Campus Notes

Students, faculty gather for lively political discussion

Engaging, intellectual debate is part of the fabric of a college campus. Lively discussion of ideas need not be confined to the formal classroom setting.

A new group on Drury’s campus proves that point. “Pizza & Politics” meets every two weeks with few dozen people, students and faculty alike, discussing and contributing ideas over free food. Each gathering typically has a theme or topic, such as the recent election or Ebola.

Dr. Justin Leinaweaver, assistant professor of political science, begins the discussion, often by asking a broad question.

Once the conversation starts, the environment of the room quickly transforms into an arena for debate as students share their views and rebut others. While the professors begin conversation and ask questions, students are the main contributors.

“My primary hope is that the students take our conversations to the places they are most interested in,” Leinaweaver says.

Students who attend come from a variety of backgrounds and majors including history, philosophy, political science, English, business, and even pre-med.

“It gives me a chance to hear the opinions and ideas of other students, many of whom aren’t in the political science department,” says Laddie Miller, a junior political science major. “The variety of interests helps to diversify discussion and bring up many sides of a single issue. For example, Ebola was discussed with regard to healthcare, ethics, and finances as well as politics.”

Miller says it’s refreshing to be on “an equal playing field” with a cross-section of students and professors, where everyone is comfortable sharing opinions and questioning others.

Leinaweaver agrees, adding: “I love how involving faculty from departments across campus brings fascinating, often non-traditional, perspectives to our discussions of the political world.”

Some good-natured ribbing keeps things from getting too heavy, partly owing to the fact that most students and professors know one another well. Many of the students have had multiple political science classes together.

“The fact that those who attend Pizza & Politics can kid around with each other is a sign of respect and mutual appreciation for discourse,” Miller says.

It’s important for young people to become engaged in civic life, Leinaweaver says, and groups such as Pizza & Politics fuel their passion for involvement. At one point in the conversation, he urges students to voice their opinions by reminding them, “You are ‘The People’ now; you’re all voting age.”

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

Solar Decathlon team gearing up for 2015 national competition

Rising gas prices and climate change are hot-topic issues that are drawing attention to the need for alternative energy sources. Drury University and Crowder College hope to be a part of this energy solution — they are designing, building, and operating an off-the-grid home as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2015 competition.

The Solar Decathlon is a “green” home building competition among colleges that apply and are selected by the Department of Energy. It is meant to educate students and the public about the benefits, affordability and availability of renewable energy.

Crowder approached Drury to join forces on the project last year. Crowder offers programs in renewable energy and competed in the Decathlon in 2002 and 2005. Recognizing the strength of Drury’s architecture program, the Crowder team thought both colleges could benefit from each other’s expertise in order to design a top-notch home. They’re now competing against teams from Yale, Vanderbilt and Missouri S&T, among others.

Members of the Solar Decathlon team examine plans for the project.

Members of the Solar Decathlon team examine plans for the project.

At Drury, this project has attracted about 50 students from architecture, communication, economics, finance, and other majors. This interdisciplinary approach is actually a requirement of the Decathlon, making Drury a great fit.

“I’m extremely excited to be involved in such an interdisciplinary project that allows me to utilize all the liberal arts informed skills I’ve picked up while studying at Drury,” said Alaa Al-Radwan, a fifth-year architecture student at Drury. “Seeing so many students from so many different areas of study come together to work on one project is a humbling experience.”

Students from both schools are working hard to design a one-of-a-kind, solar-powered home that exceeds the competition’s requirements in 10 categories. The home must run appliances and even power an electric car, produce as much or more energy than it uses, and remain cost-effective.

To set their project apart, the Drury/Crowder team has added another element to their project: storm resistance. Inspired by the devastation from the Joplin tornado, Drury/Crowder recognized the importance of providing relief shelter to individuals affected by natural disaster.

They call it ShelteR3, which is based on three R’s: respond, recover and resist. The home will require minimal assembly at the destination, provide a comfortable living space for families, and withstand high-speed winds. Drury and Crowder students want to use this competition to show how people can protect themselves from unpredictable storms and have an affordable, stylish home that runs “off the grid.”

“As the effects of climate change become more and more obvious, the necessity for alternate forms of energy is becoming a self-evident reality,” said Evan Melgren, a senior advertising and public relations major. “I’m proud to be a part of such a large competitio that works towards a solution.”

The Solar Decathlon will be held in Irvine, California in October 2015. For more information on the Solar Decathlon, visit www.solardecathlon.gov. For more information on Drury and Crowder’s project, visit shelter.drury.edu. If you would like to support the project with a gift or in-kind donation, contact Traci Sooter at (417) 873-7416.

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally ran in the Springfield News-Leader.

 

Livesay named 2014 Sherman Emerging Scholar

Dr. Dan Livesay, assistant history professor at Drury, has been named the Sherman Emerging Scholar for 2014. Livesay will travel to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in late October to deliver a public lecture about his research, speak in a graduate class and share his expertise with other scholars.

The Sherman Emerging Scholar award is a national award presented by UNC-Wilmington annually to a promising young scholar. It gives the winner a platform to discuss perspectives, research, concepts and approaches to modern issues and theories in history, politics and international affairs.

Dr. Daniel Livesay

Dr. Daniel Livesay

Livesay’s lecture, titled “Race and the Making of Family in the Atlantic World,” will relate his research about mixed-race families in the 18th century to modern day debates about race and family in the United States. Growing racial complexities and family belonging were important issues then as they are now.

“Because I was selected by a committee of historians working on lots of different periods of time and topics, it was very encouraging to discover that my particular research had something of a broad appeal,” Livesay says. “It’s also very exciting to present my work to a large group of people who know absolutely nothing about my area of expertise. As academics, we can sometimes feel that we are only talking to a very narrow group of people about our research, and so I’m thrilled that I can present it to people from all different walks of life and intellectual interests.”

In total, Livesay spent 10 years researching, writing, and revising his work, which is now in the process of being published in book form by UNC Press.

The Emerging Scholar Award comes at the heels of another honor – the National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” Fellowship in African American History – which allowed him to spend this past summer researching at the Rockefeller Library in Williamsburg, Va.

Livesay conducts most of his research during the academic breaks and focuses on teaching during the semesters, but he does devote some time in the mornings to continue researching throughout the school year. As a scholar and professor, Livesay says he inevitably finds documents and sources that he can use in his syllabus. He also incorporates some his own research and findings into the classroom.

“I think students get excited to see what their professors are experts in,” Livesay says. “They give good feedback and often show me something I hadn’t thought about before—they add a new perspective.”

Livesay received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan in 2010 and came to Drury in 2012. He teaches courses on the history of early America, transatlantic slavery and indigenous people in the Americas.

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Daughter follows in dad’s footsteps into the Breech MBA program

Sometimes it’s tough to live up to the standards and expectations your parents have for you. It might be even be a little tougher when you follow in the footsteps of your father into a rigorous and challenging Masters in Business Administration program.

Liz Crain recently completed Drury’s five-week-long MBA “Boot Camp” that’s designed to prepare those without an undergraduate business degree for the MBA program. She begins classes in January.

Her father, Mike West, earned an MBA from Drury in 2010. Hav­ing graduated from Drury in 1996 with degrees in physics and mathematics, he also went through the Boot Camp to prep for his master’s degree. Then he recommended the program to his daughter.

“I don’t feel too competitive about it, but the standards are set pretty high,” Crain says with a grin, when asked if there’s any family rivalry in play.

Liz Crain and her father, Mike West

Liz Crain and her father, Mike West

Angie Adamick, director of the MBA program, says West and Crain represent two very different, but valued types of students who go through the program.

“Mike is the professional who has so much expertise and rich experience to offer in the classroom and Liz is full of fresh and innovative ideas,” she says. “The combination of these kinds of input in the Drury MBA classroom makes for incredibly dynamic discussions.”

Crain, 23, has seen that already. She says she enjoyed the stimulating mix of younger minds and experienced professionals during the “intense five weeks” of the Boot Camp.

West continues to be involved in the program post-graduation by serving as an MBA mentor, speaking at the orientation and encouraging his colleagues to pursue their MBA through Drury. Now he’s excited to bring his daughter into the Drury fold as well. He still has many close, personal and professional connections from both his undergraduate days and his MBA experience.

“Drury, to me, is a family school,” he says. “Everybody knows everyone.”

Those interested in applying for the program can find more information about www.drury.edu/mba, or by calling (417) 873-7612.

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

Moroccan professor teaches Arabic at Drury thanks to Fulbright program

For 10 years, Jalal Ismaili taught English to students in his home country, Morocco. This year, as part of the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship program, he is teaching Arabic to American students at Drury, creating an important cultural exchange that emphasizes Drury’s global studies mission.

Ismaili teaches elementary and advanced Arabic courses as part of Drury’s Middle East Studies minor. Arabic is the official language of Morocco and 21 other countries in Africa and Asia.

Jalal Ismaili

Jalal Ismaili

The Fulbright program is funded by the U.S. State Department and managed by the International Institute of Education. It involves a rigorous, competitive application process, and provides opportunities for students, professors and scholars from the United States to teach and study abroad, and vice versa. Six current Drury professors and even some former students have been granted Fulbright awards to study and teach in their fields overseas.

For nine years, Drury has also hosted an Arabic Foreign Language Teaching Assistant through the program.

“One of the great benefits for Drury is that we get the opportunity for people to come from the Middle East and teach an important and challenging language,” says Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg, professor of political science and director of the Middle East Studies program. “More significantly, we get a view of the Arab world in a human way — a cultural exchange and understanding that’s not just through news headlines.”

Ismaili spoke with the previous Fulbright FLTA scholar who came to Drury last year and consequentially had high expectations about what he would experience when he came to Springfield.

“He told me that the people here were very kind and welcoming and I can see that throughout the campus,” Ismaili said. “I’ve taught about American culture, but I haven’t gotten to actually live it, so this opportunity has really helped me in my career and given me a better, cultural understanding.”

Ismaili holds an M.A. in multilingual translation and is currently working on his Ph.D. in English. During his time at Drury, he hopes to act as an ambassador for his country. He teaches Arab culture, history and customs in his language courses, and has guest-lectured in other professors’ classes.

“I think many students have misconceptions about the Arab world just as I have had misconceptions about Americans,” says Ismaili. “People tend to overgeneralize on both sides. Changing those views is one of my priorities. I don’t just want to tell others about the culture, I want to bring them into it and into the environment.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

 

Music professor wins statewide award for original composition

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe is both a professor and practitioner of music composition. His students have long recognized what he brings to the table as a teacher, and his peers have often recognized his talents as a composer – including a recent statewide nod.

Sharpe, professor of music composition and theory, was this summer honored with the Opus Award from the Missouri Choral Directors Association for his original composition, “Psalm 8.”

The award is presented annually to a Missouri composer with the most outstanding choral composition, nominated and voted on by members of the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA). Sharpe’s piece was written in honor of the 75th Anniversary Convention of MMEA, and was performed by the Boys Choir of Springfield under the direction of Mark Lawley, director of music education at Drury.

Sharpe has numerous awards in choral, solo, orchestral and combination pieces, but his favorite part of composing is the creative process behind it.

“The award is icing on the cake, but the cake is the process of composing and the rehearsal of it,” he says. “You have it in your head a certain way — so what’s magical about it is when it lines up the way you envisioned it and the music comes to life.”

Carlyle Sharpe

A working composer, Sharpe teaches composition lessons, music theory and ear training courses at Drury, while he composes original music at home.

“I love teaching college students because its keeps you young and engaged,” Sharpe says. “I use the principles and theories I teach in my own work, and I think students appreciate that the person educating them is also practicing those techniques outside of the classroom.”

Every piece he composes comes with its own challenges, but Sharpe values both the Drury and Springfield communities for their continuous support and appreciation of the arts. Springfield and Drury ensembles have performed 30 of Sharpe’s works.

Dr. Allin Sorenson, professor of music and director of Drury Singers says, “There’s incredible value in having the composer directly work with the performers because he is able to provide insight into the music that is usually unavailable to musicians.”

Now entering his 15th year at Drury, Sharpe has seen the music department grow from just 17 music majors to about 100 music majors and minors — a record high.

“Seeing all the exciting potential at Drury and watching the potential come to fruition is incredible,” Sharpe says. “We are still relatively small, but we’re doing things on a big scale. We may be small, but we don’t think small.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Students find valuable internship experience in Washington, D.C.

Drury University’s partnership with a Washington, D.C., organization has been giving students the chance to complete high-profile internships for decades.

The Washington Center allows undergrads to live in the nation’s capital, gain professional work experience and receive class credit to stay on track for graduation. Drury has been working with The Washington Center for about 30 years and typically sends three or four students a year.

Dr. Dan Ponder, professor of political science and Drury liaison for The Washington Center, encourages all majors to consider this program.

“Students coming from a liberal arts school like Drury have great critical thinking skills, the ability to adapt, and are sensitive to the world outside their major,” Ponder says. “That serves them well for their internship. Whether you’re in theater, business, communications, political science, etc., you will be matched at an internship site that works for you and you’ll get an invaluable experience from working in a city like D.C.”

In the past, students have interned with lobbying firms, finance companies, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, nonprofits in the area, and more. Others have worked directly with members of Congress.

Students interested in The Washington Center submit an application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and receive approval from the university’s program liaison. Students also submit an interest form to the Center, which is used to match them with potential internship sites in D.C. During the fall and spring semesters, students pay Drury tuition, housing costs, and an administrative fee, but all scholarships and loans still apply. Students room with other undergrads at the Center who come from colleges across the country.

Mai Baldwin, a senior international political studies and French major, spent Spring 2014 at the Washington Center and interned with the Wilson Center. She extended her D.C. stay and interned at the Aspen Institute over the summer.

Mai Baldwin

Mai Baldwin

During the spring, Baldwin was enrolled in 12 upper division hours through Drury. She also attended academic and leadership seminars during her stay.

Baldwin, who hopes to attend law school after graduation, focused on students’ access to higher education during her time at the Center. She even brought back a workshop to Drury that helps students study for the LSAT free of charge, a concept modeled off a nonprofit in D.C.

“After the spring, I ended up with a summer job offer because of my work during the semester,” Baldwin says. “It really shows that if you’re diligent, put yourself out there and meet new people, opportunities will come. I had a lot of personal development from being outside of my comfort zone and it gave me a different perspective of the world.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury.

Freshman CORE class builds a “Little Free Library”

One Drury freshman class is plunging into the grassroots, community sharing network that has inspired Springfield and cities across the world to start their own Little Free Library.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that started in 2010 and has since grown to become an international movement. It embraces the “take a book, leave a book,” motto in hopes of promoting literacy and the joy of reading.

Simply put, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where local residents may stop by and pick up a book or share one with their community. Most look something like a large birdhouse that can hold anywhere between 25-100 books at a time. They are hand-made and are often feature colorful paint jobs or other playful visual flair.

In January 2014, there were an estimated 15,000 registered Little Free Libraries in the world, with thousands more being built. Springfield already has eight locations. Maps and photos can be found online at Littlefreelibrary.org.

Professor Jo Van Arkel, chair of the Drury English department, was inspired to create a Little Free Library with her freshman CORE class. CORE classes are required courses that give students an introduction to the college experience through a variety of topics. Van Arkel hopes people in the community will develop a sense of ownership and contribute to the library after its installation in late October.

“Libraries are in transition,” said Van Arkel, “but they still serve an essential role in building communities, promoting literacy and preserving the free exchange of ideas that we expect in a democratic society.”

Little Free Library build

Students in Van Arkel’s class broke up into three groups and share a responsibility in the installation of the library. Students built the library from a kit, conducted a demographic study of the neighborhood where it would be placed, and brainstormed different ideas of what types of books the library should hold.

The library will be located on Scott Streetwithin walking distance of Pipkin Middle School, Central High School, and St. Joseph Catholic Academy. It will hold between 25 and 30 books, and the classhopes to put young adult and youth novels in the library, as well as classic literature and non-fiction. Anyone wishing to donate can contact Van Arkel at jvanarke@drury.edu.

Like most other Little Libraries, it was built to be weather resistant and will be at an easily accessible location to attract a wide variety of people.

The class’s next step is to collect book donations. Collection bins will be placed in three locations: outside Dr.Van Arkel’s office on the 3rd floor of Pearsons, outside of Kathy Jester’s office on the 2nd floor of Pearsons, and inside the Olin Library, which will also display the recently constructed Library.

Little Free Library group

Van Arkel hopes that her students will continue checking in with the Library throughout their four years at Drury and that the English honors society can get involved with the project in the future.

“Some of my earliest and happiest memories as a child were of going to the library and bringing home a pile of books. Books were magical to me then and they still are now,” said Van Arkel. “The Little Free Library is a simple concept that captures some of that spirit — it invites curiosity and at the same time encourages the kind of generosity that comes with sharing.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Students settle in with dinner at faculty homes

Drury’s four-day new student orientation includes moving into residence halls, keynote speakers, fun competitive games, a day of volunteer service, and even a huge fireworks show the night before classes begin.

It’s an intense introduction. But there are relaxing moments, too. One of the unique aspects of this annual tradition is the Sunday evening dinner and dessert with faculty. Groups of students gather at faculty homes and in some campus locations for food and conversation. It’s moment of personal connection in a time of transition.

New students relax and converse following the annual faculty dinner and dessert, held at various sites on campus and in professor’s nearby homes. PHOTO: Aaron Scott

New students relax and converse following the annual faculty dinner and dessert, held at various sites on campus and in professor’s nearby homes. PHOTO: Aaron Scott

“It was really interesting – it was very casual,” says freshman Trevor Cobb, who is from Springfield. “At a larger university, you wouldn’t necessarily have that kind of close relationship with the teachers.”

Conversations ranged from music and movies to what students should expect once they dig into their coursework. Dr. Charles Taylor, Drury’s vice president for academic affairs and a professor of communication, hosted Cobb’s group. Each group is actually a required class, called CORE 101, which brings new students into the college experience by way of various cultural topics.

“The faculty dinner and dessert experience underscores the inclusive, personalized and supportive environment that defines the Drury community,” says Taylor, whose CORE class is titled Politics of Rock and Roll.

Dr. Charles Taylor, left, talks to incoming freshman during the annual faculty dinner and dessert. PHOTO: Aaron Scott

Dr. Charles Taylor, left, talks to incoming freshman during the annual faculty dinner and dessert. PHOTO: Aaron Scott

Megan Henson, a freshman elementary and secondary education major, appreciated the dinner as a great way to get to know her new peers.

“We played outdoor games and just relaxed,” she says. “Truly an awesome time. Drury did a fantastic job of welcoming us and integrating us into the Drury community.”

The personal touch provided by the dinners was important to Vikas Jagwani when he was a new student. Now the junior seeking a bachelor’s degree in accounting is an orientation leader who helped guide the four-day experience.

“It’s always a great way to introduce you to professors that are you taking a class from now, or potentially in the future,” Jagwani says. “This could have not been possible if Drury was a huge school, but the ability to have this opportunity during orientation – that is what makes Drury different.

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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.

Emergency Management degree prepares students for the field

For years, emergency management was a field in which people primarily learned “on the job.” But that’s changing.

Drury University’s College of Continuing Professional Studies now offers a bachelor’s degree in emergency management, giving students a formal education in the field. Emergency management is the art and science of preparing for, responding to and recovering from high impact events that cause a significant amount of deaths, injuries or property damage.

Ryan Nicholls is an instructor in the program. He was the longtime Director of Emergency Management for Springfield-Greene County until earlier this year.

“Emergency Management is growing as events are on the rise, costs are on the rise, people living in hazardous areas are on the rise,” Nicholls says. “The benefit and cost value has been recognized in organized planning and response management to such events.”

One of the benefits of the program, which launched in the fall of 2013, is in-depth training that truly gives an overview of the proven, researched-based practices in the field. The program is fairly unique – Drury is one of the only colleges in Missouri offering such a degree.

Classes focus on subjects such as disaster planning and preparedness, response and recovery, grant writing, public information and leadership. The program is versatile enough to fit the needs of those in the field, as well as business owners, non-profit and hospital personnel, and even those in education and ministry who need to be prepared for emergencies. The mostly online program requires about 50 hours of coursework.

Erin Pope

Erin Pope

Erin Pope is currently enrolled. She began working for the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management two years ago, but is now working to obtain a degree in the field to advance her career.

“I feel this field is growing exponentially,” Pope says. “I am extremely pleased that Drury got involved and added this program to the many degrees they offer. It is a huge benefit to myself and anyone else who is on this career path.”

Nicholls agrees that the field shows no signs of slowing down. “The value is demonstrated after every disaster,” he says.

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 Story by Colombe Iyeza, intern with Drury’s marketing & communication office. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.