Friday, March 24, 2017

Dennis Papini named UIS provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs

Photo Courtesy: South Dakota State University.

Dennis Papini has been selected to become the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs of the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). The provost is the university’s chief academic officer, the second highest administrative position in the university, and is responsible to the chancellor for the implementation of the academic priorities of the institution.

Papini has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at South Dakota State University (SDSU) since 2012 where he oversees 15 academic departments. In that role, he helped the university create a new strategic plan and added four new degree programs. He helped raise funds for four capital construction projects totaling $86 million and launched an Underrepresented Dissertation Fellows Program to bring minority faculty to teach at SDSU.

“Dr. Papini received strong support from the Provost search committee, whose members were appreciative of the depth and breadth of his experience as it relates to the Provost position as well as his strong listening skills, budgeting background, and results-oriented planning experience,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch.

A native of Orion, Illinois, Papini holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in life-span developmental psychology from West Virginia University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Illinois University in Macomb.

“I look forward to working with Chancellor Koch and faculty colleagues at UIS as we continue efforts to provide our students with rigorous and appropriately challenging academic experiences both in and out of the classroom,” said Papini. “Characterized by a commitment to Leadership Lived, UIS is uniquely located to couple classroom teaching and learning with opportunities to apply these knowledge, skills, and competencies within the broader community and region.”

Prior to his appointment at SDSU, Papini was a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). While at MTSU, Papini directed 43 faculty and more than 1,000 undergraduate student majors and 200 graduate students pursuing degrees in six graduate programs.

Papini started his career teaching psychology at Southeast Missouri State University from 1983-1986, followed by the University of Arkansas from 1987-1990. He taught at Western Illinois University as a professor of psychology from 1990-2004.

“As an Illinois native and beneficiary of Illinois public higher education, I am delighted to return to my home state and to serve those who aspire to improve the quality of their lives through the many opportunities made possible by institutions that are based on both affordability, accessibility, and inclusion,” said Papini.

Papini is an accomplished scholar who specializes in adolescent development, research methodology and statistics and family relations. He has received more than 20 awards, multiple research grants, and has had his research published numerous times. He has presented his research at national and international conferences, served as a professional reviewer for journal articles and was on the editorial board of the Journal of Early Adolescence (1995-2016).

He has also been active on his campuses, advising student organizations and serving as a board member for community organizations.

“I’m grateful to all the members of the search committee for their dedicated service to bring this search to a successful conclusion,” said Chancellor Koch. “Special thanks to Dr. Jorge Villegas, associate professor and chair of business administration, and Dr. Jeff Lorber, vice chancellor for advancement, who co-chaired the search committee and to Pat Sanchez, executive assistant to the chancellor, who provided outstanding support and coordination throughout the search process.”

Papini replaces Lynn Pardie who retired as UIS provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in May 2016 after four years on the job. He will start on July 1, 2017, pending formal University of Illinois Board of Trustees approval.

The University of Illinois Springfield serves approximately 5,500 students in 52 undergraduate and graduate programs in four colleges, with 220 full-time faculty, 514 full-time staff and an annual operating budget of $88.8 million.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch honored for her leadership during challenging budget times in Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch was honored with the 11th Hour Award for Leadership by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) on March 23 for her efforts to support students, faculty and staff during challenging budget times in Illinois.

The award is given to an individual, team or unit in recognition of exemplary character, ethics, and decisive action in times of dire circumstances or emergencies.

“This award represents outstanding teamwork by our faculty and staff during challenging budget times,” said Chancellor Koch. “I am honored to accept the award on behalf of all of the people who are helping UIS to succeed.”

The award was presented during UPCEA’s annual conference in Chicago. Koch was nominated for the award by Vickie Cook, director of the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service.

“Chancellor Koch has led efforts to grow enrollments, fight for budget dollars, and support students by providing MAP (Monetary Assistance Program) grant dollars promised to students by the state of Illinois,” said Cook.

In fiscal year 2016, UIS along with all of the other state universities in Illinois were dealt a nearly 70% cut in state funding; again this fiscal year, the university’s state appropriation has been cut by approximately 50%.

“Massive budget cuts have dealt near-death blows to many state sister institutions, yet UIS’s enrollments were only three short of the record for the university, and programs at UIS continue to thrive under Chancellor Koch’s exemplary leadership,” said Robert Hansen, Ph.D., chief executive officer of UPCEA.

In order to grow and maintain enrollment, Chancellor Koch has supported initiatives for a transfer and international student marketing campaign targeting online students. Online students make up about one third of the total UIS enrollment.

“Chancellor Koch is a tremendous student advocate and in the face of the unknown on the Illinois state budget talks, she continues to show perseverance and willingness to encourage innovation at the University of Illinois Springfield,” said Cook.

UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves more than 400 institutions, including most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. For 100 years, the association has served its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA also builds greater awareness of the vital link between contemporary learners and public policy issues.

For more information, contact Blake Wood, UIS assistant director of public relations, at 217/206-6716 or

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

UIS partners with local art community to offer summer residency and exhibition

The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery is partnering with the Springfield Art Association and Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists to offer a funded residency and art exhibition for the summer of 2017.

The four to eight week residency is open to new artists, those mid-career and established contemporary artists, who work in all types of media.

Allison Lacher, manager of the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, said the community partnership between the Springfield Art Association, Enos Park and UIS could have a rippling effect on the local community.

“The Springfield Art Association has a vision to grow a true artists community and hopefully in the process, contribute to the redevelopment of the Enos Park neighborhood. The idea is that the program will draw artists to Springfield, and ideally, over time, some of them will stay,” said Lacher.

The Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists will provide studio facilities as well as living quarters. There will be a $1,000 stipend for expenses. The residency will culminate with an exhibition at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, opening June 30 and running through July 28.

Applications for the residency and art exhibition are due by April 7 and need to include a detailed proposal, dates, artist statement, work samples, image list, resume and references. Artists from across the country are encouraged to apply by emailing

For more information, contact Allison Lacher, UIS Visual Arts Gallery manager, at 217/206-6506 or

Thursday, March 16, 2017

UIS students spend Alternative Spring Break volunteering on the Florida Gulf Coast

A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield are spending their spring break helping with outdoor eco-restoration projects along the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast.

A total of 25 students and 2 staff members left Springfield on Sunday, March 12, and will return to campus on Saturday, March 18, as part of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip.

The group is partnering with Community Collaborations International (CCI). Some of the tasks they are doing include shoreline restoration, native plant propagation, sea grass restoration, wild-life habitat improvement, dune restoration, storm water treatment, public land restoration and invasive species removal. Students are also volunteering with children from the Boys and Girls Club. The group is staying at the CCI campgrounds near DuFuniak Springs.

"ASB decided to go to the Florida Gulf Coast this year because there was a large interest from students in doing eco-restoration projects and volunteering outdoors, making Florida a great choice,” said Hailey Hawkins, student president of UIS Alternative Spring Break. “We are excited to be working with CCI once again and be able to have a positive impact on the environment in a new community."

UIS Alternative Spring Break previously worked with CCI to help prevent coastal erosion in Mississippi in 2015.

“Having lived in the Gulf Coast region prior to returning to Illinois, I know about the need for this type of work and I know that our efforts will mean a lot to the people that live there” said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed in 2009 when students took their first trip to Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina. In following years, students have helped clean up damage from Hurricane Ike in Texas, cleaned up portions of the Mississippi river in Tennessee, helped rebuild homes damaged by hurricanes in New Orleans, helped with revitalization efforts in the Florida Everglades and worked with the homeless at soup kitchens in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

For more information on Alternative Spring Break, contact Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at