Tuesday, May 26, 2009

UIS to host tech camp for middle-school girls

The University of Illinois at Springfield’s Computer Science Department will be holding Girl Tech 2009, a technology camp for middle-school girls, on Thursday, June 18 and Friday, June 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the University Hall Building on the UIS campus.

The camp will offer sessions on programming, robotics, computer networking, iMovie, Photoshop and computer hardware. A partial list of sessions includes Cartoons Galore!, Persona Magazine, Wireless Treasure Hunt and Robotics at the Robot Zoo. Instructors of the sessions are female faculty members in the UIS Computer Science Department and Visual Arts Department, as well as staff members in Information Technology Services.

Classes begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. Before and after camp activities are planned to allow camp participants to stay the entire day.

To be eligible, students must be entering 7th, 8th or 9th grade in the fall. The registration fee is $20 per girl, which covers lunch both days, snacks and a participation T-shirt.

For more information about specific sessions and to obtain the registration form, go online to http://csc.uis.edu/girltech2009.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Emiquon to host two presentations about fish and aquatic species

Two public lectures, “Restoring the Thompson Lake Fish Community” and “Aquatic Invasives in the Upper Mississippi River Basin,” will be presented on Wednesday, May 27 at 6 p.m. at the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Emiquon Field Station. The program is free and open to the public; reservations are not required.

The first lecture, “Restoring the Thompson Lake Fish Community,” will be presented by Nerissa N. Michaels, Emiquon Project Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy. The program will include an overview of the Thompson Lake/Emiquon history starting from the early 1900s to the present. Additionally, information relevant to the Thompson Lake fish community, including stocking efforts, monthly monitoring and additional research, as well as information pertaining to the Thompson Lake aquatic vegetation community, will be shared.

Greg Sass, director of the Illinois River Biological Station, will present the second lecture, “Aquatic Invasives in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.” Sass will discuss the establishment of aquatic invasive species in the Upper Mississippi River Basin as well as their effects on native species.

The Emiquon Field Station is at The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve, located between Havana and Lewistown. Entrance to the field station is on Prairie Road, located off Illinois Rts. 97/78, approximately one-and-a-half miles north of the Dickson Mounds turnoff. A sign will be posted at the turnoff. A map is also available online at: www.uis.edu/emiquon/about/images/mapToTNCEmiquon.jpg.

For more information, contact Mike Lemke, Emiquon Field Station Director, at lemke.michael@uis.edu or (217) 206-7339.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Downstate Innocence Project awards reception will also host unveiling of new book

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, housed at the University of Illinois at Springfield, will host Michale Callahan, former Illinois State Police Commander of Investigations, as he unveils his new book at the Defenders of the Innocent Awards Reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 18, at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield.

In 2000, Michale Callahan was the newly promoted Investigations Commander over a nine-county area in East Central Illinois. His first assignment was to review the fourteen-year-old Paris, Illinois murder of a young, newlywed couple, Dyke and Karen Rhoads. Randy Steidl and Herbert Whitlock were convicted for those murders based primarily on the unreliable testimony of two witnesses. Callahan quickly recognized the injustice of the convictions and called for a reinvestigation of the case, only to be told by his superiors that it was “too politically sensitive.”

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project was one of a number of organizations that were involved in attempting to exonerate Steidl, who received the death penalty, and Whitlock, who received a life sentence. In particular, Bill Clutter, the Project’s Director of Investigations, was actively involved in critiquing the convictions and generating the evidence that was ultimately used to overturn them and to free both individuals.

In his book, Callahan tells the story about his fight against the attempts to cover up the scandal of the convictions and silence him as he attempted to reopen the investigation. Ultimately, the fight cost him his career and his belief that our system was one of fairness and justice. As stated in the release about his book: “This book is about everyone’s worst nightmare, when the cover-up of any crime becomes more important than the injustice done to the victims. This true story is a warning and foreboding example of just what can happen now that a government can muzzle its employees to cover up its criminal acts.”

Callahan will be present to sell and sign the books for those attending the awards reception. Tickets to the awards reception are $100 and will be available at the door, or make reservations in advance by calling 217/206-7989.

For more information, contact Larry Golden at 217/553-7171.

Friday, May 8, 2009

UIS Innocence Project to hold awards reception

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, housed in the Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, will hold the Defenders of the Innocent Awards Reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 18, at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. The event is open to the public; however, reservations are required.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project works to assist the wrongfully convicted by providing resources for investigation and research, and to develop policy proposals that would help prevent the conviction of innocent persons in the future. This awards reception is the second annual event to recognize individuals and organizations who have worked to help achieve those goals.

The featured speaker at the reception will be Larry Marshall, who founded the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University Law School. Marshall’s work on death penalty exoneration cases led to reforms in the death penalty process in Illinois.

Springfield criminal defense attorney Michael Metnick will be honored with a Defender of the Innocent Award for his lifetime achievement in the defense of the innocent. During his career, Metnick devoted pro bono representation in the defense of two clients who had been sentenced to death for crimes they didn’t commit.

In 1988, Metnick undertook the retrial of Alejandro Hernandez, who was set free in 1995 after being convicted in the high-profile murder of Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville. That case, also involving Rolando Cruz, was one of the major inspirations for the innocence movement in Illinois and the nation.

In 1992, Metnick volunteered his services in the post-conviction representation of Randy Steidl, freed in 2004, after being convicted of the murder of Dyke and Karen Rhodes in Paris, Illinois in 1989.

Bill Clutter, the Project’s director of investigations, who worked with Metnick on both cases, said, “Mike Metnick’s heart and soul went into these cases with great passion and commitment. His determination to fight for his clients’ lives is the reason they are free today. He is a true champion of justice and deserves this recognition.”

The event will also honor the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, whose charitable support was instrumental in the formation of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project. The Dominican Sisters of Springfield have devoted themselves to work in opposition to the death penalty.

Innocence Project Director Larry Golden, who has worked with the Dominican Sisters on a number of social justice projects, noted “The Sisters have a commitment to social justice unequaled in our community. They lead through their actions as well as their teaching. While they don’t seek publicity, these awards are one way their contributions can be recognized.”

Tickets are $100 and will be available at the door, or reservations may be made in advance by calling 217/206-7989.

For more information, contact Golden at 217/553-7171.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Voices in Praise choir to perform at Six Flags St. Louis

The Voices in Praise choir at the University of Illinois at Springfield, along with other choirs and groups, will be participating in Gospel Fest with the Spirit of Praise 2009 on Saturday, May 9, in St. Louis. The choirs will perform live in front of an audience and a panel of judges at Six Flags St. Louis for a chance to open for renowned artist Kirk Franklin.

Voices In Praise will be singing “My Name is Victory” and “If It Wasn’t For Your Grace.”

Voices in Praise has performed at various local events such as the “Amazing Grace” event at the Old State Capitol and Lincoln’s Tomb in celebration of Lincoln’s 200th birthday and the “Do the Right Thing” Festival for the Springfield Urban League. They have also performed at Living Word Fellowship Ministries and Abundant Faith, the Healing Waters Reception, the grand opening of the new Springfield Urban League Studio and Faith AME Church in February for the Black History Month Women's Breakfast.

Future endeavors for the choir include singing at the Graduating Seniors Capitol Honors Breakfast for the Capitol Honors Scholars Program at UIS on Saturday, May 16.

Friday, May 1, 2009

UIS hosts third and final Central Illinois educational series for the spring

Central Illinois: Patchwork of People,” a three-session educational series examining the people and cultures that have influenced life in central Illinois, will conclude on Tuesday, May 19, at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

The session will focus on “How They Made a Living.” Speakers will be Taylor Pensoneau, retired president of the Illinois Coal Association and Illinois author who will speak on “Dreams, Hardship and Danger—The Lives of Central Illinois Coal Miners,” and Dr. Debra Reid, associate professor of History at Eastern Illinois University who will speak on “Harvesting the Soil: Central Illinois Agricultural Practices.”

Sponsors of the event are the UIS Alumni SAGE (Service, Activity, Group and Enrichment) Society and the Illinois State Historical Society. UIS alumnus William Furry, executive director of the Illinois State Historical Society, is the moderator of the series. The program is made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.

A delicious hot buffet luncheon is available at 11:30 a.m. The presentations are from 12 to 1:30 p.m. There is a charge for lunch, but the presentations are free and open to the public. The luncheon and presentations will be held on the University of Illinois at Springfield campus in the Public Affairs Center (PAC) Conference Rooms C/D, located on the lower level. Paid reservations are required for the luncheon by Tuesday, May 12. The cost is $20 per person for lunch and the presentations. Pre-registration is also requested from those not purchasing the lunch who wish to attend the presentations. To register or for more information, visit www.uiaa.org/uis or contact the Office of UIS Alumni Relations at 217/206-7395 or alumni @uis.edu.