Thursday, September 29, 2011

UIS students & alumni take over 200 dresses to Africa during summer trip

A group of University of Illinois Springfield students and alumni helped take over 200 handmade dresses to children in Africa this summer. The trip was organized by the non-profit group Jump for Joel, which was started at UIS in 2005.

The students traveled to Gathiga Children’s Hope Home in Nairobi, Kenya where they handed out the dresses, helped build a shower for the children and lived with a host family.

“Each team member had one suitcase for their personal belongings and one suitcase for donations and different things we needed to take over,” said Amanda Cummins, sophomore biology major. “We were able to fit all the dresses into two big 50 pound suitcases.”

Cummins’ mother came up with the idea to make the dresses and have her daughter take them on the trip. The Cummins family, along with a group of volunteers from her hometown of Cedarville, Ill., helped to sew and design the dresses. In total, they made 280 dresses and 50 pairs of shorts for the boys living at the home.

“Most of the kids (in Kenya) have a few changes of clothes and they share the clothes,” said Cummins. “Everyone just kind of fends for themselves once it goes through the wash. A lot of the clothes are falling apart.”

UIS alum David Lasley has made the trip to Africa with Jump for Joel three times before, but seeing the conditions the children face never gets easier.

“The kids can’t afford clothes. They don’t have parents, they don’t have anyone to pay for that stuff, so they need help with basic things,” said Lasley.

The students who went on the trip are each sponsoring a child and some, like Cummins, plan to make a second trip to Africa soon. In the meantime, she plans to continue to collect items and send them to the children.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

UIS faculty member awarded second Fulbright grant to study in Bangladesh

Mohammed Shahidullah, an adjunct faculty member of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, has received a Fulbright Specialist grant in Sociology to teach and offer seminars at Mawlana Bhashani Science & Technology University, Bangladesh.

Shahidullah, who also works as a state demographer for the Illinois Department of Public Health, will spend six weeks in the country starting Oct. 1, 2011. During the trip, he will teach students and faculty members, lead workshops, and assist in developing a new population/demography course in the Department of Criminology and Police Science. He will also offer talks in Dhaka on public health informatics and health needs assessment.

“Part of the trip will involve training faculty and graduate students in using online methods to conduct population studies,” said Shahidullah. “I will also be organizing workshops for faculty members on social research methods.”

Shahidullah was previously awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach and do research with BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2006. He spent six months teaching biostatistics face-to-face and an online course in marriage and families as a collaborative course on global learning between UIS and BRAC University.

The Fulbright Specialist grant is sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is managed by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. For further information on the program, visit the CIES website at

Monday, September 12, 2011

UIS Computer Science professor a finalist for a World Technology Award in Ethics

Dr. Keith Miller, University of Illinois Springfield professor of computer science, has been named a finalist for a prestigious World Technology Award for Ethics, presented by The World Technology Network (WTN) in association with TIME, Fortune, CNN, Science/AAAS, and Technology Review.

He joins a roster of organizations and individuals from over 60 countries around the world deemed to be doing the most innovative and impactful work. The awards have been presented by the WTN since 2000, as a way to honor those in 20 different categories of science and technology and related fields doing “the innovative work of the greatest likely long-term significance.”

Miller’s research focuses on robot ethics and professional ethics for computing professionals. He is currently the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation award to study the effect of ethics instruction on the technical skills of computer science undergraduates. During his career, Miller has authored or co-authored over 300 papers and presentations.

Nominees for the 2011 World Technology Awards were selected through an intense global process by the WTN Fellows lasting many months. Winners will be announced during a ceremony at the United Nations on October 26, 2011 at the close of the World Technology Summit, a two-day “thought leadership” conference held at the TIME & LIFE Building and presented by the World Technology Network in association with TIME magazine, Fortune, CNN, Science/AAAS, Technology Review, and others.

The WTN is a curated membership community comprised of the world’s most innovative individuals and organizations in science, technology, and related fields. The WTN and its members – those creating the 21st century -- are focused on exploring what is imminent, possible, and important in and around emerging technologies.

Miller has been teaching in the UIS Computer Science Department since 1993. He earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Iowa, his M.S. in Mathematics from the College of William and Mary, and his B.S. in Education from Concordia Teachers College.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

UIS reflects on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001

Members of the University of Illinois Springfield community share their memories of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.

Scannell receives Malone Fellowship

Nancy Scannell, associate professor of Business Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield was honored this summer with a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies.

As part of the fellowship, Scannell spent 10 days in Morocco (June 24 to July 04, 2011) visiting Rabat, Fez, Erfoud, Ouarzazate, Marrakesh, and other sites of cultural and historical interest. She also visited parliament, the U.S. Embassy, and the University of Mohammed V.

The trip was organized by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR), which sponsors the Model Arab League (MAL) program. The council’s mission is to enhance American awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the Arab countries, the Mideast, and the Islamic world.

According to the council’s website, “The Fellowship projects its participants into the dynamics of Arab-U.S. relations and provides first-hand exposure to the region's considerable cultural, economic, political, and social diversity pursuant to increased knowledge and understanding.”

The Malone Fellowship is available to qualified American professionals in academia, government, and business. Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Students are not eligible.