Monday, October 31, 2011

UIS honors donors and alumni during celebration of Brilliant Futures campaign

The University of Illinois Springfield celebrated the accomplishments of the University of Illinois Foundation’s Brilliant Futures fundraising campaign with an evening gala celebrating the difference donors have made on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.

The evening began with a reception, followed by an “Appreciation and Accolades” ceremony in the Sangamon Auditorium where donors were celebrated for the difference their gifts have made to the university’s growing success. In addition, several awards and honors were presented.

The four-year Brilliant Futures Campaign helped raise $26.7 million to date to support students and programs at UIS. The donations came from graduates, corporations and the university’s many friends and supporters in the Springfield area. The resources generated through this campaign will ensure that UIS continues to create a better world through our teaching, research, and public engagement.

While the Brilliant Futures Campaign will soon be ending, U of I President Michael Hogan has launched Access Illinois: The Presidential Scholarship Initiative, a crucial initiative for the campuses of the University of Illinois. The initiative is to help ease the financial burden of a growing number of students and their families. The goal is to raise $100 million or more over the next three years.

“Many students do everything right to prepare for college,” said UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch. “The greatest barrier to their enrollment is the cost. With more scholarships, we can make the valuable UIS experience available to all students who deserve that opportunity.”

Award Recipients

As part of the evening gala, four awards were presented, one by the University of Illinois Foundation (UIF) and three by the University of Illinois Alumni Association (UIAA).

The UIF honored Leonard Branson, chair and professor in the UIS Accountancy Department with the William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership. In 1998, Branson headed a fundraising drive for the UIS Donald Stanhope Scholarship fund. His personal gift, energy and commitment to the fund were inspiring to his peers and alumni and raised over $100,000 for the scholarship. As part of that fundraising effort, Branson developed a campaign committee of alumni, which identified alumni interested in further engagement. Now, Branson has launched a new campaign, to raise money to endow the Donald O’Neal Scholarship for UIS Management students. “I’m honored to receive the William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership,” said Branson. “It’s important that students have the financial support they need to attend college and achieve their dreams.”

Don Johnson,’82, retired Chairman of the Board from ATC Technology Corporation recieved the Alumni Achievement Award from UIAA. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon graduates of the University. It is given to those who have attained distinction and success in one’s profession or life work. Johnson earned most of the credits toward his bachelor’s degree by attending courses at the UIS Peoria Center. “The convenience and format was great for someone who was working full time,” he said. He joined ATC in early 2004 and held the position of President, CEO and Chairman through 2008. ATC is a publicly traded corporation that provides supply-chain solutions through both logistics and refurbishment services to the consumer electronics and automotive markets. Prior to ATC, Johnson held global executive positions with Ford Motor Company (5 years), and with Caterpillar and CAT Logistics.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to the University. Ray Schroeder, professor emeritus of communication was the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Service Award from UIAA. UIS is recognized as a leader in online education and that is due, in large part, to the work Schroeder. He founded the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning (OTEL) and the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS) at UIS, is a beloved member of the UIS community, and has been part of it since 1977. His work in online education has brought the University a number of accolades and grants for him and his colleagues to continue pursuing their work, but he is quick to spread the praise: “Our success in online [education] is really due, first, to the faculty, second, to the staff members who support those faculty, and then, of course, the students and their dedication as online students,” he said.

Suzanne Brown received the Alumni Humanitarian Award from UIAA, which recognizes alumni who have made great contributions of leadership and service to improve the lives of others. After earning her M.A. in Legal Studies, she worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative, which allowed her to represent people during legal proceedings in front of the Immigration Service. Having been involved in the Central America solidarity movement, Brown was “interested in the plight of Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees arriving in the United States.” During this time “I was interested in helping refugees adjust to life in the U.S.,” she said. Eventually she was offered an opportunity to help the Illinois Conference of Churches (ICC) set up its Legalization Program, which over the years, evolved into the Immigration Project.

In addition, two alumni loyalty awards were presented, one to Grace Wenz ’73 during the alumni association lunch held earlier on October 28 and one to Victor Juarez ’87 during a special celebration in Washington, D.C.

Wenz is one of the Alumni Association’s most reliable volunteers, and attends nearly every event sponsored by the UIAA or UIS. Wenz is a founding member of the UIS Alumni SAGE Society Coordinating Committee, and has served in leadership roles with the SAGE Society. She says she enjoys staying involved with the University because it serves as the center of her and her husband’s cultural and intellectual interests. She said the two of them drive to UIS often for meetings and events. “I just feel compelled to give to UIS because it is helping me fulfill my intellectual and cultural goals,” she said. “[Volunteering is] my way of giving back.”

Juarez, who works as a taxpayer advocate for the Internal Revenue Service, was voted the Best Dressed Fed in 2010 through a poll conducted nationally with federal employees. However, more important than his keen sense of style is his loyalty to UIS and his interest in reaching out to the Hispanic community. Juarez earned a degree in accountancy from UIS and as an alumnus, he has answered the call to serve as leader in alumni affairs. He served more than eight years as a member of the UIS Campus Alumni Advisory Board and served on the National Commission for the Future of Alumni Relations in 2006. “If it wasn’t for the campus, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” he said.

For more information on the Brilliant Futures Campaign or on the Access Illinois Presidential Scholarship Initiative, contact Vicki Megginson, associate chancellor for development, UIS, and senior vice president, University of Illinois Foundation at 217/206-6058 or email For information on the alumni awards, contact Chuck Schrage, UIS Office of Alumni Relations at 217/206-7395 or email

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

U of I student trustees work together to be voice of student body

Being the student trustee with the binding vote is not something University of Illinois at Chicago junior Kenneth Thomas takes lightly.

The political science major from Midlothian, Ill. has made it his priority to communicate with his fellow trustees – Hannah Ehrenberg for Urbana-Champaign and John Tienken for Springfield – and the student body as much as possible.

“I am honored to be the student with the binding vote,” Thomas said. “It is a responsibility I take very seriously and I am going to need my counterparts very much. This is truly going to be a vote for the students of the University of Illinois.”

Thomas has started a Facebook page as an open forum for the UIC student body to share their concerns. He also uses twitter to obtain feedback on different initiatives and holds town hall-style meetings.

Ehrenberg, a senior human development and family studies major from Lincolnwood, Ill., and Tienken, a junior political science and English major from Clarendon Hills, Ill., also use social media, town hall meetings, student government and the student newspaper to gain a perspective on what is ailing students.

“Most importantly I ask classmates and friends on campus what matters to them,” Ehrenberg said. “I ask them what they are worried about and what they love about the University. Students need to know their opinions are important and my goal is to truly represent what the students want.”

The student trustees regularly talk though email and over the phone sharing the concerns of the students on their campus. Most of the time, Tienken said, the concerns are similar and the students are able to come to an agreement on the best course of action. Thomas then uses that information to determine his vote.

Being involved in the inner workings of the University is something that all three students deem as “crucial.”

“It is key,” Thomas said. “Student involvement in this University is very important. We are the ones in the classes, the ones getting our education. We need to be involved in the process in everything we do. It is important that students be at the table.”

Thomas, who plans on attending law school with a goal of going into politics, decided to run for student trustee after joining student government as a freshman.

“I saw being a student trustee as a way to fulfill my desire to help students,” he said.

The Board of Trustees, the governing body for the University of Illinois, consists of 13 members, three of which are the student trustees. The students are elected by the student body of their respective campus. One of the students is then selected by the governor to serve as the student with the official vote. Each student trustee serves a term of one year, beginning on July 1.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

U of I VP of Health Affairs elected to Institute of Medicine

Dr. Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia has been elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Vice president for health affairs at the University of Illinois and vice chancellor for research on the Chicago campus, Garcia is known for his research on genetics, prevention and treatment of inflammatory lung disease and pulmonary edema.

Garcia is one of 65 new members elected to the Institute of Medicine this year. Honorees are chosen based on their professional achievement in medicine and health and their continued involvement with the issues of healthcare, prevention of disease, education or research. Members are nominated and elected by the current membership.

Since his appointment as vice president in February, Garcia has been active in increasing the visibility of the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System and effectiveness of the delivery of healthcare to citizens around the state. Garcia joined the faculty at UIC in 2010. He has written 370 peer-reviewed publications and is widely recognized as a leading National Institutes of Health-funded scientist.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two UIS students awarded scholarships from Latino organization

Two University of Illinois Springfield students have been awarded Victor A. and Daisy A. Juarez Latino scholarships from the Culturally Integrated Education for Latinos Organization (CIELO) in Springfield.

Linda Hernandez, a senior Criminal Justice major from Melrose Park, Ill. was awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Jessica Avendano, a junior Business Administration major from Beardstown, Ill. was awarded a $500 grant.

Hernandez is a member of the UIS Women’s Soccer team, Legacy Dance Team, and Organization of Latin American Students. She is a first-generation Mexican-American college student.

“This scholarship has been such a blessing and has reminded me there are great people out there who care about students, like me, and want them to succeed,” said Hernandez. “Opportunities like this are something you can’t forget.”

Each year, CIELO awards three scholarships and one grant to students who are accepted to attend an accredited university, college, or trade school that has its main campus located in Sangamon County. CIELO members who live within 60 miles of Springfield may also apply. The group’s mission is to mission is to help central Illinois Latinos pursue their educational goals.

“I feel very grateful and lucky for winning the grant! I truly appreciate CIELO and everything they do for the Hispanic community,” said Avendano.

Applicants are evaluated based on a personal essay, references, academic achievements and perceived financial need. A student’s commitment to community service is also a major consideration.

Five join Illinois Issues sponsored Legislative Internship Hall of Fame

The Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame will honor five individuals who have served as legislative interns at the state Capitol. David Kennedy, Bruce Kinnett, Michael Maibach, Catherine Shannon and Frank Straus will be inducted during a ceremony at the Executive Mansion on Monday, November 7. Inductees are selected based on their contributions to Illinois and its citizens. The Hall of Fame is also recognition of the important role that public service internships play in developing public sector leadership.

Kennedy, 57, has served as executive director of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC-IL) for the past 25 years. He chairs the State House Committee and serves on the Executive Committee of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition that advocates at the state and national levels for more transportation funds. Kennedy is also active in his profession, association management. He has served as president, board member, member and chair of many committees for the Illinois Society of Association Executives. Following his graduation from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Kennedy was a legislative intern from 1978-79 with the House Democratic staff where he remained until 1986 when he moved to ACEC-IL. Kennedy is a Springfield resident.

Kinnett, 56, is vice-president at Cook-Witter Inc., a Springfield lobbying firm. He joined the organization in 1988 with extensive experience in state and national governmental relations, particularly in the areas of health care, agriculture, conservation, natural resources and environmental concerns. While serving as a legislative intern from 1976-77 with the Senate Republican staff, he coordinated policy research and legislative analysis of many of those same issues. Prior to joining Cook-Witter Inc., Kinnett moved to Washington, D.C., and founded a private corporation to promote the development of aquaculture and then returned to Illinois in 1987 to assist with the family farming operation near Alexander. Kinnett is on the board of directors of two medical missions that provide health care to the needy in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. He is a graduate of Illinois College and resides in Springfield.

Maibach, 60, has been president and CEO of the European-American Business Council since 2003, an entity that has grown from 12 to 75 member companies with offices in Washington, D.C., and Brussels, Belgium. He is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Council on International Economics and has published more than 70 essays on American history and society, commercial policy and global competitiveness. Prior to his current position, Maibach worked for Intel Corporation, rising to vice president in 1996. He opened the Intel Government Affairs Offices in Washington, Brussels and Beijing, becoming a leading spokesman for America’s ICT industry on trade and technology policy. He also worked for Caterpillar Inc. in various positions then as government affairs manager in Illinois, California and Washington, D.C. Maibach served as a legislative intern with the Senate Republican staff in 1975-76, assigned to then-Minority Leader Bill Harris. He holds a number of degrees from various universities in the subject areas of history, political science and international business. A native of Peoria, he resides in Alexandria, Virginia.

Shannon, 47, is deputy director at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and assists in the management of 26 state historic sites and historical preservation programs. The agency has about 180 employees and an annual operating budget of approximately $24 million. From 2007 through April 2011, she served as director of the Illinois Department of Labor, the state agency responsible for the administration and enforcement of more than 20 labor and safety laws with 90 employees and an annual operating budget of $7.5 million. Shannon had worked as the agency’s legislative director since 2004 and as the labor policy adviser to the governor’s office from 2003 to 2004. She also worked previously as legislative director for both the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois AFL-CIO. Shannon was a legislative intern from 1987-88 and worked on the research/appropriations staff for the House Democrats. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and a resident of Springfield.

Straus, 52, is deputy director for Revenue and Public Safety for the House Republican staff and has served in that capacity since 2003. He also serves on the Budgets and Revenue Committee for the National Conference of State Legislators. A graduate of Harvard, Straus began working in state government in 1982 as a Secretary of State Fellow. He then followed that experience into the Legislative Intern program in 1983-84, serving with the House Republican staff. Straus has staffed a wide variety of committees, handling everything from criminal law to financial institutions, serving as a mentor for fellow analysts and providing support for members of the House Republican caucus. He has written a book about Mackinac Island, Mich., and writes a column on the island’s history for that area’s newspaper. Straus is a resident of Springfield.

Illinois Issues, sponsor of the Hall of Fame, is the state’s leading public policy magazine. It is published at the University of Illinois Springfield. The Hall of Fame is named for Samuel Gove, one of the magazine’s founders and a longtime director of the internship program. Gove died January 28, 2011. Besides commemorating Gove’s legacy, this year’s event marks the 50th anniversary of the Illinois Legislative Internship Program’s creation in 1961. Both the magazine and the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program are part of UIS’ Center for State Policy and Leadership. Established in 1990, the Hall of Fame, including this year’s inductees, now numbers 54 individuals, among them a former governor and several former and current state legislators. The names of the Hall’s members are inscribed on a plaque that hangs on the fourth floor of the Statehouse.

The event on November 7 will begin with a reception at 5:15 p.m. at the Executive Mansion at Fourth and Jackson Streets, followed by the induction ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $65 per person. Reservations are required. For more information on attending, call 217-206-6084. Or, to purchase tickets online go to http:///, and look for Gove event registration in the right-hand margin of the Web page.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

UIS Blue Crew ready to make some noise!

The Blue Crew, the student cheering section at Illinois Springfield, is growing and ready to cheer the Prairie Stars onto victory.

A dedicated group of students, led by President Tony Vetter, are in charge of the group this year. The crew plans to attend the majority of UIS home sporting events, including men’s and women’s soccer and basketball games. They also hope to make it to volleyball matches, tennis tournaments and baseball games.

“I love coming to the games. I love screaming and yelling at the stands. I would love to have 100-125 people behind me yelling with me,” said Vetter.

So far, Blue Crew attendance this year is up, as more students get involved. Crew leaders are happy to paint your face, give you a megaphone or even a pompom to cheer on the Stars!

“It’s a lot more fun and I think the teams really like it,” said Alex Kinzinger, junior legal studies and political science major.

So how do you get involved? The best way is to follow the UIS Blue Crew Facebook page and show up to the games with your game face on!

“The louder we can get, the better off we are,” said Tyler Scherer, junior political science and communication major.