The UIS Community

A new kind of conversation addressing issues that UIS students and staff care about.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yet another African link to UIS

A story in the Springfield paper on Friday described the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, and how a few of them arrived at UIS. I had no idea. It's a chilling tale. Also very inspirational. These young men, who don't even know how old they are, want to help their brothers and sisters back in Sudan, and they want people to know their story. I feel compelled to find out more about this.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stopping and pausing for good reason

I stopped and paused today -- twice -- going through the PAC lobby. I was so moved; I really can't explain why; I just know I felt connected to people across the globe, and to our own students who are connected to their sisters and brothers in Kenya. The first time, I caught myself gazing at and into the replica of a small metal Kenyan hut, where 15 or 20 people might live. I couldn't imagine it, though I know it's true. (Thanks to Jeremy Wilburn for the photo posted here.) The next time, the pictures on exhibit grabbed my heart: smiling Kenyan children living in awful conditions. Happiness and horror all in one picture. Some UIS students have been to Kenya to help these kids, feed them and improve their living conditions in small ways. Their commitment to service of the poor is awesome. And admirable. Not to mention the Jump for Joel fundraiser they are conducting. It was especially great to see Shana Stine on campus today as part of this one-day exhibit. She's an inspiration to many of us; her courage gives a different context to the day-to-day nuisances I sometimes complain about.

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Friday, November 14, 2008


There was a lot of energy in the room last night at the reception honoring the "retired" Kent Redfield, professor of political science. Kent is perhaps most recognizable as the professor who is always on TV or in the newspapers because reporters want to know what he thinks about every Illinois political story. Many revere him for his work with interns in our highly successful Illinois Staff Legislative Internship Program, a program he directed for 20 years. A scholarship has been established in his name, and local columnist Bernie Schoenburg wrote about it yesterday.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Sometimes I'm just inspired

One of our alumni is partially responsible for something truly remarkable in India. In 2005, his boss told him they were going to set up a 911-type emergency phone system for all 1 billion people in India in five years. "I said OK, because he's my boss," said Raju Indukuri of Fremont, California, who received a University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award on Friday night. By now they're more than halfway to their goal in India, and the system has saved tens of thousands of lives. They hope to have the rest of the nation on the emergency system by 2010. Indukuri is so excited about this. He told me they're also working with Stanford to train thousands of paramedics to respond to these emergency calls. His boss is Ramalinga Raju, the founder and chairman of Satyam Computer Services. UIS prides itself on "making a difference in the world," one of our strategic plan's top three goals. Raju is making a big, big difference. His work inspires me, and his enthusiasm inspires me even more.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Speed networking" for our students

Something really great is going on right now in the PAC lobby. About 20 distinguished alumni are donating their time to meet with UIS students at a "speed networking" session. With one alum at each table, students have up to 15 minutes to meet with them informally, one on one, to learn about their careers and anything else they want to ask. There's a lot of energy in the room. It's part of two days of the Leadership Roundtable here at UIS. I always tell students, "Contacts. You can never have enough contacts," and it's great that some are taking advantage of the opportunity today.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Students and voting

If UIS is any indication, then I'd say college students have the political fever back. Our own students are very excited about this election. They passed a resolution reminding faculty of their interest in doing election work tomorrow -- so take it easy on them if they ask to miss a class. They have organized a bus to take students to the polls. And some are back in their home towns, burning energy for their favorite candidates. Equally important is that they have strong opinions about this election. They're eager to express themselves and they're out there working. As they should be.

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