Thursday, June 03, 2021

This website is no longer in use

This website is no longer in use, however it does serve as an archive for past UIS news stories from January 2005 to May 2021. 

To view achieved stories select the year and month under the "Blog Archive" section below. You can also search for achieved stories by using the search feature on this page.

For the latest UIS news stories, visit our new UIS Newsroom website at

Friday, April 30, 2021

UIS honors Professor Sharon Graf with the Harry and Deborah Berman Sabbatical Award

The University of Illinois Springfield’s Harry and Deborah Berman Sabbatical Award has been presented to Sharon Graf, professor in the Sociology/Anthropology department. She will receive $3,000 to support her research during her sabbatical leave.

Graf’s sabbatical plan is to conduct a second phase of ethnographic field research in Oceania that will contribute to the scholarly body of knowledge on the cultural practices—including art, music, the performing arts and seafaring—of the inhabitants of the Pacific Island region. 

Furthermore, Graf’s research will expand our scholarly understanding of ways of knowing while travelling on sea as opposed to on land. Her 2010‐11 experience of sailing the vast expanse of the Pacific made her keenly aware of the ocean environment and the knowledge required to navigate and to thrive in it.  One outcome of Graf’s sabbatical voyage was her 2013 music composition “West by South,” performed by the UIS Chorus in 2013. This sabbatical leave will give Graf the opportunity to contribute further original insight to academic discourse on embodiment, performance and human relationships with the sea, sharing her findings in articles, courses, blogs, creative works and public presentations.

Faculty who are awarded sabbatical leaves may apply for supplemental funding to assist with sabbatical expenses. Awards are granted through a competitive review and selection process.

The award was made possible thanks to the generosity of Harry and Deborah Berman. Harry served as a gerontology professor, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, provost and interim chancellor. Deborah served in a variety of central administrative positions at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  

Graf says she is “honored to receive the Berman Award and thankful for Harry and Deborah’s support of my work on the UIS campus since I arrived in 2001.”

Thursday, April 22, 2021

UIS presents awards for service and alumni achievement during 50th anniversary celebration

Robert Moore & Naomi B. Lynn 

The University of Illinois Springfield presented awards for service and alumni achievement during the virtual 50th anniversary celebration held via Zoom webinar on Thursday, April 22, 2021. 

The 2021 Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary commitment, dedication and service to the advancement of the University of Illinois was awarded to UIS Chancellor Emerita Naomi B. Lynn. The depth, consistency and continuum of Lynn’s leadership as a university administrator, trailblazer, community leader and volunteer has significantly impacted the welfare and advancement of the institutional mission. She is a champion of women’s rights, and leader and mentor for women and minorities in academia and the larger community.

As president of Sangamon State University (SSU), Lynn became the first Hispanic president or chancellor of a public state university in Illinois and the first female president of SSU. 

“It was important to break barriers,” Lynn said. “I live for the day when no woman will have to be introduced as the first.”

Lynn skillfully led the transition of SSU to UIS, positioning the university for growth in enrollment, on-campus residential life, infrastructure, online education and international academic agreements. Lynn retired as Chancellor in 2001. At her retirement, the Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies was created at the university, with a $1.25 million gift from the family of Dr. Richard E. Vaden.

Lynn served as president or board member of several professional public administration, higher education and political science organizations. She is a past recipient of the U of I Loyalty Award for Exceptional Alumni Service. In 2012, Governor Pat Quinn presented Lynn with the Order of Lincoln, the state’s top honor.

The 2021 Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding success and national or international distinction in one’s business, profession or life’s work was presented to Robert Moore. Over a career spanning nearly 50 years, Moore has become a distinguished and nationally recognized leader in the practice of law enforcement, facilitator of community policing initiatives and historical research of African Americans in law enforcement.

With the Illinois State Police, Moore played a pivotal role in diversifying the state police force make-up to include significantly more minorities and females. He was later appointed by President Bill Clinton as U.S. Marshal for the central district of Illinois. Moore also served as deputy chief of police for Savannah, Georgia, and chief of police for Jackson, Mississippi.

A passion for documenting and presenting the history of African Americans in law enforcement led him to author and publish “The Presidents’ Men: Black United States Marshals in America.” That led to the development of a traveling exhibit on the topic that tours colleges and universities throughout the U.S., inspiring college students to careers in law enforcement and to see themselves as leaders. 

“I don’t allow myself to get frustrated,” Moore said. “I can’t afford to get bogged down in what has not happened. I focus on what I have been able to do to bring things forward.”

Moore has several community service credits to his name. He is a past recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award presented by Rotary International and the Directors Community Leadership Award presented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is a past recipient of the University of Illinois Alumni Humanitarian Award.

For more information on the awards, contact Chuck Schrage, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations, at 217-206-6058 or

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

UIS Education Honor Society inducts new members

The Alpha Alpha Gamma chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, at the University of Illinois Springfield inducted eight new members during a virtual ceremony on April 11, 2021.

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:

Chicago: Oscar Mercado
Darien: Tina Vorreyer
Petersburg: Brandy McWhorter
Rochester: JC (John) Bartolozzi, Meghan Hawkshaw
Springfield: Christine Lin
Taylorville: Caitlin Donovon
(One student asked their name not be published)

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 Gray (Mitchell), chapter advisor and UIS clinical associate professor of teacher education, at 217-206-7008 or

Monday, April 19, 2021

Laurie Buck named UIS Interim Director of Financial Assistance

Laurie Buck has been named the interim director of financial assistance at the University of Illinois Springfield

A New Orleans native, Buck has spent 30 years in higher education specifically in financial aid. "She began her professional career as a college work-study student and has not looked back," said Natalie Herring, UIS associate provost for enrollment management. "Laurie truly has the foundation to jump into any situation and positively affect change."

Over the years Buck has also worked in proprietary, public, private, and consulting institutions. She has developed, hired, and trained staff while successfully launching a Financial Aid service center and Collections/Cohort Default Rate (CDR) departments for a proprietary institution.​

"She is an expert in clock-hour, credit hour, non-term, non-standard term, and standard term structures," said Herring.

Buck earned a master's degree in organizational leadership from Colorado State University and a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.

She is currently a consultant with the Higher Education Assistance Group and the owner and consultant with LABuck Educational Consulting.

Buck began in the position on March 31, 2021.

Arnold Henning named the Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Designate at UIS

Arnold Henning has been named the Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Designate at the University of Illinois Springfield, pending formal approval from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees at their May board meeting.

Henning was chosen from a field of candidates referred by The Registry, a firm that specializes in identifying leaders to fill interim roles in higher education.

He has more than 30 years of financial leadership experience, recently served in several interim and transitional roles at Northeastern Illinois University and California State University. 

He retired in 2016 from Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin where he served as Vice President for Business and Finance. He’s also worked in financial leadership roles for Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, the United Way of Chicago and Navistar International Corporation.

Henning earned an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

He serves as a board member for the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center and the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. He’s also a member of the National Black MBA Association, Financial Executives International and the Association of Theological Schools Audit Committee. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Tondalaya Reece wins the 2021 UIS CARE Award

Tondalaya Reece, program coordinator for the Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies, was chosen as the winner of the 14th annual Chancellor’s Award for Recognizing Excellence in Civil Service (CARE). The award is the highest honor annually awarded to a Civil Service staff member at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney announced the winner of the award during an online ceremony on April 8, 2021. She also thanked all civil service staff members for their dedication to UIS.

Reece has worked at UIS for six years. One nominator says, “Tonda’s work contributes positively to our unit and the university in numerous ways. Most importantly, she is incredibly dedicated to doing the very best at her job, frequently going above and beyond to ensure projects she works on are completed and completed to a high standard, frequently troubleshooting issues and coming up with clever solutions.”

Her co-workers credit her with a successful transition to remote work. “When the virus began looking even more serious in late February/early March of 2020 Tonda began exploring how our calling lab could be converted for remote calling, successfully transitioning the majority of our calling staff to remote calling before the stay-at-home order went into effect,” said a nominator. “It was an amazing accomplishment. Her actions kept our callers, the overwhelming majority of who are students, and lab safe.”

“Tonda’s efforts kept students safe, kept students employed, kept data collection, a
project vital to public health, going during a public health crisis and kept funding coming to the university that may have been lost or decreased if we could not keep the project going," added her co-worker.

Tonda is also known for developing and promoting student workers within ILLPS and helping them secure opportunities beyond UIS when they are ready. “If she can help a student get something that may be more useful to their development or career trajectory, she will,” said a nominator.

Her nominator added, “The reflection of UIS that Tonda projects is one of service, selflessness, hard work, dedication, thoughtfulness, constant improvement, and a strong sense of responsibility to our community here.”

Other Civil Service employees nominated for the award include: Sarah Beth Ayers, program coordinator for Innovate Springfield; Jennifer Berry, program/student advisor in the Department of Computer Science; Jillian Briggs, program/student advisor in the College of Public Affairs and Administration; Bethany Burbridge, administrative aide in the Office of Access and Equal Opportunity; Officer Amanda Baughman, crime prevention officer with Campus Police; Ann Gemberling, business/administrative associate in the Department of Business & Management Administration; Erin Hartnett, program/student advisor in the College of Business and Management; Carol Marshall, admissions and records officer in the Office of Records and Registration; Jason Noyes, IT manager in the Office of Technology Services; Michelle Sapp, business manager for the Institute of Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies; Linda Schneider, office administrator for the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs; Anna Schoenherr, office support specialist for Campus Recreation; Mary Umbarger, program assistant in Student Services; Charles Wells, culinary worker in Food Service and Patricia Young, business/administrative associate for the Capital Scholars Honors Program.


Stacey Gilmore receives 18th annual CAPE Award at UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield 18th annual Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) award was presented to Stacey Gilmore, director of the Cox Children’s Center during an April 8 online ceremony. 

The CAPE Award recognizes U of I academic professionals for their efforts in three categories: work projects, professional development and affiliations and contributions to their units.

Gilmore has worked at UIS for 21 years, serving as director for 18 years. One nominator calls her a “positive, solution-focused person with an incredible caring attitude and huge heart.”

During her time at Cox Children’s Center, Gilmore oversaw the design and building of the Cox Children’s Center garden and development of the annual on campus Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods, which helps stock the UIS Cares Food Pantry.

The pandemic put her exceptional experience to the test. “Stacey worked tirelessly to help support students, staff, children and families,” said a nominator, who called her a pioneer in her field. “Stacey worked with DCFS and applied for an emergency license to be able to provide care for families who are essential workers. That was no small feat as the guidance and rules were constantly changing.”

Stacey and her staff developed and implemented at-home curriculum options for enrolled families, redesigned their school-age space to adapt for year-round learners and worked with local school districts to adapt programming to assist virtual and hybrid learners.

“In my 21 years at UIS, this past year has been the most challenging by far,” said Gilmore. “That that being said, it has also been the most rewarding. I have watched families struggle, yet survive and prosper. I have watched children remain resilient and remind us all that they are capable and strong. I have watched my staff thrive, mentoring and supporting each other along the way. I feel very blessed to be here with so many brilliant colleagues.”

Under Stacey’s leadership the Cox Children’s Center has received and maintains the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation as well as the Gold Circle of Quality designation, the highest rating possible from ExceleRate Illinois, the state’s quality rating and improvement system for early learning and development providers.

The following Academic Professional employees were also nominated for the CAPE award: Gael Carnes, assistant to the chair and online coordinator for the Department of Public Administration; Renee Clausner, assistant to the dean, College of Business and Management; Sarah Collins, writing coordinator at The Learning Hub; Sean Crawford, broadcast reporter and editorial director at NPR Illinois; Myra Kaufman, assistant director of recruitment for GPSI; Craig McFarland, undergraduate academic advisor for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Erin Sotelo, undergraduate academic advisor in the College of Business and Management and Allison Thornley, assistant athletic director for strategic planning and finance in UIS Athletics.

Monday, April 05, 2021

UIS names Ann Comerford interim vice chancellor for student affairs effective June 1

The University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) has officially announced the appointment of Ann Comerford as the interim vice chancellor for student affairs. She will begin her new position on June 1, 2021, pending formal approval from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. 

“I am looking forward to working with a great division full of dedicated staff committed to supporting UIS students and the campus community,” said Comerford.

The Decatur, Illinois native has served as executive director of the UIS Student Union since August 2017 with direct responsibilities for the personnel, budget, strategic planning and evaluation of programs and services offered through the Student Union. 

Prior to coming to UIS, Comerford served in several leadership roles at Western Illinois University for 18 years. She was the director of the University Union from 2010-2017, director of student activities from 2006-2010, associate director of student activities from 2005-2006 and assistant director of student activities from 1999-2005.

She started her career as a hall coordinator and assistant director of campus activities at Quincy University in 1993, followed by three years as a special programs and center events graduate assistant at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Comerford earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Quincy University and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in college student personnel from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

She has been a member of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) since 1997, earning the Susan Yung Maul Distinguished Service Award – Region 9 in 2011. Comerford was recently elected as an at-large member of ACUI’s Board of Trustees starting in March 2021. She also volunteers in Springfield as a member of the Springfield Old Capital Art Fair Board.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

UIS Associate Professor Lynn Fisher receives fellowship to conduct archaeological research in Germany this fall

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Anthropology Lynn Fisher has been awarded a Mercator Fellowship for archaeological research at the University of Kiel in Germany this fall.

The fellowship is part of a grant-funded project on Social Dimensions of Technological Change, a collaboration between the University of Kiel, the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology and the Archaeological State Museum Schloss Gottorf (Schleswig). The project is funded by the German Science Foundation.

The fellowship supports two months in residence in Kiel during Fisher’s sabbatical in fall 2021, plus a return trip the following year to participate in an international workshop the collaborators will plan together. The workshop’s findings will be published as a book.   

“I will work with Berit Eriksen, scientific director of the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, to organize an international workshop on regional and chronological variation in flint mining practices during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Europe,” Fisher said. “Eriksen and I both specialize in the study of ancient technologies and what they tell us about past social dynamics and social change.”

Flint mines are an important, but often ignored aspect of prehistoric life during these time periods. The stone dug out of mines and quarries was used to make tools used in everyday life, and also connects to social identities, gender, transmission of knowledge and socioeconomic changes such as craft specialization. 

Eriksen and her colleagues, who direct the Social Dimensions of Technological Change project, invited Fisher to work with them when they heard she was planning to compare and contrast flint mines and quarries to put her own excavations of a quarry in southern Germany in context. 

“My hope is to learn a lot more about how quarries and mines vary, including some where skilled toolmakers made highly standardized products and others that were much less standardized, and to understand what those differences are telling us about ancient societies and social change,” Fisher said. 

Monday, March 08, 2021

UIS' Ann Comerford named to International Association of College Unions Board of Directors

Ann Comerford, executive director of the UIS Student Union has been chosen to serve as an at-large board member for the International Association of College Unions (ACUI.) Comerford's two-year term will include advancing the principles in the Association's vision and core values, performing various ceremonial duties such as attending regional conferences, speaking functions and writing articles for ACUI publications. 

Comerford has volunteered and been recognized for her work within the Association in various capacities. She was a member of the 2018 annual conference planning committee, served on the International Education Council, was director of ACUI's Region 9, and has volunteered as a course instructor, presenter and faculty member for a variety of ACUI education courses and institutes. 

The International Association of College Unions is a nonprofit educational organization that brings together college union and student activities professionals with the primary mission of building campus community through education, advocacy and the delivery of services.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

UIS students earn awards and leadership roles during the annual Model Illinois Government simulation

University of Illinois Springfield students earned awards and were elected to leadership roles during the virtual Model Illinois Government (MIG) simulation held Feb. 26 & 27, 2021. The simulation, which normally takes place at the Illinois State Capitol, was held virtually this year due to COVID-19.

Three UIS students were elected to the 2022 MIG executive board. Connor Krater of McHenry was elected speaker of the House, Aislinn Diaz of Chicago was elected president of the Senate and Mackenzi Matthews of Springfield was elected attorney general. Kallie Matthews of Springfield served as speaker of the House on the 2021 executive board.

The delegation also took home three individual awards. Mackenzi Matthews received the Outstanding Committee Chair in the House award. Bryce Thomas of Hawthorn Woods earned the Outstanding Member of Staff award. Kallie Matthews received the Outstanding Contribution to MIG award. 

UIS alumnus Kevin Kulavic was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his many years of service to the organization in the role of secretariat.

Three UIS students were elected to legislative positions. Mackenzi Matthews was elected majority leader in the House, Jacob Cacioppo of Ingleside was elected assistant minority leader in the House and Aislinn Diaz was elected majority leader in the Senate.

Mackenzi Matthews, Joseph Partain of Iuka and Aislinn Diaz were elected committee chairs. Connor Krater and Francisco Lopez Zavala of Chicago were elected committee spokespeople.

UIS students competed against students from 10 colleges and universities across the state of Illinois. MIG gives them the chance to serve as legislators, staffers, lobbyists, journalists and officials of the executive branch. Through committee actions, a regular legislative session and a veto session, participants learn the legislative process by actively participating in the simulation.

MIG members start preparing legislation during the fall term, polish their parliamentary skills and organize membership into a delegation for the spring conference.

For more information, contact Kenneth Owen, MIG faculty advisor and UIS associate professor of history, at 217-206-7439 or

Friday, February 26, 2021

UIS professor’s book on sexual minorities and politics added to U.S. Navy reading list used to train and educate Sailors

University of Illinois Springfield Professor of Political Science Jason Pierceson’s book “Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” has been added to the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program advanced reading list for U.S. Navy Sailors.

According to the Navy, “nearly 200 years ago, ships were ordered be outfitted with a reading list of 37 books in order to help train and educate Sailors. The Navy’s leaders knew then what is still the case today: to outthink our competitors we must study and apply lessons we’ve learned from our past. Furthermore, it is critically important for our Navy to be a learning organization. And one of the very best ways to do that is to foster an environment where every Sailor deepens their level of understanding and learning.”

Published in 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield, Pierceson’s book provides an overview of the history of the movement for LGBT rights and examines contemporary political and legal issues, such as LGBT candidates for elective office, public policies supportive of the LGBT community, opposition to LGBT rights and litigation aimed at expanding LGBT rights. The book was primarily written to be used in the college classroom, but the book is also an excellent and accessible introduction to the issue for the general reader.

“I am honored to have the Navy select my book alongside books by Michelle Alexander, David Brooks and Ibram X. Kendi,” Pierceson said. 

Pierceson is also the author or co-author of six additional books on LGBT politics, in addition to numerous articles and book chapters on the subject. His latest two-volume book “LGBTQ Americans in the U.S. Political System: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Voters, Candidates, and Officeholders” includes introductory essays on LGBTQ candidates, elected officials and voters, as well as more than 250 entries on important events, issues, organizations and people in the LGBTQ rights movement.

Pierceson’s commentary and writings have appeared in such media outlets as The New York Times, The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report. He has also served as an expert witness in federal civil rights litigation.

Pierceson holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Knox College and a doctorate in politics from Brandeis University. At UIS, his teaching and research focuses on public law, the legal and political issues relating to sexuality and gender and political theory.

For more information, contact Pierceson at 217-206-7842 or

Thursday, February 18, 2021

UIS’ Celebration of Philanthropy event to honor Mark and Julie Staley for outstanding advocate leadership

The University of Illinois Springfield will honor Mark and Julie Staley of Springfield with the University of Illinois Foundation’s William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership during a virtual Celebration of Philanthropy.

The Zoom webinar will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 3. All are invited to attend the free virtual event by registering in advance at

Mark and Julie Staley have called Springfield home for nearly two decades. Their belief in the power of education is what drew the couple to getting—and staying—involved at UIS.

Julie is president of the Staley Museum in Decatur, as well as CEO and owner of Spencer Films and president at Spencer Theatre Company. Mark is general partner of SB Partners and VLS Holdings, which specialize in private equity and other alternative investment vehicles. They are both involved in the leadership of their two family foundations: The A.E. Staley Jr. Foundation and the Staley Family Foundation.

“Education is a cornerstone of our family charitable foundation and we are always committed to supporting those institutions in our area,” the couple said. “UIS is a vital part of the Springfield community and our surrounding area. It has grown exponentially throughout the years, and continues to help Springfield thrive.”

Their involvement at UIS began with Mark joining the Stars Athletic Advisory Board and Julie using her TV news anchor skills to benefit the University by hosting and emceeing events, including the annual UIS Scholarship Luncheon and the Good as Gold awards ceremony which honors local volunteers. She also has been a pitch person for NPR Illinois (WUIS).

Mark and Julie have financially supported numerous projects at UIS, including the Student Union and Baseball Turf projects. The couple established the Staley Family Athletic Scholarship to benefit the UIS Department of Athletics and continue to support the University of Illinois System through an endowed scholarship at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Mark remains a member of the Stars Athletic Advisory board and Julie serves as a board member on the Reaching Stellar Campaign Committee. Julie also recently became a UIS student in the doctorate of public administration program.

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

Past UIS recipients of the William E. Winter Award include David Farrell, Paul O’Shea, 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), Clifford Greenwalt and Larry Shiner.

For more information, contact Maggie Owen, assistant director of advancement engagement, at 217-206-6058 or