Thursday, August 17, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student finds passion for public service at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield political science major Yaw Kesse of Chicago has a passion for public service.

Kesse has spent the summer interning at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services in Springfield where he works in the Bureau of Collections. He credits UIS for the internship opportunity saying it has helped prepare him for his future career.

“I’ve learned how to better present myself,” he said. “I’ve learned communication skills and how to interact with the public. I had an advanced training where I learned about customer service.”

At UIS, Kesse is a member of the Upsilon Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He was previously involved in Student Activities Committee (SAC) and served as host for the 2016 UIS Homecoming Pep Rally.

“UIS has taught me that leadership is very important,” he said. “Coming into UIS, I really wasn’t engaged too much in high school.”

He recommends that future UIS students get involved on campus in order to gain valuable leadership experience.

“For any student who is coming to UIS, I feel like you should just really get yourself acclimated and join student organizations and do as much as possible,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Kesse plans to continue his career in public service and hopes to find a job with the State of Illinois. He says he’s grateful for the opportunities he’d had at UIS.

“I’m very satisfied that I came to UIS,” he said. “These past four years have been quite remarkable for me. I’ve grown as a person and as an individual and learned a lot.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

UIS Chancellor wins bid on Illinois State Fair Grand Champion ice cream made in Eureka

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch was the winning bidder of 3 pounds of Uncle Bob’s Homemade Ice Cream at the Governor’s Sale of Champions at the Illinois State Fair on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

The ice cream, which is manufactured in Eureka, Illinois, was named the Illinois State Fair Grand Champion in the ice cream category. Koch bid $600 to win the grand prize-winning blackberry ice cream.

According to their website, Uncle Bob's Homemade Ice Cream opened on July 10, 1980, at the Heart of Illinois Fair. Uncle Bob's now has a permanent location in Eureka where fresh ice cream is made year round.

Koch plans to donate the champion ice cream to the University of Illinois Springfield to be served at a special event on campus.

The Governor’s Sale of Champions is held each year at the Illinois State Fair on Agriculture Day.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Leadership lived: Future doctor loves mentoring new UIS students

University of Illinois Springfield senior Ashley Osuma loves to share the knowledge she’s gained from her four years on campus with incoming freshmen.

Osuma is a peer mentor for the Summer Bridge Program, a two-week on-campus living-learning experience for first-year students who need additional academic support and college preparation.

“As a peer mentor, we counsel students through things they might be going through, help them with their homework and answer any questions they may have,” she said.

During the Summer Bridge Program, Osuma, an O’Fallon, Illinois native, spends several hours each day socializing with the students and helping them prepare for college.

“I love getting the chance to interact with students and pass on wisdom that I may have not had at the time I was a freshman and just give them a different perspective,” she said.

During Fall Semester 2017, Osuma will continue to mentor the Summer Bridge students as a resident assistant (RA) in Lincoln Residence Hall and as a peer mentor for Students Transitioning for Academic Retention (STARS).

“My main important advice for the students is to stay focused on your school work,” she said. “Remember your ultimate goal and what you want to do for yourself and get involved with things that will help you with that goal and keep you focused on it.”

On campus, Osuma is also president of the Tau Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the historian for the Pre-Health Society. She says she’s learned many important lessons from her leadership roles on campus.

“All my experiences have taught me that everyone has different backgrounds and we all see the world through different eyes,” she said. “I also feel to be a good leader you have to know how to be led.”

As a biology major, Osuma is concentrating her studies in the pre-medicine field. Following graduation from UIS, she plans to go to medical school and become a dermatologist.

“I’m glad I chose UIS for all of the great people I’ve met,” she said. “I’ve had a great experience with the campus and love the small class sizes.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

UIS professor part of a research study that finds new biological sequencing method less effective

Michael Lemke, professor of biology at the University of Illinois Springfield, is part of an international research team led by the American Museum of Natural History that has found that a next-generation DNA sequencing method is less effective at microbial diversity description than originally thought.

Next-generation sequencing has given biological scientists the ability to sequence millions to billions of small fragments of DNA in parallel, revolutionizing the field.

In a study, published this week in the Nature research journal “Scientific Reports”, scientists compared two next-generation sequencing techniques – called amplicon and shotgun – on water samples from four of Brazil’s major river floodplain systems. Less than 50 percent of phyla—a category for a very broad group of related organisms—identified via amplicon sequencing were recovered from shotgun sequencing, challenging the belief that shotgun recovers more diversity than amplicon-based approaches. Amplicon sequencing also revealed about 27 percent more families.

“It is not a matter of setting back sequencing research,” said Lemke. “Sequencing is an amazingly effective tool for understanding what exists in the microbial world, but every tool does not fit the need for every job, and here, we really have a variation on the same tool. Many parts of microbial world remain unknown, and the unknown portions are even more mysterious when there are less studies, for there are less data that has been contributed to building a database.”

Lemke, through a collaboration with the Universidade Estadual de Maringá in Brazil, helped collect samples and extract DNA used for the data in the present study. He was on site to collect water samples from the Amazon and Paraguay Rivers during two trips in 2011 and 2012. These samples, along with those from the other river systems, were sequenced using both amplicon and shotgun methods.

“In the case with the Brazil large rivers study, the study that came out represents evidence for a ‘better’ way to use the sequencing tool in this case,” said Lemke. “You can think of the work led by Michael Tessler and Mercer Brugler as having two different (sequencing) flashlights used to look into the microbial black boxes we retrieved from Brazil. It turns out that the amplicon flashlight shed double the light into the box than the shotgun flashlight.”

Lemke’s work continues as a research associate for the American Museum of Natural History with the DeSalle Lab, part of the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics.

“I’m preparing the last samples from a nine-year study on The Nature Conservancy’s restoration project at Thompson Lake (located near the Emiquon Preserve in Fulton County) to take to the Museum for sequencing yet this summer,” he said. “Application of sequence technology is a big issue in our work.”

Other researcher partners included in the American Museum of Natural History study are the City University of New York (CUNY), Weill Cornell Medicine and Instituto Cesumar de Ciȇncia, Tecnologia e Inovação.

This study was supported in part by the Korein Foundation, the Gerstner Family Foundation, the Irma T. Hirschl and Minque Weill-Caulier Charitable Trusts, the Bert L. and N. Kuggie Vallee Foundation, the WorldQuant Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant #OPP1151054), and the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development.

For more information, contact Michael Lemke, UIS professor of biology, at 217/206-7339 or

Leadership lived: Student helps manage UIS Brookens Library

As a student manager at Brookens Library, Andrew Koontz, a senior University of Illinois Springfield computer science major, makes sure that patrons find the resources they need. He also trains new student workers and is responsible for special projects.

“The most rewarding part about working at the library is the feeling you get after helping someone, whether it be a patron that comes in, a student or a fellow worker,” he said. “It’s just a really great feeling helping someone achieve what they want to do.”

Koontz, who is from Belleville, Illinois, has worked at the library for the past year and a half and worked his way up to the student manager position. It’s the first time he’s ever held a management position.

“If a student worker needs help with a patron or gets asked something they don’t know they’ll come to me or another supervisor for help,” he said.

As a computer science major, Koontz likes to point out that Brookens Library not only offers books, but online databases for students to take advantage of while doing research.

After he graduates from UIS, Koontz wants to continue to work with computers and possibly become a software engineer.

“As long as it involves my major and I get to work with computers I’ll be happy,” he said.

Koontz chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of the right-sized supportive community. He says he came from a smaller higher school and didn’t want to attend a large university.

“UIS has many services and opportunities for students that really helps them feel welcomed into the school. I think this is a great school,” he said.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Leadership lived: Resident assistant helps students feel at home

Da Zhane' Sinclair says the University of Illinois Springfield “feels like home” and the friends she’s made on campus are like family.

Sinclair, a senior accountancy major, is a resident assistant (RA) on campus and mentors fellow first-generation college students as part of the Necessary Steps Mentoring Program.

“I enjoy being an RA because I am a people person, so communicating with people and helping them is why I became an RA,” she said.

As an RA, Sinclair regularly plans social events to help her fellow students feel welcome. She recently hosted the “Sip and Craft” event where students living on campus over the summer and Summer Bridge Program students came together to make crafts using boards, nails and yarn.

Sinclair, who is from Chicago, attended a charter high school where she got individual attention from teachers on a smaller campus. At UIS, she feels she’s getting the same level attention.

“Like my charter school, I can communicate with my professors here and build relationships. It’s like a family,” she said.

Being an RA has taught her many lessons about communicating with others, crisis mediation, event planning and budgeting for events.

“UIS taught me that you have to jump outside the box,” she said. “You have to stand out and be the first person to raise your hand, even if at times you don’t want to.”

Following graduation from UIS, Sinclair would like to open her own non-profit that helps women and children. She feels well-prepared by her UIS education.

“I’ve been able to do things that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do,” she said. “I never pictured myself being an RA. I never pictured myself actually doing things that I’ve done so far.”

Friday, July 21, 2017

UIS professor co-edits new book exploring gender quotas in three major South American countries

Adriana Crocker, professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, has co-edited a new book titled “Gender Quotas in South America’s Big Three: National and Subnational Impacts” with Gregory Schmidt, professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso and Clara Araújo, professor and researcher at the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

The book focuses on gender quotas in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. Since the return of democracy to Latin America, policies intended to promote the inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups have been increasingly adopted in the region. In particular, gender quotas have been one of the most popular and effective mechanisms employed in elections and other contexts in Latin America.

“Gender quotas provide women with a means to secure their participation in legislatures and have been employed worldwide,” said Crocker. “Their adoption in Latin America was influenced by both domestic and international phenomena.”

In the book, Crocker and her co-editors explore quotas at both national and subnational levels, and compares and contrasts the experiences of gender quotas in these Big Three countries of South America (by area) with respect to their adoption and their impacts in terms of both descriptive and substantive representation. This book also deals with current trends in quotas, including parity systems in Latin America, and explores the prospects for parity adoption in Latin America.

“Overall, this book presents three South American case studies of quota systems, expands on the literature regarding the impacts of gender quotas, and examines the prospects for the political representation of women in the national and subnational legislatures of Argentina, Brazil, and Peru,” said Crocker.

The book was published by Lexington Books and can be purchased as either a hardcover or an electronic book from various retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Google.

For more information, contact Adriana Crocker, UIS professor of political science, at 217/206-8329 or

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

UIS Legal Studies professor writes a new book about the dangers of for-profit law schools

Riaz Tejani, an assistant professor of legal studies at University of Illinois Springfield, has written a new book called “Law Mart”. The book was published by Stanford University Press and released on July 18, 2017.

In the book, based on extensive field research and interviews, Tejani argues that the rise of for profit law schools shows the limits of a market-based solution to American access to justice. Building on theories in law, political economy, and moral anthropology, Tejani reveals how for-profit law schools marketed themselves directly to ethnoracial and socioeconomic "minority" communities, relaxed admission standards, increased diversity, shook up established curricula, and saw student success rates plummet.

“They contributed to a dramatic rise in U.S. law student debt burdens while charging premium tuition financed up-front through federal loans over time,” said Tejani. “If economic theories have so influenced legal scholarship, what happens when they come to shape law school transactions, governance, and oversight?”

Tejani explores whether there is a need for protections that better uphold institutional quality and sustainability, while offering an unprecedented, in-depth glimpse of this landscape.

The book is available for purchase from Stanford University Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other websites.

For more information, contact Riaz Tejani at 217/206-6561 or

Friday, June 30, 2017

Leadership lived: Love of music brings international student to UIS

Music has been a part of Yu Shao’s life since she was six-years-old. That’s when she first started playing the Guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument with thousands of years of history.

“I love the voice, I love the tune so much,” she said. “It’s a 21 string instrument. It gives you a lot of flexibility to create your own music or focus on the composer’s music to express yourself.”

Shao says it was her love of music that brought her to the University of Illinois Springfield where she is majoring in accountancy and is a Camerata Music Scholar. She regularly sings with the UIS Chorus and plays in small ensembles.

Shao is vice president of the Student Accounting Society and helps other international students adjust to campus life as a student worker for the Office of International Student Services. She answers student questions over the phone and by email and helps plan important events.

“I highly recommend UIS to the international students because our campus is super fun,” she said. “We have a lot of traditional activities that are fun for the international student to get involved in, such as Springfest and the International Student Festival.”

Shao admits that it was a challenging transition to leave China and come to the United States. However, she says she now feels at home at UIS.

“My English was poor when I came here, but I got enrolled in Intensive English Program classes for one semester and it really helped me to get involved in American culture and to get to know more about English,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, Shao would like to stay in the United States and pursue her master’s degree and find a job in the business field.

“I think the biggest things I’ve learned from UIS is take advantage of any challenges,” she said. “I believe that if a thing doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you at all.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student helps future Prairie Stars transition to college

The first time Marquiera Harris visited the University of Illinois Springfield she felt so welcomed that she instantly knew that UIS was her perfect fit. Now, the social work major is helping other students make the transition to UIS as an orientation coordinator.

“I love this campus,” she said. “It’s beautiful and definitely feels like home away from home. The professor’s care, they want you to get involved and I try my best to be involved.”

As a student orientation coordinator, Harris supervises 18 student orientation employees and helps to coordinate social media operations. On the day of orientation, she is responsible for supervising the help desk for new students and their parents.

“I make sure everything is going smoothly at the help desk in the mornings and make sure that students get to where they need to be,” she said.

UIS holds a total of six orientations for new students in June, July and August, which often means that Harris is working 50 to 60 hours a week to make sure everything goes as planned.

“We always get comments that ‘everything ran so smoothly’ and I’m always amazed because they don’t see the stuff that goes on behind the scenes, the little hiccups, but we make sure they don’t see it,” she said.

Harris says she has learned many lessons about leadership by supervising fellow student employees, many of whom she is friends with after hours.

“It’s been an amazing experience, stepping out of my comfort zone and taking the initiative to be a leader,” she said.

On campus, Harris also serves as the organizational liaison for the Research Society at UIS where she helps to plan events. She recently presented her academic research at the Midwestern Psychological Association meeting in Chicago and at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Memphis, Tennessee.

“UIS has been an amazing fit for me,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a great pay off in the end.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns hands-on lessons from summer internship

University of Illinois Springfield senior Information Systems Security major Justin Brown is making the most out of his summer by interning at Horace Mann’s Security Operations Center in Springfield. He helps monitor, review and take action on abnormal web or email traffic that might be coming through the network.

“This internship is providing a lot of hands-on experience,” he said. “I’m taking a lot of the theories and practices I’ve learned in my courses at UIS and actually putting them into application here at the company.”

Brown says he enjoys working in the cyber security field because of the challenge.

“It’s really a big challenge, especially because you have to stay on top of all of the new attacks that happen almost daily,” he said. “I really enjoy stepping up to the challenge.”

On campus, Brown is a member of the Computer Science Club and the Christian Student Fellowship (CSF). He’s also part of the UIS Prairie Stars cross country and track and field teams. He was one of the first students to join the cross country team when it started in 2015.

“I really enjoy being a part of a new team and really being able to step up into a leadership role for the new members that may come on throughout the years and really kind of show them the ropes of what it means to be a collegiate runner,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Brown plans to find a full-time job in the information systems security field.

“Overall, my UIS experience has been pretty great,” he said. “Being able to be a part of the student-athlete body as well as part of the overall campus in general is just great. It’s definitely been everything I wanted in a campus.” 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Leadership lived: Future lawyer finds passion for volunteering at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield legal studies and political science major Payton Roberts loves volunteering with children on and off campus.

At UIS, she is the volunteer coordinator for the Lee Elementary Homework Club. She and other UIS students travel to the school weekly to help kids with their homework and teach them about different cultures from around the world.

“I love getting to walk into the classroom every week and just seeing the kids’ faces light up and know that you’re making a difference, no matter how little it may seem,” she said. “One hour a week or an hour and a half a week to us, it means the world to these kids.”

Roberts has also spent the past two summers volunteering with kids in Israel. She’s also spent a summer interning in Washington, D.C.

As a legal studies major, she serves as the vice president of the Pre-Law Society and works in the Pre-Law Center. She is also the undergraduate student representative for the UIS Legal Studies Department. She is also a member of the UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program.

Roberts said UIS has taught her that leadership “starts from the bottom” and that everyone can be a leader, no matter their role.

“The volunteers and people making a difference behind closed doors, those are the true leaders,” she said. “The people who don’t get recognized. I think those are the people that UIS really values the most.”

Roberts recently accepted a new internship with the Illinois Legislative Research Unit at the Illinois State Capitol. Following that internship, she plans to attend law school.

“I feel like I’ve been really blessed,” she said. “I came to a really good school that’s helped me find things that I’m passionate about and work those into the career that I want to have some day.”

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Leadership lived: Student leads effort to maintain UIS Community Garden

The first time biology major Daniel Rodriguez volunteered at the University of Illinois Springfield Community Garden he wasn’t sure what to expect. However, he soon found himself having fun tending to the garden and watching it grow.

Rodriguez is now leading the effort to maintain the garden over the summer as the project coordinator. It’s a paid student position where he works 20 hours a week.

“My daily responsibilities include watering the plants, making sure no animals get inside, pulling weeds and organizing volunteers,” he said.

The UIS Community Garden was started by a group of students and Assistant Professor Megan Styles in 2016. It is located just north of the historic Strawbridge-Shepherd House on the UIS campus. The garden provides locally grown food to the campus community.

“Harvesting is not stealing here, so as long as you’re helping out with the garden and want to stop by and take a few plants after everything is grown you’re more than welcome,” said Rodriguez.

During the school year, Rodriguez is also active as a member of the TARA Meditation Club, the Biology Club and plays on the dodge ball team.

When he’s not tending to the garden, Rodriguez works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a Springfield nursing home. Following graduation from UIS, he plans to continue his education in the medical field and become a physician assistant.

However, he says he’ll never forget the lessons he’s learned about leadership at UIS.

“UIS taught me that leadership is not only a one man job,” he said. “You definitely need help from others in order to have a leadership role. You’re taking on the responsibility, but you’re also giving them the responsibility and you’re here for them as well.”

Rodriguez, a Joliet, Illinois native, says he would recommend UIS to others because of the academic quality and the opportunities available to students on campus.

“It may not be the biggest campus, but it’s where we all get together and make long-lasting bonds. It’s just a heck of a time to be at UIS.”

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns about other cultures by studying abroad

Before enrolling in classes at the University of Illinois Springfield, Abbegayle Stevenson had never traveled outside the country. Now, she’s traveled to five countries in Europe and is about to embark on a summer study abroad trip to Croatia.

“I actually decided I wanted to study abroad when I came for a campus visit before I even started coming to UIS,” she said. “I stopped at the study abroad table and it just seemed so interesting.”

Stevenson, a social work major at UIS, spent the past 9 months studying abroad in Trollhättan, Sweden at Högskolan Väst (University West).

“It was weird at first, because I was so used to coming to UIS, but once I landed in Sweden I could already tell it was going to be a different atmosphere and it was,” she said. “We would have 10 week courses and that was it, so I only had 3 or 4 courses, but it was spread out throughout the semester.”

The shorter classes allowed Stevenson to have time to travel around Europe. She traveled to Norway, Italy, France and Spain and saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum. She also made a lot of friends along the way.

“I created some Swedish friends and they helped me out with where to go and places to see,” she said. “They were just all around great friends and I can’t wait to go back and visit them.”

At UIS, Stevenson is a founding member of the Chi Chapter of the Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc. and is a member of the Leadership for Life Service Organization.

Following graduation from UIS, she wants to earn her master’s degree in social work and eventually work for the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS).

However, before she graduates, she plans to continue to travel and experience new cultures by studying abroad. She encourages other UIS students to take advantage.

“People say they found themselves when they studied abroad. I can honestly say that I think I did,” she said. “I grew as a person and as an individual.”

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bryan Rives named the next director of the UIS Sangamon Auditorium

Bryan Rives, a performing arts center manager with more than 30 years of experience, has been named the next director of the University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium. Rives will hold the title of director designate during a transitional period from July 3 to September 30, 2017, and will assume the director title on October 1, 2017, following the retirement of current director Robert Vaughn.

“I am excited to be returning to the great State of Illinois,” said Rives. “The University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium is not only a beautiful venue for the campus and greater metro area, but the current director and staff have put together a fantastic season of events for the upcoming year which I expect will bring out record attendance. Continuing to schedule great seasons of diverse events and ensuring there is something for everyone at UIS’s Sangamon Auditorium is something I am very much looking forward to."

Most recently, Rives has served as tour manager/company manager at Talmi Entertainment where he was responsible for the USA/Canada Moscow Ballet Nutcracker Tour, an 8 week 43 city USA/Canada bus & truck tour with 45 traveling personnel. He also served as a production manager for Celebrity Cruises in Miami, Florida from May 2014-October 2016 where he provided overall production management for on-board alternative-performance venues.

He has worked as a company manager for VEE Corporation / Blue Star Media / VStar Entertainment from where he managed a variety of US and US/Canadian tours including “Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival” arena tour (2015), The Pro Football Hall of Fame “Honor the Heroes” tour (2015), and “Discover the Dinosaurs – Unleashed!” tour (2016). From 2012-2014, he managed his own company Applause Management Group, based out of Bloomington, Indiana, where he provided marketing consulting services to performing arts organizations.

From 2007 to 2011, Rives served as the director of event services at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where, as part of the executive team of the University’s Executive Director of Administration, he oversaw the department of SIU Event Services, which included the University’s performing arts center, Shryock Auditorium, the University’s regional ticketing system, Southern Tickets Online, and the staff responsible for marketing and/or providing technical support for major non-athletic events on campus.

He has also served as chief operating officer for the Michigan Opera Theatre / Detroit Opera House; director of the James H. Whiting Auditorium in Flint, Michigan; executive director of the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri – St. Louis; and general manager at the Indiana University Auditorium.

“The search committee was impressed with Mr. Rives’ vision for the future, and his ideas for utilizing new technology resources to lead the auditorium to even higher levels of engagement with faculty, staff, students, patrons and donors,” said James Ermatinger, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Rives earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in theatre production from the University of Texas at Austin, and a master’s degree in business from the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About Sangamon Auditorium, UIS

Located on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield, Sangamon Auditorium hosts more than 120 performances annually. Home to the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Springfield Ballet Company, it is the only auditorium of its kind and size in the Springfield area, with a seating capacity of 2,018. Sangamon Auditorium, UIS continues to fulfill its mission of presenting and supporting varied cultural and educational professional arts activities to audiences in Springfield, Sangamon County, and the surrounding areas. The Auditorium administrative offices can be reached at 217.206.6150 or by email at

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Leadership lived: Student becomes environmental advocate at UIS

Growing up on a family farm in central Illinois, the outdoors has always been a part of Marissa Jones’ life. Her passion of nature and the environment led her to the University of Illinois Springfield where she is majoring in environmental studies.

At UIS, she is employed as the Campus Sustainability Projects Coordinator where she helps to organize suitability events on campus. She is also the co-president of the student organization Students Allied for a Greener Earth (SAGE).

Jones recently helped to organize a waste audit on campus where students collected campus trash, sorted it and calculated the amount of waste that could have been recycled.

“It is a messy job, but we can get really beneficial results,” she said. “The goal is to try and look at the data and notice that we’re not recycling as much as we could be and try to influence a change in behavior.”

Jones said she’s passionate about sustainability and the environment because she wants to help prevent climate change. She believes UIS has already taken many steps in the right direction, but she wants the campus to do even better.

“Here on campus we have the new student union that’s going up and that has a big green and energy efficient vibe,” she said. “We’re just wanting to spread that vibe all across campus.”

As a student leader, Jones has learned many lessons about leadership, however the biggest lesson she’s learned is how to be a team player.

“Being a leader sounds like an individual position, but being a leader also involves getting help from outside sources,” she said. “That’s what also makes you a leader, being able to compromise and work with other people well.”

Following graduation from UIS, Jones said she would like to continue her environmental advocacy and find a career where she can work outdoors.

She’s proud of the work she’s done at UIS.

“I chose UIS because it’s a nice local campus and it was very diverse and small,” she said. “I felt like I could personally leave an impact on UIS and come back and see my impact later on.”

Friday, May 19, 2017

UIS professor to study a historic women’s conference during a summer seminar in Texas

Hinda Seif, University of Illinois Springfield associate professor and chair of the Department of Women and Gender Studies, was recently selected for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Seminar at the University of Houston.

Seif is one of two dozen NEH summer scholars from around the country who will spend a week exploring 20th century U.S. history through the lens of the National Women’s Conference, which was held in Houston in 1977.

The 1977 National Women’s Conference was the only federally funded conference of its kind in U.S. history. Approximately 130,000 elected delegates participated in the lead-up state conventions. The main conference in Houston created a National Plan of Action to present to then President Jimmy Carter.

The NEH Summer Seminar will explore overarching themes in the conference including political/party realignment, states’ rights, the Vietnam War and many other subjects.

At the 1977 Conference, participants debated key issues that faced over 50 percent of U.S. population, such as women’s role in the military, equal rights, child care and the family, reproductive rights and sexual orientation. Women who attended included Rosalyn Carter, Betty Ford and Coretta Scott King.

“In 2017, these issues are as important as ever,” said Seif. “Participating in this NEH seminar will energize my women’s studies courses. It’s a great opportunity for me to work with faculty from across the country.”

The conference will address issues that Seif is writing about from her recent sabbatical research on Diana Solís, a Chicana Mexicana artist and activist from Chicago who participated in and photographed women and their organizing efforts in her Pilsen neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s.

The NEH Summer Seminar runs from June 12-18 at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas.

Two alumni inducted into the first class of the UIS Management Information Systems Hall of Fame

The Management Information Systems (MIS) Department at the University of Illinois Springfield inducted two alumni into its inaugural Hall of Fame class on Friday, May 19, 2017. The event also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the MIS program at UIS.

The Hall of Fame honors alumni who have made significant contributions to their fields, their communities and society as a whole. The Hall of Fame recognizes MIS alumni who serve as an inspiration for the next generation of students.

The two Hall of Fame inductees were Natasha Conley, a 1994 MIS graduate, and Eugenio “Gene” Fernández, a 2007 MIS graduate.

Conley serves as the Vice President of Professional Services & Resources, Inc. (PSRI), a family owned business which was incorporated in 1987. Conley also serves as President of PSRI Technologies, LLC (PSRI Tech), which she founded in 2001. PSRI Tech’s headquarters are located in Jefferson City, Missouri and has a branch office in Metropolitan St. Louis.

Her company is a United States Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) graduate and holds a number of state minority and women owned business certifications. Her company’s core services include staff augmentation (information technology/administrative and clerical), help-desk operations and project management.

Over the years, her company has worked with a number of high profile firms which include, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Xerox, NTT Data, TATA Consultancy Group, CGI, Deloitte, Motorola and Unisys to name a few. She has a number of state clients including the governments of Missouri, New York, Maryland and Rhode Island. Conley’s company has worked with the United States Army and currently works with the U.S. General Service Administration.

One of her most notable projects was with the American Management Systems (now CGI). They implemented the first state-wide Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for the State of Missouri. It was one of the largest IT projects ever outsourced by the State of Missouri and its contract value was approximately $100 million. Her company managed a team of 50 developers which provided systems integration support, business analysis and post implementation training.

Conley is currently a Ph.D. student at Case Western Reserve University. In addition to her UIS master’s degree, she earned a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Central Missouri State University. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Fernández is chief technology officer (CTO) at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) in Memphis, Tennessee. As CTO, he is responsible for developing the information technology infrastructure strategy; operational areas of responsibility include: wired/wireless infrastructure, enterprise architecture, network management, telecommunications and data center technical services, desktop support, the project management office and information security.

He is also responsible for providing leadership in the development, implementation and governance of MLH’s information systems and technology infrastructure domains.

Fernández has more than 30 years of experience as a healthcare information management bilingual executive. Prior to joining MLH, he served as chief information officer at L.A. Care Health Plan in Los Angeles where he was responsible for providing leadership in the development, implementation and governance of the organization’s information systems and technology infrastructure. His career includes information technology leadership positions with the Department of Defense, as an active duty commissioned officer in the Navy Medical Services Corps. He served as CIO at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. He has also worked for Sparrow Health System, Accident Fund Insurance Company of American and for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Healthcare Consulting Practice.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University and a second master’s degree from Purdue University, in addition to his UIS master’s degree. He is board certified in healthcare management as a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and holds a Certified Healthcare CIO (CHCIO) designation by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

The UIS Management Information Systems program has more than 1,000 alumni worldwide. In fall 2016, the program enrolled more than 450 graduate students in the on-campus and online degree programs.

UIS Visual Arts Gallery announces its summer Enos Park artist-in-residence

The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery has partnered with the new Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists to award a funded summer residency and solo exhibition. After a review of a competitive applicant pool that represented national and international applicants, German-born and San Francisco-based artist Astrid Kaemmerling has been awarded the opportunity.

Kaemmerling will be in residence at the Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists from June 9 through July 28. Her exhibit at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, “Walking Enos Park: Who is your neighborhood?” will open with a reception on Wednesday, June 28 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will run from Wednesday, June 28 through Friday, July 28. The UIS Visual Arts Gallery is open for the duration of the exhibit on Saturday afternoons from 12 to 4 p.m. or throughout the week by appointment.

While in residence, Kaemmerling will develop a new project to support her exhibit: the “Enos Park Community Walking Laboratory”. She is seeking participants -- local artists, Enos Park residents and residents of Springfield -- to walk with her in Enos Park from June 11 through July 28. The “Enos Park Community Walking Laboratory” sets out to provide artist and local residents opportunities to exchange information about the neighborhood. While meandering the streets of Enos Park, artist and community members will engage in conversations about the past, present and future of the district with a specific focus on arts & culture. Meet Kaemmerling for a 1 hour walk through your neighborhood, show her around and tell her who your Enos Park is and moreover what resources you think artists may need in this district. Reach her via email at to set up a walking appointment.

Kaemmerling is a German-born artist, scholar and educator based in San Francisco, California. Her work as an interdisciplinary artist spans the genres of visual, performance and media art and strives to connect place memories of the past, such as collected travel experiences, with a critical exploration of specific neighborhoods and selected urban places.

Kaemmerling has been exhibited internationally in Germany, Italy, Korea and the United States. Her work has won several awards and fellowships, such as at the Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto (Italy) and the Vermont Studio Center (Vermont). She is the founder of The International Community of Artist-Scholars, a community of artists who work at the intersection of art & research, as well as founder of The Walk Discourse, a Bay Area based laboratory for walking artists and walking enthusiasts to share walking art methodologies, practices and tools. The interest in interdisciplinary collaboration has led her to the School of Interdisciplinary Arts at Ohio University where she received her Ph.D. and completed a dissertation on walking art. Her writing has been published in peer-reviewed journals and publications.

The UIS Visual Arts Gallery is centrally located on the UIS campus in the Health and Science Building, room 201 (HSB 201). For more information on exhibition programming, please visit the UIS Visual Arts Gallery website at, or email Amanda Lazzara at

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Leadership lived: Cricket team captain leads team to first national victory

Growing up in India, Saiprasad Bhosle never expected that he would play more cricket in the United States than he did at home. However, as the captain of the University of Illinois Springfield Cricket Club intramural sports team he got that chance.

“Cricket is basically my life,” he said. “It’s the way I keep myself fresh, fit and it is somehow related to my life all of the time.”

Bhosle recently graduated with a master’s degree in Management Information Systems. While he was at UIS, he led the UIS Cricket Club team to its first national victory in the American College Cricket Tournament over Florida Tech. It’s the first time any UIS intramural sports team has ever won a game during a national competition.

"The second match we got all of our acts together - all three departments, batting, fielding and balling where we scored 171 runs,” he said. “We had 8 players in the top 50, so that was the biggest achievement with respect to UIS."

As an intramural supervisor for UIS Campus Recreation, Bhosle was also responsible for planning home cricket matches with other Midwestern colleges and universities. His mission was to education everyone on campus about his favorite sport.

“My work is to make cricket a game known to everyone across UIS, not only Indians,” he said. “I just want it to be internationally recognized by all the students on the UIS campus.”

Bhosle says he decided to attend UIS because of the quality academic programs and because of the cricket team. He feels he’s giving back to UIS through his work with the cricket team.

“It’s not just that I’ve taken something from the University of Illinois Springfield, in respect to the education and facilities they’ve provided, but I’ve helped create a platform for UIS to explore themselves in the field of cricket, to put more effort into the field of cricket for students who are here, so they come up, participate, and play on different levels.”

Following graduation from UIS, Bhosle plans to continue to play cricket for clubs and seek full-time job opportunities in United States.

“You never know. Anyone can be a champ and anyone can participate in USA national teams,” he said. “You never know. Anything can happen.”

Friday, May 12, 2017

UIS staff and students honored at the Railsplitter Public Service Awards Ceremony

UIS graduate student Scott Kinsell, UIS Clinical Assistant Professor of Public Administration Betsy Goulet and UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership Associate Director Barbara Ferrara at the awards ceremony.
A University of Illinois Springfield staff member and two students were honored by the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) at the Railsplitter Public Service Awards Ceremony on May 11, 2017, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

Barbara Ferrara of Springfield, associate director of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership, is the recipient of the 2017 Railsplitter Award for Public Service. The annual award pays tribute to public servants whose careers exhibit the highest standard of excellence, dedication and accomplishment to the ultimate benefit of the public.

“It is a great honor to receive the Railsplitter Award, a perfect cap to my career,” said Ferrara, who will retire on June 1 after a 41-year career in public affairs research and service at UIS.

Among her accomplishments is the successful Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series that she helped establish and has coordinated since 2002. She also co-directed the creation of the Illinois Channel, the state’s version of C-SPAN that was launched in 2003. Ferrara played a major role in the Illinois Civic Engagement Project conducted by Illinois Issues magazine for the United Way of Illinois in 1991. At UIS, she has planned over 40 public events, including two national conferences related to state government.

The UIS students honored with Outstanding Student Public Service Awards include Scott Kinsell of Springfield, a graduate student in the public administration program, and Amy Leman of Forsyth, a student in the doctorate of public administration program. The students were selected by UIS faculty for their academic and community service achievements.

The awards ceremony was held in celebration of National Public Service Recognition Week. For more information, visit the Central Illinois ASPA chapter website at

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Leadership lived: Student discovers passion for medical research at UIS

As an undergraduate biology major at the University of Illinois Springfield, Abigail Norville has been heavily involved in a major medical research project.

Norville has been working with UIS faculty members and other students to study Hepatitis C, a viral blood born pathogen, in the central Illinois homeless population. The students traveled to homeless shelters in five cities where they tested the population for the disease.

“We wanted to determine if there was a higher prevalence within the homeless population compared to the general population,” said Norville. “Our research has shown that there’s a 15.35% greater prevalence within the homeless population.”

Norville is the winner of the Brookens Library Undergraduate Research Award and was recently chosen to present her research at the Illinois State Capitol during University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Day. She shared her findings with lawmakers and others visiting the seat of state government.

“It feels good to let people know, legislators know, how prevalent this is and how big of a problem and burden this is on the general public,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know about Hepatitis C, even though it is more prevalent than HIV and kills more people than HIV.”

Off campus, Norville works as a chief medical scribe for HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield and HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield. She also regularly volunteers at HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

She is also the secretary for the UIS chapter of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society and is a member of the UIS Biology Club. Following graduation from UIS, Norville would like to go to medical school and become a doctor.

“I like working hands on, one-on-one with people and I would definitely love to be a doctor for underrepresented communities, such as the homeless,” she said.

Norville admits that she never though her research on Hepatitis C would help shape her future.

“Once I started working with it, I realized just how important it was, but I still didn’t think it was going to be important enough to go to the state capitol and as I moved forward, I was like ‘this is really important,’” she said.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Two UIS Computer Science students finish in the top 25 in a national cyber security competition

Two University of Illinois Springfield computer science majors have finished in the top 25 out of 2,077 competitors in the National Cyber League (NCL) competition. The virtual event was held April 21-23, 2017.

Team captain Austin Bransky of Marengo, Illinois, an information systems security double major, finished 18th and Bhavyanshu Parasher of Gurgaon, Haryana, India finished 21st.

During a second competition, held April 28-30, 2017, a team of UIS students finished 6th out of 138 teams nationwide.

During the competition, students defend systems from 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.

“Overall the NCL season was extremely successful, and was a great learning experience for everyone involved, old and new,” said Bransky.

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 Brian-Thomas Rogers, visiting instructor of computer science, at 217/206-8165 or

UIS faculty members receive awards for teaching and service; promotions and sabbaticals announced

The University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Faculty Honors Reception on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Jim Ermatinger presided over the ceremony honoring faculty members who have been recommended for tenure and/or promotion, been awarded sabbaticals, or granted emerita/emeritus status. Four major awards – the Pearson Faculty Award, the Spencer Faculty Service Award, the Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award and the Faculty Excellence Award - were also presented.

The Faculty Excellence Award was given to Scott Day, professor and chair of the Educational Leadership Department. The award recognizes mid- and late-career colleagues who best exemplify the ideal of the teacher-scholar and whom the faculty recognizes as role models, based on sustained accomplishments in teaching and scholarship at UIS. The award is funded through the generosity of Wilbur and Margaret Wepner.

During his eighteen years on campus, Day has consistently maintained high scores that exceed the college and university averages on the standard evaluation of teaching instrument.

“Based on the student letters in his file, it is clear that Day has a reputation for rigorous course expectations, but at the same time, develops a caring, professional relationship with his students,” said Hanfu Mi, dean of the UIS College of Education & Human Services. “Many of his students have gone on to become community leaders as school principals and superintendents in the area.”

In the area of scholarship, Professor Day has focused his research agenda on online teaching and learning issues, a school law reference book for principals, and school district reorganization. Over the course of his career at UIS he has co-authored three books, seventeen journal and book chapters, and presented forty-five peer-reviewed papers at international, national, and state conferences. His work on using peer review and analytics to improve online courses has been cited forty-two times by other researchers since publication. His co-authored work on design-based approaches to improving online courses and pedagogical approaches to massive open online courses (MOOC’s) brought the research team international recognition for their papers presented in Finland, Scotland, and Ireland.

Day came to UIS in 2000, was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2006, and was promoted to the rank of professor in 2014. In 2010, Day received the Pearson Faculty Award which recognizes excellence in teaching.

The Pearson Faculty Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Amy McEuen, associate professor of biology. The award recognizes a faculty member whose performance exemplifies UIS’ commitment to excellence in teaching and who stands among the very best teachers on campus. Such a teacher both informs and inspires students, giving them the knowledge and values with which they may become productive and enlightened citizens. The award was established by a gift from Dr. Emmet and Mary Pearson, longtime benefactors of the campus.

Since coming to UIS, McEuen has taught seven different courses for lower division undergraduates and upper division graduates. She has developed six different courses targeted to a range of students. Even though McEuen teaches to a wide audience of students and teaches a variety of courses, she consistently maintains strong teaching evaluations. McEuen uses multiple approaches such as simplicity, engagement, interaction and active learning to help her students master complex subjects and cultivate their passion for the material.

In his nomination letter, James Bonacum, UIS associate professor of biology, said “being in the classroom with Amy makes me feel like a student again. She reminds me of the joy and excitement I experience in the classes that I took with the very best teachers I had. I think Amy ranks among the best instructors I have ever seen.”

McEuen was recognized by her peers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who awarded her the CLAS Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

The Spencer Faculty Service Award was given to Jorge Villegas, associate professor and chair of the UIS Business Administration Department. Honoring Robert Spencer, founding president of Sangamon State University, this award recognizes faculty who best exemplify the ideal of the “professor-citizen” through public service and service to the academic community.

Under Villegas’ leadership, the Business Administration Department has added three new BBA program concentrations in marketing, finance and sport management. In addition to his responsibilities as department chair, since 2015 Villegas has also served as the chair of the economics program and has served as the director of the college-wide MBA program. His college-level service includes his work as adviser of the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society for business students. Villegas has been very active in campus governance, serving on campus senate as well as the University Senates Conference. He has served on a number of important campus and system search committees, including co-chairing the search committee for the vice chancellor of academic affairs & provost.

Villegas also has an admirable record of community and professional service. He has worked with students and community members in support of healthcare literacy. For example, he has been part of the SIU-UIS Camden Coalition Healthcare Hot-Spotting Project, initiated in summer 2015, to help vulnerable populations get access to medical services that they need. As service to the profession, he has been on the editorial board of the “Journal of Advertising Education” since 2011, and has been a reviewer for several journals and conferences in his field.

Cheng-Chia (Brian) Chen, assistant professor of public health, was honored with the Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award. The award was established by Burks Oakley II, who helped launch UIS’ online programs and was also in attendance at the event The Oakley Award recognizes UIS faculty members whose performance exemplifies the institution’s commitment to excellence in online teaching.

According to his nominators, Chen strives to provide a student-centered learning environment because he thinks that students can engage with learning at a much deeper level when the instructor focuses on students’ needs, capabilities, learning motivations, and interests, as well as creates learning resources that provide diversified learning tools and activities for students.

“Chen successfully demonstrates that he has integrated seamlessly the active learning, problem-based learning, and interactive learning strategies to create a comprehensive and inclusive educational experience for online students,” said Hanfu Mi, interim dean of the UIS College of Public Affairs & Administration.

Chen’s teaching evaluations and student testimonials regarding their experiences in his online courses provide telling details about the long-lasting, positive impacts on them.

“Dr. Chen’s dedication and ability to reach students by creating an online learning environment that successfully nudges students to actively engage with the courses on their own is remarkable,” said Mi.

Recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor were Mark Buxton, Accountancy; Meagan Cass, English & Modern Languages; Shane Harris, Art, Music, & Theatre; Stephen Johnson, Chemistry; Brian Kahn, Teacher Education Preparation; Holly Kent, History; Ann McCaughan, Human Development Counseling; Kay McChesney, Social Work; Gary Reinbold, Public Administration; Ann Strahle, Communication; and Benjamin Walsh, Management. Roghieh Gholami, an associate professor in Management Information Systems, was also recommended for tenure.

Recommended for promotion to full professor were Adriana Crocker, Political Science, and Xiaoqing Li, Management Information Systems. Lynn Pardie, Psychology, received the designation of professor emerita.

Sabbatical leaves were granted to Kristi Barnwell, History; Michael Burlingame, History; Michael Cheney, Communication; Heather Dell, Women & Gender Studies; Sibel Oktay Karagul, Political Science; Jorge Villegas, Business Administration; and Junfeng Wang, Public Administration.

All promotion, tenure, sabbatical leave, and emerita/emeritus status recommendations are subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Leadership lived: Future nurse learns important lessons at UIS

Karen Seegers grew up in a small town and knew she wanted to attend a university where her professors would know her name. She’s glad she chose the nursing program at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I’m really happy with the small class sizes and the really nice people around,” she said. “It’s just an amazing community.”

Seegers enjoys helping people and wants to work as an emergency flight nurse and eventually become a nurse practitioner.

“I want to become a nurse because I want to be able to give patients hope,” she said. “I want to be a support system for their families and make sure they have a comfortable stay and be an interpreter between the doctor and what they understand.”

Seegers calls her UIS Nursing Program education “extraordinary” and has already taken classes in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and organic chemistry.

“I’ve had the best professors so far,” she said. “My professor, Mr. Holland, he’s my anatomy and physiology professor, he just obviously wants us to succeed and he does everything in his power that he can for it to happen.”

Seegers admits that the classes are hard, but she says she’s learning a lot and feels well prepared for her career as a nurse.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be,” she said. “A few of my family members have been through it and they said it was difficult, but it’s extremely difficult. It should be.”

At UIS, Seegers is also part of the Leadership for Life living-learning community. It is a service and leadership program for first year students located in Lincoln Residence Hall. Students are required to complete 40 hours of service each semester.

In October 2016, Seegers and a group of 25 other students traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to help flood victims clean up their homes. The students stripped homes down to the studs, so they could dry out, and removed personal belongings damaged by the flood.

“It was really hard,” she said. “We were just taking all of the stuff out of their house and we were talking to the homeowner and he was obviously devastated with everything that happened. We got to save some of his stuff, but a lot of it we didn’t get to save at all. It was really upsetting.”

Seegers plans to use the compassion she’s learned from volunteering to help better understand and treat her future patients.

“I want to be able to show them compassion and everything for what they’re going through,” she said. “I want to provide them support and help them throughout their journey.”

Monday, May 01, 2017

UIS Clinical Laboratory Science students win first place in statewide competition

The University of Illinois Springfield Clinical Laboratory Science Program took first place in the Student Bowl competition at the annual American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science - Illinois state meeting held in East Peoria the week of April 17, 2017.

The Jeopardy-like competition featured ten teams from colleges and universities around the state. Questions were based on the body of knowledge for clinical laboratory science including: clinical chemistry, hematology, coagulation, microbiology, blood banking and immunology, lab skills and urinalysis, mycology parasitology and virology.

UIS students participating on the team include Jennifer Angelo of Jacksonville, Jennifer Faulkner of Pleasant Plains, Anna Kozlov and Lindsey Stevens of Springfield and Taylor Huber of Quincy.

Aside from the Student Bowl competition, the week-long conference included the election of new state officers. UIS student Jessie Sheffield from Springfield was chosen to serve as the organization’s president for the 2017-2018 term. UIS student Jennifer Minton of Springfield was elected to serve as secretary.

William Wilson, UIS assistant professor and acting chair of the Department of Allied Health, accompanied the students to the professional conference.

The UIS bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science provides exciting opportunities for individuals with an interest in science who wish to pursue a career in a health/medical profession or other laboratory-related field.

Friday, April 28, 2017

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch named a Woman of Influence in Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch has been named one of the six Security Bank and Springfield Business Journal (SBJ) Women of Influence for 2017, as announced by the SBJ. She will be honored during a reception on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

The 14th annual program honors local women for their contributions to the Springfield area community. Winners are selected by an awards committee.

“Knowing so many women who are previous recipients of the Women of Influence Award, I am deeply honored to be among this year’s recipients,” said Chancellor Koch.

As chancellor, Koch is the chief executive officer of the Springfield campus. She also serves as a vice president of the University of Illinois and is a member of the U of I president’s cabinet.

Koch has been part of the greater Springfield community since 2011 when she was appointed chancellor. She has led the campus in a reaffirmation of its strategic plan and in building consensus around three strategic priorities: growth, talent acquisition and retention, and facilities. The campus has increased enrollment, enhanced diversity and seen a new branding and marketing strategy: Leadership lived. All of this has had a positive effect on the greater Springfield community, while creating significant local economic growth.

Koch has led the successful completion of the Brilliant Futures Campaign, which surpassed its local goal of $28 million and set new expectations for fundraising success. She is currently leading an initiative to build UIS’s first student union, which should be completed in early 2018. Koch has also led efforts to beautify UIS by securing private funding for a Shakespeare garden featuring a sculpture of “The Bard” in addition to a prominent, original sculpture of Abraham Lincoln in the heart of the campus.

Outside of her responsibilities at UIS, Koch serves on the United Way of Central Illinois Board of Directors and is a member of the Memorial Medical System Board of Directors. She has also been actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce serving on both the Strategic Leadership Committee and the Community Leadership Committee. She has previously served on The State Journal-Register First Citizen Award Committee and the Illinois Bankers Association Banker of the Year Award Committee.

Koch is married to Dennis Koch, a farmer and president of Koch Angus Farms.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

UIS professor uses current events to spark diverse discussions in the classroom

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Political Science Ali Nizamuddin, Ph.D. is using current events to encourage discussions of potentially polarizing issues among his students. 

“What I’ve tried to do in the classroom is bring together a diverse range of students, not just diversity in terms of ethnicity, religion or language or background, but disability as well. It means ‘the way I look the world is very different,’” he said.

Nizamuddin teaches a range of courses within the political science department and often has students from China, India and African countries in his classes. 

“That really helps when you have this setting, where each (student) is trying to share that person’s experiences, and contributing to the classroom,” he said.

Nizamuddin said he tries to have diverse discussions in all of his classes. He begins by teaching students to approach controversial topics with the premise that the other side is right.

“I’m trying to bring a diverse range of thoughts and opinions and tackling ideas and concepts analytically with empathy,” he said. “To me, the most important thing in the classroom is empathy. That is the general approach, trying to handle diversity in terms of a diversity of thoughts and opinions and in terms of trying to cultivate empathy so that we can try to experience the other person.”

Nizamuddin said he does not suppress opinions that could be construed as racist, and that he teaches and also requires an etiquette of disagreement.

“You have to respect (students) and show that you are neutral and their opinion also matters,” said Nizamuddin. “There’s a lot that other people have to teach us. If we have a receptive heart and mind then we will be open to the internalization of knowledge.”

He said the more intimate class size on the UIS campus lends itself to meaningful discussions and debate between students.

“It allows me to benefit and learn from them too,” he said.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Leadership lived: Future TV news reporter gets experience at UIS

Beatrice Bonner loves to talk and inform people. Ever since working at a radio station in high school, she’s wanted to become a TV news reporter.

Bonner is a junior communication major and a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. This semester, she’s taking a visual storytelling class where she’s learning what it takes to put together a story.

“We come up with story ideas. It’s like being in a newsroom,” she said. “We get to pitch them to our classroom and then we go out and shoot, we interview people and then we come back into the lab and we edit.”

Bonner says she wants to be a journalist because she enjoys keeping people informed about important issues happening in their community.

“I just like being able to get information out and help people because if we didn’t have TV news or reporting, people would know nothing,” she said.

Outside of the classroom, Bonner is the vice president and a founding member of the Alpha Phi Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She also serves as membership intake coordinator.

“That means that I helped encourage these ladies to join,” she said. “I do interviews, I teach them information that they needed in order to be part of the sorority. I’m kind of like their mom.”

Bonner says she feels well prepared for her future thanks to her UIS education.

“UIS has taught me in order to be a leader you have to go and get it,” she said. “Nobody is going to sit and baby you. You have to work for it.”

Monday, April 24, 2017

Good as Gold Ceremony honors over 60 local volunteers and businesses

The University of Illinois Springfield, Junior League of Springfield and the United Way of Central Illinois honored more than 60 local volunteers and businesses during the 9th annual Good as Gold Ceremony. The event was held on Monday, April 24, 2017, at the UIS Public Affairs Center.

Distinguished Volunteer Award 

Long-time Memorial Medical Center volunteer Patty Stremsterfer was honored with the 2017 Distinguished Volunteer Award.

Stremsterfer was a young wife and mother of three, when a friend encouraged her to volunteer at Memorial. Forty-four years later, she still gives four hours a week to the 6C ICU cardiac area and has logged more than 8,000 hours of volunteering. She is one of the hospital’s most committed volunteers.

“It’s just where I should be,” she said.

Stremsterfer spends time with family members or friends of patients undergoing cardiac procedures and sometimes the patients themselves. For her, it has a special importance. Both she and her husband have undergone open heart surgery, so she understands and empathizes with the people she meets.

I love people,” she said. “I’m a people person. If I can be there when a patient’s family can’t, it feels good.”

Stremsterfer also volunteers her time creating educational dolls with fabric organs, sews “angel pockets” for families suffering a perinatal loss and serves her church by hosting card parties, coordinating events and fundraisers, serving luncheons and making blankets for members of the congregation.

The 2017 Distinguished Volunteer finalists include Les Carlson, Alfred Hampton and Scott Dickerson.

UIS Star Student Award

UIS student Matt Haury was honored with the Star Student Award for his volunteer efforts in the community. Haury began working with the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in December 2015 prior to the store’s relocation to 6th Street. Almost daily, Haury performs pickups, brings in donations and places items on the floor. He also leads other volunteers in helping the store with a number of tasks including assembling shelving and reorganizing the back end.

“Matt would make an effort to come in almost daily,” said Josh Gordon, manager of the ReStore. “His help allowed us to bring in more donations, as well as get those items on the floor for faster resale.”

Haury said it is the combined work of all volunteers and staff that make the ReStore successful.

UIS Star Staff Award 

Beverly Bunch, professor of public administration at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored with the Star Staff Award for her volunteer efforts with the United Way of Central Illinois.

Bunch has served as Community Fund panel chair as well as on the Community Impact Committee of the United Way Board, the Venture Funds Committee, and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program Committee.

In her decade of service there, she has given thousands of hours of her time, including more than 250 hours in the past year alone.

“I have always been enthusiastic about United Way, and I was very excited when I had the opportunity to work with them,” said Bunch. “I really believe in their cause.”

Youth Volunteer Award

Springfield High School senior Russell Moore III was honored with the Youth Volunteer Award. Moore serves as president of several youth organizations including; the Sigma Beta Club of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., the Springfield Frontiers Youth Development Program and the American Legion Illinois State Junior Police Academy. He works as guide at the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site, participates in Civil War reenactments and serves at the St. John’s Breadline. He has taken up collections for the Salvation Army and co-hosted a Kwanzaa celebration.

Upon graduation, Moore plans to seek a degree in computer programming and possibly join the Marine Corps Forces Reserve. He said his goal in life is to see his generation not only succeed, but be a positive example.

Heart of Gold Community Awards

Forty-one local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: Dan Babor, Gina Bausch, Lindsay Bentivegna, Jewel Bishop, Angie Black, Valerie Bolinger, Jack E. Carder, Evelyn Carder, Devin Dreesman, Randy Ginder, Pete Graham, Gwyn Gurgens, Neill Howey, Tom Hutchison, Alicia King, Kerry King, Don Klues, Matt Lamsargis, Donald Landry, Toni LaVigne, Robin Loftus, Marilyn Markus, Connie Matthews, Lynn McMenamin, Traci Moore, Robin Patton, Sonya Perkins, Roger Priestley, , Waldo Richie, Penny Roth, Sara Shaffer, Debra Singer, Dave Slaughter, Barbara Spiro, Jill Waltman, Christine Weisbaum, Evan & Courtney Westlake, Lisa Williams, Jan Wilson and Joyce Wilson.

Organization Agent of Service Award

The winner of the 2017 Organization Agent of Service Award is Central Baptist Church. Led by Pastor Josh Sabo, the church has created a partnership with Graham Elementary School nearby. The church congregation is instrumental in volunteering to run the school’s library as well as the after-school program and has given 3,000 hours this year alone.

The church also holds two large events each year, involving about 75 percent of their congregation. The Graham Christmas Gift Mart benefits more than 100 children each year and more than 1,000 meals are either delivered or served at the church for their Thanksgiving meal deliveries. Both events benefit the James Project and Contact Ministries.

Business Honor Roll 

A total of 25 Sangamon County businesses were named to the Business Honor Roll sponsored by the UIS College of Business and Management and supported by The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. The honor roll recognizes businesses that have made giving back to our community a priority.

Three businesses were listed at the top of the honor roll as Golden Distinction Winners; Security Bank, Heartland Credit Union, and Bank of Springfield.

Other businesses making this year’s honor roll include Ameriprise Financial - Steven Koch; Duggins Design Center; Gem PR & Media; Terry Farmer Photography; West Central Bank; Illinois Realtors; Kerber, Eck & Breckel; Orthopedic Center of Illinois; President Abraham Lincoln Springfield - A DoubleTree by Hilton; Troxell; Brandt Consolidated Inc.; Bunn-O-Matic Corporation; Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc.; Horace Mann Companies; Illinois National Bank; Marine Bank; Memorial Health System; RSM US LLP; Springfield Electric Supply Company; United Community Bank; U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo Funding.

For more information about the awards, please visit, email or call 217/ 206-7716.

Springfield architect Paul O’Shea honored for Outstanding Advocate Leadership

The University of Illinois Foundation today announces Springfield native and long-time resident Paul O’Shea as the recipient of the 2017 William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership.

The award will be presented at the UIS Celebration of Philanthropy on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at UIS. The U of I Foundation is the fundraising arm of the University of Illinois.

A licensed architect who recently retired as planning and design coordinator for the City of Springfield, O’Shea has received many awards for his community service, including the 2012 First Citizen Award from The State Journal-Register.

O’Shea has been a tireless advocate for the University of Illinois Springfield. His greatest service has been as an ambassador building relationships between Springfield and UIS.

“The university represents an asset to Springfield that is hard to describe,” O’Shea said. “It has a major impact on our region and the city. Both the university and the community benefit when we come together.”

O’Shea works behind the scenes to encourage financial support for UIS by suggesting fundraising events, helping to plan them and inviting people to attend. He has inspired many to give through his outspoken confidence in UIS and his and his wife’s giving.

He began providing financial support for UIS in 1998 and through the years has given often to many university funds, especially for athletics. In 2012, O’Shea began funding athletic scholarships, and more recently he and his wife, Lynne, have made a generous gift in support of the UIS Intercollegiate Baseball Program Field Turf Project.

The William E. Winter Award, named for the late CEO Emeritus of the 7-Up Company and a longtime member of the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors, celebrates individuals who play active roles in securing private support for the University of Illinois.

Past recipients of the William E. Winter Award include W. Robert Felker, Pamela McClelland, Cullom Davis, Bob Clary, Leonard Branson, Thom Serafin, Tom Marantz, Julie Kellner, Guerry Suggs and Michelle Suggs (deceased); Howard Humphrey (deceased), James Lundquist (deceased), and Clifford Greenwalt.

For more information, contact Jeff Lorber, UIS vice chancellor for advancement, at 217/206-6058 or email

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Barbara Cass wins the 2017 CAPE Award

Barbara Cass, an online program coordinator for the University of Illinois Springfield’s Business Administration Department, is the winner of the 14th annual Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award. The award was presented by Chancellor Susan J. Koch during a ceremony on April 12, 2017.

Cass joined UIS nearly 20 years ago in the Center for Teaching and Learning and Ombud’s Office. She also served as the online coordinator for the English degree program prior to moving the BBA program eleven years ago.

Her passion for online learning has been demonstrated as she assisted in developing an articulation agreement with the College of Lake County for a seamless transition from lower coursework to the UIS online BBA program. She was instrumental in the successful AACSB reaccreditation for the College of Business and Management. She serves on the steering committee for COPE-L (Community of Practice for E-Leaning), which works to share best-practices related to e-learning. She stays current on best practices by attending distance education conferences and having regular meetings with other online coordinators and COLRS (Center for Online Learning, Research and Service).

“Countless numbers of our students have told me how Barbara has been the key to enabling them to complete their degrees,” said one nominator. “What better testament to her contributions could there be?”

Currently Cass is assisting with the STAMATS/Slate pilot program for online lead nurturing.

“This will not only benefit her program, but will pave the way for other online programs to adopt best practices,” said one nominator.

Cass has also served in many other capacities across the university including, as an adjunct faculty assisting in facilitating the UIS Speakers Series, the Employee of the Month selection committee, as an advisor to the Provost for the University of Illinois System’s Conflict of Commitment & Interest Policy, and also as a long-time member of the CAPE selection committee.

“It is good that she is no longer on the CAPE Committee so that we can finally nominate her,” said a nominator.

The CAPE Award recognizes U of I academic professionals for their efforts in three general categories: work projects, professional development and affiliations, and contributions to their units. The winner receives $500 in cash for personal use.

All academic professionals are eligible to receive the CAPE Award; nominations are reviewed by campus committees and candidates’ names are forwarded to the chancellor, who makes the final selections.

Others nominated for the 2017 CAPE Award include Lori Benedict, Vickie Cook, Sean Crawford, Mae Noll, Chris Ryan, Donna Schaub, Robin Vansacik and Ryan L. Williams.