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