Art Show Friday, August 5 featuring works by Drury graduate students

Springfield, Mo., July 28, 2011–Drury University presents the fourth annual Master of Studio Art and Theory Candidates’ Exhibition showcasing artwork created this summer by current graduate students enrolled in the program. The exhibition is part of the First Friday Art Walk on August 5, and will take place at Drury’s Pool Art Center and the Diversity Center from 6-9 p.m.

The Drury University Summer Institute for Studio Art and Art Theory (MART) offers coursework leading to a 30-hour post-baccalaureate degree, with a focus on students’ development of a creative artistic trajectory capable of reaching beyond the MART experience into future endeavors.

The exhibition features work by graduating students: Kristen Atkinson, Jennifer Glenn, Andrew Parsons and Meganne Rosen O’Neal.

The exhibition also features work from second year students: Mary Beth Ely, Tammy Crabtree, Adrienne Murray, Susan Putnam, Paula Rosen, Jennifer Rowe, Roy Scherer, Jason Skinner, Mary Weston and Michelle Woolery. In addition, work by first year students Dax Bedell, Melissa Briggs, Steven Buck, John Cazort, Katie Derrickson, Jessica Jones, Christopher Kaspar, Catherine Russel, Jolie Russel and Steven Spencer will also be on display.

Drury graduate students have explored a wide variety of media and themes this summer. Works are on display throughout the Pool Art Center at 940 Clay Street and at the Diversity Center at Historic Washington Avenue Baptist Church at the Corner of Drury Lane and Bob Barker Boulevard.

Media Contact:
Tom Parker, Program Director
Phone: (417) 873-7263


Drury professors to produce a PBS history series

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 27, 2011 The history of America on the eastern seaboard from the time Europeans first settled the continent is well-known. Less known is the history of what is now the United States along the frontier. Dr. Monty Dobson, a visiting assistant professor of history at Drury, is producing a four-part television series that tells the story of the U.S. frontier through archaeology. America from the Ground Up will be available nationwide for Public Broadcasting Stations to air in the spring of 2013.

Dr. Lemont Dobson

“Through archaeology, we can tell the history of everybody who has lived in a place. That includes Native Americans and Europeans,” Dobson said. “It tells an inclusive history of America. It’s more democratic because it tells the history of everyone, not just the rich and famous or powerful.”
The four episodes will examine the following:
  1. Frontier History: Dobson will look at the Big Eddy site where there is evidence of 14,000 years of civilization on the Sac River. The episode will also focus on Cahokia a few miles east of St. Louis in Illinois. One-thousand years ago, Cahokia had a population that was 2-3 times larger than that of Paris or London at the same time.
  2. The Europeans: This episode looks at the French Colonial fur trade in Dobson’s native Michigan in the mid-1700s along with naval battles on the Great Lakes prior to the American Revolution. The second half of the episode reveals that the British did not leave the Great Lakes region after they were defeated in the Revolutionary War, and actually held Mackinac (Pronounced: Mack-i-naw) Island until the War of 1812.
  3. Revolutions: This episode focuses on the American Revolution in Virginia and North Carolina, and Ft. St. Joseph in Western Michigan, which was attacked by the French and their Native American allies. The second half-hour explores the War of 1812 and will include wreck diving in the Great Lakes.
  4. We the People: The final episode in the series looks at the settlement of New Philadelphia in Southern Illinois along the Mississippi River. Founded by a former slave, New Philadelphia is considered to be the first planned racially mixed town in the country. The second half-hour explores the Civil War in Missouri, which was home to more than 1,000 battles. Only Virginia and Tennessee saw more fighting.

Dr. Dobson searches for artifacts in Drury's Civil War trench.

The pilot episode that focuses on Cahokia has been shot and is currently in post-production. Drury Artist in Residence Patrick Muriethi directed and is editing the pilot. Drury English Professor Dr. Randy Fuller is co-executive producer with Dobson.

Dobson’s production company called ShovelReady Productions is producing the series. Dobson says he is working on a $500,000 budget of which he’s raised about $125,000 in cash and in-kind donations.

Dobson is working with Drury University’s education department to develop a multiplatform educational resource website that will adapt the series content for school social studies curricula. The website will feature interactive social media applications that will allow students and teachers to collaboratively use the content in the classroom.

Dobson will begin production of the rest of the episodes in the spring of 2012, he plans to air the pilot at the fall 2012 PBS programming conference, and the episodes will be broadcast in spring 2013. The episodes will be free to stations.

Media Contact:
Dr. Lemont Dobson
Visiting Assistant Professor of History
Office: (417) 873-7368
Mobile: (313) 461-4808


Drury’s Summer Scholars program begins its fourth year

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 19, 2011 In the summer of 2008, three Drury University professors welcomed a group of 15 African-American high school students to campus for the first session of Summer Scholars. Four years later, Drury University’s Summer Scholars program for African-American teenagers has more than tripled, includes female students and several of the original scholars are just a year away from entering college.

Beginning Sunday, July 24, Drury will welcome around two-dozen students heading into the ninth and tenth grades at Central High School. Those students will remain until Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, July 27, another group of students heading into their junior and senior years at Central will come to campus and remain until Saturday, July 30. The students will attend classes in language arts, photography, science and critical thinking; listen to guest speakers; and attend local cultural events.

“Our goal has always been to recruit these students to college. Whatever college that might be,” says Dr. Bruce Callen, associate dean of the college and one of the founding members of the Summer Scholars. “We want to provide them with an introduction to a lot of the experiences college can provide. We’ve had a strong concentration in reading, mathematics and writing, but we’ve also introduced them to philosophy, architecture, theatre and art.”

Drs. Callen, Peter Meidlinger and Mark Wood founded the Summer Scholars program. They were joined by Drury English instructor Charlyn Ingwerson in 2009 when female students were added to the program.

According to a report produced by Springfield Public Schools, African-American students made up about 7.5 percent of high school students in the Springfield district in 2009-2010, and accounted for just 4 percent of the students in the district that took the ACT that school year. By contrast, Caucasian students made up 83 percent of the SPS students who took the ACT, and represent 86 percent of students in Springfield Public Schools. Additionally, Caucasian students in Springfield scored five points higher on the ACT in 2009-2010 than their African-American counterparts.

“We were concerned about the loss of potential reflected in statistics that show capable African-American students in Springfield not attending college or even applying. The reasons for starting and sustaining the Summer Scholars program is to nurture these students’ potential, help them vision a future where their educations go beyond high school, and to close that achievement gap.” says Ingwerson.

Summer Scholars has expanded beyond the summertime immersion. During the school year, several Drury faculty members and students engage with African-American students at Pipkin Middle School in a book club. Beginning in the spring of 2011, Drury faculty and students began a mentoring program for African-American students at Central High School. “I’ve learned a lot about how families work,” says Meidlinger, a Drury English professor. “Many of the students in mentoring come from single parent families where the parent has a night job. They aren’t able to know what homework their child has or what’s going on in the classroom. With mentoring, we check on grades and keep them on track. Having an extra adult in the mix, it makes a difference.”

Students interested in the program are asked to fill out an application and write two short essays. All students that applied this year were accepted. The only cost to the student is a $25 fee.

A majority of the funding for the program comes internally from Drury University. Springfield Public Schools pays for the resident advisers’ salaries, and a grant from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will help feed the teens during their stay at Drury. Drury receives additional financial support from several private donations.


Drury University announces new positions and employees

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 11, 2011 —Drury is proud to welcome several new staff members to campus and congratulates current staff members who have accepted new roles.

Ron Cushman is Drury’s new Director of Facilities Operations. Cushman received his electrical engineering degree from Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. and, prior to accepting his position with Drury, worked as the Assistant Vice President for Facilities at Simpson University in Redding, Calif.

Meleah Spencer, current Director of Alumni and Development-Annual Giving, will now also serve as Interim Director of Alumni Relations. Spencer graduated from Drury in 1997 and has been an employee of the university since July of 2007.

Amy Blansit is Drury University’s new Director of Campus Wellness and Fitness. She replaces Matt Miller who became Drury’s Director of Athletic Advancement and Event Services last spring.

Dawn Hiles has been named Vice President for Enrollment Management. Hiles, who received her undergraduate degree in marketing, management and administration at Indiana University and an MBA from Drury, has worked at Drury since 2006. Since that time, Hiles has served as Director of the MBA program in the Breech School of Business, Executive Director of the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Dean of Admission.


Students given rare opportunity to experience zero-gravity

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 30, 2011 — Drury University’s Physics Department has been selected as one of only 14 teams nationwide to participate in NASA’s 2011 Grant Us Space Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program.

As participants in this program, students will be given the opportunity to conduct an experiment while flying aboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder aircraft. During this experiment, the plane will simulate 25-second windows of weightlessness while plummeting over the Gulf of Mexico between 25,000 and 35,000 feet of altitude.

A Drury student works on the Weightless Wonder in 2007

The Drury team was selected as one of only two teams in the Great Midwest Region and is composed of six students, five of which will actually fly the aircraft.  The students involved in the project are: Andrew Chase, Dalton Sivils, Preston Julian, Kieran Ojakangas, Celka Ojakangas and Kiefer Barrett.

The students’ proposed experiment is called Hamiltonian Dynamics of a Two Degree Freedom Robotic Arm with Viscoelastic Muscles in Microgravity, or Son of Toby for short.  This project serves as a continuation of Drury’s 2007 experiment which also was chosen for the NASA program.

After learning from their prior experience, changes were made to the model in order to yield better results. The overall purpose for creating and testing this mechanical arm model is to gain insight into how muscle contractions generate arm motions under the vastly different conditions of normal gravity and zero gravity.  Additionally, experimenters hope to better understand how prosthetic arms can be constructed in a way which utilizes muscles just as the human body does.

The team will depart for Houston on Wednesday, July 6 and will fly the aircraft on Thursday, July 14 and Friday, July 15, 2011.  In addition to being given the resources for conducting the experiment, NASA will also assign the group a mentor who will help guide the team and make suggestions for achieving the greatest results.

To find out more about Drury’s team or to stay updated with their experiment, visit their website at:

For more information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, contact Rachel Kraft: 281-792-7690 or

Media Contact: Dr. Greg Ojakangas, Associate Professor of Physics,Mobile: (417)429-5463, Office: (417) 873-7846, E-mail: