Friday, December 20, 2013

Cookie Creativity

The last few days of the semester are also a time for a little holiday creativity. I recently held a small holiday gathering for the UIS Chancellor's Division and a highlight of that event is our annual cookie decorating contest. 

The categories were "Best UIS Theme", "Best Holiday Theme", and "Ugliest". Our esteemed judges had a tough time making their decisions, but in the end three exceptionally creative cookies stood out. 

Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Amorrow Morgan won the "Best UIS Theme" category with his depiction of the campus colonnade. Graphic Designer Lindsey Feger won "Best Holiday Theme" and Head Women’s Soccer Coach Molly Grisham won in  the "Ugliest" category  with …. well, I don’t know how to describe hers except to say it was not very appetizing! As you can see from this photo of the Chancellor with our winners, creative minds were plentiful that afternoon. Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Finals week message from the Chancellor

It's been a busy Fall semester and the hustle and bustle of the holidays is well underway this week. As we move into finals week,  I want to thank all members of the UIS community for all their contributions over the past several months.

I have said many times that it is a privilege for me to serve as Chancellor at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. I am proud of our collective work and I appreciate excellence that so many colleagues here support and nurture. If you haven't already done so, please watch this short message. Thank you and Season's Greetings!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rockin' out at UIS

We often think of the work of the university as taking place in the classroom and that is certainly true; but there are all manner of jobs that need doing on a university campus. One particularly difficult job that I've been observing for several weeks as I arrive and depart campus each day has been the reconstruction of a hillside near the Public Affairs Center. 

The solution to a constant erosion problem has been the placement of about 188 tons (yes – tons!) of different sized white rock on the hillside. Grounds worker, Cliff Edwards, came up with the rock idea and installing the rock has been a joint effort for several days by the UIS grounds crew  - with lots of help from Frank Moscardelli, Terry Minder, Brian Beckerman, Steve Crews, and Dave Lock. Much of this rock had to be placed by hand and it was a tough job (to put it mildly) besides which crew members staged the work between all the other routine maintenance tasks that occur this time of year.

The job was finished this week and this photo is of the very last rock being placed (well, maybe we staged that moment just a bit for the sake of the photograph). My thanks to everyone who contributed to accomplishing this important project! It looks awesome. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013



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 – and a wonderful place to learn and work. For example, many international students contributed this past week to the UIS International Festival, dancing, playing traditional instruments, serving food and sharing their cultural heritage. The International Festival is a tradition at UIS that is almost as old as the campus; it gets bigger every year and it is one of my favorite events. Our international enrollment significantly increased this year and the increasing presence of international students is a great asset for our campus. My thanks to all the students who contributed to the success of the International Festival and …..

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

By the way, the title of this blog post (if I can trust my online source) is Happy Thanksgiving in Mandarin Chinese.

Friday, November 22, 2013

UIS - Illinois' state capital University

As most people know, education in public affairs has been a central commitment of the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois since the campus was founded 43 years ago. The location of the campus in the state capital of Illinois and the home of Abraham Lincoln is an invaluable asset that provides a laboratory for future leaders like no other. Last night, the Induction ceremony for the Illinois Legislative Internship Hall of Fame at the Illinois Governor's mansion, was a premier example our excellence in public affairs. Since this program began in 1990, we have honored 59 former legislative interns – all UIS alums – with induction into this Hall of Fame and it was a delight to listen to summaries and stories about their achievements last night. The class of 2013 includes: Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, Assistant Secretary of the Illinois Senate Scott Kaiser, Chief of Staff for the Illinois House Republican Leader Scott Reimers, Contract Lobbyist Mona Martin and Retired Executive Director of the Illinois Petroleum Council David Sykuta. What a wonderful example of Leadership lived.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Unfinished Work

Today is a very, very important day in Springfield, Illinois and on the UIS campus. Today is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. We're celebrating those 272 words tonight with a very special Lincoln Legacy Lecture event featuring our own Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, Michael Burlingame and two other Lincoln scholars. Many of our faculty, staff and students are participating in related events sponsored by the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, where the Gettysburg Address, written in Lincoln's own hand, will be on display for a rare public viewing. This anniversary is an important reminder to all Americans of the “unfinished work” delegated by Lincoln in this immortal speech to all American citizens. It is also a wonderful reminder to the UIS campus of the unique opportunities we have here in the home of Abraham Lincoln to embrace and grow Lincoln Studies and the many leadership lessons such study offers our students.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The University of Illinois Springfield is global!

This week has been a big week at UIS with the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and many visitors on campus for the Board meeting and various associated events. We always enjoy hosting our trustees, each of whom is a distinguished Illinois resident and all of whom are very supportive of the UIS campus. A special highlight of this meeting for me was a musical performance provided for the Board of Trustees by two of our Chinese students, Yu Shao (Christina) and Ying Han. Christina and Ying are part of the new UIS Camarata,  a select group of highly talented students who have been recruited to contribute to the UIS Music Program's special focus on Ethnomusicology – the study of the social and cultural aspects music from around the world. Christina plays the Chinese zither and Ying plays the Korean version – a similar instrument. It was a wonderful performance and one that our board members (and the Chancellor) really enjoyed. Thank you, ladies!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Honoring our veterans today

Today, November 11, 2013, is Veterans Day in the United States of America. There could have been no better way to start the day, along with other UIS colleagues, than to gather for a campus flag-raising, listen to our national anthem, hear some words of inspiration from Dr. Clarice Ford, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Services, who is a veteran, and spend a little time thanking our veterans for their service. We have many faculty, staff and students who are veterans of military service and we also have a number of active duty military who are studying via our online programs. Thank you, veterans, for the service you have provided to our country.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Not just November, giving is year-round at UIS

Thanksgiving's month is usually a time when people think about the importance of giving.  Here at UIS, I think we are in that mode year-round. We have student groups and employees giving back to the community in many ways, shapes and forms throughout the year. An important employee-driven charitable campaign at UIS is SECA, which stands for State Employees Care A Lot. UIS employees from September to November have various events on campus that help raise awareness (and money) for various charitable organizations in the community and beyond. Employees also have an opportunity to make contributions on their own. Whether it’s learning how to better use an iPad or getting a lesson in how to make and preserve the Chancellor’s favorite applesauce, we have creative ways to give and help those in need. This photo shows UIS Chef-Extraordinaire, Randy Williams, who has written a book on food preservation, teaching a workshop on applesauce-making. The nice thing about it, was that we all had an opportunity to do some tasting! Yum.

Monday, November 4, 2013

UIS Alumni Gala rocks the Governor's Mansion

UIS alums were out in force on Friday evening for the 2013 UIS Alumni Gala and what a party it was! We had nearly 250 alums gathered at the Illinois Governor's Mansion on Friday evening and it was such a delight to talk with alums ranging from those who graduated in the early 70's when Sangamon State University was founded to more recent graduates of the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. Whatever the graduation year, the enthusiasm and loyalty that our alums express for UIS is really exceptional and it was so much fun to hear folks reminiscing about their student days and talking about what they've been doing since graduation. 

Congratulations to Richard Osborne who was honored with the U of I Alumni Achievement Award and to UIS Professor Emeritus Charles A. Schweighauser who received the Distinguished Service Award! With over 33,000 UIS alums out there in the world, I'm looking forward to a lot more alumni engagement in the coming years! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chicken with the Chancellor...say what?

It’s become a tradition since I became Chancellor at UIS a few years ago, that I have regular gatherings with students. Food, of course, is an essential part of those events and so (apparently) is alliteration! We’ve had Chocolate with the Chancellor, Chili with the Chancellor, Cheesecake with the Chancellor, Chimichangas with the Chancellor …. well, you get the idea. One such event is coming up next week and this time it’s "Chicken with the Chancellor”. Co-sponsors of the event are the UIS Student Government Organization and several other student groups. My thanks to all the student leaders who have been promoting this event on campus. Please come and join the conversation and have some wings …. or a vegetarian alternative. Chicken with the Chancellor starts at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 5, in the Lincoln Residence Hall Great Room.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Teacher/Scholars alive and well at UIS

Today I had the pleasure of joining my fellow faculty members and guests here at the Springfield campus of the U of I in honoring Dr. Hua Chen, Associate Professor of Biology, who has received the University of Illinois University Scholar Award, the highest award that the University of Illinois confers for scholarship. Dr. Chen's research focuses on ecosystems ecology and climate change. He is one of several faculty who are actively engaged doing research at Emiquon, our wetlands research station on the Illinois River. Dr. Hua Chen continues in the footsteps of a long and distinguished list of UIS faculty members who have been University Scholars. The award comes with a monetary award of $15,000 per year for three years that can be used to support research. Congratulations, Dr. Chen!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Just a little lunch with several hundred of our closest friends

Every fall on the UIS campus there comes a time where lunch is extra special. It’s the annual UIS Scholarship Luncheon – one of my favorite campus events! Guests include UIS supporters who provide funding for scholarships and students who are the recipients of those scholarships. We had a packed Sangamon Auditorium lobby for the luncheon. This event is a wonderful opportunity for  students to meet donors and say “thanks” and it's equally rewarding for donors to actually see where their "investment" is going. 

It was especially enjoyable this year to have Julie Staley, talented media personality and a UIS donor, serve as MC for the event. Student, Jasmine Torres-Gonzalez, who is the first member of her family to attend college,  gave a wonderful talk about what her scholarship has meant to her. Thank you donors for making a college education possible for so many of our students at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween is coming

It seems as if Halloween is becoming a more and more visible holiday throughout the U.S. I'm sure students at UIS are thinking about their costumes; but Halloween at UIS has also become an important opportunity for students to contribute to the Springfield community.

We have many students every year who participate in "Trick or Treat for Canned Goods, " a project to benefit the Central Illinois Foodbank. Unfortunately, hunger is a reality for many families in Central Illinois and earlier this week, UIS students visited neighborhoods throughout the area distributing door hangers explaining the project to community residents and requesting their participation. On October 31st, from 4:30-8 p.m., our students will return to these neighborhoods to collect non-perishable food items that will be donated to the Central Illinois Foodbank.

I'm already assembling my contribution and looking forward to students' stopping by in my neighborhood. The UIS goal is to collect more than 7,000 pounds of food, and I have full confidence that we will reach our goal. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

UIS alum in Israel

I spent several days on an educational mission to Israel this past week, meeting with the presidents of several prominent Israeli universities to discuss possible collaborations and speaking at a national conference in Rehovat about the UIS Emiquon Project.

One of the highlights of my travels was connecting with UIS alum, Latrice Nettles. Latrice is a 2008 graduate of UIS who is now a graduate student in the Laudner School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

Latrice has already earned one master's degree at IDC with a specialization in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security Studies and is staying for another year to complete an additional program in International Diplomacy. The President of the IDC, Uriel Reichman, thinks highly of this UIS alum and invited her to be part of our meeting. Latrice is pictured here with me and President Reichman. 

Thank you, Latrice, for representing the University of Illinois so well on the international stage! It is going to be very interesting to see what this UIS alum and former Springfield resident is doing five years from now. Whatever it is,  I'm quite sure it will be interesting.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Who is taking those great UIS photographs?

I am hearing that there is lots of positive "buzz" about the wonderful photos displayed on the UIS homepage, our Facebook page and various other mediums. So just who is the person behind those great images? I'm proud to say that it is our own Shannon O’Brien, Senior Photographer in Campus Relations. Shannon is an outstanding professional and she combs the entire UIS campus, creating exceptional images of our faculty, students, and staff in action. Shannon's creativity and cutting-edge style has been noticed in many positive ways, especially since we've been featuring more of her work on the new UIS website. Thank you Shannon for being “picture perfect” for UIS! By the way, it is very difficult to get a photo of our Senior Photographer, but we managed to get one for this blog post!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The University of Illinois is global!

I am in Israel for several days this week promoting collaborations between UIS and several Israeli universities. I was pleased to be an invited speaker today at the Israeli Society  for Ecology and Environmental Health - talking about the UIS Emiquon wetlands restoration project on the Illinois River.  Emiquon has been recognized as a "Wetlands of International Importance", just like the Hula Nature Reserve here in the Jordan Rift Valley. We're hoping to bring UIS and Israeli faculty (and students) with shared interests together.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

UIS alum is Leadership lived

We have so many alums doing great things out in the world and here's an a example; we got word this week that Kathy Best, an alum of the renowned UIS Public Affairs Reporting Program has been promoted to Editor of the Seattle Sun Times. Kathy and her colleagues have received two Pulitzer Prizes and we were thrilled to have her serve as our commencement speaker just a few months ago. Congratulations, Kathy! We wish you all the best in this challenging new position.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Blue Fever, catch it!

It’s shaping up to be a great week at the campus of UIS. Not only because of a great weather forecast for the week, but it’s Homecoming week! Pep rally, spirit games, volleyball, soccer, golf, entertainment, 5K run, the dance, and much more. Homecoming is always special for students and alumni, and I’m hoping this year will be another memorable time that will be looked back on fondly. “Catch Blue Fever” is the theme, and no better way to get the week started than with two nights of performances of Blue Man Group! You think we can get them to stay and be a part of our Blue Crew?!

Friday, September 27, 2013

UIS alumni to the rescue

I read with great interest Bernie Schoenburg’s column in the local State Journal Register newspaper this week. It seems three Illinois House members exercised some quick thinking and helped save a man’s life in nearby Decatur, Illinois. What makes this story extra special is that two of those legislators are UIS alums. Our very own Wayne Rosenthal and Adam Brown, both of whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet and I can tell you I’m not the least bit surprised by their actions. I know UIS alums are in the world every day doing extraordinary things, but it’s not often I get to praise them personally for going above and beyond. Well done, Representatives Rosenthal and Brown! Your alma mater couldn’t be more proud of you.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

UIS alum is "Just Right!"

Last Friday morning I had the great pleasure of meeting a couple of great UIS alums in action. I did an interview on AM 1450 with Springfield's own Sam Madonia, a much beloved radio personality and great supporter of our campus. The interview took place at Just Right Eating, a local business owned by UIS alum, Stephanie Johnson. I was looking forward to meeting Stephanie and learning more about her very creative business activities. I got a double shot of UIS pride when I learned that one of her employees and business consultant, Nita Crews, is also an alum. Just Right Eating offers nutritional counseling, personal fitness training, and best of all, wonderfully nutritious meals delivered right to your door! I know many Springfield area residents who are faithful customers of Just Right Eating and who are living healthier lives thanks to Stephanie. You can say that Stephanie and Nita are a couple of “just right” alums setting positive examples of Leadership lived.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at UIS

Each year at UIS, we observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 – celebrating the cultures and the contributions of Americans whose families came from Mexico, Spain, Central and South American and the Caribbean. With the leadership of OLAS (the Organization of Latin American Students) and our UIS Diversity Centerevents are already underway this week. 
We had a wonderful Mariachi band on the quad on Monday to kick-off Hispanic Heritage Month and I'm glad I could stop by and enjoy the music with so many members of this vibrant student organization. Thank you OLAS members for sharing your heritage with the campus community and for demonstrating "Leadership lived" with so much commitment and enthusiasm. Check the UIS website for more information about events going on in the next several weeks!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Your friend's nice car

One of my greatest delights as Chancellor of UIS is spending time with friends of our university, many of whom are Springfield residents who are grateful for the presence of the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois and who provide support for our campus through their gifts. 
One of those very special friends and supporters is Evelyn Brandt Thomas. Evelyn and her brother, Glen, founded and developed Brandt Consolidated, a highly successful agricultural business in Central Illinois that is one of the largest employers in Springfield. We celebrated Evelyn's 90th birthday a few weeks ago and here she is standing next to her birthday present – a replica of the race car that her company sponsors on the NASCAR circuit. It's not often that you see a car like this in "Handicapped Parking"! 
Evelyn is truly an inspiration – not only a builder of a successful business, but a generous philanthropist with a special appreciation for young people. Thank you, Evelyn,  for all that you do to support UIS.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Growing, Growing, Growing!

I'm so pleased to see that the Springfield campus' official Fall enrollment shows that we increased nearly 100 students over last year. As you probably have heard me say many times, “Growth” is our number one priority. ... and we have room to grow. Growth is important in so many ways - academically, financially, culturally… I could go on and on. Our freshmen class jumped up nearly 20% and the number of students living on campus has also greatly increased. It's also great to see more international students and graduate students here at UIS. Welcome to all and best wishes for a terrific year.

Monday, September 9, 2013

UIS has winning ways

This past weekend provided several opportunities to enjoy watching our Division II student-athletes perform. Both the men's and women's soccer teams and the women's volleyball team were at home on campus and it was a successful weekend for all teams. Congratulations coaches and student-athletes on your winning ways! What a great way to start the season.  It was also nice to see so many students attending the volleyball and soccer games. The  student booster club, know as the Blue Crew, was definitely out in force …. and  LOUD!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Picnic Party!

Yesterday was one of my favorite events of the new academic year – the Annual UIS Chancellor's Welcome Picnic! Granted the weather was a little on the hot side; but most important it was an opportunity for me to offer a warm welcome to hundreds of new and returning students, faculty and staff. I so enjoyed talking with members of our academic community, checking in with new students to see how things were going, and enjoying some great food – especially the cookies. My thanks to all the food service staff who created a wonderful meal, to all the staff and volunteers who served the food, to the facilities folks who handled setting the scene for such a huge crowd, to student Jaime Cruz for serving as DJ again (and playing a Willie Nelson classic just for me), and to the hundreds of students, faculty and staff who attended the event. As you can see from the photo – we all had a very, very good time. Should do this every Tuesday? Hmmmmmm... 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Welcome to the UIS family

What a great weekend to be part of the UIS community. I had the pleasure of participating in the UIS  golf teams’ annual outing, attended the UIS Athletics BBQ and I watched the UIS soccer team kick off their fall season - with a win! At each of those events I met students, parents, faculty and staff eager to begin another school year, and what a great year it’s going to be. I’m also happy to report that there were two more White Sox fans on campus this weekend at least briefly, besides student, Mihai Smarandescu and me - see attached photo of the four of us at the BBQ. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

My kind of lunch break

I continue to be amazed at the number of people with a UIS connection at each and every event I attend in Springfield and throughout the central Illinois region. This week I had the pleasure of being the speaker at the Springfield Chapter of the Association of Women in Communication. It was like walking into a room full of family and instantly feeling comfortable. The majority of professionals in the room were UIS alums who still feel very connected to UIS and nearly all are regular visitors to campus. The topic of my presentation was "Leadership lived" and how a university goes about developing and implementing a new image in ways that enhance its visibility and reputation. It was great fun, especially because this particular group really understood the topic – its what they do in their work every day! 

Thanks to Illinois Issues magazine's Rachel Lattimore for the invitation to be part of this interesting group for a short while. Shouldn’t most lunches be like this?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

UIS Student Trustee

Today is the first University of Illinois Board of Trustees meeting for our new UIS Student Trustee, Jamaal Hollins. Jamaal is a Computer Science major from Chicago who is doing a summer internship in the Systems Division of State Farm. Welcome to the Board, Trustee Hollins! I look forward to the leadership you will provide this year for the University of Illinois in this very important role. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Community engagement… and some friendly competition

UIS was well represented a few days ago at the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament. As you can see from this photo, I had an exceptional team – husband, Dennis, Head Men's Basketball Coach, Ben Wierzba, and Head Women's Softball Coach, Matt Mundell. We didn't claim the traveling trophy, but I can report that each member of the team made a great shot at least once! More importantly, it was a good opportunity for us to reach out to our community and support the Springfield Chamber. That having been said, I'm planning on working a little harder on my putting as soon as I get the chance!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Harnessing the winds of change

I've been in Annapolis for the past few days participating in the AASCU Summer Presidents and Chancellors meeting, a gathering of my colleagues, all of whom lead regional public universities throughout the U.S. We had the pleasure of meeting Joel Podolny, Senior Vice President of Human Resources of Apple, Inc. and Dean of Apple University, who provided a provocative keynote presentation and discussion about "change". It's no secret that much about how we engage in and deliver higher education is changing rapidly and the same is certainly true at Apple. I've come home with much to think about and among those thoughts is this statement from Joel: "Everyone must agree that where we are now is not where we want to be."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

UIS grads well represented in "Forty Under 40"

Last night UIS hosted the annual Forty Under 40 reception co-sponsored by the UIS College of Business and Management, the Springfield Business Journal and Security Bank. "Forty Under 40" is a group of young Springfield professionals, selected each year because they are among our community’s best and brightest. The impressive list of honorees included 13 UIS alums and three current members of our UIS community - Dr. Nathan Steele, associate professor of Management, Dr. Ashley Kirzinger, director of the Survey Research Office in the Center for State Policy and Leadership and Sheleda Doss, who is an adjunct professor at UIS in addition to being a deputy director at the Illinois Department of  Transportation. Each of these 40 individuals has made and will continue to make contributions to our local community and I couldn’t help but have a sense of pride knowing that 16 of this year's "Forty Under 40" class have such close ties to the University of Illinois Springfield. Congratulations to all the honorees!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The many talents of UIS

The Springfield Area Arts Council hosted the city-wide Exhibit and Awards presentation for the "On My Own Time" program last night and UIS staff members took home several awards. Our very own Douglas Levi Brackney from Career Services took first place in the painting category and Donna Haynes from Conference Services took third place in mixed media. "On My Own Time" is a city-wide exhibit of visual art works created by employees of local businesses, agencies, and institutions in their off-duty hours. Judging by the Arts Council took place in early June and our first-place winners became part of the city-wide exhibit. Thanks to all UIS faculty and staff who took part in and exhibited work on campus this past June. The award- winning artwork will be on display at Union Station in Springfield until July 12, 2013.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Buzz on Campus

There’s a buzz on campus, and I mean literally a “buzzzz”. A few people have noticed outside the PAC second level near the north entrance (and near the Electronic Media Office side entrance), there is a neatly tucked box that is getting a “bee”leaguered look. Building engineers noticed the swarm of honey bees a few days ago, and UIS’ very own Randy Moss with Building Maintenance contacted the Sangamon County U of I Extension Office. They keep a list of bee keepers in the area, and had one come out. The plan is now to attract the Queen Bee into the box, so the others will follow. Then the bees will be safely relocated. So “bee” very careful when walking around that area for a little while longer. (Of course, I had to get one more play on words!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Campin' out at UIS

Summertime means summer camp for many school-aged children and I'm glad that UIS is the home of many of those camps for kids from in and around Springfield, Illinois. The presence of these young folks attending various athletic camps and other events adds a new level of energy to our campus during the summer months and members of the campus community enjoy seeing how excited these students are to be on a college campus for a a few days. One of UIS's most interesting camp experiences is "Girl Tech," a program offered by our Computer Science department that provides hands-on opportunities for middle school girls to get engaged in technology. Activities include geo-catching with an iPad, scratch programming and molecular gastronomy – among many. Summer camps are another great way that UIS serves the Springfield community at the same time it provides prospective students an opportunity to become familiar with the idea of going to college. I'd love to see those campers back with us in a few years pursuing a University of Illinois undergraduate degree!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The City of Big Shoulders

I'm in Chicago this week participating in the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors meetings. Poet Carl Sandburg called Chicago "The City of Big Shoulders" in his poem Chicago and I love that name. All Great Lakes cities are very special, with their dramatic shorelines and lake-effect weather, but there is something uniquely burly and strong about this city. One of the things I like best about the UIS student body is that so many  of our students come from Chicago. It's an adventure for these urbanites to go "downstate" to school and most tell me that, though they enjoy the slower pace of Springfield for a while, they plan to pursue their careers back home in the Windy City – another great nickname for their hometown. We have several thousand UIS alums living in Chicago already and I know there will be many more given the many opportunities here. I can see I'll be spending more time with all those Chicago alums in the future!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hurrah! Blog post 100!

After several months of planning, (and cartooning) my Chancellor’s Blog debut was January 17, 2012, the beginning of my second semester as Chancellor at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. It's  been fun providing a little slice of my thoughts and experiences serving in this leadership role.

This post is my 100th and, during the past year and a half, the blog has had nearly 20,000 views. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the Chancellor's Blog. I hope you continue to find it both informative and enjoyable. I look forward to sharing more thoughts and news with you in the future. Below are links to a few of the most read posts in the first 100. Now..what will be the topic for #101??

Most popular posts:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New UIS major in Information Security

As our undergraduate enrollments grows at the Springfield campus of the U of I, we're adding cutting edge academic programs in response to students' interests and needs. Yesterday, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved our proposal for a new bachelor's program in Information Systems Security. Congratulations to Computer Science Department Head, Ted Mims and all the faculty who have worked hard to develop this important new program that will be offered both on campus and online. This news article from a recent issue of the State Journal-Register discusses the new program – one of several technology degrees offered by our innovative Computer Science department.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Weathering the Storm

Mother Nature took a toll on Central Illinois over the Memorial Day Weekend. Our own UIS campus was among many areas hit with strong winds and heavy rain on Monday afternoon. Fortunately there were no injuries.  My sincere thanks to UIS grounds crew leader, Joan Buckles and her crew for going above and beyond the call of duty on a holiday to clear downed trees and other debris from campus roads. Thanks also to Campus Police Chief Don Mitchell and his staff for making sure the campus was safe for employees and others to enter this morning.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

UIS Grad is a Woman of Influence

I was delighted to be in the audience a few days ago when UIS alum, Janette Peak, received the Springfield Woman of Influence Award. The Women of Influence recognition program, sponsored by the Security Bank and the Springfield Business Journal, honors exceptional local women for their contributions to the Springfield area community. Janette earned her B.A. in Management from UIS in 1993 and is a partner in a successful auto sales and service company, PJP Auto, in Springfield. Janette is also an active volunteer in the Springfield community. We're proud to have a UIS alum recognized for her leadership and contributions to our community. Congratulations, Janette!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Graduation 2013

It was my great pleasure to shake the hands of 777 University of Illinois Springfield graduates this past Saturday in front of about 7,000 enthusiastic commencement guests.  What a wonderful day!  

There are undoubtedly thousands of photos from the many commencements on the three University of Illinois campuses.  Attached is one of my favorites.  This is UIS Computer Science graduate, Kudus Ogunseye, with his mother, aunts and the Chancellor.  Kudus was an active student leader during his years at UIS and has a job with the Springfield Urban League.  Congratulations Kudus and all UIS graduates!  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Commencement Day

Today is Commencement at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois and in a few hours I will be shaking the hands of nearly 800 graduates who have worked hard to earn their place on the commencement stage.  We'll be joined by over 6,000 family and friends from across the globe who are here to celebrate this wonderful day.  Graduates:  Congratulations!  Only you know the challenges you have overcome to get to this this moment.  I am so proud of you!  As you leave us,  I hope that you will take with you the values of our university – to aim high, to be accountable for your actions, to treat others with dignity and respect and to value excellence.  Thank you for all that you have contributed to our academic community during your time with us.  I like to think that we are a better university because you have been a part of it.  I hope that your University of Illinois degree will contribute to your realizing your true potential.  Again,  congratulations and best wishes.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is French Toast really French?

Well,  that's the most intriguing question I got last night while serving French Toast to a few hundred hungry UIS students at our annual "Finals Week Late Night Breakfast." What a great night!
It was nice to see the cafeteria packed with students – some celebrating being finished with finals while others were taking a break from studying to fortify themselves for that last exam. I also enjoyed seeing some of our student-parents attending the event with their children. I've always admired the multi-tasking of our non-traditional students, who often balance classes, work and childcare and still manage to be very successful at everything they do. That’s what I call determination. These kinds of events really bring our community together and I hope we can find even more ways to do that next year. 

So is French Toast really French? Here's an answer via an internet search: Culinary historians disagree over whether French Toast has exclusively Gallic roots. The simple concoction of bread, eggs, and milk likely dates back to Medieval times, when the battering process was used to make stale loaves more palatable. The question is whether the French were truly the first to dip and fry their bread, or whether other Europeans stumbled upon the "invention" on their own. For example, a similar dish called suppe dorate was popular in England during the Middle Ages; it's unclear, however, whether it was brought over from what's now France by the Normans, who may have delighted in something called tostees dorees before toppling King Harold II in 1066.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sweet Lovers Love the Spring

The weather has been a little uncooperative lately, but this week Spring has finally sprung on the UIS campus and, as you can see from the attached photo, it's beautiful! If you are on campus, I hope you can take a few minutes to notice all the flowers and trees in full bloom. It's all due to the creativity and hard work of our campus horticulturalist, Joan Buckles, and her dedicated crew.  I've been here almost two years and I still haven't made the time to take a walk around the pond. I'm determined to do that today! I wish I had put my fishing rod in the car this morning – but that will be something for another day – maybe after commencement! (By the way,  English majors may recognize the title of this post from Shakespeare's poem, "It Was a Lover and His Lass." I'm pretty sure that he loved Spring as much as I do.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New student union vision is taking shape

As surely every UIS student knows,  we're going to build a new Student Union at UIS and this week, with the architects on campus,  the excitement has been visible everywhere.  There were 28 architectural firms that submitted proposals in response to the announcement of the UIS Student Union project and we are thrilled to have selected the partnership of Dewberry Architects (from Peoria, Illinois) and Workshop Architects (from Milwaukee, Wisconsin).   Jan van den Kieboom is the design principal for our project and he and his team are bringing a wealth of creativity, talent and experience to what will be the social heart of our campus and an architectural landmark for the Springfield community.  This week,  Jan and other team members spent many hours interviewing individual students and leading various groups of students, faculty and staff through an exciting series of planning exercises.  During the next several weeks,  they'll meld all of our ideas and needs into a coherent plan for the student union and then bring it back to campus for further refinement.  We're expecting to have architectural drawings by early Fall.  Thanks to all the members of our campus community who have participated in the Student Union planning process this week!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Online students also participate in the life of UIS

It was a pleasure to get together last night for a "Chat with the Chancellor" event with UIS online students!  UIS has a national reputation for the excellence of our online programs and for the supportive environment that we provide for online students who are working toward both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  UIS online students this year hail from 47 U.S. states and 9 foreign countries.  I learned in our chat that many of our online students are champion "multi-taskers,"  balancing full-time jobs and families at the same time they are appreciating the access that the UIS online degree programs offer them. 

Amy and Ajay,  I'm so pleased that you will be graduating in a few weeks and hope that you will be with us for commencement!  Berni,  its great to meet a UIS student from the "Big Apple."  I'm going to be in New York City next month and I hope I can stop by the Central Park Zoo, where you work, to bring greetings from your university.  Thanks to all the online students who joined us for "Chat with the Chancellor".  Each of you is an important part of our academic community and I appreciate the feedback you provided about your experience as online students at UIS.  If you won a prize last evening,  you can anticipate receiving a package from your Chancellor next week!

Monday, April 22, 2013

UIS student athletes balance it all

What a pleasure it was to celebrate the achievements of our student athletes at the 2013 UIS Athletics Banquet on Friday evening.  Division II athletics is built on a commitment to excellence in both academics and athletics and our two UIS Athletes of the Year are great examples of that DII "life in the balance" philosophy. Abby Vorreyer was named Female Athlete of the Year. A senior Business major from Springfield, Abby has set several school records in golf at the same time she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average! Kyle Gupton is the Male Athlete of the Year. Kyle graduates in a few weeks with a Social Work major at the same time he has earned All Conference honors for his outstanding performance on the basketball court. My congratulations to all the senior student athletes who are graduating this year!  

Monday, April 15, 2013

April blur

The last several weeks of every academic year are always a blur of activities and April, 2013 at UIS is exactly that.  This past week UIS was out in force here in Springfield, along with representatives from the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses, for UI Day at the Capitol – an opportunity for students,  alums and university leaders to talk with legislators about the vital contributions that our university makes to our state.  

I was delighted to meet these three UIS interns at the UI reception - Amy Uden, Gina Massie, and Yumnah Tayyab.  Amy, Gina and Yumnah are all graduating from UIS in a few weeks with their Masters in Public Administration and each has spent this past year also working in some aspect of state government.  

We also had a great alumni event in Chicago on Thursday evening  at the Metropolitan Club. We have more and more UIS alums working and living in the Chicago area and I'm looking forward to more UIS events there that will bring us together.  The StARS student research symposium on Friday and softball games this weekend rounded out the week!  Whew!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pinwheel Garden comes to UIS campus

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and, this morning, I took part in a lovely ceremony at the Colonnade that was organized by our very own faculty, Betsy Goulet and Donna Weinstein, to raise awareness about this important subject. Did you know it is estimated that at least one in 25 children in Sangamon County is the victim of children abuse each year? We planted blue pinwheels by the colonnade as a reminder to each of us about the importance of working to address this important issue in our community. I know I’ve said it a few times before, but leadership is truly lived at UIS every day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

World Health Day at UIS!

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 this year and marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948. The theme for World Health Day 2013 is high blood pressure – often called "the silent killer" - because it can cause significant health problems including heart attack, kidney failure and stroke. UIS celebrated World Health Day (and National Public Health Day) today with a Health Fair in the TRAC facility. The fair offered the opportunity for blood pressure checks as well as many other activities including the opportunity to get a massage or even try a Zumba class. As you can see from the photo, some of the children from the UIS Cox Children’s Center opted for Zumba! My thanks to all who organized and participated in the UIS Health Fair today!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chancellor opens international market for UIS alum's product

Readers of the recent issue of our UIS Alumni magazine (and regular followers of news on the UIS website) know all about the "Bacon Brownie," a delicious treat that has been developed by entrepreneurs and UIS grads Clay Evers and Drew Stevens.  The Bacon Brownie is now sold in convenience stores in Illinois (like the Quick-n-Easy outlets) and hopefully will be available in many more locations soon.  I took some Bacon Brownies with me to China this past week and presented one to each president of our partner universities.  This a a photo of me presenting Dr. Liu Yubin,  president of Dalian Nationalities University, with his very own Bacon Brownie.  The message? A UIS Business degree prepares you well for innovation and success!! The Bacon Brownie was a big hit and I like to think I'm doing my part to promote this innovative alumni product.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A sure sign of Spring - golf!

The UIS Women's Golf Team was on the road over Spring break and student-athlete Abby Vorreyer turned in a record-setting performance!  The women participated in the Perry Park Invitational in Kentucky and Abby took first place in the field of over 140 competitors.  Her 36-hole score of 149 is a UIS school record!  Abby's teammate, Caitlin Osborn, also played very well for the Prairie Stars, finishing with a score of 154.  As soon as the snow melts,  I'm looking forward to swinging the clubs myself as well as to watching our Prairie Stars golfers perform a little closer to home.  Congratulations, Abby, Caitlin and Coach Marsaglia!! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Frosty goes to college

Having moved to Illinois a couple of years ago from the upper peninsula of Michigan, where we had over 200 inches of snow per year, I've been missing the beauty of winter. Well, as of this morning, we've got our own "winter wonderland" on the UIS campus and I am not missing snow anymore! Some creative UIS students took full advantage of the last night's beautiful snowfall and built a snowman right in the heart of campus. Isn’t it nice to be reminded that sometimes what seems like an imposition is really fun in the making? The forecast is for higher temperatures, so I encourage as much snow sculpting as possible during the next 24 hours.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Greetings from Shanghai!

I am in China this week meeting with several university partners. It was a pleasure to start the visit by speaking at the "Invest in America" conference in Shanghai.  One of the organizers of this important international meeting is UIS alum, Brian Su. Education is truly global and we're looking forward to an increase in the flow of students and faculty between UIS and our Asian partners.

Photo Courtesy: Artisan Business Group

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A must read book by one of our UIS alums

Readers of this blog are already aware of the  top notch Public Affairs Program at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. Writer Nina Burleigh was one of this year's inductees to the Bill Miller PAR Hall of Fame and I just finished reading her NYC bestseller, The Fatal Gift of Beauty.  The book is essentially an “autopsy” of the trial of Amanda Knox, the American college student who was convicted in December of 2009 in Perugia, Italy of the brutal and sensational murder of her British roommate Meredith Kirschner. What a great read! Anticipating plenty of time to read later this week during my long flight to China,  I'm looking forward to reading Mirage and Unholy Business, two other terrific non-fiction books by this very talented writer who honed her investigative reporting skills while earning her master's degree at UIS!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women's Day!

Happy International Women's Day! I started my celebration of this special day today by having breakfast with a woman I greatly admire, Dr. Naomi Lynn,  Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Illinois at Springfield and the first Hispanic public university president in the United States!!  I extend my best wishes today to all the women in my life that I admire and appreciate -  UIS women students (many of whom serve in important leadership positions on our campus), UIS women faculty colleagues, our exceptional UIS women staff,  my fellow University of Illinois women Chancellors,  Dr. Phyllis Wise at UIUC and Dr. Paula Allen-Meares in Chicago, my three wonderful daughters (Kristina, Elizabeth and Rachel and daughter-in-law Rebecca),  my five beautiful granddaughters (Abigail, Sophia, Camilla, Natalie and Elsa), my much treasured women friends and so many women (and girls) who are making a difference in the world today in countless ways. In honor of all of you, I've made my annual 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.  This year, International Women’s Day focuses on ending violence against women — an ongoing and tragic human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women. Celebrations are underway today in all corners of the globe.  This link is to a special musical celebration created just for today.