Tuesday, March 17, 2020

UIS announces May commencement ceremony will not take place due to COVID-19

The following email was sent by the University of Illinois System on March 17, 2020.

Dear students, parents, faculty, staff and friends:

We are very disappointed to share the news that commencement ceremonies will not take place as scheduled in May at our universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Diplomas will be mailed, and we are exploring possible alternatives such as rescheduling and/or hosting virtual events to honor the Class of 2020. You will hear more from leadership of your universities in the days and weeks to come.

This was an outcome we had hoped to avoid. Commencements reflect the very core of our mission and provide a richly deserved celebration for both our graduates and the proud parents, family, friends, faculty and staff who supported them along the way. Every year, ceremonies across the U of I System draw anywhere from a few hundred people at school- and college-based commencements to more than 20,000 at Urbana’s university-wide event.

Even small turnouts, however, would far exceed the guidance issued last weekend by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the virus. The new guidelines call for cancelling or postponing all large gatherings for at least the next eight weeks – a timeline that brings us within days of our May commencements.

We know you share the goal of those restrictions – protecting yourselves and the well-being of your family, friends and the broader community, particularly the most vulnerable among us. We are proud of your sacrifice and your success, Class of 2020, and we promise we will find ways to honor your achievements.

Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System
Barbara J. Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Illinois System
Robert J. Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield

Thursday, March 12, 2020

University of Illinois Board of Trustees approves new UIS infrastructure and facilities master plan

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved the University of Illinois Springfield’s new infrastructure and facilities 2020 master plan during its March 12 meeting in Urbana.

The new master plan will guide investment decisions and enhancements to existing campus facilities, new construction, parking/road network, landscape and utilities that will support a more flexible, adaptable, responsible and sustainable campus.

“Created with the input from hundreds of stakeholders, this master plan is a visionary roadmap with opportunities to support the university’s momentum and growth in both reputation and enrollment,” UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said. “This master plan will better position UIS to provide a pathway to opportunity and a space of possibility for both undergraduate and graduate students.”

The master plan calls for UIS to create a larger presence in its existing footprint, particularly along 11th Street where commercial development is encouraged, allowing UIS to become a more prominent destination and asset to the Springfield community, central Illinois and beyond.

The master plan includes strategic renovations to existing campus buildings, as well as construction of several new facilities including a new Public Safety Building; a Library Learning and Student Success Center; a Child Development Center; an Information Sciences Building and a Business Building, among others. The design process for the new Library, Learning and Student Success Center is expected to be announced this spring. Funding for an Innovation Center in downtown Springfield was announced as part of the UI’s Illinois Innovation Network earlier this month.

Several athletics projects are also part of the master plan, including construction of a baseball/softball complex, tennis complex, golf training facility and a natatorium (pool complex) as part of The Recreation and Athletic Center. An Athletics Field House, a possible public/private partnership, is also part of the plan.

Some other projects mentioned in the master plan include enhancing university gateways, developing the east and west quads, reserving land for a future solar energy farm and realigning several parking lots and streets.

“The UIS 2020 Master Plan will create a more cohesive campus,” said Chuck Coderko, UIS associate chancellor for administrative affairs, facilities and services. “Building systems, utilities and transportation networks will be modernized to create a more sustainable and inviting living, learning and teaching environment for our students, employees and visitors to campus.”

The master plan was designed by the St. Louis-based Lawrence Group during a 15-month process. The four main goals of the master plan were to cultivate a premier educational experience, support a vibrant campus life and culture, implement growth strategies and foster partnerships.

“This master plan allows us to ‘dream big’ about the future growth of the university and will serve as a road map as we work hand-in-hand with our elected leaders, the University of Illinois System and our community to fund the projects,” Coderko said.

You can view an executive summary of the new UIS master plan by visiting go.uis.edu/masterplan.

UIS extending spring break for students by one week, courses to be delivered remotely starting March 23

The following message was sent to UIS students, faculty and staff on March 12, 2020.

Dear UIS Community —

By now we hope you have read yesterday’s communication from President Killeen and the three University of Illinois chancellors regarding the steps the UI System is taking to protect our students, faculty and staff amid the increasing COVID-19 threat to public health. Safety is our top priority, and we are taking this rapidly evolving situation seriously.

We realize our UIS community has many questions following yesterday’s announcement. We intend to communicate with you often to address these questions, and this morning we want to share with you some pertinent information.

Most importantly, after consultation with the COVID-19 Response Team, we have decided to extend Spring Break for students by one week (March 16-22) to enable faculty and staff to effectively migrate courses to alternative delivery methods. Courses will resume in their new formats beginning March 23.

Students: During this extra week of Spring Break, the campus will remain open, including residence halls and dining services. While we encourage you to stay home as much as possible to limit possible exposure, you may return to campus if you wish to do so. Please check your UIS email for communication from faculty regarding plans to complete your courses through remote teaching or other formats. Student employees have the option of returning to their on-campus jobs as scheduled, but we ask you to communicate with your supervisor if you do not intend to follow your planned work schedule. Students who need technology assistance should contact the Helpdesk at 217-206-6000 or email techsupport@uis.edu.

Faculty and staff: The UIS campus remains open, and all faculty and staff are expected to work as usual. Ensuring the non-interruption of instruction is a top priority for UIS and the UI System. An Instructional Continuity Planning Subcommittee is already working to help faculty transition to successfully deliver courses using remote technology. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage provides resources to assist faculty with remote course delivery. Every course at UIS has a Blackboard course site. Through Blackboard, you can send emails and post announcements to your students. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage lists many other technologies at UIS that can be used to remotely deliver content, conduct instructional activities and interact with students. ITS will be providing workshops next week to help faculty with technology. COLRS is available to help in any way at 217-206-7317 or at colrs@uis.edu.

Travel: All university-sponsored international travel for students, faculty and staff is prohibited, along with nonessential domestic travel, until further notice. Additionally, personal international travel is strongly discouraged, especially for those with underlying health conditions. We also urge anyone considering personal domestic travel to use caution and exercise good judgment.

Events and meetings: UIS is suspending university-sponsored, in-person events and meetings with 50 people or more using campus facilities effective March 13. If appropriate, organizers should seek alternative ways of conducting events and meetings, such as livestreams or conference calls. University-sponsored events include those planned by registered student organizations. UIS also strongly recommends reconsidering the need for any in-person meetings at this time, regardless of attendance size, and if necessary, to practice appropriate social distancing and other preventative measures. For updates on Performing Arts Center events, visit uispac.com.

Moving forward…

Many people across our university have been planning for weeks to be prepared for this situation. The UIS COVID-19 Response Team and many others have worked in concert with local, state and national public health officials and taken precautionary steps, including sanitation activities across campus and contingency planning to ensure we can effectively meet the needs of students, faculty and staff.

The UIS Campus Relations team will be updating our COVID-19 website, uis.edu/covid-19, frequently. We highly encourage all faculty, staff and students to monitor this website for updates as well as your university email for announcements. An email address, covid19@uis.edu, has been established for anyone who wants to submit a question about the UIS response to COVID-19.

There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Sangamon County or within the UIS community to-date, but we strongly encourage all members of the university to follow personal health practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including proper handwashing and avoiding large groups.

These are challenging times, which we understand can cause stress and confusion. Please be assured that everything being done is in the interest of, first and foremost, protecting the health and safety of our university community. UIS Health Services and the Counseling Center remain available to assist students who have concerns or questions.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we navigate this extraordinary situation.

Susan Koch, Chancellor
Dennis Papini, Provost
Clarice Ford, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

UIS classes to be taught remotely in response to COVID-19 situation

The following message was sent to U of I System faculty, staff and students on March 11, 2020.

We write today to share new policies for the University of Illinois System and its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, all designed to protect the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The proactive policies are focused squarely on doing our part to help curb the virus. Fortunately, there have been no confirmed cases among our faculty, staff and students. But such cases have been increasing in Illinois and our experts say early intervention is the best option to limit the spread.

Our policies will adopt best practices endorsed by state and national health officials by minimizing face-to-face exposure in classrooms and other types of large gatherings, and by limiting international and domestic travel. They were developed with guidance from the leading-edge healthcare experts across our universities, who have been consulting daily with a leadership team composed of the president, the chancellors and the provosts from all three universities. We will continue to monitor the outbreak and stay in constant contact with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health, local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other universities around the state and the nation.

The new policies were carefully crafted to safeguard our students, faculty and staff without compromising the world-class education and the groundbreaking research discovery that are synonymous with the U of I System. They are:

  • Courses at each of our three universities will immediately begin migrating to online or alternative delivery mechanisms to provide the social distancing that helps limit transmission of the virus, with a goal of completion by March 23. Classes will be held at their currently scheduled times.
  • Online and other alternative learning methods will continue until further notice, but our expectation is that it will be temporary and students will be updated regularly via email and updates on system and university websites.
  • Students have the option of studying remotely from home or from their campus residence after spring break.
  • Our campuses will remain open and ready to serve students, including residence and dining halls.
  • Each university will provide specific guidance for their students regarding both academic and housing arrangements.
  • Faculty and staff will continue their work on campus, including research, and human resources offices will provide guidance for work conditions that foster safety and for employees who suspect exposure or infection and must self-quarantine. 
  • Events with more than 50 attendees that are university-sponsored or hosted by registered student organizations will be suspended indefinitely, effective Friday, March 13.
  • Events may occur via livestream or other telecommunications, or be postponed to a future date.
  • Please check with each university for specific guidance.

  • All university-sponsored international travel is prohibited, along with non-essential domestic travel until further notice.
  • Personal international travel is strongly discouraged, and we urge caution and the exercise of good judgment for personal domestic travel. 
Leaders of our three universities will share further information for how these policies will be implemented to address the specific educational and safety needs of their campus communities. UI Hospital and clinics will provide additional protocols to address the unique needs in providing care for their patients.

We recognize the many challenges this will create for our students, faculty and staff. We pledge to do everything in our power to support you during this temporary move to safeguard your health and the health of people in the communities we call home.

Our policies are rooted in our expert scientific knowledge base and exhibit an abundance of caution to take care of each other until the COVID-19 outbreak eases. We are all in this together, and appreciate your support and understanding.


Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System
Barbara J. Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Illinois System
Robert J. Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield

UIS Career Development Center selected for CIC-SHRM Diversity and Inclusion Award

The Career Development Center at the University of Illinois Springfield was chosen to receive the Central Illinois Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers Diversity and Inclusion Award during the organization’s annual recognition event earlier this month.

The award honors outstanding work in the area of Human Resources from within member organizations as well as the community at large.

The UIS Career Development Center was chosen for its success identifying the needs of each type of student on the diverse campus; (including traditional, non-traditional and international) and cultivating their skills and abilities for a professional career.

“The UIS Career Development Center provides a wide variety of resources to students to prepare them for a successful future in the workplace both before and after graduation,” said a nominator.

The Career Development Center was recognized for hosting the annual and successful Career Connections Expo, which gives students and community members exposure to diverse industries and an opportunity to network with professionals and peers.

“We are honored to be recognized for our work in collaborating with local professionals for the benefit of both UIS students and the larger Springfield and Sangamon County communities,” said Kathyy Battee-Freeman, director of the UIS Career Development Center. “Through this work we are reaching a diverse population and help
ing strengthen the Illinois workforce.”

Friday, March 06, 2020

UIS COVID-19 response and resources

The University of Illinois Springfield has established the UIS COVID-19 Response Team to monitor our university's preparedness in response to the growing global concern about the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Currently, we are NOT aware of any COVID-19 cases on the UIS campus.

UIS has created a webpage to serve as a resource for all UIS stakeholders seeking information and updates about the impact of the COVID-19 virus on our university community.