Friday, April 28, 2017

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch named a Woman of Influence in Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch has been named one of the six Security Bank and Springfield Business Journal (SBJ) Women of Influence for 2017, as announced by the SBJ. She will be honored during a reception on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

The 14th annual program honors local women for their contributions to the Springfield area community. Winners are selected by an awards committee.

“Knowing so many women who are previous recipients of the Women of Influence Award, I am deeply honored to be among this year’s recipients,” said Chancellor Koch.

As chancellor, Koch is the chief executive officer of the Springfield campus. She also serves as a vice president of the University of Illinois and is a member of the U of I president’s cabinet.

Koch has been part of the greater Springfield community since 2011 when she was appointed chancellor. She has led the campus in a reaffirmation of its strategic plan and in building consensus around three strategic priorities: growth, talent acquisition and retention, and facilities. The campus has increased enrollment, enhanced diversity and seen a new branding and marketing strategy: Leadership lived. All of this has had a positive effect on the greater Springfield community, while creating significant local economic growth.

Koch has led the successful completion of the Brilliant Futures Campaign, which surpassed its local goal of $28 million and set new expectations for fundraising success. She is currently leading an initiative to build UIS’s first student union, which should be completed in early 2018. Koch has also led efforts to beautify UIS by securing private funding for a Shakespeare garden featuring a sculpture of “The Bard” in addition to a prominent, original sculpture of Abraham Lincoln in the heart of the campus.

Outside of her responsibilities at UIS, Koch serves on the United Way of Central Illinois Board of Directors and is a member of the Memorial Medical System Board of Directors. She has also been actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce serving on both the Strategic Leadership Committee and the Community Leadership Committee. She has previously served on The State Journal-Register First Citizen Award Committee and the Illinois Bankers Association Banker of the Year Award Committee.

Koch is married to Dennis Koch, a farmer and president of Koch Angus Farms.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

UIS professor uses current events to spark diverse discussions in the classroom

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Political Science Ali Nizamuddin, Ph.D. is using current events to encourage discussions of potentially polarizing issues among his students. 

“What I’ve tried to do in the classroom is bring together a diverse range of students, not just diversity in terms of ethnicity, religion or language or background, but disability as well. It means ‘the way I look the world is very different,’” he said.

Nizamuddin teaches a range of courses within the political science department and often has students from China, India and African countries in his classes. 

“That really helps when you have this setting, where each (student) is trying to share that person’s experiences, and contributing to the classroom,” he said.

Nizamuddin said he tries to have diverse discussions in all of his classes. He begins by teaching students to approach controversial topics with the premise that the other side is right.

“I’m trying to bring a diverse range of thoughts and opinions and tackling ideas and concepts analytically with empathy,” he said. “To me, the most important thing in the classroom is empathy. That is the general approach, trying to handle diversity in terms of a diversity of thoughts and opinions and in terms of trying to cultivate empathy so that we can try to experience the other person.”

Nizamuddin said he does not suppress opinions that could be construed as racist, and that he teaches and also requires an etiquette of disagreement.

“You have to respect (students) and show that you are neutral and their opinion also matters,” said Nizamuddin. “There’s a lot that other people have to teach us. If we have a receptive heart and mind then we will be open to the internalization of knowledge.”

He said the more intimate class size on the UIS campus lends itself to meaningful discussions and debate between students.

“It allows me to benefit and learn from them too,” he said.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Leadership lived: Future TV news reporter gets experience at UIS

Beatrice Bonner loves to talk and inform people. Ever since working at a radio station in high school, she’s wanted to become a TV news reporter.

Bonner is a junior communication major and a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. This semester, she’s taking a visual storytelling class where she’s learning what it takes to put together a story.

“We come up with story ideas. It’s like being in a newsroom,” she said. “We get to pitch them to our classroom and then we go out and shoot, we interview people and then we come back into the lab and we edit.”

Bonner says she wants to be a journalist because she enjoys keeping people informed about important issues happening in their community.

“I just like being able to get information out and help people because if we didn’t have TV news or reporting, people would know nothing,” she said.

Outside of the classroom, Bonner is the vice president and a founding member of the Alpha Phi Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She also serves as membership intake coordinator.

“That means that I helped encourage these ladies to join,” she said. “I do interviews, I teach them information that they needed in order to be part of the sorority. I’m kind of like their mom.”

Bonner says she feels well prepared for her future thanks to her UIS education.

“UIS has taught me in order to be a leader you have to go and get it,” she said. “Nobody is going to sit and baby you. You have to work for it.”

Monday, April 24, 2017

Good as Gold Ceremony honors over 60 local volunteers and businesses

The University of Illinois Springfield, Junior League of Springfield and the United Way of Central Illinois honored more than 60 local volunteers and businesses during the 9th annual Good as Gold Ceremony. The event was held on Monday, April 24, 2017, at the UIS Public Affairs Center.

Distinguished Volunteer Award 

Long-time Memorial Medical Center volunteer Patty Stremsterfer was honored with the 2017 Distinguished Volunteer Award.

Stremsterfer was a young wife and mother of three, when a friend encouraged her to volunteer at Memorial. Forty-four years later, she still gives four hours a week to the 6C ICU cardiac area and has logged more than 8,000 hours of volunteering. She is one of the hospital’s most committed volunteers.

“It’s just where I should be,” she said.

Stremsterfer spends time with family members or friends of patients undergoing cardiac procedures and sometimes the patients themselves. For her, it has a special importance. Both she and her husband have undergone open heart surgery, so she understands and empathizes with the people she meets.

I love people,” she said. “I’m a people person. If I can be there when a patient’s family can’t, it feels good.”

Stremsterfer also volunteers her time creating educational dolls with fabric organs, sews “angel pockets” for families suffering a perinatal loss and serves her church by hosting card parties, coordinating events and fundraisers, serving luncheons and making blankets for members of the congregation.

The 2017 Distinguished Volunteer finalists include Les Carlson, Alfred Hampton and Scott Dickerson.

UIS Star Student Award

UIS student Matt Haury was honored with the Star Student Award for his volunteer efforts in the community. Haury began working with the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in December 2015 prior to the store’s relocation to 6th Street. Almost daily, Haury performs pickups, brings in donations and places items on the floor. He also leads other volunteers in helping the store with a number of tasks including assembling shelving and reorganizing the back end.

“Matt would make an effort to come in almost daily,” said Josh Gordon, manager of the ReStore. “His help allowed us to bring in more donations, as well as get those items on the floor for faster resale.”

Haury said it is the combined work of all volunteers and staff that make the ReStore successful.

UIS Star Staff Award 

Beverly Bunch, professor of public administration at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored with the Star Staff Award for her volunteer efforts with the United Way of Central Illinois.

Bunch has served as Community Fund panel chair as well as on the Community Impact Committee of the United Way Board, the Venture Funds Committee, and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program Committee.

In her decade of service there, she has given thousands of hours of her time, including more than 250 hours in the past year alone.

“I have always been enthusiastic about United Way, and I was very excited when I had the opportunity to work with them,” said Bunch. “I really believe in their cause.”

Youth Volunteer Award

Springfield High School senior Russell Moore III was honored with the Youth Volunteer Award. Moore serves as president of several youth organizations including; the Sigma Beta Club of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., the Springfield Frontiers Youth Development Program and the American Legion Illinois State Junior Police Academy. He works as guide at the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site, participates in Civil War reenactments and serves at the St. John’s Breadline. He has taken up collections for the Salvation Army and co-hosted a Kwanzaa celebration.

Upon graduation, Moore plans to seek a degree in computer programming and possibly join the Marine Corps Forces Reserve. He said his goal in life is to see his generation not only succeed, but be a positive example.

Heart of Gold Community Awards

Forty-one local volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: Dan Babor, Gina Bausch, Lindsay Bentivegna, Jewel Bishop, Angie Black, Valerie Bolinger, Jack E. Carder, Evelyn Carder, Devin Dreesman, Randy Ginder, Pete Graham, Gwyn Gurgens, Neill Howey, Tom Hutchison, Alicia King, Kerry King, Don Klues, Matt Lamsargis, Donald Landry, Toni LaVigne, Robin Loftus, Marilyn Markus, Connie Matthews, Lynn McMenamin, Traci Moore, Robin Patton, Sonya Perkins, Roger Priestley, , Waldo Richie, Penny Roth, Sara Shaffer, Debra Singer, Dave Slaughter, Barbara Spiro, Jill Waltman, Christine Weisbaum, Evan & Courtney Westlake, Lisa Williams, Jan Wilson and Joyce Wilson.

Organization Agent of Service Award

The winner of the 2017 Organization Agent of Service Award is Central Baptist Church. Led by Pastor Josh Sabo, the church has created a partnership with Graham Elementary School nearby. The church congregation is instrumental in volunteering to run the school’s library as well as the after-school program and has given 3,000 hours this year alone.

The church also holds two large events each year, involving about 75 percent of their congregation. The Graham Christmas Gift Mart benefits more than 100 children each year and more than 1,000 meals are either delivered or served at the church for their Thanksgiving meal deliveries. Both events benefit the James Project and Contact Ministries.

Business Honor Roll 

A total of 25 Sangamon County businesses were named to the Business Honor Roll sponsored by the UIS College of Business and Management and supported by The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. The honor roll recognizes businesses that have made giving back to our community a priority.

Three businesses were listed at the top of the honor roll as Golden Distinction Winners; Security Bank, Heartland Credit Union, and Bank of Springfield.

Other businesses making this year’s honor roll include Ameriprise Financial - Steven Koch; Duggins Design Center; Gem PR & Media; Terry Farmer Photography; West Central Bank; Illinois Realtors; Kerber, Eck & Breckel; Orthopedic Center of Illinois; President Abraham Lincoln Springfield - A DoubleTree by Hilton; Troxell; Brandt Consolidated Inc.; Bunn-O-Matic Corporation; Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc.; Horace Mann Companies; Illinois National Bank; Marine Bank; Memorial Health System; RSM US LLP; Springfield Electric Supply Company; United Community Bank; U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo Funding.

For more information about the awards, please visit, email or call 217/ 206-7716.

Springfield architect Paul O’Shea honored for Outstanding Advocate Leadership

The University of Illinois Foundation today announces Springfield native and long-time resident Paul O’Shea as the recipient of the 2017 William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership.

The award will be presented at the UIS Celebration of Philanthropy on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at UIS. The U of I Foundation is the fundraising arm of the University of Illinois.

A licensed architect who recently retired as planning and design coordinator for the City of Springfield, O’Shea has received many awards for his community service, including the 2012 First Citizen Award from The State Journal-Register.

O’Shea has been a tireless advocate for the University of Illinois Springfield. His greatest service has been as an ambassador building relationships between Springfield and UIS.

“The university represents an asset to Springfield that is hard to describe,” O’Shea said. “It has a major impact on our region and the city. Both the university and the community benefit when we come together.”

O’Shea works behind the scenes to encourage financial support for UIS by suggesting fundraising events, helping to plan them and inviting people to attend. He has inspired many to give through his outspoken confidence in UIS and his and his wife’s giving.

He began providing financial support for UIS in 1998 and through the years has given often to many university funds, especially for athletics. In 2012, O’Shea began funding athletic scholarships, and more recently he and his wife, Lynne, have made a generous gift in support of the UIS Intercollegiate Baseball Program Field Turf Project.

The William E. Winter Award, named for the late CEO Emeritus of the 7-Up Company and a longtime member of the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors, celebrates individuals who play active roles in securing private support for the University of Illinois.

Past recipients of the William E. Winter Award include W. Robert Felker, Pamela McClelland, Cullom Davis, Bob Clary, Leonard Branson, Thom Serafin, Tom Marantz, Julie Kellner, Guerry Suggs and Michelle Suggs (deceased); Howard Humphrey (deceased), James Lundquist (deceased), and Clifford Greenwalt.

For more information, contact Jeff Lorber, UIS vice chancellor for advancement, at 217/206-6058 or email

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Barbara Cass wins the 2017 CAPE Award

Barbara Cass, an online program coordinator for the University of Illinois Springfield’s Business Administration Department, is the winner of the 14th annual Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award. The award was presented by Chancellor Susan J. Koch during a ceremony on April 12, 2017.

Cass joined UIS nearly 20 years ago in the Center for Teaching and Learning and Ombud’s Office. She also served as the online coordinator for the English degree program prior to moving the BBA program eleven years ago.

Her passion for online learning has been demonstrated as she assisted in developing an articulation agreement with the College of Lake County for a seamless transition from lower coursework to the UIS online BBA program. She was instrumental in the successful AACSB reaccreditation for the College of Business and Management. She serves on the steering committee for COPE-L (Community of Practice for E-Leaning), which works to share best-practices related to e-learning. She stays current on best practices by attending distance education conferences and having regular meetings with other online coordinators and COLRS (Center for Online Learning, Research and Service).

“Countless numbers of our students have told me how Barbara has been the key to enabling them to complete their degrees,” said one nominator. “What better testament to her contributions could there be?”

Currently Cass is assisting with the STAMATS/Slate pilot program for online lead nurturing.

“This will not only benefit her program, but will pave the way for other online programs to adopt best practices,” said one nominator.

Cass has also served in many other capacities across the university including, as an adjunct faculty assisting in facilitating the UIS Speakers Series, the Employee of the Month selection committee, as an advisor to the Provost for the University of Illinois System’s Conflict of Commitment & Interest Policy, and also as a long-time member of the CAPE selection committee.

“It is good that she is no longer on the CAPE Committee so that we can finally nominate her,” said a nominator.

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. The winner receives $500 in cash for personal use.

All academic professionals are eligible to receive the CAPE Award; nominations are reviewed by campus committees and candidates’ names are forwarded to the chancellor, who makes the final selections.

Others nominated for the 2017 CAPE Award include Lori Benedict, Vickie Cook, Sean Crawford, Mae Noll, Chris Ryan, Donna Schaub, Robin Vansacik and Ryan L. Williams.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Leadership lived: Veteran finds therapeutic relief by acting in UIS play

Shane Graham is not your typical college student. At 25, the U.S. Army veteran has found a passion for acting at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The senior communication major plays three roles in UIS Theatre’s spring production of “Almost, Maine”. He describes it as “a play about love and relationships” with some “really cartoony and quirky” elements added to the plot.

While Graham did some acting in high school, this is the first time he’s ever had to memorize lines as part of a major theatrical production.

“It’s been exciting because theatre has been just really therapeutic since getting out of the military,” he said. “It's been able to not just help me cope with issues, but it's been able to help me just kind of come to peace with myself.”

Graham served as an infantry solider for four years and completed a combat tour in southern Afghanistan.

“I got out and decided that I wanted to raise my son outside of the military,” he said. “I want to be with my wife outside of the military and I was able to explore other options.”

Graham commutes to UIS several times a week, even more now that he’s part of the play, from his home in Lincoln, Illinois, about 34 miles north of Springfield.

“Apart from living 45 minutes away, commuting and taking classes, balancing my schedule has definitely been the hardest part,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Graham said he would like to find a job in the public relations or advertising field. He said he’s very thankful that he decided to come to UIS.

“There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about how life would have turned out if I went to another school or stayed out of college,” he said. “I don’t think I would have made it as far or done as well if it were not for UIS.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Eleven UIS students present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Eleven students from the University of Illinois Springfield presented their work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis on April 6-8, 2017.

Students submitted abstracts and were selected in a competitive process by the UIS Undergraduate Research Steering Committee. They were later approved by the national conference committee. The students represent multiple programs and colleges.

Students presenting include Marquiera Harris (Social Work), Elizabeth Karras (Sociology & Anthropology), Eli Hahn (Psychology), Alex Skarr (Sociology & Anthropology and Political Science), Shyleen Frost (Biology), Gabriel Broughton (Business Administration), Ebony Forslund (Psychology), Amanda Monke (English), Turner Clark (Business Management), Allie McIntire (Psychology) and Nhan Khanh Le (Business Administration).

The 31st annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research is a program of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Around 4,000 students from around the country will present their research and creative activities.

The students were accompanied on the trip by Tiffani Saunders, UIS Sociology/Anthropology lecturer, and Keenan Dungey, associate professor of chemistry and director of the Undergraduate Research Support Program.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Leadership lived: Student finds passion for helping others at UIS

Kelsie Roberts enjoys helping others, whether she’s fixing a problem at work or volunteering with a non-profit organization on the weekend. Roberts is a junior business administration major at the University of Illinois Springfield.

On campus, she’s worked at the ID Center for the past 3 years where she creates i-cards, the official identification for University of Illinois students. She helps students replace lost or stolen cards, takes passport photos and mails i-cards to students who live off campus.

“I’ve learned a lot from working here,” she said. “I love interacting with students and getting a chance to talk to them. I’ve learned a lot about organizational skills and how to handle problems when they arise.”

Roberts is also a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, the Christian Student Fellowship (CSF) leadership team, a founding member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society.

As part of CSF, she helps plans service projects both on and off campus. She has volunteered at the St. John's Breadline, Kumler Outreach Ministries, the Salvation Army, Northside's Children Library, the Springfield Zoo, Habitat for Humanity and the Refuge Ranch.

“I love how UIS provides many different opportunities to serve here on campus,” she said. “I love getting the opportunity to help people and just give back with being a servant.”

Roberts, a Pawnee, Illinois native, decided to attend UIS because it was close to home and affordable.

“UIS has given me so many great opportunities to be involved,” she said. “What I’ve gotten out of that and the people I’ve met. It’s been great.”

Following graduation from UIS, Roberts plans to earn an MBA and pursue a career in the business finance field.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

UIS Education Honor Society inducts 11 new members

The Alpha Alpha Gamma chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, at the University of Illinois Springfield inducted seven new members during a ceremony on April 3, 2017.

Kim Thomas, the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, was the guest speaker at the event. She is a math teacher at Woodruff Career and Technical Academy in Peoria, Illinois.

The Society inducts individuals who have exhibited the ideals of scholarship, integrity in service, and commitment to excellence in teaching and its allied professions. Selection as a member of Kappa Delta Pi is based on high academic achievement, a commitment to education as a career, and a professional attitude that assures steady growth in the profession.

Students inducted at this year’s ceremony include:

Carmi: Sean Courty
Decatur: Kyleen Streckfuss
Girard: Jordan Emery
Kewanee: Paul Van Wassenhove
Springfield: Katherine Lounsberry, Lyndsey Staff
Worden: Shelby Steinmeyer

Kappa Delta Pi was established in 1911 to recognize and promote excellence in education. Through its programs, services, and strategic partnerships, the honor society supports the professional growth and teaching practices of educators throughout all phases and levels of their careers. The organization currently has more than 600 chapters and an active membership of nearly 40,000 worldwide.

For more information, contact Ronda Mitchell, chapter advisor and UIS assistant professor of Teacher Education, at 217/206-7008 or