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 tbart2@uis.edu.

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 mross1@uis.edu.

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.

Students receive honors at Model United Nations conference

A class of 12 students from UIS attended the annual National Model United Nations conference, held April 7 through April 11 in New York City, and was honored with the Distinguished Delegation Award for their efforts at the conference.

Model United Nations is a conference that simulates an actual United Nations meeting. More than 300 groups of students from schools internationally attended the conference, each representing a specific country. The group from UIS was chosen to represent Croatia.

This is the first year that a course was designed specifically to learn about and attend the conference, said Adriana Crocker, professor of political science and teacher of the class. In past years, a group of students from the UIS Model United Nations Club attended the conference.

“I felt like the students were much better prepared,” Crocker said. “In class, we discussed Croatia, its history, culture, relations with other neighboring countries, and we also studied how the UN works.”

Each of the students served on various committees during the conference. Students defended the committee they wanted to serve on in class and were placed on those committees by their arguments and interests. Some students served in groups of two on larger committees, while other students represented Croatia by themselves on smaller committees.

“One of the most interesting challenges, I thought, was that you have to throw your own personal ideas aside and have to portray and represent Croatia, even if it’s not what you believe personally is best,” said Dustin Morrison, who represented Croatia on the World Trade Organization committee along with classmate Marko Markovic.

In addition to the group’s Distinguished Delegation honor, several UIS students also received individual awards at the conference. Kelsey Quinn received the Best Delegate Award from among more than 400 delegates. Priyanka Deo was honored with the Best Chair Award for her role in serving as chairman of the General Assembly. Deo served as chair for more than 450 delegates.

“I really got to know the rules and procedures,” she said. “I was aware of Croatia’s viewpoints because we had studied them in class and discussed them before the conference, but it was interesting to see all of the other countries’ viewpoints on issues. It was a really fun experience.”

Both Deo and Quinn have been invited to attend a conference in Switzerland this summer based on their exemplary efforts at Model United Nations.

“I have to congratulate our students; it was quite an accomplishment to receive those awards and honors,” Crocker said. “It was a great experience for our students. They got to learn about foreign policy and diplomacy and also got to hear from and learn about different students from across the world.”