important factor in the restoration ecology of floodplains; however, the establishment of a river–floodplain connection should be managed to achieve a balance between establishing hydrology that mimics natural flood pulses while minimizing contemporary threats, including excessive nutrient and sediment loads and invasive species,” said Lemke.

Hydrobiologia, founded in 1948, publishes original research, reviews and opinions investigating the biology of freshwater and marine environments, including the impact of human activities. The entire special edition is available at

For more information, contact Michael Lemke, UIS professor of biology, at 217/206-7339 or

Thursday, November 16, 2017

UIS Illinois Innocence Project receives grant for DNA testing for innocence cases involving misidentification and false confessions

IIP exoneree Charles Palmer walks free from the Macon Co. Jail on Nov. 23, 2016.
The University of Illinois Springfield is pleased to announce that, with the support of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership, the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) has been awarded federal grant funds totaling $641,000 to be distributed over two years. The grant will be used to clear Illinois innocence cases where DNA testing might decide the outcome of individuals who were found guilty as a result of an eyewitness misidentification or a false confession.

The award is part of a United States Department of Justice Bloodsworth Grant, named in honor of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first DNA death penalty exoneration case in the United States in 1993.

“The University of Illinois Springfield’s Illinois Innocence Project plays an important role in righting wrongs that have occurred in our justice system,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “I worked to establish the Bloodsworth Grant Program more than a decade ago to help provide funding for DNA testing to exonerate the innocent. I congratulate the students and staff of the UIS Illinois Innocence Project for their tremendous work in seeking justice for the innocent and contributing to a justice system worthy of our nation’s ideals.”

In 2014, the Illinois Legislature highlighted problems with eyewitness ID practices when it passed legislation mandating eyewitness ID best practices developed in response to wrongful convictions. The law is an implicit acknowledgement that such wrongful convictions have occurred. IIP has received many requests from inmates whose cases include eyewitness misidentification, largely as a consequence of old practices.

“Eyewitness misidentification remains the most common factor in cases where wrongly convicted individuals have been proven actually innocent and exonerated,” said John Hanlon, IIP executive director. “Nearly one-third of the approximately 188 exonerations in Illinois since 1989 have involved eyewitness misidentification. In 70-75% of all cases where exoneration has occurred using DNA evidence, eyewitness misidentification was an important factor.”

IIP also continues to receive numerous inquiries in cases where individuals confessed falsely, but are innocent.

“Illinois, particularly Chicago, is noted for the large number of cases in which police coerced false confessions, in many cases with torture, which led to wrongful convictions,” said Hanlon.

The Project initially will focus on numerous cases it has screened in both areas in anticipation of receipt of this grant. The cases will be further reviewed to determine if the evidence can be tested or retested for DNA and if the likelihood is that the individual is actually innocent of the crime for which they were convicted.

“We know that DNA is the most important forensic tool to identify or exclude a perpetrator of a crime,” said Hanlon. “This grant will give the Project the resources it needs to follow up with investigation and DNA testing of the many requests we have from people who may actually be innocent.”

As part of the grant, the Illinois Innocence Project will hire several UIS undergraduate students to assist in the screening, review, and evaluation of the cases.

“This new federal grant not only meets a critical need in the state of Illinois but also provides important opportunities for our students,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. “Present and future students will continue to have opportunities to learn about injustices in the criminal justice system through education and practice in ways that other universities cannot provide.”

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

UIS Economic Outlook Survey finds Sangamon County businesses moderately optimistic about the next year

The Survey Research Office at the University of Illinois Springfield has released the Fall 2017 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey. The study examines the economic perceptions, expectations, and evaluations of Sangamon County employers.

The fall 2017 survey shows that expectations for the economy of Sangamon County have changed little since the fall of 2016, with about a third of respondents in each year expecting things to improve over the next 12 months. Expectations for employment have brightened some, with 32% of 2017 respondents saying they expect job increases compared to 27% in 2016. Two-thirds of respondents expect inflation and interest rates to rise, about the same as a year ago.

Survey respondents’ expectations for their own firms/organizations are somewhat more optimistic than for the economy overall. More than half of those surveyed (55%) say they expect their sales/revenue to increase in the next 12 months. Likewise, 46% expect profitability to rise in the next year, and 50% think the overall status of their businesses/organizations will improve in the coming year. These percentages all show improvement compared to fall 2016, when 49% of respondents expected sales to go up, 45% looked for profitability to increase, and 43% believed the overall status of their firms would get better.

Despite the resolution of Illinois’ budget impasse, the condition of state finances remains the top concern of local employers. Fifty-eight percent identify state government finances as one of the biggest challenges facing them in the next 12 months. Consistent with past surveys, responding employers also see consumer confidence (45%) and government regulations and taxation (40%) as significant challenges during the coming year.

Nearly four in ten employers (39%) indicate that they sell goods and services online. A plurality of respondents (38%) say online competition has not affected their firm’s growth, while another 36% say the effect has been positive and the remaining 27% report a negative effect.

The Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey has been conducted biannually (spring and fall) since 2008. The results for fall 2017 are from 233 local organizations that were contacted in October via mail surveys and email invitations using Qualtrics Research Suite, a platform for online surveys.

The Fall 2017 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 David Racine, acting director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217/206-7956 or

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Students thank donors at the 21st annual UIS Scholarship Luncheon

The University of Illinois Springfield recognized scholarship donors during the 21st annual Scholarship Luncheon on November 8, 2017. Nearly 250 people participated in the luncheon.

During the event, students got a chance to personally thank their donors and let them know the difference the scholarship has made.

“It’s an opportunity for them to get to know each other and really just reminisce about how these experiences provide for a greater future for all of our students,” said Jeff Lorber, UIS vice chancellor for advancement.

One of the donors in attendance was Nancy Simpson, who started the Bill and Nancy Simpson Athletic Scholarship in honor of her late husband.

“We just wanted to support the university and the students and it seemed like the athletic program was just getting off to a good start and we thought we’d be part of it,” she said.

Much like Simpson, Tom Marantz, CEO of the Bank of Springfield, and his wife Nancy started the Jack Marantz Scholarship Fund for athletics in memory of his father.

“We’ve really enjoyed it do it,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed meeting the students every year. I think this is a highlight event for me to attend.”

Tyrone Pernell, a Management Information Systems major at UIS, says scholarship have made it possible for him to obtain an education.

“Scholarships have helped me get through school a little faster, it’s helping me not have to worry about paying back tuition, it’s helping me become a better person,” he said.

“I just feel like it’s a good opportunity for people to say thank you and show gratitude and everything,” said Melissa Van, a business administration major.

UIS recently kicked off the “Reaching Stellar: The Campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield.” One of the top goals of the $40 million campaign is to raise money for scholarships.

“That includes current use scholarships, as well as endowments that will live on,” said Lorber. “It’s building a greater, stronger university and allowing us to attract top notch students and retain them.”

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

UIS students collect a record 28,946 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank on Halloween night

University of Illinois Springfield students helped to collect a record 28,946 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank on Halloween night. The total breaks a previous Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods record of 14,085 pounds of food collected in 2016.

A total of 17 teams, consisting of 284 students, went door-to-door in several Springfield and Chatham neighborhoods collecting the canned goods.

Over the past week, the teams canvassed the neighborhoods and distributed door hangers that explained the project. Collected items were returned and weighed on campus. Prizes were awarded to the teams that collected the most food.

Students in the Leadership for Life Service Program collected 6,152 pounds of food in the Country Club Estates and Deerfield subdivisions on Springfield’s west side. The Legion of Ladies student organization collected 6,000 pounds of food in Chatham’s Breckenridge subdivision.

For a second year, the UIS Cox Children’s Center participated in the fun by having the children in costume Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods at on campus departments. The children collected 663 pounds of food.

The Central Illinois Foodbank distributes over 9.4 million pounds of food annually to over 150 food pantries, soup kitchens, residential programs and after-school programs in a 21 county region.

For more information, or if you have food that was not collected, please contact the UIS Volunteer Center at 217/206-7716 or

Monday, October 23, 2017

UIS Computer Science Department awarded $26,592 State Farm grant

The University of Illinois Springfield Computer Science Department accepted a check for $26,592 from State Farm Insurance during a presentation on October 23, 2017 in the Public Affairs Center Atrium.

The State Farm Systems Priority Grant will be used to update and increase the capacity of the department’s Virtual Server Farm, which consists of more than 2,200 virtual machines used by students in core and elective computer science classes, both online and on campus.

The UIS Computer Science Department teaches 80% of its classes on the Virtual Server Farm, a major technological backbone that enables the department to deliver innovative degrees in computer science, information systems security, and data analytics.

More than 1,200 students use the Virtual Server Farm on a daily basis to access personalized virtual machines in every class they take, and work with cutting-edge software from both on and off campus.
Virtual classrooms, full of networks of virtual machines, provide students with enhanced learning experiences and allow them to research and explore real-world problems, simulate complex environments and visualize and analyze large amounts of data in innovative courses.

“The Computer Science Department at UIS is honored to receive the award, which is crucial to remain cutting-edge and maintain our status as a premier Computer Science Department, thus allowing us to continue our tradition of academic excellence,” said Associate Professor Sviatoslav Braynov, head of the Computer Science department.

For more information, contact Derek Schnapp, UIS director of public relations, at 217/206-6716 or

Thursday, October 12, 2017

UIS offers first on campus dual credit class to high school students as part of a pilot program

The University of Illinois Springfield is offering its first on campus dual credit class for high school students as part of a pilot program. The class marks the first time UIS has offered high school students college credit for a class taught by a university faculty member.

The pilot course, CHE 199A: General, Organic, and Biochemistry, is being offered to 18 seniors from Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (SHG). The students earn both college and high school credit for the course. If the program is successful, the university hopes to expand course selection and offer classes to students at other high schools in central Illinois.

The pilot class is taught by UIS Associate Professor of Biochemistry Stephen R. Johnson. As part of the class, SHG students meet on campus twice a week for lecture early in the morning and have a laboratory class every Friday morning.

“It gives them a jumpstart in the sense that they have some college credit,” said Johnson. “They get to see that college is not like high school. The course work is more rigorous, it’s faster. I mentioned in class today that some of the material they need to know is from external sources. That’s a very novel thing for many high school students.”

Johnson, who has two children who are currently attending SHG, came up with the idea for the pilot class after speaking with fellow parents and teachers at the school.

“At times we’ve sat around at a football game and asked, how do we enhance our science program? I always thought, if those kids could see something beyond the high school curriculum that would really be something great. That’s sort of how it came about.”

SHG senior Taylor Rahn, a 17-year-old from Springfield, who is taking the dual credit class plans on becoming a biochemist.

“The class is really helping me see what biochemistry is all about and I fall more in love with it every day,” she said. “It’s really an eye opener to see what college life is like being on campus and seeing what is expected and how lectures work.”

SHG principal Kara Rapacz says she’s grateful her students are getting to take college classes off campus at UIS.

“Attending the biochemistry course on the UIS campus is an extraordinary experience for our students,” she said. “SHG students have had the opportunity to take many dual credit courses on our own campus, but sending our students off to a college campus for class is new territory for us. This opportunity will allow them to utilize state-of-the-art lab equipment and gain exposure to cutting-edge technologies.”

Johnson says the pilot class starts with a review of general chemistry the students have already learned at SHG, but soon takes them into aspects of chemistry beyond what is taught at the high school level, i.e. organic and biochemistry. The course is designed to get them thinking about future careers in the field.

“We hope they leave the course with an overall look at the chemistry that would be involved if they stay in the health fields, whether they are professionals like physicians or want to do research, like biochemistry,” he said.

UIS Director of Admissions Fernando Planas says students can apply the credits earned from the class towards a degree at UIS or have an official transcript sent to their college of choice for use at that institution.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for SHG students. It provides them with a unique college experience while still in high school, allows them to earn college credit, and lets them experience for themselves UIS’s excellence in teaching,” he said.

Johnson hopes that the pilot program will be the inspiration for more dual credit classes at UIS and across the entire University of Illinois System.

“Inevitably it might even attract some students to say ‘hey, we like what we’re seeing at UIS’ and they’ll stay here for undergraduate work, so it has a lot of potential growth as we go forward,” he said.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

University of Illinois Springfield offers transfer hours at Lake Land College

The University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and Lake Land College in Mattoon are partnering to make it easier for students to continue their college education after earning their associate’s degree.

Beginning in the fall of 2017, UIS will offer hours for advising and counseling for Lake Land students considering transferring to UIS.

“We are pleased to see students will have additional opportunities to learn about the transfer options at UIS. It’s very beneficial for our students to be able to meet face-to-face on our campus with a UIS transfer admissions representative to create a seamless plan for transferring,” said Bryan Burrell, Lake Land College academic counselor.

"Lake Land College is a reliable transfer partner to UIS and a community college that has been ahead of the curve with us in developing curriculum agreements in business and computer science. I believe the Lake Land community understands the unique opportunity in assisting their students in achieving a personal college experience which also connects them to one of the top flagship universities in this nation,” said Raymond Barnett, UIS undergraduate transfer admissions coordinator.

In addition to select Mondays in the Lake Land Transfer Student Center (Northwest Building 027), UIS will also offer office hours in the Luther Student Center.

The UIS dates at LLC for the 2017 fall term will be November 6, 13 and 27 and December 4 with the following hours and locations:

Transfer Student Center: 9:30 – 11 a.m.
Luther Student Center: 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Transfer Student Center: 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

UIS also maintains successful transfer offices at Illinois Central College in Peoria, and Richland Community College.

For more information on transferring to UIS, contact Raymond Barnett at 217/206-6626 or

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

UIS fundraising campaign seeks to raise $40 million to benefit students, faculty and the community

The University of Illinois Springfield launched the public phase of the largest fundraising campaign in its history on Tuesday, October 10. More than 300 people attended the day’s events to kick off the capital campaign, “Reaching Stellar: The Campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield.”

“At the University of Illinois, we have one goal at the core of our mission: to transform lives and serve society,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. “This fundraising campaign is a strategy for taking UIS—with donors’ help—toward greater excellence and greater impact for our community, our state and beyond.”

The goal of the campaign is to raise $40 million to benefit students, faculty and the Springfield community. As of October 10, 2017, the University of Illinois Foundation had received commitments of more than $18.4 million in gifts, grants and pledges, according to Jeff Lorber, UIS vice chancellor for advancement. The campaign will continue through 2022.

The UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, a campaign priority, will be a national base for scholarship, teaching and public history about Lincoln’s life, leadership and legacy. It will incubate and sustain university-community collaborative projects, connecting UIS students with myriad opportunities available locally in Springfield, as well as connecting Lincoln to a national and international context.

Other campaign priorities include: scholarships; academic excellence; facilities and technology, including the new Student Union; and programs that contribute to the public good. These programs include outreach into the community, such as NPR Illinois, the Illinois Innocence Project, Sangamon Auditorium and others.

“UIS is crucial to the formula that has made the University of Illinois System synonymous with excellence,” said University of Illinois President Timothy J. Killeen at the campaign kickoff. “It is a place where students thrive in an intimate setting, and then move on to share those talents to lift the workforce and their communities.”

The UIS Campaign Committee is leading the Reaching Stellar campaign for UIS. Co-chairs are Hy Bunn, president and CEO of Bunn-O-Matic Corporation, and Saul Morse, of counsel at Brown, Hay & Stephens LLC, and director, University of Illinois Foundation. Other members include Micah Bartlett, W. Robert Felker, Julie Kellner, Pam McClelland, Larry Shiner, Janice Spears, Julie Staley and Guerry Suggs.

“As we begin this new campaign, only a few years from the University’s 50th anniversary, the prospects for this institution of higher education and its effect upon our community are limitless,” said Morse.

“This campaign is as important to the greater Springfield area as it is for the University,” said Bunn. “I’m excited to see UIS thrive through support from the University’s many alumni and friends.”

UIS Athletics unveils strategic plan for future

The University of Illinois Springfield department of athletics has unveiled their strategic plan, the BLUEprint for excellence, which lays out the initiatives of the department for the next three years. The BLUEprint for excellence will serve as the guiding foundation for the department of athletics, to set clear priorities and measure results for Athletic administration, coaches, and student-athletes.

"As our department continues to move forward and grow towards becoming the premier, public Division II program in the Midwest, we understand that a plan was needed in order to make these goals a reality," said Director of Athletics, Jim Sarra. "Our goal is, and will always be, to compete for championships on the field, while ensuring our student-athletes are set up for success upon graduation. The BLUEprint for excellence serves as our guiding principles to achieving these goals and fulfilling our promise to our student-athletes to make their time at Illinois-Springfield one that will resonate a lifetime."

  • To shape our student-athletes into productive, service-minded leaders and center the athletics experience on academic achievement, pursuit of championships, and community outreach.
  • To be the premier, public NCAA Division II program in the Midwest Region.
  1. Competitive Excellence 
  2. Student-Athlete Well-Being and Achievement 
  3. Leadership, Culture, and Integrity 
  4. Resource Generation and Development 
  5. Marketing and Engagement 
  6. Strategic Communications 
  7. Facility Enhancement 
  • Fun 
  • Accountability 
  • Commitment 
  • Truthfulness 
  • Outreach 
  • Respect 
"Be a FACTOR in our success as we educate, excel, and inspire through athletics." – Jim Sarra

Click here to view the strategic plan.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

UIS Cox Children’s Center receives Gold Circle of Quality designation

The University of Illinois Springfield Cox Children’s Center has received the Gold Circle of Quality designation, the highest rating possible, from ExceleRate Illinois, the state’s quality rating and improvement system for early learning and development providers.

"Every early learning and development provider who participates in ExceleRate Illinois makes quality a priority,” said Cynthia L. Tate, executive director, Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.

"The higher the designation, the higher the program demonstrated quality and comprehensiveness in meeting children's early learning needs," she said.

"We are proud to receive the Gold Circle of Quality," said Stacey Gilmore, director of the UIS Cox Children's Center. "Providing quality in early learning and development will help our children be better prepared for success in school and in life."

ExceleRate Illinois helps families make more informed choices about their children's early learning. It establishes standards to help infants, toddlers and preschoolers develop intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. Additionally, it provides a framework for early learning and development professionals to identify opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills.

The Cox Children’s Center was established in 1970. The center is a resource for university students, faculty, staff, alumni and community clients. The programs are designed to provide early childhood care and education for children 6 weeks to 12 years of age.

The center also serves as a site for practicum experiences for university students seeking hands-on learning in the field of early childhood education.

The center is an NAEYC accredited early childhood program and has a Star Level 3 Quality Rating System Certification.

Cox Children’s Center has received the ExceleRate Gold Circle Quality Designation every year since the program began in 2014.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

UIS helps train first responders in how to investigate and document child abuse cases

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Child Protection Training Academy used its mock simulation house to help train first responders from around the country in methods to investigate and document child abuse during a training held September 19-21, 2017, on campus.

The class was part of a national course by the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, located at Winona State University in Minnesota.

More than 20 participants took part in the training that provided detailed instruction in the investigation of a crime scene and how seemingly unimportant details can become critical at trial. The training included instruction on how to interrogate a child abuse suspect, how to photograph a crime scene and how to conduct witness interviews.

First responders who were invited to participate included prosecutors, social workers, case managers, forensic interviewers, law enforcement officers, investigators and child protection attorneys.

UIS created the Child Protection Training Academy in 2015, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The Child Protection Training Academy has already trained more than 250 DCFS investigators. The mock house and a separate mock courtroom are also used to train UIS students who are part of the Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) certification program.

For more information contact Betsy Goulet, UIS clinical assistant professor and CAST coordinator, at 217/206-8523 or

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Undergraduate student enrollment is steady at UIS, while online majors grow

Fall 2017 census numbers show the number of undergraduate students taking classes at the University of Illinois Springfield is similar to a year ago, while the number of online majors is growing.

The number of undergraduate students at UIS stands at 2,932 compared to 2,959 in fall 2016. The number of students taking classes completely online continues to increase, with 1,681 students (34% of total) enrolled in online degree or certificate programs. That is an increase of 16 students from last year. This semester, UIS online students reside in 48 states, 70 counties in Illinois and 10 foreign countries.

“Despite challenges like the uncertainty of the state budget, I’m pleased that our continued focus on three strategic priorities – growth, talent and facilities – is helping to sustain forward momentum at the Springfield campus,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch.

“The recent addition of several new academic programs including biochemistry, data analytics, exercise science, information systems security, theatre and nursing has broadened opportunities for students at the same time new spaces for these programs have enhanced our facilities,” Koch added. “The opening of the new student union in January is much anticipated by students, faculty, staff and members of the Springfield community and we know it will contribute greatly to the University’s attractiveness to prospective students.”

After the first 10 days of classes, a total of 4,956 students are enrolled at UIS, down from 5,428 students in fall 2016.

The number of graduate students decreased from 2,469 in 2016 to 2,024 in 2017. UIS has 420 fewer international students at the graduate level this year compared to last.

“We were expecting the decline in our graduate student numbers this year,” said Koch. “The university had a record number of graduates last year and concerns from international students regarding whether their visa status could change contributed to the decline, an impact seen widely across the country this year.”

There are a total of 582 African American students enrolled this semester comprising 11.7% of the student body. Students who self-identify as Hispanic comprise 6.7% (330) of this year’s student body, Asian students comprise 3.6% (180).

UIS saw an increase in Illinois residents (72.2%, up from 67% last year) for a total of 3,579 students. International students encompass 13.1% of the students enrolled and 14.7% are non-Illinois residents.

“The average ACT score of entering freshmen and their first-year retention rate, both important markers of quality, have continued to increase,” said Koch.

UIS is one of three universities in the world-class University of Illinois System and provides students with a high-quality liberal arts education, exceptional public affairs opportunities and outstanding professional preparation programs.

UIS has four core strengths: (1) a teaching-focused academic experience; (2) an abundance of opportunities to collaborate; (3) a right-sized supportive community and (4) a tradition of educating public servants and leaders.

For more information, contact Derek Schnapp, UIS director of public relations, at 217/206-6716 or

Friday, September 01, 2017

UIS students give back to the Springfield community during the Service-A-Thon

University of Illinois Springfield students volunteered at nine Springfield locations during the annual Welcome Week Service-A-Thon on Friday, September 1, 2017. The event encourages students to place community first by starting the school year off in service to others.

“It’s just a great way for students to connect with their community around Springfield and meet other students on campus,” said RJ Swartz, the AmeriCorps VISTA for the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

This year, the students volunteered with the Computer Banc, Contact Ministries, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, M.E.R.C.Y Communities Inc., the Ronald McDonald House, St. John’s Breadline and the UIS Community Garden.

UIS sophomore psychology major Alexus Venegas-Rodriguez of Hoffman Estates says she volunteered before coming to UIS. Now, she wants to give back to new home.

“I just really love giving back and helping people out, so they don’t have to work as hard. It just feels good to be helping and making a difference,” said Venegas-Rodriguez.

Other students, such as freshman political science major Jennifer Viramontes of Carpentersville, also have a history of volunteer work. She helped to clean up the shores of Lake Springfield at the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois’ Camp Widjiwagan.

“We started wiping down mattresses with Clorox wipes and then we’re just clearing off the shore, getting all of the big sticks out of there, any rocks we’re throwing up higher on the shore,” she said.

Freshman Annabella Paradies of Genoa volunteered sorting medical supplies at Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach. The unused supplies will be boxed up and shipped to hospitals around the world.

“It makes me feel good about myself and I like knowing that I can help others around the world,” she said. “I feel like as a freshman it’s important to get yourself out there and help others.”

Swartz hopes students who took part in the Service-A-Thon will continue to volunteer in the community throughout the school year.

“Service is going to be a big part of your time here at UIS, so it’s a good way to start off the year for sure,” he said.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

New downtown Springfield business discount program announced for UIS students

University of Illinois Springfield students can now take advantage of a new downtown Springfield discount program at stores and eateries. Deals vary, but many include a 10 percent discount or buy-one-get-one-free offers. All students need to do to take advantage of the discount is show their i-card at businesses displaying the Downtown Discounts decal.

The discount program was created by State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’s Higher Education Student Advisory Committee, made up of students from UIS and Lincoln Land Community College, in partnership with downtown businesses.

“I am so proud of these young men and women on my Higher Education Advisory Committee. They have taken their role beyond discussing legislation to actively working for the betterment of our community. The discount program they have spearheaded will help get young adults involved downtown, and hopefully, develop a relationship that will make them want to stay here,” said Rep. Jimenez.

The Downtown Discounts program launches with 10 participating businesses, including Springfield Vintage, Custom Cup Coffee, Daisy Jane’s, the Hoogland Center for the Arts, Jade’s Far East Emporium, The Roost, Wild Rose, Studio 6, Z Bistro and Udder Hut, Jojo’s Street Cuisine and Recycled Records.

“This discount program is an example of students and local leaders working together to improve the community for everyone,” said Kaelan Smith, a UIS student and co-chair of the Higher Education Advisory Committee. “I hope this program inspires more students to become active partners with community members to enhance the quality of life in Springfield.”

In addition to the new Downtown Discounts program, UIS has had a longtime i-card perks discount program with many Springfield businesses.

Here are the new downtown discounts announced today:
  • Custom Cup Coffee - Free coupons for a cup of coffee
  • Daisy Jane’s - 10 percent discount
  • Hoogland Center for the Arts - $2 off tickets
  • Jade’s Far East Emporium - 10% discount
  • Jojo’s Street Cuisine - 10 percent discount
  • Recycled Records - Buy one get one free
  • Springfield Vintage - 10 percent discount
  • Studio 6 - Buy one get one free
  • The Roost - 10 percent discount
  • Wild Rose - Enter into a drawing with a purchase and a free magnet
  • Z Bistro and Udder Hut - 10 percent discount 

Monday, August 28, 2017

UIS Student Union construction about 85 percent complete

Construction on the University of Illinois Springfield’s new student union building is about 85 percent complete, according to Chuck Coderko, UIS associate chancellor for administrative affairs, facilities, & services. The facility is scheduled to open in January 2018.

The two-story, 50,000-square-foot student union will anchor the campus’s south quad, providing campus dining services, a Starbucks 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.

For more information on the UIS Student Union, visit

Thursday, August 24, 2017

UIS welcomes thirteen new faculty members

Thirteen new faculty members have joined the University of Illinois Springfield for fall semester 2017. Seven will teach in programs within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, four in the College of Business and Management, one in the College of Education and Human Services and one in the College of Public Affairs and Administration.

Michael Davis, visiting instructor of computer science in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, holds a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois Springfield. His research interests include computer architecture and organization. Outside of work, he enjoys time with family and craft beer.

Jordan Hyde, instructor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, holds a Ph.D. in applied social psychology from Brigham Young University. His research interests include cultural psychology, race and cultural diversity, intergroup relations, diversity and philosophy of science. He is married and has one child. He enjoys television/movies, piano and singing.

Ahmad Juma’h, associate professor of accountancy in the College of Business and Management, holds a Ph.D. in accounting and finance from Manchester University. His research interests include outsourcing, offshoring, earning management, bankruptcy, manipulations, financial decisions and stock market reaction, materiality, performance measurements behavioral accounting and finance. When he is not teaching at UIS, he enjoys writing and reading, learning different cultures and traveling.

Youngjin Kang, lecturer in human services in the College of Education & Human Services, earned her Ph.D. in family science from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Her research interests include family processes, parent-child relationships, parent-child communications and co-parenting relationships in post-divorce families. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano, watching documentaries, cooking, walking and hiking.

Hasan Kartal, lecturer in management information systems in the College of Business and Management, is expected to earn his Ph.D. in information systems from the University Massachusetts Lowell in 2017. His research interests include data analytics and data privacy, primarily in health care, and supply chain management. When not teaching at UIS, he enjoys weekly swims and occasional mountain cycling.

Yuan Li, assistant professor of management information systems in the College of Business and Management, obtained a Ph.D. in management information systems from the University of South Carolina. His research interests include online privacy and security, knowledge management, computer-aided decision-making and business analytics. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling and cooking.

Stephanie Martinez, instructor of English & modern languages (Spanish/TESOL) in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, earned a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests include the psychological processes of second language learning as well as the role of culture in learning a language. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, travel, cooking, history, architecture and design.

Maria Panteva, visiting assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, holds a Ph.D. in chemistry & chemical biology from Rutgers University. She is interested in physical chemistry, computational biophysics and studying the structure and dynamics of biologically relevant systems. She enjoys reading, traveling and cooking.

Edrisa Sanyang, visiting assistant professor of public health in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, earned a Ph.D. in occupational & environmental health from the University of Iowa. His research includes injury epidemiology, workplace violence, water and sanitation. Outside of work he enjoys biking.

Andrea Scarpino, visiting assistant professor of English & modern languages in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, earned a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University. She is interested in poetry, creative writing, the body and disability studies. Her personal interests include cooking, traveling and yoga.

Yih Sung, assistant professor of mathematical sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University. His research interests include complex analysis, complex geometry, theoretical physics and artificial intelligence. Personally, he enjoys reading, baking, cooking and Chinese calligraphy.

Mohammed Uddin, assistant professor of accountancy in the College of Business and Management, holds a Ph.D. in accounting from Aston University. His research interests include accounting, accountability and performance management in nonprofit/non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He also enjoys networking with professionals and playing football.

Jennifer Whalen, instructor of English & modern languages in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Texas State University. She is interested in college composition and poetry. Outside of work, she enjoys reading novels and watching movies and television.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

UIS welcomes hundreds of new students on Freshman Move-In Day

The University of Illinois Springfield welcomed more than 200 new students during Freshman Move-In Day on August 23, 2017.

“This is a really important day, especially for those new freshman who are just pulling in with their families and bringing all manner of essential items,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch.

UIS freshman Aundrae Williams of Springfield admits he was so excited about move-in day that he didn’t sleep much the night before. He’s looking forward to meeting new friends.

“I’m really just excited to start everything,” said Williams. “I couldn’t wait to move in. I’m just ready for it all to begin.”

Fellow first-year student Kendra Peifer of McLean shares in William’s excitement. She says she’s grateful for all of the volunteers who helped her move into her room.

“It’s kind of overwhelming, but I’m super excited,” she said. “I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life.”

Students were assigned arrival times in an effort to avoid congestion. Volunteers help direct parents to parking spaces, unload and carry items and help students find their rooms.

UIS Director of Residence Life John Ringle says research shows students who live on campus their first few years of college have a better experience.

“Students who live on campus gain a sense of place, a sense of community and a sense of being grounded in the campus they’ve chosen,” said Ringle.

Chancellor Koch adds that this academic year will be extra special, as the new UIS Student Union building is scheduled to open in early 2018.

“I think the students who live on campus are probably the ones who are really going to enjoy that the most,” she said.

Fall Semester 2017 classes begin on Monday, August 28, 2017.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

UIS Cox Children’s Center earns national NAEYC accreditation for high-quality

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Cox Children’s Center has earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world's largest organization working on behalf of young children. NAEYC accreditation is the mark of high-quality for programs.

Less than 10 percent of all child care centers, preschools, and kindergartens nationally achieve this recognition. NAEYC accreditation is a rigorous and transformative quality-improvement system that uses a set of 10 standards that are based on the latest research on the education and development of young children.

The Cox Children’s Center was established in 1970 and has held NAEYC accreditation since 2002. The center is a resource for university students, faculty, staff, alumni and community clients. The programs are designed to provide early childhood care and education for children 6 weeks to 12 years of age. The center also serves as a site for practicum experiences for university students seeking hands-on learning in the field of early childhood education.

“Maintaining our NAEYC accreditation status is imperative in our goal of providing model early care and education to children and families,” said Stacey Gilmore, director of the UIS Cox Children’s Center. “NAEYC accreditation helps staff develop a shared understanding and commitment to quality. It helps families recognize quality and be assured that children are receiving a high-quality, research-based education that will prepare them for future success.”

To earn NAEYC Accreditation, the UIS Cox Children’s Center went through an extensive self-study and quality-improvement process, followed by an on-site visit by NAEYC Assessors to verify and ensure that the program met each of the ten program standards, and hundreds of corresponding individual criteria. NAEYC-accredited programs are always prepared for unannounced quality-assurance visits during their accreditation term, which lasts for five years.

“Pursuing NAEYC accreditation is a rigorous process that we voluntarily engage in to meet the highest program standards for quality early learning,” said Gilmore. “I’m very proud of my team and the hard work they’ve put into achieving this goal.”

In the 30 years since NAEYC accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. More than 7,000 programs are currently accredited by NAEYC.

For more information, contact Stacey Gilmore, director of the UIS Cox Children’s Center, at 217/206-6610 or

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

UIS professor offers advice on how to safely view the August 21 solar eclipse

A partial solar eclipse will take place in central Illinois on August 21, 2017. On that day, the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow on the Earth that will travel west to east across the United States.

According to University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Astronomy-Physics John Martin, areas of southern Illinois will experience a total eclipse with 100 percent of the sun covered by the moon, while the Springfield-area will see 96 percent coverage around 1:18 p.m.

“Where the moon shadow hits the Earth is where you see the eclipse,” said Martin. “You might notice with the shadow you have a darker and a lighter part of the shadow. The lighter part of the shadow, on the edges, is where the moon has just partially blocked out the sun. We here in central Illinois are going to be in that partially blocked out shadow. That’s not as dark as all of the way blocked out.”

Martin warns anyone viewing the eclipse that they should not look directly at the sun with the naked eye or with a telescope. He suggests using protective glasses made out of sheets of Mylar or a #14 welder’s glass. You can also make a pin-hole camera out of a box or even a notepad.

“Even with the sun 96 percent covered, it’s still very bright,” said Martin. “It’s still like staring into a welder’s arc just a few feet away from your face, so don’t look at the sun during the partial eclipse.”

Martin also urges those hoping to view the eclipse to check the weather forecast, as clouds can block your view of the event.

“If it’s cloudy on the 21st, it’s cloudy for the solar eclipse, we have another one coming up in 2024, in about seven years,” he said.

Martin has created a website with more information about the solar eclipse, which includes a map showing the amount of coverage in central Illinois.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

UIS faculty and students partner with Brazilian researchers to study river floodplain conservation

The University of Illinois Springfield has partnered with the Universidade Estadual de Maringá (UEM) to research the aquatic ecology of the Paraná River in Brazil and the Illinois River in the United States in order to better understand the effectiveness of conservation and restoration efforts.

A group of five UIS students and one faculty member spent three weeks in Brazil in June as part of a study abroad trip where they conducted field water sampling, traveled to university field stations and took boat tours of the floodplain. In July, a group of four Brazilian students and one faculty member came to the United States for three weeks to study the Illinois River floodplain. A large amount of the Illinois research was conducted at the UIS Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon near Lewistown.

In particular, researchers compared the water chemistry and zooplankton composition of the last protected stretch of the Paraná floodplain (230 km) to those of the restored areas of the Illinois River floodplain.

“Overall, we found that the nutrient concentrations (total nitrogen, total phosphorus, etc.) were much lower in the surface waters of the Paraná floodplain than those of the Illinois River. These differences are due to many factors, including the influence of hydroelectric dams upstream from the sampling sites in Brazil and the widespread use of fertilizers in the Illinois watershed,” said Keenan Dungey, UIS associate professor of chemistry and associate vice chancellor for research and institutional effectiveness.

There were 184 total zooplankton species identified among all the sites, some of whom were similar on both continents. The zooplankton community compositions were different, with those of Paraná having a greater species richness and those of Illinois having a greater abundance. Biogeography, climate, and availability of nutrients were different factors the students considered when comparing the zooplankton communities.

Results from the collaboration will be presented on each campus and at an international science conference. The information gathered will also become part of a new course, “BIO 334 ECCE: Conservation and Restoration of Large River Systems in North and South America”. This online, international, bilingual course will be co-taught by UIS Biology Professor Michael Lemke and UEM Professor Felipe Velho, vice director of the Center for Limnology this coming spring semester.

During the course, students from both countries will learn the science behind restoration and conservation and the cultural differences and similarities between Brazil and the U.S. that result in different approaches to the environment. The Paraná River and Illinois River systems will serve as case studies and students from both countries will work together on group projects.

“My objective in designing this course was to explore the cultural interpretation of conservation and the same for restoration ecology in a world where the terms become harder to interpret and there is more on the line (not only loss of resources, but re-definition of what resource is, and the influx of huge business interests) both for the loss of and the conservation of natural resources,” said Lemke.

While in Brazil, UIS students also had the chance to view Iguassu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and got a technical tour of the Itaipu Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world (in terms of consistent power output).

“Besides the amazing sites, the great science, and meeting wonderful people, the most significant aspect of the trip for me was to be able to see students from two continents that spoke different languages develop friendships with one another,” said Dungey.

This summer’s project grew out of a ten year research collaboration between Professor Lemke and UEM scientists. The program was partially funded by a $25,000 Innovation Fund grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation-sponsored competition, “100,000 Strong in the Americas”, which was administered by Partners for the Americas. The goal of this fund is to increase college student exchange between North and South America, for the purpose of furthering international understanding and student career development. UIS was one of only eight United States institutions to receive the award.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

UIS Survey Research Office releases 2017 Sangamon County Citizen Survey

The University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office has released the results of its 2017 Sangamon County Citizen Survey. Results were previewed at the Citizens Club of Springfield meeting on Friday, July 28. The survey — the third in a planned series of five — aims to establish benchmarks and evaluate changes in residents’ assessments of quality of life in Sangamon County. In addition to responses to recurring questions, the current survey solicits public opinion on topical issues affecting the county.

The current survey finds that majorities rate the county highly on many measures: 69% say it is an “excellent” or “good” place to live; 66% say it is an “excellent” or “good” place to raise children; and 59% say it is an “excellent” or “good” place to work. However, younger respondents and nonwhite respondents are less likely to say the county is a good place to live, raise children, work, and retire. Additionally, those outside of Springfield are more likely to say Sangamon County is an “excellent” or “good” place to raise children (83%) than Springfield residents (62%). The survey also finds that men (47%) are more likely than women (36%) to say that everyone in their community is treated equally and that those with household incomes of $100,000 or more (53%) are more likely to say everyone is treated equally than those earning $30,000 or less (37%).

Respondents are nearly unanimous when it comes to how they feel the budget impasse has impacted the county; almost nine in ten (88%) say the state budget impasse had a negative effect on the Sangamon County economy. Furthermore, about half (44%) say they have personally been affected by the state budget impasse. Among those affected are state employees who have not been reimbursed for medical payments and small business owners who depend on business with the state to survive.

Regarding the local economy, just 20% say they are financially “worse off” now compared to a year ago today while 24% say they are “better off” today. However, respondents are less optimistic about local business conditions – 46% say these are “worse off” now than compared to a year ago while just 4% say they are “better off.” Thirty-six percent say they have considered moving out of or away from the county in the past year which is the same percentage as the last time the survey was administered in 2015.

The survey is sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, the United Way of Central Illinois, and the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS. The full report contains responses to all questions including open-ended questions. The results are from 746 respondents from across Sangamon County. The data are weighted by gender, race, age, and education to match estimates provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey was administered via mail using address-based sampling. The margin of sampling error is +3.8% at the 95% confidence level, but this margin will increase when examining subgroups.

The report is available on the UIS Survey Research Office website at Questions about the survey may be directed to Matt Case, interim director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217/206-6293 or

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Hired!" social media campaign highlights recent graduates with jobs

A University of Illinois Springfield social media campaign is highlighting students who graduated with a job. The "Hired!" campaign was featured on the UIS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages in the Summer of 2017.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Public comment about UIS sought as part of evaluation process

Members of the public are invited to submit comments regarding the quality of the University of Illinois Springfield and its academic programs as part of a comprehensive evaluation that UIS will undergo by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

A team representing the commission will visit the Springfield campus February 19-20, 2018, as part of the evaluation process. The team will review the institution’s ongoing ability to meet HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation.

The Higher Learning Commission is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes 19 states. UIS has been accredited by HLC since 1975.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding the university to the following address:

Public Comment on University of Illinois Springfield
Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411

The public may also submit comments on HLC’s website at

Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing. All comments must be received by January 18, 2018.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

UIS announces Spring Semester 2017 Dean’s List

The University of Illinois Springfield has released the Dean’s List for Spring Semester 2017.

A total of 548 students were selected; 75 are students in the College of Business and Management, 51 are students in the College of Education and Human Services, 347 are enrolled in programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 58 are enrolled in programs in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, and 17 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 and maintained a grade-point average of at least 3.75 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 17 Dean's List PDF | Spring 17 Dean's List Excel

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

UIS Society for Human Resource Management student chapter wins national Superior Merit Award

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has awarded a 2016-2017 Superior Merit Award designation to the University of Illinois Springfield SHRM student chapter for providing superior growth and development opportunities to its student chapter members.

Of the 327 student chapters from across the United States, UIS was one of 149 winners.

The SHRM student chapter merit award program, which began in 1972, was created to encourage student chapters to require ongoing excellence in the following areas: student chapter requirements, chapter operations, chapter programming and professional development of members, support of the human resource profession and SHRM engagement.

“These chapters truly represent the future of the HR profession,” said Susan Post, SHRM-SCP, East Divisional Director at SHRM and the lead for SHRM’s Student Programs. “Their achievements go above and beyond their everyday academic and work commitments and we applaud the positive impact their efforts have on their schools, their local communities and beyond.”

Recently, the UIS SHRM Chapter opened its speaker series events to the entire UIS community, including both UIS students and faculty, in order to learn, discuss, and network with professionals in Human Resources. The chapter also coordinated tours of businesses and organizations in Springfield to help students better understand the field.

“Students who are interested in finding and preparing for their future career had the opportunity to see in person how people really work in an organization in term of human resource management perspective,” said UIS student Chapter President Adella Nguyen.

The UIS SHRM chapter has also been working to improve its communication among chapter members and with other UIS students through social media, forums and cell phone applications.

For more information on the UIS SHRM chapter, visit their website, UIS Connection or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Questions may be directed to advisers Donna Rogers at or Ashley Miller at

About the Society for Human Resource Management 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. For nearly seven decades, the Society has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

UIS welcomes the Class of 2021 during KickStart Orientation

The University of Illinois Springfield is welcoming hundreds of new students to campus during its summer KickStart Orientation events in June, July and August. A total of six different orientation sessions are planned.

The two-day overnight events helps students understand UIS requirements, meet their fellow classmates and learn their way around campus.

“Today students will be meeting with advisers, learning some of the basics about what their requirements would be for academic majors and minors and doing some pre-advising where they start to think about what courses they will take in the fall semester,” said Lisa McGuire, UIS director of new student orientation and parent relations.

Incoming first-year student Brielle Marten chose UIS because of the nursing program. She’s from Litchfield and will be about 45 minutes away from home.

“I’m really excited to just be able to kind of move onto that next chapter and have a little bit of a new start somewhere different,” said Marten.

Diana Vazquez, a first-generation college student from Round Lake Beach, chose UIS because she wants to study politics and law. She knew that the Springfield would be the perfect place.

“I’m just really excited to make friends and register for classes and just kind of get more of a feel of the campus,” said Vazquez.

McGuire says she hopes students and parents leave orientation with all of their questions answered and feel ready for the first day of class.

“They’ll leave with their schedule, so they’ll know what classes they’re taking and what that schedule will look like,” said McGuire. “We’re hoping people will take the time to meet with our financial assistance office and meet with their financial assistance counselor.”

Vazquez says she can’t wait to start classes and begin a new chapter in her life.

“Becoming my own person and becoming independent is something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” she said. “I guess college is somewhere where you can start to become your own person and figure out who you are and where you fit in the world.”

For more information on orientation, visit

Monday, June 05, 2017

UIS Illinois Innocence Project client walks free after 22 years of wrongful imprisonment

Last week, William (Bill) Amor, a client of the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) at the University of Illinois Springfield, walked free from the DuPage County Jail after 22 years of incarceration. His release came two months after a DuPage County judge overturned Amor’s 1997 arson murder conviction, finding that new arson-related scientific evidence was new evidence of actual innocence.

“It is undisputed by the experts in this case that fire science has evolved, and it has changed to such an extent that the original findings in this case are unreliable,” said Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director of the Illinois Innocence Project Chicago office, who represents Bill Amor. “In fact, the evidence points to an accidental fire – which is what we believe occurred here. Bill Amor did not murder anyone and the science finally supports that which he has claimed for 22 years – he is innocent.

“We are so happy that Bill is free,” said Kaeseberg. “He’s ready to move on with his life and hopefully soon he can close this chapter of injustice.”

Amor’s case is particularly important because it is believed to be the first of its kind in the state of Illinois in which a court has found that advancements in fire science constitute newly discovered evidence of actual innocence. In Judge Liam Brennan’s ruling vacating Amor’s conviction in April, he concluded:

“…there can be no question that the lynchpin of the State’s case at trial was the defendant’s confession, which the State and Defense experts today agree is scientifically impossible. Whatever the reasons for the Defendant’s scientifically impossible confession, the new evidence places the evidence presented at trial in a different light and undercuts this Court’s confidence in the factual correctness of the guilty verdict.”

Prosecutors have indicated they plan to retry the case and a September trial date has been set.

“Bill has already served almost his entire sentence and we remain hopeful that prosecutors will decide that it is the legal, ethical and financial interests of the State not to retry this case,” said Kaeseberg.

Bill Amor is represented by four attorneys: Lauren Kaeseberg, Illinois Innocence Project legal director, Chicago office; Erica Nichols Cook, formerly of the Illinois Innocence Project, now pro bono counsel for Amor and currently Director of the Wrongful Conviction Division for the Iowa State Public Defender; Tara Thompson, staff attorney, the Exoneration Project; and Kevin Caraher, of the law firm Cozen O’Connor and pro bono attorney for Amor.

On the evening of September 10, 1995, Amor and his wife left their Naperville apartment (which they shared with Bill’s mother-in-law, Marianne Miceli) to go to a drive-in movie. They were gone for several hours and when they returned, they found that a fire had broken out at the apartment and Miceli had died from smoke inhalation.

Amor would be convicted two years later, on September 17, 1997, of murder and aggravated arson for setting the fire that caused Miceli’s death. Amor was convicted based upon a “confession” (which has been proven false) and arson findings that are no longer scientifically reliable. What stands out in this case is that Amor’s “confession” was the basis for the fire investigators in 1995 to change their initial finding of an “undetermined” cause of fire to an arson. With the exception of giving a false confession in this case, Amor has maintained his innocence from day one. He was ultimately sentenced to 45 years in prison.

The statement attributed to Amor was given to police after he had been in jail two weeks, after 15 hours of questioning and immediately following Amor being served divorce papers at the station. The “confession” included details as to how Amor purportedly started the fire with vodka and a lit cigarette – which, at a December 2016 hearing, all experts, including the State’s own witness, testified is not possible.

“False confessions and faulty forensic science are two of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in this country,” said Tara Thompson, one of Amor’s attorneys. “We hope that the Amor case can set a new standard in this state for how old, unreliable evidence is to be viewed in light of modern advancements. We know of too many other innocent people in this state and around the country who are suffering from wrongful arson convictions.”

At the December hearing on Amor’s case, attorneys presented evidence that showed the original arson findings are no longer reliable when analyzed under modern fire science techniques. Nationally recognized arson experts testified about the new science that undercuts the conviction in this case, including: Doug Carpenter of Combustion Science & Engineering, Inc. in Columbia, Maryland, and John DeHaan of Fire-Ex Forensics in Vallejo, California. Further, ATF Senior Special Agent John Golder, called by the State at the hearing, conceded that the manner in which Amor’s confession claims the fire started is impossible and that Amor was not in the apartment when the fire started.

IIP’s work on Amor’s case was made possible by a federal grant to the University of Illinois Springfield for use by the Illinois Innocence Project.