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."