Thursday, May 30, 2019

Leadership lived: Internship helps student get hands on experience in the accounting field

Ashlee Knapik is learning hands on at the University of Illinois Springfield. She recently completed an internship at accounting firm Eck, Schafer and Punke in Springfield before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and business administration on May 11.

Knapik will be returning to UIS in Fall Semester 2019 as a student in the MBA Program. She will also be working for the Illinois Auditor General’s Office as part of the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program.

During her internship with Eck, Schafer and Punke, she was able to help with an onsite audit and helped in the preparation of tax returns.

“I've learned a lot obviously about that, but I've also just learning a lot about, you know, how to work in a firm like this and how to be more professional to as well,” she said.

On campus, Knapik has been active as a member of the Tri Sigma Sorority. She also studied abroad for a semester at the University of Hull in England.

“While I was over there I got the opportunity to visit 11 different countries, so that was a lot of fun,” she said. “My favorites were Iceland and Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.”

The Decatur native says she chose UIS because “it was close enough to home, but it was also far away enough from home that I could have my own space.”

Knapik is thankful for the opportunities she’s had at UIS and the friends she’s made.

“I'm very glad I came to UIS,” she said. “I feel like I would not have had many opportunities if I went to another school. I like the close-knit of UIS and the ability to connect with a bunch of different people. I like UIS so much that I'm coming back in the fall.”

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Leadership lived: UIS online student presents her research on the Illinois teacher shortage at the state capitol

Jen Brooks leads a busy life working a full-time job, while raising two children. That’s why she decided the University of Illinois Springfield’s online Teacher Education Program was the perfect choice to help her complete the state’s requirements to become a teacher.

Brooks, who is completing her secondary education licensure, recently presented her research on the Illinois teacher shortage to lawmakers at the state capitol as part of the sixth annual Illinois Innovation Network Undergraduate Research Day.

“I'm started off at the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and how that decision impacted the current teacher shortage now,” she said. “What I discovered was that as a result of integration, as the black schools were absorbed into the white schools to integrate, 38,000 African American teachers lost their job. We still have a huge gap today.”

Brooks, who lives in Bloomington, Illinois, says she learned about the UIS online Teacher Education Program from another teacher who had completed the program.

“I was at a different school online and she's like ‘no, no don't do that.’ You have to come to UIS. Their program is awesome,” she said. “They'll help you with placement and everything.”

Brooks, who was inducted into the UIS Kappa Delta Pi Educational Honor Society, has been observing an elementary school classroom this semester and will start student teaching next semester.

“What makes it special is how student-centered UIS is,” she said. “I've been to other schools where it's more ‘I'm the professor this is how we do it,’ but I do not get that here. It's student-led, so you take control of your learning.”

Following completion of her licensure requirements, Brooks hopes to teach at an elementary school in the Bloomington-area.

“I also want to continue my research, so I feel like I'm going to be more of a teacher-researcher, than just a teacher,” she said. “In the future, I'd like to become a professor, get into higher education, but definitely education is in my future.”

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Leadership lived: Recent UIS graduate helps lead women’s empowerment event for middle school girls

Heba Qazi says it’s important for young women to feel empowered and know what they can accomplish with a college education.

Qazi, who graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield on May 11 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, recently helped to organize “The Future is Female” event on campus. As a member of the Tri Sigma Sorority, she worked with Springfield District 186 to bring hundreds of girls to campus for a day of empowerment.

“I think it's really important to teach women when they're younger about the importance of college and what they can do throughout high school to ensure that they have a really successful future and I think that starts with women empowering other women,” she said.

Preparing for the event was a major task, as members of the sorority spent the academic year raising funds and creating community partnerships to support the event.

“We've fundraised a couple of thousand dollars,” she said. “It involved a lot of coordination with the middle schools, getting every middle school to come in and contribute to it.”

On campus, Qazi served as treasurer for the Student Government Association, vice chair for the Student Organization Funding Association (SOFA) and as a research assistant for the Department of Accountancy.

“I decided to come to UIS because I felt like there was a lot of room for opportunity and growth,” she said. “I felt that I could develop really good relationships with faculty and I have here at UIS.”

Now that she’s earned her UIS degree, the Bartlett, Illinois native plans to attend law school.

“I am very glad that I came to UIS,” she said. “I feel like I have been awarded a lot of opportunities that would not be possible anywhere else. I think that I've been able to leave a mark in some way and I feel like that's very important.”

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Leadership lived: Accounting internship helps prepare student for his future career as a CPA

Senior accountancy major Jon O'Daniel says he’s being well prepared for his future career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) following graduation from the University of Illinois Springfield.

O’Daniel recently completed an internship at accounting firm Eck, Schafer & Punke LLP in Springfield where he learned about tax preparation and audits.

“I would say I have learned a great deal, mostly dealing with clients and the procedures that an accountant needs to go through to work with taxes,” he said.

At UIS, O’Daniel is the president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Kappa Beta Colony. He helps lead volunteer efforts for the fraternity and fundraising activities. He is also the senator for the College of Business and Management on the Student Government Association.

“I believe UIS has taught me a lot about leadership, but the most important of all is probably talking with your peers and really getting to know the problems around you, so that way you can better understand where everyone is coming from,” he said.

O’Daniel, a native of the Southern Illinois town of McLeansboro, says he plans to continue his education at UIS following graduation by earning a master’s degree in accountancy.

“I am glad I chose UIS because of all of the great connections I made,” he said. “I don't believe I would have made these types of connections at other universities. Just the small community feel, the way I was able to bond with other students and even my professors - lifelong friendships and connections that I don't believe I would have gotten at other places.”

Monday, May 06, 2019

UIS honors alumnus Matthew Wallace with the Alumni Humanitarian Award

The University of Illinois Springfield honored alumnus Matthew Wallace, a native of Trilla, Illinois, with the Alumni Humanitarian Award during a ceremony on May 2, 2019 in the Student Union Ballroom. The award recognizes alumni for their significant contributions of leadership or service to improve the lives of others and the welfare of humanity.

Wallace and his wife, Heather, moved to Myanmar in 2008 to live and work full time on poverty alleviation and job creation. He has leveraged his education into enterprise development, and was part of the conceptual design of Opportunities NOW, where he serves as executive director. Opportunities NOW is an entrepreneurship development system in Myanmar that seeks to reduce poverty by providing business training and mentoring in various stages of business startup.

Wallace was a member of the inaugural class (first four-year class) of the UIS Capitol Scholars Honors Program. He says he came to UIS because of an interest in politics, but he became disillusioned by what was happening in state politics at the time and started taking classes that focused on international politics instead. As he did classwork on Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, he became deeply interested in poverty alleviation.

That’s when Myanmar (formerly called Burma) caught his attention. “No one was talking about Myanmar,” he said. “It’s a hard country to get to and hard to get work in, but it had far and away the worst context for poverty at the time. That’s what made me want to go there.”

Upon moving to Myanmar, Wallace began consulting with local companies on their supply-chain management and marketing. It didn’t faze him that he didn’t have much of a background in business. “Compared to the people in Myanmar,” he said, “I had a lot more capacity to learn about how a business could lower costs and raise profits and deciding what products would work well.”

Consulting gave him an idea of how he could work on alleviating the poverty he saw around him. By 2010, Wallace and friend Ryan Russell had plans in place for a business called Opportunities NOW, which would include an entrepreneurship school and a source of loans for graduates. “We were especially interested in helping young people between the ages of 17 and 30,” Wallace said. “In Myanmar, people in their 20s are called the lost or forgotten generation because they have no opportunity to get jobs. Their schools have been a wreck, and there’s no real sense of them having any kind of value for society. We wanted to give them a voice.”

During the next two years, Wallace and his wife returned to the United States, so Matt could earn his master’s degree in International Commerce from the University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy. His business partner spent the time raising capital for the business.

In 2012, Opportunities NOW launched. “In the first year, we started eight to ten businesses,” Wallace said. Since then, they have trained more than 500 students, invested in more than 250 businesses, and have expanded to a second location.

Opportunities NOW is an entrepreneurship development system in Myanmar that seeks to reduce poverty by providing business training and mentoring in various stages of business startup. Opportunities NOW not only provides the educational framework to help a business grow, but also provides the capital that students need to succeed with their business through the ONOW Social Launch Fund.

For more information on the award, contact Chuck Schrage, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations, at 217/206-6058 or

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Leadership lived: Future elementary school teacher gains valuable experience in and out of the classroom at UIS

Growing up in small town Taylorville, Illinois, Kelsey Marucco was inspired by her fourth grade teacher. That inspiration turned into a passion for helping others, which led her to major in education and psychology at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Marucco, who is now a senior at UIS, is only a few steps away from becoming an elementary school teacher. She is currently doing preclinical observation at Edinburg Elementary School in Edinburg, Illinois and will soon start student teaching next semester.

“I've been observing a fourth and fifth grade classroom here for the past few weeks and I've learned a lot about classroom management, a little bit about lesson planning and how to conduct a classroom during lessons,” she said. “There's a lot of in class parts that we do at UIS, but being here at the elementary school kind of gets me hands on in the classroom.”

Marucco says she chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of the quality of the Teacher Education Department.

“I like how a lot of the teachers in our classes are teachers themselves, so we go in the evening when they're done with school and you're talking to someone who has experience, so they're really helpful and give you a lot of advice,” she said.

On campus, Marucco is heavily involved as a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program and the Tri Sigma Sorority. She also works for UIS Campus Recreation and at the Cox Children’s Center on campus. She is a member of the Kappa Delta Phi educational honor society, the Psi Chi honor society and recently served as the public relations and social media chair for Dance Marathon, a UIS fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network.

“Before coming to college, I was more shy and kept to myself, but UIS helped me become a bigger leader and get me out there more and gave me a lot of opportunities in that aspect as well,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, Marucco would like to work at a smaller elementary school in central Illinois and possibly coach an athletic team.

“I would love, just like this school, to stay at a small school so I can be more personable to my students. I hope to work and coach kids one day too alongside teaching,” she said.

She’s glad she made the decision to come to UIS and get involved on campus.

“I'm really glad I went to UIS because it kept me close to home, so I could stay with my family here and there, but I do live on campus. Being on campus allowed me to go out and do these opportunities day-to-day and keep myself really busy,” she said.

UIS Emeritus Computer Science Professor Ted Mims inducted into Louisiana Parish Hall of Fame

Ted Mims, emeritus professor and former head of the Computer Science Department at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been honored with the 2019 achievement award from the Sabine Parish, Louisiana Hall of Fame.

Mims, a native of Many, Louisiana, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in March 2019.

According to the Sabine Index newspaper, Mims started his teaching career in 1969 as a junior high and high school teacher. In 1966, he took his first computer science class at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana and started to learn computer coding.

Mims later earned a master’s degree from Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas.

In 1978, Mims officially made his transition to higher education as a computer science instructor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He went on to become an assistant professor of computer science at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

In 1990, he officially moved to Springfield, Illinois to begin teaching at Sangamon State University, now the University of Illinois Springfield.

At UIS, Mims grew the Computer Science Department from 70 students to 1,300 majors in 2017. He also helped the department become a National Security Agency (NSA) National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. He helped obtain federal and foundation grants to purchase cutting-edge technology and served as co-principle investigator on two National Science Foundation grants totaling $5 million.

In 2010, Mims was honored with the Spencer Faculty Service Award by the University of Illinois Springfield. The award recognizes faculty who best exemplify the ideal of the “professor-citizen” through public service and service to the academic community.

Now retired, Mims lives in Normal, Illinois where he is active in his church and enjoys spending time with his daughter and grandchildren.

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, 2019. 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. Three major awards – the Pearson Faculty Award, the Spencer Faculty Service Award and the Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award - were also presented.

The Pearson Faculty Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Layne Morsch, associate professor of chemistry. 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.

Morsch came to UIS in 2008 as an expert in organic chemistry to teach students across the spectrum of science majors that require these courses.

In the subsequent 10 years, he has used pedagogical and technological innovations to transform his chemistry classes. Morsch 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 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. 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.

In 2017, Morsch founded the Excellence in Teaching & Learning Fellows Program at UIS that encourages faculty to engage with high impact teaching practices. He is also the founding leader of the Community for Innovative & Engaged Learning (CIEL) where faculty at UIS can share best practices related to innovation in the classroom. Finally, Morsch has given numerous presentations at national and international conferences and invited talks at colleges and universities about his teaching innovations.

The Spencer Faculty Service Award was given to Xiaoqing Li, professor of management information systems. 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.

During his 18 years of tenure at UIS, Li has established a record of exceptional service at all levels and he has been recognized by the Department of Management Information Systems and College of Business and Management (CBM) for his work. He is a current member of the CBM executive committee, which involves the most important decision process in the college, and he has also served on the college curriculum committee. At the university level, Li has served on the campus senate for 13 years and was the secretary on the senate executive committee in 2015-2016. He has also been a member of and chaired important university committees, such as the graduate council and tenure review committees. At the University of Illinois System level, Li has represented UIS on the University Senates Conferences (USC) on two separate occasions. While on the USC, he served on the executive committee twice and the academic affairs & research committee, hospital & health affairs committee, and finance, budget & benefits committee.

Li is known for being a helpful and supportive member of the UIS faculty who is willing to take on important leadership roles.

Li is also an active participant in his professional discipline. He has served on the editorial review board of the International Journal of Information Systems in Service Sectors for 11 years and has reviewed papers for the American Journal of Information Technology and Information, Technology & People. In the Decision Science Institute and INFORMS, Li has regularly served as a session chair for national and international conferences.

Kim Wiley, assistant professor of public administration, 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.

Wiley came to UIS in 2016 and is at the forefront as an innovator in her online and blended public administration courses. Her philosophy of bridging life experience with foundational and specialized coursework while emphasizing engagement and accessibility is complimented by her commitment to utilizing new technology. Wiley has incorporated a number of learning strategies into her courses that afford students the opportunity to incorporate abstract theoretical concepts and apply them to real world situations. Wiley’s teaching is student-centered, places special emphasis on communication that creates a community of inquiry, and leverages professional experiences of her students. Wiley uses a variety of teaching techniques including scaffolding, practice based assessments, video presentation assignments, blogs and Twitter.

The committee was particularly impressed by the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service’s assessment of Wiley’s teaching. According to Ray Schroeder and Vickie Cook, Wiley exceeded expectations in course design and facilitation, appropriate use of assessment, content, and teaching new technologies, and student support, while meeting accessibility expectations. Wiley has shared these insights with colleagues in a number of ways, including numerous faculty training sat UIS, one-on-one faculty consultations on assessment, participated in an online teaching panel and shared her insights into online teaching with the broader audience of the Midwest Political Science Association conference. Wiley also presented “Lost in Translation: Critical Pedagogy in the Online Classroom” and has a paper based upon this work under review.

Faculty members Elham Buxton, computer science; Brytton Bjorngaard, art, music & theatre; Shipra Gupta, business administration; Liang Kong, mathematical sciences; and Michele Miller, psychology, were recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor.

Recommended for promotion to full professor were Hua Chen, biology; Lan Dong, English & modern languages; Richard Gilman-Opalsky, political science; and Ranjan Karri, management. Vickie Cook, educational leadership, was recommended for promotion to research full professor.

Faculty members nominated for emeritus status and recognized at the event were William Abler, human development counseling; Sara Cordell, English & modern languages; Scott Day, educational leadership; Hilary Frost, political science/global studies; Brian Kahn, teacher education; David Larson, management information systems; Linda McCown, allied health/clinical-medical laboratory science; Charles N. Wheeler III, public affairs reporting; and Cynthia Wilson, teacher education.

Sabbatical leaves have been recommended for Adriana Crocker, political science; Lan Dong, English & modern languages; Xiaoqing Li, management information systems; Jennifer Manthei, sociology/anthropology; Layne Morsch, chemistry; Sheryl Reminger, psychology; Yona Stamatis, art, music, & theatre; Nathan Steele, management; Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, art, music, & theatre; Jorge Villegas, business administration; and Yifeng Zhang, management information systems.

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