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!