Monday, June 30, 2008

Professor spurs academic examination of Bob Dylan

By Courtney Westlake



College English classes typically focus on works by Shakespeare, Chaucer, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and other well-known artists and writers. But Bob Dylan?

Dr. Bill Carpenter, assistant professor of English at UIS, created a summer English course focused on the works and lyrics of Bob Dylan, called “Bob Dylan’s America,” that was first offered in the summer 2007 and is being offered again this summer as part of the ECCE requirements.

The class came about because, Carpenter said, he had an idea about putting Bob Dylan in the center of a study about American communities and looking in depth at the way in which Dylan interacted with different communities. He wanted to give students insight to a cultural icon they may not have “immediate access” to.

"This is a class I always wanted to teach," he said. "I always thought it'd be really fascinating to get people talking about Bob Dylan the same way we talk about T.S. Eliot or Dante or Shakespeare. Plus I'm a big Dylan fan and really curious about the effects he's had on American culture and the way in which American culture perceives him."

Carpenter, who created the first-year writing curriculum when he first came to UIS a couple of years ago, said he truly enjoys this unique course and the students it brings into his class.

“The students come from all over and have different levels of experience,” he said. “Some have never listened to him, but some are big fans, so it's nice to bring them all together and have those different ranges of knowledge work together.”

The course’s main focus is to study the connection between Dylan and groups such as civil rights activists, the folk revival, Evangelical Christians and the Millennial Generation. There are a couple of goals for the course as well, Carpenter said.

“I want to have the students work together to create kind of a community-based knowledge about Bob Dylan and American culture,” he said. “They have to work at finding resources and creating interpretations and sharing them with each other so they can talk about what they see happening in the works and in the history and the context.”

“And,” he added, “I'm also really trying to get them to see, and then ultimately go out and show other people, that you can take artists and works that aren't necessarily thought of as ‘classic’ or ‘high art’ but you can look at them as if you are intellectuals. You can deal with that work in very intellectual, critical, academic ways. So I'm trying to reinvent the literary canon in addition to just teaching them about someone I like to listen to.”

And not only is Carpenter encouraging the critical analysis of Dylan and his works, he is doing it in unique ways, namely through social media tools.

“I blew my students away the other day because I used the SmartBoard in the classroom,” he laughed.

One of his most recent classroom activities involved the use of laptops and the World Wide Web. His students found works of poetry on the Web and created their own versions with certain words or phrases hyperlinked to connect to other resources or Web pages. The final products were then posted to Blackboard.

“It’s all a way of demonstrating that web of knowledge we already exist in,” Carpenter said. “It’s also to show that none of these authors exist in a historical vacuum. They’re all part of a larger system of interactions and connections. So hyperlinks and social media really help materialize those kinds of relationships for them.”

Knowledge has everything to do with connection – how facts and ideas link up with other facts and ideas, Carpenter said. Teaching about Dylan in this way allows students to connect Dylan to other events, people and cultures in a critical way.

“We’re now dealing with a group of students for whom the world has never not been connected and linked,” Carpenter said. “Using social media is a way for knowledge to be created and disseminated. The Internet gives us a very interesting means to talk about community.”

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Nancy Perkins takes part in celebration at Walden Pond

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, associate professor and past chair of the English program, read three of her poems at Walden Pond, Concord, Massachusetts, on June 20 to celebrate the longest day of the year in the place made famous by Henry David Thoreau.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Grounds crew keeps campus beautiful rain or shine

By Courtney Westlake


At times like the bright, sunny, 75-degree days that Central Illinois has been experiencing, members of the UIS grounds crew have been hearing many comments about how lucky they are to have outside jobs.

But weather like this is a definite rarity for the crew.

"We get a lot of comments that people want our jobs on days like today. But on days like the hot, humid days of the summer or the cold windy days of winter, we don't get too many people asking to trade places," laughed grounds supervisor Joan Buckles, who has a degree in ornamental horticultural from UIUC and has been at UIS since 1991.

The UIS grounds crew, committed to the exterior of the campus rain or shine, consists of 11 members, plus Buckles. The grounds crew cares for all of the trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, turf, parking lot, sidewalk maintenance and more.

"Pretty much everything outside, we've got work to do on it," Buckles said. "We've got 370 acres we maintain. The university owns 750 acres, but only 370 of those are landscaped at this time."

A beautiful campus is important to the sustainability of the university and attracts people to visit and attend school at UIS.

"It's first thing potential students and their parents see when they come to campus," Buckles said. "It's important to have a neat, tidy, landscaped area. It shows off the buildings, and it creates a nice place for people to relax and play. Additionally, the Sangamon Auditorium in the PAC brings in a lot of the general public."

The grounds crew has several upcoming projects for campus. One of the biggest includes two new soccer fields that were planted in the spring and are expected to be ready in the fall.

They will also have their hands full with the new landscaping for Founders Hall when the building is completed in August, and they plan to do some correction for drainage issues, and possibly create gardens out of those, in lower campus areas, Buckles said.

"We see maintenance issues and try to eliminate them or make the maintenance easier on them by landscape design," she said. "And we just keep expanding along with all the construction. There are new landscape issues that come along with all that, and it's just ongoing."

Buckles speaks very highly about the diligence her crew has shown throughout the years while creating a more appealing campus, maintaining the grounds and handling any problems that arise.

"This is a very dedicated crew that we have right now, very knowledgeable, and there are a lot of landscape backgrounds in most of the individuals," she said. "They've done an excellent job at keeping the campus looking neat and tidy at all times."

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Nancy Perkins gives poetry reading

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, associate professor of English, read her poetry at Etcetera Cafe in Paducah, Kentucky, on June 6.

Perkins, who writes and reads her creative works under her first two names, nancy genevieve, has been teaching creative writing, fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction at UIS since 2000.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Kenneth Oldfield addresses national coalition

Kenneth Oldfield, emeritus professor of Public Administration, gave an invited presentation at the annual conference of the Coalition of State University Aid Administrators, held in April in Huntington Beach, California. Oldfield spoke about "Welcoming First-Generation Poor and Working-Class Students to College."

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mooney interviewed on WILL

UIS Professor of Political Science Chris Mooney was interviewed on the WILL radio program Focus 580 with David Inge during the week of April 21, 2008. Mooney's segment was titled "Government by the People: Referenda, Grass Roots Initiatives, and Recall Petitions."

Focus 580 features interviews with "newsmakers and experts on international affairs and daily life."

Listen to the interview

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Perkins publishes new poems

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, associate professor of English, had two poems published in the inaugural Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Springfield's newest literary journal, Quiddity: International Literary Journal. The issue presents more than 70 "new works of poetry and fiction from emerging and established writers around the world."

These poems are a part of a new body of work by Perkins, who writes and reads creative works under her first two names, nancy genevieve. She has been teaching creative writing, fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction at UIS since 2000.

More about Quiddity

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

MIS professor elected president of professional organization

Rassule Hadidi, Hanson Professional Services Faculty Scholar and professor and chair of the Management Information Systems Department at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has been elected to a three-year term as president of the Midwest United States Association for Information Systems (MWAIS).

As a chapter of the Association for Information Systems, MWAIS serves AIS members across 12 Midwestern states. The organization's goal is "to promote the exchange of ideas, experiences, and knowledge among scholars and professionals engaged in the development, management, and use of information and communications systems and technology."

As president, Hadidi will head up MWAIS' seven-member executive committee. AIS currently has about 3,700 members worldwide; MWAIS has about 100 members.

The MIS Department, housed within UIS' College of Business and Management, offers the master of science degree, as well as an undergraduate minor and a number of graduate certificate programs. The graduate degree focuses on providing a balance between technical skills and knowledge of business functions and processes and was recently named a "Best Buy" by GetEducated.com.

Dr. Hadidi's homepage

More about the Department of Management and Information Systems

More about the College of Business and Management

More about the Hanson Professional Services Faculty Scholar

Two UIS degree programs were recently named Best Buys by GetEducated.com

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