The UIS Community

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The "Illinois Coffee"

Last week, I was in Washington, D.C., and attended Senator Richard Durbin's "Illinois Coffee," an informal gathering with constituents on Thursday mornings. I had always heard about these, and I was delighted to attend one. People from different parts of Illinois showed up on the ninth floor on the Hart Senate Building (Durbin's office is on the third floor). Durbin gave brief remarks and then he and Senator Roland Burris took questions. Some of his staff was there, and I have to say they were very hospitable. We felt very welcome there, and we left more informed. One more thing. They also made it possible for everybody to have their pictures taken with the senators; it was really well-organized. I've been told that Durbin has had those regular weekly gatherings for a long time. He used to have an Illinois member of Congress as a guest, then Senator Obama. If you ever decide to go, dress casually as if you were Durbin's next-door neighbor in Springfield. That's the feeling he gives you -- while giving you access to one of the U.S. Senate's most important members, but he doesn't tell you that. He doesn't need to.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

When recognition is deserved

I just left a luncheon at which Professor Christopher Mooney was honored in a number of ways. Perhaps most significantly, his own academic peers from around the country in the field of comparative state politics, a section of the American Political Science Association, recognized him for his leadership. One called him their "general." Several lauded him for founding the journal, State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Then UIS Provost Harry Berman announced that Dr. Mooney has been named a University Scholar by the University of Illinois. It's the highest honor a U of I faculty member can receive. Finally, Dr. Berman noted that the Illinois House of Representatives last week also recognized Mooney, in HR 1265, for being one of the leading scholars in the nation in his field. I joined in the well-deserved standing ovation. These announcements came at a national conference today being held at UIS.

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