Campus Notes

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.

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.

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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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.

Communication students put theories into action with research

When students in her Interpersonal Communication Theory class choose a research topic, Dr. Cristina Gilstrap issues one over-arching challenge.

“Here’s the big question: who cares about your results?” she tells them. “In other words, how could the findings of the study be used to help organizations or individuals in a practical way?”

Two groups of students recently wrapped up projects in the class.

The first group examined the face management strategies used by police officers when conflict arises during traffic stops. Face management is a theory that focuses on how one’s self image, or “face,” is threatened, saved or restored during interactions.

The second group examined how parents manage uncertainties after receiving their child’s Down syndrome diagnosis. Uncertainty management theory explores how we attempt to manage uncertainties in situations that are complex or unpredictable.

One of the first group’s key findings was that local police officers typically find ways to express empathy with difficult subjects in order to save face and make the interaction as positive as they can, given the circumstances. These interactions come naturally, but the student researchers suggested integrating the theory and their findings into officer training in order to help improve traffic stop interactions for both officers and the public.

Given what’s happened in Ferguson and Baltimore in the last year, Samantha Williams, a senior communication studies major, said research such as this could be valuable for officers in a time when seemingly routine encounters can have massive repercussions if handled poorly.

“The way officers manage their face may mean the difference between additional riots or it may result in a traffic stop ending with the driver in violation saying ‘thank you’ and having an appreciation for the officers and what they do,” Williams says.

The second group found that parents often seek out information to help them effectively cope with their uncertainties after their child’s Down syndrome diagnosis. The most valuable information is not necessarily factual, they found, but personal: conversations with other parents, blog posts, support groups and simply meeting and knowing people who have been diagnosed.

Communication Theory research students

Communication Theory research students

Jeremy Petrich, a junior biology and exercise sports science major, said that even though researching uncertainty is by its very nature focused on something negative, the in-depth conversations with parents made it clear their outlook was anything but.

“They so often said, ‘We love our children, we wouldn’t have it any other way, they’re a part of our lives,’” he says. “It was just awesome to hear everything they had to say.”

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

International students strengthen friendships with annual ‘Food Fest’

International students at Drury University recently had a chance to proudly share a taste – literally – of their home cultures with their American peers.

The International Food Festival is an annual event organized by the International Student Association. With a formal “black and white” theme this year, the dinner was a chance to get dressed up, have fun on a Saturday night and amplify the type of cultural exchange that happens daily on campus.

Despite the name, the event is about more than food. There were performances of traditional songs, music and dances, as well as a few just-for-fun performances of American songs. The highlight of the evening is the “Parade of Flags” in which students carry the colors of their homelands through the banquet hall – beaming with pride as they do so.

Food Fest

“Everything was made by international students, from the food to the traditional clothing,” says Yousra Alaoui-Sosse, a sophomore biology major from Morocco.

Brandon Roellig, a junior from mid-Missouri, is friends with many foreign students who are fellow architecture majors or fraternity brothers. He attended the dinner to support his friends and jumped at the chance to try food from their home countries.

“Drury would not be the same without the internationals, I know that much,” Roellig says. “We (Americans) really connect with them. They bring a different culture to campus, a different environment, and I love it.”

International students make up about 12 percent of Drury’s total enrollment, a number that’s been growing in recent years. They hail from more than 50 countries.

“Coming here to the United States and being international is just awesome because no matter how different we are, we all fit,” says Alaoui-Sosse. “We’re all different, but we’re all accepted for who we are.”

Drury’s close-knit atmosphere provides an excellent place for internationals to form friendships amongst themselves and with their fellow students from the United States.

“Americans are very open-minded, very open to change or to try something new,” says Stefanie Monsch, a senior marketing & management major from Germany. “Americans actually do want to learn about something new. They do want to learn about another culture.”

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

Housing options at Drury build community in more ways than one

Drury University offers a variety of specialty housing where students can develop interests and serve the community. Many of these housing options are selective and require students to engage in additional activities that engage them through service or academics.

One such option is the Summit Park Leadership Community, an apartment-style environment aimed primarily at sophomores. It’s more than just a nice place to live. Summit Park engages students in a living-learning environment that focuses on the principles of leadership while incorporating the value of community service.

Student teams selected to live in Summit Park form year-long partnerships with local community nonprofits and commit to 15 hours of community service a semester – though many far exceed that requirement. Students lend their skills and passions to these projects. Past partner agencies have included Harmony House, the Boys & Girls Clubs and One Sole Purpose. Students serve in any way possible and update a blog about their project.

Paige Wilson, a member of the team working with One Sole Purpose this year, says her most rewarding experience was “when I went to the elementary schools to handout the shoes the children had received.”

“The children were so grateful and it was a heartwarming experience,” said roommate and fellow team member Olivia Wheat.

Summit Park students are working directly with One Sole Purpose, which provides shoes to students in high poverty Springfield schools.

Summit Park students are working directly with One Sole Purpose, which provides shoes to students in high poverty Springfield schools.

Living in an on-campus apartment is a draw, but the chance to develop leadership and teamwork skills is just as appealing to students wishing to join the program.

“We loved the idea of helping our community while growing as leaders,” Wheat said.

Wheat said working with One Sole Purpose taught their group “how to effectively communicate.” Her team has not only been immersed in a professional setting, but they’ve also been exposed to people from walks of life they may have never encountered previously.

“We always think that shoes are a simple thing to have, but that is not always the case,” Wilson said. “We can never take anything for granted.”

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Story by Trevor Cobb, writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Vision-altering goggles help students learn about sensory deprivation

Students taking Advanced Human Physiology at Drury recently took their learning experience outside the classroom: to the go-kart track at Incredible Pizza.

This wasn’t just a day of cutting corners and having fun—although the class did both—it was a hands-on exercise that helped students better understand the effects of alcohol on the body.

Students in Dr. Phil Stepp’s class headed to the track and drove karts while wearing various sets of goggles that blurred or shifted their vision, simulating blood alcohol levels ranging from .06 to .25 BAC. One pair of goggles had tinted lenses that also mimicked driving at night while impaired.

Go kart web

The activity was a follow-up for a lab and coursework relating to sensory deprivation. After driving, students completed an analysis of their experience and connected it back to what they had learned.

Jessica Tay, a junior chemistry and psychology major, was surprised at how poorly she performed and actually had a major spin out during one of the races.

“You didn’t see things coming up, in front of you, or behind you. I had no peripheral vision either,” said Tay. “It was very disorienting—and that was with only with one of my senses impaired!”

This was an eye-opening activity for many students. It helped them better understand how different concepts and body processes fit together, but it also made students seriously think about their choices during a night out.

Goggles web

Stepp, an assistant professor of biology, says Drury’s small class sizes help make lessons and activities such as this possible. It also allows him the opportunity to get to talk to students individually, answer questions, and create a more engaging atmosphere for learning.

“I don’t like classes where I just lecture and give a test,” says Stepp. “I like asking questions and leading discussions that really get student thinking, and helping them find ways to dig and figure things out themselves.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and writing major at Drury

Drury expands academic-themed housing options for upperclassman

Drury University is known for its tight-knit and personal environment, and now juniors and seniors have even more opportunities to live on campus in spaces tailored directly to their academic passions as interest-group housing expands.

“As students get older, they often seek more a more intimate living environment than a residence hall typically offers, but some still crave an educational component in their housing,” says Holly Binder, director of housing for Drury. “These housing options are a perfect way to marry a living environment with a student’s education.”

Currently, Drury offers several interest-group residences, including the Humanities House, Summit Park Leadership Community and the Rose O’Neill House for students interested in women and gender studies. In the fall, Drury will open a Foreign Language House, which will provide an opportunity for native and non-native French and Spanish speakers to live together.

Students, faculty and staff mingle at a barbecue hosted by residents of the Humanities House last year. The house is one of a grown number of unique on-campus residential options for upperclassmen with specific academic interests.

Students, faculty and staff mingle at a barbecue hosted by residents of the Humanities House last year. The house is one of a grown number of unique on-campus residential options for upperclassmen with specific academic interests.

Students interested in these housing options must fill out an application in order to be selected, which requires students to answer several essay questions about their interest in the housing option and meet general academic prerequisites. Theses residences also require students to participate in additional activities throughout the year that are related to their interest.

For example, the Humanities House residents host events throughout the year and contribute regularly the “Human, All Too Human” blog; Summit students lead in-depth service projects of their choosing throughout the year; and Rose O’Neill residents have recently founded a student organization dedicated to women in the liberal arts.

The newest addition to the growing interest-specific housing options is the Foreign Language House. Hannah Cook, a junior French, English and writing major, was immediately interested in applying and was recently selected to live there next academic year.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to live with others who are as interested in foreign languages as I am, as well as a chance to get more involved in the department,” Cook says. “I am most excited about living with other people who speak the same languages I do (besides English) and using this opportunity to hopefully help grow the foreign languages department at Drury.”

Not only do these housing options help students dive deeper into a specific discipline, they also serve to showcase the benefits of a liberal arts education.

“I think learning a foreign language helps with so many things, including improving your native language and cultivating a sense of respect for other cultures, which is invaluable,” Cook says.

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By Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and writing major at Drury.

Two of Missouri’s best new teachers trained at Drury

Two of Missouri’s best new teachers received their professional training from Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies.

Callie Beard, an elementary school teacher in the Lebanon school district, and Fernando Sustaita, a middle school teacher at Nixa, were recently given the Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award by the Missouri Association for Colleges of Teacher Education.

The recipients were selected based on evaluations of outstanding graduates completed by their college or university, and recommendations from the school districts where they teach.

Callie Beard teaches elementary school students in her Lebanon classroom.

Callie Beard teaches elementary school students in her Lebanon classroom.

“I was stunned, shocked and elated,” says Beard, who teaches social studies and communication arts to fifth graders.

After spending her first two years at another school, Beard switched gears seeking more financial flexibility and classes closer to her hometown of Lebanon. She took classes through Drury’s Springfield, St. Robert and Lebanon campuses. Many of her instructors were teachers in the immediate area.

“They could draw from their own personal experience,” Beard says. “They had classroom examples ready; they were familiar faces.”

Sustaita knows about switching gears, too. After 15 years in the business world, he decided to make a career change and become a teacher. Now in his second year at a seventh grade history teacher in Nixa, he also coaches three sports (cross country, basketball and track), drives busses for the teams, serves on school committees.

“When I want to do something, I go in 110 percent,” he says. “I don’t hold back.”

Fernando Sustaita teaches history at Nixa, and also coaches cross country, basketball and track.

Fernando Sustaita teaches history at Nixa, and also coaches cross country, basketball and track.

Seeing students succeed drives him, Sustaita says. And that’s the same kind of treatment he received from his professors when he was a student earning a Master of Education at Drury, he says. In fact, he still reaches out to them for advice and mentorship, even after graduation.

“I trust the education system there,” he says. “I trusted my advisors. And I know that wherever I’m going to go, people are going to look at that degree and hold it to a high standard.”

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