Thursday, April 30, 2009

Professor appointed to additional term on Springfield International Visitors Commission

Nancy Scannell, Associate Professor in the College of Business and Management, was reappointed by Mayor Timothy Davlin to the Springfield International Visitors Commission for an additional three-year term (through 2012).

Commission visitors are sent to Springfield via the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as well as by a variety of other private and public agencies charged with developing professional programming visits for guests to the U.S.

The U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Program brings visitors to the U.S. who are current or potential leaders in their respective countries. They include politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, educators, doctors, lawyers and social service providers and are selected by American Foreign Service Officers overseas. Currently 47 Heads of Government and Chiefs of State Worldwide are alumni of the International Visitors Program, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Professor brings utility regulation focus to UIS through Ameren Professorship

By Courtney Westlake

It was purely an accident that Dr. Karl McDermott wound up as a leading expert on public utility economics and utility regulation.

McDermott was studying for his master’s degree at the University of Wyoming, pursuing a focus in money and banking.

“When one professor retired and the other one got sick, there was no money and banking anymore,” he said with a laugh. “So I ended up taking public utility economics as a placeholder and wrote my master’s thesis on it. Sometimes, you just find something when you weren’t looking for it.”

In April 2008, McDermott arrived at UIS to become the new Ameren Endowed Professor in Business and Government, a professorship that is housed in the College of Business and Management. Through his Ameren professorship, McDermott’s duties include teaching, conducting research and facilitating lectures and seminars for corporate, political and civic leaders.

Prior to being at UIS, McDermott served in numerous roles within the field of public utility economics, including being a commissioner at the Illinois Commerce Commission under Governor Jim Edgar, founding the Center for Regulatory Studies at ISU and traveling the world as a regulation consultant.

“The Ameren professorship was exciting,” he said. “I had been a consultant working in court cases and being cross-examined, and while it was interesting, I missed teaching. With the opportunity to have this endowed chair and have a chance to create a regulatory institution that could do research and educational programs, that seemed like the right thing to do. So I was willing to give up life as a consultant and traveling around the world; now I can help students get into that world, and that’s exciting.”

Through funds provided by the Ameren professorship, McDermott is planning to hire a research assistant this summer, as well as travel around the region to promote the public utility economics focus at UIS.

“One of the things I’m trying to do is reach out to the public utility community, both companies and regulators, and let them know that we’re in the market and turning out students,” he said.

McDermott is currently in the process of creating the Center for Business and Regulation at UIS within the College, he said, which is a major step for UIS’ role in the field of utility economics.

“It’s a place where I hope we can get research money and help try to solve some of the public policy problems,” McDermott said. “It will also hopefully be part of the MBA program, so we’re hoping to have a sequence in regulation so students can get a concentration in regulation or even a certificate.”

One of the first items on the list for the Center for Business and Regulation will be to host the American Gas Association annual meeting in Chicago this summer.

“I’ll be teaching some of the classes, and I’m hoping that we can use this to bring some students up there and introduce them to different people and help them with job prospects, so it has a lot of different angles,” McDermott said.

“We need more students who are interested in regulation,” he added. “This is a potential field for advancing their careers. Regulation can involve all aspects of management, and not just management but also public affairs, public policy, history and other aspects. Hopefully we can get a program up and running and turn out some students. The more we do that, the more utilities and government agencies will come looking for us to supply them with people for jobs.”

McDermott is currently teaching an ECCE (Engaged Citizenship Common Experience) class – Accounting 454 - on American economy and regulation’s role in the American economy.

“Through this class, we’re trying to introduce our students to a wide range of ways in which regulations actually impact our lives,” he said. “I tell students ‘it's from the cradle to the grave - your pediatrician is regulated all the way to your undertaker, and almost everything in between.’ There are a lot of ideas that can pop out and a lot of job opportunities. In today’s economy, where what we’ve seen is the potential failure of a free market process that didn’t have enough regulations to kind of reign it in, this all of a sudden makes the idea of studying regulations that much more important for the students. So they may see this as way of having job opportunities, and I’d like to encourage that.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

UIS professor receives educational honor at annual conference

Dr. William Phillips, UIS associate professor of Educational Leadership, received the Van Miller Distinguished Scholar Practitioner Award recently at the 2009 Illinois Association of School Administrators Annual Conference.

The Van Miller award is given to recognize "outstanding contributions through their actions and leadership to the field of education in the state of Illinois."

Van Miller served as a Superintendent in Ridgefield, CT., earned a doctoral degree at Harvard and then came to the University of Illinois as a faculty member in 1947. He is considered one of the first scholars in the area of education administration.

The list of past recipients of this award includes Illinois superintendents, professors of education, Illinois state superintendents and others recognized for their special contributions from a variety of perspectives.

The criteria for the award include: Change Agent, Scholarly Practitioner, Professional Commitment and Mentor.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Student named finalist in photography competition

By Courtney Westlake

When UIS student Andy Mitkos decided to enter an international student photography competition, he opted at the last minute to "thrown in" a few more photos than he had chosen originally to "round out" his entry, he said.

It was one of the last-minute photos that impressed the judges.

Mitkos was selected as a finalist in the 29th Annual Student Photography Contest sponsored by Nikon and Photographer’s Forum Magazine. His photo, titled “Any Landing You Can Walk Away From...,” will be published in the Best of College Photography Annual 2009.

The winning photograph captures a scene of a plane underwater that Mitkos took while he was scuba diving off the coast of Aruba. He used an underwater housing for camera, which weighs about 50 pounds including the camera.

“I’ve always loved photography, and I had the fortune of being able to get really good camera few years back,” he said. “I like to use photography in everything I do.”

Mitkos is currently earning his degree in mass communications and has taken two photography courses with Professor Michael Duvall. He also works fulltime at Lincoln Land Community College as a blackboard system administrator.

He said he is thrilled to be among the finalists in the competition.

“Professor Duvall suggested it to me, and I entered it not expecting anything to happen,” he said. “I got collection of what I thought were my best pictures and just hoped to get some kind of recognition.”