Published July 7, 2016

Eastern’s Cameron Craig releasing vocal album

A passion for music and being laid off from Eastern has prompted Cameron Craig to rediscover a prior love and release a vocal album, set to be released Aug. 16.

Craig, a faculty member in the geography department and a graduate student in music at Eastern, returned after 22 years to his musical studies after receiving a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in geography, both from Indiana State.

The title of the album, My Life as a Sonata: A Passion Recapitulated, comes from an essay Craig wrote for admission to the graduate program in the music department.

A-B-A, the form of a sonata, bears resemblance to his own life.

“I started out in music, then I went to humanities and sciences for my other degrees, then back into music again,” he said. “You present one theme, then you go to another theme and then you represent the initial theme again.”

When Craig was laid off last summer, Richard Rossi, director of orchestral and choral activities, told him he needed to be a graduate student in music.

When Rossi told Craig he needed to write an essay, he was unsure of what to do.

Then it dawned on him. “’My life is a sonata!’” he recounted.

His upcoming album isn’t his first – previous recordings featured music composed by him; Craig wanted to avoid the hassle of copyrights and royalties.

After being asked by everyone when he would be releasing a vocal album, Craig said it was “time to do something fun” and returned to his musical studies with Rossi and voice instructor Nicholas Provenzale.

Fifteen out of 16 songs are in the public domain. The 16th is Sure on this Shining Night, written by Samuel Barber. This song by Barber was sung by Craig as a freshman at Indiana State.

“I really hoped to include it on my album, for the first vocal album,” he said. “All the pieces come from when I studied music 22 years ago.”

Craig, a vocal tenor, is accompanied by Bart Rettberg on piano.

For more information on the upcoming album, visit Craig’s website.

Published June 29, 2016

Editorial: Hey Springfield, enough is enough

Do your jobs. Give the state a budget.

A war is being fought on the soil of our very own state.

Some living within the borders may have so far escaped the bloodshed.

Others absolutely have not.

On one side of the ideological war are the Republicans, along with Gov. Rauner, pushing his so-called “Turnaround Agenda.” On the other side are the Democrats, and Speaker Michael Madigan, who seemingly fights the governor at every move.

While Springfield fights, the rest of the state loses.

Enough is enough.

The state needs a budget and it needs one now.

Social service agencies like SACIS have used up all of their reserve funds and have been forced to take out a loan to keep their doors open for those impacted by sexual violence. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois has had to cut at least 750 jobs as well as more of 30 of their programs, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

That’s not all. According to Crain’s, more than 80 groups, nonprofits, for-profits and other agencies, under the Pay Now Illinois coalition, have filed a lawsuit against several state agencies, including the governor, for breach of contract. First Lady Diana Rauner’s nonprofit Ounce of Prevention Fund joined the lawsuit. They are owed $6 million.

We at The Daily Eastern News have seen this budget stalemate affect the world around us.

Our beautiful campus is in disarray and things are falling apart. Weeds had grown to near person height before finally being cut down. Concrete around campus is in shambles. Landscape edging is crumbling. Various buildings are in disrepair and need to be replaced. More than 200 hard-working employees have been laid off. They helped maintain our campus. They ran department offices. They were the first people we saw every morning.

They were our colleagues. They were our friends.

MAP grants for the students who need it the most aren’t being funded.

It’s not just happening here, it’s happening at other schools around the state – Chicago State and Western to name a few.

High school seniors are no longer looking to Illinois to further their education. Illinois is looking at a brain drain.

This stalemate is also affecting road construction. Should this continue, road construction projects would literally be shut down with workers being out of work.

We need to hold our elected officials accountable for the fiscal calamity being wrought upon the innocent citizens of Illinois.

We’re approaching the end of a tunnel, but instead of light, it leads to a deep and dark abyss. The end of the fiscal year is near. We’re days from entering a new one, with seemingly no end in sight.

Call, email, visit the offices of your lawmakers, wherever you may be. Demand change from your elected representatives.

The state and its population can’t sustain this anymore.

Lawmakers, look deep inside yourselves and find a bit of bipartisan spirit and give the people of this state what they really need – a budget. Now.

You are mandated by Article VIII, Section 2, of the state’s constitution to pass a budget.

So do your jobs.

Enough is enough.

Published June 22, 2016

Wesley Food Pantry open during summer

The Wesley Food Pantry, located at the EIU Wesley Foundation, 2202 Fourth St, is open during the summer to serve members of the Eastern community.

So far this summer, the food pantry has served an average of 10 households and 24 individuals per distribution day, according to the Rev. Paige Roberts, campus minister of the Wesley Foundation.

During the school year, 231 households were served, feeding 355 people.

A shopping model is used for the pantry, where clients can choose food from different food groups, letting people choose what to eat and cutting down on wasted food.

“We have a protein section, fruit/vegetable/grain section and then other (which is where the snack food such as crackers and cookies are),” she said.

This also allows students to choose food based on the availability of a kitchen and the desire to cook.

Any student, faculty or staff member is eligible to participate – all that is needed is a PantherCard brought with them. They also need to attest that their household income is 185 percent below poverty level. For example, one person needs to make less than $1,815 per month.

The food pantry, which first started in March 2015, was originally the idea of sociology professor Michael Gillespie and former director of student community service Rachel Fisher. At the same time, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank desired to expand their pantries to include the region’s college campuses and wanted to work with the EIU Wesley Foundation, after working with the Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois, according to Roberts.

“Since the EIF can only work with non-profits, they could not directly partner with EIU,” she said. “So I contacted everyone involved and said we would love to host the pantry if SCS and others would help support it.”

The pantry receives food from food drives occurring on campus, according to Roberts. The Student Accounting Society, different Greek organizations as well as Eastern’s Holiday Luncheon all had drives that have contributed food to the pantry.

The pantry also receives monetary donations that allow it to purchase food at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, in order to round out their offerings.

“The foodbank has fantastic buying power and our $1 spend there is equivalent to at least $10 in the grocery store,” she said. “So we purchase items from EIF that we do not receive from food drives – primarily peanut butter, cereals, and snack foods.”

400 pounds of crackers and cookies can be purchased for $40, she said.

A goal is to open up an additional day each month starting in September.

“We now have the food supply for that and we know there are some students who cannot come on a Wednesday afternoon,” she said.

The food pantry is open on the second Wednesday of each month, from 2-6 p.m. For more information, call 217-348-8191, email paige@eiuwesley.org or visit http://eiuwesley.org/foodpantry.


Published April 20, 2016

ITS outlines campus technology updates

Eastern’s Information Technology Services has outlined technology changes starting in mid-May that will affect passwords, operating systems and the use of certain applications on campus.

Starting May 16, students, annuitants and external users will be required to change their password once a year. Faculty and staff are required to change their password once per semester.

Brian Murphy, assistant vice president for information technology services, said this was not required in the past.

The requirements for passwords include that the password must start with a letter, have both upper and lowercase characters, one number and one character that does not include letters or numbers.

The full policy can be found online.

Murphy said the new operating system requirements, also taking effect on May 16, are based off support from the university’s network access control software, SafeConnect.

Users running Windows Vista and higher, Mac OS X 10.8.5 or newer, or a version of Linux are able to connect to the university’s network.

Users running Windows XP or older, or Mac OS X 10.7 or older, will not be able to use the network; this includes beta versions of operating systems.

While users of an older operating system were previously able to connect to the network, they were not being actively supported.

“We’re supporting all the operating systems that are actively supported by the vendor,” Murphy said. “The operating systems that haven’t been supported by the vendor for a certain period of time are a risk for us.”

If a computer with an out of date operating system is brought onto campus, it will be quarantined by SafeConnect.

Another update is the new use of application blocking, using Sophos Application Control.

The blocking, which will begin May 15 and affect Eastern-owned computers with a property tag, will prevent software from running that reduces computer performance and compromises privacy.

Employees have the ability to install programs on the university computers assigned to them.

The list of blocked programs includes various toolbar products, versions five through nine of Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office 2003, as well as Microsoft Security Essentials and BitTorrent, among others.

The ability to run Microsoft Security Essentials is blocked as it goes against the school’s Microsoft Campus EES agreement and Sophos being the antivirus used on school machines.

BitTorrent is being blocked, as it is an avenue for illegal file-sharing.

An exception can be made to allow access to a particular program if a legitimate business case exists.

“Our goal here is not to make anyone’s life unbearable or difficult,” Murphy said. “It’s to make sure that we have security and we’ve protected EIU from any kind of liability with any of this software, as well as improved performance in hopefully everyone’s daily use of their computing device.”

Published on January 27, 2016

Rauner draws up plan during State of the State Address

Education, taxes and jobs were some of the items Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke about during his second State of the State Address on Wednesday in the House Chambers of the Illinois Statehouse.

Despite layoffs and spending cuts that have affected state colleges and universities, Rauner did not directly address state colleges and universities and the mess the budget stalemate has put them in.

Instead, the governor talked about “empowering” higher education to reduce administrative costs and pension liabilities, and offering financial support to those schools that show “real progress in putting more resources in the classroom.”

Richard Wandling, chair of the political science department, said that the governor’s higher education goals amount to formulaic references of perceived problems in administrative costs and bureaucratic processes.

“He notes these at a time when the very existence of public higher education is in peril due to zero dollars in state funding for our state universities this fiscal year,” he said. “So, from where I sit, as a department chair in a public university being damaged on a day-by-day basis by a dysfunctional state government, it is difficult to view the state of the state address as nothing more than a disappointing episode in political theatre.”

Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs, said he was disappointed that the governor did not talk more about a 2016 budget.

Constitutional pension reform was also an issue addressed by the governor, as he said Illinois has the worst unfunded pension liability in the nation.

As a move toward bipartisan compromise, he said he has agreed to support the pension proposal from Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.

He emphasized the need for common sense in union contracts and also called out the compensation demanded by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Rauner said that the $3 billion demanded by AFSCME should go to schools and human services, not “government bureaucracy.”

Sen. Dale Righter said in a statement that the tone of Rauner’s speech was good because both parties can find common ground on the issues set forth.

“The status quo in Springfield must come to an end by moving Illinois forward, creating more opportunity for everyone, and bring more efficiency to Illinois government,” he said.


Published November 4, 2015

Website carries coverage into 21st century, beyond

Created during a time before the likes of Twitter and WordPress, the Web presence of The Daily Eastern News has seen different versions during its 14-year existence stored on a server.

The first iteration of the website was used as an online repository for stories that appeared in the print version, but the online staff also produced Web-specific content.

In addition, two other websites existed at various stages that complemented the main News website and gave more students an opportunity to work for an online outlet.

These were called Where It’s @ Magazine and Pounce Online.

Both websites, produced by students under the guidance of journalism professor Brian Poulter, contained more feature-type pieces that did not appear in the regular website for The News.

Eventually, @Mag became Pounce Online, which later merged into the main News website hosted by College Publisher.

The early News website featured content such as video and audio podcasts, interactive flash pages and SoundSlides, among others, according to online adviser Bryan Murley.

Brian Poulter, photo adviser for The News and the Warbler yearbook, said that The Daily Eastern News has always been a little bit ahead of the curve when it comes to adopted technologies.

The Daily Eastern News was one of the first college newspapers to have an online presence,” he added.

The News parted company with College Publisher and then used TownNews as its website platform. But TownNews “was very expensive and not very user-friendly for a staff that is constantly turning over every year or two,” Murley said.

After TownNews, The News transitioned to hosting its website through School Newspapers Online, which uses WordPress as its platform and costs less than TownNews.

The use of WordPress allows blogging and multimedia skills to be taught in journalism classes with real-world application applied to the News’ website.

Eastern journalism alum Stephen Haas said the knowledge he gained at Eastern helped him in his career.

“Shooting, even just as a photographer, thinking about things for the web, is essential,” he said.  “Whether it would be extra things for a gallery or could I do a video for this.”

Haas, who served stints as photo editor and online editor, said he had to think about getting photos up quickly to the website.

“That’s essential, no matter what size paper you’re working at,” he said.  “It’s not a print first and then shove it all to website.” 

All of these skills allows students to make the transition from the classroom to real-world practice once they find jobs post-graduation.

“I think what’s always been the strength of our department is we’re usually ahead of the larger industry,” Poulter said.

Published November 4, 2015

The News begins centennial celebrations

Reminiscing and reconnecting will be the focus of the weekend as The Daily Eastern News celebrates 100 years of publication.

More than 200 alumni are set to participate in the festivities, which include a meet-and-greet between alumni and current students on Friday and tours of the newsroom and pressroom on Saturday.

It’s no coincidence the 100th year of The News befalls the same year as the 100th Homecoming.

A group of students came together to start publishing a newspaper to cover sports and the inaugural homecoming – an event that students, faculty members and businessmen wanted to make, “the biggest and most enjoyable event ever pulled off,” according to the first issue of the Normal School News.

Vol. 1, Issue 1 was the work of students Ivan Bean Cobble, Ernest Bails and Ed McGurty, along with Prather the Printer, a local printing firm headed by Bob Prather that printed The News as well as the first and succeeding yearbooks, according to a letter to the editor from former journalism department chair Dan Thornburgh.

That “spirit” of wanting to cover stories is very typical of college students, according to Sally Renaud, chair of the journalism department and interim director of student publications.

“They want to have a voice; they want to tell their story,” Renaud said. “I’m glad the university has supported it all these years.”

In its early years, The News printed mostly sports news and rambling editorials, which was indicative of its low journalistic standard at the time, according to compiled information on the journalism department’s history. This was because of the non-demand of the journalism profession at the time and therefore, the lack of formal education in the vocation.


Surviving the years

The News has survived all 11 sitting university presidents, nine locations around the campus and Charleston, been the recipient of numerous awards, as well as criticism from the university.

Out of the nine locations The News has called home, two of the locations are no longer standing – the Bails family home, as First Financial Bank now sits on the land, and the “Cement Block Building,” which is now the east section of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

The News and its editors have also been the recipients of numerous awards throughout its 100 years, some of which include “Best Newspaper in its Class” from the Illinois College Press Association in 1946 and Pacemakers from the Associated Collegiate Press.

The history of The News is also not without its controversy.

Between 1956 and 1968, known as the “Doudna Years” in Eastern journalism history, run-ins between The News and President Quincy Doudna were frequent as the newspaper took the motto “Tell the truth and don’t be afraid” to heart.

A football player made it into Pemberton Hall, which was frowned upon at the time, and the paper covered it, also apparently frowned upon.

The editor at the time, 21-year-old Bruce Schaeffer of Skokie, was fired by the Board of Student Publications.

This gained traction in the Chicago Tribune and eventually Francis W. Palmer was relieved of his Student Publications advisory duties.

This made way for Daniel Thornburgh, who is widely regarded as the father of Eastern’s journalism department. Thornburgh died in 2011 at the age of 80.



“The journalism department supports wholeheartedly what the students do,” Renaud said.

Training and support are given to students in the form of journalism classes and the advisers who critique the paper and offer guidance to students. Alumni also come back to speak to current students.

“A lot of students came to Eastern to major in journalism and be a part in student publications,” said John Ryan, class of 1975, who recently retired as director of student publications.



In addition to the aforementioned tours, Thursday’s paper includes a special eight-page insert chronicling the history of The Daily Eastern News.

Stories include the nine locations that The News has called home, a history of the printing press and oddities that have occurred over the years.

The News is proud of its history and proudly presents it for everyone else to read.


Published on December 4, 2014

Staff member uses lunch bags as canvas

Growing up, Christy Kilgore was always an artist.

And that love of art translates to her work in design, but, more recently came to light through her children’s lunches.

Kilgore, the assistant director of marketing and creative services, became famous across the Internet after posting what she would send on her children’s lunch bags: colorful designs to help set them apart from the other children.

Kilgore colors snow on the bottom of a lunch bag set to be given to her daughter, Norah Hadley.

She posted the designs to the social website Reddit, where it soon gained attention and traction.

“It was the craziest thing,” she said.  “I didn’t expect anyone to care about it.”

She started designing on her children’s lunch bags after their reusable bags became lost—she wrote their names on some bags in a decorative font with a quick drawing.

It went from there.

“After break, my daughter was like, ‘Are you still going to do lunch bags?’ and I was l like, ‘I hadn’t really thought about it.  I guess if you really want me to,’” she said.

Thinking of subjects to design is the hardest part for Kilgore.

“The kids will sometimes have requests for special days or if it’s their teacher’s birthday,” she said.

Designs she has done include a cartoon version of Captain America, Lisa Simpson and designs that encompass the day of the week or season.

With paper bags as her canvas, she uses pencils, Sharpies and Prismacolor colored pencils.

She’ll use pencil first, drawing out the design, after which she’ll outline it again in Sharpie.  Then she’ll color it in and outline it again in Sharpie.

“When I first started doing it I was just using the kid’s color pencils like Crayolas from school and I got all … anal retentive and I was like, I need to get some Prismacolors,” she said.

Kilgore welcomes the daily task of decorating the lunch bags, as she doesn’t do much drawing in her current role.

“Sitting on the computer all day, even if you like to draw, you just don’t really draw that much anymore,” she said.  “Even if you aren’t a good artist, it’s kind of therapeutic to sit and draw.”

She uploads her designs to Instagram and has connected with others who draw art on lunch containers — from moms who just do it to actual illustrators and tattoo artists.

Even with the time she spends on the bags, only some of them make it home, and it’s not a big deal to her.

She even asked her son after he started his seventh grade year if he wanted the drawings to continue, and he said yes.

And she expects that at any moment, as her kids grow older, they will tell her to stop.

“I like to do them,” she said.  “And the kids like them.”

Published November 21, 2014

Resident recognized for service to country

Ron Pruett had to relearn how to speak, walk and even to recognize whom his own mother was.

He was shot in the head on Oct. 13, 1967, which resulted in most of his memory being blocked out and causing mobility problems on his right side.

“I had to start over — from scratch,” Pruett said.

“He had to learn to speak,” said his wife, Libby.

“…Walk and everything,” Pruett interjected.

“He did not even know his own mother,” his wife said.

A boy who grew up on a farm south of Effingham, Pruett was drafted into the Vietnam War in 1966.

“I just knew it was the job,” Pruett said.

“Back then when you got your draft notice, you had to go,” his wife said.

A veteran of the US Army 5th Battalion 7th Cavalry, he was awarded the Purple Heart for his heroics during the war.

Later, Pruett became active in the Lion’s Club and has been for more than 30 years.

The Lion’s Club provides services to communities ranging from Camp Lions for children and adults to eye clinics and the collection of hearing aids and glasses.

He was named as a recipient of a Lions of Illinois Foundation Fellow because of his service to the Charleston Lions Club and State Foundation.

Charleston Mayor Larry Rennels said it was because of Pruett’s service to Charleston and his country that he was recognized by the city council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Rennels said the council occasionally extends recognition to those who serve the community.

“(Pruett) was selected because of the extensive amount of work that he’s done for the Lion’s Club and community,” Rennels said. “I think what prompted us to go ahead with this was the fact that the Lion’s Club recognized him with this award.”


Published September 22, 2013

Panther Battalion trains for Army future

Rolling across the ground, spinning against the dirt, various parts of a Humvee fell from the turned-over vehicle, littering the ground around cadets of Eastern’s Panther Battalion.


This scenario played out in one of the simulators used during the Panther Battalion’s Fall Field Training Exercise from Thursday until Sunday.

FTX is done twice a year, once in spring and once in fall.  These exercises allow a cadet to practice taught skills in a tactical environment.

During the field training exercise at Marseilles Training Center, new cadets, MS1s, of the Panther Battalion were given new skills to help them in the future as they train toward becoming commissioned officers in the United States Army.

And for veteran members of the group, MS2s-MS4s, it was an opportunity to keep their skills fresh.

Among the skills covered for the cadets were map and compass basics, how to properly call for a 9-line medevac, virtual marksmanship and how to properly evacuate from a rolled-over Humvee.

Map, protractor and compass skills were taught the first morning as the platoons split up into groups.

Their skills were put to the test in an afternoon daytime land navigation exercise as points were given and they had to go out and find them.

Nighttime land navigation began as soon as the sun went down.

Cadets brought out their red flashlights so they would not ruin their night vision in an attempt to complete the course within the given time frame.

Lt. Col. Eric Savickas, the department chair of military science and the leader of the ROTC program, thought the day’s training went really well.

“The whole point of us going out there and doing it was to get a common understanding for the cadets and a baseline to build off of,” he said.  “So that’s why we started this morning with the classes, just to get the basics understood by everybody before we moved into executing an actual land navigation course.”

Cadet Phillip Arnold, an MS3, said he liked how the new cadets performed.

“For the new cadets they were being tasked with something they’re usually not,” Arnold said.  “And for the older cadets, we’re just getting back into it.  We’re all progressing, everyday with the training we get.”

A course consisting of 12 different obstacles meant to build team cohesion and confidence called the Confidence Course was also used for training.

Fatigue occurred throughout the morning but the cadets persevered throughout it all.

Cadet Antonio Romo, who participated in the Confidence Course said, “I’m scared of heights.  I like overcoming my fears, that’s the best way of doing it, going through the course, taking it without a grain of salt and keep moving on.”

There were shots echoing off walls at a virtual reality simulator.

The cadets simulated moving targets and differentiating between friend and foe.

The Battalion was also treated to a special guest during the Confidence Course.  Brig. Gen. (one star) Johnny Miller, the assistant adjunct general – army, Illinois National Guard, paid a surprise visit to the cadets and offered words of encouragement to the battalion.

“The soldiers, the cadets out there, they’re definitely challenging each other to do better, motivating each other, and that’s what you want to see from a team, so they’re definitely working hard as a team and the soldiers coming together to try to accomplish the mission, and that’s what you want in any soldier,” Miller said.