Thursday, November 15, 2018

Leadership lived: UIS gives sophomore the chance to work on statewide political campaigns and lead on campus

Political Science major Andrew Cunningham is only in his second year at the University of Illinois Springfield, however he’s already been a part of at least four political campaigns, including a statewide governor’s race.

On campus, Cunningham is the internal vice president for the Student Government Association (SGA), the vice president of the College Republicans, a member of the Student Advocacy Coalition, Campus Senate and is a Capital Scholars Honors Program member and peer mentor.

“Because UIS is a small campus, I’m able to get involved in things I wouldn’t be able to as an underclassman,” he said. “Being a part of SGA is something that most people probably don’t get to do until they’ve really been there a long time. I did that starting as a freshman. That’s something I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else.”

As the vice president of the College Republicans, Cunningham recently took part in a political debate with members of the College Democrats. The students debated a variety of issues that they believe are important.

“I think the debate gave people the opportunity to see two perspectives and make their own decisions,” he said. “People who agree were able to have their voices heard and then people who disagreed were able to hear something they might not have heard before.”

Cunningham, who is from Decatur, Illinois, says he’s always been politically active.

“I like politics because it allows me to get involved and actually make a difference and not just be a bystander because everybody wants to talk about the news and what goes on in our world, but really being involved in politics gives you a hand in the action,” he said.

Cunningham says he’s learned many lessons about leadership at UIS, including that actions sometimes speak louder than words.

“I think that UIS gives people a unique experience because when we talk about leadership at UIS, it’s not just putting words on papers, it’s actually putting things into action whether it be Student Government, whether it be Student Advocacy Coalition, whatever it is, being a mentor,” he said. “It allows me to live leadership, which is why I enjoy being at UIS because it’s more than just talking. It’s doing.”

Following graduation from UIS, Cunningham plans to attend graduate school and start a career as a legislative aide. He’s also considering a career in public relations or political journalism.

“I’m very happy I came to UIS,” he said. “It’s the place for me. It’s provided me the opportunities I need and I think it’s really preparing me for the next stage in my life.”

Thursday, November 08, 2018

UIS Superintendent of Grounds Brian Beckerman wins the 2018 CARE award

Brian Beckerman, superintendent of grounds for Facilities and Services at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been awarded the 2018 Chancellor’s Award to Recognize Excellence in Civil Service (CARE). Chancellor Susan J. Koch announced the winner of the award during a breakfast on November 8, 2018.

The award is the highest honor annually awarded to a Civil Service staff member at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Beckerman has been part of the UIS grounds staff for the past 18 years. His nominator describes him as a “self-starter and consummate professional with a tireless work ethic.”

In his role, Beckerman is responsible for managing 746 acres of University property, including water habitats, natural and synthetic turf sports fields, gardens, trees and native grass areas.

“No matter the weather and more often than one would think - no matter the time of day or day of week, Brian gets the job done,” said his nominator. “He truly understands the need for the campus to always look like we’re ‘open for business’ and the importance the campus’ image has on recruiting and retaining students, faculty and staff as well as visitors to campus.”

This past summer, on his own initiative, Beckerman led his grounds team in the building of a pond for Japanese Koi on the east side of the quad. As the Governor's Mansion completed a large scale makeover of their landscape and no longer had a place for their 14 Koi, he saw the opportunity and worked with the Governor Mansion’s staff to have them donated to UIS. The pond includes a small waterfall, stream and wide variety of water garden plants.

Over the past year, Beckerman reorganized the grounds unit, which has streamlined work assignments and oversight. According to his nominator, Beckerman excels in is his attention to detail in the budgeting and management of funds allocated to his department.

“Brian’s efficient and cost effective use of very limited resources, use of recycled materials (e.g. old cigarette butt containers, reuse of demolished concrete, tree waste into wood chips, etc.) and equipment have ‘stretched the dollar’ enabling significant improvements to the University’s grounds despite significant reductions in state funding,” said his nominator.

Beckerman recently started a program to reinforce the campus’ roadway shoulders with compacted gravel to lessen the deterioration of the asphalt edges and to improve appearances. He’s also led the effort to plant 86 new trees on campus over the past year, reconstruct the sand volleyball court in Rec Park, re-landscape and develop the east side of University Hall and assisted in the installation of benches on the quad.

“I am greatly honored that someone thought enough of my contributions to nominate me for this award,” said Beckerman. “I have been here for almost 19 years and I'm not sure I will ever really want to retire. UIS is an amazing place!”

Other Civil Service employees nominated for the award include: Melisa Hatch, Human Resources associate; Chris Hilscher, culinary worker for UIS Food Service; Nikita Hutchings, customer service specialist for University Student Financial Services & Cashier Operations (USFSCO); Connie Komnick, assistant program director for the Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center; Carol Marshall, admissions & records representative; Jamie McGill, building service foreman; Pam McGowan, staff clerk for the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program; Erich O’Connor, program coordinator for Brookens Library; MarieJoy Roberts, program/student advisor for the Accountancy Department; and Justin Rose, program/student advisor at the Diversity Center.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Leadership lived: UIS Tennis player “steps out of her shell” to help people in need and support international students

Tennis player Mae Flight, a global studies major, says the University of Illinois Springfield has taught her to be more outgoing and seek out leadership roles where she can make a difference.

“I’m a serious introvert, so since coming to UIS I have stepped out of that shell and I’ve put myself in a lot of leadership roles and just put myself out there to get myself comfortable with meeting new people and speaking in public,” she said.

At UIS, Flight is co-president of the Habitat for Humanity Club where she spends time helping with building projects in the Springfield community.

“I like being involved with Habitat because for me it’s a way to give back to the community, she said. “I am a very hands on person. I like to meet the people that we’re building this house for because they’re so grateful and it’s that feeling when they have smiles on their face.”

Flight also helps newly arriving international students feel at home at the University of Illinois Springfield as an International Student Ambassador and by working in the Office of International Student Services.

“We are here as liaisons in a way between domestic students and the international students,” she said. “I’m super invested in other cultures. I love learning languages.”

Flight decided to come to UIS because she was recruited to play on the UIS women’s tennis team. She started playing the game when she was only 10-years-old.

“I think tennis and even being a student-athlete in general has helped me since being in high school because it helped me become organized with my life and knowing that I did have something else besides school,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, the Charleston, Illinois native would like to teach English as a second language to elementary school students.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Leadership lived: Nursing student becomes a leader on the UIS campus

Darlene Steinkamp has a passion for caring for people. That’s why she came to the University of Illinois Springfield her sophomore year as a pre-nursing major. She then applied and was granted admission to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Springfield Regional Campus bachelor of nursing program her junior year.

“Everything we do is at UIS,” she said. “Our classes are at UIS, our professors are at UIS. We do clinical at Memorial Hospital in Springfield.”

As a senior in the UIC Nursing Program, Steinkamp has been very involved on the UIS campus. She is the co-founder and vice president of Legion of Ladies, a student organization created to empower women on campus. The organization is now in the process of possibly becoming a chapter of the Tri Sigma sorority.

“I saw this opportunity and I knew I always wanted to be in a sorority,” she said. “I knew since I was younger. Last August, we started with 13 girls in my townhouse and you know we were kind of packed in there, but now we’re at 39 members.”

On campus she is also the social chair of the Student Nurses Association and works as a student ambassador for UIS Admissions where she helps prospective students learn about the University.

Steinkamp credits her success in the classroom to the small class sizes and hands-on instruction that she receives as a student in the UIC Nursing Program.

“Our instructors really care how we’re doing and what we’re doing. They want to help us,” she said. “It’s really hard course work, but at the end of the day you push yourself harder and also when you’re learning you apply it to clinicals.”

Following graduation with her bachelor’s degree in nursing, Steinkamp plans to apply for the doctor of nursing practice program that is part of the Springfield Regional Campus. She hopes to one day become a nurse practitioner.

“Nursing is all about being a leader,” she said. “You know, taking charge, being the person to be able to make a decision and I’ve really honed my leadership skills here at UIS.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

UIS names new director of economic development and innovation in an effort to spur local business growth

The University of Illinois Springfield has named Springfield-native Bruce Sommer as its new director of economic development and innovation. Sommer will serve as the lead facilitator in UIS’ efforts to spur local business growth in the Springfield area as a hub of the Discovery Partners Institute and the Illinois Innovation Network (DPI-IIN).

Sommer will work with local business and community partners, linking the region with the wide array of economic and educational resources and opportunities being created by the DPI-IIN within Illinois and beyond. Sommer will foster the development of local partnerships to create the capacity for Springfield to be a vital and sustainable hub in the statewide network.

“This hiring, coupled with the acquisition of Innovate Springfield and the announcement of Springfield as the first hub of the Discovery Partners Institute and the Illinois Innovation Network, reflects a serious and sustained commitment by the University of Illinois Springfield to advance the economic health and vitality of Springfield and the region through partnership with the state of Illinois, the city of Springfield, and local business leaders,” said Dennis Papini, UIS vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost.

Sommer has taught at UIS since 2010 as a visiting instructor in the Department of Management and has served as an executive-in-residence at the UIS Center for Entrepreneurship. He is the co-founder and chair of Innovate Springfield, a business and social incubator located in downtown Springfield that was recently acquired by the University of Illinois Springfield. Sommer is a co-founder and previously served as chair of the Sangamon CEO program, a year-long curriculum for high school seniors in Sangamon County that teaches them about entrepreneurship.

“I am looking forward to working with local business and community leaders to grow our economy by utilizing our incredible talent and new resources at UIS, as well as the Illinois Innovation Network and Discovery Partners Institute, to expand existing businesses and develop new ones,” said Sommer.

Formerly a startup entrepreneur and now an established business leader and investor, Sommer is currently a founder and managing partner of Springfield-based private equity firm NextGen Ventures, which invests in startups and mature companies. He is also a founder and managing partner at Hill-Hanover Group, a real estate investment firm based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Sommer earned his bachelor’s degree in public accounting from Illinois Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. He also worked as a research associate at the Center for Venture Research and as a fellow/lecturer at the Whittemore School.

In August 2018, it was announced that Springfield would become the first hub of the statewide Discovery Partners Institute and the Illinois Innovation Network. The new initiative, led by the U of I System, was announced last fall and is being developed to accelerate statewide job creation and economic development through groundbreaking research and innovation.

As the network’s first hub, UIS will receive $1.5 million in funding over the next three years to expand programs supporting start-up businesses, entrepreneurs and innovation that promotes the public good.

DPI will be developed in Chicago and will bring together top faculty in agriculture, healthcare, computing and other critical fields from the U of I System and partner universities. Nearly 100 new researchers also will be added, and together they will connect with hundreds of businesses and thousands of students over time, as well as with entrepreneurs and venture capital firms.

Leadership lived: Shaina Humphrey gives students a voice as their elected representative on the U of I Board of Trustees

Shaina Humphrey never planned to run for elected office, until a mentor suggested she should seek the role of student representative to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Humphrey was elected to that office by her fellow students in April 2018.

As a senior political science and legal studies major at the University of Illinois Springfield, Humphrey is active on campus as the president of the Black Student Union and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She is also co-president of the Student Advocacy Coalition.

However, it’s her role on the U of I Board of Trustees that takes up most of her time outside of the classroom. Humphrey regularly travels to UIS’ sister universities in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago for meetings, holds office hours where she listens to UIS students’ concerns and attends other functions representing the Springfield campus.

“As student-trustee, my job is mainly to stay informed about everything that goes on within the University of Illinois Springfield and through the University of Illinois System,” she said.

Humphrey also holds the added responsibility of being selected as the only student trustee from the three universities with the power to cast an official vote on the Board of Trustees. The power rotates annually between the student trustees of the three universities.

“Because I have the vote, it’s a really big deal,” she said. “It’s really important for me to stay informed not just about my campus, but about all of the campuses because I have the vote between all three student trustees.”

On campus, Humphrey works for the UIS Office of Electronic Media helping with video productions and for UIS Campus Recreation as an intramural official and facility lead. In that role, she oversees at the front desk at The Recreation and Athletic Center (TRAC).

“Working for Campus Recreation has improved my people skills,” she said. “I have people coming in and asking for all types of things and like requesting things, so sometimes I don’t know the answer, but it’s always like a challenge for me.”

Humphrey, who is from Waukegan, Illinois, says she chose UIS because of the right-sized campus.

“I decided to come to UIS because, for me, I wanted like a smaller to medium type school and this school just happened to fit what I wanted in Illinois,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to attend law school and become a lawyer.

“I feel like my experience (at UIS) is definitely life changing for me,” she said. “It’s presented me with many opportunities and allowed me to see and learn so many things I don’t think I would have ever had the opportunity to learn somewhere else or even at home.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Associate Professor of Political Science Richard Gilman-Opalsky named the University Scholar

Richard Gilman-Opalsky, associate professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been named University Scholar for 2018. 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.

Professor Gilman-Opalsky is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of political philosophy and social theory. He specializes in the history of political philosophy, continental and contemporary social theory, Marxism, capitalism, autonomist politics, postmodern philosophy, critical theory, global uprisings and social movements.

He has published a prolific record of scholarship with major university and commercial presses, and his work has been widely reviewed in professional journals and activist circles around the world.

Since coming to UIS, he has authored four books: “Unbounded Publics: Transgressive Public Spheres, Zapatismo, and Political Theory;” “Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy;” “Precarious Communism: Manifest Mutations, Manifesto Detourned;” and “Specters of Revolt: On the Intellect of Insurrection and Philosophy from Below.”

Additional publications include his co-edited volume, “Against Capital in the Twenty-First Century: A Reader of Radical Undercurrents,” published earlier this year, and numerous journal articles and book chapters. His work has been translated and published in Spanish and Greek editions. External reviews of Gilman-Opalsky’s scholarship attest to its impact and importance, as do the many invitations he receives to lecture throughout the U.S., Europe and most recently China.

“Professor Gilman-Opalsky inspires his students by exploring contentious dialogues about the power of everyday people, a theme that also runs through all of his research. His outstanding teaching is evidenced in remarkable student evaluations and in letters from his colleagues and students. In his integrative teaching and writing, Gilman-Opalsky exemplifies the ideal of the teacher-scholar,” said his nominators.

At UIS, Gilman-Opalsky has designed and taught courses including Introduction to Political Philosophy, Political Ideas and Ideologies, Democratization and the Public Sphere, Globalization and the Future of Democracy, Marxist Philosophy and Postmodern Theory: Politics and Possibility.

Gilman-Opalsky earned his doctorate in political science from The New School for Social Research in Manhattan, New York in 2006. He also earned his master’s degree from The New School for Social Research and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.

As University Scholar, Gilman-Opalsky 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.

Leadership lived: Political science major advocates for students on and off campus

As the elected external vice president of the Student Government Association at the University of Illinois Springfield, Daniel Rude is a voice for students both on and off campus. He’s responsible for reaching out to the Springfield community on behalf of UIS students.

“I think it’s absolutely critical for the student government to be the student’s voice because here on campus the whole reason that our university exists is student-based,” he said. “We’re all here to get an education and be well-rounded and engaged members of society.”

On campus, Rude also serves at the traditions coordinator for the Student Activities Committee (SAC) where he plans two of the biggest events on campus – homecoming and Springfest. He also serves as a representative on the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Student Advocacy Committee and is a member of UIS Student Advocacy Coalition.

“By advocating for my peers, I can create connections and make sure administrators are hearing the needs of our students here on campus,” he said.

Rude also gives back by serving as a Gender and Sexuality Student Services Office mentor on campus. He works as a UIS Admissions student ambassador where he gives tours to prospective students and helps coordinate events and meetings in UIS Student Union.

“I decided to come to UIS because I really wanted a small school feel, but I really wanted to be part of the U of I System,” he said. “I think that UIS offers a unique ability to be in the U of I, but also get those close relationships on campus with professors and other members of the community.”

Following graduation from UIS, the senior political science major from Round Lake, Illinois says he would like to work at the Illinois State Capitol or in Washington, D.C. doing political advocacy.

“I’ve always been very interested in politics,” he said. “Throughout my entire life starting in elementary school and up until now, I’ve served on student government in some capacity.”

Rude says he’s learned many lessons about leadership at UIS and attending the university has opened his mind to realities he never thought were possible.

“I really love UIS,” he said. “I’m very passionate about a lot of things that we have going on here. I think it’s very important for people to get invested in activates and groups because it broadens their horizons and I think that’s one of the great opportunities here at UIS.”

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Leadership lived: Graduate student finds confidence as a leader thanks to UIS

When Tommie Redmond came to the University of Illinois Springfield, as a freshmen, he thought the campus was “too small” and there wouldn’t be anything to do. He soon discovered the abundance of leadership opportunities awaiting him at UIS.

“Actually being able to put myself out there has made me realize anybody can be a leader and you shouldn’t just have one mindset,” said the Chicago native.

Redmond earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from UIS in May 2018 and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in public administration. As part of that degree, he’s interning in the programming unit at the Illinois Department of Transportation through the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI).

On campus, Redmond is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Black Male Initiative. He is also a Necessary Steps Program mentor and an orientation leader.

“I chose to be a part of Alpha Phi Alpha because of the networking opportunities and the brotherhood,” he said. “Also, I feel as if Alpha Phil Alpha has a strong presence. I know a lot of strong black men who came out of Alpha.”

Redmond says he’s most passionate about his work as a social work intern and case evaluator at the Illinois Innocence Project. At the project, he reviews requests from people who say they were wrongfully convicted of a crime and presents that evidence to attorneys.

“I think this work is important because there are a lot of people who get convicted of crimes they didn’t do and I feel everybody needs a voice and I want to serve as that advocate for people,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Redmond would like to work for the FBI as a victim support specialist or in Student Affairs on a college campus.

“I think I’ve grown in being confident in what I do here at UIS,” he said. “Being able to advocate for myself and my peers, I feel that shows great leadership.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Leadership lived: International student becomes a leader on and off of the course at UIS

When international student Maria Espinosa came to the University of Illinois Springfield from Colombia to play on the UIS women’s golf team, she knew she would grow as an athlete. However, she didn’t know she’d become a leader on campus.

Espinosa, a biology major, is a science peer tutor at The Learning Hub where she mentors fellow students. This past summer, she went on a study abroad trip to Ghana, West Africa where she helped to conduct important public health research.

“We did three projects within the communities,” she said. “The first project was water quality research, which I was highly involved with, since I’m a biology major.”

She encourages any student who gets the opportunity to take advantage of studying abroad.

“It definitely teaches you a lot about yourself, about other people and it pushes all of the boundaries or expectations that you have,” she said.

On the golf course, Espinosa has been a leader on her team, participating in super regionals since her freshman year. This year her goal is to help take her team to nationals.

“I’ve been playing golf since I was 7-years-old and it has been part of my life since as far as I can remember,” she said. “It’s a sport that gave me the discipline that I need in my everyday life.”

As an international student, coming to UIS from a foreign country, Espinosa says she has always felt welcome in Springfield.

“I could describe my experience at UIS as feeling like home,” she said. “Even though this is not my home country, completely different language and culture, I always felt welcomed by the community, by the university, all of the faculty and staff.”

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to earn her master’s degree in biomedical sciences with a specialization in clinical microbiology and immunology.

“I think coming to UIS was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career and my personal growth,” she said.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Leadership lived: International student finds her career path thanks to a unique UIS internship program

When international student Madhuri Podipireddy started searching for a college in the United States she discovered the University of Illinois Springfield’s Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI), a governmental internship program that allows students to work for a state agency while earning their master’s degree.

“My main thing was the GPSI Program, which really attracted me to UIS,” she said. “It’s a very unique program. You don’t find this everywhere in the United States.”

Podipireddy is now a leader in the GPSI program, serving as secretary of the student organization. The graduate Management Information Systems major just started her second semester interning for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services as a business analyst in the Department of Innovation and Technology.

“This internship has actually helped me to understand what I’m good at and what field I need to choose after my education,” she said.

On campus, Podipireddy is president of the Indian Student Organization and YesPlus Yoga, a program that teaches students stress management techniques and other skills. She is also the treasurer for International Student Friendships, an organization that helps international students adjust to the culture in the United States.

“Being an international student is not really a difficult task at UIS because you always have something happening on campus that will remind you of home and you will not feel alone, never, on this campus and you will always feel at home on this campus,” she said.

Podipireddy, who is from Visakhapatnam, India, says she would like to continue her career as a business analyst following graduation from UIS.

She says she’ll never forget what she’s learned at UIS.

“Leadership lived is the concept of UIS and I think because of so many organizations, I’ve been given so many opportunities to bring out the leader in me.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Leadership lived: Sophomore with a passion for volunteering helps new students feel welcome

Ben Paoletti, a sophomore political science and philosophy major, says he chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of its affordability, location in the state capital and its commitment to civic engagement.

His passion for volunteering led him to become a member of the Leadership for Life Service Program. Members complete 40 hours of service each semester and live in a service wing in Lincoln Residence Hall, where he serves as a resident assistant.

Paoletti, who is from Batavia, Illinois, recently helped new students move into Lincoln Residence Hall by carrying boxes and guiding them through the check in process.

“It’s a lot of responsibility to be a resident assistant,” he said. “Obviously there’s a learning curve because you have to account for at least 40 residents in your wing, but it’s very beneficial because you get to see the joy and happiness you can put in people’s faces.”

Paoletti is also a student project coordinator for the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center, vice president of the Alternative Spring Break student organization and is a former undergraduate senator on the Student Government Association.

“My experience at UIS has really sparked my passion for volunteerism and civic engagement,” he said.

In March, Paoletti traveled to Houston, Texas with a group of 21 UIS students as part of Alternative Spring Break. Students gutted homes that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey and cleaned up debris caused by the storm.

“Alternative Spring Break’s philosophy is to use our spring break as a way of helping people instead of vacation,” he said. “I would rather volunteer over spring break because it’s more fulfilling for me. Being able to see that I can help people is worth it.”

Following graduation from UIS, Paoletti wants to earn his master’s degree in political science and hopefully work for the city of Springfield. He’d like to possibly run for political office one day and maybe even become a mayor.

“I’m glad I came to UIS because I can be a leader on campus and I’ve created friendships and relationships that will last me a lifetime,” he said.

Monday, September 10, 2018

UIS Professor to present research on “Preventing the Next State Budget Crisis” at a Federal Reserve Conference

University of Illinois Springfield Professor Beverly Bunch, Ph.D., will serve on a panel during a one-day conference by the Volcker Alliance and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The conference, “Preventing the Next State Budget Crisis: Improving Budget Transparency to Bolster Fiscal Sustainability,” will discuss strategies for avoiding a state budget crisis, including long-term forecasting, stress-testing, and management of fiscal reserves and physical assets.

The conference is expected to draw attendance from government officials, academia, business leaders, public policy analysts and the media.

Bunch will participate on a panel that will address, “Deferred Infrastructure Maintenance: How to Measure It, How to Finance It.” She will share information obtained from her participation in a national study of the fifty states’ budget processes sponsored by The Volcker Alliance.

Bunch is a full professor in the UIS Department of Public Administration and in the Center for State Policy and Leadership. She is currently leading a team of researchers as part of a national state budget project administered by the Volcker Alliance.

“Preventing the Next State Budget Crisis: Improving Budget Transparency to Bolster Fiscal Sustainability” takes place all day on September 17, 2018, at the Chicago Federal Reserve.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Feng-Shun “Leo” Bin named the PNC Distinguished Professor at UIS

Business Administration Professor Feng-Shun “Leo” Bin has been named the PNC Distinguished Professor in Banking & Finance at the University of Illinois Springfield. The endowed professorship will provide Bin significant financial support to conduct research and other scholarly activities.

“Dr. Bin brings both skill and enthusiasm to his teaching in financial management and analysis at UIS, and his research is robust, some of it first in his field,” said James Ermatinger, interim dean of the UIS College of Business and Management. “We are pleased to have him represent the academic excellence available in the College of Business and Management at UIS.”

As part of the professorship, Bin plans to further outreach activities to build close connections with local bankers and financial practitioners; gather more information helpful for the development of the UIS finance curriculum, student enrollment and employment; and obtain additional data helpful for influential research in banking and finance.

“Investment requires a return, and support demands professionalism,” said Bin. “In response to this honor, therefore, I will work hard to repay my supporting colleagues and my banking and finance community.”

Bin came from China to the United States in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Zhongshan University. In 2000, having earned a master’s degree in economics at the University of Mississippi, he completed a Ph.D. from the same university in finance with two minors, in accounting theories and quantitative methods. He joined the UIS Business Administration Department in 2001 and teaches classes on corporate financial management, investment analysis, financial institution management, and capital budgeting. He became a full professor in 2016.

Bin’s published scholarship focuses on financial analysis and international investment, especially related to risks. Some of his research is first in its field, such as investment group decision efficiency and risk-return effectiveness as simulated in the StockTrak portfolio management program and the risk-return association for U.S. gaming industry stocks.

Thanks in large part to Bin, who earned his professional Chartered Risk Analyst (CRA) certificate in 2015, the UIS College of Business and Management now has an undergraduate concentration in finance and a graduate certificate in applied finance. While at UIS, Bin has also been actively involved in serving the business community locally by building ties to China. In November 2002, he invited executive officials from China’s Agricultural Bank to Springfield. He has also arranged for Chinese bankers to meet with UIS College of Business and Management faculty and the local banking community regarding U.S. banking practices and Chinese banking reforms.

PNC Bank and the PNC Foundation have long histories of strengthening and enriching the lives of communities in which they live and work. They provide resources to seed ideas, foster development initiatives and encourage leadership. The Foundation makes it a priority to partner with local nonprofit organizations to enhance educational opportunities and promote economic growth. Their continued support of a Distinguished Professor in Banking and Finance at UIS exemplifies this commitment.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Leadership lived: Student finds passion for social media storytelling at UIS

Haley Simpson never imagined her love of social media could turn into a future career. However, the University of Illinois Springfield junior communication and environmental studies major is using her storytelling ability to help spread important messages.

“Social media is such a growing field,” she said. “A few years ago it wouldn’t have even been possible to have a job in social media and now that is possible and I think it’s always changing, so you’re always able to learn new things and connect with people in different ways and I think that’s really cool.”

Simpson works at the UIS Student Union doing social media and marketing in order to promote events happening in the building. She is also a member of the UIS Green Fee Committee and treasurer for the Community Garden Club.

Following graduation from UIS, she would like to combine her passions for storytelling and the environment by working for a green or sustainable company.

“Promoting sustainability for them on their social media would be ideal,” she said. “I’d maybe also like to look into working for the National Park Service.”

Simpson, who is from Olney, Illinois, is also involved on campus as an orientation leader, treasurer of the UIS College Democrats and the performance coordinator for the Student Activities Committee (SAC).

“I chose to come to UIS because of the smaller campus size,” she said. “There’s definitely a sense of community and family here. It’s really easy to get involved and make a difference with things that you’re passionate about.”

Simpson says she’s challenged herself to try new things and UIS.

“I’ve definitely tried to push myself out of my comfort zone and try things that I maybe wouldn’t have tried before, which has been a really awesome growing experience,” she said. “I definitely feel like grown both as a person and as a student and definitely as a leader.”

She encourages other students to consider attending the University of Illinois Springfield, adding that she’s made many friends and feels at home on campus.

“I’m absently glad I came to UIS,” she said. “I think my college experience would not have been the same if I went to a different university.”

Thursday, August 09, 2018

UIS Professor Emerita Paula Garrott honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award

Paula Garrott, a professor emerita of clinical laboratory science at the University of Illinois Springfield, was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) on August 1, 2018, during the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes and honors ASCLS members who have “made a difference” in ASCLS and the profession of clinical laboratory science. The award provides special recognition to an individual who has provided dedicated and outstanding service at all levels of the organization over a sustained period of time.

Garrott has been a member of ASCLS for more than 40 years. Since her retirement from UIS, she has continued to be involved in ASCLS as a member of the Government Affairs Committee and has served on several task forces. She is also a past president of the organization.

“I am thrilled and humbled to receive this award,” she said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with so many amazing clinical laboratory professionals in an organization that strives for high practice standards and advocates for the medical laboratory profession and its practitioners.”

Garrott taught clinical laboratory sciences classes at UIS for 32 years before retiring from teaching in 2005. She also served as chair of the UIS Clinical Laboratory Sciences Department. Following her retirement from teaching, she served in administrative roles, including as interim associate dean for the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and interim director of the UIS Natural Science Division.

She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is certified as a medical laboratory scientist with the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Garrott was also honored with the ASCLS Illinois Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award in April.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

UIS MBA student helps the U of I System team finish second in a Chicago business pitch competition

Matt Hutchison, a Metamora resident and MBA student at the University of Illinois Springfield, helped the University of Illinois System's Discovery Partners Institute team finish in second place during the Final Four Pitch Competition hosted by Chicago-based 1871, a non-profit digital startup incubator, on July 31, 2018.

Teams from the University of Illinois System's Discovery Partners Institute, DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center along with Michigan State University and Purdue University gathered to pitch their best business startup ideas in a competition similar to the television show Shark Tank.

Each university selected five student teams and each team had a display table to talk about their business idea. Attendees then voted for their favorite business idea from each university. The top team receiving the most votes from each university then competed in a live 5-minute pitch with Q&A from 1871 judges.

Hutchison’s team pitched a company called AddIT, which would match the supply of specialized additive manufacturers around the world with its growing demand. The company would serve as a conduit to both consumers and enterprise in need of unique replacement parts—for old machinery, old buildings, or even new prototypes —with a large, diversified networks of additive manufacturers seeking to timely capitalize on spare capacity.

Hutchison is currently earning his MBA at the UIS Peoria Center while working full-time as a supply chain manager for Caterpillar, Inc.

This is the first time that a UIS student has competed in the Final Four Pitch Competition.

Friday, June 22, 2018

UIS senior honored with U.S. Department of Justice award for work on Human Trafficking Task Force

Michelle Norris, a senior communication major at the University of Illinois Springfield, was one of the many U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) employees recently honored with the Director's Award during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2018.

Norris, a Springfield resident, was honored for her work as the Interim Coordinator for the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of Illinois.

Norris was one of three DOJ employees from the Central District of Illinois recognized for their exceptional work in organizing and implementing the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office created the task force to bring together law enforcement, prosecutors, victim service providers, and other stakeholders to better identify victims, provide quality services, and effectively investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases,” said Norris.

Norris began working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office two years ago as a student clerk, a position she still holds in addition to serving as the Interim Coordinator for the Human Trafficking Task Force.

As a full-time employee, she’s completed most of her UIS coursework online and through blended learning (part online and part on campus) classes. She expects to graduate from UIS in December 2018.

“UIS has played a role in helping me grow as a student and a leader by pushing me to step outside of my box,” said Norris. “There are many professors I can remember who have encouraged me to be bold and not settle.”

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three UIS faculty members travel to Mexico to discuss research collaborations and academic exchanges

UIS faculty members Hinda Seif (left), Lucia Vazquez (second from left) and Adriana Crocker (far right) visit the University of Colima in June 2018.
Three faculty members from the University of Illinois Springfield recently traveled to Colima, Mexico to discuss research collaborations and academic exchanges with faculty at the University of Colima.

Lucia Vazquez, associate dean of the UIS College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Adriana Crocker, professor of political science and U of I presidential fellow; and Hinda Seif, chair and associate professor of women and gender studies and sociology/anthropology, represented UIS during the early June visit.

The trip was made possible by a Discovery Partners Institute International Travel Grant aimed at building bridges with universities in Mexico and Israel.

“Faculty at University of Colima share many research interests with UIS faculty,” said Vazquez. “The administrators at the University of Colima are interested in developing collaborations with the University of Illinois Springfield including faculty and student exchanges, internships, dual degrees and co-teaching of courses.”

The UIS team also discussed possible research collaborations addressing the links between urban waste activities, agriculture, and tourism in Illinois and Mexico; gender and politics in Latin America; and increasing the transnational visibility of women in the arts in Colima and women of Mexican ancestry in the arts in Illinois.

“Given that three women faculty were selected to represent UIS, we were especially impressed by the dedication to their campus and profession, innovative teaching and research, and interest in collaboration of many women faculty who worked with us during our visit,” said Seif.

Although the University of Colima is more than twice the size of UIS, it also has many first-generation college students and is a public university focused on developing leaders to strengthen their state socially and economically.

“The University of Colima has also been working to strengthen international ties between its faculty, students, and the state of Colima,” said Seif.

During the visit, Professor Crocker was chosen to serve as keynote speaker for the University of Colima’s Model United Nations, which was held the week they visited. Crocker was invited to discuss her research on gender parity and the role of the UN and other international organizations in promoting gender equality in the world and more particularly, in Latin America.

“The hospitality of the people we met was unbounded,” said Crocker. “Academically, we had a very full agenda organized by our colleagues at the University of Colima, which was very much connected to the goals of this trip to re-energize our partnership.”

The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) is an interdisciplinary public-private research institute located in Chicago, and is a hub of the Illinois Innovation network (IIN), a set of virtually connected clusters across the state. Led by the University of Illinois System with partners across the state, the DPI and IIN are the foundation for new partnerships and approaches that catalyze economic growth. World-class faculty, students, and companies will work side-by-side at the DPI to develop solutions, promote entrepreneurship, and empower inventors of the future.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three UIS Peoria Center graduate students score in the top 10 percent during a national field test

Three University of Illinois Springfield graduate students earning their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the UIS Peoria Center were recently recognized by the department for their high scores during the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Major Field Test.

The test is used nationwide by more than 3,000 higher education programs to assess students’ knowledge in specific disciplines.

The three students, who work professionally in the Peoria-area, were ranked among the top two to 10 percent of graduate business students in the United States, based on their test scores.

Students who scored highly include: Ajey Kulkarni, a commercial manager for Caterpillar, Inc.; Paul Lutinen, a director at Atlas Supply Company; and Keith Tanner, a divisional operations manager at AQS/SCSI, LLC.

The University of Illinois Springfield has offered an MBA in Peoria since 2001. Students who have completed general education and business foundation coursework can also earn a UIS bachelor’s degree in accounting or business administration in Peoria.

Classes are held at the UIS Peoria Center, located in the Illinois Central College Perley Building at 115 S.W. Adams Street in downtown Peoria. More information about the center can be found at

For more information, contact Rhonda Bussell, UIS Peoria Center advisor, at 309/999-4252 or

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Leadership lived: Undergraduate student benefits from research opportunities at UIS

Senior business administration major Turner Clark says he feels fortunate for the undergraduate research opportunities he’s had at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Since the start of Spring Semester 2018, Clark has been working with Associate Professor of Management Nathan Steele and Assistant Professor of Management Sudeep Sharma to investigate “The Role of Personality Traits in Predicting Negotiation Effectiveness.”

“I think that every student benefits from the close working relationship that we have with our professors and I think that will benefit us for the rest of our lives,” he said.

Clark recently presented his research at the University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Day at the Illinois State Capitol. He also had the opportunity to present research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in April 2017.

“At some universities it’s really hard to get research positions, even if you’re a grad student,” he said. “Here it’s really easy to get research positions, even as an undergrad, which is extremely rewarding.”

On campus, Clark is the outgoing senator for the College of Business and Management on the Student Government Association. He’s also treasurer for the UIS Rotaract Club, an economics tutor at the UIS Learning Hub and a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program (CAP).

“I decided to come to UIS because I really liked the campus culture,” he said. “I also very much liked the CAP Honors Program, that I saw when I visited and it was the perfect distance from home.”

Clark, who is from Belleville, Illinois, says he likes the right-sized community at UIS because it makes him feel like his leadership efforts are shaping the university.

“Being a good leader isn’t necessarily always about leading,” he said. “It’s about knowing when not to lead and understanding what your strengths are and what your strengths aren’t and I think because of the close relationship we have with the professors and our fellow students we get to know each other a lot better than we might at some other universities.”

Following graduation, Clark plans to earn his master’s degree and find a job in the business world. However, he also has a larger goal in mind.

“Ultimately, I’ve always wanted to work for the FBI, that’s a very long-term goal, I don’t know when or even if that will happen, but I would also definitely like to go to grad school somewhere,” he said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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

Allyson Packer (Photo: Lincoln Draper)
The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery has once again partnered with the Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists to award a funded summer residency and solo exhibition. After a successful inaugural partnership last summer, which yielded active community engagement through contemporary art, the organizations are working together again to offer this opportunity. After the review of a competitive applicant pool that represented national and international applicants, Albuquerque-based artist Allyson Packer has been awarded the opportunity.

Allyson Packer, who has recently shown work at Nahmad Projects in London and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, will be in residence at the Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists from July 1 through July 28. Her exhibit at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, “Interior Space,” will open with a reception on Thursday, July 26, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will run from Thursday, July 26 through Saturday, August 11. 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.

Community engagement is a core consideration for the summer resident. Allyson, who holds a master of fine arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor of fine arts from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, will work with Springfield residents directly to realize her project.

In her proposal, Packer wrote, “My exhibition, called ‘Interior Space,’ will draw on my interest in brining visibility to the unseen. I will ask people in Springfield to participate in the exhibition by loaning me one item from their attic (or garage or closet)—something that they find valuable enough to hold on to, but also do not keep on public display. These objects will then form the basis for a gallery installation.”

In addition to welcoming Allyson Packer, the Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists will welcome two additional summer residents. Artist Nick Wylie will use his time in Springfield to research Elmer Ellsworth, a close and personal friend of Abraham Lincoln who was the first Union officer killed in the Civil War while he was removing a Confederate flag. Wylie is an accomplished artist who holds a master of fine arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a founder of the ACRE (Artist Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions). Enos Park will also welcome Zack Buckley, an artist, composer and student at Illinois State University. While in residence, he plans to record various types of audio from Enos Park to create a multi-channel installation. The UIS Visual Arts Gallery plans to support these projects and look for ways to present this work to the public.

For more information on becoming involved with these summer projects, or to learn about exhibition programming at UIS, please visit the UIS Visual Arts Gallery website at, or email

Leadership lived: UIS student Navie Fields wants to be a role model for the next generation of young men

Growing up in the Chicago-area Navie Fields says he didn’t have many male role models. Now, he’s trying to change that for the next generation of young men by volunteering and serving as president of the Black Male Collegiate Society at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Every other Friday, Fields spends an hour mentoring with his “little brother” at Springfield’s Matheny-Withrow Elementary School through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. They talk about school work and he teaches important life lessons, like how to tie a tie.

“It’s very big for me to be able to go and reach another young man and make sure that he knows there’s somebody out there who wants him to succeed,” he said.

Fields, a business administration major, also volunteers as a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Upsilon Xi Chapter where he serves as secretary. He works as a student orientation coordinator and is a member of the Necessary Steps Mentoring Program, which is designed to help first-generation college students adapt to the university environment.

“When I first came to college, I wasn’t really seeking out any leadership opportunities,” he said. “After I witnessed so much leadership, have been mentored by so many great people, I felt like it was my time to step up and do the same thing.”

Fields, who attended Evanston Township High School, plans to obtain his master’s degree following graduation from UIS and work in the human resources field.

“UIS has taught me that activity leads to success,” he said. “If you’re as active as possible on a college campus, you can navigate yourself anywhere in the world. I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned here at UIS and that’s what’s pushing me to become a leader.”

Fields says he’ll take with him the lessons he’s learned at UIS, as he plans to continue to be a role model for the next generation of young men.

“I want to continue to be great, so they can be great as well,” he said.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Leadership lived: Recent business administration graduate comes up with “Good News Now” app to spread positivity

Miranda Mogle was already a successful small business owner when she decided, at age 30, that she wanted to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I decided since I owned a business that I should know something about it, which eventually brought me to UIS,” she said. “I’ve been attending UIS, while running a business full-time and working part-time per diem traveling, so I’ve been able to schedule my classes around my life and work on getting my degree without putting my life on hold.”

While attending UIS, she came up with the concept for a new computer application called “Good News Now”, a news content aggregator that screens out unpleasant news stories providing consumers with only positive news.

“I’m an optimistic person, a very positive person and it is hard when you’re scrolling through your feeds or you’re on the internet or whatever you’re doing you’re bombarded with negativity, so I thought why not having something that brings positivity to me on a daily basis,” she said.

Mogle is now looking for an application developer that can help make her idea a reality.

“I’ve made a lot of connections and I feel like the professors are great resources themselves and they’ve also introduced me to people in the business work who can help me further my goals,” she said.

Mogle recently presented her business model at the University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Day at the Illinois State Capitol. She was also honored in April 2018 with an “Innovator of the Year” award during the Illinois Capital Innovation Competition Awards.

“I had to really fully think out the idea, figure out how much it would cost, if it’s even viable,” she said. “Based on that, I ended up winning, so somebody liked my idea.”

Mogle officially graduated from UIS with her bachelor’s degree in business administration on May 12, 2018. She now plans to pursue her master’s degree in nursing. She previously worked in healthcare field and would like to become a healthcare administrator.

“What made UIS special to me is that it has helped me perpetuate the path that I was already going toward,” she said. “It has made me a better business person, a better manager, a better leader and probably a better person in general.”

Friday, May 11, 2018

UIS Clinical Laboratory Science students and faculty honored with statewide awards

Several University of Illinois Springfield students and faculty were honored with statewide awards during the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science – Illinois (ASCLS-IL) meeting held in Naperville April 18-20, 2018.

Jessica Sheffield, a senior clinical laboratory science major from Maroa, was named the ASCLS-IL Student of the Year. Sheffield recently completed her term as student forum chair and was also admitted to the state level of the Clinical Laboratory Science professional honor society, Omicron Sigma.

UIS junior Jessica Sullens, a clinical laboratory science major from Vandalia, was elected student forum chair for the 2018-2019 academic year.

UIS Assistant Professor of Clinical Laboratory Science Bill Wilson was honored for his service to the southern region. Former UIS Clinical Laboratory Science program director Paula Garrott was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the profession and ASCLS-IL.

UIS students also competed in the Student Bowl, which tested their knowledge of clinical laboratory science topics. Team members included captain Holly Chaffee of Springfield, Taylor Cooperider of Springfield, Dayana Valero of Springfield, Sam Vogel of Illiopolis and Nisha Faizal of Springfield.

ASCLS-IL is an affiliate society of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). According to their website, “ASCLS is preeminent voice of all clinical laboratory professionals, creating a vision for the advancement of the clinical laboratory practice field, and advocating the value and the role of the profession ensuring safe, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered health care.”

For more information, contact Linda McCown, UIS Clinical Laboratory Science program director, at 217/206-7550 or

UIS students finish in top 10 percent during National Cyber League regular season competitions

Three University of Illinois Springfield students finished in the top ten percent of individuals nationwide during the National Cyber League (NCL) spring 2018 regular season competitions.

UIS students competed against 3,123 individuals from colleges and universities across the United States. Team captain Austin Bransky of Marengo, Illinois finished 76th overall, Steve Berryman of Louisville, Kentucky finished 100th overall and David Tighe of Austin, Texas finished 199th overall.

Bransky, a senior information systems security major, ranked nationally in 18th place for log analysis, 7th place for scanning and reconnaissance and 21st for wireless exploitation. Berryman, a graduate computer science major, ranked nationally in 13th place for scanning and reconnaissance and 19th for wireless exploitation.

During the postseason NCL competition, held in April 2018, a team of UIS students finished in the top 25 percent of teams nationwide. The UIS team, made up of five students placed 63 out of 264 teams nationwide.

The UIS team finished in 5th place nationally in log analysis, 26th in wireless access exploitation and 45th in scanning/reconnaissance.

Students who participated in the postseason competition include Austin Bransky; Steve Berryman; David Tighe; JR Gomoll of Richmond, Illinois; and Dishant Malik of Delhi, India.

The NCL was founded in May 2011 to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills using next-generation high-fidelity simulation environments.

The competition utilizes certified ethical hacker objectives, such as open source intelligence, traffic and log analysis and wireless security.

The NCL 2018 Spring Season was designed to develop and validate player knowledge and skills in preparation for further learning, career readiness, industry certifications and other cybersecurity competitions.

For more information, contact Brian-Thomas Rogers, UIS computer science instructor, at 217/206-8165 or

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Leadership lived: International student lands full-time job thanks to UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program

International computer science graduate student Vincent Joseph from Mumbai, India, calls his educational experience at the University of Illinois Springfield “fantabulous”.

Joseph has spent the past four semesters interning at the Office of the Illinois Auditor General where he’s been helping with state audits and learning about state and federal laws. The internship was made possible by the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) Program at UIS.

“The GPSI Program is a very unique program that most universities don’t have,” he said. “It’s a phenomenal program, which enables graduate students to continue gaining their professional experience, while they complete their master’s degree.”

Supervisors at the Auditor General’s Office were so impressed by Joseph that they decided to hire him on as a full-time employee after he graduates from UIS on May 12, 2018.

As UIS, Joseph has been very involved on campus as a Student Government Association graduate student senator, vice president of the GPSI Student Association and president of University Bible Fellowship. He is the former president of the International Student Association, a STARS mentor, an executive member of the Student Organization Funding Association (SOFA) and acted in the UIS Theatre production of “Macbeth”.

“I have gotten immense opportunities, which I did not get at my undergraduate school back in India,” he said. “The best part about UIS is not only that it provides you technical opportunities to learn and grow, but it also provides platforms for you to practice your soft (life) skills.”

Joseph recommends the University of Illinois Springfield to both international and domestic students looking for a right-sized campus with an abundance of opportunities.

“I love being at UIS,” he said. “I’m both excited and a bit sad that I’ll be leaving UIS, but I’m sure I’ll stay in touch with UIS.”

Joseph, who previously worked for Accenture, a global consulting company, in India before coming to UIS plans to continue to pursue his education while working.

“My ultimate goal is to pursue my doctorate,” he said. “In the meantime, I plan to complete my full-time experience.”

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

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

The University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Faculty Honors Reception on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Dennis Papini 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 Lan Dong, associate professor of English & modern languages. 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.

In her 11 years at UIS, Dong has published two monographs, three edited books, sixteen book chapters, ten journal articles, and multiple essays in refereed encyclopedias and online resources. She also has a work published in Chinese. Her reputation in Asian American scholarship is well known. She exemplifies the teacher-scholar model.

“She is an excellent and demanding teacher who maintains high academic standards and has received praise from her students,” said members of the faculty review committee. “She is an attentive teacher and always provides her students with precise and prompt feedbacks. She particularly excels at mentoring student scholarship.”

Two of her recent students have journal publications, and many others have presented their work at conferences and symposiums. Dong’s students have also been very active in the annual UIS Student Technology, Art, & Research Symposium.

In 2012, she was invited to Hong-Kong to conduct a seminar on Asian American culture. She is an active public servant in her field. She has been serving on editorial boards, reviewing essays, assessing proposals for major awards, and organizing conferences.

The Pearson Faculty Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Holly Kent, associate professor of history. 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 Emmet and Mary Pearson, longtime benefactors of the campus.

Kent’s teaching areas are women’s studies, history and more specifically fashion history. The review committee noted Kent’s excellence in teaching, as evidenced by student evaluations, the enthusiastic support of her peers, and her cross-disciplinary approach.

“She serves as a generous mentor to both colleagues and students,” said members of the faculty review committee. “Dr. Kent’s courses are rigorous and engaging, a result of her innovative pedagogical strategies.”

In recognition of Kent’s unique scholarship and teaching excellence she was chosen as a COPLAC representative to collaborate and develop a multi-campus, multi-disciplinary course entitled “Fashion as an Agent of Social Change Since 1900”. The review committee characterized Kent’s cumulative record of teaching excellence as embodying qualities of Leadership lived.

The Spencer Faculty Service Award was given to Ranjan Karri, associate professor of management. 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.

Karri came to UIS in 2006 and has made significant service contributions to the university, his profession, and the wider community. At the university system level, he is currently a member of the University Senates Conference and Discovery Partners Institute Academic Executive Committee.

At UIS, Karri has been a member of and active leader on numerous campus committees. He has chaired eight UIS committees such as the campus Senate, Graduate Council, the Promotions Committee, and Sabbatical and Awards Committee.

Karri is a member of the board of directors for the International Family Enterprise Research Academy and the Midwest Academy of Management in addition to membership on the editorial boards for the Journal of Cooperative Management and the Family Business Review.

Further service to his profession includes reviewing articles for numerous journals and chairing academic conference sessions. Karri’s community service is also impressive with two highlights being the development of a reorganization plan for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and advising the strategic planning of the Lincoln Public Library.

Layne Morsch, associate professor of chemistry, 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.

Morsch came to UIS in 2008 and is a cutting edge innovator in his online and blended chemistry courses. His philosophy of creating an active and engaging learning environment for students is complimented by his commitment to utilizing new technology. For example, to increase his students’ digital literacy, Morsch has them create infographics to present their arguments in a visual way and public service announcement videos.

He was one of two professors asked to pilot test the newly developed ChemDraw app, a chemical structure drawing software, and he also pilot tested two chemistry learning games that allow students to physically interact with three dimensional chemical structures. Morsch utilized iPads to incorporate electronic lab notebooks that allow students to add pictures and videos from their experiments to their lab reports. He is currently using a flipped teaching style in his organic chemistry classes where students watch 140 video lectures that he created over the course of the academic year at home, and then class time is spent actively solving problems and engaging in discussions.

Morsch has disseminated what he has learned from these teaching innovations in publications and he has given numerous presentations at national conferences. In 2015, Morsch was named an Apple Distinguished Educator. In this capacity he advises Apple’s education team about the use of technology in higher education and works with colleagues across the U.S. and in Canada to implement new teaching techniques using technology. Morsch also created a public iTunes U course for the two organic chemistry classes that he teaches that currently has over 19,000 subscribers. He exemplifies UIS’ commitment to excellence in online teaching and learning.

The inaugural Harry and Deborah Berman Sabbatical Award was presented to Yona Stamatis, UIS associate professor of ethnomusicology. Stamatis will research and compile data on rebetiko music in Greece, providing a meaningful contribution to the ethnomusicology disciplines; and write the proposal and sample chapter on a book tentatively titled "Rebetiko Nation: Making Music in Crisis" for submission to an academic press. The sabbatical award will be used toward expenses in Athens, Greece.

Recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor were Travis Bland, Public Administration; Dorine Brand, Public Health; Richard Funderburg, Public Administration; Kenneth Owen, History; Dathan Powell, Art, Music, & Theatre; Yona Stamatis, Art, Music, & Theatre; and Lucas Vespa, Computer Science.

Carol Jessup, Accountancy, was recommended for promotion to full professor. Leonard Branson, Accountancy; Ronald McNeil, Business Administration; and Ted Mims, Computer Science, were awarded emeritus status.

Sabbatical leaves have been recommended for Heather Bailey, History; Meagan Cass, English & Modern Languages; Shane Harris, Art, Music, & Theatre; Holly Kent, History; Jason Pierceson, Political Science; Dathan Powell, Art, Music, & Theatre; Yona Stamatis, Art, Music, & Theatre; and Benjamin Walsh, Management.

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

UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford named a Woman of Influence in Springfield

Clarice Ford, Ed.D., University of Illinois Springfield vice chancellor for student affairs, has been named one of five Security Bank Women of Influence for 2018.

Women of Influence honors local women for their contributions to the Springfield area community.

Ford has been a member of the UIS community since 2008. She has served as the executive director of the UIS Diversity Center, associate dean of students and associate vice chancellor of student services.

One of her nominator’s described her as “a passionate advocate for all students but especially for students who are first in their family to attend college, low-income students and students from underrepresented groups such as African American and Hispanic students. She has implemented many innovative initiatives at UIS to enhance retention and degree completion for at-risk students, including a successful Living-Learning program for first-generation college students called “Necessary Steps.”

Ford earned her doctorate in educational leadership and change from the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, California. She holds a master’s degree in religious education and theology from Lincoln Christian Seminary and a master’s degree in adult education/multi-cultural education from Antioch University. She also received her bachelor’s degree in human services from Antioch University. She is also a United States Military Veteran.

The 15th annual program is sponsored by Security Bank and the Springfield Business Journal and will be held on May 22, 2018.

Winners are selected by their peers through submitted nominations.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Leadership lived: Sophomore excels in planning major events on campus

As president of the Student Activities Committee (SAC), Ahja Howard, a sophomore accountancy and business administration major, is responsible for planning two of the biggest and longest-running student life events at the University of Illinois Springfield each year.

Planning UIS Homecoming and Springfest, a week-long competition where students face off in fun and educational games, is almost a full-time job for Howard.

“Springfest is a lot of work,” said Howard. “Springfest basically takes between 4 to 6 months to plan it. It’s really a lot of work and a lot of dedication and it’s a lot of commitment.”

Howard says she wanted to become SAC president in order to have a positive impact on the entertainment brought to campus for students.

“I love the opportunities that I have here,” she said. “I get so many opportunities every time I put myself out there.”

Outside of SAC, Howard also spends her time mentoring elementary school students in Springfield as a volunteer for the 4-H Mentoring Program. She was also recently inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success and is a member of the Necessary Steps program, which is designed to help first-generation college students adapt to the university environment.

“I decided to come to UIS because I wanted to get away from home and I wanted to get a real campus college life,” she said. “I like the smallness of UIS, the class sizes and I like how diverse UIS is.”

The Chicago native plans to obtain a job at an accounting or business firm following graduation from UIS. She eventually wants to start a non-profit organization that would help minorities in applying for college or finding jobs after high school.

“You have to challenge yourself and know that it’s okay to fall and make mistakes,” she said. “UIS made me realize that I can do anything that I put my mind to, even the mentors and friends that I gained here helped me to understand its ok to fall, but always get back up and try again.”

Howard says she’s made many new friends at UIS and feels confident in her decision to attend the school.

“I gained so much being here,” she said. “If I could recommend a school to anyone, it would be this school. I love it.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Leadership lived: UIS political science major gets an expanded world view thanks to study abroad

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, political science major Conor McKenzie had a limited view of the world before coming to the University of Illinois Springfield.

McKenzie was among a group of UIS students who traveled to Cuba on a study abroad trip in January 2018. The students spent almost two weeks learning about the Cuban people and their culture, environmental issues, public health and gender and racial equality. The group spent most of their time in Havana, but also traveled to the southern part of the country.

“In terms of being unique, it was really amazing because there were Cubans there who wanted to talk to us and hear a lot of about America and wanted us to go home with the knowledge that Cuba wants to talk to America and Cubans have a high value for Americans,” he said.

McKenzie calls the trip a “valuable opportunity” to learn about a country that until recently has been off limits to most American tourists.

“Personally, I learned from the trip a lot about another culture,” he said.

At UIS, McKenzie was recently elected the head delegate of the Model Illinois Government team. He is also a part of the Model United Nations team, which spent a week competing against hundreds of other universities during a simulation in New York City.

“For me, it was similar to studying in Cuba,” he said. “It was about the internationality of the world and just meeting people and having a really fun connection with people from around the world and understanding how to work with them.”

During the Model UN simulation, UIS students represented the country of Zimbabwe, writing resolutions from the perspective of that country. For the second year in a row, the UIS team won the outstanding delegation award, the third time in UIS history.

“I’d never been to New York myself, so we met people from around the country at the conference, got to speak with them, got to work with them,” he said.

As a political science major, McKenzie says he chose UIS because of its “small size”, excellent professors and location in the state capital.

“There are a lot of opportunities for political science people here,” he said.

Following graduation, he plans to continue to further his education by earning a master’s degree in political science. He takes with him the leadership skills he’s learned at UIS.

“At a school, like this, at its size, you learn a lot about leadership because you have the opportunity to lead clubs, to meet professors who want to put you in positions of leadership,” he said. “I’d say it’s taught me to chase opportunities of leadership and to really strive for them because their possible at a place like this.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Good as Gold awards at UIS honor more than 40 Sangamon County volunteers and businesses

The University of Illinois Springfield, Junior League of Springfield and the United Way of Central Illinois honored more than 40 local volunteers and businesses during the 10th annual Good as Gold Ceremony. The event was held on Monday, April 23, 2018, at the UIS Student Union.

The 10th Anniversary event also honored all of the past Distinguished Volunteer Award winners, in addition to honoring the founding members of the Good as Gold Committee.

Over the past nine years, the Good as Gold Ceremony has recognized more than 400 volunteers, 35 companies, and 25 outstanding local nonprofits for freely giving their time and talents to make Sangamon County a better place to live.

Distinguished Volunteer Award

Susan Hack of Springfield was honored with the 2018 Distinguished Volunteer Award. Hack has greatly contributed to the mission life of Hope Presbyterian Church, and in turn, the community. As a master gardener, she helps contribute produce to the Kumler Food Pantry, while serving in other community gardens, serving at the Farmers Market, and teaching classes for the University of Illinois Extension service.

“Volunteering means giving back to my community. I have been richly blessed. Supporting others helps build a community that is more positive and hopeful for all of us,” said Hack, whose most important aspect of volunteering is meeting so many people. “I am most enriched when working side-by-side with and for others.”

One gardener team member notes, “she embodies a busy bee – without the sting!” In addition to her service in education and fellowship to the church, she helps support St. John’s Breadline, St. John’s Living Caregivers, Hope for the Holidays, Reading is Fundamental, the Springfield Bicycle Club and others too numerous to mention.

The Bicycle Club’s Harv Koplo states, “she’s an incredibly humble and competent individual who has helped make this world a better place all her life.”

The 2018 Distinguished Volunteer finalists include Terrance Jordan, Jewel Richards and Melissa Skinner-Liberman.

UIS Star Student Award 

Hannah Warden of Beardstown, a senior majoring in business with a concentration in management and a minor in marketing, was honored with the Star Student Award for her volunteer efforts.

The Children’s Miracle Network at St. John’s Children’s Hospital is the main beneficiary of Warden’s volunteer work and she is president of Dance Marathon at UIS, which raised $10,000 for CMN over the past year.

“My time spent at St. John’s Children’s Hospital is some of my most valued time in my week,” she said. “Time spent there gives me so much joy in seeing the kids who are receiving treatment and care. I love spending time working hard to raise money for all of the kids that walk in the door at St. John’s Children’s Hospital.”

Warden has also volunteered at the St. John’s Breadline, Habitat for Humanity, Central Illinois Foodbank and Lake Springfield Christian Assembly.

Star Staff Award 

Tiffani Saunders of Chatham, a Sociology/Anthropology lecturer at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored with the Star Staff Award for her volunteer efforts with various service activities and for advising five student groups.

She regularly volunteers for Ronald McDonald House, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach and Make-A-Wish. During the holidays, she can be found at Festival of Trees, Mini O’Beirne Holiday Store and the Salvation Army. Finally, she is a practice partner for Girls on the Run and has facilitated group meetings for moms at Mercy Communities.

“I get a great deal of joy in knowing I can lend a hand to someone in need or make the day a little brighter for someone going through a tough time in life,” she said. “At times, just being present is enough. Most of us will experience hard times in our lives, and I’ve learned a little compassion goes a long way in giving people hope for a better tomorrow.”

Finalists for the award included Judy Jozaitis, vice president of the Workforce Development and Community Education at Lincoln Land Community College and Angela Try, UIS public information specialist.

Youth Volunteer Award

Springfield High School senior Elizabeth Gilmore was honored with the Youth Volunteer Award. Gilmore regularly volunteers at Compass for Kids, tutoring low-income and at-risk students.

“Helping others and choosing to spend time volunteering brings me so much joy, because I know I am making a difference in the students’ lives and helping them better their academic careers,” she said.

Spreading her time all over Springfield, Gilmore also helps at Camp Compass, Illinois Senior Olympics, Studio 186, Land of Lincoln Honor Flight, The Matthew Project, Springfield Art Association, Mini O’Beirne Children’s Holiday Store, Ridgely Elementary School and Sandburg Elementary School.

Gilmore says she’s learned valuable life lessons such as compassion, caring for others, patience and the importance of a smile while volunteering.

Other nominees for the award included Ahmaad Wallace and Benjamin Yoder.

Heart of Gold Community Awards 

Thirty-eight local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: JoAnne Bardwell, Anne Barnett, Sarah Beuning, Carol Bingham, Stephen A. Born, Mike Buscher, Marcus Bertrand Butler, Michelle Cripe, William Drew, Paul Duplessis, David Farrell, Maureen Follis, Ken and Lynn Gilmore, Jenica Hopkins, Julie Janssen, Michael C. Jones, Chad Lucas, Dorothy McVeigh, Rita Mehlick, Virginia Mitchell, Mary Monroe White, Bill Moran, Kristin Nisbet-White, Gayle Peterson, Fallon Rowl-Johnson, Kathy Rubinkowski, Christi Sullivan, Julie Sundquist, Gay Sybert, Mary Tuttle, Jean Vehovc, Louise Vehovc, Janel Veile, Paul Wappel, Erik Welch, Sandy Wilmot and Kathryn Wright.

Organization Agent of Service Award 

The winner of the 2018 Organization Agent of Service Award is Crime Stoppers of Sangamon and Menard Counties. Over the past 35 years, members have gathered information that has led to the arrests of hundreds of criminals, recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen property, drugs, guns and other contraband and have closed hundreds of police cases on crimes.

“We provide financial incentive for people to come forward anonymously in order to help the police catch criminals,” said Ernie Slottag, president of the board of Crime Stoppers and a member for 16 years.

Crime Stoppers tips have resulted in arrests that may not have otherwise been made. Through fundraisers in the community, Crime Stoppers has created a fund from which anonymous tipsters are paid.

The Crime Stoppers board consists of 30 individuals from Sangamon and Menard counties who work to raise funds and promote the program.

Business Honor Roll 

A total of 21 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 including Gem PR & Media, President Abraham Lincoln Springfield DoubleTree Hotel and Horace Mann.

Other businesses making this year’s honor roll include AlignLife of Springfield; Ameren Illinois; BUNN; Bank of Springfield; Brandt Consolidated, Inc.; Engrained Brewery & Restaurant; Illinois REALTORS; Koch, Sylvia and Associates - Ameriprise Financial; Marine Bank; Mayfield Insurance and Financial Services, Inc.; Memorial Health System; Noodles World Kitchen; RSM US LLP; SCHEELS; Sangamon Reclaimed; Springfield Junior Blues; U.S. Bank and United Community Bank.

For more information about the awards, please visit, email or call 217/ 206-8448.