Friday, May 31, 2013

UIS professor to study the massive star Eta Carinae using the Hubble Space Telescope

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Astronomy-Physics John Martin is part of a group of scientists that will be studying the massive star Eta Carinae using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Martin will utilize a specialized technique he developed to measure the changing brightness of the star. The collaboration, headed by Dr. Andrea Mehner of the European Southern Observatory also includes astronomers in Japan and Minnesota. The researchers plan to study ongoing changes in the brightness and spectrum of Eta Carinae using ultraviolet wavelengths of light that cannot penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere.

“We can only do this type of research by utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope,” said Martin. “This is a rare opportunity to observe a star on the verge of going supernova before it explodes.”

Eta Carinae is one of the most massive stars in our galaxy with a mass more than 100 times the Sun. Its history of violent outbursts and eruptions includes one in the mid-nineteenth century when Eta Carinae briefly became the second brightest star visible in the night sky. During that Great Eruption it ejected an expanding shell of material that is visible today through a small telescope. Astronomers think that these outburst (called “supernova impostors”) are part of the life-cycle of the most massive stars before they explode as supernova.

“The atoms of iron in your blood and the calcium in your bones were made inside the core of massive stars like Eta Carinae,” said Martin. “Astronomers want to understand how supernova impostor activity helps disperse the atoms manufactured deep inside these stars.”

Eta Carinae, at a distance of about 7,000 light years from Earth, is too far south to be seen in the night sky in Illinois, but in the last ten years it has brightened enough to become visible to the naked eye in parts of the Southern Hemisphere.

“We have theorized that Eta Carinae is at a critical stage and may undergo dramatic changes over the next few decades,” said Martin.

Time on the Hubble Space Telescope is allocated through a competitive peer-review process with only about 20% of proposals successfully earning time. Martin and his colleagues were awarded eleven “orbits” (roughly the equivalent of 8 hours) over the next two years.

“It might not seem like much but it’s a great affirmation of your work to be chosen by your peers,” said Martin. “We expect to get a lot of productive science out of the time we have been awarded.”

For more information, contact Martin at 217/206-8342 or

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Leadership lived: Student-athlete spends time off the field volunteering

As an outfielder on the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team, Adam Unes knows being a NCAA student-athlete means more than just taking the field and playing ball.

Unes and his teammates spent over 300 hours during the spring semester volunteering at St. John’s Breadline. The downtown Springfield facility serves daily meals to the homeless population. He personally volunteered over 50 hours.

“It’s a very humbling experience,” said Unes. “I think before this you tend to not really understand what these people are going through and what they might need, so when I come here it gives me an opportunity to kind of connect with them on a higher level.”

Unes is a junior Business Administration and Management Information Systems major at UIS. He’s a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee.

During the fall semester, he helped the baseball team build a Habitat for Humanity home on 5th Street in Springfield.

“It was a split level home, so we actually helped out two families,” said Unes.

As a student-athlete, he knows it’s important to stay involved in the community and give back to those who support him.

“When we give back to the community, they in return, come out and support us through athletics, but it’s also important from a moral standpoint to come out and help those who are less fortunate because its something they need. We need to learn that we can’t take things for granted,” said Unes.

As a team, UIS baseball spent over 1,000 hours volunteering in the Springfield community during the 2012-13 academic year.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

UIS professors publish book on teaching gender and sexuality in the university classroom

University of Illinois Springfield faculty members Michael Murphy and Elizabeth Ribarsky have published a new book entitled Activities for Teaching Gender and Sexuality in the University Classroom. The book, published by Rowman and Littlefield Education, is available in paperback and electronic formats.

“This is the first interdisciplinary collection of activities devoted entirely to teaching about gender and sexuality,” said Murphy, a UIS assistant professor of women and gender studies. “It offers both new and seasoned instructors a range of exciting exercises that can be immediately adapted for their own classes, at various levels, and across a range of disciplines.”

Activities are self-contained, classroom-tested, and edited for ease of use and potential to remain current. The book is designed to serve as a desk-reference for gender studies and sexual communication educators.

“Each activity is thoroughly described with a comprehensive rationale that allows even those unfamiliar with the material/concepts to quickly understand and access the material, learning objectives, required time and materials, directions for facilitation, debriefing questions, cautionary advice, and other applications,” said Ribarsky, a UIS assistant professor of communication.

For the reader’s benefit, each activity is briefly summarized in the table of contents and organized according to themes common to most social science classrooms: Work, Media, Sexuality, Body, etc. Many activities also include handouts that can be photocopied and used immediately in the classroom.

The book is available for purchase on and the publisher’s website. For more information, contact Murphy at or Ribarsky at

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

UIS Peoria Center MBA student awarded FMC Technologies Inc. Fellowship

Sripada Kuber, a graduate student in the MBA program at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been awarded a $12,000 fellowship from FMC Technologies Inc. for the 2013-14 academic year.

Kuber, a Dunlap, Ill. resident, takes classes at the UIS Peoria Center. The UIS Peoria MBA format is designed to meet the needs of students who are employed full-time, but wish to complete degree requirements in a timely manner. Courses are offered so that it is possible for students to complete degree requirements in less than two years.

The fellowship program honors outstanding graduate students in business administration, economics, engineering, finance or related fields. Final selections are made by representatives from FMC Technologies, the University of Illinois, and the U of I Foundation.

Applicants are required to submit a background essay describing their achievements as a graduate student, as well as three letters of reference, and official transcripts. Faculty members nominate students for consideration.

The FMC Educational Fund (formerly the Link-Belt Educational Fund) was established in 1963 by U of I alumnus Bert A. Gayman, who generously donated 10,000 shares of stock to the University of Illinois Foundation.

For more information, contact Cecilia Cornell, faculty associate in the Provost’s Office, at 217/206-7230 or

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Leadership lived: UIS program helps student fulfill his dream


Blake Johnson, who recently graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Anthropology, has always wanted to become a teacher.

Thanks to UIS’ Project Midstate Student Support for Teaching he’ll get that opportunity. The program helps students pay for college; with the promise they’ll become local educators following graduation.

“I really, really want to be a teacher because at a very troubling time in my life there were some really awesome teachers that stepped up and really uplifted me and helped me to be here and the leader I am today. I hope to be that person for someone else in the future,” said Johnson.

Outside of the classroom, Johnson was the Student Government Association representative for the College of Education and Human Services and mentored kids in Springfield Public Schools through the AVID Tutoring Program.

Johnson spent the spring semester student teaching and observing at Jefferson Middle School in Springfield. He even planned a visit to UIS, so students in his class could learn more about college.

“It’s deepened my passion for it because I can see where I can be effective. I see where my leadership skills I’ve gained from UIS can be useful,” said Johnson.

UIS gave Johnson the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and learn about other cultures through the Study Abroad program.

“Having those experiences abroad with other cultures, other leaders from other places in the world was really, really intriguing and eye opening just to know there’s a whole world out there,” he said.

As a Springfield native, Johnson always knew about UIS, but didn’t know about the abundance of opportunities until he visited.

“When I first stepped on campus, I felt like home,” said Johnson.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Peter Boltuc named the Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences

James Ermatinger, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois Springfield announced today the appointment of Peter Boltuc as the Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“We are proud of Peter Boltuc’s international reputation and his interdisciplinary approach to teaching and scholarship. His work in moral and political philosophy and machine consciousness across fields make him an ideal Schewe Liberal Arts and Sciences Professor,” said Ermatinger.

Boltuc, a professor of philosophy, serves on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals, and is editor of the American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers, which under his editorship has become a full-fledged academic journal. Boltuc has maintained an extremely productive research program, with well over 100 peer reviewed articles and presentations.

At UIS, Boltuc served as chair of the Community Outreach Partnership Center, administering a substantial U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant. He served as chair of the philosophy department from 2003 to 2006, and used that position to establish the nation's first online B.A. degree in philosophy. He has maintained active collaborations with Europe, especially with the Warsaw School of Economics. He currently serves on the UIS Campus Senate, and is the vice chair of the University of Illinois Senates' Conference.

Boltuc has a long history of service both inside and outside academia. He chaired an advisory committee for culture to Lech Walesa in his first presidential campaign in 1990.

He has two Ph.D. degrees in philosophy, one from the University of Warsaw and one from Bowling Green State University. Before coming to UIS, he held visiting fellowships at Oxford University and Princeton University, and taught at St. Olaf College.

Karl Schewe was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and A.G. Edwards and Sons, Springfield. Louise was a teacher and active civic leader whose interests included the Springfield Art Association and the Illinois Symphony Guild. Upon her death in 2006, Louise Schewe left a generous bequest to the University of Illinois Foundation to support initially a Professorship, and eventually a Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information, contact Derek Schnapp, UIS public relations director, at 217/206-6716 or

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Four UIS student-athletes receive Avery Brundage Scholarships

Four students from the University of Illinois Springfield have been awarded Avery Brundage Scholarships for excellence in academics and athletics. Each winner will receive a $2,500 award for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The recipients are Mallory Beck of Springfield, Ill., a biology major and Prairie Stars basketball and softball player; Chelsea Minor of Petersburg, Ill., a criminal justice major and softball player; Paige Polonus of Plainfield, Ill., a biology major and soccer player; and Mandy Smith of Fillmore, Ill., a business administration major and softball player.

The Avery Brundage Scholarship Fund Committee, composed of nine representatives from the faculties and student bodies of the Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign campuses, selects students from each U of I campus who engage in athletics for personal development, not as preparation for professional sports. In addition, the students must be working toward bachelors, masters or doctoral degrees at the U of I and must be in the upper 25 percent of their undergraduate class or in good academic standing in their graduate program.

The scholarship program was established in 1974 by an endowment from Avery Brundage, University of Illinois alumnus and former president of the International and U.S. Olympic committees.

For more information, contact Tim Gilles, scholarship coordinator for University-wide Student Programs at 217/333-1171.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

UIS College of Business and Management honor society inducts 26 new members

The University of Illinois Springfield Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society chapter inducted 26 College of Business and Management students and two faculty members during the ceremony on May 4, 2013 in Brookens Auditorium.

Beta Gamma Sigma is the international honor society serving business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma is the highest recognition a business student anywhere in the world can receive in a business program accredited by AACSB International. The society grants admission to the top 10 percent of the baccalaureate class and the top 20 percent of the graduate students.

Students inducted at this year’s ceremony include:

Bloomington: Socrates Krishnamurthy
Brighton: Anna Cadmus
Champaign: Joseph Hanna
Chicago: Vivica Futrell
Lincoln: Brian Spencer
Lombard: Donald Wallace
Loves Park: Jacob Vaiden
Mahomet: Rebecca McNaught
Mason City: John Tracy
Meredosia: Shaun Kerr
Mt. Zion: Ashley Tague
Mundelein: Shingfai You, Walter Dudzic
Pecatonica: Ryan Bouray
Quincy: Barbara Stoll
Springfield: Fredrick Jackson, Dennis Holloway, Roger Graves, Melissa Frost, Yiman Li
Warrenville: Renee A. Ismail

Eagan, MN: Simi George
Jefferson City, MO: Thomas Hildrich
Lihue, HI: Jason Blake
Washington, D.C.: Thomas Ohs

Faculty members inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma were Lisa Chen, Ph.D. and Ben Walsh, Ph.D.

The mission of the society is to encourage and honor academic achievement in the study of business, to foster personal and professional excellence, to advance the values of the society, and to serve its lifelong members.

For more information about the honor society and recipients, contact Jorge Villegas at 217/206-7972 or

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

UIS political science Professor Matthew Holden Jr. to lead Mississippi symposium

Matthew Holden, Jr., the Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at the University of Illinois Springfield, will lead a symposium in recognition of Isaiah T. Montgomery, the co-founder of Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

The symposium, entitled “The World and the Mind of Isaiah T. Montgomery: The Greatness of a Compromised Man”, is scheduled for May 21, 2013 in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

Isaiah T. Montgomery was born into slavery on Joseph Davis, the president of the Southern Confederacy, brother’s plantation in 1847. He would in 1887 co-found Mound Bayou, one of the first African American towns in the south.

In 1890, Montgomery was the only black delegate at the Mississippi Constitutional Convention. He spoke for, and voted for, the Constitution that became the legal bedrock of the rigid racial order in which black voting was reduced to a very low level.

Montgomery achieved such national stature that he was the designated spokesmen of the freed people when the Abraham Lincoln monument was dedicated in Kentucky in 1909. When Montgomery died in 1924, his passing was reported in The New York Times.

Professor Holden's "dominating theme is that Montgomery was a very great man, though imperfect as human beings must be, with a mind that reached far beyond his contemporaries, black or white, and deserves serious re-evaluation, both in the Delta and outside."

Holden has spent much of the past ten years studying Montgomery’s political strategy and is currently finishing a book. He and his wife have created the Isaiah T. Montgomery Studies Project.

Friday, May 03, 2013

UIS faculty members honored for academic achievements at reception

The University of Illinois Springfield held its annual Faculty Honors and Recognition Reception on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Chancellor Susan J. Koch and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Lynn Pardie presided over the ceremony honoring faculty members who have received tenure and/or promotion, been awarded sabbaticals, or granted emeritus status. Four major awards – the Faculty Excellence Award, the Pearson Faculty Award, the Spencer Faculty Service Award, and the Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award -- were also presented.

The Faculty Excellence Award was presented to Donald Morris, professor of Accountancy. The award recognizes mid and late career colleagues who best exemplify the ideal of the teacher-scholar and whom the faculty recognizes as role models, based on sustained accomplishments in teaching and scholarship at the University of Illinois Springfield. The award is funded through the generosity of Wilbur and Margaret Wepner.

Morris teaches on-ground, upper-division courses in the areas of federal income tax and intermediate accounting, and graduate-level courses in income tax research and advanced taxation. He also handles an advising load ranging from 70 to 90 students.

“Dr. Morris is known as a passionate teacher-scholar with an exceptional ability to create a sense of community within the classroom,” said Chancellor Koch. “His colleagues describe him as a faculty member who has exhibited professionalism, leadership characteristics, and a strong work ethic. They cite his willingness to add an extra teaching load to assist his department and to be available for student advising over the weekends as examples of these qualities.”

The Pearson Award for outstanding teaching was presented to Carrie Switzer, associate professor of Psychology. The award recognizes a faculty member whose performance exemplifies our commitment to excellence in teaching and who stands among the very best teachers at the University of Illinois Springfield. Such a teacher both informs and inspires students, giving them the knowledge and values with which they may become productive and enlightened citizens. The award was established by a gift from Dr. Emmet and Mary Pearson, longtime benefactors of the campus.

Switzer specializes in educational and developmental psychology and teaches courses in Life-Span Development and Family Psychology, as well as the department’s required capstone course. She teaches in both online and on-campus modes of course delivery, and her courses are heavily enrolled.

“Her colleagues describe her as ‘a consummate instructor, advisor, mentor, and colleague’ and as someone who is willing to go beyond the call of duty for the benefit of students,” said Chancellor Koch. “She is known for being able to make tough assignments seem easy while still challenging students to think critically. Whether online or on-campus, she creates a classroom atmosphere that is respectful but open to lively constructive discussion of competing perspectives.”

The Spencer Award was given to Marcel Yoder, associate professor of Psychology. Honoring Robert Spencer, founding president of Sangamon State University, this award recognizes faculty who best exemplify the ideal of the “professor-citizen” through public service and service to the academic community.

“At the campus level, Yoder has made important contributions to the development of an academic integrity policy and to faculty understanding of the UIS Course evaluation form, but perhaps his most long-standing and influential service contributions have been to UIS athletics,” said Chancellor Koch.

He has served as a member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee since 2002, and has chaired the committee for five years. Under his leadership, the IAC created procedures that promote strong and effective communication among student athletes, faculty, and athletics staff members, in support of student progress. Yoder has also served as the Faculty Athletics Representative since 2005, certifying the academic eligibility of student athletes in all UIS sports every semester, meeting with the Athletics Director and the Compliance Office, coordinating required Athletics Department self-studies, and attending Student Athlete Advisory Council meetings and National Collegiate Athletics Association conferences.

In a letter of nomination, colleagues wrote “Dr. Yoder’s passion and excitement about UIS Athletics is evidence in the numerous sporting events and team practices that he regularly attends….For the first day of soccer practice this year, he got up at midnight to run the two mile fitness test with the men’s soccer team and then ran one and a half miles the same morning at 9:00 a.m. with the women’s soccer team. This is just one example of his dedication to student-athletes and how he goes above and beyond his service obligations.”

Denise Sommers, assistant professor of Human Services and a research fellow in the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service, was honored with the Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award. The award was established by Burks Oakley II, who helped launch UIS’ online programs. The Oakley Award recognizes UIS faculty members whose performance exemplifies the institution’s commitment to excellence in online teaching.

Sommers received the award based on her ability to establish and maintain meaningful connections with her online students and to engage them so effectively in the learning process, as well as the fact that online education is a focus of her research and scholarship.

“Dr. Sommers is admired by colleagues for her ability to establish rapport with students online as well as for her work to integrate service learning experiences into her online courses,” said Chancellor Koch. “She introduced the use of Skype to facilitate the interviews required for admission to the graduate program in Human Services, and each semester, she meets, via Skype, with online students in her graduate Nonprofit Management and Grant-Writing courses to ensure that they have sufficient opportunities to have questions answered. She is known as being a very supportive and attentive professor in her online courses.”

Recommended for tenure and promotion to associate professor were Atul Agarwal, David Bertaina, Jay Gilliam, Amie Kincaid, James Klein, Karl McDermott, Elizabeth Ribarsky, Hinda Seif, Roxanne Kurtz Smith, and Jorge Villegas. Receiving the designation of emeritus faculty were James Hall and Keith Miller.

Sabbatical leaves were granted to Deborah Anthony, David Bertaina, Donna Alfano Bussell, Hua Chen, Richard Gilman-Opalsky, Chung-Wei Lee, Ali Nizamuddin, Karen Pressley, Peter Shapinsky, Roxanne Kurtz Smith, Tih-Fen Ting, and Te-Wei Wang.

All promotions, tenure, sabbatical leaves, and emeritus status are subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.