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.”