Thursday, December 27, 2007

Professor Engages Students with Theatrical Teaching Style

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Richard Judd started out as a young man who wanted to sing classical music, but he soon realized that few people can have a career in opera, so he switched to musical comedy and became a professional actor and singer in the 1960s.

Eventually, though, Judd shifted to a new audience.

With a Ph.D. in Business focused on business strategy, Judd has been a writer, researcher and professor at UIS for the past 28 years, engaging his students with his clever personality and interactive teaching style in the College of Business and Management.

Over his tenure here, Judd has taught subjects ranging from entrepreneurship, business strategy, business and public policy, franchising and marketing. He also teaches a course called Business Perspectives, which is the first course in UIS' MBA program. The class discusses how to analyze a firm and examines key issues business leaders will face in the next ten years.

"We want you, when you move into your career, to move beyond your biases and come to: what is the philosophic point, as I manage and own and make a decision that will have an impact, where I can stand firm?" he said.

Judd has published three different books: one on business strategy, an award-winning book on small business in a regulated economy and the first and only textbook on franchising, which is now in its fourth edition.

He also serves as the director of the UIS Center for Entrepreneurship, which was launched in January 2005 as part of the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network along with twelve other centers in the state. Judd was also the director of the center when it began originally in 1983.

"(Business leaders and entrepreneurs) come in and talk; we see what the center can do for you, whether it be workshops, counseling and developing, guidance to another source," Judd said.

Judd often looks over finances of businesses confidentially and make recommendations about next step. Many who come to the center are also referred to the Small Business Development Center, located downtown. He is thrilled with the Center for Entrepreneurship, he said, and hopes to remain involved after retirement at the end of the school year.

"I want the center to become more intimately involved in the local business community, and all around central Illinois, not just in Springfield. And my personal goals include doing more fishing," he joked.

For students attending UIS, Judd encouraged students to immerse themselves in the opportunity they have been given.

"Why would you ever come to school? You come to school to learn arts and develop habits.
You come here to learn to think critically; you come here for self-examination," he said.
"You come to a good school for one thing: self-knowledge. So you know who you are when you leave much better than when you came."

Judd said he is more than pleased with the growth and continuing excellence of the College of Business and Management over the years.

"We've made dramatic changes in our programming here. The beauty is, after some long and hard work, we are now an accredited association, one of a couple hundred in the country that are accredited nationally and internationally for what we do as a business school," he said. "We've come a long way, and we've done a good job, frankly. The strides made here have been virtually incredible."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Global Experience Takes Students Across the World

By Courtney Westlake

The Program:

Student Experiences:

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience right out of National Geographic for graduate student Melissa Smith when she spent three weeks over the summer in Australia with one other student studying at Charles Darwin University.

"It was so much better than I ever thought," Smith said. "We got to camp out in the Outback for five days and learn from the Aborigines. You see that kind of stuff on National Geographic, but it was amazing to be able to go there and do that."

The Global Experience program at UIS offers students the opportunity to spend time furthering their education in another country and to experience that country's culture. The summer programs are oldest and most popular, said international programs director Jonathan GoldbergBelle, and in summer 2008, UIS will offer summer programs in Jamaica, Australia, Quebec, Japan and more, as well as an internship program in Romania.

UIS also has exchange agreements with universities in Japan, Mexico and Australia - and is in negotiations with China and the United Kingdom - to allow UIS students to study at those partner institutions for the same tuition paid at UIS.

"We didn't have Global Experience when I first came (nine years ago), so just the fact that we have an exchange program shows tremendous growth," GoldbergBelle said. "What we've seen is an increase of faculty who are interested in taking trips, and we've been seeing more interest from faculty and students in exploring different exchange programs overseas. We will work with a student to get them almost any place they want to go."

Leslie Reutter, a sophomore at UIS, said she jumped at the chance to study for two and a half weeks in Ashikaga, Japan. Her group, which studied Japanese language while there, stayed with a host family and traveled around the area, including Tokyo for two days.

"The people are very kind; they'll talk to you about anything," she said, adding that the Japanese enjoyed practicing their English with the UIS students. "The history was very eye-opening. We went to museums, city halls, shrines and temples; it was very different than anything I'd learned about."

The impact of studying abroad through the Global Experience program is extremely positive, GoldbergBelle said.

"The benefits are really gaining an understanding of the world; the state of Illinois has tremendous international connections, and it's important for our students to have some understanding of that, both on the economic side and on the cultural side," he said. "And what students come back and say is 'I really learned a lot about myself; I became interested in things I didn't know existed before'."

Both Reutter and Smith had no hesitation as they answered a resounding yes when asked if they would recommend the experience to other students.
"To be able to have that kind of opportunity to go to Australia, while you're still in school, I'd suggest to anybody to jump at the chance; whether it's Australia, Europe, Japan or any other place," Smith said. "Just the opportunity to travel while you're in school, I'd take the chance and do it."

To learn more about the Global Experience program, click here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

WIC Takes a Stand for Women

By Courtney Westlake

If there is any doubt about the vitality and success of the Women's Issues Caucus on campus, you just need to look at the wall in the Women's Center, which is lined with recognition.

Most recently, the UIS Student Government Association has awarded the club the President's Award for Best Student Event for the Rising Up of the Springdale Ladies Aides Society performance, as well as two other President's Awards for the production of the Vagina Monologues. The SGA also gave WIC the recognition of Outstanding Student Organization on campus.

The active Women's Issues Caucus at UIS seeks to raise awareness, encourage leadership and be a voice for women on campus. In the past couple of years, the group has brought nationally-known presenters to speak to the campus community, held a Day of Action for a Student Senate Bill and become involved in the annual Oxfam Hunger Banquet, with this year's theme being "Poverty Has a Woman's Face."

"One thing I was most proud of was our pay equity bake sale, where we pointed out the wage disparities for men and women," said Amanda Looney, who is also the graduate assistant for the Women's Center, which allows her to serve as a liaison between the Women's Center and WIC. "We then donated the money we raised to a local women's shelter, which was wonderful."

The Women's Issues Caucus also recognizes the student leaders within the group with a Student Activism award, said Ashley Rook, the current chair of WIC.

"It gives really amazing female leaders a chance to have a forum, to be involved and to be recognized," Rook said. "I think it really helps them to develop their leadership skills."

Hanna Collier, who is the chair of finance, is finishing up her first semester in WIC. She said she wanted to get involved in a group where she felt the issues were meaningful and important, and the experience has motivated her to want to get involved in a non-profit sector that deals with women's issues upon graduation in May.

"We try to counter images about what feminism is and how it's perceived on this campus," Collier said. "It's important to have this group to show that gender issues and women's issues are really important and shouldn't be as controversial as it is. We do need to deal with things like sexual assault, women in the media and pay equity."

Collier, Rook and Looney agreed that being members of the Women's Issues Caucus has not only strengthened their leadership skills but also helped them to make new friends.

"I really like being able to help the women on campus through advocacy, and I also like the social aspect of being in WIC," Looney said. "It's really helped me to meet other women with similar interests to me, and also to help women on campus with issues and educate women and everyone about what is a women's issue and what we can do about that."

WIC is an extremely collaborative effort between its executive board and general members, Rook said, with time split between coordinating events, addressing needs of women on campus and much more.

"There are so many issues that pop up between all of our programming, and it's really great to be organized and have a forum to speak out," Rook said. "Lynn (Otterson, Women's Center director) likes to compare our organization to a car with the key in the ignition; it's not on, but we're ready at any time."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Group Heads to Mexico to Make a Difference

By Courtney Westlake

When a professor suggested that Julian Borjas take a class that corresponded with his area of study, political economy, he jumped at the opportunity. Now the class is leading him south of the border to gain some firsthand information and perspective on globalization.

A group of UIS students, known as the Mexico Diez (which means Mexico Ten), will be traveling to Mexico in the spring to study the effects of globalization nationally and internationally. They will spend ten days in poverty-stricken areas of Mexico City and rural communities such as Chiapas.

The Mexico Diez is part of a class called "Mexico and Globalization," said Borjas. During the trip, they will act as delegates for Witness for Peace and interview families, grassroots activists, scholars, labor organizers, and other experts in everyday life.

"We're going to be studying globalization, including contracts like NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) and CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement), which will go into effect soon, and then we'll be going to Mexico to see how workers are actually affected by these different trade agreements," Borjas said. "There is going to be a lot of groundwork, which I'm really interested in."

As the world becomes increasingly globalized, many feel it is important to pay attention to the repercussions of the economic policies that guide Western society today. Borjas said he hopes he and others in the group will gain new perspectives about trade workers and agreements and looks forward to the opportunitity to provide service to others.

"We're taking a lot of natural resources from other places and displacing our own labor force in doing it," he said. "It's not really a good system; it's not benefiting most Americans, not benefiting other countries. So we figure it's kind of our obligation to go out and say 'this is what our country is doing'."

The group has been actively fundraising for the trip for the past three months, said Kris Bein, graduate assistant in Women and Gender Studies. At least $15,000 must be raised to cover the costs, she said. (Anyone interested in contributing can contact Bein at or 206-8205).

"The students have worked so hard and raised quite a large sum in three short months, but we're not done," she said. "We still have about $1,000 to go, so we still need support from the campus community."

The research the group compiles will enable students and community members alike to better understand the effects that trade policies have on the developing world, Bein said. The group will return home after the trip to present their work to the UIS campus and Springfield community.

"We're going to come back and talk to schools, organizations and civic groups and talk about what we did and what we saw there," Borjas said. "Witness for Peace in its entirety is to let people see the influence that our economy and government is having worldwide, and just to come back and say what you honestly saw and felt."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Housing Director Enjoys Challenges in Position

By Courtney Westlake

He might not be here at 8:30 in the morning, but you can probably find him on campus at 8:30 at night. And getting a page at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning isn't atypical either.

John Ringle has been the director of housing and residential life at UIS for five years, coming in with the second class of Capital Honors students. Since arriving, he has seen tremendous change throughout the campus in terms of residential buildings.

"Every year since I've been here, there has been a new construction project in housing on campus," he said.

Ringle became involved with housing while working at a job moving furniture into overflow spaces as a temporary employee at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He became a resident director there, which also led him to Utah State and Boise State in directing positions, before coming to UIS.

"UIS fit what I was looking for in terms of a growing program and getting the opportunity to be a part of something that was growing over the next decade," he said. "And we're still growing."

UIS housing services includes the townhouses, apartments and Lincoln Residence Hall, in addition to the new residence hall currently under construction, Founders Hall, which will include a new bookstore, cafe and even classrooms. There is also a future goal for another residential building in 2010, compliant with the university's strategic plan, Ringle said.

"UIS' mission is to become one of the best small, public, liberal arts universities in the state, if not the country, and our job as housing is to make sure that mission gets supported," he said.

Though his day often runs anywhere from 9-12 hours, and he maintains constant communication with on-call staff, Ringle said he enjoys the challenges the job brings. He is quick to give recognition to his staff members, whom he says are very reliable and competent.

"I think probably the thing I like best is that it is ever-changing and ever-evolving," Ringle said. "No day is every the same. There is always a new challenge every day of the week, and sometimes the weekends."

One of the main reasons Ringle decided to get into the housing field was to have an impact on students, he said.

"Research shows that students who live on campus tend to persist to graduation, have higher GPA's and have a greater experience as a part of living on campus," he said. "You can't beat the fact that you're closer to faculty, staff, athletics - all the things that make the traditional four-year campus experience remarkable in terms of a student development perspective."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't Make Excuses During Holiday Season

By Courtney Westlake

The holiday and winter season is the number one time for people to stray from their workout routine. But although schedules are more hectic with shopping, parties and out-of-town trips, with a little planning, you can ditch the excuses and remain on track with healthy living.

"It's an easy excuse for people to fall off the wagon, but don't just make it an excuse," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the Recreation and Athletic Center, or TRAC. "There's always ways to slip in a quick workout, such as taking the stairs at work. Stay focused on your workouts, stay focused on what you want in your lifestyle."

Exercise plays a huge role in healthy living because it helps with your overall well-being, Jillson said.

"Especially for students, we have a lot of things going on," she said. "Right now it's finals, so there is a lot of stress, and working out can help relieve some of that stress."

Jillson suggested interval training for a quick workout to get in strength conditioning and cardio. If you aren't able to make it to your gym, try crunches, pushups and lunges at home as part of your exercise routine. Eating habits also play a big part in healthy living, especially during the holidays, Jillson said.

"Maybe eat before you go to a holiday party; have a small meal before you go to the party, so you don't attack the snack table," she said. "Or just have a little sampling of each hors d'oeuvre or item, and you'll at least be on the road to success with party after party."

If you are wanting to add an exercise routine to your lifestyle or mix things up, Jillson encouraged the campus community to check out the TRAC.

"We have wonderful state-of-the-art equipment and personal training that will be at a significantly reduced rate than any other club you'll find in town," she said. "We also have group exercise programs, ranging from kick-boxing to yoga. It will help people get right back on track or at least help them understand why it's important to exercise and what they can be doing to reach their goals."

"Everyone does a New Year's Resolution," she added. "You might as well add health and fitness to it."

Friday, December 07, 2007

UIS Students Honored at Tournament

By Courtney Westlake

Sarah Wellard had never competed in a debate tournament before, but with the encouragement from her more experienced teammate, Priyanka Deo, she found something she not only enjoys but excels in.

On Saturday, December 1, Wellard, a junior at UIS, and Deo, a sophomore, won top honors at the 20th annual "Study Break Debate Tournament" at Webster University in St. Louis. The two were the single undefeated team among the 23 teams participating.

Additionally, both also won individual "speaker" awards, with Deo earning the "top novice speaker" designation, and Wellard ranked ninth.

Deo said she had debated in high school and wanted to do it again at UIS, and Wellard said she decided to get involved with debate after taking an Oral Communication class with Thomas Bartl. Bartl is the faculty adviser of the UIS Forensics Team, which Wellard and Deo belong to.

"I was surprised with a lot of the format; I didn't really know what was going on until we got going, but Priyanka definitely helped me a lot," Wellard said.

During the debate, the pairs debate against each other and are given a topic they have to argue. Wellard and Deo were given topics such as making the school year 12 months and the Patriot Act.

"We just really don't know what's coming at us; it's very random," Deo said. "We just have to go in and do our best."

The team said they are definitely planning to continue debating together, with another tournament coming up in January.

"It was a great experience; we'll definitely do it again," Wellard said.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Gay Moralist" Challenges Arguments Against Homosexuality

By Courtney Westlake

Imagine an activity that takes place between consenting adults, doesn't hurt anyone and results in a great deal of pleasure for the people involved. Also imagine this activity is an avenue of meaning and communication in the people's lives, which is usually something that is celebrated.

But when this activity involves two men or two women, some might not only condemn it but call it a "moral abomination," says Dr. John Corvino.

Philosopher, moralist, and gay rights advocate Corvino, also widely known as the "Gay Moralist," spoke on Wednesday afternoon, December 5, in Brookens Auditorium on the topic of "What's Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?" Corvino holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State.

Corvino has traveled the country for more than 15 years speaking on gay rights. He uses humor as he dismantles common arguments against homosexual conduct, including those based on nature, harm and religion.

"Homosexual relationships make some people happy," Corvino emphasized. "And I don't just mean they are pleasurable, but they can be an important avenue of meaning and fulfillment in people's lives. If we're going to deny that to an entire group of people, or say 'that's wrong,' we should have a darn good reason."

One of the primary reasons many argue that homosexuality is immoral is that the Bible condemns it, Corvino said. But the Bible also says that eating shellfish and wearing clothing of mixed fiber are abominations unto God, according to the Book of Leviticus, and that slavery is acceptable, Corvino said.

"What I'm saying is that if you're going to use the Bible as a source of moral revelation, you have to pay attention to context to understand what it's really saying; if you don't do that, you commit yourself to some pretty strange views about slavery, women's roles and a whole host of other things," he said. "If you're going to use the Bible, you need to be consistent about it, and if you're going to take context into consideration, you need to be consistent about that."

Other arguments Corvino has heard is that homosexuality is unnatural or is a threat to the traditional family. Corvino admits he still cannot understand the latter argument.

"Do we think that if we support gay and lesbian relationships, straight people will stop having heterosexual relationships and all go gay?" Corvino said. "Do we think that if we support same-sex marriage, straight people will give up on the institution of marriage? Not only do I think this argument is a whole lot of smoke, I actually think it does more harm to the traditional family than anything it's trying to target."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Working on Improving the Environment Keeps Professor Motivated

By Courtney Westlake

A self-described "outdoor person," Dr. Tih-Fen Ting is still getting used to the cold winter weather of Illinois after having spent most of her life in Taiwan and also living in California. That hasn't stopped her, though, from gaining a fast appreciation for the plains and animal life of Central Illinois, particularly the UIS prairie, where she spends much of her time exploring nature.

Ting, who came to UIS in 2003 after receiving her Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment, says that no matter the climate or location, the environment is always of utmost importance to her.

"Environment has always been something I have cared about and been concerned with; it probably started with my appreciation of nature," she said.

After getting acquainted with UIS, Ting quickly became involved with Students Allied for a Greener Earth, or SAGE, as the faculty adviser in 2004. The only student environmental club on campus, SAGE seeks to find a balance between meeting human needs while still maintaining ecological integrity, Ting said.

"The reason to do that is so that we can actually have a sustainable future with what we are doing with the current generation and not undermining what the future generations can do," she said.

As part of its strategic plan, the UIS campus is striving to be a model in promoting environmental sustainability and is now taking action with plans for a green roof on the new residence hall, Founders Hall, and more.

"The green campus is a huge movement in the nation," Ting said. "What UIS is doing is what a lot of institutions are doing, and what we are making sure of is that we are keeping up and doing a lot of the right things."

There are many small things that the individual can do to make a huge change in environmental sustainability, Ting said. This includes being aware of water conservation, turning off the lights and computer when not in use and being diligent about recycling.

"It doesn't take much effort to recycle and make it a daily habit," she said. "Don't be a passive bystander; an individual can make a difference if everyone acts."

The future of
the environment and nature relies on the actions of people today, Ting said, and there is no reason more can’t be done. Thanks to a grant from Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, UIS is now working to expand its recycling program. Ting also encourages people to buy more local food in order to support local farmers and producers and to promote organic farming, which will increase sustainability of local agriculture.

Ting said she hopes to eventually see all new buildings compliant with LEED standards (Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design), which includes being energy-efficient, being conservative in water usage, using recycled materials and having an interior with carpet and paint that have low emission of harmful fumes.

Students and others interested in environmental sustainability and keeping the campus green are encouraged to learn about SAGE, its mission and its future events, Ting said. (Check out more information on SAGE here).

"Humans are an integral part of the ecosystem,” Ting said. “What we are doing impacts the environment; I think it's very important we have to be conscious of what we are doing. Whether clean air to breathe or clean drinking water, those are services we get from having a healthy environment."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Women's Center Director Makes Big Things Happen

By Courtney Westlake

Upon entering the Women's Center, located at one end of the Student Affairs Building, a visitor can't help but feel welcome by the colorful decor and comfortable furniture throughout the room.

It's a feeling that director Lynn Otterson wants to be sure to convey to the campus community, especially the women, who come through the door.

Despite a small space and a limited budget, Otterson and the Women's Center have reached out to the campus time and again through a vast array of social events, programming and education efforts to promote important women's issues and safety.

Otterson first started with the Women's Center in 1995, a year after the center opened. Currently, she works with one graduate assistant, Amanda Looney, in running the center, and receives additional help and support from the Women's Issues Caucus, which is a separate organization but still works closely with the center. And the Women's Center is never lacking in activity.

The Rape Aggression Defense program, in coordination with campus police, and the WhistleStop program are two efforts currently at the forefront of the center to educate the campus about sexual assault. Last year, for the first time, the Women's Issues Caucus Club teamed up with the Women's Center to put on a play, and the center also hosts many social events, including the UIS Women's Holiday Party, which is very popular with the women on campus, Otterson said.

In the spring, the Women's Center is planning a large campus event called "Take Back the Night," which is also a national event, Otterson said. In connection with Lincoln Land, the two schools will host the first-ever LLCC-UIS Take Back the Night.

"We'll start at one school and have a rally and then we'll do the march and probably have a party at the end to signify taking back the night," Otterson said. "So women can be free in the night to have fun or go to school or whatever they want."

The Women's Center also recognizes the efforts of others on campus with the annual Naomi B. Lynn Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women at UIS, through which each recipient is given a certificate and plaque, as well as something placed in the Peace and Friendship Garden in their name, such as a tree, bench or birdhouse.

In future semesters, the Women's Center hopes to add space to the program as well as the program called CARE - Campus Acquaintance Rape Education. With UIS growing not only in numbers but also adding freshmen and sophomores to campus, a program like CARE is essential to campus, Otterson said.

"It's so positive because they can talk freely with peers," she said. "It's really state of the art; it's really the bottom line for good schools now to have an intensive peer educator- acquaintance rape education right at the front for all the students."

Otterson said she sees every day how important the Women's Center is to UIS.

"I have a great time in here just about every day," she said. "A lot of people come in and out. Sometimes they're needing connections or a sense of community, and sometimes they need something specific or just wanting to find copacetic people to be active with or be in a club with and share ideals."

"I try really hard at getting good students in here," Otterson added. "The right kind of people, as with my current graduate assistant Amanda, that if I'm not here, and someone comes in and says "I've been raped," they can, first of all, be the right person but then turn around to our referral books and give them the right advice, people to talk to and resources. Sometimes our women just need a lot of support, and I think we do well with that."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Service Learning Provides Unique Opportunities for UIS Students

By Courtney Westlake

Cristina Bowman, a UIS sophomore and Springfield native, hadn't given much thought to homelessness and hunger until she decided to take a service learning course at UIS.

Bowman's class, Learning and Serving: Hunger and Homeless, requires that everyone meet certain amount of hours toward assisting and bettering the local community.

"We spend 20 hours at St. John's Breadline, and 40 hours working on group project, which is collecting items like plastic bags, small plastic containers, tea and sugar (for the clients of the Breadline)," Bowman said.

The Service Learning Program was started as an effort to get students involved in volunteer and service opportunities, and is currently led by service learning coordinator and professor of applied study Kathy Guthrie.

Under the new curriculum set by the campus senate in 2005 called ECCE (Engaged Citizenship Common Experience), students must fulfill 13 hours in various categories such as U.S. Communities, Global Awareness, a Speaker Series and more. Guthrie sets up courses that connect community service to academic credit under the ECCE requirements.

Past and present courses on community service focus on issues, including hunger and homelessness and the environment, Guthrie said. There are also online courses that center on general service and a new course that will be offered in the spring on social change and leadership.

"It's important to get not only students but any individual to think about how they can be active and involved in their community," Guthrie said. "Everyone is passionate about something, but it's finding that passion and actually acting on it."

Recently, students taking the course on environmental issues created an anti-littering campaign for city and worked with waste and recycling manager within Public Works. The students recruited high school students to pick up trash one day around the State Fair Grounds. Fifty to 60 high school students showed up to work with three UIS students, which sparked residents in the surrounding area to join the students in cleaning or offering them beverages, Guthrie said.

There is also a current group of UIS students performing service at the Animal Protective League, working with the animals and providing advocacy for the animals, she said.

For her hunger and homelessness class, Bowman is working on an additional, individual project that includes videotaping the guests of the Breadline, asking questions such as "how has the breadline helped you?" Then she will compile the information for the Breadline to help them better their services.

"It's really opened my eyes to the problems in the community," Bowman said. "We do need to help the homeless around here. My projects may seem a little small, but I know I'm doing my part in helping the community of Springfield."

As for the future of the service learning program, Guthrie is working to start an immersion program for students to provide service in other parts of the country or internationally.

"There seems to be a lot of interest in that, so once those (courses) get established, that will be quite popular because it's taking people out of the area they're used to living in and being engaged in and taking them to another part of the country they've never seen," she said.

Ideally, Guthrie hopes to build the program up and inspire students to find their passion and make a positive social change.

"I think a lot of time people get stuck and think 'I can't make a difference' or 'I can only give one hour of community service a week, a month or a year' and so then they feel it's such a small amount, they don't even do that," Guthrie said. "That hour does make a difference."

Hunger Banquet Raises Global Awareness

By Courtney Westlake

Students and other participants learned about the worldwide issues of hunger and even got a small taste of what life would be like going hungry during the 3rd annual Oxfam Hunger Banquet.

On Wednesday evening, November 14, UIS hosted the Hunger Banquet in the Great Room in Lincoln Residence Hall. The event is held in observance of National Hunger and Homelessness Week and focused this year on the theme "Poverty Has a Woman's Face."

During the Hunger Banquet, guests are randomly assigned high-, middle-, or low-income rankings and are served food that range from gourmet meals to small portions of rice and water, depending on the guest's designation.

The program also included a video, artwork, and displays, as well as a presentation by UIS student Shana Stine, who spent a month in Kenya, Africa last summer. Stine told the personal stories of several framed photographs of children she had taken while there.

"When you hear numbers like 854 million people are hungry today, we forget that for each number, there is a story and a face, and a lot of crying, a hungry belly and a lot of pain 854 million times over," Stine said. "I was blessed to spend the summer in Kenya, and it changed my whole perspective on life and what it means to be privileged. After living with hungry orphans most of my trip, I came back a changed person."

The name of the Banquet, "Oxfam", came from the original postal abbreviation for the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, which was started in England during World War II to provide relief to war victims in Europe. Oxfam America, an affiliate of Oxfam International, is a relief and development organization that works to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice.

The purpose of the Hunger Banquet is to raise awareness of hunger nationally and internationally.

"The majority of the 1.2 billion people living in poverty are women; poverty has extensive implications for women around the world," said Ashley Rook, who helped to coordinate the event. "For most of us in this room, we can't imagine what it would be like to be in a refugee camp or lose a relative to starvation."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Burkhardt Named University Scholar for UIS

By Courtney Westlake

As a renowned author of the biography 'William Maxwell: A Literary Life,' Barbara Burkhardt is no stranger to hard work and dedication.

"It was a very long process," Burkhardt said, with a laugh. "I did my master's thesis on (Maxwell's) novel 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' and then when I went to get my Ph.D., I did a dissertation on a more broader range of his works. It was 10 more years beyond my Ph.D. that I worked on the book."

Burkhardt, an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Springfield, was recognized for her contributions by being named University Scholar for 2007-2008. She is one of 13 faculty members, and the only one from UIS, chosen for this award honoring and rewarding outstanding teachers and scholars at the three U of I campuses. University Scholars receive $10,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities.

Burkhardt holds a Ph.D. in American literature from UIUC and a master's degree in English from UIS. She has been a member of the UIS faculty since 2001 and teaches graduate seminars on postmodern fiction, Mark Twain, and writers of The New Yorker, as well as courses on the American novel, Midwestern literature, and American women writers.

Burkhardt is thankful and humbled by being named the recipient of the University Scholar honor.

"It really was the biggest honor I've ever received," she said. "I feel very fortunate to be on faculty here, let alone be named as the University Scholar. I really want to use the funds that go with that to do more work like I've been doing. I'm going to be working now on a biography of the publisher Alfred Knopf, who was Maxwell's publisher, but also the publisher for Willa Cather, John Updike and more."

Burkhardt's biography on William Maxwell was the first major critical study of the Illinois writer's life and work, and drew high reviews from publications such as New York Newsday, The Washington Post, USA Today, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly.

Burkhardt said she credits many of her fellow professors and colleagues at UIS for her successes and is grateful to UIS for providing such wonderful opportunities for her.

"I think about the scholars here who have inspired me, some of whom received the scholar award in the past," she said. "When I spoke to the campus at the luncheon, I spoke about the joy of scholarship. We really are a teaching campus, and the joy of scholarship is really something I try to pass on to my students."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wheelhouse Finds Integrity and Expansion at WUIS

By Courtney Westlake

Like most media outlets, national public radio has its fair share of challenges, but during a time when commercial radio is struggling, public radio is expanding and continuing to find its niche. WUIS is no exception.

"It's making yourself relevant and trying to offer something that goes along with public radio's quality of providing programming people can't find elsewhere but still providing in-depth news," said Bill Wheelhouse, general manager of WUIS.

Wheelhouse has been general manager at the station for two years, after previously spending ten years as a statehouse news reporter for all public radio stations in Illinois. WUIS has about ten staff members, and are looking to expand the station and modernize the facility, Wheelhouse said.

"The real challenge is that technology keeps changing and will be changing, and the audience is going to continue to fragment," he said. "We keep hoping to adapt with the technology while sticking with our core principles."

HD radio is now making it possible for WUIS to broadcast in digital. Audience members with special receivers can pick up extra channels, and WUIS hopes to eventually be broadcasting three channels.

Public radio has an average audience age of 50 years old. One of the new channels for HD radio listeners will be a "form of alternative programming" geared toward a younger audience, Wheelhouse said, to attract the younger demographic to tune in.

"We want to do that with quality and public radio integrity, but we have to have something in public radio that caters to that age group," he said. "So our second station will be to serve the students of the university and also those under 35, or under 50 even, around the region."

Wheelhouse said now as a manager, he plans to keep a strong emphasis on news after spending years as a reporter, but also wants to bring "alternative forms of music to the radio that aren't necessarily commercial successes," he said. What he likes best about public radio is "being in it," he said.

"It has integrity," Wheelhouse said. "In public radio, you still find the true commitment to journalism."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sloan Consortium Award Presented

By Courtney Westlake

From the time that UIS began as Sangamon State University, there has been an emphasis on access to learning through whatever technology is available at the time.

"Given this history, it was natural in the late 1990s for UIS faculty to engage in the latest emerging technology: web-based construction, online education," said Provost Harry Berman. "Over time, some of our best teachers found that this new medium of instruction had its own distinctive strengths."

On Monday, November 12, the campus community celebrated the steady growth and excellence of UIS' online learning with the presentation of the Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching & Learning Programming award, given by the Sloan Consortium.

The Sloan Consortium is a national organization dedicated to quality online teaching and is comprised of more than 1,200 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning. The award to UIS was among six given by Sloan this year for exceptional online education, and UIS was the only institution to receive an award for institution-wide teaching and learning programming.

The award was given on Nov. 7 in Orlando at the annual Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning, which draws more than 1,000 attendees both nationally and internationally.

The Sloan Consortium's awards programs were started in 2001 to recognize excellence in online education and include five awards: two for individuals and three given to institutions, said Burks Oakley, UIUC Professor Emeritus and charter board member for Sloan-C.

"I'd like to point out that the Sloan-C awards are selected by a very distinguished panel of our peers ," Oakley said. "So it's especially rewarding that our peers think so highly of what we are doing. It's also very important for our online students because they're going to be able to say they earned their degrees from an institution recognized nationally for its quality, scale and breadth of its online learning."

The award is an honor to everyone: students, staff and faculty, who really bring the meaning of "blended campus" to life, Chancellor Richard Ringeisen said.

"What has skyrocketed is how the online development we have here has really blended into the campus, and that the technology that's been used to develop this wonderful online learning is present not just in online learning but all throughout campus," he said.

Currently, Berman acknowledged, online majors make up more than 22 percent of UIS enrollment and about a third of the credit hours generated from the last academic year were online classes. This fall, half of UIS students are taking at least one online course and half of UIS faculty regularly teach online courses.

"That's an awful lot of extension of this new technology into everything we do on campus," Berman said. "Online learning has fundamentally changed UIS."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Internationally-known Astronomers Encourage the Sciences at UIS

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Roberta Humphreys has high hopes for the future of women in the sciences and encourages women to pursue their interests despite challenges, she said during a brown bag discussion that was part of two public presentations on Friday, November 9.

Humphreys' presentation was called "A Conversation on Being WISE: Women in Science and Engineering." Friday evening, at 7:30 p.m. in University Hall, room 2008, Dr. Kris Davidson will speak on "The Violent Supernova Impostor."

Davidson and Humphreys are both faculty members at the University of Minnesota, where Davidson is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Astronomy and Humphreys is Institute of Technology Distinguished Professor of Astronomy. Both collaborate with UIS Assistant Professor of Astronomy/Physics John Martin on ongoing research projects involving the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Chile.

Humphreys' seminar focused on how women can succeed professionally in scientific fields. She discussed her own experiences, as well as issues that women regularly encounter in academia and science, before opening the discussion to questions and comments from participants.

She also recommended several books, including "Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women" by Virginia Valian and "The Science Glass Ceiling" by Sue Rosser for further reading on the topic.

During her program, Humphreys offered a chart of numbers, showing a slow, but steady increase in the number of women pursuing their bachelor's, master's and Ph.D.'s in the sciences, including engineering, computer science, physics and more.

"When I got my Ph.D. in 1969, astronomy had the largest percentage of women, at 6 percent," Humphreys said. "Physics was at 2 percent, and math was non-existent."

Now, the culture is changing for the better, Humphreys said, and it seems every decade opens the door a little wider for women in all fields.

"Fields have become more family-friendly. But the question is, the numbers tell us things are changing, but is it a level playing field?" she asked. "I would say no, it isn't. But it will be someday. Eventually the numbers will rule."

Humphreys anticipates that women will begin to rise in leadership positions and change the policies. It all starts, however, with encouragement in the grade schools and high schools, she said.

"There is becoming a realization down through the grade schools, the middle schools and the high schools that they are going to need that preparation, not only for the sciences but to get into the best colleges," she said. "I think more and more that things are changing."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Former New York Times Reporter Talks Freedom of the Press

By Courtney Westlake

In the past, the public has turned to the press for information that is being suppressed, and leaking the truth is healthy for the balance of the country. Currently, though, that balance is being thrown off, according to Judith Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and former investigative reporter for The New York Times who was on campus on Wednesday, November 7.

Miller's evening presentation and a luncheon seminar also Wednesday featuring Charles Lewis were the first two programs in the Government Accountability and a Free Press Project, a series of events designed to explore legal, ethical, and practical political and policy issues that may arise as members of the press engage in investigative reporting that is intended to uncover less-than-transparent government conduct.

In July 2005, Miller was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the source of a leak outing Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent. Miller did not write about Plame, but she reportedly possessed evidence relevant to the investigation. Because of this, she spent 85 days in jail, twice as long as any American reporter has ever been confined for protecting a confidential source.

On Wednesday, Miller spoke about freedom of the press. Lewis and a panel of investigative reporters from around the area were also part of the presentation, and Bill Wheelhouse, general manager of public radio station WUIS 91.9 FM, was the moderator of the event.

"Other reporters are also in jeopardy," Miller said during her speech. "The number of journalists being subpoenaed in civil and criminal investigations in the United States to force them to disclose who leaked secret information to them is growing dramatically."

Some issues, however, need to be confidential to the government, Miller admitted. From her experiences as a reporter in Iraq, she has seen the necessity for certain information, like troop deployment, to be "secrets," she said.

"But why did the Pentagon also insist on banning TV cameras from recording the return of our dead in caskets from Iraq? Why did it prohibit the publication of photographs of those caskets?" Miller asked. "Reporting restrictions on reporters and growing secrecy has led the American Society of Newspaper Editors to issue a call to arms to its members, urging them to demand answers about this deeply disturbing trend of secrecy."

The "war on our freedoms" is putting civil liberties in danger, Miller said.

"Over the years, far more damage has been done to national security by government secrecy and deceit than by the press's reporting of that secret information," she said. "The pendulum, that national balance, may be swinging too far toward national security and away from civil liberties, and as a result, we risk now being both less free and less safe."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Professor Touts Computer Technology to Advance Education

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Kathleen Burns admits that her penmanship is so awful, her students used to complain good-naturedly they couldn't read her writing on the chalkboard.

That is why, she jokes, she was forced to become an expert on computer technology as a means of teaching and learning in the classroom.

Burns, a professor in the college of Education and Human Services, is new to UIS this fall. She obtained her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, forever knowing that being a teacher was her calling.

"I always wanted to be a teacher; that was my heart's desire ever since I can remember," she said. "I just didn’t realize I would end up being a professor of education."

But Burns had a great mentor while she was working on her master's degree, who encouraged her to pursue a Ph.D., from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and go on to teach at the college level.

The decision to join the UIS community, Burns said, was an easy one. She attended the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay and says that the underground tunnels at Wisconsin and at UIS are extremely similar, which she loves. While visiting from her previous position at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Burns was taken with UIS.

"The very first time I came on this campus, I said 'I am going to work here'," she said. "It was really easy for me to say that's where I want to be."

Burns is currently teaching her first class that is completely online, called Technology in Education, which she is thrilled about. She also teaches Social Studies Methods and Teaching, Learning and Assessment for elementary majors.

Online learning and computer technology have been special interests of Burns in her professional work since the beginning. She became intrigued at the concept while she was working as administrator in high school setting. When technology began to come around, the school needed someone to "take charge" as the coordinator between technology and education.

"I ended up being the mediator, the person on campus who could do little fixes to the computer and the network, and it just got more and more evolved, to the point where I was doing the technology end of things more than other things," she said.

Burns then landed a part-time stint assisting fellow teachers with using computers within their teaching curriculum and classroom education. She ended up writing her Ph.D. dissertation on the subject.

Burns said over the years, she has become so closely associated with technology in the classroom that she has seen firsthand the benefits that computer technology does play and could potentially affect in the classroom setting. She is excited about what is progressing.

"I can honestly say that I think there won't be classrooms at some point," she said. "Imagine how online learning and computer technology could benefit high school students who want to take a more advanced class, like a college course. Or challenge alternative students, most of whom are so smart, but just bored with the day-to-day in-class schedules."

"I’ve been there since it began to be implemented," she added, "and I think it just keeps getting better and better."

Friday, November 02, 2007

UIS Gets a Taste of Old Time Music

By Courtney Westlake

The catchy sound of fiddle, banjo and guitar music, quietly accompanied by the on-beat tapping of shoes, echoed down the halls of the Health Sciences Building on Friday afternoon, November 2.
The Fiddle Forum was held in the Visual Arts Gallery in the Health Sciences Building with several guests on campus to educate and entertain their audience with "old-time music." The musicians included Ron Adams on guitar, Howard Marshall on fiddle, Mark Mathewson on guitar, Steve Staley on fiddle, Erich Schroeder on banjo and Sharon Graf on fiddle. Graf was also the moderator of the event.

A wide variety of old-time music was played, with songs that included "A Soldier's Joy" and "Grandfather's Clock."

In addition to the musical performance, the performers also presented various perspectives including issues like why old-time music should still be played, what classifies music as "old-time" and the differences between Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri fiddle music.

"I think this idea that everybody gets to pick up the tune and do their own thing with it is part of what makes up old-time music," said Graf, who is also a music faculty member at UIS, during one of the discussions that took place between the music selections. "It makes it fun and interesting to me."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

UI President Speaks to UIS Community about Leadership

By Courtney Westlake


B. Joseph White said he first began to think about writing a book about leadership while he served as a dean at the University of Michigan, when the faculty held a softball game of the "Reptiles" versus the "Mammals." White eventually applied that concept of reptiles and mammals to types of people and, ultimately, leadership.

On Thursday evening, November 1, White, president of the University of Illinois, discussed the topic, "The Nature of Leadership," in Brookens Auditorium. White shared insights about leadership he has seen from his experiences, both professional and personal. The event was sponsored by the Friends of Brookens Library.

The lecture was followed by a book signing and reception in the Public Affairs Center restaurant, and both the presentation and reception were free and open to the public. White signed copies of his book, "The Nature of Leadership: Reptiles, Mammals, and the Challenge of Becoming a Great Leader."

White became president of the U of I in January 2005. Previously, he held positions at the University of Michigan for nearly three decades, including a term as interim president and leading the Business School for 10 years.

White's presentation was part of the ECCE (Engaged Citizenship Common Experience) Speakers Series at UIS, campus-sponsored lectures by speakers who exemplify engaged citizenship.

In his program, White said he believes the public in general often judges a leader on "superficial grounds," like appearance.

"Leadership is ultimately about the results that you achieve; it's about some other things too, but mostly about the results you achieve," he emphasized. "You make the best judgments you can: you roll the dice and do your best to get the outcomes you seek. If you do, then you're a good leader. If not, well, then you tried, and that's how leadership goes."

During the presentation, White showed pictures of people he admired as leaders, such as Madeleine Albright and Tim Nugent, many of whom were subjects in his book. He stressed that while public results are part of being a leader, private or personal accomplishments also make a leader as well.

He also showcased a pyramid he created, and is featured in his book, that includes a foundation, two side consisting of reptiles and mammals and the top, which reads "Great Leader Ingredients." Leadership is made up of an array of "ingredients," White said, like integrity and character.

"Leadership is hard work," he said. "It's physically hard, it's intellectually hard and it's inter-personally hard."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Emiquon Provides Endless Opportunities for UIS

By Courtney Westlake

Strong gusts of wind swept over the lake and fields on a recent Saturday as Dr. Michael Lemke guided a group tour near Thompson Lake in western Illinois. Though the shallow waters are just starting to gain the appearance of a lake, the land’s new look is a vast improvement from the previous decades of farmland.

The 7,425 acres of land located near the towns of Lewiston and Havana (about 45 miles northwest from Springfield on the Illinois River), is known as Emiquon, which is owned by The Nature Conservancy. Emiquon is now in the beginning stages of a transformation from farmland to its natural state as part of one of the largest restorations in the country.

A century ago, much of the Illinois River’s floodplain was converted to agricultural lands. The changes that occurred to the land eliminated or changed the important ecological processes of seasonal flooding that sustained the productivity and diversity of the Illinois River ecosystem.

But the past few years have brought about plans to restore this area of land, Lemke said. Now, UIS is currently working on the construction of the Emiquon Field Station, which will provide the opportunity for UIS students and researchers, and the general public, to learn more about the restoration and the natural state of the land.

Lemke, an associate professor of biology at UIS, is now serving as the director of Emiquon and the field station, which is slated to be finished in the next couple of months. The field station will train students in field biology techniques, help students and the public to learn more about the natural processes of the floodplain, freshwater ecology and the restoration, and teach them how to research effectively.

There are a variety of ways for students to become involved with Emiquon and the future field station, Lemke said. Current projects include students studying water quality, and there are other projects “on deck”, Lemke said, including matching up students and researchers to conduct studies and take on various projects in the area. And volunteerism is always a great method of involvement.

“My vision for field station is that it will be a very busy place. Students who would like to go out and get their hands dirty and help take out species that are invasive could volunteer in that way – some different plants and so forth,” he said. “Besides volunteers, classes are another way to get involved.”

Hybrid courses and online classes will give students the ability to learn about topics online and conduct field studies, Lemke said.

“And we’ll be having more and more fieldtrips once the field station is done, as well as workshops,” he added. “This past week we had about 40 students go out and explore biodiversity out there.”

Eventually, the Nature Conservancy has plans to open up the Illinois River so that the floodplain lake can connect, which will add a whole new level of complexity and ecological function to study, Lemke said. UIS is providing key services in recording what occurs during the restoration, which could offer ways to conduct more restorations up and down the Mississippi River, Lemke said.

“I think not to tell the story of the Emiquon Restoration would be a real disservice to society,” Lemke said. “There are real lessons here. To take on a restoration project of this size and learn from that, and then use that as a blueprint for other restorations has implications not only for habitat and wildlife, but also for water quality and just sound environmental management.”

“We’re here on the ground level and we’ll be able to follow it, which makes this a wonderful opportunity.”