Thursday, September 30, 2010

Human Services research benefits local agency

A Springfield agency is benefiting from the research work of a Human Services faculty member at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Assistant Professor Neil Headman developed expertise in family development, family resilience, family service engagement and has been working to help M.E.R.C.Y. Communities improve their model of service provision. He has been studying the effects of the new model on both staff and residents over the past year. The agency provides housing, employment assistance and other services to homeless women and their children.

“It makes what I’m doing here really feel meaningful if I can connect that to the community. That agency also helps to serve as a place for internships for our students,” said Headman.

Headman, who has both studied and worked directly with families in need, volunteered to help M.E.R.C.Y. Communities write a Service Model Handbook, and conducted a training session with staff members. He has surveyed clients and staff to see if the model is proving successful.

He says, based on initial review of the data, the model appears to be working, by changing the way clients and employees interact. Residents at the M.E.R.C.Y. home feel like they have a more positive relationship with staff, since the model has been in place.

Headman says he enjoys doing research in the community because it gives him a chance to take findings from literature and put them to the test.

“For one it keeps you connected to what’s actually going on around you and what the people really need, rather than just kind of an interesting research topic,” he said.

Headman plans to continue his work with M.E.R.C.Y. Communities in the future.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

UIS at 40: Cullom Davis

As a founding faculty member of Sangamon State University, Cullom Davis has seen the campus grow over the last 40 years. He helped recruit the original faculty and even played a role in designing the buildings on campus.

Davis is known for his work as a historian, having founded an oral history project at the University of Illinois Springfield. He also served as an administrator and dean of Brookens Library during its early days.

Davis is an Emeritus Professor of History at UIS spending time working on the oral history project and traveling.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New staffers bring decades of experience

From left: DeShana Forney, Katherine Laing and Lisa Troyer.

Three new staff members who report to University of Illinois President Michael J. Hogan bring decades of experience in government, business and higher education.

Katherine “Kappy” Laing, executive director of governmental relations, has 27 years of experience working with local, state and federal governments. Before joining the university, she was the Chicago Public Schools’ chief government affairs liaison.

DeShana Forney, associate director of governmental relations, is former executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority. She served on the staff of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Lisa Troyer, chief of staff and Hogan’s executive assistant, was his chief of staff at the University of Connecticut, where he was president before coming to the U of I July 1. She is a former interim associate provost at the University of Iowa.

All three fill vacant existing positions.

Despite differences in their new roles, Troyer, Forney and Laing said a priority will be learning more about the effects of the university’s financial challenges on instruction and research.

“Everything that we do at the university on all of the campuses is affected by the budget,” Laing said.

“That’s definitely been clear as we introduce ourselves to employees in Urbana, Chicago and Springfield.”

Laing earned a B.A. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law.

She has spent most of her career in Springfield and Washington, D.C., monitoring legislation related to local governments and businesses.

She was a lobbyist for AT&T, directed intergovernmental affairs for the Chicago Transit Authority and worked as a legislative liaison for Chicago in the administration of the late Mayor Harold Washington.

Outside work, she enjoys canoeing and bird watching in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Laing succeeds Richard Schoell, longtime governmental liaison to Springfield and Washington.

As executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Forney worked to gain the support of Illinois legislators and the state’s congressional delegation on affordable housing issues.

“Because I attended college and worked in Washington and Springfield, I’ve seen the inner workings of government and can bring that experience to my role at the university,” said Forney, who earned a bachelor’s in political science from Howard University and master’s in political studies at UIS.

Forney enjoys boot camp-style exercise and reading political novels in her spare time.

Troyer, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut and University of Iowa, spent more than a decade researching innovative problem-solving in groups and organizations.

A classically trained pianist and jazz keyboardist, she earned a master’s and Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University.

One of her primary responsibilities is to coordinate with the president’s senior team, including vice presidents and university officers, to implement various initiatives. She also ensures follow-through as Hogan meets with faculty, alumni and business leaders.

“Being a part of such a community is exciting,” Troyer said.

“We face daunting challenges because the entire landscape of public higher education is changing.

“Those challenges, however, are opportunities to re-shape public higher education, become even better at what we do, and ensure that the University of Illinois continues to be one of the world’s best universities.”

Article by Patrice Relerford, University of Illinois Office for University Relations

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adjunct faculty member receives award for "best scholarly article"

Dr. Boria Sax, an adjunct assistant professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois Springfield, is the recipient of the 2010 Eisenstein-DeLacy Award for "best scholarly article" from the National Congress of Independent Scholars (NCIS).

The award was given for his work on the article "The Tower Ravens as Mascots of Britain in World War II”, which was published in the German book Animals in War: From Antiquity to the Present (2009), edited by Rainer Poepenhege. The book explores how animals have been important participants in war.

The Eisenstein-DeLacy award is given biannually in recognition of the best published article submitted by an NCIS member.

Sax’s other recent publications include the book The Raven and the Sun: Poems and Stories (2010). The book is a “collection of poems and tales, centered on the mysterious world of crows and ravens that exists around us almost unnoticed,” according to the publisher. Sax explores the “universality of the narratives in which animal wisdom plays, as he retells Eastern European and Native American crow/raven tales.”

Sax has been teaching in the Philosophy Department at UIS since spring 2006. He teaches online courses such as “Philosophy and Animals” and “Animals and Human Civilization”. His "Animals in Human Society" course won a national award from the Humane Society for the "best new course" in 2007.

Sax is a critically acclaimed author and scholar, as well as an authority on online learning.

Monday, September 20, 2010

UIS at 40: Judy Everson

Judy Everson’s father gave her a strange look when she and her husband packed up and left Southern Illinois University Carbondale for a new startup campus called Sangamon State University in 1970.

When Everson arrived, the campus was still under construction and you had to take a hardhat tour of the buildings. As a charter faculty member she taught courses in public speaking, history and literature.

Everson retired in 2001 after 31 years at SSU/UIS and currently serves as a Professor Emerita of English.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

UIS at 40: Charles Schweighauser

When Charles Schweighauser started teaching at Sangamon State University in the early 1970s the campus wasn’t more than a hand full of temporary buildings.

Nearly 40 years later, Schweighauser reflects on his efforts to open an observatory on the roof of Brookens Library and a facility away from the city lights, which still helps students better observe the stars today.

Schweighauser is an Emeritus Professor of Astronomy-Physics, English, and Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Criminal Justice assistant professor researches prison recidivism among women

Why do some women return to a life of crime after leaving prison and why is there so little research on female offenders? Those are just some of the questions University of Illinois Springfield Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Juanita Ortiz is trying to answer.

Ortiz has been researching female recidivism rates in Oklahoma, which has the highest per-capita incarceration rate for women in the United States. Now she plans to explore the trend in Illinois to see if women are ending up in prison for the same reasons.

“Illinois is a different picture demographically. I want to see if the needs are the same, if the factors behind recidivism are the same for women in a region that is pretty different,” said Ortiz.

The Criminal Justice researcher began her study by interviewing 22 female repeat offenders at a maximum-security prison in Oklahoma. She was surprised to find out women have historically not been the focus of Criminal Justice research.

“I had never considered the situation that women don’t get a focus in the research. Focus as to why they’re committing crime, what brings them into crime, even some of the contexts like abuse and poverty,” she said.

Ortiz uses her research in the classroom at UIS when teaching her Women and Criminal Justice course. She says students enjoy when she goes beyond the textbook and shares her personal research findings.

“As undergraduates they haven’t had the opportunity to go out and interact with these populations,” she added.

That’s why she’s working with Illinois Department of Corrections to take her students on prison tours. She’s hoping the relationship she’s building with wardens will allow her access to female offenders.

“I have spoken to them about getting into work with their women and they seem really open to that,” said Ortiz.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

40 Years of History feature video

The University of Illinois Springfield is proud of its 40 years of history! The UIS Newsroom recently interviewed a group of former faculty, staff, alumni and community members who have watched the campus grow.

In the video above, you’ll hear some of their fond memories about Sangamon State University and UIS from the past. Campus leaders will also reflect on their vision for UIS’ next 40 years.