Tuesday, September 29, 2020

UIS online leader Vickie Cook honored with the UPCEA Central Region Outstanding Leader award

Vickie Cook, executive director of online, professional and engaged learning at the University of Illinois Springfield has been recognized by the University Professional Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) as the 2020 Central Region Outstanding Leader.

The Central Region Outstanding Leadership Award recognizes a UPCEA Central Region

professional member who has exhibited outstanding leadership and service within the region and their university. The award recognizes leadership in UPCEA service activities at the state and regional levels and demonstration of a strong commitment to professional, continuing and online education within the member’s institution and the region. According to UPCEA, Cook has exhibited each of these characteristics in her work at the University of Illinois Springfield, as well as in the field of professional, continuing and online education across the central region. 

“I am honored to be recognized by my colleagues across the region to receive the 2020 Central Region Outstanding Leadership Award,” Cook said. “I am privileged to work with a great team of professionals at the University of Illinois Springfield and am pleased that the organization which provides leadership to the institutions across North America has chosen to honor me in this way during 2020 when professional, continuing, and online learning is so important globally.” 

 UPCEA provides leadership in the areas of professional, continuing and online education to institutions across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The central region, one of five regions in North America, is comprised of Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin in the U.S. and Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nunavant in Canada.

Friday, September 25, 2020

UIS Professor Lan Dong in the spotlight again as Disney's newest Mulan takes center stage

Ten years after her book about Mulan was published, UIS English Professor Lan Dong, Ph.D. is still sought out for her expertise on the subject. With Disney’s live-action film, Mulan, released to Disney Plus earlier this month, Dong again found herself in the national spotlight.

She said the inquiries began in earnest when the Mulan trailers were released in 2019.

“I was interviewed by a reporter for The New York Times in February,” Dong said. “They asked questions about Mulan’s story, her trajectory moving from a Chinese heroine to a well-known name among English speakers; and of her global capacity because of the 1998 Disney animation.”

Dong went on to write an essay for History Extra, the website for BBC History Magazine, was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Vox Media, and Radio Free Asia, sat on a Kissinger Institute Panel, and conducted a radio interview with the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC.)

“In February and March, I had to remind the reporters for NYT and WSJ they had attended the premier of the movie and I hadn’t,” Dong smiled. “I could not comment on the movie itself.”

Though she was almost a Disney insider.

Disney invited Dong to sit on a panel of Chinese cultural experts in 2017 as production for the film was taking shape. Other commitments kept her from being able to join at that time.

She says she is intrigued by Disney’s choice to bypass the standard theatrical release and pave a new route by offering the film on Premier Access through its streaming platform Disney Plus.

The movie’s release came with controversy as film credits included gratitude for filming in the Xinjiang Province, which has been in the news for its alleged human rights abuses against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. The film’s lead actress, Liu Yifei also came under fire for her support for Hong Kong Police who are cracking down on pro-democracy demonstrators. Dong said she is not surprised the film is mired in controversy.

“The U.S.-China relationship is full of tension right now. It is in a very precarious place,” Dong said.

Going back to her book, Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, Dong says it was published by an academic press, and has inspired additional scholarly work, but it was also written for general readers.

“I wanted the book to go beyond experts in my field,” she said. “I always wanted it to be more than that. It is meant for readers who have an interest in strong women and in Asian American culture. I’m glad to see it is still relevant. I still love her story.”

And she plans to watch it on Disney Plus soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Graham Peck named the Wepner Distinguished Professor of Lincoln Studies at UIS

Lincoln scholar Graham Peck has been named the Wepner Distinguished Professor of Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield

A virtual Ceremony of Investiture honoring Peck was held on Thursday, Sept. 24 where he received a medallion that symbolizes his position as a distinguished professor. Investitures are a special celebration of academic excellence. At UIS, when a professor is chosen to be an endowed chair or distinguished professor, an investiture takes place. 

“I’m confident that Peck, along with Michael Burlingame, who is the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, will continue to establish UIS and Springfield as the place to learn about Illinois’ favorite son,” said UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney, while speaking at the ceremony. “Their efforts will be bolstered when The Center for Lincoln Studies opens early next year at UIS.” 

Other speakers at investiture included Provost Dennis Papini, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Science Michael Lemke and Burlingame. Following the remarks, Peck presented a lecture on “Abraham Lincoln and the Making of an Antislavery Nation.” 

Peck came to UIS in 2019 after spending 17 years at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1991 from California State University, Hayward, and received his master’s and doctorate in American history from Northwestern University. Graham’s published scholarship – which includes multiple articles and the book “Making an Antislavery Nation: Lincoln, Douglas and the Battle Over Freedom” – focuses on antebellum American political history. 

The Wepner Distinguished Professorship was established at UIS as the result of a $1.2 million unrestricted estate gift from a Springfield couple, Wilbur and Margaret Wepner, longtime supporters of UIS. The funds are used for scholarships and the Wepner position. As a member of the Committee for Higher Education in Central Illinois, Wilbur Wepner helped found Sangamon State University in 1969. 

“On behalf of the university, I thank the Wepners for their generous donation,” Whitney said. “Their memory and passionate dedication for their community lives on in their gift. This professorship helps UIS realize one of its primary strategic goals, academic excellence. Philanthropists like the Wepners strengthen UIS.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

UIS student to serve as the Student Representative on the Illinois Board of Higher Education

Mackenzi Matthews of Springfield, a senior political science major at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been chosen to serve as the Student Representative on the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Matthews was elected by her peers, after having successfully served on the IBHE Student Advisory Committee articulating policy and student issues on their behalf. The Illinois Board of Higher Education is made up of 14 members, one student representative and one non-traditional student representative.

“Mackenzi has personified Leadership lived in her extracurricular involvement, academic diligence, and active interest in student leadership and policy development,” said Ginger Ostro, IBHE executive director.

At UIS, Matthews currently serves as the parliamentarian for the Student Government Association (SGA). Last year, she worked to rewrite parts of the SGA constitution and bylaws as chair of the Constitution and Rules Committee. As a member of Model Illinois Government, she was elected as Majority Leader and was awarded Outstanding Member of the House in 2020.  Matthews currently works as a committee clerk in the Office of the Clerk for the Illinois House of Representatives.

Matthews plans to earn a master’s degree and pursue a career in politics. She hopes to one day become a United States Senator.

Monday, September 14, 2020

UIS professor emerita of accountancy honored with experienced leader award from the Illinois CPA Society

University of Illinois Springfield Professor Emerita of Accountancy Carol Jessup has been honored with the experienced leader award from the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS).

The award is part of the society’s 2020 Women to Watch Awards, in partnership with the society's women’s committee and the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

The experienced leader award is presented annually to recognize local female professionals who have made significant contributions to the accounting profession, their firms and the development of future women leaders.

“It’s an honor and privilege to recognize the inspiring actions and achievements of these remarkable women,” said ICPAS president and CEO Todd Shapiro in a statement. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated leaders striving to increase gender equality in the CPA profession and paving the way for future generations of women in accounting and finance.”

Jessup retired from teaching at UIS in May 2020. She primarily taught auditing and governmental and nonprofit accounting. Her research interests include fraud and online learning, and she has also written questions for the Uniform CPA Exam.

In addition to her academic positions, Jessup serves on the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln’s audit committee, is the editor-in-chief of The North American Accounting Studies research journal, and served as former chair of the editorial board for the Journal of Government Financial Management of the Association of Government Accountants. Jessup is also a frequent speaker and lecturer at national, regional, and state conferences.

Previously, Jessup held several positions in state and local government, served on the team that implemented GAAP in Illinois, and provided expert witness testimony in utility regulatory proceedings. Jessup received her doctorate in business administration from Saint Louis University and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from the former Sangamon State University, which is now UIS. She is a licensed CPA in Illinois and a Certified Fraud Examiner.

This year's honorees will be recognized at the ICPAS Leadership Recognition and Awards Celebration on Sept. 17 as well as be featured guests at the ICPAS Women’s Leadership Forum on Oct. 23. Both events will be virtual this year.

Ken Owen: On Pace for a Healthier Lifestyle


Ken Owen, UIS Associate Professor of history, recently placed 4th overall and 1st in his age category in the Prairie Star 5K, held earlier this month on the UIS campus. 

“If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be running a 5K voluntarily, of my own free will, I would not have believed you,” joked Owen who buckled down into a healthier lifestyle after the birth of his daughter almost three years ago.

In fact, the 2018 Prairie Star 5K was his first race ever. Since then, he’s been a regular face at The Recreation and Athletic Center at UIS.

“I had been going to TRAC regularly and using a stationary bike. But during a conference in Cleveland, there were no stationary bikes, so I started using the treadmill,” he said.

Owen downloaded a fun-inspired Couch to 5K app on his phone when he returned to Springfield and headed back to TRAC, this time opting for the indoor track.
So far, he’s dropped between 80 and 90 pounds and feels better than ever.

“I’m adamant exercise was not the primary factor,” Owen said. “It was about controlling my eating. Exercise was just another way of getting into a healthy habit where I could feel the benefits of losing weight.”

Owen credits meal planning, shopping for and cooking heathier foods, and tracking his meals for most of his success. 

“I found that I liked roasted vegetables more than I thought. I learned to cook better,” Owen said. “When you’re limiting what you eat, you want to enjoy it more.”

And he has learned to enjoy running, and regularly runs more than a 5K.

“My ultimate goal is to break 20 minutes,” said Owen, whose Prairie Star 5K time this year was 20:22. “I’m frustratingly close, but close enough that I should get there soon.”

A worldwide pandemic may have thrown a wrench into his regular workout schedule, but Owen said that running gave him a sense or routine and the activity was a welcome change from being stuck at home. He appreciated the safety measures at the Prairie Star 5K.

“It was very carefully organized,” Owen said. “We never congregated in groups, there was a staggered start, and we lined up in rows that were 7 feet apart from other runners, 10 feet apart front and back.”

His advice to those thinking about getting started is simply to take the first step. 

“Don’t feel like you have to go fast. Run slowly, your body will adapt and you’ll get quicker naturally,” he said. “Go at a pace that is slow, then slow that down a bit.”

“A mile done slowly is a better than one you don’t run at all.”



Tuesday, September 01, 2020

UIS freshmen awarded $125,000 combined in President's Award Program scholarships

Sixteen newly-admitted University of Illinois Springfield freshmen have been awarded $125,000 combined in scholarships from the University of Illinois System’s President's Award Program. The individual scholarship amounts range from $5,000 to $10,000 per student.

The President’s Award Program aims to enroll highly capable students who have been admitted to one of the U of I campuses and are members of historically underrepresented groups and groups that have been less likely to enroll at the University. The broad goal of the program is to ensure and enrich the diversity of the student body. The University of Illinois believes that a diverse student body enhances the quality of education for all students.

High achieving newly-admitted freshmen from several underrepresented groups are considered for the scholarship. To be eligible for consideration, students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be Illinois residents and have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement while graduating from an Illinois high school.

In addition, students must have an ACT composite score of 25 or higher or a combined verbal and quantitative SAT score of 1220 or higher. A limited number of students with lower ACT or SAT scores may also be considered depending on their overall record of academic achievement.

President's Award Program Scholarship Recipients at UIS 

Daliyah Anderson
Biology - Pre-Medical
Lynwood

Joseph Berry
Nursing (Pre-Nursing)
Chicago

Aidan Biga
Computer Science
Joliet

Naila Buckner
English
Park Forest

Ivette Delgado
Biology - Pre-Medical
Lake in the Hills

Norman Hernandez
Exercise Science
Oswego

Anthony Hightower
Biology - Pre-Medical
Chicago

Alyssa Madsen
Psychology
Bolingbrook

Noah Martinez
Computer Science
Edwardsville

Charlotte Medina
Computer Science
Dekalb

Franki Miller 
Biology - Pre-Medical
Deerfield

Nazeerah Muhammad
Nursing (Pre-Nursing)
Chicago

TJ Pinedo
Chemistry
Lake Zurich

Bryn Keller
English
Anna

Kayli Ward 
Exploring/Undecided
Hillsboro

Salome Valentino Wortman
Computer Science
Springfield

Students from any of the following underrepresented groups at the University of Illinois are eligible for consideration for the PAP award:
  • Students who are members of one of the underrepresented racial/ethnic groups at the University of Illinois (African American, Latino or Native American; Latino is based on origins from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, or Central or South America);
  • Students from underrepresented Illinois counties, with underrepresented defined as counties sending an average of two or fewer students per academic year to the University of Illinois in the past five-year period;
  • High achieving dependent students whose families are at or below the poverty level and are not expected to contribute to the cost of their education, as verified through FAFSA and financial aid application processes.