Monday, August 31, 2015

Tickets now available for “One Book, One UIS” event featuring civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis

Tickets for the “One Book, One UIS” presentation featuring civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis are now available free of charge to the general public through the UIS Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office. Lewis will speak at the auditorium on Monday, October 19 at 7 p.m. along with co-author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell.

The graphic memoir, MARCH, which tells Lewis’ life story, has been chosen by UIS as the campus community read for the 2015-16 academic year.

The program, “MARCH: The Struggle for Racial Equality and Social Justice”, is supported in part by Illinois Humanities and the Field Foundation of Illinois. Other sponsors include the UIS Chancellor’s Office, Friends of Brookens Library and the UIS ECCE Speaker Series.

The title of the book MARCH comes from the many marches that Lewis organized or participated in, including one of the most well-remembered moments in civil rights history—the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. Lewis was one of the organizers of the march, which drew nationwide attention when the non-violent marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers. Many historians believe that the images of cruelty from the Selma march were a factor in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Lewis has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 1986. Born the son of sharecroppers in Pike County, Alabama, he became a civil rights activist while a student at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, organizing sit-ins and participating in freedom rides. From 1963-1966, Lewis chaired the Student Nonviolent Organizing Committee (SNCC) of which he was a founder.

Over the years, Lewis has received many prestigious awards, including the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. He was recently presented with the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government from the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Co-author Andrew Aydin currently serves in Representative Lewis’ Washington, D.C. office handling telecommunications and technology policy as well as new media. He previously served as director of communications and press secretary during Lewis’ 2008 and 2010 re-election campaigns.

Nate Powell is a New York Times best-selling graphic artist whose work includes the critically acclaimed, award-winning Any Empire, Swallow Me Whole and three other books. He is currently drawing the graphic novel adaptation of Rick Riordan’s #1 bestseller Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero.

MARCH is planned as a three-volume trilogy. At UIS, we are reading volumes one and two. MARCH: Book One has received numerous awards, including a 2014 American Library Association (ALA) Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award and an ALA Notable Children’s Book designation. It made the “best books of 2013” lists of USA Today, The Washington Post, Slate and others. MARCH: Book Two has just been published and has already garnered a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

This is the second community grant that UIS has received from Illinois Humanities to bring authors with important public policy messages to the campus and the Springfield community.

Members of the public may obtain free tickets by visiting the UIS Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office, located in the Public Affairs Center on campus, or by calling 217/206-6160 or 800/207-6960. Charges may apply for those who choose to have tickets mailed to them. You must have a ticket to be admitted to the event.

For more information about the “One Book, One UIS” community read, the event on October 19 and related events, visit

Thursday, August 27, 2015

UIS Friday Night Star Parties return in September

The University of Illinois Springfield’s popular Friday Night Star Parties will resume the Friday after Labor Day and run through the end of October. Those dates include: September 11, 18, 25 and October 2, 9, 16 and 23. Friday Night Star Parties are held from 8 to 10 p.m., weather permitting, at the UIS Observatory on the roof of Brookens Library.

In addition to the regular Friday Night Star Parties, there will also be one bonus Star Party this fall on Sunday, September 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. (weather permitting) in order to view the start of a total lunar eclipse.

Star Parties are hosted by John Martin, UIS associate professor of Astronomy/Physics. The observatory’s telescopes will be used to view a number of celestial objects, including the planet Saturn; the Moon, when visible; the Ring Nebula; globular star clusters M13 and M15; and other double stars and star clusters.

A typical Star Party begins with a presentation as visitors ascend the stairs to the observatory, learning about galaxies, the sun and stars along the way. On the roof observation deck visitors are invited to view the skies through telescopes and ask questions. Participants are welcome to arrive and leave as they wish between 8-10 p.m.

Friday Night Star Parties are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required and groups are encouraged to attend. The entrance to the campus observatory is located outside Brookens Library on the southeast corner of the building.

Star Parties may be canceled for cloudy weather. Questions about whether the weather is suitable for viewing should be directed to 217/206-8342 at 7 p.m. on the evening of the Star Party. Participants may also follow the UIS Observatory on Twitter (@UISObservatory) for updates.

For more information on Star Parties, email John Martin at or visit

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

UIS Visual Arts Gallery presents "Let the Words Fall Out" by Springfield artist Brytton Bjorngaard

The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery will present Let the Words Fall Out, an interactive installation from Brytton Bjorngaard, UIS assistant professor of visual arts and Springfield graphic designer and artist.

The exhibit will open on Monday, August 24 and run through Thursday, September 17. A reception for the exhibit will take place on Thursday, September 3, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

Let the Word Fall Out strives to counter the highly controlled depictions of our opinions and emotion that unfold through the use of digital communication today, such as texting, Facebook, Instagram, and beyond. Through these means, individuals often present a picture not as it truly exists --- but rather, as an expression of idealized, controlled, and polished identity. Through her installation, Bjorngaard considers the question: “How much of our communication is honest?”

Of the text-based designs that comprise her installation, Bjorngaard says, “The goal is not to be offensive, funny, or judgmental, although the work may function in those capacities. The goal is to speak openly.”

Bjorngaard was born in Minnesota and has spent her life as a rolling stone, living in Oregon, Minnesota, Spain, Italy, Iowa, Washington, and Illinois. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Iowa State University and her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She previously held faculty positions at Whitworth University and Iowa State University.

In addition to teaching, she is a freelance graphic designer, a member of DEMO Project, an artist-run contemporary and alternative project gallery in Springfield, and a board member at the Springfield Art Association.

The Visual Arts Gallery is centrally located on the UIS campus in the Health and Science Building, Room 201. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit the UIS Visual Arts Gallery website at or contact the gallery at 217/206-6506 or

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Latin American History professor to discuss improved relations between the United States and Cuba

WHAT: The World Affairs Council of Central Illinois and the University of Illinois Springfield Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) Speaker Series will examine “U.S.–Cuba Relations: Will This Thaw Continue?” The discussion will be led by Frank Argote-Freyre, a noted author, activist, journalist and professor of Latin American History at Kean University.

WHEN: Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: UIS Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library

DETAILS: Was the historic meeting on April 11, 2014 between Raul Castro and Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas a harbinger of a normalized relationship between the U.S. and Cuba? Will the U.S. soon end its trade embargo? Will the Cuban government protect human rights? Will all travel restrictions be eliminated? How far will this thaw in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. go? What will the new relationship between Havana and Washington look like? What are the obstacles and challenges to forging a new relationship? These questions and others will be addressed at this presentation by Frank Argote-Freyre.

As an author, Argote-Freyre wrote Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman. His work was named Outstanding Book of the Year in 2007 by Choice Magazine. He also co-authored, with Danilo Figueredo, A Brief History of the Caribbean. Argote-Freyre is the president of the Latino Action Network. As a journalist, he has written numerous articles on topics ranging from nuclear power to corruption in the mental health system of New Jersey. At Kean University and at Rutgers, he has taught courses on the History of Cuba, History of Mexico, Colonial Latin America, and Modern Latin America.

The event is co-sponsored by the UIS Diversity Center and Organization of Latin American Students. For a list of other upcoming ECCE Speaker Series events and more information, visit All events are free and open to the public.

UIS Theatre announces 2015-16 season productions

University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Theatre is excited to announce its production lineup for the 2015-16 academic year. In fall 2015, the program will present The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. The spring 2016 production will be Distracted by Lisa Loomer.

The Importance of Being Earnest will be performed Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 and Nov. 5-7, 2015 in the Studio Theatre, lower level of the Public Affairs Center. UIS Associate Professor and Director of Theatre Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson will direct with scenic design by UIS Assistant Professor of Theatre Dathan Powell.

Open auditions/crew interviews will be held Aug. 30-31, 2015 in The Studio Theatre. Callbacks will take place on Sept. 1. Auditions and crew positions are open to students, faculty, staff, and community members. Check for updated times and information. Roles are available for 4 women and 5 men. Some of the crew positions available include stage management, props master, costume crew, sound designer, lighting crew and set construction.

In the Oscar Wilde play, Algernon Moncrieff (Algy) and Jack Worthing are young Englishmen who are both looking for a little excitement in their aristocratic lives. To this end, they have each invented alter egos, in order to call themselves away from high society doldrums. For Algy, there’s “Bunbury,” who requires constant attention and for Jack, there’s “Earnest,” a name he has adopted for escapes to London from the country. Enter Algy’s aunt, Lady Bracknell, and her daughter, Gwendolyn Fairfax—with whom Jack falls in love. As Jack labors to pass Lady Bracknell’s inspections, Algy has fallen in love with Jack’s ward, Cecily Cardew. Both Gwendolyn and Cecily reveal that any marriage-worthy suitor of theirs must first possess a confidence-inspiring name such as “Earnest.” What unfolds is a hilarious, yet perceptive and universal journey for the young men, as they learn who they really are in name and in character…all of which leads toward their final understanding of the vital importance of being “earnest.”

The spring production, Distracted will be performed April 22-24 and 28-30, 2016 in the Studio Theatre, located on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center. UIS Associate Professor of Theatre Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson will direct with scenic design by UIS Assistant Professor of Theatre Dathan Powell. Open auditions/crew interviews will be held Jan. 24-25, 2016 in The Studio Theatre. Callbacks will take place on Jan. 26. Auditions and crew positions are open to students, faculty, staff, and community members. Check for updated times and information.

In the play by Lisa Loomer, 9-year-old Jesse can’t focus at school, can’t sit still, can’t follow directions. Is Jesse simply a typical 9-year-old boy, or is he suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, as his teacher suspects? Jesse’s parents clash over this potential diagnosis, their marriage suffers, and Mom struggles to find a solution amid various health professionals--one of whom wants to prescribe Ritalin. Neighbors and friends all seem to have their own diagnoses—and suggested solutions—none of which seem to work for Jesse and his parents.

Dramatists Play Service calls the play “a hilarious, provocative, and poignant look at a modern family and an epidemic dilemma: Are we so tuned into our 24/7 info-rich world that we’ve tuned out what really matters?”

The curtain time for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night shows is 7:30 p.m. with the Sunday performance starting at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $12 for senior citizens (65 or older with a picture I.D.), $10 for UIS Faculty/Staff and $8 for UIS students (and all other college-level students) with a valid, current i-card or college I.D. card. Please note that a service charge, not included in the prices above, from Sangamon Auditorium will be added to each ticket price, at the time of purchase. To avoid a higher service charge, buying tickets in person at the Sangamon Auditorium ticket office is highly recommended.

For more information on the upcoming season, please visit the UIS Theatre website at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

UIS Speaker Series explores "The Charleston Massacre & the History of Racial Violence in America"

WHAT: The University of Illinois Springfield Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) Speaker Series will explore “The Charleston Massacre and the History of Racial Violence in America” during a panel discussion.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: UIS Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library

DETAILS: This event will bring together a panel of experts to explore the historical, social and political lineage that nurtures the current racist culture and climate that enabled the Charleston shootings. This event was inspired by the project #CharlestonSyllabus, the creation of Chad Williams, professor of African American Studies at Brandeis University.

Williams will join in the panel discussion, along with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign associate professor Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua and Loyola University of New Orleans assistant professor Ashley Howard. The discussion will be moderated by UIS assistant professor Ty Dooley.

The panel discussion will engage the audience in examining the complexities of race relations in America, help them identify how the long history of racial violence contributed to the Charleston shootings, teach them about the convergence of factors and conditions over time that resulted in the current racial climate in the U.S., and help them understand their role as citizens in addressing racial intolerance in their communities.

For a list of other upcoming ECCE Speaker Series events and more information, visit All events are free and open to the public.