Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UIS students exemplify the spirit of the season

As the holiday break approaches, UIS students are busy preparing and taking finals and doing all the usual things that signal the last-minute push before the break. In the midst of all those commitments, UIS Music students made a special effort this last week to bring the spirit of the season to a very special person. 

Professor Sharon Graf and students visited St. Joseph's Home in Springfield to entertain residents and to pay a special visit to our friend, Polly Roesch. Polly is a distinguished citizen of Springfield and a longtime supporter of our UIS Music program. In fact, she donated funds two years ago to renovate our music rehearsal room, which we named after her.

Though she now is 104 years old, she greatly enjoyed our visit. The high point was when Christina, a Chinese student, showed Polly her instrument and then played a song for her. I am so grateful for the generosity of these talented UIS students.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

UIS students demonstrate “Leadership lived."

I don’t know what it feels like to be an African American in the United States today.  I also don’t know what it feels like to be a police officer. But I am an American who believes deeply in the importance of citizenship and leadership. I’m seeing both today at UIS, as the attached photograph demonstrates.  If we’re going to make things better in our country in the wake of the traumatic recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, we will need citizens and leaders like these UIS students – who are demonstrating their concerns peacefully and effectively on the UIS campus today. My congratulations to Robyn Crutchfield,  Lisa Gary, Tieshah Hawkins and other members of the UIS Black Student Union who organized the demonstration today. That’s what I call “Leadership lived.”

Monday, December 8, 2014

Springfield First Citizens Shine Bright

This past Saturday we celebrated Springfield Day during our men’s basketball game at TRAC. As part of the day’s activities, I hosted a meeting of all the First Citizens of Springfield, each of whom has been so named because of their exceptional contributions to our community. I enjoyed briefing this distinguished group about how the campus is growing in size, visibility and reputation and we had a lively dialogue about ways that the community and the university can collaborate to enhance both the university and the Central Illinois region. These people are shining examples of how each of us can make a difference in our world - Leadership lived!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

As I look ahead to our Thanksgiving celebration this week, I am mindful of all we have to be thankful for here at UIS. I am personally thankful for the exceptional faculty and staff who make this university such a wonderful place to learn, work and grow. 

I'm equally thankful for our hard working and talented students, especially the many who provide such thoughtful leadership for our many student organizations. And at this particular moment in our history, I'm thankful for the soon-to-be new President of the University of Illinois, Dr, Tim Killeen. Dr. Killeen was introduced to our campus just a few days ago and I'm looking forward to our work together. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Congratulations to one of our best!

I was delighted to participate in the investiture ceremony of UIS Business Dean RonMcNeil as the PNC Distinguished Professor in Banking and Finance. In the world of higher education, being appointed to a distinguished professorship is a high honor indeed and this one was most certainly well-deserved.

Dr. McNeil has had a long and successful career that includes serving as the Dean of the UIS College of Business and Management since 2002. I have especially appreciated Dr. McNeil’s understanding of the importance of internationalization on the UIS campus. He has been a champion for the recruitment of international students as well as for study abroad opportunities for American students. He has also led the College to a successful outcome of its AACSB reaccreditation process as well as substantially increased enrollment in the College. 

Thanks to the support of PNC bank, this professorship will enable Dr. McNeil to expand his efforts for the benefit of UIS even further. It was a pleasure to see so many members of Ron’s family at the ceremony to celebrate with him. Congratulations, Dean McNeil!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prairie Stars Shine Bright

I enjoy attending a great many events as Chancellor of UIS, but I have to say that alumni events hold a special place in my heart. Friday night’s annual UIS Alumni Gala gave several hundred of our alums and friends an opportunity to connect and in some cases reconnect with fellow alumni and friends. 

I witnessed more than one of those reconnecting moments on Friday night at the Abraham Lincoln President Museum – a great venue for a party. It is truly heartwarming to see our seasoned alumni take time to connect with younger alums and offer words of encouragement. At the gala, we honored four remarkable members of the UIS family for their professional achievements and service; Ralph Blackman, June Agamah and Julie and William Kellner. 

Each of these award winners acknowledged the important role that their college experience had played in their life and their stories were shining examples of how every person can make a difference in his or her corner of the world. These individuals are just four of the many reasons that the Prairie Stars shine so brightly around the world. Congratulations 2014 alumni award winners!

Monday, November 10, 2014

An accomplishment Lincoln would be proud of

We are proud of our students here at UIS and often, we have the privilege to recognize individual students for their outstanding accomplishments both on and off campus. 

I had that that opportunity a few days ago when UIS alum Julie Kellner, who is Executive Director of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, and I spent a little time with UIS student Clarissa Fisher, who is being honored this year as the UIS 2014 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate. 

This prestigious honor is bestowed every year by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois on one exceptional student from each university in the state to recognize their outstanding performance. Each student honored is presented with the Lincoln medal, a certificate and a $1,000 award. Besides being a UIS student, Clarissa is also employed at Bunn-O-Matic Corporation in Springfield, one of the city’s leading employers. She is also a  generous volunteer who has given her time and talent to Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and other organizations. Clarissa also has done mission work in Haiti and even spent a year in China teaching English and Art to young children. She is a great example of the UIS promise of Leadership Lived … and a reminder to us all to stretch ourselves and be the best we can be. Congratulations, Clarissa Fisher on being named the 2014 UIS Lincoln Student Laureate! 

(Pictured is myself, Clarissa, and Julie Kellner, Executive Director of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cherries with the Chancellor

Last night, along with the Student Government Association I hosted my fall “Chat with the Chancellor” event for our student body. This is the fourth year for this popular tradition that provides students with an opportunity for some quality time with the Chancellor at the same time it gives me an opportunity to learn directly from UIS students about their experience here on campus. We’ve had "Chocolate with the Chancellor”, chili, chimichangas, cheesecake, chicken, cheeseburgers and now cherries! As you can see, we had some delectable cherry themed treats to enjoy during our discussion of the new student union and other topics of interest to students. We have an amazing, engaged student body and I’m always delighted when students take time out of their busy schedules to discuss important issues that affect our campus. I’m so impressed with the way UIS students articulate their concerns and are sincerely trying to make their experience and those of the students who follow them the best that it can be.  

P.S. The cherry jello shots with whipped cream were awesome!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Action-packed Homecoming Weekend at UIS

It was a full week and weekend of homecoming activities and, come Sunday evening when I finally had a chance to really reflect, I couldn’t help but smile. I lost count of all the activities and events that took place; but let’s just say it was a tremendous week on the UIS campus. From the parade, to the BBQ, to the athletic events (including a big upset Friday Night by the UIS Men’s Soccer Team!), to the fireworks, to the Athletics Hall of Fame Induction ceremony… it was a wonderful showcase of UIS engagement, involvement and achievement.

A special highlight for me was the induction of the inaugural class of the new UIS Athletics Hall of Fame. The class included the legendary Aydin Gonulsen, founding Athletic Director and men’s soccer coach at Sangamon State University (now UIS) who led the men’s soccer teams to three national championships!! It also included soccer standout Elias Shehadi, tennis star Carla Jimenez Mills, friend of the Prairie Stars Harold Christofilakos and the entire 1986 men’s soccer national championship team. All in all, it was a great week to show off Prairie Star pride and meet up with students, alums, and community members. All I can think is “Wow!, that was fun!”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thrill and delight at the magic of the Student Union!

The UIS Student Union Campaign Kickoff was this afternoon on the campus quad and what an event it was!! We had over 800 people from the campus and community join us for a carnival celebration with lots of games, free food (including my favorite health food – cotton candy), entertainment and various other forms of merriment. There was a rumor going around that the Chancellor was going to strap into the gyroscope; but I can assure you it was not true!! The high point of the event for me was announcing to the crowd that we have already received $2.4 million in gifts from lead donors for this critically important project for the UIS campus. Twenty-four months from now, we’ll have an even bigger party to cut the ribbon on the new building!! Can’t wait for that day!

View the Student Union Campaign video

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A New Option for Nursing Education at UIS

Today I had the pleasure of announcing a new partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing and Memorial Health System to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at UIS starting in fall 2015. 

Not only will this bring one of the top ranked nursing education programs in the nation to Springfield, but it will help UIS grow and fulfill a need for more baccalaureate level nurses in Springfield.   

This type of collaboration, that benefits students and our communities, as well as makes the most efficient use of our resources, is what the University of Illinois does best. 

You can learn more about the partnership by visiting http://www.uis.edu/nursing/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Water is flowing!

Did you know that UIS now has its very own waterfall? Our UIS grounds crew have been working tirelessly for many weeks to complete a new waterfall at the UIS pond and I am happy to report they have finished and the water is flowing! The waterfall was built to honor recently retired UIS horticulturalist, Joan Buckles, who led the grounds crew at UIS for many years and is partly responsible for the beautiful campus that we call our own. Thanks to Brian Beckerman and all the members of the crew who did such a beautiful job on this project. As you enjoy the beautiful fall weather, I hope you will take a few minutes and wander over to the UIS pond to enjoy this wonderful new addition to our campus property.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

UIS is growing!

Word is getting out to more and more that UIS is a great place to learn and  grow …  and we are growing! Our fall 2014 enrollment report was released this morning and it’s now official: UIS has the highest enrollment in the history of the campus!

We’ve grown by almost 300 students this year. I’m especially pleased that the academic quality of our freshman class continues to increase at the same time the student body is becoming more diverse.  Fifteen percent of our student body this year is international – with most international students coming from India and China. Whether you came to join our academic community from across the street or from the other side of the globe; I’m pleased that you have chosen the Springfield campus to pursue your University of Illinois degree.  I look forward to the contributions you will make to our academic community.

Friday, September 5, 2014

UIS and Downtown Springfield, a wonderful partnership

One of the best advantages of being part of the UI Springfield campus community is being located in Springfield, Illinois. As part of our ongoing partnership with Springfield’s downtown promotional organization, Downtown Springfield, Inc., we recently created a message to express how much we all enjoy downtown Springfield and all it has to offer. I hope you enjoy the short video we put together … as much as we enjoyed making it! What do you like best about downtown Springfield?  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

UIS students are already out there contributing in the community

The fall semester at UIS has just begun; but our students are already out there in the community volunteering, representing the University of Illinois and gaining valuable “real-world” experience! The annual Welcome Week Service-A-Thon has become a tradition during the first week of classes and it’s a great opportunity for new students (as well are returning students) to get to know their community better. This event just gets bigger and bigger, thanks in part to the leadership provided by Mark Dochterman, the Director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center. As Chancellor of UIS, I’m out in the community every week and I constantly hear from community leaders and citizens that they appreciate everything that our campus contributes to the “greater good” in Springfield and in Sangamon County. My thanks to everyone who participated in the Service-A-Thon this year! I hope it’s the start of a record year of community service at UIS.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The "Blue Men" are coming!

One of the best things about being part of the UIS community is that we have a fabulous performing arts center right on our campus. Sangamon Auditorium offers a terrific slate of top-level performances every year – from Broadway shows to professional dance ensembles to musical artists to theatre to comedians – it’s a wonderful resource for the university and for the entire central Illinois region. 

One of my favorite activities as Chancellor is sharing the Chancellor’s reserved seats with special invited guests – especially students. The wildly popular Blue Man Group will be performing in our Sangamon Auditorium next week with two shows on September 5 & 6. 

If you are a student reading this blog post, I have a special offer for you. For the first ten students who send an email message to UIS Director of Community Relations, Joan Sestak, I’ll provide you with a free one (in a pretty darn great seat) to see Blue Man Group on campus next week. Send your request (better hurry) to Joan Sestak at jsest1@uis.edu. If you are a winner, Joan will respond and let you know how to pick up your free ticket. 

By the way, whether you win or not, keep in mind that Sangamon Auditorium has special student rates for performances all year long. I hope you will become a regular member of the audience this year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chancellor’s Welcome Picnic – A great tradition at UIS

For all readers of the UIS Chancellor’s blog, welcome (or welcome back) to the 2014-2015 Academic Year at UIS! I appreciate your participation in the life of our campus via the Chancellor’s blog and look forward to sharing lots of news, stories and thoughts about our campus and the members of our academic community throughout the coming year. 

The Chancellor’s Welcome Picnic is a wonderful tradition of fun, food, music, meeting, and greeting during the first week of classes on campus. As expected...it didn’t disappoint yesterday. This gathering was my fourth serving as picnic “Host”, and the event continues to be one of my favorites of the year. I’ll grant you, at 92 degrees it was a little warmer than usual; but the heat didn’t seem to discourage the hundreds of students, faculty and staff who enjoyed the great food, awesome DJ (UIS alum Jaime Cruz) and the opportunity to get together for enjoyable conversation. The crowd was large and energetic ….. and grateful for the option to sit either outside and enjoy the music or inside where the temperature was at least 20 degrees cooler. 

I had a great time walking around and talking with so many students and staff – many of whom are new to our campus this year. Thanks everyone for joining us for this annual campus tradition and best wishes for a productive and enjoyable year!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A little late night food and fun

I have always enjoyed the UIS tradition - “Finals Week Late Night Breakfast." Last year I did a blog post about whether French Toast is really French. Last night's Late Night Breakfast was another great night. Unlike past years, I didn’t help serve the food; instead I just wanted to mingle and have some conversations with students – especially those who are graduating. 

The topic of the evening seemed to be - "real" bacon vs. turkey bacon! I'm a real bacon fan myself; so it would take a lot to convince me that turkey bacon is better!! I think everyone agreed that it was all good … and that it was nice to have a little late night feast as the semester comes to an end. I'm going to miss those  seniors; but it was also nice to talk with a lot of freshmen who've had a great year and are looking forward to coming back next year. Happy summer, everyone!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A great evening and a great honor

This past weekend, I had the privilege of participating in the Order of Lincoln awards ceremony in Chicago. I am an Academic Trustee of the Lincoln Academy and each year the Academy selects a few Illinoisans who have achieved greatness in one of several areas of achievement. Among the awardees this year was former First Lady of the United States, Secretary of State and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

It was a pleasure to talk with her before the ceremony and share memories of participating in the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women back on 1995. Secretary Clinton remarked during the ceremony that Illinoisans and Americans need to support the next generation in honor of Abraham Lincoln and continue to do all that needs to be done to unify this exceptional country on behalf of the values that he gave his life for. I second that. 

(For more information about the 2014 Lincoln Laureates, see the article from the Chicago Tribune.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

UIS students support one of their own

This annual Springfest week has a lot of fun built in for UIS  students; But some Springfest activities have a lot more adjectives to describe them in addition to “fun”. Over 150 UIS students are teaming up this week with Habitat for Humanity on what they call a “Youthbuild”. (See WICS-TV story

Dr. Mark Dochterman, Director of the Center for Volunteer and Civic Engagement, and many civic-minded UIS students have done many projects with Habitat in the past, but this week’s project is a little extra special. The house UIS students are helping to build is for Barbara Bell, a current UIS student. Barbara is  graduating this May with her bachelor’s degree in social work. She is a licensed foster parent who has helped many youth, and now she is getting a helping hand from fellow students. Teamwork, leadership, generosity, pride - those are just a few words that come to mind. Great job, everyone!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Springfest takes off!

Not even snow showers can slow down the start of Springfest at UIS! One of the activities that kicks things off for this much-enjoyed week-long celebration is the Scavenger Hunt. Part of the hunt this year was to locate the Chancellor on campus and get a photo of at least three members of your team with her. Students are on a competitive timeline to locate as many items as possible in a short period of time and it was an unusual experience hearing the thunder of footsteps charging down the hall and into the Chancellor’s office between 9:30 and 11:00 on a Monday night. I wasn't that hard to find me working at my desk and, as you can see from this photo, it was a busy evening and a great opportunity to "meet and greet" some fun-loving students. Lots more fun to come throughout the week!

Monday, March 31, 2014

UIS is high style!

One never can tell where a member of the UIS community may make an appearance in Springfield. This weekend, Dr. Holly Kent, a professor of history at UIS, wore traditional mourning dress from the Civil War period and participated in the Civil War Fashion Show at the Springfield Art Association. 

Dr. Kent's research interests include the history of fashion and beauty culture, particularly during the early republic and antebellum eras in the United States. Dr. Kent has collaborated on various projects with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield and, prior to the show, provided the audience with information that placed the clothing styles, designs, and colors in context of the historical period. Here's a link to the story in The State Journal-Register.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Home stretch

For many students and faculty, Spring Break was a time to take a breather, spend time with family or catch up on work that needs to get done. Many UIS students took advantage of Spring Break to volunteer their time and contribute to their communities. I'm particularly proud of the large group of students who spent the week in Washington, D.C. volunteering at soup kitchens and homeless shelters in collaboration with the Youth Services Opportunities ProjectIf you've been away, welcome back! We've got nine weeks left in the semester with lots more opportunities to learn and be engaged here at UIS.  

The StARS Research Symposium is coming up soon, planning for Springfest is well underway, our baseball and softball teams have several home games scheduled and seniors are looking ahead to commencement on May 17th! Best of all, winter is OVER!!!

Welcome back and best wishes for a productive rest of the semester. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sports history being made today at UIS

Though its usually very quiet on campus during Spring Break, this particular Spring Break Monday is special. The UIS Baseball team played its very first game (two games actually- a conference double header against Missouri S & T) on its own UIS home field!

We'll have an official ribbon-cutting next week when the students are back on campus, but in the meantime it was great fun to bundle up and see this early Spring game - along with some hardy early Spring fans who were also there to support our team.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Student success is the goal

Pursuing a university degree is challenging and at UIS we are constantly working to provide a supportive environment so that every student has an opportunity to succeed. Access to various support services is a vital element in student success and improving that access is what Associate Vice Chancellor Karen Moranski and Dean Jim Ermatinger and many others have been working on for several months.  

Today we had a special ribbon cutting for the new Center for Academic Success (CAS). CAS now serves as home to the Offices of Advising Services (“OASIS”), Student Learning Services (“The Learning Hub”), English Language Support Services (“Intensive English Programs”), International Programs, Internships and Prior Learning Services, and Testing Services. All of these offices, with the exception of Testing Services, are located on the 4th Floor of the Brookens Library Building. (Testing Services, which will be housed in the Human Resources Building, will open in summer 2014.)

My thanks to all who have worked so hard to make this “one-stop shop” a reality. I am confident that UIS students will benefit greatly from this best practice.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Keeping my day job

We've got some special guests at UIS this week – the cast and crew of the Tony Award winning show, The Jersey Boys! I had the pleasure of meeting two of the four leads, Adam Zelasko (from New York) and Quinn VanAntwerp (from California). Adam and Quinn were kind enough to show me a few dance moves from the show. I think maybe I should stick to my day job. Come and see the show at UIS Sangamon Auditorium thru March 8th. Tickets for UIS students are a great bargain at $22 each and are available to UIS students only for the Wednesday and Thursday night performances. Opening night was fantastic!

Monday, March 3, 2014

There's nothing like an upset!

The UIS men's basketball team played its first round game of the GLVC Tournament yesterday at Truman State University and I'm so glad I was able to be there. UIS upset the #5-seeded Truman State on their home court with a resounding 78-72 victory. It was a great game and so much fun to watch Senior Regan Bruenger score a career-high 25 points! For the first time in school history, the men's team moves on this Friday to the quarter-finals of the conference tournament in Evansville, Indiana. Congratulations to all the members of the men's team and to the coaching staff. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dashing through the snow

Central Illinois is well on its way to setting a record for cold and snow this winter and the weather conditions are testing the endurance of many students, faculty and staff on the UIS campus. With about eight inches of new snow, blustery winds and very cold temperatures, we cancelled classes earlier this week for one day. There is one group on campus, however, that did not miss a beat despite the weather conditions. That group was our amazing grounds crew who cleared roads, sidewalks, and building entrances quickly and efficiently so that the rest of us could get around. I so appreciate the efforts of Joan Buckles, Brian Beckerman and the entire grounds crew who do such a great job all of us! I'm sure spring is on the way; but in the meantime – thank you all!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A bright star among us

I know I have said this before, but there are so many bright “Stars” in the UIS community. I was reminded of this again at the 2013 Employee of the Year celebration a few days ago. The event honors UIS employees who were recognized as Employee of the Month during the past year and then announces the Employee of the Year. Director of Conference Services, Carolyn Neitzke, received the 2013 award. Though Carolyn later noted in her usual modest and good-humored way, “I demand a re-count”; everyone who has worked with her knows that this award is richly deserved. Carolyn very effectively manages a high-energy, high-demand conference services operation where excellence in customer service is the expectation every day. She does so with a wonderful sense of collaboration and diplomacy. Congratulations, Carolyn and thank you so much for all that you do to enable our campus to be of service to the members of our campus community as well as to thousands of visitors that you and your staff serve each year.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Welcome and welcome back!

Welcome to the UIS 2014 Spring Semester! Though it is a little chilly outside this week, spring is on the way and we're looking forward to an interesting and exciting semester here on campus. I had the privilege of starting the semester yesterday by participating in Springfield's 39th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. Illinois was the first state to declare Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official state holiday and it was wonderful, on this important day, to be among hundreds of members of the Springfield community, many of whom are UIS alumni and supporters, and be reminded of the ideals that guided the life of this great American hero.

It was my pleasure this past week to welcome more than 100 new international students from around the world to our academic community and I hope you will join me in offering an especially warm welcome to them, as well as to other students who are new arrivals at UIS this semester. With more than 1,100 course sections being launched this week, both on campus and online, UIS faculty are offering exceptional learning opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I encourage you to invest your efforts deeply in this abundance of opportunities to collaborate, learn and prepare for your future. I hope you'll also be mindful, at this start of a new semester, that we're all privileged to be part of this academic community and that creating a positive and supportive culture on campus for everyone is everyone's responsibility. A smile, a "Hello" and a helping hand can go a long way toward making someone feel a part of our community.

In addition to courses, the Spring, 2014 semester at UIS offers countless other opportunities for leadership, engagement and just plain enjoyment on campus and in the community. Our Center for Volunteer and Civic Engagement is a great place to start if you'd like to get get involved and get some valuable experience that will complement your academic work. UIS is committed to being a "steward of place" in our community - making it a better place for everyone to work, learn and grow -  and UIS students, faculty and staff donate thousands of hours of volunteer service every year.

Sangamon Auditorium is going to be a real hot spot on campus this semester and I hope you will attend at least one performing arts event this semester – especially if you have not yet been in our beautiful Auditorium. It all starts this week with the Broadway play "Hello Dolly" tomorrow night and "Junie B. Jones" on Friday evening. I'm also really looking forward to our Theatre program's performance of "How I Learned to Drive" in April.

I encourage you to support and enjoy our men's and women's basketball teams during the next several weeks of GLVC Conference play. Both the women and men are next at home in the TRAC this Thursday and Saturday and our student/athletes are providing many exciting moments on the court this season. We're also looking forward to Black History Month activities in February, Women's History Month in March, and of course, Springfest in April, a highlight of the Spring semester at UIS. 

The next Chancellor-student gathering is being planned for February, co-sponsored by SGA and other student organizations. What will be the featured food?  You'll have to wait for the announcement to find out; but I suspect it will start with a "C'.  

Dr. King said:  "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of education." Best wishes for a semester filled with intensive thinking!