Monday, October 28, 2019

UIS Education Honor Society inducts eight new members during ceremony

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Alpha Alpha Gamma chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, inducted eight new members during a ceremony on Oct. 12, 2019.

Samantha Missey, a teacher at the Sangamon County Learning Academy and former UIS Kappa Delta Pi president, was the guest speaker at the event.

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 listed by hometown:

Carlinville: Meghan Woods
Lake Villa: Teagan Ross
McLean: Kendra Peifer
Rochester: Madison Neuweg
Springfield: Christine Flynn, Haley Jackson
West Chicago: Jackie LaCour
Wheaton: Angela D’Onofrio

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 clinical associate professor of teacher education, at 217-206-7008 or

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

UIS student Katie Brethorst helps to excavate 1908 Springfield Race Riot site

University of Illinois Springfield senior history major Katie Brethorst spent her summer helping to unearth important historical artifacts from the site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, located along the 10th Street railroad tracks and Madison Street in Springfield.

Brethorst interned with Fever River Research, an archaeology company based out of Springfield, which was tasked with excavating five homes that were burned during the riot. The riot served as a catalyst for the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

On the evening of Aug. 14, 1908, a mob of white Springfield citizens became enraged when the county sheriff would not hand over a black man accused of raping a local white woman. For two days, Springfield was the scene of violence directed at the city’s black citizens, resulting in the destruction of more than 40 buildings by fire, and the lynching of two innocent black men. The black man accused of the crime was later acquitted after his accuser recanted her story.

During the excavation, Brethorst helped unearth the foundations of the forgotten homes and uncover important relics, such as rings, crosses and pieces of clothing.

“I learned about hands-on archaeology,” she said. “I learned about how you can connect an artifact that you're finding to historical documents. I learned a lot about the history of the people who lived here and I learned about the specific processes you have to go to make sure history is presentable to the public.”

Brethorst, who wants to become a museum curator, describes unearthing the artifacts as both an emotional and education experience.

“There were some days when you would find something and realize someone lost everything in this fire,” she said. “Someone had to completely uproot their life because of this one event and here I am holding the remnants 111 years later. It was just so powerful some days that I'd have to walk off and just think about it for a little bit.”

The site where Brethorst worked is now being recovered with dirt and will soon be home to railroad tracks as part of the Springfield Rail Improvement Project. However, there are still more houses to excavate under a parking lot next to the site.

“This site is nominated to become a national historic location,” she said. “Hopefully it will become a monument and we’ll be able to excavate more houses. That's the dream!”

Brethorst credits her experiences inside and outside of the classroom at the University of Illinois Springfield for helping her land an internship she’ll remember for a lifetime.

“I don't think anyone else is going to be able to say that they got to help unearth one of the biggest disasters in American history. And to me, that's what it is,” she said. “I got to help be the person to uncover it and to find the artifacts. It was absolutely amazing!”

Three to join the Samuel K. Gove Legislative Internship Hall of Fame at UIS

The Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois Springfield will honor three individuals who have served as legislative interns at the state capitol as part of the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP).

David Menchetti, John Nicolay and Kevin Schoeben will be inducted during a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019 at the Old State Capitol. A reception will be held before the event at 5:30 p.m.

Inductees are selected based on their contributions to Illinois and its citizens. The Hall of Fame is also recognition of the important role that public service internships play in developing public sector leadership.

Menchetti is a shareholder in Cullen, Haskins, Nicholson & Menchetti, P.C. in Chicago and concentrates his practice in the representation of injured workers throughout Illinois before the Workers’ Compensation Commission, the circuit courts and the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts. He graduated from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and attained a bachelor’s degree with distinction from Stanford University. Menchetti is a former staff counsel to Illinois State Senate President Philip J. Rock and served as counsel to Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones, Jr. Active in the legal community, he is listed in “Who’s Who in American Law” and has been selected by his peers as a Leading Lawyer and Super Lawyer. He has received the President’s Award on three occasions from the Illinois Trial Lawyers and was named Lawyer of the Year for Workers’ Compensation by Best Lawyers in America. By appointment of the Governor, he has served on the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board and the Workers’ Compensation Medical Fee Advisory Board. He has also been inducted into the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

Nicolay has been a partner of Nicolay & Dart LLC since its founding in 2005. Previously, he worked in and around the legislature directing state governmental representation at Winston & Strawn LLP and serving as general counsel to Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Philip, where his responsibilities included staffing and operations for the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee. Prior to joining the Office of the Senate President, he served in a variety of capacities as legislative liaison for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office where he helped secure passage of more than 50 pieces of legislation, including major sentencing and evidentiary reforms, as assistant state’s attorney, and practiced in the area of commercial and governmental litigation at Shefsky & Froelich, Ltd. He also served as a legislative aide to former Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, and as a special assistant to Governor James R. Thompson. Nicolay was named a Rising Star by his peers in 2008 and a Super Lawyer in the area of Government Affairs as recent as February 2019. He is past president and serves on the board of directors of The Advocacy Group, an international governmental affairs organization. He serves as the vice-chair of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association as well as the on the Board of Trustees of MacMurray College. Nicolay received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from MacMurray College and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. He is admitted to practice in the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois.

Schoeben began his 30-year career in state government as an ILSIP intern for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s research/appropriations staff in 1989 and remained on staff through 1999, primarily staffing several committees for state and local government appropriations for public safety, pensions, transportation and state capital programs. Thereafter, Schoeben was the legislative director for three terms under former Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes, with notable work toward the establishment of ethics reforms, the state’s rainy day fund and other fiscal and transparency reforms. He went on to become the deputy director of planning and programming for the Illinois Department of Transportation for four years under Secretaries Gary Hannig and Ann Schneider. In this position, he was responsible for initiating multi-modal and intermodal transportation programs that led to the AASHTO award for Water Transportation in 2014, and he served on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Marine System Transportation Advisory Taskforce. He served as chief financial officer at the Illinois Board of Higher Education during a challenging period for state universities and colleges, students and faculty due to the recent budgetary impasse. Schoeben joined Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s team shortly after her election in 2016. He has served as the assistant comptroller of fiscal policy since that time, a position that includes responsibilities with the development and implementation of fiscal reporting, cash management, budget, human resources and operational activities.

The Hall of Fame is hosted by the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The Hall of Fame is named for the late Samuel K. Gove, founding director of the internship program and one of the founders of Illinois Issues magazine. Established in 1990, the Hall of Fame, including this year’s inductees, now numbers 71 individuals, among them a former governor and several former and current state and federal legislators. The names of the Hall of Fame’s members are inscribed on a plaque that hangs on the fourth floor of the Illinois Statehouse.

Tickets for the Nov. 12 event are $65 per person and may be purchased online at The deadline to register is Nov. 7, 2019. Reservations are required. For more information about the event, call 217-206-7163.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Yanhui Guo named the University Scholar at UIS

Yanhui Guo, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been named University Scholar for 2019.

The award, considered the university system’s highest faculty honor, recognizes outstanding teaching and scholarship. Only one faculty member receives the annual award at UIS.

Guo’s research focuses on computer vision, machine learning, deep learning, computer-aided detection/diagnosis and big data analytics.

He has successfully contributed to the development of a new set theory called neutrosophic set in computer vision and image processing. His reputation, as an important scholar within his field, continues to grow. In recognition of his accomplishments, Guo was made an honorary member and Head of the U.S. branch of the Neutrosophic Science International Association.

Since coming to UIS, Guo has published 39 peer-reviewed journal articles, nine peer-reviewed conference papers, and co-edited one book. The impact of his research is evidenced by the numerous citations he has received. According to Google Scholar, he has 2109 citations, a number that grows steadily.

In 2018, he received the Innovator of the Year award at the Illinois Capital Innovation Competition. The award stemmed from his work on computer-aided micro-classifications in the detection of breast cancer.

He also received the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Excellence Award for scholarship in 2018.

Nominators call Guo’s research “inherently collaborative,” for teaming up with researchers from different universities and countries. In collaboration with researchers from the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine, Guo was awarded a $10,000 grant under the Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D. Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research.

At UIS, Guo has taught five courses including on-campus and online, core and elective. He has developed and taught CSC 570 Digital Image Processing, CSC 562 Data Visualization and CSC 501 Graduate Program Practicum. Of special importance is Guo’s expertise in artificial intelligence and his ability to develop innovative courses at the forefront of data science, which provides excellent career opportunities for students.

“It is remarkable that Dr. Guo shares his enthusiasm and knowledge of the discipline with his students in order to support their intellectual endeavors and enhance their learning,” said one University Scholar award nominator. “He has collaborated with students on several research projects, leading to one peer-reviewed journal article and two peer-reviewed conference papers published with students.

Guo earned his doctorate in computer science from Utah State University in 2010. He served as an assistant professor at St. Thomas University in Florida prior to joining the Computer Science Department at the University of Illinois Springfield in 2015.

As University Scholar, Guo will receive $15,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities. Faculty do not apply for this award; they are nominated by their peers. A committee of senior faculty makes the final selection.