22, No. 7, Oct. 2, 2003
Campus Award for Excellence in Public
honored for public service, outreach
Two faculty members,
one academic professional, one staff member, and three students have
been honored with this year’s Campus Award for Excellence in Public
In its fourth year, the awards program was developed to recognize those
who fulfill the university’s commitment to using their scholarly,
creative or professional knowledge to improve the well-being of Illinois
citizens. Recipients were honored at a reception Sept. 30.
The program is an extension of the Partnership Illinois initiative and
the Senate committee on Continuing Education and Public Service.
For information about nomination procedures and criteria for selection,
go to www.peir.uiuc.edu/pe/awardsandgrants.html.
by Bill Wiegand
UI Extension, Macon County Office
“For more than 10 years, Teresa Easterly-Adams has identified
community issues, developed strategic responses, and has implemented
dozens of programs in the region with research-based education from
the UI,” said Stuart Ellis, Macon County Extension Unit Leader.
“Her efforts have touched thousands of citizens.”
As a result of one 4-H based initiative, more than 1,000 students annually
were exposed to Extension educational materials in their classrooms
and more teachers became aware of UI Extension as a resource to meet
their professional needs.
As committee co-chair, Easterly-Adams worked with more than 20 area
service providers, as well as law enforcement and fire personnel and
Richland Community College staff members to plan and present Macon County’s
Annual Safe Kids Day. The popular event, which teaches how to prevent
childhood accidents, has received national recognition three times from
the National Safety Council.
Ten years ago Easterly-Adams joined the Board of Directors of Decatur
Community Partnership to formally work with other individuals dedicated
to improvings the social, economic and clinical health of the Macon
County community through collaboration. The partnership has brought
more than 7 million grant-funded dollars to the county to fund a myriad
of programs, including projects linking to Extension services and educational
by Bill Wiegand
professor of animal sciences
Professor Mike Hutjens has developed an international and national dairy
outreach teaching program, Dave Fischer said in nominating Hutjens.
Fischer, regional animal systems educator in the department of animal
sciences, said that Hutjens began teaching extramural courses in 1988.
Through the needs of his audience, he developed an applied dairy nutrition
course that afforded students an opportunity to further their careers,
and at the same time to balance educational needs with business and
family commitments. The program has changed through the years and now
is a hybrid CD-ROM/Internet-based course – the first animal sciences
course offered in the United States using this combined technology.
Because of increased demand, the course is now offered every semester.
The courses fill a “unique and emerging need in the department
of animal sciences,” wrote Fischer, “as it reaches out to
non-traditional students with diverse backgrounds, knowledge, experience
by Bill Wiegand
professor emeritus of astronomy
Since joining the UI faculty in 1964, professor James Kaler has become
one of the world’s leading experts in astronomy. “During
the course of his research,” wrote astronomy chair Lewis Snyder
in nominating Kaler, “Jim began to write about some of his work
in articles directed to the public. [He is now an] internationally known
figure in science outreach and public education, working in a variety
In addition to having written three textbooks, Kaler has written many
other books for the public that explain the discoveries of modern astronomy.
Kaler also has spread the word through public lectures, television and
radio appearances, and his involvement with the nation’s planetarium
community. For the past 16 years, he has educated others about the joys
of the sky with a weekly update called “Skylights.” The
column initially was e-mailed to interested individuals and organizations
and is now posted on the Web
and gets more than 5,000 hits per week.
“Jim’s impact on science education through his articles,
books, lectures and informational services have been incalculable, and
have given great visibility to the astronomy department and the UI,”
by Bill Wiegand
senior research scientist, National Center for
Supercomputing Applications and Beckman Institute
For nearly 10 years, Umesh Thakkar has provided leadership and initiative
developing, integrating and evaluating the integration of technology
into education. This has included training teachers and students from
kindergarten to college age.
He co-directed the Chickscope project in the late 1990s, which is still
widely used by K-12 students and teachers to study chicken embryo development
using remotely controlled scientific instruments. He directs the educational
outreach of the Bugscope project, which allows students and teachers
to remotely operate a scanning electron microscope to image bugs at
high magnification. He also manages the Biology Student Workbench project
in which software and numerous educational materials have been developed
for bioinformatics education, and he is principal investigator of the
VR Savvy project, in which middle school girls learn how to build virtual
worlds using the CAVE.
“Because of Umesh’s leadership in building communities around
education technologies, he has been asked by the National Science Foundation
to take a one-year leave of absence from the UI to head a committee
charged with constructing a blueprint for NSF’s initiatives in
this area for the next several years,” wrote Eric Jakobsson, professor
of molecular and integrative physiology and senior research scientist
in the Beckman Institute and NCSA. “In agreeing to undertake this,
Umesh specified as one of the conditions that he be able to return each
month to Urbana for the meetings of the school district advisory group
so that he could maintain his commitment to the local community while
still sharing his efforts with the entire nation."
liberal arts and sciences
urban and regional planning