The UIS Community

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

Monday, May 26, 2008

My dad, the Army, and Brace Clement

My dad served in World War II in Africa, Italy and France. Millions of Americans can say that; I hope the others are as proud of their dads as I am of mine. Dad was drafted into the Army after Pearl Harbor. His job was to type classified documents. Knowing how to type probably saved his life, because in northern Africa, he got called out of a lineup one day because he could type. The Army gave him an office job. Most of the rest of the people in line that day were dead within 30 days.

I also think of Brace Clement today on Memorial Day. He came to UIS as a transfer student, then had to spend a year in Iraq. He was in the Marines. I got acquainted with him because of his interest in state government and his involvement in student government. One day, as I recall it, some of his friends held a bake sale to raise money to send him a care package in Iraq. I bought something and picked up a magnetic yellow ribbon from the table and displayed it on my office door. I told lots of people, "That's for Brace. I'm going to show it to him someday." And I did. Brace came home and came back to UIS. He came to my office, I pointed to the ribbon, and I said, "That's for you." He got his degree in 2006 and is doing very well.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chris Miller heading to Marquette

Dr. Chris Miller is leaving UIS to become vice president for student affairs at Marquette University. UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen made the announcement today, and Marquette made its own announcement as well. Dr. Miller is one of only two vice chancellors at UIS (the other is Provost Berman); but that is just one reason his departure is so significant. The chancellor called it a personal loss. I feel the same way. It's something that happens in professional careers: Good people and friends move on for better opportunities, and we wish them well. We want nothing but the best for them and their families. My main feeling now is that it's perfectly OK, and natural, and healthy, to pause and reflect on how good friends and colleagues enrich our own lives. That's what I'm doing today.

And then life goes on, in a slightly altered world.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Hard year? Maybe, but...

Perspective is important. A few people have told me that this was their most difficult year at UIS. Many felt weary by the end of the academic year. A few blame it on others not performing well, or even worse, doing actual damage to others because of bad decisions or making the wrong moves. So some people are grouchy, others ouchy. It can be helpful to a community just to name such feelings and perspectives publicly. They exist, and they are real. The question, then, is how do we respond? I'll address that in future posts in this blog, not today -- for a good reason. It's healthy to try to name what we are feeling, and to sit with those feelings for awhile.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Anne Burke: take risks

Justice Anne Burke, an Illinois Supreme Court Justice, gave a worthy challenge to our graduates today. Last night, she told me she was going to encourage the graduates always to take risks, and she did. The message got through. It was clear that several students were thanking her just a bit later as they were walking across the stage and she was shaking all their hands. Read her complete text, and see lots of photos and video of the UIS commencement on the UIS web site.

I also thought student speaker Denean Vreeland was terrific. Her enthusiasm was evident all day long, as the video indicates. And now she'll be teaching math at a high school. What a great story!

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why I love commencement

This is commencement weekend. I love going to the ceremony for one simple reason: I see so many happy people, especially happy students, who have achieved something significant. All around the convention center are smiling faces. Big smiles. Whatever angst I might have been feeling in recent weeks always melts away when I see those faces and watch people celebrating these accomplishments. I posted a few pictures from last year's ceremony on Flickr; you can see them here. And you can watch this year's ceremony on a live webcast at 2 pm Saturday, May 10. What a great time of year!

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Favorite professors, and awards

Everyone who goes through college has a story to tell about a favorite professor. Mine was an economics professor in the 1970s who used "multimedia" TV screens before anyone used that word. He also would read from biographies, and poetry, during his lectures "just because I thought it is interesting." He was interdisciplinary all by himself at the University of Missouri, and his biggest lesson was: Education is not about what you know, but what you can figure out. This man was also deaf and could handle large lecture halls and small classrooms equally well. His name was John Kuhlmann.

UIS honored its own top faculty members of the year this week at a very upbeat ceremony. Hats off to the great teachers we have!

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