Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Leadership lived: UIS tennis player helps fellow students off the court

Kaitlyn Thornhill came to the University of Illinois Springfield to be part of the women’s tennis team. However, she quickly discovered a second passion as she was offered a chance to tutor fellow students at The Learning Hub.

Thornhill, a junior from Alpharetta, Georgia, has been playing tennis since her parents introduced her to the sport when she was 10-years-old.

“I love the sport because it's both an individual and team sport,” she said. “Being part of the tennis team has given me a lot of value in terms of creating friendships, positions of leadership and having a team to come to every single day and experience success.”

As an accountancy major, Thornhill says she’s excelled in her coursework. Her abilities were noticed by an instructor who asked if she’d consider tutoring students at The Learning Hub.

“I tutor both traditional students and student-athletes,” she said. “When I see the light bulb go off I think that is the reason I do the job. It's very rewarding to know that the information that I'm providing is helping another student succeed in my own field.”

Following graduation from UIS, Thornhill plans to earn her master’s degree in accounting and sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.

“I am very glad I came to UIS,” she said. “It has given me so many opportunities. I've stepped out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I've become a leader in many programs and I have met so many people and been able to network within my own major.”

She feels her education has prepared her well for post-graduation life and says she’ll always look back fondly at her time at UIS.

“If I could do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing,” she said. “Where I've gotten to today has come from every opportunity that UIS has given me and I couldn't be more proud.”

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Leadership lived: Freshman becomes a leader in student government and his fraternity

Luigi Cabantog came to the University of Illinois Springfield knowing he wanted to make a difference. As a freshman, he was elected a Student Government Association senator and joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity on campus.

“As a freshman, getting this much leadership experience was unexpected, but I've always been up for taking advantage,” he said. “UIS offers great opportunities and beyond.”

As the philanthropy and service chair for Delta Kappa Epsilon, he is in charge of planning volunteer activities. He recently helped to organize a street cleanup along 11th Street where members picked up litter in an effort to make campus more beautiful.

“This is so important because we want to build sustainability and we want to keep our campus clean,” he said. “We've adopted the street from the Springfield Public Works, so we do this cleanup on a regular basis.”

As part of Delta Kappa Epsilon, he’s also helped to plan fundraisers and other service activities.

“Community service is so important because you meet a lot of people and you make connections and network and you give back to your community,” he said. “That's the biggest thing that is a takeaway for me. Giving back to your community is so important.”

On campus, Cabantog works for UIS Student Life and the Office of New Student Orientation and Parent Relations. Off campus, he manages social media and is a board member for Illinois Students Against Destructive Decisions.

The Westchester, Illinois native says he chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of its location in the state capital and right-sized supportive community.

“After UIS, I plan on working for a non-profit first and eventually hopefully get elected to office of some sort,” he said.

Cabantog feels he made the right decision in choosing UIS.

“I'm glad I came to UIS because it opened a lot of doors for me, not just for my major, for my academics, but also for my extracurricular life,” he said.

Monday, April 15, 2019

UIS Emeritus Professor Larry Shiner of Springfield honored for Outstanding Advocate Leadership

The University of Illinois Foundation today announces Larry Shiner of Springfield, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois Springfield, as the recipient of the 2019 William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership. The award will be presented at the UIS Celebration of Philanthropy on Wednesday, April 17 at UIS. The U of I Foundation is the fundraising arm of the University of Illinois.

Shiner began teaching at Sangamon State University in 1972 and has been an enthusiastic advocate for UIS ever since. He has especially appreciated the University's commitment to interdisciplinary teaching, educational innovation, public affairs and an emphasis on putting students first. “I loved the place from day one,” he said. Shiner retired from UIS in 2004.

An outstanding scholar who specializes in aesthetics, Shiner’s best known work is “The Invention of Art: A Cultural History” (University of Chicago Press, 2003). More recently, his scholarship has focused on olfactory art.

Shiner and his wife, Catherine Walters, generously support UIS financially, especially through the Suzanna Kay Shiner Scholarship Endowment Fund, created in 2002 in memory of their daughter, and Shiner energetically advocates for the art, music and theater programs at UIS.

Shiner has also served on committees related to fundraising. These include the UIS Development Advisory Board, the Faculty and Staff Campaign Council, and more recently the Reaching Stellar Campaign Planning Committee.

“Thanks in part to Larry Shiner, we are experiencing great success, not only with our current Reaching Stellar campaign, but with other ways that people support the University,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “I'm delighted that he is receiving the William Winter Award.”

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

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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Lisa Whelpley wins the 2019 Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award

Lisa Whelpley, director of annual giving and major gift development for the Office of Advancement at the University of Illinois Springfield, is the winner of the 16th annual Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award. The award was presented by Chancellor Susan J. Koch on April 11, 2019 during a celebration in the Student Union.

Whelpley has been part of the Office of Advancement team for almost 20 years. She is the “go to” person in the office for planning and executing strategic long and short-term endeavors associated with UIS’ $40 million Reaching Stellar comprehensive campaign.

Additionally, Whelpley directs a complex annual fund operation that secures well more than $1 million annually for the benefit of the greater UIS community. She also helps to coordinate and generate hundreds of communications to alumni and donors each year. In FY 18, she led her team in 359 projects that consisted of 760,396 calls, emails and mailings.

Whelpley is also responsible for coordinating UIS’ wildly successful annual Faculty and Staff Campaign, which has garnered 50% giving participation in the past two years.

“None of these accomplishments would get realized without Lisa’s ‘can do’ attitude in working across multiple offices on campus and throughout the University of Illinois System to achieve aggressive goals. Bottom line: Lisa gets stuff done,” said her nominator.

Whelpley is also actively engaged in outreach to departments on campus and was instrumental in piloting two crowdfunding efforts last fall.

Earlier this academic year, she was selected to participate in the University of Illinois System’s inaugural cohort group of the Academic Professional Leadership Program. The mission of the program is to foster and sustain a culture of exceptional, dynamic and transformational leadership at all levels throughout the University of Illinois System.

“She is eagerly and actively engaged in this opportunity to improve her already significant skill set,” said her nominator.

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

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

Others nominated for the 2019 CAPE Award include Sean Crawford, Angela Evans, Joan Sestak, Carlyn Shank and Robin Vansacik.

Four UIS students present their work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Four students from the University of Illinois Springfield are presenting their work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. The three day conference began on April 11, 2019.

Students submitted abstracts and were selected in a competitive process by the UIS Undergraduate Research Steering Committee. They were later approved by the national conference committee. The students represent multiple programs and colleges.

Students presenting include Benjamin Schulte (Psychology), Brendan Mitchell (Public Administration), Rebecca Smith (Chemistry) and Natalie Kerr (Chemistry).

The 33rd annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research is a program of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Approximately 4,000 students from around the country are presenting their research and creative activities.

The students are being accompanied on the trip by Anette Sikka, assistant professor of legal studies, and Keenan Dungey, associate vice chancellor for research and institutional effectiveness.

For more information, contact Dungey at 217/206-8112 or

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

UIS students part of first and second place teams at Campus 1871 startup competition

A group of three University of Illinois Springfield students took part in the sixth annual Campus 1871 event, a weekend-long initiative hosted by Chicago-based 1871, a non-profit digital startup incubator, which simulates the realities of launching and running a startup company. The event was held April 6-7, 2019 in Chicago.

For one weekend a year, 1871 brings together more than 100 students from local universities for the ultimate startup experience. Students come together to share ideas, collaborate and build out business solutions with mentoring and coaching from 1871 entrepreneurs. The weekend concludes with a pitch competition in front of a panel of top leaders in Chicago’s tech community for assorted prizes.

The three UIS students who participated included Nikita Newcomb, an undergraduate business administration major from Russia; James Ukonu, a graduate data analytics major from Nigeria; and Olamide Ogunbameru, a graduate computer science major from Nigeria.

Newcomb and Ukonu’s team took first place in the business solutions track and Ogunbamer's team took second place. There were a total of 11 teams who competed.

Founded in 2012, 1871 was created to support Chicago’s digital startup community. Since that time, it has become the hub for the city’s thriving technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Located in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 is the home of more than 400 early-stage, high-growth digital startups.

Monday, April 08, 2019

UIS team places second in statewide Society for Human Resource Management competition

The University of Illinois Springfield Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter recently finished second out of eight teams in the Illinois SHRM Student Conference Human Resources (HR) Case Competition held at Illinois State University in Normal March 29-30, 2019.

UIS students competed against students from other Illinois colleges and universities during the annual event.

The second place HR Case Competition team was made up of undergraduate students Alexis Eddings of Jacksonville (team captain), Tracy Cessna of Pana and Marina Gendek of Lake Bluff. The team also included graduate students Cuong Nguyen of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Trinh Tran and Le Tran of Springfield.

UIS students also competed in the HR Jeopardy Games where they were placed into 18 random teams with students from other universities. Eddings finished on the second place HR Jeopardy team.

Students say they benefited from the conference because they learned valuable information about their future career field.

“We were able to network with popular and reputable HR professionals, listen to speakers discuss current issues and change in HR regarding disabilities, women's empowerment, veterans, and other organizational change, and connect with peers like us who are going into HR, which is helpful because we will most likely meet again in the workforce,” said Eddings.

The SHRM chapter at UIS is advised by UIS Management Instructor Donna Rogers Skowronski.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Leadership lived: Student helps Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria as part of Alternative Spring Break

Senior business administration major Matthew Traxler was one of 14 University of Illinois Springfield students who spent their spring break in Puerto Rico helping the U.S. territory recover from Hurricane Maria.

It was the first time Traxler had flew on a plane and the first time he took part in a large scale volunteer effort.

“We focused a lot on conservation,” he said. “We learned when we got there that a lot of efforts when natural disasters happen are focused on houses and rebuilding structures, which is important, but we found out that a lot of efforts aren't focused at all on the conservation.”

Traxler and fellow UIS students helped to clean up shorelines, trails and bike paths. They also helped to rebuild a Montessori school that was damaged by the storm.

“The real impact was on the second day, the last day we worked on the school, when we were leaving,” he said. “As we pulled away, the principal turned around and walked away and you could see her wiping tears away for her eyes and in that moment it was real.”

On campus, Traxler is a member of the Phi Kappa Tau Zeta Zeta Chapter where he also serves as recruitment chair. He is the entertainment chair for the Dance Marathon, a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network, and president of the UIS Disc Golf team.

The Philo, Illinois native says the chose the University of Illinois Springfield because it is affordable and offers a University of Illinois degree.

“I'm glad I came to UIS,” he said. “There are plenty of other opportunities out there, but I do think that UIS was the best opportunity for me.”

Traxler says he’s made lifelong friends at UIS and feels he’s grown as a person.

“I think this school is great to kind of get out of your comfort zone, give you an opportunity to get involved with organizations and build your leadership skills,” he said.

Monday, April 01, 2019

UIS Education Honor Society inducts eight new members

The Alpha Alpha Gamma chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, at the University of Illinois Springfield inducted eight new members during a ceremony on March 23, 2019.

Dustin Day, superintendent and high school principal of Waverly Community Unit School District #6, was the guest speaker at the event.

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

Students inducted at this year’s ceremony include: Jennifer Brooks, Julie Dzubin, Sara Leverton, Kyle Murphy, Erica Peak-Nordstrom, Yuli Salgado, Sydney Smith and Sara Tebrugge.

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

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