Submit a Nomination for the Annual Sister Clare Award at USF

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) under the patronage of Saint Francis and Sister Clare of Assisi invites community members to nominate someone for the annual Sister Clare Award, with the ceremony and presentation to be held in March 2022. Decisions for the award will be made in late December by Women’s History Month Committee members.

The first award was presented in 2013 during Women’s History Month to the university’s founding congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate.  Other honorees have included Diane Nilan (2014), Cleopatra Pendelton (2015), Bernice Sandler (2016), Mona Purdy (2017), Petra Jamie (2018), Nancy Economu (2019), Roxiana Fuqua (2020), and Dr. Ngozi Ezike (2021). Given in the spirit of our sister, Clare of Assisi, this award recognizes women of vision who have transformed the world in their time and whose vision allowed the light within them to make it easier for others to know or find the way.

This award is open to any woman/women who has/have: made a positive, transformative impact and shaped the community; served as inspiration and role models for women, and; made a commitment to nature, the planet, and/or society

Nominations are now open and being accepted through December 17th.  Complete a nomination here.

Please contact Joanna Kourtidis at USF by phone at 815-740-6444 or by email at jkourtidis@stfrancis.edu with any questions.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Joins State Planning Program to Help Recruit, Retain Teachers of Color

Joliet, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently announced that 24 Illinois colleges and universities, including the University of St. Francis (USF), have volunteered for a pilot program to develop plans to recruit and retain future teachers of color. The pilot will help establish best practices ahead of ISBE requiring all 54 Illinois educator preparation programs to develop plans next year.

“The diversity of Illinois is one of our state’s greatest strengths – including in our classrooms,” said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. “By recruiting faculty of color who share their students’ lived experiences or expand their perspectives, our schools can empower more students to achieve their goals and pursue their passions. This pilot program is just the beginning of ISBE’s recruitment efforts and I commend the leadership of the 24 colleges and universities who have volunteered to spearhead this initiative with us.”

“I applaud the 24 colleges and universities that have volunteered to lead the way in breaking down barriers for people of color to join the teaching profession,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “All students, and especially students of color, benefit from having diverse educators throughout their school experiences. My own mentors in my career have been people of color like me. When the role models and people in positions of authority in our lives look like us, that shapes our perception of our place in the world in a positive and powerful way.”

USF College of Education dean John Gambro, Ed.D., said that the pilot program aligns closely with some of USF’s top priorities.

“The University of St. Francis places equity and social justice as a top priority.  The work of this pilot program is essential in ensuring that students in Illinois have access to teachers of color who can make a positive impact on the learning and development of all students.  We view this collaboration as an opportunity to share some of our successes and learn from other successful programs from across the state,” Gambro said.

A press release from the IBHE explained the recruitment and retention efforts are part of ISBE’s three-year strategic plan, which includes the goal of increasing teacher diversity in Illinois public schools. The 2021 Illinois Report Card released last week showed that 82 percent of practicing Illinois teachers identify as White, whereas only 47 percent of Illinois public school students identify as White.

The release also cited research from the Learning Policy Institute which shows that teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color, including reading and math test scores, graduation rates, and aspirations to attend college. Studies also show that students taught by teachers of the same race are less likely to be chronically absent and less likely to experience exclusionary discipline.

The number of teachers of color in the profession has grown incrementally over the past three years. The pilot announced today will help speed that progress by supporting programs in addressing their specific barriers to increasing candidate diversity. Pilot participants will draft their plans, receive feedback from a peer review committee composed primarily of Diverse and Learner Ready Teacher Network members, and meet to exchange ideas and collaborate. Pilot participants will finalize their plans by May 31 and reconvene in the future to dialogue about what strategies worked.

The comprehensive listing of participating Illinois colleges and universities includes:

  • Augustana College
  • Benedictine University
  • Blackburn College
  • Chicago State University
  • DePaul University
  • Dominican University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Eureka College
  • Governors State University
  • Greenville University
  • Illinois College
  • Illinois State University
  • Lewis University
  • National Louis University
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Rockford University
  • Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
  • Trinity International University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of St. Francis
  • VanderCook College of Music
  • Western Illinois University

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Spirit of Christmas Programming Starts Thanksgiving Day

Joliet, Ill. – Starting at noon on Thanksgiving Day (Thurs., November 25, 2021) and running through noon on January 2, 2022, University of St. Francis (USF) radio station WCSF-FM 88.7 switches over from its regular programming to the Spirit of Christmas, a 24-hour, commercial-free, season-long holiday format.

“2020 was a challenging year for so many reasons. One of our challenges last year was an antenna that was damaged during that summer’s derecho, which severely limited our broadcast coverage throughout the program. While 2021 continues with its own set of challenges, I am very happy to report that our new antenna is up and running and we are at full power for this year’s program! We hope you and your family will join us for the 29th season of the Spirit of Christmas,” said Don Burke, Spirit of Christmas director of programming.

Spirit of Christmas features a variety-filled rotation of over 4,000 songs, including multiple versions of holiday classics such as “White Christmas”. One special program that airs nightly at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. during Spirit of Christmas is the classic 1937 radio series, The Cinnamon Bear. Relive the story of Judy and Jimmy Barton and their adventure to an enchanted world alongside Cinnamon Bear, a stuffed bear with button eyes and a green ribbon around his neck, to recover the missing silver star from their Christmas tree.

Tune in to FM 88.7 to listen to the Spirit of Christmas on your radio in the Joliet area or livestream the station at stfrancis.edu/spirit.

Area businesses are also invited to promote themselves through special sponsorship opportunities that air during Spirit of Christmas programming. Sponsorships start at $250 and are a great way to promote your business or extend holiday wishes to the Joliet community and beyond. For more information about sponsorships, please call 815-740-3748.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Jonathan Wolf Named a Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is pleased to announce that senior biology major Jonathan Wolf from Kalamazoo, Mich., has been selected as this year’s Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Through this special program, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois honors Student Laureates from each of the participating Illinois colleges and universities for their leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and for overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

This year’s honorees have been invited to watch an online program that will include a congratulatory statement from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and words of encouragement from past Lincoln Laureates. Honorees will also receive a letter of congratulations from the Academy, a certificate signed by Governor Pritzker, a challenge coin, and a monetary grant.

Wolf, who was nominated for the honor by USF baseball head coach Brian Michalak and USF Academic Resource Center assistant director Joanna Kourtidis, was humbled when he was notified of the honor.

“I was speechless. I was humbled and honored by it. I know that the only reason I am able to be considered for this award is because God has given me the opportunities He has. He’s given me the blessings He has and, through His strength and trusting in His plans, I have been able to fulfill the requirements of this nomination. For Him to give me those opportunities and for me to then be able to praise Him through them is huge for me,” Wolf said.

Following his graduation in the spring, Wolf aspires to enroll in a cardiovascular perfusionist program to obtain either a related certificate or master’s degree. Professionals in this line of work are responsible for operating circulatory equipment during an open-heart surgery or any other medical procedure in which it is necessary to artificially support or temporarily replace a patient’s circulatory or respiratory function.

“Early on during my high school career, I had a general interest in becoming a doctor or surgeon. When I was in my second year of biology at Portage Northern High School in Portage, Michigan, I learned that my teacher’s (Mrs. Jessica Clark) husband was a cardiovascular perfusionist, which drew my interest. I continued to research the profession through the remainder of my high school career and became very interested in it,” Wolf said.

Wolf added that he has also been able to shadow Clark’s husband for a small number surgeries to gain first-hand observational experience.

“What I like most about this profession is that it will provide me with an opportunity to have a career in an operating room while also affording me plenty of time to devote to my family and my community,” Wolf added.

Once his career path has begun, Wolf plans to use his faith as a way to connect with and serve his community.

“I’d love to get more involved with the church community at home. The Diocese of Kalamazoo is experiencing some shortages with priests, so to be able to provide some help in that community would be meaningful,” Wolf said.

“Through a family lens, I also hope to help coach little league baseball or other teams. My philosophy is to work to be able to live, not to live to be able to work. This would allow me to work to get my professional goals in while also having plenty of time for a personal life that includes service to my community,” he added.

Wolf’s service-minded approach to life sources from his family.

“My parents (Todd and Kristen Wolf) have always been ones to inspire me in terms of leadership and service and doing things that are focused on addressing the needs of those around me and in my community. They strongly encourage me to take on leadership opportunities as they arise,” Wolf said.

“I am from a large family and have three older brothers and four younger sisters. My brothers have always set a good example for me, and now I am trying to do the same for my sisters. I’m certainly not perfect, but it is really important to me to model for them what it means to be a good and faithful person in today’s culture,” he added.

While he had opportunities through baseball to attend other universities, Wolf chose USF because of the campus atmosphere and the school’s Franciscan approach to service.

“My experience at USF has been great. I had opportunities to go to other universities, but I chose USF because of the campus community and the service opportunities that are available here. Being in a smaller setting allows me to take on leadership opportunities that might not have presented themselves at larger schools. Being able to work with my professors and getting to know them is something that larger schools can’t always offer. USF’s ability to listen to and interact with the student body reinforces that sense of community,” Wolf said.

“I also appreciate how USF interacts with and supports the local community. Being able to volunteer at Daybreak Center and with the Miracle League of Joliet have been valuable experiences for me,” he added.

With graduation only six months away, Wolf offered advice for high school seniors who are applying for and enrolling at colleges and universities this fall.

“Keep yourself open to opportunities. Focusing on academics and other commitments is certainly important, but keep time open for other opportunities. It’s funny, the busier you are, the more time you have. Make time to study and meet your deadlines, but also make time to serve others. When you make time to answer that call to serve your community, it is very rewarding and very fulfilling,” he concluded.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate Jonathan Wolf
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Enjoy Christmas at the Motherhouse with USF

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Music & Performing Arts Department presents Christmas at the Motherhouse: From Darkness to Light at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 in St. Joseph Chapel in the Motherhouse on the main USF campus in Joliet (520 Plainfield Road). USF’s own Claritas Master Chorale and Schola Cantorum will join forces to sing traditional works by J.S. Bach, Holst, and newer works by Susan Labarr and others.

Tickets are free of charge. To reserve your tickets, please email kjimenez@stfrancis.edu.  Due to COVID restrictions, tickets are limited to four per party and will be available only on a first-come, first-served basis.  Proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test from within 72 hours of the event will be required for entry to the performance.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF’s Jaskowiak Releases Studio Album with Filikso and Ortega

Friendship album cover

Joliet, Ill. – True friendship can be an endeavor of love, heart, passion, perseverance and timing. Friendship, the new album by USF digital audio recording arts instructor Jeff Jaskowiak and his trio-mates Joe Filisko and Larry Ortega, fits that definition, as well.

Friendship, available now on CD and as a digital download at jaskomusic.com and jaskomusic.bandcamp.com, is a collection of songs drawn from the past five decades. The thirteen-track, 70-minute album opens with the energetic “Rejoice”, which sets the tone for a diverse collection of songs that showcase the talents of each band member while also telling musical stories about Jaskowiak’s life experiences. Some of the album’s tracks such as “Song for the Princess” and “Even in Their Sleep” (the album’s oldest song) reflect themes of love and faith, while other tracks including “Big Skies, Majestic Lands” and “Bisbee Rain” pay homage to Jaskowiak’s travels to Arizona and New Mexico.

Jaskowiak provided all guitar and bass work for the album, along with the vocals for the album’s only song with lyrics, “Delight”. Filisko provided all harmonica work and Ortega provided drums and percussion. Together, the trio produces a style Jaskowiak refers to as “thrashing acoustic”.

“Our style is very rhythmic and very responsive. On each track, you can hear the conversational energy as the individual instruments work together and off each other. The idea is simple: revere the groove. There is something inherent with good music. When we hear it, we can’t help but start moving to it.” Jaskowiak said.

Some parts of Friendship were recorded in the 1990s and from 2000 to 2007, but the process was paused as Jaskowiak focused on his priorities as an instructor and as a student (he earned a master’s degree in music technology from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in 2015). The recording process resumed in 2016 and concluded in 2020, followed by the mixing and mastering of the album in 2021.

About Jasko’, Filisko and Ortega

As the new album’s title, Friendship, indicates, these three real-life friends and music contemporaries reflects a true respect that each member has for one another.

“I met Joe at Joliet Junior College in 1984 as a guitar student and he has been a dear, encouraging and steadfast friend since. He is a melodic force, performing melodies and solos with power, grace and bronco agility. This album shows the wide breath of possibilities of the harmonica in colors, textures, orchestrations, ferocity and beauty, like no other harmonica album ever recorded,” Jaskowiak said.

Jaskowiak has shared a friendship with Ortega since the late 1970s.

“Larry has been a life-long friend since 1979. He is a drummer and percussionist extraordinaire, and it was an honor and a joy to work on this project with a giant in the rhythm and creative music world. He has blessed this recording with unbelievable performances with the strength and elegance of Shadowfax, driving creative, responsive, rhythmic energy and nuance making it a listening pleasure every time,” Jaskowiak said.

As for himself, his first studio album serves as a capstone project for studies that began when he was just 10 years old.

“I started playing guitar with my cousins and friends when I was ten and have been bitten since then. I was extremely lucky to study with Mick Goodrick, Gary Burton and Pat Methney at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz clinics in my late high school and early college years. These teachers shined the lights and pointed to the paths that my understanding of and ability to develop chops. Some of my compositional inspirations are Michael Hedges, Antoine Dufour, Joe Satriani, Vicente Amigo, Broce Cockburn, Sting, Jaco Pastorius, Michael Manring, Louis Johnson, Victor Wotten and Bill Coleman to name a few. As you can see my love is for guitar and bass, especially acoustic guitars, and great composers. These are ineffable mentors to stand on the shoulders of,” he said.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m. CST, Jaskowiak and Ortega will be guests on the Music & Conversation webinar hosted by Filisko and Eric Noden for a conversation about Friendship. Visit jaskomusic.com to register for a free ticket.

Jaskowiak’s Career at USF

Jaskowiak began his USF career in 1996 as an adjunct instructor and became a full-time instructor and administrator in 2010. In 2009, Jaskowiak created USF’s Digital Audio Recording Arts program that began as a concentration that grew to become its own major in 2015 (Jaskowiak also led the build out of the USF recording studio during the summers of 2010 and 2011). Through the program, Jaskowiak is able to share his expertise as a recording engineer, artist, guitar instructor and music industry consultant.

“The goal of the Digital Audio Recording Arts program at USF is to produce musically sophisticated and sensitive professionals who have sufficient technical knowledge to excel in the technology based production industry, helping to define quality using both musical and technical criteria. Students in the program will acquire the knowledge, principles and practices of engineering methodology and creative music production techniques to permit them to adapt quickly and effectively to the rapidly changing world of music creation, production and distribution,” Jaskowiak offered.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Friendship album back cover
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