Wednesday, September 26, 2018

UIS/NPR Illinois survey shows J.B. Pritzker leads Governor Bruce Rauner by 12 percentage points in November election

A new statewide survey conducted by the University of Illinois Springfield’s Center for State Policy and Leadership and NPR Illinois shows Democrat J.B. Pritzker leads Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in the race for Illinois Governor by 12 percentage points ahead of the November 6, 2018 general election.

The July-August telephone survey (cell phone and landline) received responses from a representative sample of 717 registered voters, with a ± 3.66% margin of error.

Thirty-five percent of those who answered the Illinois Issues Survey said they would vote for Pritzker compared to 23 percent for Rauner. However, another 15 percent indicated they would vote for someone else, and 27 percent said they were still undecided at the time the poll was taken, a number which will shrink as the election nears in November.

The survey found that 35 percent of respondents identify as Democrats and 23 percent as Republicans. Downstate, Republicans (31 percent) outnumber Democrats (24 percent) while in Chicagoland, Democrats (40 percent) are much more numerous than Republicans (18 percent). Republicans are more likely to identify as conservative (63 percent) than Democrats are as to identify as liberal (53 percent).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the large majority of respondents (75 percent), regardless of party or ideology, think Illinois is on the wrong track. When asked if they have considered leaving the state in the past year, 53 percent of all respondents said yes. Voters under 35 years of age were more likely (67 percent) to say this than those 35 and older (51 percent).

One of the hot issues in the current gubernatorial election is whether to move from the current flat income tax, where everyone pays the same rate, to a graduated income tax, where those with more income pay a higher rate. The survey found that 57 percent of respondents favor a graduated income tax, with support strongest among Democrats at 69 percent and somewhat less among Independents at 56 percent. However, even a substantial minority of Republicans (41 percent) indicated a preference for a graduated tax compared to the current flat rate.

Over three times as many respondents said they believe immigrants help (63 percent) rather than hurt (20 percent) Illinois. But, opinion was sharply divided on this question by partisan affiliation. Whereas 83 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Independents see immigration as a help, only 36 percent of Republicans share this view.

Respondents gave strong support to increasing state funding for public higher education in order to hold down the costs of tuition. Three-fourths said this should be a high priority for the state. Regarding the tendency of high school graduates to attend college outside the state, 40 percent of respondents said individuals go elsewhere because Illinois is too expensive and 37 percent point to uncertain state funding as the cause.

Other policy topics covered by the survey include term limits, undocumented immigrant children, school vouchers, gun rights, healthcare access, drug abuse, social trust and trust in the media, and today’s political and racial divisions.

The 2018 Illinois Issues Survey is the first in a planned long-term project which examines the policy preferences of Illinoisans. The study examines policy issues relevant both at the state and national levels across a wide variety of areas.

Read the full report on the NPR Illinois website. Questions about the report may be directed to Matthew Case, visiting research manager, at 217/206-6293 or

Friday, September 21, 2018

UIS Reaching Stellar campaign has impressive year totaling more than $5.1 million

On June 30, the University of Illinois Springfield marked the end of fiscal year 2018 (FY2018) with more than 16,000 gifts and commitments in new business totaling more than $5.1 million. New business is comprised of new gifts, grants, pledges and deferred commitments. The University also registered $3.2 million in outright cash gifts, pledge payments, annuity/life income gifts and estate distributions. Both the new business and cash gift totals are among the best in university history.

“The core mission of the University of Illinois is to transform lives and serve society,” said Susan J. Koch, chancellor of the University of Illinois Springfield. “Our donors, community leaders and supporters are taking UIS toward greater excellence and impact for our students, our University, our state and beyond.”

The University launched the public phase of its largest philanthropic campaign on October 10, 2017. The campaign, Reaching Stellar, has a $40-million goal through 2022 to benefit students, faculty and the Springfield community. This is the largest fundraising campaign in the Springfield community's history. The campaign is at its half way point and as of June 30 over $22.1 million has been secured toward the five campaign priorities:
  • Scholarships: Affirming the aspirations, energy and diversity of our students
  • Academic Excellence : Learning that empowers the future
  • UIS Center for Lincoln Studies : To instruct, inspire and elevate us all
  • The Public Good : Engagement. Collaboration. Impact.
  • Facilities and Technology : Building tomorrow’s University today 
“The Reaching Stellar campaign is off to a great start due to our donors and the leadership of our UIS Campaign Committee led by co-chairs are Hy Bunn, president and CEO of Bunn-O-Matic Corporation, and Saul Morse, of counsel at Brown, Hay & Stephens LLC,” stated Jeff Lorber, vice chancellor for advancement, University of Illinois Springfield and senior vice president, University of Illinois Foundation. UIS Campaign Committee members include Micah Bartlett, Bob Felker, Julie Kellner, Pam McClelland, Larry Shiner, Janice Spears, Julie Staley and Guerry Suggs.

The campaign has numerous areas which have received support such as UIS Student Union, UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, NPR Illinois, UIS Athletics, the Illinois Innocence Project, Brookens Library, and the new Field Station on Lake Springfield to name a few.

Campaigns can transform a university and its community. This past January, the UIS Student Union was officially dedicated and overnight it became the heartbeat of campus. With a new 50,000-square-foot facility on the UIS quad, the UIS Student Union serves as the center of students’ social and organizational activities with its conference rooms, lounges, booths and nooks to encourage discussion, collaboration, and study. Today, a large dining hall and coffee shop serve as gathering places to attract students and serve as a central meeting site for numerous campus organizations. This $21-million investment was made possible through the commitment of student fees and private gifts.

Richard Osborne, an alumnus and lead donor, is excited to consider the opportunities for future success that exist at UIS. "When I received my master’s degree from UIS, the school had just started its migration to the current campus. Since then the school has grown dramatically and is developing into a full scope university. Building a first-class student union is an important and needed step, allowing students to connect and create lifelong relationships. My wife Charlene and I are very pleased to support the UIS Student Union project as well as endowed scholarships in the College of Business and Management."

Giving to the campaign, Reaching Stellar, is a key priority of the University of Illinois Springfield, Sangamon County and the Springfield community. Giving to this campaign will help enrich the University of Illinois Springfield, accelerate economic development, enhance innovation and increase fundamental research in our community, region and state. The response in the first year after the public announcement of the Reaching Stellar campaign has demonstrated that the communities supporting UIS are rallying. The top three sources of support are from UIS alumni (39%), corporations (17%) and friends/ non alumni (24%).

“I have long considered UIS a true asset to the Springfield community," said Saul Morse, co-chair of the UIS Campaign Committee. “The University adds millions in revenue to Springfield and thousands of UIS alumni work in our community. Now only a couple years from the University’s 50th anniversary, the prospects for this institution of higher education and its effect upon our community are limitless.”

More information about the Reaching Stellar campaign for the University of Illinois Springfield is available at Please contact Jeff Lorber, vice chancellor for advancement, University of Illinois Springfield (217) 206.6058;

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sangamon Auditorium and the Studio Theatre are now known as the UIS Performing Arts Center

Sunday night’s performance by famed comedian and television star Jay Leno at Sangamon Auditorium brought not only laughs but news. Bryan Rives, new director of UIS Performing Arts Services announced to the 1,500 attendees the creation of the University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center. The UIS Performing Arts Center encompasses a variety of venues and programs including Sangamon Auditorium, the intimate UIS Studio Theatre, the UIS Ticket Office and the UIS Performing Arts Education Connections program.

With the new name comes some other changes including a new web site,, a new name for the active donor support group currently comprised of over 600 households, Friends of UIS Performing Arts Center, and a new logo. The logo features not only the new name but a graphic representation of searchlights. “The searchlights are real,” says Rives. “We now have five powerful search lights on our roof which each put out 1.7 billion beam candlepower and rotate 360 degrees. All made in the USA. Every night when there is a show occurring at one of our venues, the search lights will sweep the night sky as a beacon to the community to come join us. We like to say ‘When you see the lights, come see the show’!”

When asked why the changes were made, Rives said “It was time for a refresh and to celebrate all of the accomplishments our organization has had over the years. Last year we had over 72,000 visitors to our performance venues with over $2.2 million in ticket sales. We anticipate those numbers to grow as we continue to present more popular entertainers such as Jerry Seinfeld, Gordon Lightfoot and Diana Krall.”

Rives also pointed out Sangamon Auditorium has been in operation for about 37 years, and its 40th anniversary is quickly approaching in 2021. “UIS is currently in the planning stages for a major facelift of the lobby area and UIS Studio Theatre along with other improvements in store for Sangamon Auditorium,” he said. At Jay Leno’s performance, select donors and supporters of Sangamon Auditorium were treated to a sneak peak of these plans which include a new concession stand for the lobby to be completed by this spring. Donors were also shown architectural concepts for a major redesign of the main lobby including the addition of a new grand staircase to the third-floor landing and a new ticket office.

Rives went on to add, “With the recent opening of the UIS Student Union and its versatile ballroom and banquet space, our lobby area no longer serves as the main location for campus gathering and luncheons. This is allowing us to repurpose the space as a dedicated lobby area with amenities patrons expect of a world-class performance facility.”

Plans for the intimate UIS Studio Theatre include all new seating and modernizing the stage equipment. “We also need to renovate all of our dressing rooms,” Rives commented. “They are very antiquated and need to be completely redone. It is important to us that the Studio Theatre becomes a priority in our renovation plans as it is most used by our students including the UIS Theatre program which has now grown to providing a Theatre major degree. We want our students to have access to modern facilities and equipment as they begin their careers.”

Renovations are expected to be funded through a combination of major gifts from individual donors, contributions made to the Friends for UIS Performing Arts Center annual fund drive, and funds derived from a current facility fee collected on all paid tickets which goes into a fund for capital maintenance and improvement projects.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Freshmen enrollment grows by nearly 14 percent at the University of Illinois Springfield

Freshmen enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield grew by nearly 14 percent according to Fall Semester 2018 census numbers released today. The total number of first-year students stands at 316, compared to 278 last fall semester.

“We are delighted that more first-year students are choosing the University of Illinois Springfield for their undergraduate education,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “These numbers show that our increased recruitment efforts, expanding academic programs and new facilities are making a difference.”

Nearly 90 percent (284) of the new freshmen are Illinois residents and 47 percent have self-reported as a minority.

UIS saw an increase in the percentage of its student body (75.5 percent up from 72.2 percent last year) coming from Illinois. The university has a total of 3,453 students who are Illinois residents. International students encompass 9.5 percent of the students enrolled.

The number of students taking classes completely online continues to be an important part of the UIS student body. A total of 1,636 students (nearly 36 percent) are enrolled in online degree or certificate programs. This semester, UIS online students reside in 45 states, 82 counties in Illinois and 11 foreign countries.

After the first 10 days of classes, the total number of students enrolled in fall classes at UIS stands at 4,575 compared to 4,956 students in fall 2017. Total undergraduate enrollment stands at 2,814 students compared to 2,932 in fall 2017. The number of graduate students decreased from 2,024 in 2017 to 1,761 in 2018.

There are a total of 585 African American students enrolled this semester comprising 12.8 percent of the student body. Students who self-identify as Hispanic comprise 7.3 percent (334) of this year’s student body, and Asian students comprise 3.9 percent (178).

This week U.S. News & World Report also announced that UIS is ranked in the top 10 Best Public Regional Universities in the Midwest. The Springfield campus was ranked as the ninth best public university in the national rankings, up from the previous year.

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.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

UIS receives institutional reaccreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

The University of Illinois Springfield has received institutional reaccreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an independent corporation that serves as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. UIS has been accredited by the commission since 1975.

The 10 year reaccreditation was approved by the Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission at its meeting on July 31, 2018.

“This reaccreditation is a testament to the quality of academic programs that are offered at the University of Illinois Springfield; but also a recognition of the deep commitment of UIS faculty and staff to our students and to the mission and vision of the University,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch.

The commission not only evaluated UIS’ academic programs, but the quality of the institution as a whole, including its governance and administration, mission, finances, and resources. HLC’s institutional accreditation includes all degree levels as well as onsite and online offerings.

According to UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Dennis Papini, institutional accreditation is important because the U.S. Department of Education requires that an institution be accredited in order for its students to be eligible for federal financial assistance.

“Accreditation also allows UIS credits and degrees to transfer and be recognized by other institutions,” Papini said. “Additionally, employers who are looking to hire our graduates often view accreditation as an assurance that a candidate has received a quality education and is prepared for the workforce.”

The UIS institutional reaccreditation process began in 2012 and culminated with a site review by peer reviewers in February 2018. The peer reviewers determined that UIS meets HLC standards and is engaged in continuous improvement.

UIS will take part in two assurance reviews during the 10-year Open Pathway accreditation cycle - one in four years and one in 10 years. The next site visit will happen during the 2027-2028 academic year.

The Higher Learning Commission is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit degree-granting colleges and universities. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes 19 states.