Monday, January 28, 2013

Three inducted into the UIS Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame

The Bill Miller Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame honored three graduates from the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting program who have distinguished themselves in the field of journalism. Nina Burleigh, Jim Prather, and Jim Webb were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday, January 28, 2013.

The Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) Hall of Fame was named in honor of Bill Miller, an award-winning journalist who served as the program’s director for 19 years. After a semester of classroom study, students work six months in the Capitol covering state government and politics under the supervision of professional journalists. More than 600 students have completed the program since the first class graduated in 1973. Illinois Issues, the state’s leading public affairs magazine, and WUIS-91.9, the capital city’s NPR station, established the bi-annual event in 2006. Both are units of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

Nina Burleigh is a journalist and the author of five books. She writes the weekly Bombshell column at the New York Observer. Her last book, The Fatal Gift of Beauty, was a New York Times bestseller. In the last several years, she has covered a wide array of subjects, including American politics, the Arab Spring, Israeli archaeological forgers, Iraq war veterans and drug addiction, Arab feminism, Iraqi immigrants in Nebraska, the NYPD and human trafficking in New York City, Nazi-looted art at the MOMA, a small-town Italian mayor murdered over slow food politics, Arctic travel, Chinese immigrants to Italy, and expat life in Italy. She covered the Clinton White House for Time and wrote human interest stories for People magazine as a staff writer based in New York in the 2000s. She has written for numerous publications including Businessweek, The New Yorker, the New York Times and New York Magazine, is a contributing editor at Elle and has appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, The Today Show, 48 Hours, MSNBC, CNN and, on NPR and many radio programs.

Born and educated in the Midwest, based in New York, Burleigh has traveled extensively in the Middle East and lived in Italy and France. She lives in New York with her husband and two children. Nina received her bachelor’s degree in English from MacMurray College, a master’s in English from the University of Chicago and her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS (then Sangamon State University) in 1984.

Jim Prather began his career as a government reporter for WICS-TV in Springfield. He later went to work as a government reporter for KARK-TV in Little Rock, Ark., where he covered the Bill Clinton-Frank White gubernatorial campaign and the ensuing Clinton administration. Prather made the transition to management when he became the assignment editor for KTHV-TV in Little Rock. Later, Prather served as news director at KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, KTXS-TV in Abilene, Texas, and KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo, Calif. In 1989, he became assistant news director at WMAR-TV in Baltimore. Two years later he was named news director at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee.

During his 12-year tenure in Milwaukee, Prather rebuilt the organizational structure and culture in the Today’s TMJ-4 newsroom to provide more viewer-focused newscasts. In August 1995, Prather was named general manager of Today’s TMJ-4. With the help of a resurgent NBC prime time, a strong leadership team and a strategic plan which focused on winning breaking news, weather and investigative reporting, Today’s TMJ-4 became the dominant news leader in the Milwaukee marketplace.

In 1997, Prather was named executive vice president of the Journal Broadcast Group. In December 1998 he became president of the television group. In August 2003, Prather moved to Las Vegas and took on the role of vice president and general manager of KTNV, a station in the Journal Broadcast Group’s largest revenue market. In July 2005, Prather was named executive vice president, Television and Radio Operations, of Journal Broadcast Group. He now oversees radio and television station clusters in Boise and Tucson, and a Journal Broadcast Group duopoly in Palm Springs.

A graduate of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Prather holds a bachelor of science degree in radio-television and political science, and a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Jim Webb is the editor for a Chicago Tribune investigative team focused on state and local government. Prior to that, he was the paper’s Illinois political editor from mid-2005 to mid-2010. In addition to supervising daily coverage of Chicago City Hall, Cook County and Illinois state government for five years, Webb oversaw state and local campaign coverage for the paper. During that time, he was the lead editor for the newspaper’s investigations of pay-to-pay politics involving former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, hiring corruption under then-Mayor Richard Daley and influence peddling involving City Hall zoning.

In his current role, Webb works with a team of reporters focused on the relationships between powerful public officials and private interests. The team has produced a series of stories about how Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has built a political empire while repeatedly taking public actions that benefit private clients of his property tax law firm. Starting before the election of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Metro investigations team has examined Emanuel’s creation of a campaign fund juggernaut, outlined the new mayor’s increasing reliance on privatization and exposed his resistance to transparency on everything from speed cameras to school closings.

Prior to joining the Tribune, Webb spent 18 years as a reporter, desk supervisor and news editor for The Associated Press.

After receiving a B.A. in journalism from Bradley University, Webb interned with the AP at the Illinois statehouse as part of the master’s program in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield. Upon graduation in 1987, he parlayed the internship into a series of jobs with the AP in St. Louis, Louisville, Frankfort, Ky., and Philadelphia before moving to the Chicago bureau in 1989.

Patty Culhane, (keynote speaker at the Bill Miller Hall of Fame reception) is a UIS Public Affairs Reporting Program graduate of 1995. She joined Al Jazeera in 2009 and is now the White House correspondent for the network. Before joining, she worked as a correspondent for MSNBC covering the Bush administration, where she traveled both domestically and internationally with President George W. Bush. From 2000 to 2006, she worked at NBC affiliate WAVY-TV in Norfolk, Va. as a military reporter. She has been a journalist for 17 years, working in Iowa, Illinois and Norfolk, Va., where she covered the U.S. military, traveling extensively through the Middle East covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Laura Alexander named Senior Director of Human Resources at UIS

Laura Alexander has been named Senior Director of Human Resources at the University of Illinois Springfield. She brings over 20 years of human resources experience to a campus of over 1,100 employees. Alexander’s employment begins on February 4.

“I am extremely excited to be joining the team at UIS in February,” said Alexander. “When I visited UIS in December, I was highly impressed with the feeling of energy and synergy on the campus around Chancellor Susan Koch's vision and plan for its future. I truly enjoyed the team atmosphere and the warm, home-like feeling I experienced walking around campus and meeting folks.”

A native of Hancock, Michigan, Alexander has held human resources positions at Plymouth State University, Michigan Technological University, and the University of Wyoming. She earned a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Plymouth State University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Michigan Technological University.

“I am honored to have been chosen to be a part of the University of Illinois Springfield and very much look forward to working with all of the people on campus as well as University Administration,” said Alexander.

She will replace Acting Director of Human Resources Robert Lael, who will retire on February 1.

UIS is a premier public university that provides students with a high-quality liberal arts education, exceptional public affairs opportunities, and outstanding professional preparation programs. The campus offers 24 bachelor’s degree programs, 20 master’s programs and 1 doctoral program. UIS has four core strengths: (1) a teaching-focused academic experience; (2) an abundance of opportunities to collaborate; (3) a right-sized supportive community; and (4) a tradition of educating public servants and leaders. UIS has four colleges: business and management; education and human services; liberal arts and sciences; and public affairs and administration.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Leadership lived: Senior biology major represents UIS, mentors students

Jinger Sanders, a senior biology major, never imagined the leadership opportunities she’d be offered at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“Coming in as a freshman, I never thought all of the things I would have accomplished now as a senior looking back,” said Sanders. “The small, close-knit community helps you grow as a leader at UIS.”

For the past three years, Sanders has been volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois. During the school year, she spends 45 minutes each week mentoring a student at Little Flower Elementary School. Sanders and her mentee, Selena, eat lunch, play games, do homework, and talk about life in general.

“I just think this is an excellent opportunity to give back and being around Selena, I learn as much from her as she learns from me,” said Sanders. “It’s just a joy coming in and seeing someone who is excited to spend time with you, who’s eager to learn, and have your company.”

In addition to her volunteer activities, Sanders also serves as the UIS student representative to the University of Illinois Alumni Association. It’s a position she’s held since her sophomore year, representing UIS at events on all three campuses.

“That experience has really shaped me into the individual I am today,” she said.

Sanders recently helped launch the “I Help, U Help” homecoming service project, which is sponsored by the Alumni Association. She hopes it becomes an annual event, as UIS students give back to the community.

“UIS is a perfect place to enhance your leadership skills, even if you came to UIS with no leadership skills; UIS brings the leader out in you,” said Sanders.

The future doctor feels confident that she made the right choice to attend UIS and is looking forward to the future.

“I’m proud to be a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Illinois Springfield,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how the university grows and what great opportunities are coming to this university.”

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

UIS professors publish book on Same-Sex Marriage in Latin America

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professors of Political Science Jason Pierceson and Adriana Piatti-Crocker are co-editors, along with Shawn Schulenberg of Marshall University, of a new book, Same-Sex Marriage in Latin America: Promise and Resistance.

Chapters explore the role of public opinion, political parties, courts and other institutions on the shaping of policies recognizing same-sex couples in the region. The volume also includes specific chapters on Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay.

The book was published by Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. The book is a follow-up volume to Same-Sex Marriage in the Americas: Policy Innovation for Same-Sex Relationships also published by Lexington in 2010.

In addition to editing the book, Pierceson and Crocker authored individual chapters. Crocker’s chapter is entitled, “Diffusion of Same-Sex Policies in Latin America,” and Pierceson’s chapter is entitled, “Variations in the Judicialization of Same-Sex Marriage Politics in Latin America.”

Reviewers have called the book a “terrific follow up to Same-Sex Marriage in the Americas [that] presents an incisive and comprehensive picture of the evolution of the issue across Latin America” and note that it “assembles some of the most innovative authors working on LGBT politics in Latin America.”

More information can be found at or contact Jason Pierceson at 217/206-7842 or