Wednesday, December 21, 2016

National organization recognizes UIS student publications adviser

Debra Chandler Landis, University of Illinois Springfield student publications adviser, has been recognized with a Presidential Citation for her volunteer work as editor of the College Media Review, the online professional journal of the national College Media Association.

The editing position involves recruiting and editing scholarly and popular articles pertaining to trends, innovations and activities of print, broadcast and web-based college media.

“I was surprised and humbled to receive this award,” Landis said. “The volunteer work I do with College Media Review helps keep me up-to-date on college media research and what’s occurring with college media across the country, and by extension, aids my work as UIS student publications adviser.”

Under College Media Association bylaws, the CMA president is authorized to award the Presidential Citation to “individuals and institutions deemed to be deserving of such recognition.”

Landis was among six members of CMA awarded the citation for 2016.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Leadership lived: Basketball player overcomes adversity on and off the court

University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball player Zach Steinberg says he’s learned that leadership is not about age, but how you overcome adversity.

He’s faced many challenges not only on the basketball court, but at home. At the age of 11 his father passed away from colon cancer.

“It really taught me and my brother how to grow up fast,” he said. “It was a devastating experience upon the whole family, but it made us all closer and it really taught me to have to be my own man.”

Now he’s living his dream of playing college basketball and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accountancy. He’s also a member of the UIS Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the University Bible Fellowship and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

As part of the men’s basketball team, he regularly volunteers in the community visiting sick children at local hospitals and making appearances at elementary schools.

“I think it’s important to give back because we’re given such a great opportunity playing a sport here,” said Steinberg.

“The kids look up and they want to have the same opportunity we have and to share our abilities with them and telling our story can really help them for the future,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Steinberg hopes to continue his basketball career and eventually become an accountant.

“I think (UIS is) everything I wanted it to be and more, honestly,” he said. “Coming into UIS, I knew we’d make connections outside of the school and I knew I’d have great experiences, but I didn’t know it would be this awesome.”

Monday, December 05, 2016

UIS Education Honor Society inducts seven new members

The Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, chapter at the University of Illinois Springfield inducted seven new members during a ceremony on October 22, 2016.

Kim Thomas, the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, was the guest speaker at the event. She is a math teacher at Woodruff Career and Technical Academy in Peoria, Illinois.

The Society inducts individuals who have exhibited the ideals of scholarship, integrity in service, and commitment to excellence in teaching and its allied professions. Selection as a member of Kappa Delta Pi is based on high academic achievement, a commitment to education as a career, and a professional attitude that assures steady growth in the profession.

Students inducted at this year’s ceremony include: Nicole Barney, Thomas Kollmann, Katlyn Krones, Roberta Kubik, Samantha Missey, James Shamp and Allie Wright.

Kappa Delta Pi was established in 1911 to recognize and promote excellence in education. Through its programs, services, and strategic partnerships, the honor society supports the professional growth and teaching practices of educators throughout all phases and levels of their careers. The organization currently has more than 600 chapters and an active membership of nearly 40,000 worldwide.

For more information, contact Ronda Mitchell, chapter advisor and UIS assistant professor of Teacher Education, at 217/206-7008 or

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Leadership lived: Anthony Boyd hopes to inspire younger students to succeed

Anthony Boyd serves as a role model for many first-generation college students at the University of Illinois Springfield. The Chicago native and business administration major is the first person in his family to attend college.

Now, as a junior, he mentors two underclassman as part of the Necessary Steps Program, a program designed to assist students transitioning from high school to college.

“The purpose is to make sure they go on the right path that you went on your freshman or sophomore year. It’s like giving back,” he said. “They know that if they have a problem they can text me and I’ll do my best to figure it out. I’ll do my best to help them.”

At UIS, Boyd is president of the Upsilon Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. where he helps organize community service, educational and social events on campus. He is also a member of the Black Male Initiative and works as a front desk clerk for UIS Records & Registration.

As vice president of the Black Male Collegiate Society, he runs meetings and coordinates special events. The group meets weekly to bond and show their support for one another.

“Black males need a place to get together and talk to each other,” he said. “Maybe talk about our culture or what’s going on in our lives. That’s basically what we do at the Black Male Collegiate Society every Sunday.”

Boyd says he’s learned many lessons about leadership at UIS.

“Some people are born leaders, some people grow into leaders and you can be both,” he said. “Here at UIS there’s a lot of opportunities for leadership.”

Following graduation from UIS, Boyd plans to work in the business field or become a Chicago firefighter.

“I am glad that I chose UIS,” he said. “I think if I went to a bigger school that I would just be a number and here at UIS, there’s a lot of support through the Diversity Center. That’s why I like UIS.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Melissa Mlynski named Senior Director of Human Resources at UIS

Melissa Mlynski of Chatham has been named Senior Director of Human Resources at the University of Illinois Springfield. She has served as executive director of the Illinois Labor Relations Board since 2012, with a total of 16 years of experience in public service.

At the Illinois Labor Relations Board, she issued hundreds of written rulings in labor dispute cases and represented the agency before the Illinois General Assembly in appropriation hearings.

Mlynski has been teaching at UIS since 2010 as an adjunct professor in the Public Administration program. She teaches graduate courses focusing on collective bargaining and labor arbitration.

Prior to becoming executive director at the Illinois Labor Relations Board, she served as Labor Relations Counsel for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

Mlynski is a lawyer who earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law in 1998. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mlynski’s employment begins on December 16. She replaces Laura Alexander who left the university earlier this year.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Leadership lived: Student hopes to help others by dancing

Tyshianna Bankhead has big plans for her future, which are fueled by the leadership opportunities she’s received at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Bankhead, a senior sociology/anthropology major, is a student ambassador for UIS Admissions, co-president of the African Student Association, secretary of Girl Talk, a member of The Research Society at UIS and a Model United Nations delegate.

However, Bankhead is most passionate about dancing. She is president of the Epic Praise for Christ Dance Team and co-president of the Afrobeat Dance Crew.

“I enjoy dancing because it’s one good thing that I love to do,” she said. “I love to just put my all into something and dancing I’m good at it. I’m skilled and God has given me the ability to do so.”

Bankhead recently performed with both dance teams at the UIS International Festival, a cultural festival attended by hundreds of people. The teams have been preparing for months.

“We meet every week, once a week, and then we practice our dances in our rooms, we practice them together. It’s dedication,” she said.

Following graduation, Bankhead plans to continue dancing and hopes to open her own community center and praise dance studio in her hometown of Rock Island, Illinois. She says it wouldn’t be possible without the opportunities she’s had a UIS.

“We follow Leadership lived for life. We have time to go out and experience being a leader on campus and then we graduate and are leaders in our community,” said Bankhead.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

UIS professor publishes new theory of revolt in book about philosophy and global uprisings

Richard Gilman-Opalsky, associate professor and chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois Springfield, has published his fourth book.

“Specters of Revolt: On the Intellect of Insurrection and Philosophy from Below” argues that the world is haunted by revolt, by the possibility of events that interrupt and disrupt the world, that throw its reality and justice into question.

Gilman-Opalsky develops a theory of revolt that accounts for its diverse critical content about autonomy, everyday life, anxiety, experience, knowledge, and possibility.

The book examines a timeline from 1848, when Karl Marx declared that a communist specter was haunting Europe to the 2008 Greek revolts and present day uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore.

In light of recent global uprisings, Gilman-Opalsky, aims to move beyond the critical theory of revolt to an understanding of revolt as theory itself.

The book was published by Repeater Books and is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other websites.

Three UIS Computer Science students finish strong in national cyber security competition

Three University of Illinois Springfield Computer Science majors have finished in the top 20 percent of 3,070 competitors in the first of three National Cyber League (NCL) annual competitions.

Austin Bransky of Marengo, Illinois; Paula Kawal of Black Diamond, Washington and Dennis McDonald of Payson, Illinois are competing against other students from across the country.

During the competition, students defend systems from real-time network attacks, learning how to find the attacks in system logs, traffic captures and much more. The students use NCL-sanctioned gymnasiums, virtual learning environments located throughout the U.S. that are comprised of systems-integrated software and hardware, to practice and develop their skills.

“Our students have one more individual game to go before they engage in a final, team-based competition at the end of the season,” said Janis Rose, a UIS Computer Science instructor. “They’re off to a great start!”

The games are performance based to measure a player’s strengths and weakness among learning objectives. The competition utilizes certified ethical hacker objectives, such as open source intelligence, traffic and log analysis and wireless security.

The National Cyber League was founded in May 2011 to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for collegiate students to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity skills.

For more information, contact Janis Rose at 217/206-8246 or

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Kendra Baber honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield senior Kendra Baber was honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois on November 12, 2016, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Baber, a Normal, Illinois native, holds a 3.99 GPA and is majoring in history with a minor in secondary education. She is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program and has made the dean’s list every semester she has attended UIS.

At UIS, she is president of the History Club and mentors fellow students through the Capital Scholars Honors Program. She volunteers with Dance Marathon, an organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network, and works at the Cox Children’s Center on campus.

Baber previously served as Alternative Spring Break vice president and has participated in three trips during her time at UIS. Most recently, she traveled to New York City where she worked to fight hunger and homelessness by volunteering at soup kitchens and related service agencies.

“Through my experiences with Alternative Spring Break, my life perspectives have grown drastically,” said Baber. “These trips have allowed me to break down stereotypes that I did not even know I had. Ultimately, my world view was drastically impacted and I quickly learned the importance of helping others.”

During her first two years at UIS, Baber served as the Hunger and Homelessness Committee Chair for the Leadership for Life service organization. She coordinated the Oxfam Hunger Banquet on campus and planned a dinner with Kumler Outreach Ministries that fed over 90 in-need or homeless members of the Springfield community.

The qualities she has learned at UIS have inspired her to volunteer off campus. During the summers of 2014 and 2015, she worked at the Mom and Me Camp, a camp for children with mothers in prison. Children are allowed to spend time with their mothers and participate in a variety of fun activities.

“Without my involvement with organizations at UIS, I would never pushed myself to participate in such a life-changing experience,” said Baber.

Following graduation from UIS, Baber plans to achieve her lifelong goal of becoming a middle or high school history teacher.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher, but my studies at UIS have allowed me to feel prepared to make my dreams become a reality. Due to my education at UIS as well as my natural passion of teaching, I feel as though I can become a trustworthy, positive role model for my students,” said Baber.

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Tisha Palmer wins the 2016 CARE Award

Tisha Palmer, administrative aide to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, has been awarded the 2016 Chancellor’s Award to Recognize Excellence in Civil Service (CARE). The award is the highest honor annually awarded to a Civil Service staff member at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Chancellor Susan J. Koch announced the winner of the award during a breakfast on November 3, 2016. She also thanked all civil service staff members for their dedication to UIS.

Palmer has worked at UIS for 26 years, starting in the Sangamon State University Foundation Office, then transferring to the Office of Business and Financial Services (OBFS) in 1997. She has worked for the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs since 2006.

As her nominator put it, Palmer is “the face of student affairs”, known for her positive attitude and deeply caring about the students she assists.

“Tisha is the most positive person I know,” said her nominator. She deals with so many people, students, community members and visitors. She is always up-beat and happy and loves her job at UIS in student affairs.”

Palmer regularly volunteers at student events, such as homecoming and Springfest, and participates in volunteer service events.

“Students are the reason we are all here,” said Palmer. “They are what makes me excel and I take pride in what I do for them.”

She is passionate about her job, answering challenging phone calls and emails, and treating everyone she speaks with “like it is her family.”

“I believe care, patience, honesty and loyalty are what it takes to be a great employee,” said Palmer. “Every day we put those qualities toward our students and that’s what is important.”

The CARE award was handed out as part of the 10th annual Civil Service Appreciation Day, which honors the over 300 civil service employees at UIS for all of their hard work and dedication. This year’s celebration included a variety of door prize drawings.

Other Civil Service employees nominated for the award include:
Brian Beckerman, Superintendent, Grounds
CJ Castelletti, Grounds Worker
Ann Cole, Administrative Clerk, COLRS
Scott Fay, Building Service Sub Foreman
Bobbi Fults-Babbs, Business/Administrative Associate, Computer Science
Elizabeth Huffines, Administrative Aide, VC Academic Affairs
Sandra McGinnis, Business/Administrative Associate, WUIS
Pamela McGowan, Staff Clerk, GPSI
Denise Rothenbach, Business Administrative Associate, Residence Life
Pamela Scott, Library Specialist
Teresa Seacrist, Campus Parking Manager
Anna Sheehan, Building Service Worker
Patricia Stoutamyer, Office Support Specialist, Mathematical Sciences
Allison Thornley, Business/Administrative Associate, Athletics
Melissa Ulbrich, Sr. Library Specialist
Michelle Vinson, Housing Administrator
Donna Young, Administrative Aide, Campus Relations/Legal Counsel
Patti Young, Office Support Specialist, Biology

The winner of the CARE award receives $500, plus a $500 donation made to the campus organization of his or her choice.

Leadership lived: Student leader lands job before graduation

As president of the Student Government Association (SGA), Austin Mehmet often serves as a voice for all University of Illinois Springfield students. It’s a position that’s taught him a lot about leadership and responsibility.

“I think it’s taught me a lot about how to work with others, about teamwork, and how to delegate authority to particular people,” he said.

Mehmet, a senior computer science and legal studies major from Springfield, is set to graduate in May and already has a software development job lined up with State Farm Insurance in Dallas, Texas.

In addition to his SGA role, Mehmet is a team captain on the mock trial team and a member of the Model Illinois Government Moot Court.

“College is what you make of it and as you become more and more engaged on campus, you gain more and more value from your college degree,” he said.

Out of all of his leadership roles, Mehmet is most passionate about being a voice for students. He worked his way up to the SGA presidency, starting as a senator and then treasurer.

“I like student government because I like to see the change that I want to see,” he said. “I have goals that I see this university going in five or ten years and I want to offer my input on these particular issues and I want to ensure that students are well represented.”

Mehmet says he will leave UIS feeling well prepared and ready to start his future career.

“UIS has helped prepare me to lead in a role outside of the university,” he said. “If you were to sum up everything I’ve done at the university, it’s prepared me for a job or an internship within leadership outside of UIS.”

Monday, October 31, 2016

Staff members share UIS Sangamon Auditorium ghost stories

Is Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield haunted by a ghost named “Ruby”? The answer depends on who you ask.

According to stage foreman Joe Taylor, the ghost stories started in 1986 when a patron named “Ruby” died from natural causes inside the auditorium. Since that time, there have been several close encounters witnessed by multiple individuals.

Taylor and a co-worker were working near “the rail” at the top of the auditorium stage when they witnessed a “ball of light” or “cloud”, which moved down a stairway and entered the auditorium.

“No evilness, nothing bad ever happened,” said Taylor. “Nothing has ever happened during a show or during the day. It’s always late at night when we were ready to lock up.”

Another sighting occurred when five workers were standing on stage and one person left to turn off the light board.

“He came running up the stairs and that’s where the light actually hit him and he just stopped,” said Taylor. “He knew he ran into somebody. He kept saying he ran into a person.” “One of the other guys said, you ran into ‘Ruby’. It was a bright light and she ran right into you.”

Event Administrator Elise Robertson claims to have had a close encounter with “Ruby” when she was resting in between graduation ceremonies, before becoming a full-time employee.

“Rather than drive back to Riverton between graduation ceremonies, I went up to the (5th floor) lobby to lay down,” said Robertson. “I woke up to someone touching my ribs.”

She felt a cold wave move over her body before she felt a second hand move over her ribs.

“That was ‘Ruby’. I know it was,” said Robertson.

Taylor says his final encounter with the suspected ghost happened when The Flying Karamazov Brothers were practicing for a show inside the auditorium.

“They had a little boy. I’d say he’s four or five-years-old,” said Taylor. “The little boy was playing right there next to where she had passed away and the little kid was talking to somebody. The dad was on stage working and he asked him who he was talking to. He said ‘this lady’.”

Although there have been a number of spooky experiences witnessed inside the auditorium, “Ruby” has been keeping a lower profile lately and hasn’t been spotted in years.

“We don’t want to scare anyone away from Sangamon Auditorium,” said Robertson. “Ruby’ is not a scary ghost. She won’t harm anyone. We need something interesting here, besides all of the acts we bring in.”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

History Professor Peter Shapinsky named the 2016 University Scholar at UIS

Peter Shapinsky, associate professor and chair of the History Department at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been named the University Scholar for 2016. The award, considered the university system’s highest faculty honor, recognizes outstanding teaching and scholarship. Only one faculty member receives the annual award at UIS.

Shapinsky is regarded as one of the foremost authorities in the fields of Medieval Japan and East Asian maritime history. A versatile, interdisciplinary scholar, and fluent in Japanese, Shapinsky is an expert on piracy in medieval Japan.

“Shapinsky exemplifies the teacher-scholar model at UIS,” said Lynn Pardie, former UIS provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “He is actively engaged in continuing scholarship to expand the breadth and depth of his work.”

Nominator and reviewers alike point to his monograph, “Lords of the Sea: Pirates, Violence, and Commerce in Late Medieval Japan” as a significant work. This work has generated a new conceptualization of pirates as Sea Lords in medieval Japanese history, drawing parallels between the ruling of land and of sea.

“Peter Shapinsky is a prolific scholar having author to date several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, as well as book reviews, while he is currently working on five more articles, one co-edited volume and his second book manuscript,” said his nominator.

Shapinsky has also delivered papers at national conferences, as well as numerous invited lectures and presentations at national and international venues. He has an active on-going scholarly agenda that includes new interpretations of cartographic history in the East Asian maritime world.

Professor Shapinsky’s students and colleagues credit his creative, dynamic teaching and mentoring, contagious enthusiasm for his subject, and eagerness to help them succeed, with motivating them to reach their potential.

“I have always maintained that only a good scholar can be a good teacher in higher education, and all good teachers maintain a good scholarly record allowing their scholarship to inform their pedagogy and vice versa. Peter Shapinsky has excelled in both areas,” said his nominator.

He has developed a comprehensive, stimulating, and diverse history curriculum; and he teaches core and elective courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the History Department, courses that fulfill general education requirements, and courses for the Capital Scholars Honors Program. Shapinsky’s teaching utilizes both on ground and online modes of delivery, and has included a study abroad trip to Japan.

Shapinsky earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Kenyon College and a doctorate in history from the University of Michigan.

As University Scholar, Shapinsky will receive $15,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities. Faculty do not apply for this award; they are nominated by their peers. A committee of senior faculty makes the final selection.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Leadership lived: Student volunteers to help flood victims in Louisiana

University of Illinois Springfield freshman Jon Welton enjoys helping people. The Criminology and Criminal Justice major is a member of the Leadership for Life Service Organization on campus and is a private first class in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Welton recently traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a group of 25 other UIS students to help clean up homes that were damaged by flooding. The students stripped homes down to the studs, so they could dry out, and removed personal belongings damaged by the flood.

“Basically you take everything out and it gives them a better chance of being able to rebuild, rather than having to completely destroy everything,” said Welton.

Welton and the group of UIS volunteers were able to meet the homeowner they were helping, which he calls a gratifying experience.

“He was very grateful that we were there,” said Welton. “He even bought us lunch one day. You’re carrying out this guy’s life pretty much.”

The students worked as a team to clean and clear the house of debris during the three day trip.

“They all came together as a group and really toughed it out,” said Welton. “I feel like that’s part of being a leader, is even when it got hard they kept going.”

Following graduation, Welton plans to become a police officer. He says his experiences at UIS are helping to prepare him for the job.

“I believe in Criminal Justice, specifically with the job I want to do as a patrol officer, helping people is everything. That is your job. I’m getting to practice those skills,” he said.

Monday, October 24, 2016

UIS professor named School Counselor Advocate of the Year

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor James Klein, has been named the 2016 School Counselor Advocate of the Year by the Illinois School Counselor Association.

The award is given out annually in appreciation for outstanding work to counselors-in-training, students, as well professional counselors.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to have been recognized and greatly value the opportunity to contribute to such meaningful and important work,” said Klein.

Klein is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development Counseling. He also coordinates the School Counseling Concentration. His current research is focused on the role of compassion in learning and leadership.

The Illinois School Counselor Association provides leadership, advocacy and collaboration for Illinois professional school counselors to ensure the success of students in their academic, college, career and social/emotional development.

The ISCA serves approximately 900 school counselors across the state of Illinois.

Friday, October 21, 2016

UIS honors alumni for achievement and service

The University of Illinois Springfield honored the significant contributions of Darrel Burnett and Cheryl Peck during the university’s annual Alumni Gala on Friday, October 21, 2016, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

The Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding success and national or international distinction in one’s business, profession or life’s work was presented to Darrel Burnett, of Milton, Wisconsin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1978.

Burnett is founder and Chief Executive Officer of KSI International, Inc., which specializes in Life Changing Technologies with an emphasis on new product development and the development of international markets.

Burnett attended the University on a broadcast scholarship. He served as the first sportscaster at WSSR (now WUIS) and the first “play by play” radio announcer for the Prairie Stars soccer team.

After graduating in 1978, he embarked on a career in broadcasting. He hosted nationally syndicated radio shows from New York City, provided play-by-play for the Indianapolis Colts, and reported on Super Bowls, the World Series, NBA Basketball Championships, U.S. Olympic Trials, NCAA championships and many other events. He spent four years as a pit reporter for the Indianapolis 500, and has remained closely connected to the broadcasting field for nearly 40 years as he continues to narrate documentaries and serve as a frequent host and guest on television and radio shows.

In 1999, Burnett was recruited by the Hoffman Corporation, a construction management firm, to start an operating division in Illinois. In just six years, the division became a $500m enterprise and helped Hoffman earn a top 50 U.S. ranking by Engineering News Record. In 2002, Burnett co-founded Revere Hoffman, specializing in housing for senior citizens; and in 2005, he became Corporate Director for the Mid-Northern Group, a real estate company based in Rockford, IL. In 2009, as president of a water technology company, he helped develop a patented water technology. This led to the founding of KSI International in 2011.

Darrel Burnett serves on the Board of Advisors for the Brian LaViolette Scholarship Foundation and has helped raise more than $1m for numerous community organizations. He has also served on multiple boards of directors and is an elder for Chapel on the Hill in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

The Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary commitment, dedication and service to the advancement of the University of Illinois was awarded to Cheryl Peck, of Springfield, Illinois. She earned a bachelor’s degree in literature in 1986 and a master’s degree in English in 1989.

An all-out advocate for her alma mater, Peck participates in many University events. She served in volunteer leadership roles on the planning and coordinating committee of the UIS Alumni SAGE Society in its formative years, and helped to build the University's archive of oral histories. Peck also served on the Friends of Brookens Library Board.

In 2011, Peck donated $500,000 to establish the Judith E. Everson Professorship in English, the first from a graduate honoring a former professor. With the gift, Peck paid tribute to the faculty member who profoundly influenced her career and her overall educational experience as a “mid-life student” at UIS (then Sangamon State), which she characterized as setting her on “a path of lifelong discovery in books and writing.”

She has also been a longtime annual donor to Brookens Library, WUIS and other campus units, and is a member of the University of Illinois Foundation Presidents Council.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Leadership lived: UIS volleyball player represents student-athletes on a national level

University of Illinois Springfield volleyball player Ashley Beaton, a senior psychology major, represents NCAA Division II athletes on a national level as the student representative for the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC).

“It’s honestly been surreal. There’s been a lot of people I’ve gotten to network with and who have helped my leadership, personality and professionalism grow,” said Beaton.

Beaton applied for the position after being a member of the UIS Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). She current serves as vice president of UIS SAAC and previously served as president. She is also a member of the UIS Intercollegiate Athletic Committee, which is part of the UIS Campus Senate and made up of student-athletes, faculty and staff.

As part of her national NCAA leadership role, Beaton has attended the NCAA Convention and has been spotlighted in several Division II videos as part of the “Make it Yours” campaign.

“I’ve went to the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis and just got overloads of information that I can take back and use in volleyball, in real life and use to apply to SAAC to make NCAA Division II even better,” said Beaton.

Beaton says she chose UIS because of the growing opportunities for student-athletes. She’s proud to be part of a thriving Prairie Stars program.

“I remember coming on campus here for the first time and I just had a feeling like, you know this feels like home, but what really drew me in was the potential that UIS had,” she said. “I heard that all of the sports teams were starting to take off.”

She has learned about leadership through her NCAA role and as a volleyball team captain.

“I would consider myself more of a lead by example type of leader,” she said. “I really try to encompass everything that our coach brings us into. I really take it and try to run with it.”

Following graduation from UIS, Beaton plans to earn a master’s degree in psychology and hopes to one day work at the NCAA’s Sports Science Institute, which researches student-athlete health and mental health.

“Coming in here I was a little bit shy, I was underdeveloped and just all of the experience I’ve had to go through has just taken me through the roof,” said Beaton. “It’s been amazing to say the least.”

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Two UIS faculty members chosen to co-teach national online courses

Two faculty members from the University of Illinois Springfield have been chosen to co-teach two online courses made up of students at 30 colleges and universities in 28 states and one Canadian province thanks to a Mellon Foundation Grant.

Ken Owen, UIS assistant professor of history, will teach a course during the spring 2017 semester titled “Divided Houses Secession and Separation” with Mary Beth Mathews, assistant professor of religion at the University of Mary Washington.

In spring 2018, Holly Kent, UIS assistant professor of history, will teach a course on “Fashion as an Agent of Social Change Since 1900” with Brenda Brown, professor of English at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

“The desired outcome is to build digital humanities literacy among students who participate in the courses,” said Vickie Cook, director of the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service. “The courses will be taught online using a synchronous model and will result in students working across campuses to build digital humanities web presences.”

The classes will be open to students at Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) member institutions, such as UIS. Students must be nominated by a faculty member to take part in the course, for which they will receive academic credit at their home institution.

“One outcome of this project is to provide an opportunity for students to gain strong skills in working with fellow students at distance locations,” said Cook. “These skills may assist with future employment needs where they may be assigned to virtual teams or need to coordinate projects and activities through using a variety of technological tools.”

For more information, contact Cook at 217/206-8303 or

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Leadership lived: Student lands full-time job in state government


Marc Cox still has two semesters left before he graduates from the University of Illinois Springfield, however he’s already started a full-time career in state government.

The political science and legal studies major works for the Illinois Senate Republicans in the District Planning and Member Services Division.

“I work with senators on a daily basis to help organize constituent events and services, such as town halls, youth initiatives and women’s conferences,” said Cox. “I also work with members of the communication department to help improve the messaging between the senators and the constituents they serve.”

Working in the government and legal field is nothing new for Cox. He’s completed four internships as an undergraduate student at UIS. Most recently, he interned with the Public Defender’s Office in Washington, D.C. He’s previously interned with U.S. Congressman John Shimkus, the Illinois Governor’s Office and with state legislators.

“UIS has taught me a lot about leadership, due to the unique internships that I’ve had and likely would not have had, if I didn’t go to UIS,” he said.

On campus, Cox is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, has worked for the Illinois Innocence Project and is the former editor-and-chief of The Journal, the weekly student newspaper. He started as assistant editor for news and worked his way up to the top.

“Going into it, I really wanted to improve our online presence and also deliver more hard-hitting news stories and thanks to a wonderful staff of editors, writers and photographers, we were able to accomplish that,” he said.

Cox credits The Journal for giving him his first opportunity to supervise a staff.

“I learned leadership is really about leading by example, fostering a sense of collegiately and kindness and also motivating people to work hard,” said Cox.

Following graduation from UIS, Cox plans to attend law school. He’s thankful that he chose UIS and urges other students interested in politics to do the same.

“UIS’ ability to pair students up with internships in government and politics is extremely unique,” he said. “I think if a student is interested in politics, UIS is a really good university to go to.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Leadership lived: Blind student aims to educate others about disabilities

Like many other outgoing University of Illinois Springfield students, English major Raven Wilson thrives on leadership.

On campus, she is heavily involved as chair of the Student Activities Committee (SAC), sings in the gospel choir and works as a tutor at The Learning Hub.

Nothing holds her back, including her blindness.

Wilson was born with a rare degenerative disease called optic nerve coloboma. The disease caused both of her optic nerves not to fully form.

“When I was little I had some sight and could read large print, I could see color, but as I got older it lessoned and now I can only see light and shadows,” said Wilson.

In February 2016, she helped to start a student organization called AREA (Awareness Respect Education Ability), which aims to spread inclusionary attitudes about people with disabilities, often by trying to teach them how it feels to have a disability.

“At the end of the day, people who have disabilities want the same things,” said Wilson. “They have the same abilities, they just have to do it in a different way. It’s just trying to get people to understand that different doesn’t mean less abled, it doesn’t mean anything bad or negative. It just means a different way of doing things.”

Wilson says she’s grateful for all of the leadership opportunities she’s been offered at UIS, which have had a large impact on her life.

“I think being able to have these leadership opportunities has broken me out of my shell,” she said. “I feel like I’m getting a lot more about of my college experience.”

Following graduation from UIS, Wilson plans to become a writer. However, she’ll never forget her time in Springfield and the friends she’s made on campus.

“I would still choose UIS because it’s a community, it’s more than just a school,” she said. “It’s a community where people are allowed to grow and develop.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Leadership lived: Resident assistant learns life lessons at UIS

Audrey LeVault says being a resident assistant (RA) at the University of Illinois Springfield is teaching her valuable leadership skills and preparing her for a future career in social work.

“Being an RA has taught me to really have an open mind when I come into a conflict,” she said. “I can’t just assume that one person is right and one person is wrong. You really have to be willing to listen to the full story and not take sides in a situation.”

LeVault has been an RA on campus for the past two years, is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, the Social Work Club and is on the Christian Student Fellowship leadership team.

As an RA, she goes on rounds checking on students, works at resident hall front desks and responds to lock outs, fire alarms and noise complaints. However, she says the most important part of her job is community building.

“We really just want residents to feel at home, so we put on different programs trying to get them out of their houses, so they can interact with their neighbors,” she said.

She often comes across challenging situations, where corrective action is required, but believes lessons can be learned from a second chance.

“Everybody makes mistakes and it’s being willing to work with that person when they make a mistake, so they don’t have to go through this again, that makes conflict a learning experience and not just getting someone into trouble.”

LeVault, an Edinburg, Illinois native, says she chose UIS because of the right-sized campus feel.

“I love how tiny it is, because I feel like you have so many opportunities,” she said. “There’s so many different student-lead organizations here. You have such a good chance to be involved, if you want to be involved.”

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to earn her master’s degree in social work with a focus on either school social work or children and family services.

“Overall, my experience at UIS has been great,” she said. “I’m super glad I chose UIS. If I had to do it over again, I’d still pick UIS.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

UIS communication professor elected chair of the University Senates Conference

Kathy Novak, associate professor of communication at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been elected to a one-year term as chair of the University Senates Conference of the University of Illinois System.

As chair, Novak serves as the official spokesperson of the USC and represents the faculty of all three University of Illinois campuses and the three individual campus senates. Through U of I President Timothy Killeen, she and the USC advise the Board of Trustees and administrative officers on matters of university-wide concerns.

The Conference also coordinates actions and facilitates communication among the campus senates, reviewing matters acted upon by each individual campus senate and further deciding whether actions taken by one senate have broader all-university relevance.

“The USC addresses many issues as they arise throughout the year, but the budget remains a primary concern regarding university salaries, health insurance and pensions,” said Novak. “Among our goals in the coming year is to continue to support the value and impact of higher education in Illinois. Along these lines, the USC will be both working on and supporting the implementation of the University of Illinois System Strategic Framework to advance the future good work of the universities within the system.”

Novak has been a member of the UIS Campus Senate since 2010, serving as an executive committee officer since 2012 and having served as senate chair in 2015-16.

She holds a Ph.D. in communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her teaching and research focuses on print journalism and photojournalism, global media and culture, advertising and consumer culture, and research methods.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Leadership lived: International student learns about other cultures at UIS

International graduation student Aman Tummala, a Management Information Systems major from India, loves to meet new people and learn about other cultures. He’s getting that opportunity at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“There’s a lot of people coming here from other countries,” said Tummala. “I find everyone over here, so I can talk with them. I help myself by learning things from them.”

Tummala is president of the Indian Student Organization and the International Artists & Music Organization and vice president of the International Student Association. He is a member of the Association of Information Systems (AIS) and is a student employee at Brookens Library.

He recently helped plan a welcome party for new international students attending UIS, in conjunction with the Office of International Student Services.

“From my end, I’ve been leading the Indian Student Organization, so there is a pressure on me in making sure the event goes well,” he said.

UIS was at the top of Tummala’s list when applying for graduate school because of the Management Information Systems program and the right-sized campus.

“The best thing about UIS is the professors, the students and the management and the infrastructure here,” he said. “The University of Illinois Springfield is the best place to study.”

Before coming to UIS, Tummala worked for major companies in India, including Google. Following graduation, he plans to return to India and start his own company.

“I would just like to thank my parents and the University of Illinois Springfield for giving me and opportunity to be a part of this university and to learn skills and just be myself,” he said.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leadership lived: Greek Life helps UIS student feel at home


Crystal Terrazas admits to being a little homesick her freshman year, but that changed when she became a member of the Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc. She now services as vice president of the University of Illinois Springfield colony.

“Greek Life is a home away from home,” she said. “When I decided to be part of it, I started doing my own research on the different organizations on campus and Gamma Phi Omega made the most sense to me.”

Terrazas, now a junior political science and legal studies major, is a member of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), Model United Nations (MUN), a resident assistant in east campus housing and a mentor for the Hispanic and Latino Mentorship Program.

As part of Gamma Phi Omega, she helps organize academic events designed to help other students on campus, cultural awareness programs and participates in community service, along with raising money for the American Diabetes Association.

“Greek Life is not just about the parties or all of the fun stuff you see on TV or in movies. It’s more about the academics,” said Terrazas.

She chose UIS because of its location in the state capitol and has already completed several internships. She plans to attend law school following graduation from UIS.

“I want to own my own law firm,” she said. “I want to go into immigration and family law, so hopefully I’ll be able to do that.”

Terrazas is thankful for the wonderful people she’s met at UIS and the leadership skills she has learned on campus.

“I love the close-knit community and the people who are here,” she said. “It’s just great. I don’t think I would have had that experience anywhere else.”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Leadership lived: New student trustee has big plans for the future

It’s fair to say that Nathan Hoffman is busier that your typical college undergraduate. At 21, the University of Illinois Springfield political science major is managing a state representative’s political campaign and representing UIS students, as student trustee, on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“Time management has probably been the biggest thing I’ve learned as a leader,” said Hoffman. “In all the different roles I have as a student leader, as a community leader, there’s never a night where there’s not something going on.”

On the Board of Trustees, Hoffman is responsible for making sure that UIS students have a voice. He is also charged with making decisions that will impact the future of the entire University of Illinois system.

“For the system as a whole, my focus is going to be making sure we’re making the right kind of financial decisions, considering the tight state budget times we’re in right now,” he said.

At UIS, Hoffman is a member of the Mock Trial and Model Illinois Government Moot Court teams. He is the former president of the College Republicans at UIS.

Off campus, Hoffman is working full-time for the Illinois Republican party managing Rep. David Welter’s run for the 75th Legislative District. Previously, he worked in U.S. Congressman Darin LaHood’s Springfield office where he assisted municipalities and other groups seeking federal funding.

“My plan immediately upon graduation is to go to law school,” he said. “I’m studying for the LSAT on top of all of this right now and I will take that in September.”

Hoffman ultimately hopes to become a lawyer and plans to run for a public office. He says UIS has given him and many other students the skills necessary to succeed.

“You can’t walk to the state capitol, you can’t walk to many places in Washington, D.C. and not find a UIS alumnus. I think I definitely made the right choice.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

UIS welcomes seventeen new faculty members

Seventeen new faculty members have joined the University of Illinois Springfield for fall semester 2016. Six will teach in programs within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, four in the College of Business and Management, one in the College of Education and Human Services, four in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and two in Library Instructional Services.

Amandailee Adams, visiting instructor for allied health in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, holds a Master’s Degree in biology from the University of Illinois Springfield. Adams research includes microbial biofilms, emergence and implications of antibiotic resistant organisms. When she is not teaching at UIS, Adams enjoys spending time with her two young children, going on family adventures, traveling, boating, exercising and mentoring children.

Yazan Alnsour, management information system lecturer, in the College of Business & Management, earned his Ph.D. in computer science and information systems from the University of Colorado, Denver. Alnsour’s professional interests include health information technology and innovation, analytics and big data. Away from UIS, Alnsour enjoys biking, hiking, camping and traveling.

Matthew Brown, a business administration lecturer, in the College of Business & Management, holds a Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University. Brown’s research includes financial economics, law and economics, political economy, Austrian economics and market process theory, as well as cultural, social and economic history. Other professional interests include LGBT history/queer theory.

Paul Caselton, visiting associate professor of accountancy in the College of Business & Management, holds a J.D. in law from Stanford Law School. Caselton’s professional interests include law as well as state and federal tax law. When not at UIS, Caselton enjoys reading both fiction and history.

Chun Zhang Creaser, assistant professor of human services in the College of Education & Human Services, holds a Ph.D. in education, curriculum and instruction, from the University of Minnesota. Creaser’s research includes the reciprocal influence of parent-child learning and development among diverse culture and ethnicities. Her personal interests include hiking and swimming in the summer and snow skiing during the winter.

Brandon Derman, associate professor of environmental studies in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, holds a Ph.D. in geography, from the University of Washington. Derman has a professional interest in geography, socio-legal studies and geographic information systems; politics of climate justice. Away from campus, Derman enjoys music, food, spending time outdoors and relaxing with his wife and daughter.

Angela Doehring, assistant professor of allied health in the College of Liberal Arts & Science, holds a Ph.D. in health promotion and disease prevention/gerontology from Purdue University. Her professional interests include studying the physical activity and behavioral changes in older adults. Personally, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors.

Mark Huson, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Liberal Arts & Science, received a Ph.D. in computer science from Arizona State University. His research includes computer security, parallel and high performance computing, computer architectures and computer simulation. Outside of UIS, Huson enjoys music, reading, science fiction, material arts and doing anything outdoors.

Sally LaJoie, clinical assistant professor in Library Instructional Services, holds an M.L.I.S. in library science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. LaJoie’s professional interests include information literacy and usability. Personally, she enjoys traveling, running and reading.

Gregory Mayes, visiting instructor of computer science in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, holds a Master’s Degree in computer science from the University of Illinois Springfield.

Eugene McCarthy, assistant professor of legal studies in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, holds a Ph.D. in rhetoric from the University of California Berkley. McCarthy’s professional interests include law, culture, the humanities; legal philosophy and theory, corporate personhood and corporate law; legal history. His personal interests include running, baseball and outdoor activities like hiking and camping.

Debra Parker, visiting instructor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, is working on her Ph.D. in English studies and rhetoric at Illinois State University. Parker’s professional interests include rhetoric, writing, autobiography, linguistics, cultural studies and interdisciplinary pedagogy. Her dissertation is titled: "The Rhetoric Bravery in Contemporary Women’s Memoir". Outside of UIS, Parker enjoys running, biking, baseball, photography and spending time with her family.

Neetu Singh, assistant professor of management information systems, in the College of Business & Management, holds a Ph.D. in business administration from Georgia State University. Singh’s professional interests include health information technology, design science research, big data/advanced analytics adoption and actionable business intelligence. Outside of UIS, Singh enjoys traveling, reading, cooking and dress design.

Steven Ward, visiting clinical assistant professor in Library Instructional Services, holds an M.L.I.S. in library and information science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Professionally, Ward has an interest in academic librarianship: reference, instruction and assessment. His subject specialties include African American studies, environmental and political sciences, criminal justice and global studies. Outside of UIS, Ward enjoys writing and cooking.

Celest Weuve, assistant professor of allied health in the College of Liberal Arts and Science will also serve as the program director for athletic training. She received her Ph.D. in athletic training from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Her professional interests include workplace environment, bullying and harassment. In her free time she enjoys carpentry work.

Kimberly Wiley, lecturer in public administration in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, is working toward her Ph.D. in public administration and policy from Florida State University. Wiley has a professional interest in public administration, nonprofit management and public policy. Away from campus, she enjoys gardening and taking day trips to the beach.

Adam Williams, assistant professor of public administration in the College of Public Affairs and Administration, holds a Ph.D. in public administration from Florida Atlantic University. Williams’ professional interests include public procurement, budget and finance and public management. Outside of campus, he serves as a soccer referee and enjoys traveling the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

UIS Student Affairs recognizes exceptional work in the division

The University of Illinois Springfield Division of Student Affairs recognizes outstanding work within the division each year. Six awards are given out during the Division Retreat Summer 2016.

This year, the entire staff of Cox Children's Center received the Student Affairs for Excellence Award. The center and its staff have been recognized numerous times over the years for achieving the highest performance level of accreditation.

The Mentor of the Year Award, chosen by students, was given to Sophia Gelhausen Anderson, coordinator of programs and outreach for Hispanic and Latino students, for making a difference in the lives of students. One student's nomination stated, "She cares about the well-being of students on campus and has a positive attitude."

Alexandria Cosner received the New Student Affairs Member Award. Cosner has served in Campus Recreation for the past 15 months. Cosner was chosen for her commitment to improving the department and offering more programs for faculty, students and staff.

The Quality Service Award was given to Margaret Carlen, a supervisor in Admissions and Records. Carlen was recognized for the professional and caring way she interacts with students on a daily basis and for her dedication to seeing the university grow and thrive.

Johnell Greer, in Financial Assistance, received the Student First Award. Greer's positive attitude and willingness to anything for students, stood out as exemplary. Greer was credited with making the student experience at UIS much more simple and stress-free.

The Vice Chancellor's Award was given to Howard Seidel, UIS Food Service executive chef. Seidel was recognized for his overall commitment to excellence.

The UIS Division of Student Affairs is made up of 20 centers and offices on campus.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

UIS online leader Ray Schroeder honored as an Outstanding Practitioner in Distance Education

Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored with the 2016 Wedemeyer Award for Outstanding Practitioner in Distance Education by the Univeristy of Wisconsin on August 10, 2016, in Madison, Wisconsin.

The bi-annual award honors leadership that has provided a model of practice benefitting present and future distance education programs, instructors, students, researchers, and practitioners.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award recognizing our work in distance learning,” said Schroeder. “Charles Wedemeyer is the founder of modern distance learning - his values are ones we carry forward at UIS. This recognition puts us in a small, elite group of leaders and innovators in online and distance learning nationally.”

Schroeder is a nationally recognized leader in the field of online learning and is the current director of the Center for Online Leadership at the University Continuing and Professional Education Association (UPCEA). He regularly presents his research at national conferences and has written numerous publications about online and technology-enhanced learning. He is also the author of the popular blogs “Online Learning Update” and “Educational Technology”.

He was recently honored by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) with their Hall of Fame Award in May 2016. He was a Sloan Consortium Distinguished Scholar in Online Learning 2002-2003, recipient of the 2002 Sloan-C award for the “Most Outstanding Achievement in ALN by an Individual,” University of Southern Maine “Visiting Scholar in Online Learning” 2006-2009, and co-founder of the New Century Learning Consortium.

Schroeder was named the inaugural 2010 recipient of the Sloan Consortium's highest Individual award - the A. Frank Mayadas Leadership Award. He received the 2011 University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award. Schroeder was an inaugural Sloan Consortium Fellow and was named the 2012 Innovation Fellow for Digital Learning by the UPCEA.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Leadership lived: Graduate student gains professional and creative inspiration at UIS

Courtney Cox loves to express her creativity through the written word. The graduate English major is focusing on digital publishing at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Cox is the managing editor of “The Alchemist Review”, the literary journal on campus, and “Uproot”, a national online magazine she started with two other UIS students.

As part of the Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI), she works off campus for the non-profit Energy Education Council. In that role, she puts her writing skills to use as a communication specialist writing press releases and marketing material.

“The GPSI program is really great because it funded my way through my master’s program and also provides a stipend,” said Cox, who is vice president of the GPSI Student Association. “It’s a really great experience for me to get professional work alongside my graduate degree.”

Faculty members in the UIS English Department have fueled Cox’s passion for writing and have helped her to hone her creative abilities.

“UIS has taught me that leadership is about pursing all of my passions,” said Cox. “I’ve been able to balance my professional career, alongside my creative and critical endeavors. I think that ultimately being true to myself has really pushed me forward at UIS.”

The English Department recently funded a trip to Los Angeles where Cox and five other UIS students attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference. There she met professional writers from around the world.

“It was really interesting to see those communities beyond the Midwest and beyond anything I have experienced up to this point,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, Cox plans to pursue a Ph.D. in English and hopes to eventually inspire others as a college professor.

“I absolutely love school and I’ve had so many great experiences at UIS,” she said. “I want to have the kind of influence on others that my professors have had on me and really inspire students to read, write, learn and think about the world critically.”

Friday, August 05, 2016

UIS Library Dean Pattie Piotrowski named the Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year

Pattie Piotrowski, university librarian and dean of library instructional services at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Brookens Library, has been named the Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year by the Illinois Library Association (ILA).

The award, presented by the ILA Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries Forum, recognizes an Illinois librarian who is making an outstanding statewide contribution to academic or research librarianship and to library development. The award is sponsored by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois.

“It is an honor to be recognized by my colleagues in Illinois academic libraries,” said Piotrowski. “To have fellow librarians and library staff support me is truly humbling. As I glance over the list of past recipients of this prestigious award, I am quite honored to join them. Any success I’ve had is due to many colleagues, friends, and family members who have shown support, given mentoring and shared humor, and I thank them all.”

Currently the President of ILA, Piotrowski has been an active ILA member since 2003 and has distinguished herself through her service to the Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries (IACRL), ILA and the Illinois library community in general. As an active member of IACRL, Piotrowski participated in conference planning duties for three IACRL conferences, including serving as chair of the 2014 conference planning committee. She also served on the IACRL executive board from 2012-2015, as Vice President/President-Elect (2012-2013), President (2013-2014) and Past President (2014-2015).

During her tenure with IACRL, Piotrowski worked to create a more engaged and tangible environment for its members, including bringing the ILA lobbyist to speak at the IACRL Luncheon at the annual ILA conference, coordinating the IACRL booth at ILA conferences, and coordinating new-member recruitment efforts.

In presenting the award, the ILA stated “Piotrowski strives to create environments in which everyone—from students to administrators—not only feels welcome but also understands that they are part of a community that is dedicated to the enrichment of students’ lives. Piotrowski emphasizes that at higher education institutions, faculty, staff and administrators should be constant in their connection to their communities by remembering the significance of their roles.”

The Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year Award will be presented at the Awards Luncheon held on Tuesday, October 18, during the 2016 Illinois Library Association Annual Conference in Rosemont.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Leadership lived: Student enjoys helping others get healthy

Megan Boerwinkle loves to lift weights and workout. At the University of Illinois Springfield, she’s helping others get fit as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer.

Boerwinkle, a criminology & criminal justice major, has taught a variety of classes for UIS Campus Recreation and is planning a future career in the fitness retail industry.

“I love helping and influencing people to live a healthier lifestyle,” she said. “It’s exciting for me to see a person change from starting workouts to months later when they feel better.”

As a transfer student, Boerwinkle attended an on campus career fair where she learned about the opportunity to teach classes at The Recreation and Athletic Center (TRAC).

“When I first started teaching group fitness classes and personal training, I was a little bit shy and nervous in my classes and now I’ll hoot and holler and it’s a lot more fun,” she said.

Before she teaches a class, she must write out the workouts she wants to do, think about the equipment involved, set it up and pick out the musical playlist.

“Music is a huge part of it, keeping people motivated,” she said.

Boerwinkle credits the professional staff with Campus Recreation for helping her to “get out of her bubble” and engage with more people on campus.

“Being a UIS employee with Campus Recreation has really taught me about leadership by meeting different groups of people,” she said. “I’ve met so many different people that I would have never met, if I had not come to this school.”

Boerwinkle currently works at the Scheels sporting goods store in Springfield. Following graduation from UIS, she plans to become a shop manager at the Johnstown, Colorado store. She credits her success to the education she’s obtained at UIS.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunities here from getting involved on campus, to your classes and just that smaller school feel is definitely worth it,” she said.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Leadership lived: Future librarian jump starts her career at UIS

Even as a little girl, Taylor Vazquez knew she wanted to become a librarian. Now, the English major is getting an early start on her career goal by working as a student manager at Brookens Library at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“My freshman year I saw they were hiring and said ‘let’s go for it’ and I got it,” she said. “It’s probably been the best decision I’ve ever made here at UIS.”

As a student manager, she oversees fellow employees, opens and closes the library and answers advanced research questions from patrons. She says the best part about the job is helping someone in need.

“It’s really just rewarding hearing a thank you from someone,” she said.

Vazquez is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program where she also serves a peer mentor. She is fiction editor for "The Alchemist Review", the UIS English Department's Literary Journal, and is a founding member of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society Chapter.

“The amount of opportunities that have been given to me is absolutely unreal,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d ever be where I am right now without UIS. There’s so many resources here and people who want to help you succeed and get ahead with your future.”

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to earn her master’s degree in library information science and begin her career as a librarian.

The Chicago-native is thankful that she chose UIS because of the personalized attention she’s received and the quality education.

“I really like the smallness of the school and being able to have a close one-on-one relationship with my peers and professors,” she said.

Reflecting on her years at UIS, she remarked that she’s “100 percent happy at UIS.”

“I can’t see myself anywhere else. I’m so happy here,” she said.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Leadership lived: Student orientation coordinator helps new students discover UIS

Kylah Foster-Griffin fell in love with the University of Illinois Springfield during a campus tour in high school. Now, the communication major is helping other students discover all that UIS has to offer as a student orientation coordinator.

Foster-Griffin began working as a student orientation leader during the summer of 2015. This year, she was promoted and now supervises almost 20 fellow students.

“It’s a big step,” she said. “I’ve never had to supervise anyone before in my life.”

Members of the orientation staff are responsible for organizing introductory events for all incoming freshmen, transfer and graduate students. They give campus tours, speak at orientation events and make sure new students get connected to the resources they need.

“I really enjoy meeting new faces, new people,” said Foster-Griffin. “I enjoy talking to parents, letting them know what I’ve been through at UIS and telling them that their student can also be successful.”

On campus, Foster-Griffin serves as the traditions chair for the Student Activities Committee, helping to plan UIS Homecoming and Springfest. She also recently served as west side secretary for the Residence Housing Association.

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to pursue her master’s degree and find a job in the higher education administration field.

“I’m very excited for these next two years of my life here at UIS,” she said. “I just can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me.”