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.”

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

Drury professor named Springfield Regional Opera music director

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 25, 2015 — Dr. Christopher Koch has been appointed Music Director of the Springfield Regional Opera.

Koch is an associate professor of music and director of the Orchestra and Wind Symphony at Drury. As music director of the Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra, Koch is a longtime champion of orchestral music and the arts throughout southwest Missouri. The nationally recognized SDCO has been the area’s regional community orchestra for more than a decade.

Koch mug

“We’re delighted Dr. Koch is joining our organization, and this is just the first step in an exciting restructure and revitalization of the SRO,” says Cindy Curtis, president of the organization’s board of directors.

Koch will continue his work at Drury and with the SDCO as he assumes new duties with the Opera.

The Springfield Regional Opera will collaborate with Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra in a gala Evening at the Opera to be held at Drury’s Clara Thompson Hall at on Saturday, October 3. The event will celebrate the SRO’s 35th season and will feature many of the company’s past and present stars, both local and international.

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Media Contact: Dr. Christopher Koch, Associate Professor of Music: (417) 873-7298 or ckoch@drury.edu.

Drury appoints faculty members to new academic leadership roles

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 23, 2015 — Drury University has appointed six faculty members to new leadership roles on campus.

“These talented faculty members understand Drury’s culture and are exceptional teachers and scholars,” said Peter Meidlinger, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. “They are well suited to lead our campus community as we continue to sharpen the distinctiveness of our academic programs.”

Charles DeBerry

Charles DeBerry

Dr. Charles DeBerry has been named director of the Drury University Debate Union and Dr. Craig Titus has been named assistant director. DeBerry is professor of communication; Titus is an assistant professor of philosophy and English. The Debate Union returns to Drury after a long hiatus. The university envisions a strong on-campus and competitive program, high school tournaments and summer camps, as well as academic connections that emphasize public speaking, argumentation and collaborative work.

William Garvin

William Garvin

William W. Garvin has been named the director of the Olin Library. Garvin has been the University Archivist since 1992. During that time, Garvin has established himself as an expert on the history of Drury College/Drury University. An exceptional storyteller, Garvin has written several essays and given many public talks on the personalities, conflicts, and visions that have animated life on campus from its inception. Garvin has led the library on an interim basis for the past year, and will continue to guide Olin as an invaluable resource for students and faculty.

Erin Kenny

Erin Kenny

Dr. Erin Kenny has been named the inaugural director of the Teaching and Learning Center, where she will lead a campus-wide effort to make excellence in teaching a distinctive feature of a Drury education. An associate professor of anthropology, Kenny has earned a reputation as a successful and innovative teacher committed to global and engaged learning. A two-time Fulbright Scholar, she has had a wide range of valuable experiences working with students and faculty in campus-wide programs, including her leadership in Women & Gender Studies and Middle Eastern Studies.

Raymond Patton

Raymond Patton

Dr. Raymond Patton has been named director of the Core Curriculum, Drury’s general education program focused on global learning and student engagement. An assistant professor of history since 2011, Patton has been actively involved in designing, implementing, and assessing the Core Curriculum in addition to teaching Core classes with a focus on immersive learning experiences. In his role as director, Patton will work to make the Core a distinctive element of a liberal arts education at Drury.

Richard Schur

Richard Schur

Dr. Richard Schur, Professor of English, has been named director of the Drury Honors Program. The Honors Program offers students an intense academic experience through hands-on and student-directed approach to learning. As director, Schur brings a wide range of scholarly and teaching interests to this work. He has published widely on African-American literature and culture, and has served in leadership roles in the Interdisciplinary Studies Center and the Law & Society program. His work will make the honors program even more attractive to students who not only excel in academics but who are curious, ambitious and independent.

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Three artists studying at Drury form business partnership

Rebekah Polly, Justin Gault and Adrienne Klotz-Floyd know it can be tough to go it alone as an artist. That’s why the trio has teamed up and housed their three business ventures in a combined space on Commercial Street.

They met as students in Drury’s Summer Institute for Visual Arts (SIVA), a three-summer program offering a master’s degree in studio art and theory. The program is distinct in the Midwest thanks to its rotating slate of visiting artist fellows.

(From left) Polly, Gault and Klotz-Floyd

(From left) Polly, Gault and Klotz-Floyd

The three all had art careers before entering SIVA. While their partnership wasn’t borne directly out of their classwork, they credit the synergistic spirit of the program with helping them not just cross paths but combine efforts.

“It’s because of the program and meeting these two that I can do this,” says Klotz-Floyd, who specializes in streetscape and portrait photography. “I couldn’t have done it on my own. The risk is too great.”

Gault is a painter who specializes in richly textured abstract work. Polly is a former teacher who is now offering a variety of classes. Her business is called Artivities, and that’s the name on the marquee of the building at 209 W. Commercial St.

While all three entities have a distinct identity and purpose, they all benefit creatively and financially from being in a single space. They gain exposure among customers and during events such as art walks. They share overhead costs and worked together to rehab the building before moving in. These are for-profit businesses, not a nonprofit or an art collective.

The SIVA program helped them connect to each other, to other artists in the region and to the visiting artist fellows who are known nationally and internationally. That sense of community – whether in the classroom or on C-Street – has an almost “therapeutic” effect, Polly says. As R.B. Kita famously said, “Art does not exist in a vacuum.”

“It’s an interesting, unique and necessary synergy happening here,” Gault says. “I’ve been looking for this to happen in my life for a long time now.”

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

Gaither Vocal Band coming to O’Reilly Family Event Center Sept. 11

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 18, 2015 — The Gaither Vocal Band will perform live in concert at the O’Reilly Family Event Center on Friday, September 11, 2015. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 p.m. The show will include a special patriotic 9/11 tribute.

Tickets start at $23 and go on sale starting at 10 a.m., Monday, June 22 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.

Gaither Vocal Band web

For more than a quarter century, the Gaither Vocal Band has created a legacy of award-winning excellence in the gospel genre. The list of men who have comprised the Gaither Vocal Band over the years reads like a “Who’s Who” among the industry’s best-loved voices. The current lineup includes Wes Hampton, David Phelps and Adam Crabb as well as Gaither himself, who has led the group out of his personal passion for great harmony and a genuine desire to bring meaningful music to a hurting world. Special guests will include Todd Suttles, Jeff and Sheri Easter, Karen Peck and New River, Reggie and Ladye Love Smith, Charlotte Ritchie and Gene McDonald.

For more information about the group, visit: http://gaither.com.

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Outstanding Seniors ready to take on the wider world

Parker LiaBraaten and Alaa Al Radwan

Parker LiaBraaten and Alaa Al Radwan

Each year, Drury faculty and staff choose two people from the graduating senior class to honor as the Outstanding Senior Man and Woman of the Year. This annual tradition recognizes two students who demonstrate leadership ability, scholastic achievement, campus involvement and community involvement. The 2015 honorees are architecture grad Alaa Al Radwan and physics grad Parker LiaBraaten. We caught up with them to ask them a few questions before they moved onto the next big phase of their lives.

How do you feel about receiving this honor? 

Alaa: I honestly think that this senior class is one of the most impressive one that has passed through Drury. My opinion might be a little biased, but I think it’s one of the most diverse and is full of leaders that I believe will change the world. It’s a great honor to receive Senior Woman of the Year. I’ve never felt more recognized by an award.

Parker: It means a great deal to me to receive acknowledgement from people I respect. The faculty and staff at Drury are amazing so I feel very honored to have been selected by them.

What was it like to lead the procession during graduation? I know it’s a small thing but also pretty symbolic. 

Alaa: Leading the procession during graduation was unbelievable. I think it’s one of the biggest honors anyone can receive. Carrying our class flag and representing the greatness of this school and the 2015 graduates was pretty amazing. Being one of the few that has had the honor of doing so is even more unbelievable.

How would you sum up your time at Drury?

Alaa: I’ve learned more at Drury than I ever thought I would. I’ve learned more about myself, my interests and what I am capable of doing. Drury does this thing where it encourages its students to do and be more. It encourages students to do everything and be brave doing it. I’ve never felt more capable in my life. At any other school, I wouldn’t have been as involved in so many different things, or developed any of the skills that I have in the past five years.

Parker: I feel that my years at Drury were incredibly useful in preparing me for my future. The Liberal Arts education exposed me to so much, expanding my ideas and viewpoints. I feel I am leaving with a strong foundation of learning to build upon for the rest of my life.

What have you been reflecting upon during the final few days and weeks?

Parker: The last few days I reflected on the many resources the university has to offer, mostly the people. I will miss being surrounded by such creative, passionate, and intelligent people. The professors are so helpful with their knowledge and wisdom. Also, being around driven students encouraged me to be more ambitious.

How did you find the time to be involved in campus and community activities and also excel in the classroom? 

Parker: Passion was vital in finding time to be involved on campus and in the community. If you truly love doing something you will make time for it.

Alaa: When I first started at Drury, I did as much as I could and as much variety as I could. I got involved in everything from political to social groups. As I discovered and learned more about myself, I started focusing on activities that I became more interested in. Really, it’s all about priorities and time management. I found that I spent more time on activities that I felt most passion towards. Drury supports students that want to be involved, and everything I joined and did only made me excel more in the classroom.

What your immediate plans for the future?

Alaa: I’ve actually just recently accepted a research fellowship at the SENSEable city Lab at MIT. So I’ll be moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, working at a lab and pursuing my future in research eventually working towards a Ph.D. in urban design and hopefully being a professor one day.

Parker: I am splitting my summer up between Seattle and rural Iowa doing mechanical recycling and agricultural work. I am planning on living abroad in New Zealand this fall.

What’s your hope for the Class of 2015? 

Parker: I hope that the Class of 2015 will be kind. They are talented, intelligent, ambitious, and full of potential and I have no doubt they will have success. So, I hope in their success they are kind to others, using their skills to benefit and assist others.

Alaa: I know that the class of 2015 has already made a great difference at Drury and the world and I expect nothing less for our future. Our class is made up of visionary, world-changing leaders and I can’t even imagine what greatness this class will achieve all over the globe.

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Summer camps for gifted students now underway at Drury University

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 17, 2015 — Gifted young students from across the area are keeping their minds in shape over the summer break during camps organized by Drury University’s Center for Gifted Education, in partnership with Springfield Public Schools.

Drury provides a summer experience for gifted students of all ages, from pre-K through the 11th grade. The younger age groups are in camps right now, and the older students’ camps will take place in July. Each summer, more than 700 total students attend these camps.

The current camps (called Summer Pals for ages pre-K through grade 1, and Summer Quest for grades 2 through 5) are taking place from each weekday 8:15 to 11:30 a.m. at Phelps Center for the Gifted, 934 S. Kimbrough Ave. now through Friday, June 26. The hands-on, activity-oriented courses feature an array of interesting experiences geared specifically toward gifted students. Summer Quest and Summer Pals give students a chance to interact with peers of similar academic abilities and interests, while encouraging them to use their intellectual and creative sides.

     VIDEO: Gifted Education Students Convene for Summer Camps

“It gives them a sense of self and a sense of community,” says Mary Potthoff, Director of the Center for Gifted Education at Drury. “And it builds on what they’ve learned in the classroom during the school year, keeping their minds engaged during the summer break.”

Drury has been a national leader in providing education and enrichment programs for academically gifted students more than 30 years. The Drury Center for Gifted Education is the most complete center for gifted education in the state of Missouri, and is one of less than 20 complete gifted education centers in the United States. Visit Drury Gifted Education for more information.

Media are invited to cover the Summer Quest and Summer Pals camps. Opportunities for coverage are available each day of the camps, including classes on robotics, dinosaurs, veterinarians, astronauts and much more. 

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Drury student receives Stemler Study Abroad Scholarship

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 16, 2015 — Drury student Masha Podokshik has received a $1,000 James G. Stemler Study Abroad Scholarship from the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society. Podokshik, a junior communication major from St. Louis, is Drury’s first Alpha Lambda Delta scholarship recipient. She will be studying in Spain during the spring 2016 semester.

Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society that recognizes and encourages academic excellence among first-year students. Founded in 1924, the society has inducted more than 1 million members in its 90-year history.

Podokshik

Drury University is committed to global learning and engagement. One in ten Drury undergraduates hails from outside the United States, and nearly 50 percent of undergraduate and graduate students study abroad. This summer, students are studying in China, Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Drury Center in Aigina, Greece.

“The complementary nature of having so many American students returning from study abroad opportunities and being part of a truly international campus creates a multicultural learning environment,” says Drury President Dr. David Manuel.

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Drury to host Flag Day ceremony Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 10, 2015 — Drury University will host a Flag Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Armed Forces Plaza outside of the O’Reilly Family Event Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The local chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution will join Drury for this celebration of our nation’s colors. Sons of the American Revolution member J. Howard Fisk will present a special recognition from that group, and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem. Aaron Jones, Dean of the College of Continuing Professional Studies, will also give remarks. Cake and refreshments will be available following the ceremony.

Officially celebrated on June 14, National Flag Day was established by Congress in 1949 to commemorate the day the flag of the United States was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777.

Drury’s tradition of serving those who have served our country dates to the days following World War II, when buses brought soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood to classes held on the Springfield campus. Today, one of Drury’s 11 branch locations is at Fort Leonard Wood.

The commitment continues today, as Drury has been named a “Military Friendly School” by Victory Media and was ranked No. 3 in the Midwest on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges for Veterans” list. Drury is also a supporter school of the Order of the Purple Heart. Drury supports federal initiatives that help veterans and active-duty service members apply for, pay for and complete their degrees and has designated staff to help coordinate these services.

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Passion for media and history come together in propaganda research

As a filmmaker and TV production professional, Nathan Maulorico knows that every shot tells a story – sometimes ones the viewers may not even be aware.

Lately, Maulorico has been putting his passion for history to work in order to find the stories behind the shots themselves.

The recent Drury graduate was invited to present findings from an undergraduate research paper at the annual Mississippi State University Symposium for Undergraduate History Research earlier this month. The paper examines how film propaganda techniques of the past influence the visuals we see in modern advertising and movies.

Nathan Maulorico

Nathan Maulorico

Maulorico, 33, has been making short films since his teen years and has worked on reality TV productions for about a decade with credits that include “Dance Moms,” “Clash of the Ozarks” and work with Bobby Flay. He graduated from the College of Continuing Professional Studies in December with degrees in advertising, public relations and history. Drury was the right place to combine these interests, he says, and this research was a rewarding way to cap off that experience.

“This project was a personal challenge to me to figure out how I can mesh all of those together,” he says.

Maulorico watched more than 30 films and clips of many others as part of his research. They dated from 1912 to modern times and came from nearly a dozen countries. He watched with an eye for known propaganda techniques, and for continuity between eras.

“I looked for the techniques that were being used in those early films and they were adapted in modern films, advertising and news media,” he says.

While much writing and research has been devoted to old propaganda vehicles – particularly films made in Nazi Germany – there’s been less written about the parallels in modern media, Maulorico says. Most of us don’t think propaganda affects us, but it’s out there.

“People think it only has to do with these old Nazi movies but really, propaganda is happening all around us,” he says. “Whether it’s politics or advertising, somebody is trying to influence what you’re doing every day.”

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