Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wishing students a relaxing break

As we wind down the last few days of the semester this finals week,  I want to congratulate each of you for all your efforts this semester.  I was once a student like you (OK, it was a very long time ago) and I remember well the stress of finals week, with papers to complete and cramming for final exams.  Many of you have not only worked hard in your classes, but also been exceptional participants in various student activities and campus leaders who are leading student organizations and continually making contributions that make our campus a more engaging and intellectual environment for everyone.  Others of you are managing jobs and families at the same time you are pursuing your degrees with great determination.  Still others are studying hard and addressing each day the challenges that come with being an international student living in a new culture and communicating in a second or third language. Whatever your circumstances,  I admire your commitment and I hope your semester has been a successful one.  

For those who have holiday celebrations coming up in the next several days,  I wish you good times with family and friends.  My husband, Dennis and I are anticipating the arrival at our Springfield home of five little grandchildren – all of whom believe sincerely that Santa Claus is coming next week!  

Best wishes to all for a restful and relaxing winter break!  I look forward to your rejoining our academic community for the Spring, 2013 semester.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Remembering Sandy Hook

On this first day of finals week at UIS just a week before Christmas,   I hope that we all will send our best wishes to the residents of Newtown, Connecticut where the tragic school shooting occurred on Friday.  Our thoughts and prayers are especially with the families of the twenty children, six and seven years old, and six school staff whose lives were lost.  No words are adequate to express the magnitude of this terrible tragedy, but we are inspired by the heroism that saved the lives of many more children and we want the Sandy Hook Elementary School community to know that they are not alone in their sorrow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bright Lights and Holiday Spirits

The colonnade on our UIS campus is  beautiful no matter the season, but if you haven't seen it after dark in the past few days, I recommend you stop by and take a look.  Thanks to our talented physical plant staff, it has been decorated with lighting for the upcoming winter holidays and it's gorgeous. With yesterday's record setting 74 degree temperature and the usual end-of-semester pressures, it's a little difficult to get into a holiday mood; but seeing the colonnade lit up so beautifully certainly does the trick for me!  I hope you will take a moment and enjoy the view!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

UIS is global!

I had a fascinating conversation this week with UIS international students; Zehra Ozkan Shahidi from Istanbul, Turkey, Yiman Li from Wuhan, China, and Archana Jalamadugu from Chennai, India.  I'm always interested to hear students' stories and it was especially interesting to hear that Zehra, Yiman and Archana were all inspired to study abroad by their parents (especially their strong mothers), who pushed their daughters to grow and try new things.  

I have so much respect for international students and the courage it takes to move to a new culture and face all the day to day challenges such a move brings.  I was pleased to hear that these three exceptional international students are thriving at UIS and very much appreciating the individualized attention that is a hallmark of our faculty.  They also enjoy the "small town" environment of Springfield, having all come from major cities in their home countries.  

International students are a great asset to our university, providing windows into their own cultures at the same time they are experiencing American life.  Thank you Zehra, Yiman, and Archana for a very enjoyable and enlightening conversation!  I appreciate the leadership you are providing here at UIS and look forward to seeing more of you on campus.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m reminded of so many things I’m thankful for here at UIS.  Our outstanding students, faculty and staff remind me daily that UIS is a premier public university. For example, last week, two UIS employees, Keith McMath and Scott Fay were recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense for their support of members of the National Guard and military reserves.   They went the extra mile to provide assistance to a student being deployed to Afghanistan.  Keith and Scott are just two examples of the fact that leadership is lived here every day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Special night and special lady

The Visual & Performing Arts Building just received a face lift.   Recently, I was happy to be a part of the dedication ceremony held in the Music Room.  It is now the Polly Roesch Music Room.  If you don’t know Polly, you are missing a great person and a great story.  Just a couple years ago, at the young age of 100, she sang with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra in the Sangamon Auditorium.  The Guinness Book of World Records certified her as the oldest person to debut with a symphony orchestra.  She was on our campus again to see the plaque unveiled in her honor.  She is a supporter, donor, and friend.  What a special night and what a special lady.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day Salute

Reflecting on Veterans Day.  Thank you to all those UIS alums, students and employees who have served or currently serve in the armed services.  We are grateful for your service.  If you are on active duty today in harms way in Afghanistan or some other place, please know that I am thinking of you, wishing you well and hoping for your safe return.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Election Day message from Eleanor Roosevelt

"May what is best for the country happen today, and may we all remember that whatever happens, this is just the beginning of some years of useful work." - Nov 6, 1940

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"I tell you, lovers are completely mad!"

The UIS Theatre department's Fall, 2012 production is Moliere's famous and funny play, Tartuffe and it was a delight! What is so much fun about this play is that Moliere wrote it entirely in rhyming couplets – 1,962 of them from start to finish! The performers, both the professional actors and the UIS students, delivered their lines almost perfectly throughout the play. It must have been great fun for the actors and it was certainly great fun for the audience. The production also showcased our new theatre professor, Dathan Powell, whose first scene design for UIS provided the perfect setting for the production. Congratulations, Director Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson and all the cast and crew on a fine production and another important contribution to the intellectual landscape of our university!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Trick or Treat …UIS Style

On October 31  most every child in the U.S. gets excited about that special costume and going door to door to get lots of candy.  My brothers and sister and I used to make a huge haul every year in our small town in South Dakota. UIS students go door to door on Halloween, too, except they have a different style of trick or treating.  They collect canned goods or non-perishable items for the Central Illinois Food Bank. It’s the kick off for the UIS Holiday Stars Project, coordinated by the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center.  Wednesday night over 150 students and many UIS employees participated in this important annual event.  If you don’t think they have fun giving back to our community, you need to check out the pictures and the video of the night.  This is Trick or Treating UIS style!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Donors meet students, students meet donors

We all know how important it is to give students an abundance of opportunities. Recently at an event on campus, the words "opportunity" and "thank you" was heard a lot.  It was the Office of Development's annual scholarship luncheon where students and donors meet.  Nearly 300 people packed the Sangamon Auditorium lobby, and the conversation that was heard repeatedly was students thanking donors for giving them the opportunity to do things they otherwise may not have done.  We have so many great events on this campus, but this one has to be one of the most special and rewarding events of all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Girl Power

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be asked to take part in the 12th annual Women In Banking Conference hosted by the Illinois Bankers Association.  I participated in  a panel discussion with State of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Illinois National Bank President/CEO and UIS alumna Sarah Phalen.  Sharing a stage with these two outstanding women and looking out into the crowd, made me proud of the contributions Illinois business women make each and every day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chimichangas with the Chancellor

I always look forward to spending time with UIS students and I don’t get to do it as much as I would like.  However, on Tuesday evening I shared some Chimichangas , UIS M & M’s and great conversation with about 80 students.  It is very clear to me that our UIS students are living and breathing “Leadership lived”.  From the thought provoking questions they asked me to the genuine concern that the upperclassmen have for the next generation of students coming up behind them, I'm so pleased that we are a close-knit campus. Our students are getting a great education at UIS; but they are also contributing to creating a campus where open dialogue is appreciated and valued.  Leadership doesn’t get any better than that in my book.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Manny Thank Yous

You probably thought I misspelled “Manny” in the title of this blog post.  Not so. The “Manny” spelling refers to the UIS Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach, Manny Velasco.  Coach Velasco is a tennis legend in Springfield and at UIS.  He is not only a great tennis coach who has mentored many UIS athletes over the years; but he is also a great friend to the Springfield community.  In fact, the local tennis facility in Washington Park is named in his honor. This year local sponsors, the Bank of Springfield, Staff Carpet, Giganti and Giganti, and Midwest Office Supply, honored Coach Velasco by naming UIS Athletics as one of the recipients of their annual Caddyshack Open Golf Fundraiser. Because of Coach Velasco and his leadership,  the event raised $10,000 that will support scholarships for UIS student athletes.  Thank you, Manny, for being such a great leader and role model in our community and thanks, also to the sponsors, donors and volunteers who made this year’s Caddyshack Open so successful. It is great to be a part of such a generous community that is always giving back!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Showcasing a UIS treasure at Emiquon

The Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon, about 45 miles northwest of Springfield on the Illinois River, is a very important part of the University of Illinois Springfield. Just a few days ago, I was reminded again of that great treasure when we played host at Emiquon to UI President Robert Easter; Board of Trustees Chairman, Chris Kennedy; Board of Trustees member, Ed McMillan; and several others. UIS Professor, Mike Lemke, who is Director of the Field Station, and other representatives from our partners including The Nature Conservancy and Dickson Mounds State Museum, provided an action-packed day for all of us at the Emiquon complex – 14,000 acres of wetlands, conservancy land and the Dixon Mounds State Museum. The UIS Field Station is the hub for important research on a variety of topics including water quality, wetlands restoration and wildlife and is a resource for UIS faculty and students as well as researchers from around the world. The highlight of the day was a tour of the wetlands via an airboat. That was a first for me!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It’s Fall Y’all!

As I’ve been driving into campus the last few days, I’ve noticed that Fall has really taken hold. Did you know that the UIS campus is home to over 300 different varieties of trees, shrubs and plants? All of them are lovingly tended by UIS horticulturist, Joan Buckles and her great team. The John Henry sculpture, lovingly known on campus as the “french fries,” is framed here perfectly by a maple tree in full color! Fall is definitely a great time to be part of the UIS community. (By the way, the real name of the John Henry sculpture is "The Dodger" and it was generously donated to us this past Spring by our friends Bob and Ruth Vogele.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mulan is much more than a Disney cartoon!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of higher education is being surrounded every day by scholars and teachers, each of whom has their own interesting area of expertise.   

One of those outstanding teacher-scholars at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois is Professor Lan Dong, Associate Professor of English, who was named the 2012 University Scholar a few days ago.  This is the highest honor given to a faculty member at the University of Illinois.  An expert in Asian American literature, Dr. Dong is the world authority on the legend and legacy of Mulan,  a mythical woman warrior who has been depicted for centuries in art, literature and, more recently, in a very popular Disney animated film.  
Professor Dong also received the University's highest honor this past year for outstanding teaching.  Our students benefit so greatly from the opportunity to work with outstanding faculty like Lan Dong.  Congratulations, Professor Dong!

Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm an AVID fan of our UIS student leaders!

I just came back from the UIS Food Emporium where I spent some time with about 40 high school students from Springfield who are on campus for the day. Hosted by UIS senior, Jinger Saunders, a Pre-Med major who has been volunteering in the Springfield public schools, these students are part of a college prep program known as AVID. AVID is dedicated to helping students achieve their dream of attending college and I was pleased to hear that many of our guests hope to attend the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois! Jinger, along with help from the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center, worked tirelessly to put this event together as part of Homecoming Week and it has been a great success. Thanks, Jinger, for your dedication to "giving back." You are a terrific role model and you are blazing a path for these future UIS students to follow. Now that’s what I call "Leadership lived!"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

You can put it on the board!

I went to see our Stars Women's Volleyball team play last night and left the game feeling a lot less lonely! Why? Because I just happened to sit down behind UIS student, Mihai Smarandescu from Chicago and within a few minutes discovered that, like me, he is a dedicated White Sox fan! In a land where everybody else either lives and breathes the Cubs or bleeds red for the Cardinals – this was a amazing discovery! I'm pretty sure that Mihai and I are the ONLY two White Sox fans in Central Illinois and from now on we're sticking together! We may be out of the American League race for this year, but we love our team anyway! Thanks a million, Mihai, for making my day!! Oh and by the way, we won the volleyball match – way to go girls!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Getting the most from your college experience.

I read with great interest a recent article by Ken Thomas, who is the University of Illinois student trustee from the Chicago campus of the U of I.  Ken writes eloquently about the importance of getting involved on your campus wherever you attend college. I've spent almost 30 years as a faculty member and university administrator and I've seen this proved again and again:  Students who dedicate themselves to success in the classroom at the same time they get involved in campus life gain the most from their university experience.  On the UIS campus there are countless ways to get involved – joining campus organizations, volunteering in the community, attending various campus events – its all part of what is a really exceptional educational opportunity at UIS.  We call it "Leadership lived."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Typical weekend

There is so much to do on campus and in Springfield that it's sometimes challenging to fit it all in! This last weekend was a good example and my husband and I took full advantage. From UIS Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Soccer games and the performance of "Midtown Men" at our own Sangamon Auditorium to downtown Springfield's famous Route 66 Festival and the Clayville Historical Site's Fall Festival – it was a great weekend! To top it all off, our Alternative Spring Break students (pictured right) had a car wash and did a great job cleaning up the Chancellor's vehicle! Nice.

Monday, September 24, 2012

New food options on campus!

There are a couple of new spots on campus for a quick snack or a beverage and I've tried them both! Last week, the new “Grab n' Go” in Lincoln Residence Hall and a new "Juice Bar" in the TRAC opened to long lines of hungry students. The “Grab n Go” has a nice variety of ethnic and specialty items (including fresh wheat grass) and the “Juice Bar” has some unique offerings as well that include Island Oasis smoothies (good for replenishing energy after a workout)! A special thanks to our international students who made recommendations for preferred food items. I couldn’t resist buying a Pease’s caramel apple at the "Grab n' Go (Pease's is a famous Springfield candymaker) and I also sampled the smoothies at TRAC. Its nice to have a couple new places to take a break! Thanks UIS Food Service!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Leadership is lived at UIS again today!

I was delighted to welcome a large group of Hispanic high school students and their counselors to the UIS campus today! In collaboration with the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, we hosted a day-long leadership and pre-college program and it was a great day. We have outstanding student leadership on campus for OLAS, the Organization of Latin American Students, and I'm pictured here with the UIS OLAS President, Jaime Cruz, who also happens to work in the Chancellor's Office. My thanks to Jaime, the outstanding staff in the Diversity Center, our friends at the USHLI, and everyone who made today such a successful day. I'm looking forward to seeing some of today's visitors enrolled at UIS next Fall and pursuing their University of Illinois degrees.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

International Relationships

One of the most interesting aspects of being a Chancellor is the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world. Today I had an engaging visit here on campus with Rose Yeo, Principal of the School for Further Education in Singapore and Emil Dereinda, Director of Studies at SSTC. They are visiting our campus for the first time to advance an international agreement with UIS that will allow students to complete their first two years of undergraduate education in Singapore and then their final two years here at UIS, earning a University of Illinois degree in Business. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for those students; but also a wonderful opportunity for our faculty and students to develop an international relationship in a very important place in the world.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Many reasons to celebrate at UIS!

This week has been full of reasons for celebration. Early in the week with official enrollment numbers in, we learned that UIS’ enrollment topped 5,000 students for the third consecutive year. I'm especially pleased that the number of freshmen choosing UIS increased by 16% this year and our freshman class is increasingly diverse! Equally exciting are the 2013 U.S. News & World Report college rankings that were released just hours ago. UIS has now moved up from fourth place to second in the Midwest public regional university ranking category. We also continue to be ranked the #1 regional public university in Illinois. This year's jump in the rankings is a real tribute to the quality of student that we attract and to the exceptional education experience that our outstanding faculty and staff provide. It’s nice to be reminded sometimes that UIS is a great place to pursue the University of Illinois degree!

Friday, September 7, 2012

These UIS students are real STARS!

It was my pleasure to spend some time last night with a very special group of UIS students. Destiny, Malcolm, Julian, Nathaniel, Joseph, Andriana and Christopher are all UIS sophomores and members of STARS (Students Transitioning for Academic Retention and Success). We met for dinner at Saputo's Italian Restaurant (a real Springfield landmark) in downtown Springfield to celebrate their academic success last year and to congratulate each student on their leadership role as a sophomore STAR for the coming year. I really admire the courage and commitment of these students, each of whom has addressed significant challenges in order to attend college. I especially appreciate that, at the same time they each remain dedicated to their own studies, they are serving as mentors and role models for our freshmen members of STARS this year. I wish each of you continued success in the coming year and I hope you continue to aim high. Thank you Tarah Sweeting-Trotter for the invitation to join in your celebration last night and congratulations on the positive impact that your program is having – one student at a time!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A blog about a blog

Have you ever read a blog about another blog?  Well, you are about to.  In case you didn’t know, besides the Chancellor's blog, there is another UIS blog in town.  It’s the Prairie Star Spotlight on the State Journal-Register's website. It has recently featured softball player and student-athlete Tina Buck and UIS Volleyball Coach Noelle Rooke as blog posters.  I'm enjoying keeping up with our Stars via the Prairie Star Spotlight. Check it out and “Go Stars!"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nothing like a good picnic

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed a good picnic and Tuesday’s UIS Chancellor's Welcome Back picnic ranks right up there as one of the best! We had food, music, laughter, great conversations …. and a little spontaneous dancing! We even had one country western song played (at the Chancellor's request) by our talented DJ, Jaime M Cruz. (Thanks, Jaime!) A real spirit of community was so obvious as I walked around talking with students, faculty and staff. I look forward to many more community gatherings during the coming year. Thanks to all who participated for helping us set a new attendance record at the Chancellor's Welcome Back Picnic. Best wishes to all for a great semester!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Athletics Backyard BBQ

What a great kick off to the 2012 athletic season. The weather, food, and atmosphere was an A+ this past Saturday. It was great to see such a great combination of students, parents, faculty, staff, and community at the Prairie Stars Backyard BBQ. I encourage all of you to get to the various athletic contests and get loud and support our teams. The Blue Crew is always looking for more fire power. I am so ready for the start of the season. We had a slight taste with some soccer exhibitions this past weekend, but it’s time for the real thing. I hope to see you out and about supporting our Stars!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

French Braiding – Another important skill in the Chancellor's toolbox

One of the things that is so challenging (and enjoyable) about being a university chancellor is that you never know for sure what the day will bring. Whether dealing with budgets, academic planning, student life, community engagement or fund-raising; having lots of experience and many different skills are important keys to success. Yesterday – move in day for freshmen at UIS – provided an unusual example. The Chancellor had an opportunity to, of all things, french braid student Rebecca Britton's hair! Luckily, I've had lots and lots of experience … and it's actually really fun! Welcome all you new students and best wishes for a terrific year at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois!

Monday, August 20, 2012

New "Digs"

We're just about ready to launch the new semester and there is lots of excitement and anticipation in the air on the UIS campus! I went on a tour of the newly-renovated apartments and townhouses this week at Larkspur, Clover, and Bluebell Courts on the UIS campus’ east side. This multi-million dollar project is nearly complete. What great “digs” our students will soon be able to enjoy! I know many students are anxiously waiting to move into the new accommodations this week, and let me say… I think you will be impressed. I'm sure residents will enjoy the beautiful new bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens (with dishwashers!), and bathrooms; but as you can see by the photo, I was most impressed by the spacious closets! No wonder students tell me they love UIS housing!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

UIS will be watching Olympics closely

I’m a big fan of the Olympic Games and this summer the 2012 Summer Games will be more special than usual. One of our very own UIS grads will be participating in the games. Congrats to alum Richard Oruche, a 2010 UIS graduate, as he will be playing on the Nigerian basketball team. What a terrific accomplishment! The banners at University Hall and out by 11th street beam our support. Good Luck Richard, we will be watching!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Catching up with alums in D.C.

How can a trip go wrong, when you get the chance to go to the nation's capital and have the pleasure to run into some UIS alums.  I recently returned from D.C. and was able to see some new faces and some familiar faces during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  The festival featured the 3 U of I campuses and exemplified what we are doing to make this a more accessible world.  We have proud alums and we have a proud Chancellor!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summertime fun at UIS

Summertime can still be a busy time for many people at UIS. Whether it’s using a ball or a computer or anything in between, we have a flurry of activity going on at our campus. Grade schoolers to high schoolers are invading our soccer fields and TRAC for soccer and basketball camps to sharpen their athletic skills from our coaches and players. We even have a camp put on by our computer science department for middle school-aged girls, called Girl Tech. Even though there is a lot of teaching and learning going on, I think the key ingredient is “fun”. Who says this is a time to just sit back and do nothing?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Would you like fries with that?

If you happened to drive into the UIS campus this week near the Public Affairs Center, you may have noticed something new and very interesting in the landscape. Art collectors extraordinaire, Bob and Ruth Vogele, who have been great supporters of UIS, donated a sculpture by artist John Henry to UIS. It was being installed near the teardrop drive at PAC. It's a wonderful addition to what we hope will eventually be a campus-wide outdoor sculpture garden that will add to our beautiful grounds. This great piece is titled, “Dodger”; but I can't help but think of it as, "French fries." It is always so exciting to add to the artistic culture of a university campus!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

770 hands shook, and 770 plus smiles

Commencement this past Saturday was such a gratifying event for me, as I am sure it was for all of those involved. I shook 770 hands at our commencement ceremony. And I know I had more smiles than that. What a wonderful feeling that day brought and I know the memories will be with our students and their families forever. I wish our graduates great success and as I always say, “Aim high”!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

Commencement is tomorrow – my favorite day of the year. Congratulations and best wishes to all UIS graduates! I'm looking forward to shaking 770 hands!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Art makes life

One end-of-year event I have been looking forward to all year is the UIS Senior Art Show …. and it did not disappoint! The galleries were packed Friday evening with students, faculty, parents, grandparents and member of the Springfield community – all enjoying the great show that our visual art students had assembled. I was delighted to present the Chancellor's Award (for best in show) to Karen Boerema for her ceramics installation titled "Coupled." Karen is a ceramics artist who has been studying here at UIS with faculty/artist Shane Harris and is graduating this year with her degree in Visual Arts and plans to make art, I hope, long into the future. She is not only a skilled artisan, but is also a highly intellectual artist whose work is challenging, complex and beautiful. Brad Balster and Skan Jolly received Honorable Mention Awards and I'm looking forward to more great work from them as well.

My congratulations to all of the UIS Art Seniors who contributed their work to the Senior Exhibition as well as to the UIS Art faculty who have contributed so much to the professional development and artistic advancement of our students. (It is art that makes life . . . and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process. - Henry James)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stretch run

Well, here we are with two weeks left to go into the semester. This is the “stretch run” as some students call it. Last week was filled with all kinds of activities and excitement for our campus. Springfest was a tremendous success as was our women’s softball team. (Our first athletic team to qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament) That is just to name a couple of items from the action-packed week. But now is also the time, to buckle up and end the school year on a great note. I know many students have papers and finals due, and here is hoping that it is a great last two weeks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

UIS has talented student-athletes!

It was such a pleasure to be part of the annual UIS Athletic Banquet Sunday evening. My congratulations to Michael Fakuade,  Male Athlete of the Year who has been such fun to watch on the basketball court this year.  Congrats also to senior pitcher, Heather Gradishar, who has helped the women's softball team to have their best year ever.  Heather, we'll be there to cheer you on Saturday in the conference tournament.  And kudos to Jane Brown, a Springfield native and a member of the women's tennis program who boasted the highest cumulative grade point average of any senior student-athlete!  And by the way she is an Accounting major who is graduating in three years!! 

I'm very proud of all our terrific Division II athletes – its amazing how well they balance their academics with their athletics and it shows in both the GPAs and the athletic performance.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Students say "Yes" to a student union

By almost a 4 to 1 ratio, the students voted “yes” in yesterday’s referendum to build a student union on our campus (the actual vote was 432 to 109).  I want to congratulate the many students that worked hard on bringing the referendum to a vote and explaining the importance of having a union.  Even though there is still a long way to go, this was a very big step in the process.  Let’s keep our eyes on the prize and make that all important “hot spot” a reality to our campus and community!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Let's Build a Student Union!

Today is an important day for our UIS community – the day that students have an opportunity to vote to build a Student Union on our campus. The referendum today is a student-led initiative and I strongly support it. As I've been getting to know UIS students this year, I've heard again and again that students need and want a union and, as far as I'm concerned, we can't get the shovel into the ground soon enough!

Our union will be a destination for all members of our community - on–campus students, non-traditional students, graduate students, faculty members, staff, alums, and yes, even the Chancellor. It will be our campus living room – a bright and bustling hot spot for student activities long into the future; a place to work on homework, hold meetings, enjoy some new food and beverage options, play video games, and just hang out after class. As our student leaders are fond of saying: "Think of it as a campus town in a box."

If you are a UIS student, I hope that you will vote today for this very important next step in the growth of our university.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Equal Pay Day

Everyone knows that today is Tax Day the annual deadline for U.S. Citizens to file their income tax; but did you know it is also Equal Pay Day? Equal Pay Day symbolically marks the number of extra days women would have to work into 2012 in order to earn, on average, as much as their male counterparts do for the same work. According to a recent study by the American Association of University Women, the average disparity between men's and women's wages in the U.S. is 76%, with the average salary for men being $50,549 and for women, $38, 368. Where you live in the U.S. makes a difference with Washington, D.C. Being the best location and where women earn 91% of what men do. Wyoming is the worst at 64% and Illinois is not so good either. The wage gap in Illinois between men's and women's salaries is ranked as 34th in the nation. For college educated Illinois women, that amounts to about $1.2 million in lost earnings over a lifetime. This is a very real issue for Illinois families.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The latest buzz on a student union

As many of you know, the buzz is out and about building a student union at UIS. Many of our students, faculty, and staff are trying to inform everyone with the facts and there are a lot of things you are probably wondering. … “Like how much? Who would have to pay for it? What would be in it? Where will it be located?” Many of your answers can be found at this link. I hope members of the campus community will attend one of the open forums that have been scheduled to discuss the student union initiative. I agree with our student leaders that we need a student union – a central gathering place for our campus community. The student union will be for everyone and would greatly enhance campus life here at UIS. Student government is holding a referendum on April 19th. If you are a UIS Student, please vote!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Their work is never done

Just this week our UIS Illinois Innocence Project hosted its 5th annual Defenders of the Innocent Awards Reception at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The Illinois Innocence Project works to exonerate individuals who are innocent of the serious crimes for which they have been incarcerated and, at the same time provides students with a hands-on learning experience of great value to their education. I am very proud of the collaboration and the work that is put into their efforts. As Larry Golden will tell you, their work is never done. I like that philosophy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fortune favors the prepared mind

I had a quick business lunch yesterday at the Tai Pan - my favorite little Chinese restaurant in Springfield. This message was in my fortune cookie: "Sell your ideas, they are totally acceptable." Nice! (And by the way, the title of this blog post is from Louis Pasteur, who knew well from his own experience that fortune does, indeed ,favor the prepared mind.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

The greatest wealth is health

With Spring well underway, the UIS campus is so beautiful – it seems like everyone is outside. Spring is also is a great time to get more active and get a little more committed to being healthy. I'm wearing my pedometer and planning on making that 100 mile goal by mid-April! On our campus a great way to enhance your health will be to attend the UIS Health Awareness Fair just a couple days away on April 4th in the TRAC. The Health Fair is a great opportunity to take advantage of some free health screenings, and gather valuable information on health and wellness. The Diversity Center will also be kicking off their Bullying – Not at @UIS Campaign. I hear this is a major – and "picturesque" event on our campus and I hope I'll see lots of UIS students, faculty and staff there! By the way, the title of this blog post is a famous (and very true) quote by the ancient Roman poet, Virgil. (Health educators know weird stuff like this.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We're here to help

In case you didn’t know, we had a group of UIS students that spent their spring break volunteering in New Orleans, a city that is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav. They focused their efforts on rebuilding a home in a New Orleans neighborhood where residents are still suffering the after-effects of the hurricanes. If you haven’t seen the video that UIS student volunteer Paige Heiser helped put together, you should. Just click here. I know we have many UIS students, faculty and staff that do more than their part in Springfield and other communities as volunteers or mentors - who really bring to life our mission "to serve local, regional, state, and international communities;" I can’t say enough of how proud I am of all of you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This little light of mine

What a gift it was this past Sunday to attend the performance of the Soweto Gospel Choir in our own Sangamon Auditorium with members of our UIS Gospel Choir and Dance group. Musical Director, Vusimuzi Shabalala and three other members of the Choir were kind enough to meet with us before the performance and tell us a little bit about the Choir and their current U.S./Canada tour. We even sang a verse of "Amazing Grace" with them – a little warm up for their absolutely amazing performance. The Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir is known all over the world for their beautiful voices, pristine musical harmonies and wonderful interpretations of traditional African songs and American gospel favorites like "This Little Light of Mine" and "Bridge over Trouble Water." Every member of the group is an artist in their own right; but I think my favorite performer on Sunday was Shimmy Jiyane, the choir choreographer and a lead singer – what a great talent! My special thanks to Teresa Haley, President of the Springfield NAACP and UIS graduate, for being my special guest for this performance. Thank you, Soweto Gospel Choir for bring so much joy to the UIS campus!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Catching up with some alums

I've been in Chicago this week for several appointments and to participate in our UIS Alumni Advisory Board meeting. We have so many alums leading interesting and successful lives and I'm grateful especially to those who volunteer their leadership to serve on our Alumni Board. Alum Thom Serafin is a great example. Thom hosted our meeting in his company headquarters in Chicago. Serafin and Associates is a PR firm that specializes in public affairs and crisis communications, providing consulting services to help people achieve success. Thanks Thom for all that you do for your alma mater!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day today to all the women in my life that I admire and appreciate - students (the Presidents of the UIS Student Government Association, Black Student Union and Organization of Latin American Students are all women), colleagues, friends, daughters, daughter-in–law, granddaughters and so many women who are making a difference in the world today. In honor of all of you I made a donation to Women for Women International, an NGO that supports women in war–torn regions with aid, job skills training, education and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Signs of Spring

March is well underway and I've seen (and heard) several sure signs of Spring here on the UIS campus:
  • A robin was sitting on the hood of my car when I left the office last night,
  • Several students told me about their Spring Break plans for next week,
  • I'm reviewing the commencement script today,
  • Our softball and baseball players have started their seasons,
  • I've been hearing rumors about a UIS event called "Springfest" and apparently it is a LOT of fun!

Friday, March 2, 2012

"What kinda people kill each other most? Family people! Brothers!"

You've only got one more chance to attend the UIS Theatre Program's performance of "True West" and find out more about these two brothers and since I attended the show last night I can heartily recommend it. It's a great comedy (with some surreal underlying themes) written by Sam Shepard and directed by our own very talented Theatre Professor, Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson. We loved the way the scene was set the minute we walked into the Studio Theatre by the authentic ole' timey Western music and the set was straight out of the California 1980's including a lot more toasters that any one kitchen should have. The highlight of the play for me was the spot-on performance of Professor Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson (yes, they are related) who played Lee, the drifter … con-man … bad-guy. He was hilarious, brilliant and scary all rolled into one. The last night is Saturday, March 3!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Definition of Health

The World Health Organization defines "health" as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease" and, as a health education specialist, I've spent my faculty career promoting many aspects of health. I appreciate that the great Leadership Team at UIS Recreational Sports offers many ways for us to maintain and improve our personal health. I'm currently one of the 160 campus participants in the “100 Mile Club” fitness challenge. It should be easy (and fun) for everyone to get that 100 miles and earn the t-shirt, especially if we just go for a stroll each day on our very own beautiful UIS campus. It’s great to see so many participants in this fitness challenge and I loved seeing some of the creative names of the teams...”Pedominators”, “Sole Sisters”, “Accountabilibuddies”, and “Un-PAC the Pounds” are just a few that caught my eye. We’ve been blessed with some mild weather during February and now here we are in March. So get out there and get healthy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Students MAP out their future

I had the pleasure this past week of sitting down for a conversation with four UIS students; Brittany Henderson from Richton Park, Haydee Franklin from Springfield, Justin Rose from Chicago, and Zach Sullivan from East Moline. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about their experiences here at UIS as well as about their backgrounds and where they hope to be in the future. It’s great to hear that we are doing a lot of things right; but we are always looking to do better. One thing is clear, MAP grants are a crucial part of financial support for a large number of UIS students. We all know that family budgets are tight and a college education is costly. MAP grants are part of what helps insure Illinois students get in school, stay in school, and get that valuable bachelor's degree! The more college graduates we have in our state, the better for our economy and our communities. As Chancellor. I'm working hard to communicate that message to political leaders and decision-makers. Thanks Brittany, Haydee, Justin and Zach for sharing your stories with me!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Another thriller

UIS men's basketball players range in height from 5'6" (Keith) to 6'10" (Dylan); but last night they were all giants!! What a thrilling game! The Stars defeated Quincy University on the road 63-62 in one of the toughest and most thrilling basketball contests I've ever seen. Congratulations to all of our student-athletes and coaches. We're looking forward to the first round game of the tournament this Sunday at 3:00 PM in TRAC. This is going to be the place to be this weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Seniors rise to the occasion

What a game! What a win! What a great way for Michael (Fakuade) and Lester (Hart) to celebrate their birthdays!! In case you haven't heard, I'm talking about our Stars men's basketball game and their 1-point victory this past Saturday!! This critical win (70-69) over the University of Missouri St. Louis insures our first-ever GLVC Conference Tournament appearance. Congratulations, coaches and players – we're so proud of you! Since it was Senior Day, it was really nice to meet the parents of our senior players, Michael, Lester, Jermaine and Chigozie. We had the best crowd ever at the game and the Blue Crew gets bigger and louder every week! If you haven't seen our team play – you'll have another chance in the first round of the tournament here in Springfield. Check the UIS athletic website for details and get to the next game!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Showcasing talent

A big thank you to Rashonda Williams, the VIP Choir and all the other UIS students who organized and presented the very first UIS Gospel Music Showcase this past Sunday night. I really love gospel music and it was great to see our talented students performing. We were also inspired by the message of Dr. Clarice Ford, our Associate Dean for Diversity, who also has a lovely voice! The Gospel Showcase was part of UIS's celebration of Black History Month and we have several other events scheduled on campus during the next several days.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Heading into the homestretch

Congratulations to both the women's and men's basketball teams on the wins over Rockhurst on Saturday! It was great to see the ever-growing Blue Crew cheering on the teams at the TRAC. I hope everyone will join us for the last home game, Senior Day, this Saturday at home. The GLVC Conference Tournament is coming up in March at the Springfield Convention Center and it will be wonderful if we qualify for our first ever tournament slot! Go Stars! By the way, the popcorn at our concession stand is the best in town – hands down.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Campus connection with Lincoln

As anyone from Springfield, Illinois would know, this past weekend it was all about Lincoln!! Sunday was Abraham Lincoln's 203rd Birthday Celebration and UIS hosted a fascinating symposium over the weekend featuring nationally regarded Lincoln scholars from around the country. I'm proud to know that our own Professor Michael Burlingame is among those scholars and I recommend his wonderful new book, Abraham Lincoln Traveled This Way. The book, with text by Professor Burlingame and photos by photographer, Robert Shaw, takes us on a journey from the log cabin in Kentucky where Lincoln was born to the Lincoln tomb in Springfield where Lincoln and most of his family is buried. The book is available at local outlets including the UIS Bookstore.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chili'n with the Chancellor

What a great turnout last night at Chili with the Chancellor. My sincere thanks to Erin, Brandi, Itzi and all the other leaders from Student Government, Black Student Union and the Organization of Latin American Students who co-sponsored the event and brought out the big crowd! I appreciate hearing from our students on whatever is on their minds. Obviously, a student union is a priority and you know I am behind that effort 100%. I hope everyone enjoyed their chili and more importantly, the conversation. I know I did. So what’s next… chimachongas with the Chancellor?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Our grounds are in good hands

It was so nice to see that this Sunday the State Journal-Register, our local newspaper, sought out UIS's own Joan Buckles, Superintendent of Grounds at UIS, for her expertise in their feature article on new "plant hardiness zones." Joan (and her campus crew of 11 grounds professionals) is the person responsible for the 370 acres of trees, flowers, shrubs and lawns that make up our beautiful campus. Though we're still waiting for a late winter to arrive; I'm sure Joan and her crew are already thinking about how they will "push the limits" of those planting zones to make our campus even more beautiful this Spring. Given the unusually mild winter, I wouldn't be surprised to see a daffodil or crocus peeking out of the ground in some sunny location. Thanks, Joan and the crew for all you do to maintain this beautiful campus for all of us. We appreciate it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

UIS hoops and more

Husband, Dennis and I are really enjoying following our men's and women's basketball teams this season! Congratulations to women's coach Marne Fauser, men's coach Ben Wierzba and all our great student-athletes who are making the basketball season so much fun to watch this year. We’ve got two straight home games coming up, starting with Thursday night. It is going to be a big night in the TRAC when we play William Jewell University, as we salute all of our UIS student-athletes that made the Athletic Honor Roll during the fall semester. Hope to see everyone there to support our teams and have some fun!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spring is here??!

February has arrived and by the weather you wouldn’t even know it. Even though we will probably get a dose of reality with a winter blast this month, it was great to see so many students and staff outside this past week enjoying the great outdoors. It just adds to the excitement as activities are lining up for the Spring Semester. I’ve noticed the flurry of events that are heading our way like Black History Month , UIS Theatre, Visual Arts Gallery, the Collegiate Career Fair, and the Student Arts and Research Symposium. That is just naming a few. We are a happening campus! Oh and by the way, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention Chili with the Chancellor!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another example of why our online programs work for our students

It was a pleasure meeting with UIS supporters and alums for a couple of days in Phoenix this last week. Among them was Ed Carr. Ed is an executive with the Boeing Corporation in Phoenix (where they make the Apache helicopter) and is an online UIS student in our M.A. in Legal Studies Program. A busy dad with two active kids; Ed has found both the convenience and academic excellence of the UIS online program to be exactly what he was looking for. It's going to be a pleasure to shake Ed's hand when he participates in the May 2013 commencement ceremony. He has already decided to be there in person so that he can meet his professors and fellow students face-to-face.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's always great to run into our alums

UIS has accomplished alums across the state of Illinois and around the world. Wen Huang and Derek Felix are among them and what a pleasure it was to talk with them in Chicago a few days ago! Wen came to UIS (then Sangamon State) from China to earn his M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting in 1991. He is a Chicago-based writer and journalist who works for the Aon Corporation and is a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Asian Wall Street Journal and other well-known publications. Wen's memoir, The Little Red Guard, will be published by Penguin books this spring and will be featured on the Oprah Winfrey network. Derek just graduated in 2010 with a degree in Business Administration and now has an exciting position with Groupon, a high tech company that now has about 3,000 employees in Chicago. Both Wen and Derek give credit to their UIS experience for preparing them well for success. It's great to know we have such great alums!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bipartisanship – Our Students live it!

“Bipartisanship” is a word that we all hear quite often when a conversation about politics takes place. But when I heard that for the second year in a row that our chairman of the College Republicans (Zach Watkins) and the president of the College Democrats (Sean Miller) live in the same townhouse, even I thought that was pretty unique. Even the secretaries of both organizations (Andrea Carlson and Michelle Tuma) are roommates in Lincoln Residence Hall. After watching the video on the UIS website, it’s pretty easy to surmise that our leaders in Washington and here in state government in Springfield could learn a thing or two from our students.

I always knew we were leaders in public affairs and government, why wouldn’t we be leaders in practicing bipartisanship (or at least civility). Our students literally live it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Good Morning, It's a Beautiful Winter Day

Happy 2012 & Welcome to the new semester at UIS! Thanks for stopping by and reading my first post to the Chancellor’s Blog. As some of you may have heard during my open forums, I told a story about my 3-year-old granddaughter’s “Good Morning” song. The shortened version of this story is that my daughter was rushing to get her 3 children into the car and hoping to get little Abigail to pre-school on time. But Abigail told her mom to wait a minute, because she had to sing her “Good Morning” song. Granted it’s hard to be agitated when you hear a 3-year-old burst into song, “Good Morning, Good Morning. It’s a beautiful day. I wonder what we’re going to do today.” There are days you may feel rushed or frustrated, but sometimes you just have to stop and take a deep breath and soak in the beautiful surroundings. When I drive into campus, I still think about how lucky I am to serve as your Chancellor. We have such a beautiful campus and great people that go along with it. Not only does it make for a great morning and a great day, but what a wonderful thing we have going here at UIS.

I am hoping to share some observations and experiences with you on this blog. I plan on making a post or two every week, and give you a little slice of my thoughts, that you might not normally get a chance to see from a chancellor. Come back and visit!