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Charles N. Wheeler III


The director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III,  a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wheeler covered state government and politics for the Sun-Times since 1970, when he covered the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention. For the last 19 years of his Sun-Times tenure, Wheeler was assigned to the newspaper’s Statehouse bureau. During that time, he was elected to 16 consecutive one-year terms as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and served for many years on the PAR program and admissions committees.

Since 1984, he has written a monthly column for Illinois Issues magazine, which has won five Capitolbeat awards for magazine commentary/analysis. In 2006, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association inducted him into The Lincoln League of Journalists, which honors men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois. In 2013, he was chosen as the Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Department at Eastern Illinois University.  He is also a regular on the panel for State Week, WUIS' weekly political analysis program that airs on public radio stations across Illinois.

Before joining the Sun-Times in 1969, Wheeler served more than three years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, majoring in English, and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Wheeler draws on the talents of many UIS faculty with expertise in such fields as public budgeting, political science, and communication, as well as professional journalists and state officials, to present students with a well-rounded program to bridge the academic and professional areas.

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  • On this episode, we discuss a credit outlook upgrade for the state, the first time that's happened in nearly twenty years. While it may signal financial improvement, Illinois still has a large structural deficit. Also, the Democratic Party of Illinois is in limbo as it awaits clarification on the chair's ability to raise money.
  • Illinois lawmakers returned to Springfield briefly this week to take up energy legislation. But efforts to reach a deal with power providers, municipalities and clean energy advocates stumbled. Some say a resolution can be reached soon, while others maintain the issue will drag out over the summer.The General Assembly was able to pass some other legislation. We discuss it all on State Week.
  • After more than a year of the pandemic, Illinois has reached a milestone. On Friday, the state moved to Phase 5 of the reopening plan. That means most restrictions, like mask wearing and capacity limits, are lifted for those who are vaccinated. Illinois has seen a dramatic drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Also, lawmakers will return to the statehouse next week to address energy legislation and possibly more. And Republicans have filed suit over the newly drawn political maps. Jerry Nowicki, Bureau Chief for Capitol News Illinois, joins the panel.
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