Drury’s paralegal program continues to rank among best in nation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., February 9, 2018 — Drury University’s Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies program has once again been ranked among the best online programs in the country for its value, quality and convenience. In a national study, Open Education Database has ranked Drury’s program as the third best online paralegal degree of 2018. This ranking follows another by TheBestSchools.org, which recently listed Drury at fourth in its list of best online paralegal programs.

The program is offered through Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies and can be completed entirely online. By providing a conceptual appreciation for the essential principles, doctrines, rules and structural elements required for the practice of law, the degree provides a strong basis for paralegals seeking employment in a wide variety of legal practices.

Open Education Database praises programs like Drury’s for “allowing students to complete their degree in less time and at a lower cost than traditional options.” Both rankings websites acknowledged Drury’s program for balancing classroom learning with real-world experience. As part of their education, Drury students participate in a law practicum internship with a practicing attorney.

Job prospects for paralegal degree seekers are promising. The paralegal profession has been growing steadily and continues to accelerate as companies seek to employ more paralegals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegal and legal assistant jobs are expected to grow by 15 percent through 2026, more than twice as fast as the average for all occupations.


New book by DU professor explores “Presidential Leverage”

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 30, 2018 — How does a president’s popularity affect his or her ability to govern effectively? A new book by Drury University Political Science Professor Dr. Daniel E. Ponder seeks to answer that question in a quantifiable way.

“Presidential Leverage: Presidents, Approval and the American State,” published by Stanford University Press, examines an aspect of the presidency that is frequently talked about, but not always clearly understood. Approval ratings are usually reported in a vacuum, dissociated from the American state as a whole. Ponder’s research reveals how these ratings shape presidential strategies by situating them within the context of public trust in government.

Ponder’s “Index of Presidential Leverage,” is essentially calculated by dividing presidential approval by the public’s trust in government. The more the public’s esteem for the president exceeds the trust in government, the more leverage a president has in the political world. Using this index, Ponder’s book examines each administration from John F. Kennedy’s through Barack Obama’s, and demonstrates how leverage has shaped presidential capacity and autonomy, agenda setting, landmark legislation, and unilateral action.

Dr. Daniel E. Ponder

“Just looking at approval ratings as a measure of power really ignores the rest of government and the system as a whole,” Ponder says. “Americans view the presidency in a fundamentally different light than the rest of the federal government. Trust matters, and when the president is seen as the ‘best’ or ‘only’ game in town relative to the other branches, then the executive has more leverage to enact their agenda.”

MORE: Read how President Trump measures up so far in the Index of Presidential Leverage in a blog post by Dr. Ponder at the Stanford University Press website.

About the Author

Dr. Daniel Ponder is the L.E. Meador Professor of Political Science and Director of the Meador Center for Politics and Citizenship at Drury University. He is a presidential scholar whose previous book, “Good Advice: Information and Policy Making in the White House,” was published by Texas A&M University Press.

He is a frequent commentator on American and Missouri politics for both local and national media outlets, including NPR’s Morning Edition, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and CBS Radio. Ponder has also written several published book chapters, articles, and essays in journals such as Presidential Studies Quarterly, American Politics Research, Congress and the Presidency, Political Science and Politics, and the International Journal of Public Administration.

Praise for “Presidential Leverage”

“Daniel Ponder has unearthed one of the most important theoretical and empirical advances in the presidency studies in decades. It is not presidential approval that matters but approval nested in public trust of government that yields political leverage for the highest office in the land.” —Raymond Tatalovich, Loyola University-Chicago

“Dan Ponder’s research reminds us that presidents lead in a complex political environment. ‘Presidential Leverage’ helps us to understand a wide range of presidential decisions, from agenda-setting to unilateral policy-making. Using rigorous quantitative analysis, this book sheds light on many facets of presidential behavior. It is an important read for scholars of the American presidency.” — Julia Azari, Marquette University


Drury accounting students to provide free income tax preparation assistance

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., January 25, 2018 — Drury University students again will provide free tax preparation through an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. The annual tax preparation service is open to the public and is designed to benefit low-income taxpayers.

The Drury tax service primarily accepts walk-in clients. The site calls its last client on each date one hour prior to closing. 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 times:

Saturday, Feb. 3 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 5 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 9 – 4 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 10 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 12 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 16 – 4 to 9 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 19 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 26 – 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.

Taxpayers are required to bring photo ID and Social Security cards for 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 2016 state and federal tax returns to help speed up the filing process.

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.


Kiplinger’s again ranks Drury as one of America’s best value schools

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., January 8, 2018 — Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has again included Drury University on its list of the nation’s best values in higher education.

Kiplinger’s annual list ranks the Top 100 schools in three categories: private universities, public universities and liberal arts colleges. This is the fifth year in a row Drury has made the private universities list; Drury is No. 153 on Kiplinger’s combined list of the 300 schools.

The complete rankings are available online at kiplinger.com/links/college and in the February issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, which hits newsstands tomorrow.

“Drury’s focus on educating students through real-world experiences and life-changing mentorship that prepares them for both a successful career and a life well-lived provides an outstanding value to our graduates,” says Kevin Kropf, executive vice president of enrollment management at Drury. “This distinctive approach to educating the whole person sets up Drury alumni for success as leaders in their chosen fields and in their communities around the world.”

Kiplinger’s assesses value using measurable standards of academic quality and affordability. Quality measures include admission rates, percentage of students who return for sophomore year, student-faculty ratio and four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include “sticker” price, financial aid and average debt at graduation.

Drury is consistently recognized for providing outstanding educational value for students and families. Drury was recognized as a Top 10 “Best Value School” in the Midwest (at No. 8) by U.S. News & World Report last fall, and Washington Monthly has named Drury a “Best Bang for the Buck” school in each of the last two years.


Drury University awards degrees to 248 graduates at winter commencement  

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 16, 2017 — Drury University awarded degrees to 248 graduates at today’s winter commencement. There were 238 undergraduate degrees conferred by both the traditional Day School and the College of Continuing Professional Studies; 16 graduate degrees were conferred by the Graduate College. Some students earned multiple degrees.

Former Amazon vice president and PC Magazine editor Rick Ayre delivered the keynote address. Ayre graduated from Drury with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1971. After graduation, he continued his education by pursuing his doctorate in psychiatric epidemiology. His passion for technology and writing later took him to PC Magazine. After a conversation with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos resulted in a job offer, Ayre served as vice president and executive editor with Amazon from 1996 to 2000.

Commencement speaker Rick Ayre ’71.

Ayre spoke to the graduates about the technological moment in which we currently live, and the responsibilities they will need to uphold in the face of swift change. A believer in the power of the Internet to connect people and improve society long before most, Ayre warned that today’s Internet is tipping away from becoming an engine of discovery and toward a “massive behavior modification machine.” The more we buy, search, and like online, the more algorithms can learn about us and then seek to give us what we want – or what they think we need, he said.

“(Artificial intelligence) is getting way smarter, way faster,” Ayre said. “It’s already been many years since computers have beaten the best chess champions.” Now, Ayre said, machine learning has advanced to the point where new programs can simply observe other programs playing games or solving problems in order to learn such skills, rather than being programed directly by humans. We will never again be smarter than the computers we’ve created, he said.

“So the challenge is direct, and the challenge is to us,” he said. “The way we beat our computers is not by being smarter or faster. The way we beat our computers is by being more human.”

To do that, Ayre said, we must do what only humans can: know right from wrong; be honest; take the long view; and – most important – be kind. Being kind is not always easy when you’re young, Ayre noted, and he urged the graduates to make it a part of their life right away.

“Start now!” he said. “It turns out, it’s important. In fact, it’s probably the most important thing.”

Honorary Degree presented to Bill Virdon

Former major league baseball player and manager Bill Virdon was awarded an honorary Bachelor of Science degree. Virdon grew up in West Plains and played basketball at Drury for one year in 1949 before embarking on a 12-year baseball career as a player for the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates and a 14-year career as a manager of the Pirates, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and Montreal Expos.

“Before my baseball career, I was lucky enough to spend a short time here at Drury,” Virdon said today. “It was my special place in Springfield. Now it’s even more special to me than before.”


Former Amazon executive Rick Ayre to address Drury graduates Saturday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., December 12, 2017 — Former Amazon Vice President Rick Ayre will deliver the keynote address to graduates at Drury University’s commencement ceremony, which begins 10 a.m., Saturday, December 16.

Ayre graduated from Drury with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1971. During his time at the university he served for two terms as student body president and was editor of Drury’s student newspaper, The Mirror. After graduation Ayre continued his education by pursuing his doctorate in psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. His passion for technology and writing later took him to PC Magazine, where he rose to the rank of Executive Editor. In 1996, this position led him to discover a new online book retailer, Amazon.com. A conversation with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos resulted in a job offer, and Ayre served as vice president and executive editor of Amazon from 1996 to 2000, during which time he helped build the inviting front-end customer experience that the site is known for today.

As an alumnus, Ayre has served on Drury’s Environmental Advisory Council. His father, the Reverend Albert Ayre, graduated from Drury in 1946, and his son Colin is a 2017 Drury graduate.

Media are welcome to cover the ceremony. Doors will open for guests one hour prior to the start of the ceremony.


Architecture students to present vision for C-Street development

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 8, 2017 — Drury University architecture students will present their vision for redesigning and revitalizing Springfield’s historic Commercial Street district to C-Street stakeholders and members of the community next week. Presentations will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Drury On C-Street Gallery. The event is open to the public.

The presentations come at the conclusion of a semester of research and preparation by Hammons School of Architecture students. Nine students were involved in redesigning different aspects of the area through the Center for Community Studies. The Center allows students to gain hands-on experience outside the classroom by working with community members on diverse design and planning problems.

Some of the ideas put forth in the vision for Commercial Street include a year-round multi-purpose event pavilion at the C-Street Plaza, a rooftop event and observation area adjoining the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, and scenic archway entrances located at either end of the district. Students also reimagined how alleyways like Blaine Street and Frisco Lane might be put to better use.

The goal of the redesign is to further develop Commercial Street into an economically thriving place for community activity and socialization throughout the year. Though the projects are only ideas for now, members of the Commercial Street Community Improvement District and Commercial Club hope that funding can be found to make the improvements a reality.


Media Contact: Jay Garrot, Professor of architecture; director of the Center for Community Studies: (417) 873-7371 or jgarrott@drury.edu.

Drury University now enrolling for new four-week winter term

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 30, 2017 — Drury University is offering a new slate of online courses during the winter term for students who want to use the traditional break between semesters to advance their studies.

Classes in the new four-week winter term format begin on Monday, Dec. 18 and run through Jan. 12. The nine courses offered are general education classes that include history, psychology, religion and sociology, and vary from one to three credit hours. All of the classes are entirely online with the exception of a Personal Wellness course that will meet in-person during the final week of the term.

Winter term courses are designed to help motivated students get ahead in the pursuit of their graduation goals. These general education credits are transferable, making it easy for students who attend other colleges and universities – as well as high school students – to take advantage of the term in order to get ahead.

The final day to enroll is Wednesday, Dec. 20. A full list of courses and enrollment information is available online at: www.drury.edu/winter-term.

For more information, call Academic Affairs Support Services at (417) 873-7373.


Scholarships available for top American Legion oratorical program participants

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 20, 2017 — Drury University is offering a new scholarship program for Missouri students who participate at the highest levels of the American Legion High School Oratorical Program.

Students who place in the Top 2 at the Zone level will be eligible to receive, at minimum, a $13,000 American Legion Oratorical Scholarship to Drury University. The zone level is the final round before the statewide competition level; there are four zones in Missouri. Students compete at the high school, county, and district levels before moving to the zone level.

Since 1938, the American Legion High School Oratorical Program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government.

“Drury is excited to partner with the American Legion to provide this scholarship opportunity for students,” says Kevin Kropf, executive vice president of enrollment management. “Our liberal arts tradition, and the fact that our debate team won a national title last year, makes Drury an excellent match for the kinds of students who do well in the American Legion Oratorical Program.”

Recipients must be eligible for admission to Drury University and admitted to the residential day school. The new Drury scholarship would replace any academic scholarships a student receives, unless the academic award is greater, at which point an additional $1,000 scholarship would be added for oratorical excellence. Students who receive a Drury American Legion Oratorical Scholarship are eligible to apply for debate scholarships at Drury as well. The award is renewable for a maximum of four years provided the student maintains good academic standing at Drury.

For more information or to apply to Drury, visit: www.drury.edu/apply.


Contact: Kevin Kropf, Executive Vice President of Enrollment Management – (417) 873-7524 or kkropf@drury.edu.

Drury International Student Association hosts Thanksgiving Dinner event

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 17, 2017 — Few holiday traditions are as iconically American as Thanksgiving dinner. But for students who are visiting America from other countries, this tradition can present an unexpected cultural gap.

“A lot of international students come here with no idea what Thanksgiving is,” says Manuel Meyer, an international student from Ghana and President of Drury University’s International Student Association.

Each year, the association hosts a Thanksgiving Dinner event with the purpose of introducing Drury’s international student population to this important American tradition. This year’s event takes place at 5:30 p.m. this evening, in the Hoblit Suite of Drury’s Freeman Panhellenic Hall (campus map).

The dinner includes turkey, potatoes, pies, and other traditional Thanksgiving foods. All students are invited to attend, and ISA members hope that the experience will lead to new relationships and lasting connections among students from around the world and here at home.

“It really bridges the gap between internationals and Americans,” says Meyer. “That’s what I see as the most important part of it.”

During the dinner, students are given the opportunity to stand up and express what they are thankful for. For some participants, the moment itself is a reason to be grateful.

“It reminds us to be thankful for the opportunity to be here in America in the first place,” says Velona Tawfik, a sophomore from Egypt. “Not a lot of people have the opportunity to travel half way across the world to come and study America.”

Madeline Smith, a Vice President of Drury’s ISA, believes that American students can gain as much from the event as their peers from other countries.

“When you hear people go around the table and say the things they are thankful for you realize that it is not really exclusive,” Smith says. “Anyone can be a part of this American tradition because everyone understands that idea of having thanks for the things that they have in their lives.”