Thursday, May 21, 2020

Susan J. Koch named chancellor emerita at UIS

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday appointed outgoing University of Illinois at Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch as chancellor and vice president emerita.

Koch has announced her retirement from UIS effective June 30. The appointment, which will be effective July 1, confers upon her these honorary titles, which reflect her longstanding service to the university and University of Illinois System.

Koch has been chancellor at UIS since July 2011 and has led the university through a period during which it expanded academic program offerings and increased both its fundraising and its partnerships with the city of Springfield as well as outlying areas.

“Susan’s leadership and vision helped broaden the horizons for the University of Illinois at Springfield and prepare it for a future of increasing impact on the community it serves,” U of I System President Tim Killeen said. “With this emerita appointment, we’re thrilled to both honor her legacy and cement her place in the university’s history.”

Koch expressed pride in the university and in its progress.

“It has been a privilege to serve as chancellor at UIS and vice president of the U of I System for the past nine years,” Koch said. “I’m proud of all we’ve done together at UIS to create an exceptional and personalized university experience for students and I look forward to following the continued growth and success of the entire U of I System.”

Since Koch became chancellor, UIS added programs designed to meet the needs of local and regional employers, including information systems security, data analytics, theater, exercise science, and a new bachelor of science degree in nursing through a partnership with University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Memorial Health System.

Under her leadership, the university also achieved record fundraising that helped build the new $21.7 million Student Union, provided an increase in scholarship support, launched “The Sangamon Experience” exhibition space and research initiative, and laid the groundwork for the planned Center for Lincoln Studies.

Koch was instrumental in the university’s 2018 acquisition of Innovate Springfield, the downtown innovation and business center that became the first hub of the Illinois Innovation Network.

Koch also oversaw the expansion of the university’s NCAA Division II athletics program, whose teams have won individual and conference championships.

Trustees were scheduled to meet Thursday in Springfield but instead met and voted virtually.

Monday, May 11, 2020

UIS celebrates the graduation of 1,179 students during virtual commencement

The University of Illinois Springfield celebrated the graduation of 1,179 students during a virtual commencement celebration on May 9, 2020. The virtual ceremony included a special video honoring graduates where their degrees were officially conferred by University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen.

The traditional in-person commencement at the Bank of Springfield Center was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UIS continues to plan and prepare for a rescheduled in-person ceremony for our graduates at a to-be-determined date later this year.

As part of the virtual commencement, UIS also launched a website that includes the names of all of the 1,179 graduates, virtual gifts and a free t-shirt giveaway.

The May 9 ceremony also marked Susan Koch's final commencement as UIS Chancellor.

UIS partners with CWLP to keep Lake Springfield clean by deploying new cigarette butt voting bins

The University of Illinois Springfield Field Station at Lake Springfield has partnered with Springfield’s public utility City Water, Light, and Power (CWLP) to test the effectiveness of new “this or that” cigarette butt voting bins to curb litter near Lake Springfield.

The bright yellow bins were purchased and installed by CWLP and are stationed in three locations around the lake, Marine Point, the Lindsay Boat Launch and the boat launch just east of Spaulding Dam.

The bins encourage cigarette smokers to properly dispose of their litter by using discarded butts to cast their vote to several questions, such as “which team is better cubs or cards,” “would you rather be fishing or hiking” and “do you call it soda or pop?” After the bins fill up, the cigarette butts are collected and properly recycled.

“These ballot bins have been used around the world,” said Anne-Marie Hanson, UIS associate professor of environmental studies. “The company that produces the bins claims that studies have found the bins have reduced cigarette butt litter by 46 percent. Most of the bins have been deployed in cities on high traffic sidewalks and common areas for smoke breaks, so we are interested to see our results around the lake.”

So far, the UIS researchers have been encouraged by the results of the Lake Springfield study. Twenty-four hours after the bins were deployed they already had several cigarette butts disposed of in the voting bins.

“Cigarette butts continue to be the single most collected item in beach clean-ups and litter surveys, from central Illinois waterways to city streets to ocean coastlines,” said Hanson. “In addition to leaching harmful toxins into the environment and being mistakenly consumed by fish and birds, cigarette butts are primarily made of plastic (all those fibers in the filter are plastic).”

The UIS researchers hope the bins bring more attention to cigarette butts and remind people that they are litter and harmful to wildlife, fish and local waterways.

“Cigarette butts have become such an everyday part of the landscape, that in many situations they are not seen as litter and are assumed to be less harmful than other types of litter,” said Tom Rothfus, director of UIS field stations. “This is a very different strategy than the typical anti-litter sign, and we hope it will get people talking about cigarette butt litter in a new way.”

Rothfus says the bins will stay in place for the immediate future, but may be moved around to different locations as the UIS researchers learn more about where they are successful and where they are not.

“If there is success, the number of bins will likely be increased. We are also interested in potentially working with the City of Springfield to deploy these bins in other areas,” said Rothfus.

For more information on the project, contact Anne-Marie Hanson at 217-206-8162 or or Tom Rothfus at 217-206-7418 or

Thursday, May 07, 2020

UIS to host a free public webinar on how to prepare to reopen your business

The University of Illinois Springfield Office of Economic Development and Innovation, College of Business and Management, College of Public Affairs and Administration and Innovate Springfield will host a free public webinar on how to prepare to reopen your business during COVID-19 from 12-1 p.m. Friday, May 8.

On May 5, Governor J.B. Pritzker released Restore Illinois, the plan to reopen our state outlining the conditions that trigger the multiple phases and determine when and how we can operate. Anticipating and preparing for each phase of reopening is critical to planning for our organizations and reopening the economy. This week’s panelists will put the governor’s plan in context by highlighting case studies from across the country and globe. Exploring these examples will help guide our decision-making, and help us forecast when and under what conditions we can move forward.

Pritzker’s plan divides the state into four regions. Opening our Central Region seems less dependent upon what is happening in Chicago and more dependent on how the virus is impacting the other county in our region, including Champaign County. Monitoring the impact of the virus across those counties will be important to predicting how we might progress or regress through the phases.

The online panel discussion will feature Blair Rowitz, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Carle Health and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs for Carle Illinois College of Medicine; Molly Lamb, Deputy Director of Health Protection at the Illinois Department of Public Health; Dave Oberg, Vice President for Illinois Association of Museums; Ranjan Karri, Professor of Management (Strategy and Entrepreneurship) at UIS College of Business and Management; and Robert Smith, Dean of UIS College of Public Administration.

Participants are encouraged to register for the event at, however registration is not required. Zoom video and call in connection information can be found on the registration page. This webinar part of a series aimed at providing the local community with expert information and quality resources to navigate these challenging times. For more information, contact Bruce Sommer at 217-899-3186 or