Grant will send professor back to his native Kenya to teach

Academic life brought Dr. Albert Korir from Kenya to the United States. Now, academics are taking him back home.

Korir, an associate professor of chemistry at Drury, is one of 60 scholars in the United States and Canada from a variety of fields to be selected for the latest round of Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowships. The program facilitates engagement between U.S. and Canadian scholars born in Africa with their African counterparts.

Albert Korir

Albert Korir

Korir will teach at Moi University this summer. His project will involve co-developing a curriculum that uses innovative technological strategies for teaching chemistry using the “flipped-class” model. While there, he’ll have the opportunity to teach using a set of web-based tools he and a group of colleagues have been developing for several years called the Analytical Sciences Digital Library (ASDL).

“We’ve developed web-based material that is peer-reviewed and freely available to both instructors and students,” he says.

There’s no shortage of online tools for learning, Korir says, but few are peer-reviewed in this way.

Korir became involved with ASDL after coming to a typical crossroads for chemistry graduates: research industry or academia? A faculty mentor during his graduate school years at the University of Kansas saw Korir’s potential as a teacher and encouraged him to remain in academia while at the same time conducting research.

A handful of students have worked directly with Korir on research projects every year since he joined the Drury faculty in 2008, giving him a chance to pass on the mentorship and guidance that helped him find his own career footing.

Korir will bring this personalized style of teaching with him to Kenya. The “flipped” classroom model sees students take in the lectures at home via the web and come to class for discussions and apply their knowledge and collaborate with others on projects.

“My colleagues in Africa tell me the students have become very receptive to this style of learning – they’re getting to interact with the professors more closely now,” Korir says.


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Two Drury groups perform at the Missouri Music Educators Conference

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 27, 2015 — The Springfield-Drury Girls Choir and Drury Wind Symphony will perform Friday as part of the 77th Annual Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) conference at Tan-Tar-A resort in Lake of the Ozarks.

The MMEA conference is highly selective and seeks the top student groups from across the state to perform for its members each year. This is the first MMEA appearance for the Springfield-Drury Girls Choir, led by Mark Lawley, and the second for Drury’s Wind Symphony, under the direction Dr. Christopher Koch.

The Wind Symphony, comprised of about 40 students, will be introduced by Dr. Allin Sorenson, chair of Drury’s music department. The ensemble will perform four works, including Bernhard Heiden’s “Diversion” featuring Drury associate professor of music Dr. Tina Claussen on alto saxophone.

“I’m delighted our Wind Symphony has again earned an invitation to perform at MMEA,” said Koch. “It’s a significant honor for any university to be selected and our students richly deserve the recognition.”

The Springfield-Drury Girls Choir is comprised of 50 singers in grades 2 through 6 from Springfield and the surrounding area. The group will be introduced by Drury First Lady Betty Coe Manuel and will sing five pieces; two of which were composed for the choir and will officially premier at the conference. Dr. Carlyle Sharpe, professor of music composition and theory at Drury, composed one of those pieces, titled “I Sing A Song of the Saints of God.”

“We were thrilled to find out that they were selected,” said Lawley. “There are only three elementary school choirs out of the state of Missouri selected for the conference.”


Professor’s photos capture small town “relics” & celebrations

Greg Booker has a keen eye for out-of-the-way places.

The assistant professor of art and communication at Drury has for several years now been photographing and documenting everyday scenes in small – sometimes very small – towns in Missouri, Oklahoma and some southern states.

A barbershop scene in Clinton, Missouri.

A barbershop scene in Clinton, Missouri.

An exhibit of Booker’s work, titled “Small Town & Quiet Spaces” is now open at the Lightwell Gallery at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Art and Art History. The exhibit will come to Drury’s Pool Art Center this fall.

It’s a passion project that began when Booker returned to Springfield to join Drury’s faculty in 2009. Born in Chicago and raised in St. Louis, Booker earned an art degree from Drury in 1987 before moving to Oklahoma, where he earned a graduate degree in art at OU. He later landed on the photo staff of the Kansas City Star.

An abandoned storefront in Niangua, Missouri.

An abandoned storefront in Niangua, Missouri.

When he and his wife returned to the area, they bought a home outside of Marshfield. That was the first time Booker had lived in the country.

“I’m used to city life,” he says, and the change of scenery brought small and sometimes even forgotten places into focus for him. With camera in hand, he began seeking out the kind of tiny towns that are today little more than places on a map because highways passed them by or because they were simply too small to survive.

“They’re almost like relics,” Booker says. “It just seems like that was a bit of history that needed to be documented, so it was a chance for me to explore the small towns and document them.”

A four-way stop in the heart of Houston, Missouri.

A four-way stop in the heart of Houston, Missouri.

Booker later began shooting the larger but still small towns where people live, work and play. He’s captured celebrations like parades and fall festivals and everyday moments in local shops and sidewalks – the “places where the community can come together and celebrate their heritage, their small towns and their neighbors,” he says.


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Drury accounting students provide free income tax preparation assistance

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 22, 2015 — Drury University students will again provide free tax preparation through an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. The tax preparation service is open to the public and is designed to benefit low-income and senior taxpayers.

The Drury tax service accepts walk-in clients on all dates and appointments on most dates. To make an appointment, please call (417) 720-2000. This line often experiences high volumes of calls. Anyone having difficulty getting through is advised to keep trying. Please note that no other telephone number is able to accept appointments for Drury. Drury attempts to accommodate as many clients as possible on any given day. Due to the high demand for services, we may be unable to fill all requests for service on a specific date.

Taxpayers are required to bring photo ID, Social Security cards of themselves and dependents, as well as any tax documentation which they have received, including all W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and statements issued by brokerage firms. Clients are also asked to bring a copy of their 2013 state and federal tax returns to help speed up the filing process. The Drury VITA site is located in the Breech School of Business Administration at the corner of Central Street and Drury Lane.

Due to limitations set by the federal government, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs are unable to help taxpayers who have declared bankruptcy or incurred insolvency during the tax year, have rental property, have a self-owned business with inventory, depreciable property, or which had an overall loss for the year, and certain situations in which a taxpayer has received a forgiveness of debt.

The VITA clinics are held at the Breech School of Business Administration building, on the northeast corner of Central Street and Drury Lane. The clinics will be held at the following dates and times:

Saturday, Feb. 7 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 9 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 12 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 14 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 16 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 21 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 23 – 4 to 8 p.m.

All returns will be filed electronically unless the IRS requires a manual return. All taxpayers must be available to sign the appropriate forms in the case of joint returns.

For more information, please call (417) 873-7522 or send an email to

VIDEO: 2014 VITA tax preparation clinic


Drury improves ranking on Kiplinger’s list of 100 best value private colleges

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 20, 2015 — Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has included Drury University on its list of the country’s best values in private universities. Kiplinger’s annual list ranks 100 private universities and 100 liberal arts colleges. This is the second year in a row Drury has made the list. It was ranked 41st among private universities, up from 70th last year.

The complete rankings are available online at and in the February 2015 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands now.

Kiplinger’s assesses quality according to measurable standards such as admission rate, percentage of students who return for sophomore year, student-faculty ratio and four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include sticker prices, financial aid and average debt at graduation. Drury’s average student debt upon graduation is lower than the statewide average for students in Missouri.

This is the latest national recognition of the outstanding educational value Drury provides for students and families. U.S. News & World Report named Drury as the No. 1 best value college in the Midwest in its 2015 rankings last fall.

“We salute this year’s top schools,” says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Balancing top-quality education with affordable cost is a challenge for families in today’s economy, which is why Kiplinger’s rankings are such a valuable resource. The schools on the 2015 list offer students the best of both worlds.”


Drury students to take part in MLK Day of Service at the Missouri Hotel

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 16, 2014 — A group of Drury University students will take part in the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday.

About 10 Drury students will work on needed maintenance projects at the Missouri Hotel from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday. The Missouri Hotel is a program of The Kitchen, Inc.

The MLK Day of Service began in the 1990s as a way of challenging citizens to use the holiday as way to help others and honor the legacy of Dr. King.  In 2014, volunteers in all 50 states helped make a difference in the lives others in some way on MLK Day.

Service and community engagement are key elements of Drury University’s culture. In 2013, Drury students provided more than 139,000 service hours to people and organizations in Springfield and throughout the Ozarks.

Media Contact: Hannah Minchow-Proffitt, Community Outreach and Leadership Development. Office: (417) 873-6803; Email:


Memphis trip brings classroom lessons to life for freshmen

Nearly 30 Drury University freshmen had the chance to travel to Memphis to spend a weekend visiting the National Civil Rights Museum and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum as part of their first-year experience

The trip was tied to Drury’s general education curriculum, called Drury CORE. CORE classes are designed for incoming students and emphasize the interconnectedness of all areas of study.

Experiences like the Memphis trip help form bonds that carry students through the transition into college life. Those bonds are also formed though “Living Learning Communities” – students with common interests and areas of study who are grouped together in residence halls.

Drury freshmen at the Lorriane Motel, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Drury freshmen at the Lorraine Motel, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

“It’s a really comfortable environment – it’s really easy to open up,” says Jacob Wyatt, one the students who was on the Memphis trip. “No one is afraid to say how they feel and we have a lot of good classroom discussions.”

Two CORE classes joined together for the Memphis trip: Dr. Charles Taylor’s class, themed “The Politics of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and Dr. Rick Maxon’s class, themed “On Propaganda and Protest.” The museum trips helped bring to life some of the topics explored in the classroom throughout the semester.

At the Civil Rights Museum, students in the “Propaganda and Protest” class analyzed the variety of methods of protest seen during the Civil Rights movement in America. The “Politics of Rock n’ Roll” students gained a greater understanding of African-American influence on rock music and, in turn, society at large. In the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum[cq], students learned more about rock music as a powerful medium for social change.

Through these activities, the students not only learned about their chosen topics, but were exposed to a much broader perspective on just how powerful these cultural change agents have been over the years.

While learning is the primary purpose, the trips certainly build connections and lasting memories for the students. Taylor says trips such as this “provide another forum in which students can get connected to each other and the university.”


Story by Trevor Cobb, writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Steve Miller Band to perform live at O’Reilly Family Event Center May 29

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 12, 2015 — Iconic classic rock group the Steve Miller Band will appear live in concert at the O’Reilly Family Event Center on Friday, May 29, 2015.

Tickets start at $59 and go on sale starting at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 16 at or by calling (417) 873-6389. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the OFEC box office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

SMB logo

The Steve Miller Band is one of the top-selling acts of the classic rock era and created some of rock’s most enduring anthems, including “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Space Cowboy,” “Take the Money and Run” and “Jet Airliner.” The group’s mid-70s greatest hits album remains a best seller today as its signature sound continues to win new generations of fans.

An opening act will be announced at a later date. For more information about the Steve Miller Band, visit:


Drury Recognizes Staff Members for Years of Service, Dedication

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 9, 2015 — Drury University recently recognized 23 staff members for milestone service anniversaries and dedication to the university. In addition, the annual Distinguished Staff Service Award was given to Cindy Jones, Registrar. Faculty members are recognized for service anniversaries in the spring, at the end of each academic year.

10 Years

Ed Derr – Director of Counseling, Disability Services and Testing

Barbi Dickensheet – Circulation Services Manager, Olin Library

Steve Hesser – Head Men’s Basketball Coach

Steve Hynds – Director of Online Education

Donna King – Office Coordinator, College of Continuing Professional Studies – St. Robert

Sarah Jones – Senior Designer

Tammy Nilsen – Executive Office Assistant, Student Affairs

LeeRoy Rogers – Lead Custodian

Diana Serafimov – Interface and Security Software Analyst

Teresa Skidmore – Director of Donor Research & Information Systems

Don Trogdon – Custodian

Kris Wasson – General Maintenance Technician

15 Years

Hal Boyer – Lead Custodian

Bob Gardner – Manager, Carbon Copy

Charles Obradovich – Custodian

Robert Wallace – Custodian

Elizabeth Ussery – General Accountant

25 Years

Sherry Beasley – Perkins Loan/Collection Coordinator

Mary Iarussi – Site Director, College of Continuing Professional Studies – Rolla

Jean Stone – Receptionist

30 Years

Annette Enloe – Associate Registrar/Registration Technology Manager

Doris Weber – Executive Office Assistant, Development & Alumni Relations

40 Years

Dan Cashel ­– Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement

2014 Distinguished Staff Award – Cindy Jones, Registrar


Disney internship is “dream come true” for architecture student

Dreams do come true, as fifth-year architecture student Billy Miller proved after completing two internships at “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Miller interned with Disney Imagineering in 2010 and again in 2013.

“I’ve wanted to work for Disney since I was 7 years old,” Miller says.

Disney’s “Imagineers” are responsible for designing and building theme parks, resorts, and other entertainment venues. More than 140 different job titles fall under the banner of Imagineering, according to Disney, including illustrators, architects, engineers, writers, graphic designers and more.

Billy Miller

Drury architecture student Billy Miller

Miller worked with other Imagineers on a variety of projects such as Splash Mountain, as well as buildings, lighting and even animal pens. He also took on a key role on the team designing Disney Springs, a transformation of what is now Downtown Disney inside Walt Disney World into a space modeled after a classic Florida lakeside town.

The experience taught him the importance of collaboration with other disciplines both in and outside of the architectural field and about how to use architecture to tell a story. But he also took a great deal of knowledge with him into the job.

“Drury and the Hammons School of Architecture not only helped foster my design style, but gave me the confidence and knowledge that allowed me to become a leader at Disney,” he says. Miller cites mentors such as professor Jay Garrott and instructor Jeff Barber as specific influences at the beginning of his architectural career.

“I honestly did not realize the breadth of what I had learned until I got down to Disney and saw how many jobs I was able to accomplish that other interns could not,” he says.

Managers within the company gave interns the latitude to lead projects if they showed promise, Miller says. He adds that he was able to take hold of such an opportunity after only three weeks working under another architect.

But the biggest opportunity was simply a chance “to make people happy.”

“There is honestly nothing like seeing someone smile because of something you worked on,” Miller says


Story by Trevor Cobb, writing major at Drury.