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The Capitol Connection
The College of Public Affairs and Education and the Center for State Policy and Leadership, University of Illinois Springfield

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  • Dr. Bob Blankenberger with DPA Candidate Annie Brooks (DPA '19)

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Bob Blankenberger, SPMP

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Bob Blankenberger, Associate Professor of Public Administration in the UIS School of Public Management and Policy, whose research interests are focused on educational policy, program evaluation, and how to improve educational attainment.

  • Dr. Magic Wade pictured with her dog in front of a painted mural of a fox on a brick wall

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Magic Wade, SPIA

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Magic Wade, Associate Professor of Political Science in the UIS School of Politics and International Affairs, whose research focuses on state labor laws, teachers unions, and public safety unions and more recently, on criminal justice, public safety, and urban politics.

  • Photo of Dr. Matthew Geras, Assistant Professor of Political Science

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Matthew Geras, SPIA

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Matthew Geras, Assistant Professor of Political Science in the UIS School of Politics and International Affairs, whose teaching and research focuses on U.S. elections and American political institutions, including Congress, the presidency, and political parties.

  • Photo of Dr. Youngjin Kang, Assistant Professor of Human Services

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Youngjin Kang, SPMP

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Youngjin Kang, Assistant Professor of Human Services in the UIS School of Public Policy and Management, whose research focuses on how family members develop and maintain their relationships after transitions in family structure (e.g., divorce, remarriage). 

  • Photo of Dr. Yu-Sheng Lee, Assistant Professor of Public Health

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Yu-Sheng Lee, MPH

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight of Dr. Yu-Sheng Lee, Assistant Professor of Public Health, whose research has focused on various chronic diseases such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, lung cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

  • Photo of Dr. Beth Ribarsky, Professor in the UIS School of Communication & Media, teaching her COM class

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Beth Ribarsky, School of Communication & Media

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Beth Ribarsky, Professor in the UIS School of Communication & Media, who's areas of teaching, scholarship, and service include interpersonal communication, especially within romantic relationships, as well as public speaking, assessment and pedagogy.


  • Headshot of Dr. Brook Depenbusch, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Brooke Depenbusch, Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Brooke Depenbusch, Assistant Professor in the Department of Legal Studies, whose teaching and research center on the intersection between economic inequality, state structure & social policy, and social movements in the modern United States.

  • Photo of Dr. Daniel Platt, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Daniel Platt, Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Daniel Platt, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, whose research focuses on the intersection of legal history, legal culture, and the history of capitalism.

  • Dr. Jae Sik Ha (far right) with his COM 309 Intro to Social Media class in the Fall of 2019.

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jae Sik Ha, School of Communication & Media

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight of Dr. Jae Sik Ha, Associate Professor in the UIS School of Communication & Media, whose background is in journalism and whose teaching and research focuses on the relationships bewtween media and society.

  • Image of Dr. Martin's book cover:  Text - "Mentoring the Mentor:  Celebrating the Intersection of Learning Together, A Reciprocal Journey" by Jennifer L Martin and Jennifer N. Brooks

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jennifer Martin, School of Education

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Jennifer Martin, Associate Professor in the UIS School of Education, who's teaching, scholarship, and service intersect with her educational advocacy for historically marginalized and underserved populations. 

  • Dr. Meghan Kessler in the classroom

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Meghan Kessler, School of Education

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Meghan Kessler, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education in the UIS School of Education, whose recent research focuses on the implementation of new state standards for educator preparation.

  • Dean's July Quarterly Connection - COVID-19 Update

    An update on response to COVID 19 by the U of I System, UIS, and College , and an outline of the disruptions, our responses, and our plans.

  • Photo of four UIS students in class on the 1st day of class FA22

    Dean Smith's September Public Affairs Minute

    Welcome back as we start our new 2022-23 academic year! I’m going to jump right in and address a topic that represents the ”Elephant in the Room” in any discussions about public affairs, public policy and politics today! It involves the political volatility or outright violence being displayed between our two main political parties and zealous followers at both ends of the political spectrum. table.

  • Do You Have Information Problems? Meet the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) at the University of Illinois Springfield

    When government entities or non-profit organizations want to make decisions on policies and practices, they often run into the problem of not having necessary, easy to understand information to move their work forward. This often leads to uncertainty, inaction, or incomplete decisions. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

    The Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) in the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS’ mission is to help solve these information problems for non-profits and government entities of all sizes. In coordination with our partners, we solve information problems in three ways:

  • Photo of Dr. Betsy Goulet. Text:  Congratulations to Dr. Betsy Goulet!  Dr. Betsy Goulet  has been  appointed the  Academic  Program Lead  for the Human Services Program in the UIS  School of Public  Management  and Policy

    Dr. Betsy Goulet Appointed APL for the Human Services Program

    The School of Public Policy and Management at the University of Illinois Springfield congratulates Dr. Betsy Goulet on her appointment as Academic Program Lead for the Human Services Program.

  • Photo of Dr. Junfeng Wang.  Text:  Congratulations to Dr. Junfeng Wang!!  Dr. Junfeng Wang has been appointed the Academic Program Lead for the Masters of Public Administration Program in the UIS School of Public Management and Policy

    Dr. Junfeng Wang appointed Lead for MPA Program

    The School of Public Policy and Management at the University of Illinois Springfield congratulates Dr. Junfeng Wang on her appointment as Academic Program Lead for the Masters of Public Administration Program.

  • Earth Day: Celebrating 50 Years of Environmental Awareness & Action

    Today, Earth Day remains an important day to reflect on how far we have come, identify the problems that we must still solve, and decide what actions to take to protect and restore the ecosystems that sustain all of us.

    Although COVID-19 may keep us from gathering together at large public rallies this year, here are three things you can do to celebrate Earth Day today and every day.

  • Economic Update July 2020: The Shortest? And Deepest Recession in Generations?

    At the time of this post, the United States economy clings is at a crossroads. The economic slowdown engendered by the coronavirus pandemic and measures to contain its spread were the deepest on record, but there are already signs that the recession may be over. There are lingering issues and pain from the recession, especially in the labor market. But there is a palpable sense that the situation may be resolving itself. However, the economy faces many uncertainties going forward. The question is whether the sense of recovery comes from false hope generated by temporarily good economic news or whether it signals a return to a “normal” economic situation.

  • Photo of empty classroom

    Effect of K-12 instruction types on reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in Illinois counties

    Few decisions made by state and local governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic have affected families as much as decisions about K-12 instruction types – whether to provide in-person instruction, online-only instruction, or a hybrid of in-person and online instruction. Decisions about instruction types this fall have varied widely across states, counties, and school districts, partly because of differences in COVID-19 case metrics and partly for other reasons, including political differences.

  • Photo of polling place

    Election Day 2020: More than a Presidential Election

    Every four years, we elect a president based upon each candidate’s vision for the future and our assessments of who is most capable of addressing the issues facing the country.  As is common in most presidential elections, supporters of both candidates are calling this the most important election of their lifetime.  Of course, no matter how important the presidential election may be, it is not the only important decision voters have to make this year.

  • Photo:  sculpture of a hand gun with the barrel tied in a knot.  Photo by Maria Lysenko on

    Elevated Gun Violence in U.S. Cities of All Sizes

    Observes political science professor, Magic M. Wade, “Gun violence is not merely a red state or blue city problem, it is a worsening, widespread phenomenon affecting American communities everywhere.”

  • Photo of Dr. Michael C. Lotspeich-Yadao along side of chart and map demonstrating of aspatial and spatial visualization of statistics on IDCFS Youth in Care

    Elevating community voices: Using GIS to think about child welfare in the State of Illinois

    What is the importance of community factors to public administrators in the child welfare system? How might different protective or risk factors influence the outcome of youth in care at various decision points?  Technical training in GIS allows public administrators to visually interpret data to understand better relationships, patterns, and trends that may have been missed in a traditional reports.

  • Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney, Ph.D., with the young Abraham Lincoln statue on the UIS quad

    Ensuring A Just University

    As an educator and a civically engaged citizen, I believe we will never fully realize “this great experiment of democracy” until we fully realize the common cause for justice. We cannot have justice until we reduce racism to such a level that the civic life of our society can conduct itself in a forward and consistent fashion to ensure that all people, no matter their race, can expect and receive the fruits and benefits of our society. 

  • Evaluating Plastic Litter Prevention Strategies on Lake Springfield, Illinois

    As summer in Central Illinois rolls on, one thing is sure: Illinois residents depend on and love our waterways. However, some of our main recreational activities and everyday consumption patterns can also lead to high levels of shoreline litter or even widespread pollution, endangering wildlife, ecosystems, and the many summer pastimes that so many of us love.

  • Sample Ranked Choice Voting Ballot

    Everything you wanted to know about Ranked-Choice Voting (and maybe somethings you didn’t)

    In recent months, there has been increased news coverage of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in Illinois. At this point, you may be asking “what in the world is ranked-choice voting?”

  • Photo of the Innovate Springfield Building in Downtown Springfield above a photo of the UIS Colonnade with yellow flowers in the foreground

    Exploring UIS’ Relationship With Springfield

    Through my coursework in the Doctor of Public Administration program I had to opportunity to do an independent study with Bruce Sommers, the Executive Director of Economic Development and Innovation.  I was charged with investigating the best practices in corporate and community engagement by colleges and universities and identifying colleges/universities that have optimized town/gown relations for the commercialization of technology. 

  • Image of business man entangled in red tape

    Fed Up with the Status Quo: Read This

    Look around your organization. Are you amazed at just how resigned everyone is to the status quo? Does the seeming acceptance of mediocrity bother you?  Despite severe environmental pressures, are the people around you behaving in obviously ineffective ways that could be threatening the very survival of the organization?  The problem is that most organizations are incapable of learning or changing themselves in response to experience (i.e., the discrepancy between expectations and results).  So what is the solution?

  • Text: First Generation Students. Photos of Koushik Neelakantam from Pradesh, India; Tyrese Reed from New Orleans, LA; and Parag Achdeva from Bhattu Kalan, Haryana, India.

    First-Generation College Student Celebration

    On November 8th colleges and universities celebrate their students, faculty, and staff who are first-generation college students.

  • Book cover image:  "Forecasting Government Budgets"

    Forecasting as (Fallible) Science and Art

    Given the high level of uncertainty in the world now, forecasters should definitely admit that they have less of an idea about the potential outcomes in the economy than they usually would.

  • Costarters logo

    Get Started with CO.STARTERS @iSPI

    Quick question ━ are you entrepreneurial? Scratch that. Have you ever had a lemonade stand? Have you ever tried to sell something that you made? Do you have an excellent process, product, service, or recipe that you think others could benefit from and would pay for?

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could answer “yes” to the first question. You are entrepreneurial!

    The trouble is, entrepreneurs have great ideas and often don’t have the means or the support to see them through. That’s why CO.STARTERS at Innovate Springfield is an excellent opportunity for anyone ready to invest in their big idea and turn it into a reality.

  • Chart showing that 68% of funds stay in the community when you buy local, compared to 43% when you do not

    Give Local this Holiday: iSPI Holiday Shop

    This giving season, we're celebrating the small businesses who have established their headquarters at Innovate Springfield, in the heart of our community, and who proudly call Springfield their home. Welcome to the iSPI Holiday Shop, a curated selection of Innovate Springfield member-owned products and services.

  • Image of discarded disposable face mask on a street

    Gloves, boxes, and masks: Waste visibility, challenges, and opportunities during and post COVID - 19 pandemic

    Garbage is everywhere but is mostly overlooked in our everyday environment. Though as individuals we deal with municipal solid waste every day, waste infrastructure – like black bags, covered bins, enclosed trucks, industrial waste cycles, and publicly inaccessible landfills - keeps the majority of garbage out of sight and mind.  In reality, in Illinois, landfill space is limited (average lifespan = 21 years), and the Covid-19 pandemic is exposing just how essential, complex, and fragile our waste cycle is.

  • Image of nations listed on a white background:  United States, India, Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Myanmar, Spain, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Liberia, Mexico, Netherlands

    GPSI: Onward and Upward!

    We’re thrilled to announce a record-breaking interview round for GPSI this May, not only did we place the highest number of interns, but we also had the most intern positions and intern applicants.

  • GPSI Springing Forward

    As each academic semester comes to a close, students, faculty, and staff take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous year and look forward to the coming year. In GPSI, the month of April is a time for celebration, recognition, and new beginnings. As we say “See you later” to one group of graduating interns, we are simultaneously interviewing for their successors. For the past many years, GPSI has hosted a Recognition Breakfast that highlights graduating interns, special projects, and shares new updates with our community members. At the breakfast, GPSI awards one outstanding intern the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence and one exceptional supervisor the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership. Both awards are named in memory of two former GPSIs.

  • Photo of Cynthia "Liz" Sanchez at work

    GPSI Student Spotlight

    The Office of Graduate Intern Programs would like to recognize one of our student leaders and intern, Cynthia “Liz” Sanchez (PSC).

  • Legal Studies professor Deborah Anthony. Storyteller's Studios filming 2021 Commencement video in Sangamon Auditorium Thursday, April 22, 2021.

    Graduation from CPAA: An End and a Beginning

    The 2020-2021 academic year is coming to a close and our spring graduation celebration will be held on May 13 and 14.  In the midst of one of the most turbulent, unsettled and confusing academic years to date, our graduates have stayed the course, completed their studies and will receive their diplomas. They and their families and friends and loved ones all deserve our sincere congratulations!

  • Image of th UIS Young Lincoln statue in a blue and white UIS stocking cap and scarf with a snowy UIS campus in the background.  Message: The College of Public Affairs and Administration wishes you a happy holiday season.

    Happy Holidays! A video message from Dean Smith

    Holiday Greetings from Dean Robert Smith

  • Tree

    Helping Preserve and Enhance our Urban Trees

     Urban trees are the pillars of our community. They help decrease air pollution, reduce flooding, produce valuable resources, provide a habitat for wildlife, promote physical and mental health, and encourage a sense of community (Turner-Skoff & Cavender, 2019). We marvel at these benefits, but we also have a responsibility to take care of these trees. 

    You are invited to join us on Wednesday, March 31 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. for a virtual program on Urban Trees: Planning, Policy, and Planting. This program, which is sponsored by the Citizens Club of Springfield in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Center for State Policy and Leadership, is part of the National Endowment of the Arts Big Read: Sangamon County. Programs and activities are taking place throughout our community in March and April based on the featured book Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

  • Honoring GPSIs 2021 Milbrandt and Madalla Award winners

    On April 22, 2021, the Office of Graduate Intern Programs hosted a virtual event to honor our graduating interns and their supervisors. Springing Forward was meant to symbolize the commitment GPSI has to the growth and expansion of this vital program as well as celebrate all the student and supervisor accomplishments over this tumultuous year. Molly Lamb, Executive Director of the Center for State Policy and Leadership, gave an exciting overview of the Center and introduced many resources to our state agency partners. Additionally, our viewers received an update on the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) from Barbara Van Dyke-Brown, Director.

  • Lesser bamboo rat (Cannomys badius) at a market in Phongsali, northern Laos

    How Can We Prevent the Next Pandemic by Addressing the Wildlife Trade?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world, infecting 134 million and killing nearly 3 million people. The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease is thought to have likely originated in bats, a misunderstood and often maligned order of mammals that includes over 1,400 species. How the virus jumped the species barrier remains unclear, but strong evidence exists linking the wildlife trade to human exposure to the virus.  So, what can be done to prevent the next pandemic?


  • Photo of international flags in the UIS Public Affairs Center

    How Do Foreign Policy Experts Think About Allies?

    A new experiment by researchers from the University of Illinois at Springfield, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs finds that policy experts care about formal alliances. But even alliance relationships have limits.   How Do Foreign Policy Experts Think About Allies?  a blog post by Sibel Oktay, Paul Poast, Dina Smeltz, and Craig Kafura, for the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs.

  • Stop Domestic Violence

    How to Help Abuse Victims during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic

    Across the world, people are spending a lot more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Shelter in place orders and closures have put extra stress on families.  Economic uncertainty and social isolation have also been linked to increased use of substances and mental health issues.  These stressors and negative effects have been exacerbated for abuse victims, particularly those who are currently living in an abusive environment, where spending extra time at home can lead to even more danger, with few outlets for escape.

  • Photo of Dr. Denise Bockmier-Sommers with text "Wishing a Happy Retirement to Dr. Denise Bockmier-Sommers, Associate Professor & Human Services Academic Program Lead"

    Human Services Program - the End of an Era

    Saying farewell to Dr. Denise Bockmier-Sommers, Associate Professor & Human Services Program Lead, as she retires at the end of this academic year.

  • I Believe in Being 18

    Another ten area high school seniors have been selected by our community committee for the 2021 edition of This I Believe on NPR Illinois. That’s 150 students since the program started with the 2007 selected authors. The program continues to pull at your emotions and remind you of when you were about to enter the adult world.

  • Illinois Bill Explores How to Save Local Journalism

    In the blur of legislative activity that closed out the spring 2021 session of the Illinois General Assembly, state lawmakers passed a bill that would help figure out how to save local journalism. If signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the law would create a group of 15 people to study communities underserved by local journalism and recommend ways to preserve and/or restore coverage in those area.

  • Image of UIS mascot, Orion, assisting with Illinois Voter Registration at the UIS Student Union

    Illinois Could Adopt Ranked-Choice Voting. What Do Illinois Voters Think of It and Other Alternative Electoral Systems?

    Illinois was once known for its innovative electoral system, where it was the only state in America to utilize cumulative voting to elect some members of the Illinois General Assembly.  We asked voters what they think about more recent electoral innovations proposals.

  • IDPH Webinar Flyer

    Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike to speak on health equity, October 19

    Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), will discuss health equity in Illinois at 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 19. This is a free, virtual presentation that is open to the public.

  • Photo of a downtown street from the Illinois Municipal League website

    Illinois Municipalities Face Difficult Decisions during COVID 19 Pandemic

    Six months ago, the world was a completely different place. The American economy was growing. Families were regularly coming together for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions. The 1,298 cities, villages and towns throughout Illinois were providing regular and critical services to support the health, safety and welfare of their residents.

  • Illinois Police and Fire Pension Funding Challenges by the Illinois Municipal League, UIS Institute for Illinois Public Finance, and UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration

    Illinois Police and Fire Pension Funding Challenges

    View this video presentation on "Illinois Police and Fire Pension Funding Challenges".  The video is part of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal (IMPJ) Webinar Series. In this presentation Dr. Beverly Bunch, UIS, and Amanda Kass, UIC, present their research which was detailed in the December 2020 volume of the IMPJ.  The presentation is moderated by Dr. Kenneth Kriz, UIS.

  • Photo of Kevin Kulavic, ILSIP Alum (2011-12) pictured with fellow ILSIP alums Josh Horeled and Margaret Nunne

    ILSIP Interviews - Round #2

    The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) has announced a second round of interviews, focused on filling ten remaining positions.