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Construction contract awarded for UIS student union
Campus’s first union scheduled to open in January 2018

March 16, 2016

URBANA, Ill. – The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved a contract Wednesday that will kick off construction of the first-ever student union at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS), a $21.7 million facility scheduled for completion in January 2018.

Trustees awarded a $12.7 million contract to William Brothers Construction Inc. of Peoria, which will be the general contractor for the project. Four other contracts totaling nearly $6.1 million for plumbing, electrical and ventilation work also have been awarded, but did not require board approval.

The planned two-story, 50,000-square-foot facility has long been a top priority for UIS, providing a hub for student life and fostering a greater sense of community on the growing, 5.400-student campus in the state capital.

Trustees gave project and design approval for the new student union in January 2014, a move that allowed Chancellor Susan Koch and UIS officials to ramp up efforts to raise $8 million in private donations to build the new facility.

More than $5.3 million in gifts have been raised and officials say they will meet their fundraising goal before the facility opens. The remaining $13.7 million will be paid through campus funds and a construction fee that students approved overwhelmingly in a 2012 referendum.

President Tim Killeen praised Koch and her team for forging a public-private partnership that cleared the way for construction despite budget challenges in state government that have shut off a traditional pipeline for funding.

“This project required a lot of creativity and good, old-fashioned hard work,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to Chancellor Koch, our students and our donors for coming together to give UIS a new centerpiece that will serve students and the community for generations to come.”

The new facility will fill a void that officials say has grown since UIS became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. The campus was originally founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University, catering to upperclassmen and graduate-level students, but is now a traditional four-year school that lacks the central gathering place that student unions provide at most colleges across the nation.

Construction is scheduled to begin in May on the new facility that will anchor the campus’s south quad, providing campus dining services, a coffee shop, a ballroom with seating for up to 450 people and a Student Leadership Center that will house student government, volunteer offices and workspaces for student organizations.

Dewberry Architects of Peoria developed design plans for the new facility, which will be constructed to achieve U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification.


The board approved a six-year contract with longtime NFL coach Lovie Smith as head football coach on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Smith joins the Illini program after spending 19 years in the NFL, including 11 years as a head coach. He coached the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012, compiling an 81-63 record that included three division titles, two NFC championship game appearances and a trip to Super Bowl XLI.

For the last two seasons, he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and earlier served for seven years as an assistant coach with Tampa Bay and the St. Louis Rams, where he was defensive coordinator for the franchise’s 2001 Super Bowl appearance. Before his NFL career, Smith spent 14 years as a collegiate coach, working as an assistant at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio State.

Smith replaces Bill Cubit, who was dismissed March 5. Cubit, who joined the staff as offensive coordinator in 2013, led the Illini to a 5-7 record as interim head coach in 2015.

Trustees also approved the appointment of Urbana-Champaign graduate Lindsay Anderson as executive director for governmental relations, effective March 1.

In her new role, Anderson directs the Office of Governmental Relations (OGR), which serves as the University’s liaison to state and federal legislators and agencies, local officials and key higher education associations.

She joined the U of I after working as an attorney with Chicago-based McGuire Woods, where her duties included advising clients on working with government. Earlier, she served as legislative director and later senior advisor in the administration of former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, and as assistant counsel in the office of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Urbana-Champaign campus in 2001, and a law degree from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2005. Anderson replaces Katherine “Kappy” Laing, who retired in 2014.

The board also approved the appointment of veteran UIS faculty member and administrator James Ermatinger as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost of the Springfield campus.

He will begin his new duties June 1 and serve during a national search to replace current Provost Lynn Pardie, who will retire May 31. Pardie, who joined the UIS faculty in 1989, was appointed provost in July 2012, after serving for more than a year as interim provost.

Ermatinger joined UIS in 2009 as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and is also a professor of history and serves as interim dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration. Earlier, he served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Bloomsburg University and in faculty and administrative positions at Southeast Missouri State University, Lourdes College and the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University and a master’s degree and doctorate in history from Indiana University.

Trustees also approved the appointment of Hanfu Mi as interim dean of Library Instructional Services at UIS, effective May 1. He will continue to serve as dean of the College of Education and Human Services and as a professor of teacher education, positions he has held since joining UIS in 2013.

Mi will serve during a national search to replace Jane Treadwell, who is retiring as dean effective April 30.

Before joining UIS, Mi was as chair of the Department of Elementary Education and Reading at the State University of New York at Oneonta, where he also served on the faculty since 1998. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Shanxi University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of South Carolina at Columbia.


The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 80,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.


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