Monday, December 21, 2009

UIS alumnus to have work featured in Springfield art gallery

A mixed-media exhibition by Josh Hester, a former graduate student in the University of Illinois Springfield Communication Department, will have his work featured during a six-week run at the Robert Morris University Art Gallery starting in January.

The “Witness: Mathare,” exhibit features photography and film of the people and story of the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

“It's considered one of the oldest slums in all of Africa,” Hester, a multimedia specialist for Memorial Health System, said.

Hester was part of a team from Hope Evangelical Free Church in Springfield that traveled to Nairobi in September. The church partners with Bright Hope, a Christian development organization that serves people in the world living on less than a dollar a day. Hester took an estimated 4,000 photos and shot five hours of video to document the trip.

"Mathare is a place of extremes," Hester said. "While I encountered extreme and unimaginable poverty, pain, disease and death, I also encountered tremendous joy, love, faith and hope. More so than you could ever imagine would exist in such a place."

A reception will be held from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, at the Robert Morris University Art Gallery located at 607 E. Adams St., Springfield. A $5 donation is suggested but not required. All proceeds will benefit Mathare Community Outreach’s schools and feeding program. Hope Church and Bright Hope have also partnered to organize a 5K run, Run for Hungry Children, to aid Mathare Community Outreach.

"It's easy for us to see Africa as this far-off place and so their problems are not our problems," Hester said. "But this isn't true. The world’s much smaller than we think it is. And we don't realize the impact we can have."

The exhibit will run from Jan. 5 through Feb. 19. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. The exhibit features 33 photos and 45 minutes of video on a continuous loop.

For more information about the exhibit, call (217) 522-8977.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perkins reads poetry as co-Featured Poet in New Hampshire

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, associate professor of English, was the co-Featured Poet at the Poetry Corner in Nashua, New Hamshire, on December 11. The other co-Feature Poet for the evening was David “Doc” Cote, who has been hosting this poetry venue for over twenty years.

This reading was Perkins' fourth Featured Poetry Reading since completing her Spring 2009 Sabbatical to research, write and revise her poetry for her third NYX book, NYX: Sister of Erebus: A Memoir in Poetry.

“The public readings help the editing process by allowing me as the writer to actually hear how the work resonates with a real audience," Perkins said. "After four readings and because of the listeners’ facial and verbal feedback, I know that many of the poems are ready for publication, and I have begun to submit those poems. ”

Perkins publishes and reads her creative works under her first two names: nancy genevieve.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Karen Swan researches educational technology as Distinguished Professor

Dr. Karen Swan admits that she became an education teacher “by default.”

Swan was a single mother when she got a grant from the government to return to school.

“There were only certain things you could do, and one of them was education, so that’s what I did,” she said.

Swan, a professor in the Teacher Leadership program at UIS, now serves as the James J. Stukel Distinguished Professor in Educational Leadership. Her investiture ceremony took place in the fall. She has been at UIS for about a year, after coming from Kent State University in Ohio, where she was an endowed chair for research on educational technology.

Swan’s family moved to Chicago, but she was still commuting to Ohio when she heard about the opportunity to fill the professorship at UIS.

“It’s a perfect fit; I truly love it,” she said. “It’s specifically for online learning, which I couldn’t do very much of at Kent, and it’s kind of my hobby. I can teach again, which I love, and the people are fabulous. I just think it’s a wonderful opportunity.”

The Stukel Professorship was created by the University of Illinois Foundation to honor James Stukel, the 15th president of the University of Illinois system. The professorship includes support for research and grant work and was created for a candidate who possesses expertise in and scholarly accomplishments relating to online teaching and learning issues.

Swan became interested in the field of technology within education while completing her graduate assistantship.

“I had a graduate assistantship teaching gifted kids. The only thing they insisted on was that we use computers, and that was the beginning of computers,” she said.

“I'm an old hippie, and at the time, I thought they were the devil,” she laughed, “but I did it anyway because it kept me going in school. I took a computer class, and it changed my life. I suddenly started understanding math, which I never understood before, and it turned out I was a good programmer. And the rest is history.”

At UIS, Swan teaches a course on educational research tools and a capstone course for the Master’s in Teacher Leadership program, as well as a technology course occasionally. Being a part of UIS’ online teaching and learning has been exciting, she said.

“UIS is known throughout the online learning community as being one of the best schools in country,” she said. “Little UIS in the cornfields is really far ahead of almost any other place I've known. It's amazing.”

Online learning has been shown to be just as engaging as face-to-face learning, Swan said, and new trends continue to emerge in online learning, including using social media in online courses.

“Online learning is growing still by leaps and bounds; we thought it would flatten out, but it hasn't yet,” she said. “Blended learning – the combination of face-to-face and online learning - is growing even faster.”

“Ray Schroeder (director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service) just gave me a Google Wave account, and we’re thinking Wave might replace the learning management platforms we have now,” she added. “There are all sorts of trends outside of educational computing involving social networking which I think are going to become part of mainstream educational technology. People are now trying to figure out how to use it.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

UIS alum publishes first book

Laura Bynum, a graduate of UIS with her bachelor's degree in communication, has published her first novel, called Veracity. It will be sold in Barnes & Noble, Borders and other bookstores across the country beginning in January 2010.

In 2006, Bynum won the Rupert Hughes Literary Writing Award at the Maui Writer’s Conference and was picked up by Simon & Schuster. According to her Web site, her Literary Agent is Dan Conaway and her Books to Film Agent is Sylvie Rabineau of Rabineau, Wachter, Sanford & Harris.

Bynum lives with her husband and three daughters in Virginia and is currently writing her second novel and first full-length screenplay.

She will be holding a book signing for her new book in Springfield at Borders on January 5.

UIS students build positive relationships while mentoring at Harvard Park Elementary

A group of UIS students pulled out board games of all kinds in the Harvard Park Elementary School gymnasium on Friday morning and quickly paired up with their “Littles” to play.

The group is part of the mentoring program that UIS has in conjunction with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Illinois Capital Region that takes UIS volunteers to several elementary schools in the area once a week to interact with some of the children at the schools.

The program is mutually beneficial for both the elementary-aged students and the UIS students, said Harvard Park Principal Kim Leverette. She said she hopes that the relationships built with college-aged students will inspire the students at Harvard Park to continue their education.

“For many of our students, their background and the homes that they come from, that dream isn’t instilled in them of pursuing higher education,” Leverette said. “So this viewpoint is very instrumental in our kids turning their attitudes around and turning their grades around.”

“It may inspire UIS students to be education majors as well,” she added. “So while it impacts our students, it also greatly impacts students from UIS as well.”

Mark Frakes, a sophomore at UIS, enjoys playing cards games like Uno with his “Little” at Harvard Park.

“He’s pretty good; he beats me a lot,” Frakes smiled.

Frakes has been mentoring for more than a year at Harvard Park through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and has been able to see firsthand how beneficial his involvement is in the life of his Little.

“This gives kids a chance to talk out some of their issues and have a positive older role model because some of these kids don’t have that sort of support system,” he said. “I like coming here to hang out with him. When he has fun, I have fun.”

“I think I’m just as excited to come here and hang out as (my Little),” agreed senior Zach Berillo with a laugh.

UIS freshman April Fountain’s Little doesn’t have a brother or “anyone his age to sit down and play with him,” she said, and he looks forward to the one-on-one time with Fountain.

“He enjoys this every Friday. I think he gets a lot out of it,” she said.

Leverette hopes the program will continue to flourish and even to grow.

“The feedback I receive from the community, from the staff, from the parents is something that we want to build on and nurture, and we want all of those great things to continue,” she said.

Friday, December 11, 2009

UIS' Diversity Center director will be keynote speaker at Martin Luther King Jr. service

Dr. Clarice Ford, director of the Diversity Center at UIS, will be the keynote speaker for The Springfield Ministerial Alliance of Springfield and Vicinity’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March and Memorial Service on Sunday, January 17, at Union Baptist Church, in Springfield.

The 18-minute march will begin with a brief meditation at 3 p.m. on Freedom Corner in front of the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. at 2nd Street and Capitol Avenue, where the Illinois State Library is located. Church, the Student Gospel Choir at UIS, will sing at the statue and lead the singing along the route. The march will proceed to Union Baptist Church, where the Ministerial Alliance Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Service will begin at 4 p.m. The UIS choir and the Southeast High School Gospel choir will perform there as well.

Ford was formerly the pastor of the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Rome, Georgia and was associate dean of Students at Berry College for five years. She earned a Ph.D. from Fielding University, Santa Barbara, California. She is a member of the NAACP, Eastern Star Miriam Chapter #47, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Charter Member of the National Military Women Memorial, has earned the Pennsylvania Black Achiever Award and is a member of the Mayor’s Commission on Diversity and Human Relations.

Winners of the 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest will deliver their essays during the Memorial Service. The essay contest is sponsored each year by the Alliance and is open to area elementary, middle school and high school students.

The event is open to the public.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Liz Murphy Thomas finds connection in digital media and photography

Liz Murphy Thomas realized that she had a knack for teaching while she was an undergraduate at the University of Florida and worked as a lab monitor for the photography dark room. She began noticing more and more students approaching her with questions instead of their instructor because they liked the way she explained concepts better.

“I always knew I wanted to teach, but that was probably my first cognizant moment that I should be a teacher,” she said.

Thomas began her career as a traditional photographer and has been “amazed” to discover she’s become a portrait photographer. She is most interested in trying to document the way we as people define ourselves in this world, she said.

“Most artists know from time they're little that they want to be in art, but I was never any good at drawing,” Thomas laughed. “But I was lucky that we had a photography assignment in middle school, and I was actually good at that.”

Thomas received her BFA in photography from the University of Florida and her MFA in photography and digital imaging from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She now teaches digital imaging and digital media classes at UIS and has been traveling the world for her art and her ideas. Most recently, she has been to England twice, Seattle, Alabama, Denmark, Prague and Milan, Italy.

“When I travel, I’m either going to present at conferences about my work and the ideas and concepts behind my work or in support of the exhibition of my work,” she said. “In Milan, I was featured in a gallery there, and the show was actually about Abraham Lincoln. It was funny to go all the way to Italy to talk about Abraham Lincoln.”

When not teaching or traveling, Thomas also serves as director of the Visual Arts Gallery at UIS, which entails developing a schedule of exhibitions for the academic year. This year, there are seven exhibitions as well as the annual benefit and auction for the gallery.

“We try to develop a really broad range of exhibitions and really bring into the Springfield area things people wouldn’t have a chance to otherwise see,” Thomas said. “We try to develop events that enhance the exhibitions or maybe add more information, like lectures or brownbags, to help explain the art. This is a university gallery, so we try to make the experience as educational as possible.”

This year, the gallery is also hosting the Juried Alumni Exhibition, which is held every two years, and spring senior exhibition for senior art majors, which is held annually.

“The whole thing is organized, arranged and hung by the students,” Thomas said. “The senior show is linked to a course called ‘Professional Skills,’ which is a capstone course that all art students take.”

Having the gallery at UIS benefits both students and community members, in addition to giving students experience with arranging a gallery exhibit, Thomas said.

“Part of being an artist is learning about the promotion of your work and display of artwork,” she said. “I think it's very important for the students to have professional gallery experience as part of their education because hopefully some of them go on into the fine arts field, and if nothing else, this is their first opportunity to have a real art display.”

WUIS statehouse reporter reflects on German visit

WUIS/Illinois Public Radio statehouse reporter Amanda Vinicky is back in the United States after spending a week in Germany learning about media and culture.

Vinicky was one of 16 young journalists from the U.S. selected by the German-American Fulbright Commission to visit the country. Journalists from radio, television, newspapers and web outlets all took part in the trip.

“The whole thing was absolutely amazing,” said Vinicky.

The trip included a tour of various German media outlets where Vinicky was able to learn how stories are covered in the country. She not only got to network with German reporters, but also her American colleagues on the trip.

“It’s great to develop a network of people that are really into the media and have the same interests,” said Vinicky.

Vinicky says she was impressed by the interest that the German public shows in the news. Part of the trip included learning how media plays a role in the day to day life of Germans.

“It was interesting and inspiring to me to see so many people reading newspapers in caf├ęs,” said Vinicky.

She notes that German newspapers are “upfront” about the angle they take when covering a story. Papers are known for being liberal, conservative or moderate.

“People know what they’re getting,” said Vinicky.

Vinicky says German reporter’s envy the United State’s when it comes to political coverage. They feel the U.S. does a better job holding public officials accountable with more hard hitting coverage.

Vinicky has been reporting for WUIS public radio for nearly 4 years out of its bureau in the state capitol press room. During that time, Vinicky has got to cover major events like the impeachment of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Journal offers students hands-on experience in journalism

The Journal
, the weekly student newspaper of the University of Illinois Springfield, is giving students “real world” experience covering the news.

The newspaper is published every Wednesday during the fall and spring semester, when classes are in session. Students also produce one summer edition following up on graduation, news and upcoming events. A special magazine edition of The Journal called “Beyond” is published once every fall and spring semester.

“We try to put the news of campus into an easy readable format for students. That’s who our audience is, so that’s who we’re trying to go after when we put out a paper every week,” said Luke Runyon, The Journal editor-in-chief.

The Journal employs a staff of about a dozen students, including two graduate assistants and has grown from an eight-page paper without full color to a paper that is typically 12 full color pages. Students are paid minimum wage to work at the newspaper reporting, serving as editors and photographers and working on layout design.

“We’re hoping to get going with a dot-com or dot-org website, so we can sell online advertising and that would provide multimedia experience,” said Debra Landis, student publications adviser.

Landis helps critique stories, photos and columns in the newspaper, but story selection and editorial decisions are left in the hands of students.

“Only by allowing students to generate their own story ideas, their own editorials, and their own photo selection can it truly be the kind of real life experiences that we want them to have,” said Landis.

Students cover public affairs events like campus senate and Student Government Association (SGA) meetings along with student life activities and events.

“It’s going to be amazing for my future career if I’m going into journalism or some kind of reporting it’s going to be invaluable experience,” said Runyon.

Landis says employers are looking for interns and young professionals who have practical work experience.

“There’s always going to be jobs for journalists. It might vary or evolve, but people are always going to want to know the news,” said Landis.

For more information on how to become involved in The Journal, contact Luke Runyon at or log onto

The Journal is distributed not only on the UIS campus, but at the Springfield Public Library and Illinois State Capitol.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

ITS multimedia education coordinator presents social media session at Museum

Munindra Khaund, Multimedia Education Coordinator for Information Technology Services at UIS, is presenting at a brownbag session at the Illinois State Museum on Wednesday, December 9.

The topic is "Building Communities of Interest with Social Media: Using Facebook." The session is geared toward organizations looking into Facebook as an outreach tool to build communities of interest.

More information on the session can be found online here. The session is free and open to public.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Students analyze first semester with Capital Scholars composition projects

Freshmen in the Capital Scholars Honors Program at UIS had a chance to look back over their first semester at both the good and the bad during a project for Capital Scholars course 111, Honors Composition.

To wrap up the class, the students completed bibliographical projects analyzing themselves and the changes they’ve seen in their personal lives since coming to college at UIS. The dozens of projects were then presented and explained to several different Capital Scholars instructors on Wednesday morning in the lobby of the Public Affairs Center.

“I thought it was a really good project because I got to reminisce back to the beginning of the semester and think back on everything and put it all into art,” said Breanna Ligaya, a freshman in biology.

Amy Spies, coordinator of Composition and Academic Support for the Capital Scholars Honor Program, said the goal of the project was to give students the opportunity to critically analyze their learning experiences for the semester.

“It required them to look at each experience with more than just how they felt at that time, but to look back and recognize what they learned and how that experience contributed to who they have become,” she said. “Some changes are good and some are not so good, which they recognized, and they’ve included the bad as well as the good in their presentations.”

Students created everything from poster boards to sculptures to collages. One student even hung notes and pictures on himself with yarn.

“It was a lot more fun than writing a paper; being able to be creative in a regular writing class was really fun,” said freshman Melissa Frost.

And according to the students, the intent of the project was a success.

“It really helped me see me as a person and how I grew,” Ligaya said.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2010-2011 Avery Brundage Scholarships available

University of Illinois students who excel in both academics and athletics are encouraged to enter the 37th annual Avery Brundage Scholarship competition.

Scholarship applications can be submitted online at The deadline for submission is February 12, 2010. Paper applications will not be distributed.

Full-time University of Illinois students at the Chicago, Springfield and Urbana campuses, including incoming freshmen, graduate and transfer students, may apply. Grant-in-aid recipients may be eligible for Brundage scholarships, under specific conditions. Academic and athletic competence will be considered over financial need.

Undergraduate and transfer student applications must rank in the top 25 percent of their college, and incoming freshmen must rank in the upper 25 percent of their incoming class. Graduate and professional students must be in good academic standing.

Students also must have demonstrated “special athletic ability” in an amateur sport. However, their participation must have been for personal development, rather than as preparation for professional athletics. Previous Brundage scholarship winners have represented a wide variety of sports from archery and tennis to swimming and wheelchair basketball. Last year, 15 winners were awarded $2,400 each.

The late Avery Brundage, a 1909 U of I graduate, competed in the 1912 Olympics and later was president of the U.S. and International Olympic committees. He established the scholarship in 1974, with a $343,000 endowment to the University of Illinois Foundation. Over the past 36 years, 794 scholarships with a total value of $983,200 have been awarded. Brundage maintained his interest in the University through service as a member of the University of Illinois Foundation, President's Council and Citizen's Committee.

For more information contact Gayle L. Layman, Director University-wide Student Programs at 217-333-2030.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Video message from Chancellor Ringeisen

Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen has a video message about the U of I Board of Trustees’ visit to the UIS campus and the latest on the search for a new U of I President.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UIS team places in Cisco NetRiders competition

University of Illinois Springfield students Steve Fischer and Ryan Stalets competed in the 2009 Cisco NetRiders Skills Challenge in Chicago, Illinois on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. They advanced from the Statewide Qualifier placing first in the top 10 highest-scoring teams from across the state of Illinois.

Fischer and Stalets were invited to the Stage Two Competition at the Cisco Systems office where they placed third. Ken Gaines, Cisco Area Vice President, presented the awards as well as an invitation for both Fischer and Stalets to spend a day with a Cisco Systems Engineer.

The Stage Two competition held at Cisco included a theoretical session, answering 100 questions in 60 minutes, followed by a hands-on session, troubleshooting a five router network scenario.

Fischer is a senior from Springfield, Illinois majoring in Computer Science at UIS and is completing an Internship at Archer Daniels Midland. Team Captain Ryan Stalets from Riverton, Illinois is currently a UIS freshman majoring in Computer Science and is employed by the Ball-Chatham School District.

“This is an exciting opportunity to visit a leading-edge global industry leader with state-of-the-art technology, meet with IT professionals, and compete with peers in an interactive environment,” said Janis Rose, instructor of Computer Science at UIS.

Cisco is playing a critical role in the US economic recovery by preparing students for the sustainable jobs that government, education and industry all agree will fuel America’s ability to innovate and compete, not just today, but in the future. As the focus turns to infrastructure, Cisco’s Networking Academy provides students with critical networking skills to design, build and maintain the infrastructure highway that both the public and private sector now depend on for sustainability.

For more information about the awards contact Janis Rose, instructor of Computer Science at or 217/206-8246.

Monday, November 16, 2009

UIS shows off research and achievement using Pecha Kucha presentation style

UIS faculty and students used the groundbreaking presentation style known as Pecha Kucha to show members of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees their accomplishments during a reception on Wednesday, November 10, 2009.

Pecha Kucha, pronounced "pe-chak-cha" started in Japan in 2003 and when translated into English means “chit-chat”. During a Pecha Kucha event, speakers use images that match the topic they are discussing. The presenters are often limited to five minutes a piece or less to discuss their topic. The format allows for a “mixer” like style where people are often standing and moving around, but still listening to the message.

The Board of Trustees Pecha Kucha presentation featured a variety of topics with the goals of engagement, enlightenment, and energy in mind.

The following faculty and students spoke at the event:

“Building the Brainstem” – Rebecca Landsberg, Assistant Professor of Biology

“From UIS to the Real World” – Sarah M. Hartwick, UIS Graduate Student and Illinois Legislative Staff Intern through the Center for State Policy & Leadership

“Remembering Rickets” – Deborah Kuhn McGregor, Professor of History and Women & Gender Studies

“Re-Thinking Education” – Ray Schroeder, Professor Emeritus / Director of the Center for Online Learning, Research & Service and Shari McCurdy Smith, Associate Director of the Center for Online Learning, Research & Service

“Sustainability in Mind” – Tih-Fen Ting, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

“Global Scholarship and the UIS Music Classroom” – Sharon Graf, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology

“Ancient Peru Study Abroad” – Stanislaw Adam Lipski, UIS Capital Scholars Honors Undergraduate Student, double-majoring in sociology/anthropology and political science

“Civic Engagement at UIS” – Kelly Thompson, Director of the UIS Volunteer Center, Division of Student Affairs

“Nanotechnology in Central Illinois” – Keenan Dungey, Associate Professor of Chemistry

“UIS’ Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon” – Michael Lemke, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the UIS Emiquon Field Station and Michael Purnell, Emiquon Advisory Board Member and UIS Alumnus

UIS Outstanding Master's Thesis Award

The University of Illinois Springfield Research Board has awarded Communication master’s student Kelsi Megan Kerns with the UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for the 2008-2009 academic year. Kerns wrote her thesis on the topic of Does Hannah Montana Really Do Homework? A Content Analysis on the Portrayal of School in the Popular Disney Channel Series.

Eight graduate programs nominated finalists for the award. Each of the submitted thesis/projects have, thus, already received departmental recognition for excellence and will be publicly honored at a reception on January 25, 2010.

The Research Board was impressed with the high quality of all these scholarly works. Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Projects: 2008-2009

The thesis/projects of the following students received their departments’ Outstanding Thesis or Project Awards for 2008-2009.

Communication - UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for 2008-2009
Kelsi Megan Kerns
Committee Chair: Kathy Jamison
Does Hannah Montana Really Do Homework? A Content Analysis on the Portrayal of School in the Popular Disney Channel Series

Jaclyn Michelle Negor
Committee Chair: Michael Lemke
Review of Secondary Production Concepts and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Production Estimates from Two Illinois River, IL Wetlands

Nicole Louis
Committee Chair: Deborah McGregor
The Healthiest City in the World: Chicago and the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918

Erin Tepen
Committee Chair: Sara Cordell
Beyond the Masquerade: The Hysteric's Discourse in Edith Wharton's House of Mirth and the Age of Innocence

Environmental Studies
Abby Hahne
Committee Chair: Tih-Fen Ting
Communicating Risk through Use of an Interactive Mapping Application: Designing and Publishing Illinois Superfund Risk Information for the Federal Site Remediation Section of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Human Services
Kristen Bein
Committee Chair: Denise Sommers
Harnessing Our Collective Power: Research on the Creation of a Feminist Management Model

Liberal and Integrative Stuides
Michael J. Kim
Committee Chair: Karen Kirkendall
Skills Coaches as Part of the Educational Team: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Teaching of a Basic Surgical Skill in the Laboratory Setting

Management Information Systems
Isaac Lee Abbs
Committee Chair: Yifeng Zhang
A Web-Enabled Data Mart for the City of Tucson Election Data

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WUIS statehouse reporter selected for International Berlin Capital Program

WUIS/Illinois Public Radio statehouse reporter Amanda Vinicky has been selected by the German-American Fulbright Commission to spend one week learning about media and politics in Germany. Vinicky is one of only 15 young journalists from the United States to be selected for the Berlin Capital Program, and will be leaving Springfield on November 13th. The award includes all program costs, round-trip transportation from the U.S. to Germany, health insurance during the seminar and a per diem allowance for meals, lodging, and local travel.

“Just as the media landscape is changing in the U.S., the shape of news in Germany is also evolving,” Vinicky said. “I’ll have the opportunity learn first-hand about similarities and differences in each country’s journalistic culture through meetings with German reporters and visits to some of the country’s top tier newspaper, TV and radio stations – including a stop at a public broadcasting studio. As a statehouse reporter, I’m sure I will enjoy the scheduled seminars on German politics and a visit to Parliament’s press office. It’s also the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, so it’s a particularly exciting and dynamic time to be in the city.”

Vinicky has been reporting for WUIS public radio for nearly 4 years out of its bureau in the state capitol press room. During that time, Vinicky has got to cover major events like the impeachment of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. She’s a 2003 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in Journalism and Political Science. In 2005 she earned her master’s degree through the UIS Public Affairs Reporting program.

In Germany Vinicky will explore how political, economic and cultural factors shape German society, and how they affect German-American relations and public opinions. The journalists will also study the changing media landscape in the country and how journalists are preparing to work in tradition and new media. The trip includes several tours of German media outlets as well as some free time to explore the country.

The Berlin Capital Program is administered annually by the German-American Fulbright Commission on behalf of the German Foreign Office, which provides the funds for the seminar. The one-week program is conducted in English.

UIS Computer Science Professor speaks at International conference

Dr. Keith Miller, the Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois Springfield recently spoke at the Unmanned Systems Canada Conference in Victoria, British Columbia.

The annual conference was about “unmanned vehicle systems,” which include remote controlled tanks, the Mars rovers, and Predator missile launchers, and was attended by military, industry and academic experts.

“I was speaking on the ethics of UVS design, development, and deployment. The session was well attended, and the discussion was lively, spilling over after my time was up,” said Miller. “People at this meeting are making life and death decisions about robotics and munitions, and they seemed open, even eager, to explore the issues. I was told that ethics questions were raised in other sessions, but that my session was the one that tackled the issues most directly.”

The trip was made possible by funds from Schewe Professorship that Miller received in September, 2009.

“A year ago, I would have said ‘no’ to this invitation. They didn't offer to pay my way, and it wasn't a cheap trip. But with the Schewe money, and with my goal of involving different global voices in a book project, this was a natural,” said Miller.

Miller has been invited back to speak at next year’s meeting in 2010, possibly in an expanded format.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Third annual Dr. Matthew Holden, Jr. Symposium Lecture held at Jackson State University

University of Illinois Springfield Professor of Political Science Dr. Matthew Holden, Jr. was recently honored during the annual symposium and lecture that bears his name. The event was held on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Dr. Holden is the first Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at UIS and is a nationally recognized expert on public administration, politics and law, urban politics and racial and ethnic relations.

"I had never expected to have a lecture named for me, and at first would not agree. But it has happened and frankly is wonderful. It is greatly encouraging that others perceive one’s own work as an example to be cited. The lecture is an effort to disseminate knowledge on a broad basis, not merely inside the classroom but to a public and community outside," said Dr. Holden.

The Symposium Lecture was given by Dr. Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Economics at Brown University. The title of the lecture was “Barack Obama and the Future of the Black Prophetic Tradition”.

“The first three lecturers—Ira Katznelson, Theda Sokocpol, and now Glenn Loury ---are all persons of such caliber that they outrank oneself by a long mile,” said Dr. Holden. “Next year’s invited lecturer, Dianne Pinderhughes, will equally enrich the list. Her work on African American participation, and the Voting Rights Act, will also be relevant to the course I am going to offer on “The Changing Regime".

Dr. Holden was not able to attend this year’s lecture, due to teaching commitments at UIS, but his wife, Dorothy, was able to represent them both at the symposium.

In 2004, Dr. and Mrs. Holden donated their personal library of more than 4,000 volumes to the Jackson State University Center for University Scholars. The Center facilitates faculty research productivity and encourages academic discourse. It hosts an annual symposium for recipients of summer research grants. In recognition of Professor Holden’s accomplishments and his generous donation to JSU, the Center has named a reading room and this lecture in his honor.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Priyanka Deo honored with Student Laureate Award

University of Illinois Springfield senior Priyanka Deo will be honored with the Student Laureate Award during a ceremony at the Old State Capitol in Springfield on November 7, 2009. Deo is the only recipient chosen to speak at the ceremony out of a group of more than 50 students.

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

“Coming from India, it is personally a great honor for me to be recognized as an Illinoisan for my academic and extracurricular career. Winning this award makes me more determined to do great things and contribute to the betterment of our world in the future,” said Deo.

Deo is now a U.S. citizen and preparing for a career in law. Since her freshman year, Priyanka has held an internship with the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. She has been involved in several extra-curricular activities, including forensics team and women’s varsity tennis team. Ms. Deo serves as a peer tutor and mentor for UIS’ Capital Scholars Honor Program, and as the Chairperson of the Housing Residence Council. She recently chaired National Model United Nations and won best delegate out of 400 students from competing universities. That honor presented her an invitation to the Global United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland this past summer.

Priyanka has been recognized in front page articles by the Chicago Tribune and State Journal-Register for her work with the Innocence Project, and has won a national tournament in parliamentary debate. She is trained in classical Indian dancing and does choreographing for various international festivals and off-campus shows in the Springfield area.

Priyanka is majoring in Political Science in the College of Public Affairs and Administration and Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. With all of her interests and activities, Priyanka has still maintained a 3.98 GPA at UIS, and is currently a resident assistant on campus. She plans to pursue a JD/PhD in international criminal law.

In addition to receiving the Student Laureate Medallion Priyanka will also receive a certificate of achievement and a check for $150 to cover travel and other expenses.

For more information contact Blake Wood, UIS Public Relations at 217/206-6716 or

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Students hold Halloween makeup workshop

The “Off University Drive Players”, a new student organization on the UIS campus recently held a Halloween makeup workshop to share theatre tricks.

“The goal for the Halloween workshop is to create a good cute monster so people can learn how to do this on their own” said member “Lucy Black”.

Black says it’s best to practice what you’re going to do in advance, so you know how long it will take and what techniques to use. It’s also important to make sure you buy the right type of makeup. Theatre and Halloween makeup usually require several layers that you don’t use day to day.

The club was formed to educated students on campus about theatre. They take trips to different plays and hold workshops like this one.

“Our goal is to further the entire theatre experience for any and all UIS students,” said Black.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Environmental Studies faculty member to speak at International Day of Climate Action event

Dr. Stefano Longo, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, will be speaking at an International Day of Climate Action event in Springfield. It will take place on October 24, 2009 at 11:30 a.m. on the Old State Capitol plaza.

Springfield, along with others cities in 111 countries, is trying to attract awareness to the severity of the issue of climate change. Dr. Longo will address this from the perspective of social change and environmental justice.

Dr. Longo has only been a member of the UIS faculty for a couple of months, but has taken an active role in the community. He recently provided the local PBS station with an introduction to the new Ken Burns documentary on U.S. National Parks.

For more information on International Day of Climate Action in Springfield visit:

Friday, October 16, 2009

UIS continues Lincoln Legacy

The University of Illinois Springfield continues its dominance as a leading institution in the study of the life of President Abraham Lincoln. The 2009 Lincoln Legacy Lecture series was held on October 15, 2009 focusing on “Lincoln and the Environment”.

Dr. Mark Fiege, associate professor of History at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins talked about how Lincoln’s views on the environment were shaped by his time on the farm working outdoors in Illinois. Dr. Fiege is the author of a book on the environmental history of the United States that is forthcoming from the University of Washington Press in its Weyerhaeuser Environmental Series.
Fiege met with a group of UIS students before his lecture to answer their questions about Lincoln.

“We’ve had a long history of top notch Lincoln scholars here and this just continues that,” said UIS History Club President Matt Parbs.

The Legacy Lecture was moderated by Dr. Michael Burlingame, professor of History and Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS. Burlingame taught History at Connecticut College for over 30 years before accepting the appointment at UIS this year. His recent two-volume biography, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) has been described as the definitive study.

“I’m deeply honored to hold the Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies and I hope I can live up to the high standards set by my predecessor,” said Burlingame.

Burlingame travels all around the world speaking about the life of our 16th president, but plans to return to Springfield to study at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.

Watch the entire Legacy Lecture in the Video on Demand section

Friday, October 09, 2009

UIS Adjunct Assistant Professor has work published in national journal

Dr. Boria Sax, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UIS, is having his article “The Magic of Animals: English Animal Familiars in the Perspective of Folklore” published in the next issue of The Journal Anthrozoos.

In the article he argues that witch trials profoundly changed human-animal relations in England and ultimately the world by demonizing the animal sages, guides, and protectors that fill traditional fairy tales, thus depriving animals of intrinsic worth so they could be either humanized as pets or brutalized as livestock. The article sheds new light on some of the most beloved fairy tales such as "The Frog Prince" and "Puss in Boots."

Sax teaches an online course at UIS entitled "Animals in Human Society", which won a national award from the Humane Society for the "best new course" of 2007.

The article will be published in both digital and print format with release expected in early to mid-November.

For more information visit Sax’s website at

UIS Economics Associate Professor appears on international radio program

Dr. Baker Siddiquee, economics faculty at UIS, was one of the four panelists on the Voice of America (VOA-Bangla)’s hour-long international call in show on the “Prospects of Investment in Bangladesh,” transmitted world-wide on October 8, 2009 from Washington, D.C.

The program is recorded in Bengali and can be listened here:

The other three panelists were Ambassador Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh in the United Nations; Mr. Ahmedus Samad Chowdhury, JP, Founder Director, British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industries in London and Chairman, 'S' TV Channel, London, UK; and Mr. Waliur Rahman Bhuiyan, President, Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce & Industries in Bangladesh & Managing Director, Bangladesh Oxygen Limited, Dhaka.

Friday, September 25, 2009

UIS Student honored with Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship award

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has selected Christopher Crockett from the University of Illinois Springfield as a 2009 award recipient of the ASM Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship (ASM-UTF).

This fellowship is aimed at highly motivated and competitive students who are interested in a career as an elementary or secondary school science teacher. Students will have the opportunity to develop a project to provide instruction in a scientific discipline in a local school or community setting in partnership with a mentor at their home institution and a teacher or site coordinator from the host site.

Each fellow receives up to a $2,000 stipend, a two-year ASM student membership, and travel support to the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE). Awardees are also encouraged to submit abstracts and applications to attend the 2009 ASMCUE.

This year, nine applications were received and four were awarded. Of the four awardees, three students were from masters’ and doctoral institutions and one student was from a liberal arts institution.

Michael Lemke from the University of Illinois-Springfield is Christopher Crockett’s faculty mentor, while Mary Dawson from Taylorville High School is the K-12 site mentor. The title of the project is: Microbes: Improving the Environment.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the oldest and largest single biological membership organization, with over 40,000 members worldwide. Please visit for more information on this fellowship or contact Michael Lemke at 217/206-7339 or

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Assistant Professor of Biology receives national grant to study brain stem development

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development grant to the University of Illinois Springfield.

The $216,150 grant will help Assistant Professor of Biology Rebecca Landsberg, Ph.D. continue her research into the region of the brain known as the brain stem, which is involved in regulating sleep, breathing, and coordination of movement.

“While much is known about the function of the neurons in this region we are just beginning to get an appreciation for how these neurons arise during fetal development,” said Landsberg. “Furthermore, during gestation this region of the brain is susceptible to environmental influences such as retinoic acid (a common ingredient in facial cream) and alcohol.”

Landsberg will study the molecular events that occur during development that results in the production of different types of brain stem neurons and the effects environmental influences have upon this process.

The grant will be used to provide research opportunities in developmental biology to UIS undergraduates. Student who seek to begin a career in science greatly benefit from early exposure to the scientific research process.

“I greatly appreciate that the NIH recognizes the value undergraduates can bring to the research efforts at a school such as UIS,” said Landsberg.

The project described was supported by Award Number R15HD059922 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on the research contact Assistant Professor of Biology Rebecca Landsberg, Ph.D. at 217/206-7338 or by e-mail at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Associate Professor of English conducts poetry reading at Lindsay home

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, Associate Professor of English and Past Chair of the English Department, 2003-2005, who publishes and conducts creative readings under her first two names, Nancy Genevieve, gave a poetry reading at the Vachel Lindsay Home in Springfield on Saturday, August 22, 2009.

As Poet in the Parlor, she read from Vachel Lindsay's poems and then from her new work, NYX: Sister of Erebus: A Memoir in Poetry. Perkins’ new poetry is the culmination of her Spring 2009 Sabbatical. She concluded the reading with a selection of poems from the initial work of a fourth poetry book, Prairie Observations.

“I feel completely at home in the Vachel Lindsay home. There is a feeling of kinship there, just as I felt when I walked through the front door of my great grandfather's house in Paducah," said Perkins. "It is the place. And the people--Job and Jennie. And those who attend for the poetry or for the poet or just drop in that day. And perhaps a spirit of Springfield poetry, encouraging us because ‘we finally got it’-- that message he [Vachel] so wanted us to hear when he was alive.”

Approximately, fifty people were in attendance. The reading was followed by a reception in the garden of the Vachel Lindsay Home.

For more information and photos from the event visit:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Same-Sex Marriage arguments explored in book

Jason Pierceson, Associate Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and at the University of Illinois Springfield, has published a book, Moral Argument, Religion, and Same-Sex Marriage: Advancing the Public Good, co-edited with Gordon A. Babst (Chapman University) and Emily R. Gill (Bradley University), with Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield.

The book presents arguments from scholars that demonstrate the moral basis for gay rights claims on a range of issues, from the rights of youth to same-sex marriage. The book challenges the notion that moral arguments can only be used to counter gay rights claims.

According to reviews, the book “contains timely and provocative essays on a subject rightly taking center stage in national debate” and “shows how and why the contemporary case for gay rights in the United States can and should be made in substantive moral terms, appealing to the values that unite us as a free people under the rule of law.”

Professor Pierceson has taught at UIS since 2005 and currently serves as chair of the department of political science. In addition to co-editing the book, Professor Pierceson authored a chapter, “Same-Sex Marriage and the American Political Tradition.”

More information on the book is available at

You may also contact Jason Pierceson at 217/206-7842 or e-mail

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WUIS's Rich Bradley to Anchor Last Newscast

After 35 years leading the newsroom at WUIS-WIPA/Illinois Public Radio News Director Rich Bradley will anchor his last newscast on September 25, 2009.

Bradley has been a part of the radio station since the day it went on the air as WSSR in 1975. Bradley is considered the father of the Illinois Public Radio Network, which he created to allow other public radio stations around the state to voluntarily share stories.

Bradley has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and city government during his more than four decades in radio. He came to Springfield in 1965 to become news director at WCVS radio. Bradley later went on to take a job with the Illinois News Network as a capitol beat reporter before coming to WUIS radio. Bradley attended the U of I at Urbana-Champaign and graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“All these years I’ve been reluctant to let go of this child of mine, but the time has come. The technology is at a point where I feel like I’m falling behind the curve rather than staying out in front of the curve,” said Bradley.

Bradley’s advice for young journalists is to focus on good writing and study history.

“Working at the university and in the university environment with young students has in a lot of ways I think kept me young,” said Bradley.

WUIS is currently in the middle of a multi-million dollar upgrade to all digital radio equipment. Bradley says he plans on keeping track of the changes even in retirement and isn’t ruling out voicing holiday specials. Bradley also plans to visit other public radio stations that are part of the Illinois Public Radio network that he built.

For more information on listener-supported WUIS pubic radio visit their website at

Watch the full raw version of our interview with Bradley:

CBM Associate Professor invited to Belarus

Nancy Scannell, Associate Professor in the College of Business and Management, was invited by the Belarus State University (BSU) to deliver a finance seminar. The US Embassy Minsk supported the associated Teaching Assistant Program intended to internationalize BSU's MBA program.

The photo to the above features (left to right) three teaching assistants assigned to Nancy's seminar: Vika, Rodion and Natalia. Each is sporting a CBM bag, compliments of Dean Ron McNeil's office.

The program was a first for BSU; they plan to continue such arrangements in the future based on the positive outcome of this Embassy/BSU initiative.

Nancy also conducted two student recruitment sessions organized and hosted by the Minsk Embassy, American Councils, the European Humanities University, and Streamline (an English-language training organization).

Nancy gives thanks to UIS offices of the Chancellor, Provost and CBM Dean for additional public relations gifts which Nancy shared with BSU administrators and students and to UIS associates Samba Dieng, Rick Lane, Lori Giordono, and Jonathan GoldbergBelle for related inputs and commitment to international academic outreach.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Student Volunteers Create 9/11 Video

Students from the University of Illinois Springfield’s Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center have put together a video in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Student and staff volunteers traveled around the UIS campus asking students what impact 9/11 had on them, where they were when the attacks happened and if they think it united the country.

“It’s probably the defining event in young people’s lives on campus since they’ve been alive it’s been the one event that has impacted the entire world,” said Jordan Jeffers, Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center Americorps VISTA.

The project is being done as part of the first ever 9/11 National Day of Service, which will be the culmination of President Obama’s Summer of Service.

Jeffers hopes the video interviews will spark discussion about the importance of the events and inspire people to work towards civic engagement.

The video will air on the campus cable channel at various times through Sunday.

Watch the full video of what the volunteers created below:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Diversity Center helps campus celebrate differences

By Courtney Westlake

Snacks, comfortable couches, a big-screen television and a caring staff draw students into the Diversity Center – Student Life Building 22 – whether it be for studying, watching a popular TV show with friends or discussing the need for a particular service with a staff member.

“The Diversity Center is a space where students can come and be whoever it is they want to be,” said Herb Caldwell, admission and community partner counselor for the center. “But more importantly, we are made up of staff who are really student-oriented, who are really going to help the students get connected with other resources. That is really the strength of the Diversity Center - helping all students from all backgrounds and all cultures.”

The Diversity Center was created a year ago at UIS to develop the understanding of differences through educational, cultural and social activities. The opening of the center kicked off with an open house during Welcome Week 2008.

The Diversity Center fulfills a great need to the UIS campus, Caldwell said, helping students, staff and faculty to celebrate the differences between people.

“It's a diverse world; we come from so many different backgrounds - geographic, ethnicities, religious, cultural, how we identify sexually,” he said. “A lot of times, misunderstandings come from ignorance. So what the Diversity Center is really trying to do is bring all these different things together so we can celebrate these things that make us different.”

“You may not agree with everything, but you want to have understanding so there can be acceptance,” Caldwell added. “That is key, to not just have tolerance but acceptance.”

Many changes and progress have been made since the opening of the Center, Caldwell said, including the extension of the center’s hours, especially in the evenings and weekends.

“Being student-friendly, you have to be up and at 'em when the students are,” he said. “We try to really keep an open door policy in practical sort of way. Students rise late and are up late, so we try to be accessible to them.”

The Diversity Center is made up of staff members Caldwell, Jeannie Capranica, who is the program manager, Yolanda Beamon, the center's graduate assistant, and Dr. Clarice Ford, who is the associate dean of student support services and director of the Center. Under the Center also falls the Women’s Center – directed by Lynn Otterson –the LGBTQ Resource Office, and the Center for First-Year Students, Caldwell said.

“We make sure we have dialogue and co-exist peacefully in terms of unity as a campus,” Caldwell said.

The Diversity Center is offering several new programs this year, including the Necessary Steps mentoring program that connects first-year students with older students and the Host Family Program, which enables local alumni and community members to serve as models of success to students.

“Jeannie also runs the Cultural Dine-Out program, which is a wonderful program where students can meet and go feast out in the community at different ethnic restaurants,” Caldwell added. “It provides dialogue and an opportunity to learn and experience different cultures.”

Students are first priority at the Diversity Center, and the Center not only works with other offices in Students Affairs, but also on the academic and social sides as well, Caldwell said.

“We want to really meet students' needs on every level, always helping with the students,” he said. “And we do provide a lot of emergency assistance - students without books, a student living in the townhouses without food, or any services within the community- but there doesn't need to be any great need to come in and hang out.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Professor to give presentation on Abraham Lincoln video from documentary series in Denmark

UIS Assistant Professor of Digital Media Liz Murphy Thomas will be presenting at a Visual Anthropology conference titled "Transcultural Montage" at the Moesgaard Museum at the University of Aarhus in Denmark from August 24 through August 26.

The presentation will be a discussion of the Abraham Lincoln video from her series titled "Let Us Praise Famous Men." "Let Us Praise Famous Men" is a series of videos that document the creation of historical icons through film and media. (The video and a more detailed description can be found here.)

Previously this piece had been exhibited in the “Dead Video / Live Video Festival” of the Boston Cyberarts Festival 2009 hosted by the Massachusetts College of Art and at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee where Murphy Thomas was the Lincoln Bicentennial keynote speaker.

In November, Murphy Thomas will also present on this work at a conference titled "Between History and Myth: Politics and Political Use of Abraham Lincoln" at the University of Milan in Italy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Clarice Ford will speak at Springfield banquet

Dr. Clarice Ford, director of the UIS Diversity Center, will be a speaker at the 90th Anniversary Banquet for Calvary Baptist Church and the East Springfield Nehemiah Project for urban renewal. The event will be held August 23 at the Northfield Inn Conference Center at 2 p.m.

The Nehemiah Project built 25 affordable home new homes last summer. Thirty more are planned this summer.

Banquet tickets are $50.00 each. For ticket information, contact Calvary Baptist Church at (217) 544-1424 or A few tickets will also be available at the door.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Professor utilizes ecology background for History Channel

By Courtney Westlake

When the History Channel decided to produce a series called “Life After People,” Dr. Matt Evans, assistant professor of biology at UIS, was one of the international experts they contacted for the show.

“They were hypothetically examining what the world would look like tomorrow, a year from now, a hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, without humans – if humans were to disappear tomorrow,” Evans said. “It is an interesting hypothetical concept. I prefer to look at what the world was like before people - before dinosaurs, the Ice Age, and the evolution of humans, but the History Channel wanted to take this apocalyptic kind of twist to the idea of what the world would look like and how long it would take to recover. They wanted to ask me what the wildlife would do since I'm wildlife specialist.”

Evans is originally from Canada and earned his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in 2003. His doctoral thesis was on wildlife ecology and the effects of forestry on wetland ecosystems in British Columbia. His background fit quite nicely with the questions the crew from the History Channel had for their show.

Evans traveled up to Chicago to meet with the crew in December for a three-and-a-half hour interview to discuss things like how long it would take the wildlife to recover if humans were wiped out, what kinds of behavioral consequences might occur and what kind of competition between animals might arise that humans currently suppress.

“They also asked a number of questions about the spread of naturally-occurring diseases in the animal population, such as rabies, which humans are trying to quarantine,” Evans said. “So they asked a lot of questions about how these diseases, which humans are trying to eradicate or quarantine, how they would spread and affect the natural population of animals without humans to stop the diseases from spreading.”

Evans said he wasn’t nervous because the History Channel crew was small and relaxed.

“It was a very fun and enjoyable experience,” he said. “It was an enjoyable conversation to ask these questions and to imagine what the world might be like and what animal populations might do without humans.”

The segment aired at least three times in April – “students came up to me saying they had seen the episode on three different dates,” Evans said – and Evans was also part of a promotional commercial for the series, which reportedly even played in movie trailers. Evans was pleased with both the show and with the exposure of UIS name, which was used in a caption during his interview, both during the show and the commercial.

Evans has been teaching at UIS since August 2007. Before arriving at UIS, he spent four years teaching at Mount Allison University, one of the “top undergraduate universities in Canada,” he said. He was looking for a position in a city about the size of Springfield when the opportunity opened up to come to UIS.

“I’m happy to be here. I enjoy the city and the size of university,” Evans said. “I like that we can build a rapport with students. We know our students by their first names and a little bit about their background and why they are enrolled in a certain program.”

Evans teaches courses on ecology, conservation biology of birds and mammals, human physiology and more at UIS. He has also been conducting research in the Arctic – northern Alaska and northern Canada, by the North Pole – since 2003, and has made several trips to the Arctic for research this summer.

While there, he has been studying general wildlife ecology and Arctic animal ecology projects on a variety of species and mammals, including caribou and grizzly bears. He has also been studying several bird species in great detail including golden eagles, swans, and a number of species of ducks.

Next year, Evans is anticipating taking students up to the Arctic with him and expanding his research projects and assisting students on projects as well.

“My goal is to continue this research indefinitely,” he said. “I’d like to conduct this Arctic research annually and continue to write about it and publish papers about it and, of course, get students involved with it.”

Thursday, July 02, 2009

UIS graduate receives award from Illinois Broadcasters Assocation

Greg Bishop, 2009 graduate of UIS with a degree in Communication, was recently awarded an Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Award in the category of Medium Market Radio for Best Use of New Media. Bishop is a producer, director and editor at WMAY-AM Radio.

The award ceremony, which was sponsored by the Illinois National Guard, was held on July 17 in Peoria. Bishop was one of several members of the WMAY staff who received awards.

Bishop’s award was given for a video he compiled of WMAY’s “Rally for Common Sense,” which was broadcast on the radio station in May 2008. The video was shot at the State Capitol Building during a rally held to encourage the governor and General Assembly to act on several ongoing issues at the time.

“I believe that the video I submitted was chosen because of the content and its relevance,” Bishop noted. “It captured the flavor of the audience and the message from the event, all while being upbeat and current. I was truly honored and pleased with the award.”

There are several different categories in the Silver Dome Awards in both large and medium markets, including best humorous and non-humorous commercials, best talk-show host, best station Web site, best reporter and more.

WMAY is owned by Mid-West Family Broadcasting, which also owns and operates three additional stations including 92.7 FM WQLZ, Alice at 97.7 FM, and Light Rock 98.7 FM WNNS.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Professor teaches economics in South Korea

Nancy Scannell, Associate Professor in the College of Business and Management, was invited by the President of Chonnam National University (CNU) in South Korea to teach Financial Economics for the University's inaugural "International Summer Semester."

CNU's initiative is intended to expose Korean students to international faculty. The photo features the two teaching assistants, Chul-hi and Youri, who Nancy was asked to train in the course of her teaching. While in South Korea, Nancy also facilitated a discussion about business ethics at the Gwangju International Center, a local community group.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

English professor reads poetry at Walden Pond Poetry Series

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, Associate Professor of English, read at the Walden Pond Poetry Series on June 21 in celebration of the Summer Solstice. The poets read their works on this longest day of the year to honor and celebrate the beauty of our natural world.

This group meets in the tradition of poet Henry David Thoreau, whose work is always read at this venue.

The readings were followed by a meal at host Douglas Bishop’s home.

Perkins publishes and reads her creative works under her first two names: nancy genevieve.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

English professor presents papers at annual meeting on Midwestern Literature

Nancy Genevieve Perkins, Associate Professor of English and Past Chair of the English Department, presented two papers at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, which met in East Lansing, Michigan, from May 7 to May 9.

One of Perkins’ papers was selected to be presented in the MidAmerican Award winner’s panel. The topic of the panel was “More than Regional: Universal Writers from the Heart of the Country.”

Perkins selected the work of UIS’ English Emeritus Professor John Knoepfle. His poetry has received numerous awards throughout Springfield, Illinois, and the Midwest.

Perkins’ paper was entitled "John Knoepfle’s Early Poetry: Taking the ‘wide slow waters’ of the Sangamon to the Rest of the World." The phrase "wide slow waters" was used in Knoepfle’s poem, "confluence."

Perkins’ interview of Knoepfle for this paper was recorded and placed in UIS’ Archives for future researchers. A distillation of the paper presented at the conference noted that "John Knoepfle’s poetic voice transports the voice of MidAmerica beyond this time and this place to poetic readers of history, place, culture and to writers of poetry wherever and whenever such readers and writers begin their journeys. His voice is as timeless as the rivers’—whose rhythmic voices his poetry emulates."

Perkins’ second paper was entitled "Poems from NYX: Sister of Erebus: A Memoir in Poetry." Perkins quoted Robert Frost to contextualize her current body of work: "(A poem) ends in clarification of life—not necessarily a great clarification, . . . but in a momentary stay against confusion."

This "Memoir in Poetry" is, according to Perkins’ introduction to her reading of these new poems, "the final book in the NYX poetry trilogy; (it) focuses on my family’s journey of goodbyes, as my mother, as all of our family, struggled with her Alzheimer’s. It is a story of her journey through Erebus, a nether region in ancient mythologies between this life and the next, a ‘place of darkness through which the souls passed on their way’ to the ‘land of the dead’ [Bulfinch’s Mythology 902, 910]; (it is) a region we too will travel. This poetry is the distillation of that bleak darkness into the clarification of absolute essentials."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Commencement Moments 2009

UIS' 38th Commencement Ceremony was filled with emotional and celebratory moments as hundreds of students received their diplomas on Saturday, May 16, 2009.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

UIS Forensics participates in Readers Theatre Tournament

At the beginning of May, UIS Forensics participated in the American Readers Theatre Association National Championship Tournament at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California.

Hilary Holmes, Niesa Patton and Samarth Rajendra performed an original Readers Theatre titled "Dream On," documenting the development of the American Dream throughout the country’s history. The UIS theatre was one of a few "world premieres," designating a theatre that had not been performed in competition prior to this event.

The performance was well-received and named a nominee for a special jury award recognizing achievement in script writing.

For information concerning UIS Forensics, contact Thomas Bartl, Director of Forensics, at

Monday, May 11, 2009

New admissions counselor focuses on international students

By Courtney Westlake

More and more college students today are looking to go beyond the borders of their native countries to study abroad, and that has become a positive thing for United States and for UIS.

Though facts like the U.S. is one of the most expensive countries in the world when it comes to education can sometimes deter students from other countries from seeking to study here, universities like UIS also have a lot of offer, and that is what Samba Dieng is using to counteract those drawbacks.

Dieng arrived at UIS in December 2008 as the first-ever international admissions counselor who specializes in international recruiting. Dieng, who was born in Senegal in West Africa, received his master’s degree in international relations and political science from Indiana State University and decided to pursue a career working with international students.

“Recruiting international students is crucial to any institution,” Dieng said. “International students bring differing perspectives to the classroom and to the dormitories. They are great addition to any campus. International students also bring in tuition dollars, which is important.”

International recruiting had not been a priority at UIS in previous years due to the fact that UIS has only recently become a four-year institution, Dieng said, but that is changing. UIS now has an international recruiting taskforce on campus to discuss issues involving international students and recruiting strategies.

“A well-reasoned approach, especially for an institution that has not really been in this business before, is to target very specific areas, like Asia and Latin America, instead of trying to recruit from all parts of the world,” Dieng said. “Specializing in specific areas will help us not only with understanding the cultures there but also with our future and where we want to have a presence five or 10 years from now.”

Competing on the international scene can be extremely challenging, especially being in competition with countries like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, who are not only very aggressive in terms of recruitment but also have country support, Dieng said.

Additionally, the effects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were tremendous as students found it difficult to get a visa to come to the U.S. and the U.S. lost much political credibility in other parts of the world, he said. More recently, the current economic crisis has also slowed down international recruitment because students are worried about the future of the U.S.

And soon, an initiative called the Bologna Accord in Europe will allow European students to move freely to any country in Europe – up to 40 different countries – to study, Dieng said, which could present another challenge in recruiting European students to the U.S.

“That being said, I think we have a whole lot to sell,” he noted. “I don't know of any other country that spends more on students’ success that the United States. You go to any institution and you see an advising center, a writing center, a diversity center - all sorts of centers and organizations focused on students’ successes.”

Part of Dieng’s job is finding out what matters to international students who are looking to study abroad and why UIS and its academic programs could be a good fit for them, which is key to UIS’ success in international recruiting.

“We need a more nuanced funnel when we’re dealing with international students,” he said. “We need better communication because they ask so many more questions than domestic students. We need to mention things like small class size – a 12 to one ratio with faculty – as well as location and safety.”

“The quality of education itself matters a whole lot to international students, and besides location and quality of education, safety matters the most,” he added. “I think any institution needs to put in the time, personnel and resources in order to be successful with the international recruitment initiative.”

Friday, May 08, 2009

Brookens Library features new Art Wall for campus and community

By Courtney Westlake

Brookens Library is hoping to plan for art gallery space in an future renovation, but since it is uncertain when the renovation might take place, they decided to take advantage of empty space they currently have available for a new Library Art Wall that features artwork by the UIS and local communities.

“For several years, we’ve been thinking that the campus needed a place for exhibiting artwork in addition to the Visual Arts Gallery and a place to bring in additional types of displays,” said Jane Treadwell, dean of library instructional services and university librarian.

Last year when the Library was considering hosting a student art competition, Megan Hunter, multimedia communications specialist at the Library, began exploring different ways to display artwork. She found a convenient hanging system that the Library was able to install, thanks to the Friends of Brookens Library.

Now the hanging system is in place around the corner from the Circulation Desk on the main floor.

“This space I picked particularly because it's a high traffic area in the library,” Hunter said. “A lot of students use the computers here in front of the Art Wall. It’s been an empty space for a long time, and we felt something needed to go there. It has really enhanced the library.”

The first two displays currently up on the wall include paintings by Dr. Bill Abler, professor in Human Development Counseling, and Rachel Hasenyager, office manager in the Office of Alumni Relations.

Now the Library is hoping to get word out around campus and to the Friends of Brookens Library that the Art Wall is available to showcase the artwork of the many talented people on campus and in the community, Treadwell said.

“We hope this is a way to get more people into the library and interested in the library as a place for lots of intellectual pursuits,” she said. “This is the library for the community, and I think it's important that the community members have lots of ways to interact with each other and find out about talents we have on campus.”

“At any university campus, it’s just amazing how many talents there are,” Treadwell added. “What we see is just the tip of the iceberg. We felt this is one way we can contribute to a more vibrant campus.”

To apply to exhibit artwork on the Library Art Wall, contact Marcia Rossi at 206-6597 or

Friday, May 01, 2009

Kim Rutherford wins 6th annual CAPE award

Kimberly Rutherford, disability services specialist in the Office of Disability Services at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is the recipient of the sixth annual Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award at UIS. The award was presented at a reception held April 30 in the Public Affairs Center Restaurant on campus.

The CAPE Award recognizes U of I academic professionals for their efforts in three general categories: work projects, professional development and affiliations, and contributions to their units. While the number of recipients and the amount of their awards varies by campus, UIS recipients receive $500 for personal use and $500 for their departments.

“Even though we only have one honoree, this award really recognizes all of the academic professionals for all that they do for UIS,” said Jerry Burkhart, chair of the Academic Professional Advisory Committee. UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen made the official presentation of the award and congratulated all the nominees.

Nominating materials from a UIS student read, “Had it not been for Kim Rutherford, I would have been unable to achieve what I have achieved; I would have been unable to graduate. I never would have made it without Kim.”

Accepting the award, Rutherford said, “I want say thank you to everyone on the list of nominees. All of you do so many good things for our students, and that’s what we’re all about.”

All academic professionals at the U of I are eligible to receive the CAPE Award. Nominations are reviewed by campus committees and candidates’ names are forwarded to the chancellors, who make the final selections.

Other UIS nominees for the 2008 CAPE Award were: Clay Bellot, academic technology service specialist in Information Technology Services; Munindra Khaund, multimedia education coordinator in Information Technology Services; Janette Kirkham, coordinator and placement developer in the Applied Study Office; Jim Korte, assistant dean of students; Tulio Llosa, director of educational technology in Information Technology Services; Mae Noll, undergraduate academic adviser; Candy Powers, assistant to the dean of the College of Education and Human Services; Shawn Craig Shures, assistant director/graduate intern recruiter for Graduate Intern Programs; and Bill Wheelhouse, general manager of WUIS.

The Academic Professional Advisory Committee at UIS is an elected body whose function, as defined by University statutes, is to furnish a channel of communication between academic professional staff and the administrative officers of the University.