Drury professor revels in discoveries, connections to Pluto mission

You can call it a planet, a dwarf planet, or even a ball of ice. But to Dr. Greg Ojakangas, there’s no doubt about what to call Pluto: “Amazingly beautiful.”

Ojakangas, an associate professor of physics at Drury, was one of millions around the world fascinated by the prospect of seeing Pluto up close as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft recently flew by the icy outpost at a distance of just 7,800 miles.

Color-corrected image of Pluto from New Horizons. (NASA)

Color-corrected image of Pluto from New Horizons. (NASA)

“This is a part of the universe no human has ever seen before,” he says. “It’s not often that you’re able to see, for first time, something no human eyes have ever seen.”

Ojakangas has a deep professional interest in New Horizons. His doctoral work examined the large moons of Jupiter, and the remarkable manner in which such worlds can have orbits that are synchronized with each other, providing power for volcanic eruptions and other fascinating dynamical phenomena.  In a similar manner, it was recently discovered that three of Pluto’s 5 moons are also synchronized.  “The staggering beauty of these phenomena is beyond words,”  Ojakangas says.  New Horizons is yielding incredible new information about Pluto’s five moons.

Greg Ojakangas

Greg Ojakangas

But Ojakangas also has a personal connection. The former finalist in NASA’s astronaut selection program knows many of the researchers working on the New Horizons team. He’s thrilled to see the work of colleagues pay off after the probe launched from Earth more than nine years ago. The results have been spectacular, he says.

“As is usually the case when we see a new planetary body, it’s surpassing our expectations in terms of discoveries,” he says.

Glaciers of nitrogen, mountains as high as those in the Sierra Nevada, a mysterious source of geologic heat and even a faint comet-like tail were some of the revelations beamed back to NASA from the spacecraft. For scientists like Ojakangas, the discoveries are not unlike going down the proverbial rabbit hole from “Alice in Wonderland.”

“The laws of physics are the same but the substances are all different, and it’s surprising everybody,” he says. “We love that kind of thing because we learn from it.”

And the lessons aren’t confined to the edge of the solar system.

“To understand our Earth better, we should do everything we can to understand other planets,” he says. “They’re ready-made laboratories for testing our understanding of how the materials of the universe behave.”


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Alumni Council welcomes five new members for 2015-16

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 30, 2015 — Drury University recently welcomed five new members to its Alumni Council.

The Alumni Council is the governing body of the Drury Alumni Association and consists of 23 alumni leaders from a range of class years, a member from the Drury faculty and a member from the administrative staff. The Council plans and supports programs such as Reunion Weekend, Homecoming, the Distinguished Alumni Awards and much more. The Council members also play important roles as representatives of Drury in their communities.

The new members for 2015-16 are:



Joann Dahlke Banner, a 1974 Drury graduate, earned her degree in Home Economics. She is a self-employed bookkeeper at her own company, which services several companies in the Springfield area. She is married to Gary Banner, a fellow Drury graduate and former Alumni Council member. She is an active member of Wesley United Methodist Church and a frequent volunteer at Ronald McDonald House.



Kim McCully-Mobley, a current adjunct faculty member with Drury University and Crowder College, graduated from Drury with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1994 and a Master’s in Education in 2000. She currently works as an educator at Aurora High School as well as freelance writer. She writes for several publications around the Midwest and owns a small, home-based publishing company called The Ozarkian Spirit.

Mickey Moore

Mickey Moore

Mickey Moore earned business and economics degrees from Drury in 1995 and an MBA from Drury in 2002. Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Mickey is now an active Springfield entrepreneur, owning and operating Employee Screening Services of Missouri since 2007, and purchasing Summit Safety Group in 2014. Moore has been an active Drury alumnus for several years, including participation in #DruryBusinessNetwork events and with the Breech School of Business.  He is also actively involved in multiple non-profit and civic organizations in the Springfield area.



Lori Johnson Murawski graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Drury in December 2013. She began working for TelComm Credit Union in 2006 and is currently Vice President of Marketing & Business Development. Murawski is heavily involved in the community. She is a board member for Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast, is a member of the Junior League, and volunteers with Children’s Miracle Network among other non-profit organizations. She remains involved with Drury University and Breech School of Business.



James Owen, Drury University class of 2000, graduated from University of Kansas School of Law in 2003 and received his law license in 2004. He has clerked for the Missouri Court of Appeals, worked in his own private practice, and was appointed to be Webster County Associate Circuit Judge in 2014. Currently, he and his wife, Claire, reside in Columbia, Missouri and he works for the state of Missouri’s Office of Administration in Jefferson City.


Drury MBA students study business, culture in Greece

A recent study abroad trip to Greece drove home an emphasis on international business and cultural awareness for Drury MBA students.

Candida Deckard was one of about two dozen on the trip, which included interviewing business leaders face-to-face, meeting with locals and taking in cultural sights.

“Travel in general and seeing different cultures and ideas helps a person expand their views and become more well-rounded,” she says. “Having this as a part of the Drury MBA program added value for my career and my personal life.”

Deckard, human resources director at CNH Industrial Reman in Springfield, says she and her classmates couldn’t have asked for a more interesting setting as far as international business headlines go – they were in Greece as the country’s debt crisis continued to unfold. The crisis didn’t affect the trip, but it brought differences in business practices into sharp relief.

“It was definitely not the capitalist way of running a business,” Deckard says.

Dickered near the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

Deckard near the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, one of many sights seen on the trip.

For example, they heard from the country’s largest power company that dozens of secretaries remained on the payroll despite not having defined jobs or a retraining program. In another example, a textile plant was denied permission by the government to reduce its workforce and cut costs – and the entire plant closed soon after.

They also heard about tax reform efforts from leaders of the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and spoke to a number of small business owners. Historic and cultural sights were on the itinerary as well. Part of the trip was spent at the Drury Center in Aegina.

Studying abroad is a requirement of the program and it offers an experience one can’t get from a book or lecture, says program director Angie Adamick, who also went on this trip along with management professor Dr. Janis Prewitt.

“We believe the only way to really accomplish that is for students to experience another culture and have that interaction with people on the ground,” Adamick says. “It just changes the way they look at international business.”


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

SIVA showcases work by students set to earn Master of Arts degree

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 24, 2015 — The public can see a diverse array of artwork from Drury University’s Summer Institute for Visual Arts (SIVA) next weekend during a thesis exhibition by graduating students and an open studios event. These events offer an opportunity to view a new group of imaginative, innovative, emerging artists in the region.

Since 2007, SIVA has offered students an opportunity to earn a Master of Arts degree by working alongside visiting artists in a critically driven environment. Participants study under the guidance of visiting artist fellows, faculty and staff, who provide first-hand understanding of contemporary art issues. The program – a unique model in the Midwest – allows students to earn a Master of Arts in Studio Art and Theory over the course of three two-month summer sessions.

MART Thesis Exhibition

The Eighth Annual Master of Arts in Studio Art & Theory (MART) Exhibition takes place one night only from 6 to 10 p.m., Friday, July 31 at the Pool Art Center Gallery. The MART Thesis Exhibition is the culminating event of the program in which students explore and develop an intensive studio practice. Work presented in the exhibition is wide-ranging in form, material, and theme, and reflects a curriculum that supports multidisciplinary and individualized approaches.

The exhibition features the work of graduating students Neil Adams, Holly Goodwin, Adrienne Klotz-Floyd, Stuart Lenig, Paul Little, Rebekah Polly and Shay Rainey.

Open Studios

Held at the same time throughout the rest of Pool Art Center, the Open Studios event gives the public a chance to view work by and meet with all current SIVA participants. It is an exciting opportunity to meet the program’s vibrant and diverse community of artists, witness their process, and see what work has been made over the summer.

More information about SIVA can be found at www.drury.edu/siva. Photos showing the wide array of creativity at work during SIVA are being uploaded regularly at www.flickr.com/photos/siva-mart.


Media Contact: Sarrita Hunn, Director of the Summer Institute for Visual Arts. Email: shunn@drury.edu.

Open house targets prospective graduate, non-traditional students 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 21, 2015 — Prospective non-traditional students can get their questions answered in person at a Drury University open house event Thursday.

The College of Continuing Professional Studies and the College of Graduate Studies will hold a joint open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, July 23 at Reed Auditorium in the Trustee Science Center. Staff members and program directors will be on hand to answer questions about degrees, career options, admission requirements and financial aid. Trustee Science Center is located on the west side of Drury Lane, just north of Chestnut Expressway.

The College of Continuing Professional Studies (CCPS) offers bachelor and associate degree programs at Drury’s main campus in Springfield and at branch campuses in Ava, Cabool, Fort Leonard Wood/St. Robert, Lebanon, Monett, Rolla and Thayer. The College of Graduate Studies offers masters degrees in business administration, communication, education, teaching, and studio art & theory.

Programs in both areas feature flexibility so that students can pursue a degree in a timeframe that works best for them. CCPS currently offers 14 undergraduate degrees that can be completed totally online, as well as many seated courses. Graduate courses are offered in the evenings, online, and in alternative formats such as weekend experiences, and 8-week or 16-week courses.

For more information about graduate programs, call (417) 873-7530 or visit Drury.edu/graduate. For more information about CCPS programs, call (417) 873-7373 or visit Drury.edu/ccps.


Education professor studies George Washington Carver on sabbatical

As a someone who teaches future teachers, Dr. Ed Williamson has always been fascinated with one of America’s most storied educators: George Washington Carver.

“(Carver) was born into slavery in the 1860s,” Williamson explains. “Then he contended with all the racism and prejudice of the day, eventually becoming arguably the most well-educated African-American of his time and a world-renowned scientist, inventor and humanitarian.”

Williamson has taught in Drury’s School of Education and Child Development since 1999. His work teaching courses on science instruction led him to build a connection with the staff at the George Washington Carver National Monument outside Diamond, where he would often take students on field trips.

When it came time to take a sabbatical this year, Williamson knew he wanted to spend it at the pastoral Carver Monument – in the archive and in the field as volunteer park ranger.

Williamson at the Carver National Monument site.

Williamson at the Carver National Monument site.

His research focused on the early years of Carver’s life and education. He used primary sources from the Monument’s archive, as well as secondary sources derived from oral histories and a swath of existing scholarship.

Williamson came to know the resiliency of the young Carver, who he says had an “I can” outlook on life from early on. Carver’s thirst for knowledge led him to leave his adoptive home at age 12 and go to school in nearby Neosho, never to return.

The research also led Williamson to a man named Stephen Frost. Frost was Carver’s first formal teacher at the Neosho Colored School. Carver left not long after arriving there, however.

“The story was that Carver was there about six months before he realized his new more than his teacher and then left,” William says. “But as I got more in depth, Frost became more interesting to me.”

Frost had only learned to read and write a few years before teaching in Neosho. He may not have had much formal education himself, but he was doing what he could.

“He was giving back what little he had,” Williams said.

Frost has a connection to present-day Drury, too. He came to Springfield in the late 1870s and became a pastor at the historically black Washington Avenue Baptist Church. That church is now the Diversity Center on campus. He returned to the Neosho Colored School a few years later and finished out his career there, teaching an entire generation of black students in that area.

As for Carver, his “I can” attitude in many ways matches the current push to teach perseverance and “grit” to youth. Researching that arc of achievement led Williamson to admire his subject even more.

“We ought to use George Washington Carver as the prime example of overcoming adversity and being resilient,” he says.

Carver eventually earned two degrees from what is now Iowa State University and was recruited to teach at the Tuskegee Institute in 1896 – the same year the Supreme Court made “separate but equal” the law of the land. He died in 1943, a decade before that precedent was overturned.

“So his entire career was under that shadow,” Williamson said. “It’s really remarkable what he was able to do, even with all the handicapping social conditions he faced.”

Williamson has lectured about his research once already at the Carver Monument and will do so again this November on the Drury campus.


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Prater to lead strategic workshop for Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 9, 2015 — Drury University faculty member Dan Prater has been selected to lead a strategic communication workshop for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) board of directors in Kansas City.

Prater, an instructor in the Drury Communication Department and the director of the university’s Center for Nonprofit Communication, will lead the training for STFM’s 18-member board on July 29. Board members are doctors and educators representing health care systems and universities throughout the country, including Dartmouth Medical School, Georgetown University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas.

Dan Prater

Dan Prater

The training will include sessions on message development and effective communication techniques. “Communication is the key,” says Prater. “Regardless of the size or scope of the organization, if you can’t articulate your mission and vision in a clear, compelling manner, you are unlikely to succeed.”

STFM has nearly 5,000 members and offers educational resources for volunteer preceptors who teach medical students and residents in family medicine. Family medicine is a specialty that provides continuing, comprehensive health care for individuals and families. It is a specialty that integrates the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences.

Drury’s Center for Nonprofit Communication is a regional nonprofit resource center, providing workshops and private consultations for more than 125 nonprofit/civic groups each year in Missouri and surrounding states. Organizations range from large institutions such as hospitals and universities to small, volunteer-only community organizations. Sessions are designed to educate and empower organizational leaders (including board members), helping them accomplish their missions.


Drury gifted camps a family tradition for mother and daughter

As a kid, Mandy Long eagerly anticipated the annual summer camps for academically gifted kids at Drury. From the time she was in fourth grade through the end of high school, she spent two weeks living on campus and diving into cool topics like zoology, caves and video editing.

“I was excited for the fun of it all and to be around people who were like-minded,” Long says, “but I was also excited because I got to do things that most students didn’t get to do.”

Mandy Long and her daughter, Callie.

Mandy Long and her daughter, Callie.

Now, as a mother, she’s getting a kick out of seeing the same sense of excitement in her daughter Callie – a second-generation gifted camper. You might call it a family tradition.

Callie, who enters first grade this fall, just wrapped up her second year at Summer Pals, for kids ages Pre-K through first grade. Both Summer Pals and Summer Quest (second through fifth grades) take place at the Springfield Public Schools’ Phelps Center for Gifted Education. Summerscape and Drury Leadership Academy, both for older students, take place on the Drury campus later this month.

Her favorite class last year was “Country Kitchen,” in which the kids learned how to cook foods from countries around the world. This year, it’s “Grossology,” where she’s learned about how eyeballs work, how scabs are formed and toured the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Callie says she likes spending extended time on one topic.

“(The classes) are fun because they teach me about only a few things for a few days, and in school they teach me about a lot of things for a lot of days,” she says.

Long, who eventually ended up attending Drury in part because it “felt like home” after all those summers, hopes Callie will make memories and friendships similar to her own. She and about 130 other early 1990s Summerscape kids keep in touch through a Facebook group.

“I remember the classes, but it was also the friendships that stuck with me,” Long says.


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

Bryan Adams brings “Reckless” anniversary tour to OFEC in September


SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 6, 2015 — Rocker Bryan Adams will bring his 30th Anniversary “Reckless” Tour to the O’Reilly Family Event Center on Monday, September 21.

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


The OFEC in Springfield is one of the smallest venues on the “Reckless” tour, giving local fans a chance to see Adams in a more intimate 3,000-seat setting as well as saving them the time and expense of traveling to a larger market. The show has hit cities such as New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Dallas.

With more than 100 million albums sold, Adams is one of the most successful figures in rock, thanks to his powerful vocals and distinctive songwriting skills. Adams’ fourth album, “Reckless,” was released on his 25th birthday, November 5, 1984, and was preceded by the single “Run to You,” which reached the Top 10. It was followed by five more Top 20 singles from the album: “Somebody,” “Heaven” (which hit No. 1), “Summer of ’69” (Top 10), “One Night Love Affair,” and a duet with Tina Turner, “It’s Only Love.” Reckless reached No. 1 in the U.S., and has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide to date.

For more information, visit https://www.bryanadams.com.


Drury researcher helps family discover details of service and sacrifice

As Drury’s university archivist, Bill Garvin seeks out the details that make the past come to life. It’s more than a job; it’s a passion – one that can result in information and discoveries that impact real people’s lives in a meaningful way.

About two years ago, Garvin’s research took him to field full of retired aircraft in Vichy, Missouri. He discovered that a particular Douglas C-47 had been flown on D-Day and connected the plane with a pilot from Oklahoma named Lt. Philip Sarrett.

Garvin, who has a deep interest in World War II research, eventually found Sarrett’s family and helped fill in details they’d never known. They revered Philip for his sacrifice but there were unanswered questions.

Lt. Philip Sarrett piloted a Douglas C-47 during WWII.

Lt. Philip Sarrett piloted a Douglas C-47 during World War II.

“An 18×24 (inch) picture had always hung in my bedroom. So I grew up with the photographs, but I never had any detail on much of his life – or how it ended,” says Philip’s niece, Marsha Funk.

Garvin’s research of military records helped Sarrett’s family truly understand his service, and his place in the war. They never even knew that he had piloted an aircraft on D-Day, for example. Sarrett’s assignments often involved flying paratroopers over the battlefields of Europe, behind enemy lines and amid enemy fire.

“We’re now just incredibly blessed to know he had so many successful missions, and so many important ones, too,” Funk says.

Marsha Funk

Marsha Funk

In early 2014, a ceremony was held at the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Museum in Frederick, Oklahoma, to present Sarrett’s family with the restored control wheel of the C-47, which had been nicknamed “Ada Red.” His sister, Margaret Ray, now in her 90s, accepted it on behalf of the family.

Margaret Ray, Philip Sarrett's sister, accepts a the restored "Ada Red" control wheel. Bill Garvin is at right.

Margaret Ray, Philip Sarrett’s sister, accepts a the restored “Ada Red” control wheel. Bill Garvin is at right.

But that was not the end of the story. Sarrett made the ultimate sacrifice months after D-Day, in spring 1945. Garvin wanted to know more, so he continued digging.

With the help of German researcher Ortwin Nissing, Garvin eventually found the spot where Sarrett had died after the unarmed plane he was piloting was shot down by the Germans.

On March 24, 1945, during Operation Varsity, Sarrett flew the unarmed, unarmored C-47 into an area that was defended by a concentration of 350 Nazi flak positions. Despite the fact that his plane had been hit and was burning, he made sure that his stick of paratroopers exited the aircraft (though one was badly wounded and went down with the plane) and that his entire crew got out.

“The care Philip took to make sure that these men got out of the plane alive meant that he lost his life,” Garvin says. “ ‘Heroic’ is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, but Philip’s actions were nothing short of that.”

After learning these details, Funk and her husband planned a trip to visit this location on the 70th anniversary of the crash.

The Clostermann diary.

The Clostermann diary.

Once in Germany, they found much more than a point on a map. They found people willing to help fill in the decades-old blanks. Nissing acted as a guide and translated for them. They met Erich Winter, 83, who witnessed the wreckage as a 12-year-old boy, and shared vividly remembered details of what he saw. And they met Ralph Clostermann, whose family has owned the land since the 19th century. He showed them his mother’s diary with descriptions of the day of the crash. She had been living in the basement because British troops were occupying the main floors of the family’s home at the time. She had seen the wreckage, too – and the two crosses erected there by the Brits.

Bullet holes on side of the Clostermann's barn  from the anti-aircraft fire that hit Sarrett's plane. It was never repaired because the owners felt it should remain as a reminder about the war.

Bullet holes on side of the Clostermann’s barn from the anti-aircraft fire that hit Sarrett’s plane were never repaired because the owners felt it should be a reminder of the war.

Though her mother, Philip’s sister, wasn’t able to make the trip, Funk relayed all of these details – and lots of photographs – to her. She wanted to know as much as possible.

“I think maybe it just brought some closure for her – just answering unanswered questions,” Funk says.

It’s been a gratifying process for Garvin.

“I’ve been truly struck by the willingness of complete strangers to help people they don’t know discover what happened to their lost loved ones in the war,” Garvin says.

Without Garvin’s work the family would never have “completed the puzzle,” Funk says.

“We felt a great sense of connectedness,” Funk says. “It’s hugely important to me. It’s helped me keep the story alive and share it with the rest of the family. It’s an important story.”


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.