Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UIS College Democrat and GOP student leaders have different views, but share one roof

University of Illinois Springfield political science majors Matt Van Vossen and Ryan Melchin have been friends since their freshmen year, even with very different political views.

When it came time to pick a roommate their junior year they decided to move in with each other. That’s when all the jokes started. Van Vossen is the president of the College Democrats on campus, while Melchin serves as the chairman of the College Republicans.

“(People) sort of made fun of us a little bit, then they said maybe this is what our actual leaders should be doing working together and being civil to each other,” said Melchin.

The two try to leave politics at the door when they come home, but living under one roof does have its advantages. The pair has coordinated watch parties for events like the State of the Union, which have brought both parties together on campus.

“It just comes to a point where you just stop debating about it and settle on the idea your not going to change the other person’s mind,” said Van Vossen.

Van Vossen says during the health care debate every television in their town house was tuned into C-SPAN at one time.

“I think my other roommates might have got sick of that, but it was only a few nights,” he added.

The political duo lives with two other roommates in campus housing, one a democrat and the other leans independent.

“When I moved in, there were all democrats living in the house. There was a lot of democrat stuff hanging up. I had a sign that my buddy got me that said ‘drill, baby, drill’ and I decided without telling them to just put it up,” said Melchin.

The two hope they will in fact serve as role models for politicians.

“I think it would be interesting if they put John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi in the same house and forced them to live together. I’d like to see that,” joked Van Vossen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Grounds crew works to keep UIS campus beautiful

The University of Illinois Springfield grounds crew is responsible for maintaining 370 acres of landscaping on campus every year. It’s a big job for the crew of 10 people, but one they feel passionate about.

“We’re trying to make sure everything looks good for the public and everyone concerned who utilizes the campus,” said Joan Buckles, UIS horticulturist and grounds worker supervisor.

The grounds crew is in charge of all of the campus turf, perennial beds, trees, shrubs, and parking lot areas on campus. During the winter they clear snow from campus streets and sidewalks, but it’s during the spring when they’re busiest.

“This is a hectic time of the year because of weather and getting things cleaned up before dormancy breaks,” said Buckles.

Crews have been busy laying mulch, which will allow them to plant annual flowers on campus in early May. Buckles expects many of the trees on campus to start blooming even earlier.

“Springtime is beautiful on this campus. There are just so many flowering trees,” she said.

Buckles has identified more than 300 varieties of trees and plants growing on the 750 acre UIS campus. She gives a lot of the credit to early campus planner, who invested in high quality trees and shrubs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WUIS statehouse reporter honored with Associated Press awards

WUIS/Illinois Public Radio statehouse reporter Amanda Vinicky is being honored for her coverage of hard-hitting news and feature reporting.

Vinicky won two first place awards in the Illinois Associated Press Broadcaster’s Association 2009 Journalism Excellence Contest. In the category of Best Investigative Report/Series she received first place for her piece “Tracing Blagojevich’s Hidden Bank Deposits”. She also received first place in Best Light Feature with her piece “The Quest for Healthy Fare at the Fair”.

"One of the many things I love about my job is that I get to cover hard-hitting, political news, but that I also have the chance to produce fun features. It's an honor to receive awards that reflect both of those priorities. That wide range is why I love listening to WUIS too," said Vinicky.

Vinicky has been reporting for WUIS public radio for four years out of its bureau in the state capitol press room. During that time, Vinicky has covered major events like the impeachment of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. She’s a 2003 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in Journalism and Political Science. In 2005 she earned her master’s degree through the UIS Public Affairs Reporting program.

Listen to one of the award-winning reports:
“Tracing Blagojevich’s Hidden Bank Deposits” - Blagojevich Bank Deposits.mp3 (PC only)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

UIS Admissions Counselors keep busy visiting local high schools

Amanda Bly
knows how to multitask. As a UIS Admissions Counselor she’s out the door every morning at 7:00 visiting an average of 3 high schools per day along with stops at community colleges.

Bly is one of eight admissions counselors who travel around the state and beyond meeting with prospective students and answering their questions about the University of Illinois Springfield.

“More and more people through my 4 years have gained some familiarity with the campus and they realize we provide students with a U of I degree,” said Bly.

When she’s not on the road, Bly is making follow-up calls, sending emails and postcards to students she’s met. She covers an area from Sangamon County to the Indiana border.

Bly says most frequently students ask her about the cost of tuition, what majors UIS has to offer and class size.

“I really like the small classrooms and I’m just really excited. I really like it,” said high school senior Mallory Beck.

Beck will graduate from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield this May and she’s already committed to attending UIS.

“She (Bly) told us about the teachers and how they have a close relationship with their students,” said Beck.

SHG senior Will Pufundt is looking forward to attending UIS for two reasons. He wants to join the new men’s baseball team and is also excited about the small class sizes.

“I really like the hands on teaching, because I don’t think I could do well without the hands on teaching,” said Pufundt.

UIS is hoping to admit 350 new freshmen next semester in an effort to boost the undergraduate population. The ultimate goal is to top an enrollment of more than 5,000 total students.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

UIS "Education Technology" blog ranked in top 50 by Web site

The UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service’s blog “Education Technology” has been ranked #33 in a national list of similar blogs by the website The Learning Master.

This list of the top 50 education technology blogs includes writers, technicians and social media experts that are all teachers. The UIS blog is ranked in the “on the ground” category for offering news, tools and methods of using technology in the classroom.

Ray Schroeder, Director of COLRS has maintained the blog daily since he started it in 2002. Schroeder is a Professor Emeritus of Communication with three dozen years of teaching experience on the Urbana and Springfield campuses. He has taught more than 30 online class offerings.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Student named finalist in national college photography contest

Sue Huskins, a UIS Communication graduate student and photography teaching assistant to Mike Duvall, Professor of Communication, has recently been notified that she is a finalist in the 29th Annual College Student Photography contest co-sponsored by Photographer’s Forum Magazine and Nikon.

Out of almost 14,000 entries from the United States, Canada, and around the world, Sue’s submitted photograph, “Hidden from View”, has placed in the top 4% finalist selection group. “Hidden from View” was taken with a medium format camera and processed using traditional black and white darkroom developing techniques. Also exhibited in the case are other tradition chemical black and white medium format photographs from Huskins’ portfolio.

Judges for the contest include Nell Campbell, photo editor of Photographer’s Forum Magazine; Douglas Manchee, chair of the photography department at Rochester Institute of Technology; Mark Takeuchi, faculty, Art Center School of Design, Pasadena; and Barbara Vilander, faculty, University of California at Santa Barbara.

Finalists are published in the 2010 “Best of College Photography Annual”. This is the second time Huskins has been a finalist in this photo contest (2008) and marks the third year in a row a UIS student has been selected to receive this honor. Huskins’ has also been a finalist and published in both the 2008 and 2009 “Best of Photography” annuals, after entering the contest designed for non-professional photographers.

A series of Sue Huskins’ digital photographs can be seen in the Office of Communication located on the 3rd floor of the UHB.

View some of her photos from the 2008 contest