July 23, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 23, 2012 — The fifth class of Drury’s Scholars, an enrichment program for Springfield African-American youth, will return to campus on Monday, July 30. Founded in 2008 by Drury professors, Summer Scholars brought 15 middle school, African-American males to campus for a week of activities. Since that time, the program has expanded to include females, offer year-round programming and dropped the “Summer” in the name to reflect the ongoing nature of educational opportunities the Scholars program provides.
This year, the Scholars program has received a great deal of good news, including:
- In July, Drury hired Francine Pratt, the former President of the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP, to lead the Scholars as program coordinator.
- In June, Springfield-based accounting firm BKD awarded the Scholars program with a $9,000 grant from the BKD Foundation to buy Netbook computers for the Scholars to use throughout the year.
- In April, the Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded the Scholars program with a College Access Challenge Grant for $84,511. The grant will pay for food, Pratt’s salary, salaries for Drury student workers who serve as mentors to the Scholars, stipends for guest speakers, fees for cultural trips, and educational supplies including books.
In August, Drury will enroll its first Scholars’ alumnae. LaShonda Johnson and Bailey McCormick each attended Scholars for one summer and will begin their college careers at Drury in the fall.
Five of the young men from that first class of 15 males in 2008 are returning for the fifth year. Several have either graduated from high school or moved away. Many are enrolled in college for fall 2012 or plan to attend college once they graduate, which was one of the goals when the Scholars program was founded. “When we started the Scholars, our inspiration was the achievement gap in Springfield Public Schools between African-American and Caucasian students, especially among male students,” said Dr. Peter Meidlinger, English professor and one of the Scholars founders. “We wanted the students to realize that college was a possibility for them, and, now, we have several heading to college, including Drury. We couldn’t be happier with that outcome.”
The only cost to the Scholars is a $25 fee, which is waived for students who complete meaningful work projects designated by the director of the program.
Increasing diversity on-campus and in the community.
Over the last several years, Drury University has made a concerted effort to increase the diversity of its student population. Those efforts have been successful in large part due to the Edward Jones Minority Scholarships. Drury graduate, and the former chairman of Drury’s Board of Trustees, John Beuerlein and his wife Crystal established the scholarships in 2007 for the entering class in the fall of 2008. The Edward Jones Minority Scholarships are competitive scholarships for ten self-identified minorities in each freshman class.
In 2011-2012, 18.5 percent of Drury’s freshman class was made up of international students and domestic minorities. That’s the most diversity in a freshman class at Drury ever. The percentage of diverse students was even higher than the first day of classes at Drury on September 25, 1873, when seven of Drury’s first 39 students (or 18 percent) were Native Americans.
“I was concerned when I learned that Springfield was the second least diverse city in the United States,” said Drury President Todd Parnell. “We suffer as a community from that distinction when it comes to attracting businesses and talent to our region. Drury’s increasing diversity can serve as a mini-oasis in the community profile. The more we learn about that role, the more effective we can be as an institution in providing leadership on campus and in the community. The Scholars program and its continued growth is one of the ways in which Drury is offering that leadership.”
Media Contact: Francine Pratt, Drury Scholars Program Coordinator, Mobile: (916) 541-1675, E-mail: email@example.com