Monday, November 22, 2010

First U.S. death row exoneree freed using post-conviction DNA testing to speak at UIS

WHAT: The UIS Downstate Illinois Innocence Project will host a presentation by Kirk Bloodsworth. He is the first death row Innocence Project exoneree in the United States that was freed using post-conviction DNA testing.

WHEN: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. with a reception to follow.

WHERE: Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

DETAILS: The appearance is being held in celebration of the receipt of the $687,448 U.S. Department of Justice Bloodsworth Grant, which was recently awarded to the UIS Downstate Innocence Project. The Project has formed a partnership with the University of Illinois College of Law and the Southern Illinois University Law School to conduct a review of and possible DNA testing in 30 downstate Illinois cases where DNA testing might decide the outcome.

Kirk Bloodsworth was exonerated using DNA testing for the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in Maryland. He spent 8 years in prison and two on death row before DNA testing proved his innocence. Bloodsworth was released from prison in June 1993 and pardoned in December 1993. The Innocence Protection Act of 2003 established the Kirk Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA Testing Program, which provides funding for testing under the act.

This event is sponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership, UIS Office of Student Affairs, College of Public Affairs and Administration, Chancellor’s Office, Office of Development, and Office of Undergraduate Education.

For more information contact Larry Golden at 217/553-7171 or email More information about the Innocence Project can be found on their website at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Outstanding alumni honored at 2010 Alumni Awards Dinner

The University of Illinois Springfield Alumni Awards Dinner was held on Friday, November 12, 2010 in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby.

The University of Illinois Alumni Association hosted the annual event, which recognized and celebrated the achievement, distinguished service, humanitarianism and loyalty of UIS alumni.

“These are individuals that have rendered tremendous service to the campus and to the Alumni Association and they honor us by accepting these awards,” said Loren Taylor, U of I Alumni Association president.

Read more about the winners of this year’s awards and their accomplishments in a previous news release.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Big Read in Central Illinois is looking for your stories, poems, videos and artwork

Area libraries and cultural institutions participating in The Big Read in Central Illinois are sponsoring a community-wide contest that asks individuals to share a story, poem, video, or piece of artwork or mixed media that expresses the influence of music in their lives. The contest is inspired by Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, the book selection for The Big Read in Central Illinois. Throughout history music has been a prominent outlet for the expression of personal identity. For the novel’s main character Mick Kelly, music is a dream and a refuge, and offers her hope for a better future.

The “Under the Influence: Music that Inspires Expression Contest” is open to individuals ages 13 and older. Contest entries will be accepted online through Friday, January 7, 2011 and will be narrowed down to the top 12 finalists by a panel of judges from the various libraries. Once the 12 finalists are selected, the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites. Finalists can direct friends and family to the contest website to vote for them. Public votes will determine the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place contest winners. Prizes include: 1st place – Flip Video camera; 2nd place – iPod Nano; and 3rd place – iPod Shuffle. All of the 12 finalists will be invited to the kickoff event for The Big Read in Central Illinois at the University of Illinois Springfield on February 15, 2011 to accept their prizes. Entries from the top 12 finalists will be on display at the event.

For contestants who would like to produce a video entry, four of the participating libraries have flip video cameras that can be checked out by library members. Interested individuals or groups should visit the official contest website and click on HOW TOS for further details:

If you are interested in publicizing this contest please refer to Press on the official contest website: A full list of events planned for The Big Read in Central Illinois throughout the months of February and March 2011 can be found on the Big Read website: If you have any questions regarding the contest please contact Amanda Binder at University of Illinois Springfield at

The Big Read in Central Illinois is made possible by a grant issued to the Illinois State Library, a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support for the contest is provided by a grant issued to the Illinois State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Progam: ILEAD U (Illinois Libraries Explore, Apply and Discover).

Participating libraries in The Big Read in Central Illinois:

• Benedictine University, Becker Library
• Chatham Area Public Library
• Illinois Center for the Book
• Illinois State Library
• Illinois State Library Talking Book & Braille Service
• Jacksonville Public Library
• Lincoln Library, The Public Library of Springfield, Illinois
• Prairie Skies Public Library District
• Quiddity, International Literary Journal and Public-Radio Program
• Rochester Public Library
• Sherman Public Library District
• University of Illinois Springfield, Brookens Library
• Williamsville High School Library
• Williamsville Public Library

UIS community celebrates Veterans Day with flag raising ceremony

Students, faculty and staff at the University of Illinois Springfield celebrated Veterans Day on Thursday, November 11, 2010, with a flag raising ceremony in front of the Public Affairs Center.

UIS Veterans Resource Coordinator Cathleen Cassavant came up with the idea for the first of its kind ceremony with help from student service members.

“These people have worked so hard in their life and they need to be recognized,” said Cassavant. “I’m so excited. I want to do it every year.”

Senior Sociology/Anthropology major and President of the Military Veterans Student Organization Rebecca Johnson is a current member of the U.S. Navy reserves and served a 2-year tour of duty in Germany.

“It feels really good to be recognized. Even though we do have to be in school today they are still acknowledging veterans,” said Johnson.

Johnson hopes to raise awareness about the student organization with the help of fellow service members on campus.

Janet Wankum is a senior Business Administration and Management major who was deployed to Bahrain for four years before retiring from the Navy.

“We’re trying to grow. We want more and more students and we want more activities like this,” said Wankum.

For more information about services for veterans at UIS visit the Veterans Affairs website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Students celebrate Sustainability Week 2010

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield are learning how to become environmentally friendly during the 3rd annual Sustainability Week (Nov. 8-13).

“What we’re trying to do this week is bring attention to those things that we do, which leave us worse off for tomorrow,” said Nate Keener, president of Students Allied for a Greener Earth (S.A.G.E.).

The Campus Senate Committee on Sustainability (SCS) as well as S.A.G.E. is hosting the educational week. Events include a recycled art contest, a bike-to-work day and interactive games geared towards teaching students about recycling, harmful chemicals and water use.

“There’s so many little tips and tricks that we can do and even though we are somewhat becoming more green there’s so much more we can do,” said Carol Schulte, an active member of S.A.G.E. and SCS.

Read more about Sustainability Week events in a previous news release.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Scholarship Luncheon brings students and donors together

The Office of Development at the University of Illinois Springfield hosted the 2010 Scholarship Luncheon on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby.

The luncheon gave students a chance to meet the donors who provided the funding for their scholarships face-to-face. The event was also a great opportunity for students to network and make connections.

“I really enjoyed it because I got to see who the people are who gave me the scholarship,” said Cameryn Barbeau, a freshman scholarship recipient.

Associate Chancellor of Development Vicki Megginson says the number of scholarships available to UIS students have been growing, but there’s still a demand.

“We have more students in line who need help,” said Megginson.

For students like scholarship recipient Jordan Herd the extra support will help balance the financial demands of an education and raising a family.

“I have a little daughter, so it helps me because it allows me to be able to worry more with her and not be so focused on how I’m going to pay for school,” said Herd.

UIS Chancellor Harry Berman says with the rising cost of education and declining state funding support scholarships are becoming even more important.

“Scholarships can make the difference in a person’s life to make it possible for them to complete their bachelor’s degree and go onto have a wonderful future,” said Berman.

Speakers Series presents "Closing the Food Gap"

WHAT: The University of Illinois Springfield Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) Speakers Series and Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center presents “Closing the Food Gap” featuring author Mark Winne.

WHEN: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 5 p.m.

WHERE: Student Life Building (SLB) Gymnasium, located on the east side of the UIS legacy campus.

DETAILS: Winne is the author of Closing the Food Gap, which tells the story of how we get our food: from poor people at food pantries or bodegas and convenience stores to the more comfortable classes, who increasingly seek out organic and local products. Winne’s exploration starts in the 1960s, when domestic poverty was “rediscovered,” and shows how communities since that time have responded to malnutrition with a slew of strategies and methods. Winne also has a new book titled Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin' Mamas, which will be available for purchase at the event.

Winne was the Executive Director of the Hartford Food System, a private non-profit agency that works on food and hunger issues in the Hartford, Connecticut area from 1997 to 2003. He is a co-founder of a number of food and agriculture policy groups including the National Community Food Security Coalition. He currently writes, speaks, and consults extensively on community food system topics including hunger and food insecurity, local and regional agriculture, community food assessment and food policy.

For more information contact Kelly Thompson, director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at 217/206-8448 or email

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Students spend their summer studying abroad in Peru

Eight students from the University of Illinois Springfield shared their experiences from a summer spent studying abroad in PerĂº during a brown bag presentation. The event was held on November 4, 2010 in the Public Affairs Center.

“Each time that a group of students gets to go on a study abroad experience they come back and share their experiences and that’s really important for students to hear it from other students,” said Craig Pelka, a Public Administration graduate major.

The students spent over a month abroad studying the Peruvian culture and history, completing 32 hours of Spanish immersion, and participating in a volunteer internship at one of the many local non-government organizations.

“Last year when we went we were only there for two weeks, so we only got a quick snap shot,” said Pelka. “Five weeks this year was still a snap shot, but we got to engage at a different level.”

The UIS delegation lived in Cusco, the former capitol of the Incan empire, and took part in many excursions to historical sites. Students trekked through the jungle, climbed the challenging Huanya Picchu mountain, explored and studied the 500 hundred year old World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, and navigated on Lake Titicaca – the world’s highest navigable lake sitting 12,500 feet above sea level.

“I don’t think there’s a study abroad at UIS quite like this one,” said Carol Schulte, a Communication gradate major. “I would definitely recommend this to anyone.”

The group was lead by UIS professor Veronica Espina. The group consisted of students Kimberly Bach, Cathy Caldwell, Kelsey Holt, Stanislaw Lipski, Molly Meinhardt, Craig Pelka, Carol Schulte and Andy Shaffer.

Political Art and the Public Sphere presents "Outrage" film screening and discussion

WHAT: The Political Art and the Public Sphere (PAPS) series presents a screening of the film Outrage followed by a discussion moderated by Jason Pierceson, associate professor of Political Science and Legal Studies at UIS.

WHEN: Monday, November 15, 2010 at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Brookens Auditorium on the lower level of Brookens Library at UIS

DETAILS: Outrage, directed by Kirby Dick, is a searing indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians with anti-gay rights voting records, politicians who actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. Boldly revealing the hidden lives of some of the United States’ most powerful policymakers, Outrage takes a comprehensive look at the harm they’ve inflicted on millions of Americans, and examines the media’s complicity in keeping their secrets.

Outrage probes deeply into the psychology of this double lifestyle, the ethics of outing closeted politicians, and the double standards that the media upholds in its coverage of the sex lives of gay public figures.

Jason Pierceson is the author of Courts, Liberalism, and Rights: Gay Law and Politics in the United States and Canada published by Temple University Press in 2005. He has also edited and contributed essays to two recently published books on same-sex marriage.

The PAPS series is a monthly event on the UIS campus featuring a showing or a performance of some kind of “political art,” followed by an hour or two of group discussion. Each of the three installments in the fall 2010 series aims to raise social and political questions related to gender and sexuality.

For more information contact Dr. Richard Gilman-Opalsky, professor of Political Philosophy at or 217/206-8328.

Regional "Battle of the Brains" computer programming contest to be held at UIS

Local Information Technology Code Warriors Compete on Campus to Showcase Problem-Solving Skills at Regional Competition of IBM-sponsored Contest

WHAT: The powerhouse computer programming team from the University of Illinois Springfield and top collegiate programmers from surrounding areas will compete in an all-out “battle of the brains.”

WHO: Over 20 teams comprised from the University of Illinois Springfield, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Augustana College, Illinois College, Illinois State University, Knox College, and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology will be participating.

WHEN: Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: University Hall Building (UHB) at UIS in the 2nd floor Cisco labs

DETAILS: Imagine completing a semester’s worth of computer programming in one afternoon. The IBM-sponsored ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, the most prestigious computer programming competition of its kind, will include tens of thousands of university students during its preliminary rounds through December. One hundred teams from approximately 90 countries on six continents will earn coveted spots at the contest’s World Finals on March 3, 2011 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The 35th annual Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest challenges teams of three university students to use their programming skills and rely on their mental endurance to solve complex, real world problems under a grueling five-hour deadline. For more information on previous contests, problem sets and last year’s final standings, please visit Also visit IBM’s contest page at or the contest podcast series at

For more information about the event at UIS please contact Lucinda Caughey, Computer Science Instructor at 217/206-8336 or

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

UI Alumni Association to honor five during UIS Alumni Awards Dinner

The University of Illinois Springfield Alumni Awards Dinner will be held on Friday, November 12, beginning at 6:00 p.m., at the Public Affairs Center Sangamon Auditorium Lobby on the UIS campus.

The University of Illinois Alumni Association hosts this annual event, which recognizes and celebrates the achievement, distinguished service, humanitarianism and loyalty of UIS alumni. The year’s dinner celebrates the 40th anniversary of the campus, and the program will include special remarks from University of Illinois President Michael Hogan.

Lin Ezell, ‘74, director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps will receive the Alumni Achievement Award. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon graduates of the University. It is given to those who have attained distinction and success in one’s profession or life work. Ezell graduated from UIS with a bachelor’s degree in English. She worked at NASA in Houston for 10 years, and then went on to work for the Smithsonian for 21 years before becoming the director of the new National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Janice Spears, Ph.D., ’73, M.A.'74, M.A.'81 will be honored with the Loyalty Award for Exceptional Alumni Service. The award is given to individuals who support the role of the Alumni Association, and give of themselves in support of their Alma Mater. Spears started volunteering at UIS after returning to Springfield. She helps welcome back students each fall at the Chancellor’s Picnic; has provided volunteer leadership to groups such as the CEHS Alumni Council and the UIS Alumni SAGE Society; and also volunteers time to WUIS’ “Alumni on the Air Day”. Spears, who graduated with degrees in sociology and anthropology and educational administration, was a school administrator for 16 years and an elementary school teacher, teaching all subjects to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.

Tim Schweizer, M.B.A. ’85 is also a recipient of the Loyalty Award for Exceptional Alumni Service. Many might recognize his name (and voice) from his work as a sports reporter for WFMB Sports Radio 1450 in Springfield. As an alumnus of UIS, he has served on the Campus Alumni Advisory Board for the Alumni Association, on the board of Friends of Brookens Library, and, when he has the opportunity, he helps with spring and fall membership campaigns at WUIS. Schweizer earned a master’s degree in business administration from SSU and the skills he learned in the program, particularly the writing skills, have served him throughout his career.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to the University. Dr. Judith Everson is the recipient of the 2010 Distinguished Service Award. She was a charter faculty member of SSU, and retired in 2001, after 31 years of fulltime teaching, but she remains active with the university community. She taught English, History and Public Speaking. Her activities include participating in the UIS Alumni SAGE Society, a group for alumni, friends and faculty of SSU/UIS over the age of 50. She currently works on the Lifelong Learning Committee of SAGE, which is responsible for organizing classes and lunch programs for alumni, faculty, and friends.

Francie Staggs, ’81, M.A. ’91 will receive the Alumni Humanitarian Award, which recognizes alumni who have made great contributions of leadership and service to improve the lives of others. Staggs has given a lot of her time to volunteering. Organizations she has volunteered for include the Springfield Overflow Shelter, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Old State Capitol Foundation, the Elijah Iles House, and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, just to name a few. Staggs graduated from SSU/UIS with an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in history.

For more information on the Alumni Awards dinner and the award recipients, contact the Office of UIS Alumni Relations/UI Alumni Association at 217/206-7395 or

Alumni Magazine Freelance Writer & Managing Editor Shannon O'Brien contributed photos and information to this report.

UIS hosts Sustainability Week to raise environmental awareness on campus

The University of Illinois Springfield community is gearing up for the kick-off to the 3rd annual Sustainability Week. The Campus Senate Committee on Sustainability as well as Students Allied for a Greener Earth (S.A.G.E.) announced the line-up of activities for the weeklong initiative that will begin on Monday, November 8, and run until November 13.

“It’s going to be a great week, we are all very excited,” said Carol Schulte, an active member of both organizations.

Events are free and open to students, staff and faculty. They will be taking place both on and off the UIS campus throughout the week. Some of the activities include a recycled art contest, a bike-to-work day and a tour to a local recycling center and landfill site.

One of the more fun and educational activities will be a Wacky Wednesday Sustainability Student Challenge – interactive activities and games to foster environmental awareness and to get students excited about being green. There will be a ‘How much water/energy could be saved if…’ obstacle course, trivia games, and a ‘Toxic Household Cleaning Products’ match-up game – Price is Right style. For a complete list of Sustainability Week activities visit

Last year over 250 members of the UIS community took part in the week’s events. S.A.G.E. President Nate Keener hopes that number will increase at this year’s program, which has more events planned than ever before.

“Our main goal is to increase awareness. Students especially need to know how important and easy it is to be green,” Keener said.

Students Allied for a Greener Earth (S.A.G.E.) is a student-run volunteer organization that acts as a role model in promoting environmentally friendly practices on campus. In partnership with the Senate Committee for Sustainability (SCS) it creates and maintains effective recycling programs and provides leadership for sustainability issues. In 2008 it was awarded a $27,550 government grant by Opportunity Returns, a program dedicated to enhancing the state's recycling collection. With the help of SAGE and SCS, the University recycles 76 tons of material annually.

For more information on Sustainability Week contact Carol Schulte at 217/206-7687 or email

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lunch and Learn Series focuses on "Our Financial Institutions and the Public Trust"

Join us for another thought-provoking educational luncheon on University of Illinois Springfield campus on Wednesday, November 17. These lunch-time programs, 40th Anniversary Timely Talk About Timeless Topics, held in the lobby of Sangamon Auditorium from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. will build upon our SSU heritage of open dialogue and intelligent debate. Designed to inform as well as stimulate creative thinking, a panel of faculty emeriti, current faculty and other experts will make brief presentations and engage in discussion among themselves and with the audience.

November 17 the topic is "Our Financial Institutions and the Public Trust". Dr. Ron McNeil, dean of the College of Business and Management will moderate a panel who include: Dennis Shaul, senior professional staff, Financial Services Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.; Dr. Roy Wehrle, UIS faculty emeritus of Economics, Bill Wheelhouse MA '99 PAA, general manager of public radio station WUIS and Amy Hagen MBA '02 CBM, market president, U.S. Bank Taylorville. They will engage in discussion as they discuss our financial institutions from an international, national, state and local perspective.

Reservations are available for a delicious hot buffet lunch that begins at 11:30 a.m. The cost for lunch is $20 per session. The presentations that begin at noon and end at 1:30 p.m. are free and open to the public. Pre-paid luncheon reservations are required by Friday, November 12. Pre-registration is requested from those not purchasing the lunch, but who wish to attend the presentations to assure seating. . For more information and to register, visit or contact the Office of UIS Alumni Relations at 217/206-7395 or This program is part of the Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) Speakers series at UIS. Sponsors are the UIS Alumni SAGE Society, the Illinois State Historical Society and the Office of UIS Chancellor.

UIS commissions musical work to celebrate its 40th anniversary

The University of Illinois Springfield Concert Band will premiere a new work, Song and Spirit by Professor William Davis, written expressly for the 40th Anniversary of Sangamon State University and the University of Illinois Springfield. The premiere will take place as part of the 40th Anniversary Showcase Concert on November 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sangamon Auditorium. The composer will be present. This event is in conjunction with the Annual Alumni Awards Dinner.

Davis was commissioned by the University of Illinois Springfield to write a commemorative piece of art music for wind band which musically portrays the synergetic energies developed on our campus over the past forty years. Song and Spirit is a ten plus minute concert work composed in an arch form with a spirited march at the apex of the form. This march is intended to be extractable as a school song, and a contest was held last month on campus to pen lyrics for and give a title to this new song extracted from Song and Spirit! This project was organized by UIS Music faculty Todd Cranson and supported by many on the UIS campus.

UIS currently has one official school song, the UIS Fight Song – Look to the Stars, by Phillip Snow. Mr. Snow was a student at UIS at the time he composed the music and lyrics. The newly commissioned piece of music will be an exciting addition to the musical legacy of the UIS campus.

The 40th Anniversary Showcase Concert will also feature the UIS Chorus, directed by Melinda Pitt Kaye, and the Chamber Orchestra. A slide show set to live music from our campus’ past will open the second half of the program and culminate with the premiere of Song and Spirit. The first half of the program will feature other works by Davis, including a solo with band featuring Todd Cranson on tuba and the composer conducting, as well as compositions by Antonio Vivaldi, John Philip Sousa, and a set of holiday favorites!

For more information about Song and Spirit, the 40th Anniversary Showcase Concert contact UIS Music via their website,, or call 217/206-6240. For more information about the Alumni Awards Dinner, contact the UIS Alumni Association via their website,, or call 217/206-7395.


William Davis is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia, having taught in UGA's Hugh Hodgson School of Music from 1981 to 2009. His teaching fields included music composition, theory, and bassoon, and he also served as Associate Director of the School from 2003 to 2009.

He earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees at the University of Kansas, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music. His composition teachers have been John Pozdro, Samuel Adler, and Warren Benson, and he studied bassoon with Austin Ledwith and David Van Hoesen. His published compositions include works for soloists, chamber ensembles, chorus, and symphonic band. His orchestral works have been performed by the Toronto Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and other orchestras. He has performed solos and chamber music in the United States, Europe, and South America, and he is featured as composer and performer on numerous commercial compact discs.

Prior to his service at the University of Georgia, he was an Army Band Officer, a bassoonist in the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, and a faculty member at West Texas State University. He has served in several officer positions in the International Double Reed Society, as President of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, and as President of the Southeastern Composers League. In 2006 he received the Albert Christ-Janer Award for Creative Research from the University of Georgia.