Thursday, December 12, 2013

Leadership lived: Student finds resources to succeed at UIS

Gella-Kate Meeks has made the University of Illinois Springfield her home. The sophomore criminal justice major came to campus wanting to make an impact.

“It was my goal and mission to put myself out there and to get involved,” she said. “I didn’t want to be one of those people in my room saying it was boring and there’s nothing to do.”

Meeks discovered the hip hop culture Legacy Dance Team, which performs at events on campus, such as the Rip the Runway fashion show, basketball games, and the International Festival.

“Legacy is like a little close-knit family and we produce dances for different and various events on campus,” she said. “We just like to perform and show people what we can do.”

Meeks is now the secretary of the Legacy Dance Team, co-vice president of the campus performance arts group Creative Flow, and talent coordinator for the Student Activities Committee (SAC).

As part of her involvement with SAC, she recently helped plan a successful student-based talent show called “UIS Got Talent”.

“I knew it was a lot of work to put together events, but I didn’t know exactly how much,” said Meeks. “You have to get the budget; you have to make sure the plan is down first and foremost.”

Meeks credits her UIS education for her success. She’s learned from a teaching-focused academic experience in a right-sized supportive community.

“I don’t know what I would have did if I didn’t come to this school,” she said. “I wouldn’t have met all of my wonderful friends. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now. I wouldn’t have all of the opportunities I do now.”

Upon graduating from UIS, Meeks plans to become a forensic technologist combining two of her passions: science and computers.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tradition of bipartisanship continues at UIS

Republicans and Democrats often struggle to work together, but not at the University of Illinois Springfield. At UIS, it’s become a tradition for the head of the College Democrats and College Republicans to live together.

Since at least 2010, the presidents of both organizations have voluntarily decided to live together on campus. The tradition took a brief break in 2012 when the leaders of both parties were of the opposite sex and couldn’t live under one roof.

Now the tradition is back! Marc Reiter is president of the UIS College Democrats and Jeff Wilhite is chairman of the UIS College Republicans. Both are junior political science majors and roommates in a campus townhouse.

“Sometimes we have ‘polite’ discussions on a variety of issues, and sometimes we get a little loud,” said Reiter.

Living together has its advantages. The roommates are right across the hall from each other and can easily communicate different ideas and begin projects at home.

“Anytime we want to have a meeting, we can just open the door,” said Reiter.

The bipartisan household is prone to heated discussions, especially on issues such as taxes, but they don’t limit their debates to politics.

“Sports, politics, anything,” said Wilhite.

The pair has even gotten their fellow roommates involved in their passion for politics. They attend both Reiter’s College Democrats meetings and Wilhite’s College Republican meetings just to be fair.

Reiter and Wilhite have learned a lot from being politically involved and heading the organizations has giving them great experience for the future.

“Most people don’t realize how involved they could be in politics if they wanted to,” said Wilhite. “Just by joining one of these clubs you can meet the Lieutenant Governor, Tom Cross, Congressmen. There are so many chances to network and connect with people.”

The two groups helped with the recent “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” event on campus, as well as held a voter registration drive. Next, they’ve got their eyes set on a fundraiser and hosting a debate or two.

“We’ll both tell you that we do a lot of stuff on campus, we co-sponsor, and we keep it pretty active. There’s always stuff to do,” said Reiter.

Story by Paige Heiser, UIS Marketing

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Leadership lived: Friends work together to keep newspaper running

When the editor-in-chief of The Journal, the student-run newspaper at the University of Illinois Springfield, graduated, Kate Richardson and Colten Bradford knew they had to step forward. They took on more work to make sure the weekly paper was published on time.

“Stepping up to the plate wasn’t a big deal,” said Bradford. “It was just something that had to be done. Our main goal is to get the news out to the students.”

The pair took over assigning stories and copy editing the newspaper on top of their regular duties, which included laying out the paper and checking ads.

“Every single week it was right on the minute of the deadline (when we finished the paper),” said Richardson. “We just had so much extra work to do with editing the paper.”

Richardson and Bradford have known each other almost since their first day at UIS. They graduated with their bachelor’s degrees at the same time and are now both working to finish a master’s degree in communication. They’ve become friends and co-workers.

“We’ve really worked together a lot,” said Richardson. “When I was the editor-in-chief he was my assistant editor for news and then we both started our graduate assistantships at the same time, so really we’ve always been working together here.”

Both Richardson and Bradford plan to graduate from UIS at the end of the Fall 2013 Semester. Their experience working at The Journal and in the classroom has helped prepare them for future careers in the communication industry.

“When I first came to UIS I was more of a follower,” said Bradford. “The longer that I’ve been here the more I’ve realized I could step up to the plate and help other people and help them to become a leader themselves.”

“UIS has taught me that anyone can become a leader. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or in charge of a club or anything. There are tons of opportunities to be a leader here,” added Richardson.

Monday, December 02, 2013

UIS professor explores the impact of public election financing on campaigns in new book

University of Illinois Springfield Assistant Professor of Political Science Michael G. Miller examines the impact of state-level public election financing on political campaigns through the eyes of candidates in a new book.

In the book, Subsidizing Democracy: How Public Funding Changes Elections and How It Can Work in the Future (Cornell University Press, 2014), insights are drawn from survey data obtained from more than 1,000 candidates, elite interview testimony, and twenty years of election data.

The presence of publicly funded candidates in elections, Miller finds, results in broad changes to the electoral system, including more interaction between candidates and the voting public and significantly higher voter participation. He presents evidence that by providing new candidates with resources that would have been unobtainable otherwise, subsidies effectively manufacture quality challengers. Miller describes how matching-fund provisions of “Clean Election” laws were pervasively manipulated by candidates and parties and were ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court.

Miller wrote the book in the wake of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) case, which ruled corporate and union spending was allowed in elections. The Supreme Court later declared the matching funds feature of so-called “Clean Election” public financing laws unconstitutional, but there has been no strong challenge to the constitutionality of public funding as such. Subsidizing Democracy concludes with an evaluation of existing proposals for future election policy in light of his findings.

Miller holds a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University. At UIS, he holds a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies.

The book is available for purchase from Cornell University Press. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Michael G. Miller at 217/206-7220 or