Releases

Two Drury groups perform at the Missouri Music Educators Conference

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 27, 2015 — The Springfield-Drury Girls Choir and Drury Wind Symphony will perform Friday as part of the 77th Annual Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) conference at Tan-Tar-A resort in Lake of the Ozarks.

The MMEA conference is highly selective and seeks the top student groups from across the state to perform for its members each year. This is the first MMEA appearance for the Springfield-Drury Girls Choir, led by Mark Lawley, and the second for Drury’s Wind Symphony, under the direction Dr. Christopher Koch.

The Wind Symphony, comprised of about 40 students, will be introduced by Dr. Allin Sorenson, chair of Drury’s music department. The ensemble will perform four works, including Bernhard Heiden’s “Diversion” featuring Drury associate professor of music Dr. Tina Claussen on alto saxophone.

“I’m delighted our Wind Symphony has again earned an invitation to perform at MMEA,” said Koch. “It’s a significant honor for any university to be selected and our students richly deserve the recognition.”

The Springfield-Drury Girls Choir is comprised of 50 singers in grades 2 through 6 from Springfield and the surrounding area. The group will be introduced by Drury First Lady Betty Coe Manuel and will sing five pieces; two of which were composed for the choir and will officially premier at the conference. Dr. Carlyle Sharpe, professor of music composition and theory at Drury, composed one of those pieces, titled “I Sing A Song of the Saints of God.”

“We were thrilled to find out that they were selected,” said Lawley. “There are only three elementary school choirs out of the state of Missouri selected for the conference.”

###

Drury accounting students provide free income tax preparation assistance

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 22, 2015 — Drury University students will again provide free tax preparation through an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. The tax preparation service is open to the public and is designed to benefit low-income and senior taxpayers.

The Drury tax service accepts walk-in clients on all dates and appointments on most dates. To make an appointment, please call (417) 720-2000. This line often experiences high volumes of calls. Anyone having difficulty getting through is advised to keep trying. Please note that no other telephone number is able to accept appointments for Drury. Drury attempts to accommodate as many clients as possible on any given day. Due to the high demand for services, we may be unable to fill all requests for service on a specific date.

Taxpayers are required to bring photo ID, Social Security cards of themselves and dependents, as well as any tax documentation which they have received, including all W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and statements issued by brokerage firms. Clients are also asked to bring a copy of their 2013 state and federal tax returns to help speed up the filing process. The Drury VITA site is located in the Breech School of Business Administration at the corner of Central Street and Drury Lane.

Due to limitations set by the federal government, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs are unable to help taxpayers who have declared bankruptcy or incurred insolvency during the tax year, have rental property, have a self-owned business with inventory, depreciable property, or which had an overall loss for the year, and certain situations in which a taxpayer has received a forgiveness of debt.

The VITA clinics are held at the Breech School of Business Administration building, on the northeast corner of Central Street and Drury Lane. The clinics will be held at the following dates and times:

Saturday, Feb. 7 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 9 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 12 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 14 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 16 – 4 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 21 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 23 – 4 to 8 p.m.

All returns will be filed electronically unless the IRS requires a manual return. All taxpayers must be available to sign the appropriate forms in the case of joint returns.

For more information, please call (417) 873-7522 or send an email to tax@drury.edu.

VIDEO: 2014 VITA tax preparation clinic

###

Drury improves ranking on Kiplinger’s list of 100 best value private colleges

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 20, 2015 — Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has included Drury University on its list of the country’s best values in private universities. Kiplinger’s annual list ranks 100 private universities and 100 liberal arts colleges. This is the second year in a row Drury has made the list. It was ranked 41st among private universities, up from 70th last year.

The complete rankings are available online at kiplinger.com/links/college and in the February 2015 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands now.

Kiplinger’s assesses quality according to measurable standards such as admission rate, percentage of students who return for sophomore year, student-faculty ratio and four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include sticker prices, financial aid and average debt at graduation. Drury’s average student debt upon graduation is lower than the statewide average for students in Missouri.

This is the latest national recognition of the outstanding educational value Drury provides for students and families. U.S. News & World Report named Drury as the No. 1 best value college in the Midwest in its 2015 rankings last fall.

“We salute this year’s top schools,” says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Balancing top-quality education with affordable cost is a challenge for families in today’s economy, which is why Kiplinger’s rankings are such a valuable resource. The schools on the 2015 list offer students the best of both worlds.”

###

Drury students to take part in MLK Day of Service at the Missouri Hotel

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 16, 2014 — A group of Drury University students will take part in the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday.

About 10 Drury students will work on needed maintenance projects at the Missouri Hotel from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday. The Missouri Hotel is a program of The Kitchen, Inc.

The MLK Day of Service began in the 1990s as a way of challenging citizens to use the holiday as way to help others and honor the legacy of Dr. King.  In 2014, volunteers in all 50 states helped make a difference in the lives others in some way on MLK Day.

Service and community engagement are key elements of Drury University’s culture. In 2013, Drury students provided more than 139,000 service hours to people and organizations in Springfield and throughout the Ozarks.

Media Contact: Hannah Minchow-Proffitt, Community Outreach and Leadership Development. Office: (417) 873-6803; Email: hminchow-proffitt@drury.edu

###

Steve Miller Band to perform live at O’Reilly Family Event Center May 29

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 12, 2015 — Iconic classic rock group the Steve Miller Band will appear live in concert at the O’Reilly Family Event Center on Friday, May 29, 2015.

Tickets start at $59 and go on sale starting at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 16 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 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

SMB logo

The Steve Miller Band is one of the top-selling acts of the classic rock era and created some of rock’s most enduring anthems, including “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Space Cowboy,” “Take the Money and Run” and “Jet Airliner.” The group’s mid-70s greatest hits album remains a best seller today as its signature sound continues to win new generations of fans.

An opening act will be announced at a later date. For more information about the Steve Miller Band, visit: http://www.stevemillerband.com.

###

Drury Recognizes Staff Members for Years of Service, Dedication

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 9, 2015 — Drury University recently recognized 23 staff members for milestone service anniversaries and dedication to the university. In addition, the annual Distinguished Staff Service Award was given to Cindy Jones, Registrar. Faculty members are recognized for service anniversaries in the spring, at the end of each academic year.

10 Years

Ed Derr – Director of Counseling, Disability Services and Testing

Barbi Dickensheet – Circulation Services Manager, Olin Library

Steve Hesser – Head Men’s Basketball Coach

Steve Hynds – Director of Online Education

Donna King – Office Coordinator, College of Continuing Professional Studies – St. Robert

Sarah Jones – Senior Designer

Tammy Nilsen – Executive Office Assistant, Student Affairs

LeeRoy Rogers – Lead Custodian

Diana Serafimov – Interface and Security Software Analyst

Teresa Skidmore – Director of Donor Research & Information Systems

Don Trogdon – Custodian

Kris Wasson – General Maintenance Technician

15 Years

Hal Boyer – Lead Custodian

Bob Gardner – Manager, Carbon Copy

Charles Obradovich – Custodian

Robert Wallace – Custodian

Elizabeth Ussery – General Accountant

25 Years

Sherry Beasley – Perkins Loan/Collection Coordinator

Mary Iarussi – Site Director, College of Continuing Professional Studies – Rolla

Jean Stone – Receptionist

30 Years

Annette Enloe – Associate Registrar/Registration Technology Manager

Doris Weber – Executive Office Assistant, Development & Alumni Relations

40 Years

Dan Cashel ­– Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement

2014 Distinguished Staff Award – Cindy Jones, Registrar

###

Westenberg back in Broadway spotlight during “Into the Woods” reunion

Long before he became the Artistic Director of Drury University’s theater programs, Robert Westenberg could boast of a successful career on Broadway, television and film. Today he’s found a new love directing and mentoring students, but he was recently pulled back into the Broadway spotlight in an unusual way – for the reunion of the classic Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical “Into the Woods.” Coincidentally, a film version of “Into the Woods” starring Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and others opens in theaters nationwide this month.

The Tony Award-winning show is a mash-up of classic Grimm’s fairy tales, interwoven with a plot about a baker and his wife as they wish to have a child. Having previously worked with Sondheim and Lapine in their production of “Sunday in the Park with George,” Westenberg was brought on as an original cast member of “Into the Woods” when it debuted on Broadway in 1987. He had dual roles as both the Wolf and Prince Charming. Other notable cast members included Bernadette Peters as the Witch, Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s Wife and Springfield native Kim Crosby as Cinderella. (In their own version of “happily ever after,” Crosby and Westenberg first met while working on the show and eventually married.)

Original Broadway cast members of "Into the Woods," including Robert Westenberg at left.

Original Broadway cast members of “Into the Woods,” including Robert Westenberg at left.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the show’s final performance, the cast reunited for one night on stage at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in southern California last month. Humorist Mo Rocca moderated interviews with the creators and cast, who performed selected songs and scenes. A second show was added due to demand and the audience included at least a few fans were stars in their own right, including no less than Barbra Streisand. Besides several glowing reviews from the LA Times, Wall Street Journal and others, the raucous reaction from a packed house took everyone involved by surprise – proving that the musical’s cult following remains as strong as ever.

We spoke to Westenberg shortly afterward about the musical, the reunion and the performance.

 

Q: How was the reunion? What was it like to reconnect with these greats?

Fantastic. I did that show for two years, and I had not seen some of those people for almost the full 25 years since we closed. And it was exactly the same as when we left off – it was as comfortable as you’d be with your family. We know each other like you’d know a brother or sister. We worked for years together day after day after day. It was just a wonderful mix of mutual respect. So the reunion aspect was spectacular.

Q: What about the performance aspect of it all? I know there was no small amount of preparation involved…

It was fun. Rehearsing it was fun. Stressful, but fun. We had two shows. The first show had a certain magic to it for us in the cast. It was extraordinarily scary because we didn’t know how it was going to be received. Mo Rocca was someone we’d just met. He’s incredibly good. Very genial, and does his homework. He’s also quick on his feet – he was just feeding off of everyone.

As we began there was a blackout, and you heard the iconic voice of the narrator from the album, say “Once Upon a Time…” And the audience – it was an explosion that was hard to describe – 3,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs. We thought ‘Oh my God.’ We were rock stars for that moment in time. I thought, ‘You know what, I know I’m not a rock star, but I’m going to eat this up. I’m going to enjoy this.’

The performance itself was stressful for me because I had a cold in the weeks before. So I was nervous as hell, but when the number was over it was like I’d found the cure for cancer. It was insanity. I’m just a Joe Blow who mows his lawn every week and comes to work. I don’t perceive myself in that way in any way shape or form. Then to have people perceive you that way is bizarre. It’s fun and unrealistic, but a kick in the pants.

Westenberg sings and acts with Joanna Gleason, who played the Baker's Wife, during the reunion.

Westenberg sings and acts with Joanna Gleason, who played the Baker’s Wife, during the reunion.

Q: Why do you think “Into the Woods” has had such enduring appeal?

Jim and Steve talked about that during the reunion. They were pleased at its strength and longevity and the fact that it’s one of the most-produced shows in high schools across the country. It’s large enough to be able to contain a variety of different viewpoints. If you ask one particular person what “What Into the Woods” is, their interpretation could be wildly different than somebody else’s.

Q: Stephen Sondheim is a Broadway legend. What is it about his style and his body of work that people have connected with over the years?

I find him utterly compelling. He loves plot-driven, situational writing. Actors love to do Sondheim because his characters are almost always solving a problem, and that’s actable. There’s an action connected to it. As Bernadette put in it at the reunion, with Steve, you just have to go where he takes you and go there fully. He will lead you, ultimately, where the character is supposed to go. One of his main thematic motifs is that he always works from the specific. He believes the universal can only be achieved when you’re coming from the specific because that’s what people recognize. It’s in the details that people see themselves.

Q: What was the biggest surprise for you in all of this?

I’ve worked with Sondheim a long time over a number of years. I love Steve and, man, do I respect him. He’s a bona fide genius, and true artist and a true professional. But he is not warm and fuzzy. But there was a different Steve there. There was a humanity to him that was abundant. A softening. There was a moment at the end of the second show when Mo asked what this has meant. (Sondheim) said, ‘It’s upsetting – I don’t want it to ever end.’ There were three of us who put our hands on his shoulders, and his head went down. It was powerful.

Cast members listen as legendary composer Stephen Sondheim speaks during a panel discussion.

Cast members listen as legendary composer Stephen Sondheim speaks during a panel discussion.

Q: How do experiences like this and your prior career help bring the study of theater to life for your students?

My job is to create a truly pre-professional atmosphere here, fully integrated with the liberal arts and fully cross-pollinated with all the other disciplines. But at the same time we are deeply focused on making sure the skills and the craft and the opportunities that are provided here are something that will translate into the real world. What I’ve done is basically cherry picked from my 30-plus years of experience and training to deliver what I think are real world applications. These are things that are doable, that are not so esoteric or so limited to the privileged few who have the talent. It’s a blue-collar approach to acting.

Q: Does that point get driven home a bit more when you’re whisked away for an event like this reunion?

Hopefully it gives me a little more street cred and gives a little more weight to what I say, but also I hope it gives students a role model in terms of what’s achievable. It’s not some pie in the sky level of stardom. It’s not about stardom. It’s about work. It’s about technique. It’s about this whole class of working actors who live in New York or elsewhere and are in show after show and make a living at it.

###

Interview by Mike Brothers, Director of Media Relations. All photos by Doug Gifford, courtesy of the Segerstrom Center.

Drury awards degrees to more than 300 graduates at winter commencement

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 13, 2014 — Drury University awarded degrees to 339 graduates at its winter commencement ceremonies today. There were 302 undergraduate degrees and 32 graduate degrees conferred by both the traditional Day School the College of Continuing Professional Studies. Some students earned multiple degrees.

Dr. John Jungmann, superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, was the keynote speaker. A native of Lamar, Jungmann began his tenure at SPS in July following stints as superintendent for Liberty Public Schools and the Monett R-1 School District.

Jungmann urged the class of 2014 to innovate, give back and live life to its fullest. Innovation has always driven the economy and provides opportunities for creative thinkers to lead, he told the graduates, while giving is a matter of responsibility and repaying the gifts they’ve received.

Dr. John Jungmann speaks to the Drury Class of 2014.

Dr. John Jungmann speaks to the Drury Class of 2014.

“I can safely predict that each of you didn’t get here today on your own,” Jungmann said. “A friend, teacher, mentor or parent gave their dollars, time, words of encouragement or maybe even just a pat on the back. It’s critical that you pay this forward. Giving is contagious.”

Finally, Jungmann asked today’s graduates to act, rather than simply observe, as they move into the next phase of their lives.

“We need graduates willing to get out and live a life of engagement. Our country cannot afford to have citizens who live a life of apathy,” he said. “Get out and live a life of purpose and passion that impacts our world.”

###

Drury forms academic partnership with Kansas City’s Barstow School

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 12, 2014 — The leaders of Drury University and the Barstow School in Kansas City signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday that will help bolster both schools’ commitment to academic excellence and engaged global learning.

Barstow is an independent, co-educational college preparatory school in Kansas City. Founded in 1884, the school boasts a rich academic tradition, with a special commitment to international learning through affiliate schools in China, Japan, Germany and Australia.

Dr. David Manuel, Drury President, and Shane Foster, Head of the Barstow School in Kansas City.

Dr. David Manuel, Drury President, and Shane Foster, Head of the Barstow School in Kansas City.

The agreement will streamline admission of Barstow graduates into Drury University and create a collaborative learning partnership between the two schools. The partnership will meet the needs of a growing community of Barstow students across the globe who desire a first-rate American education, and it will deepen Drury’s commitment to diversity and international enrollment. About 12 percent of Drury’s current student body hails from 51 foreign countries.

Major points of the partnership include:

  • International students who are on track to complete their high school diploma from Barstow’s Kansas City campus or any of its international campuses – and who meet certain GPA, English proficiency and other requirements – will be guaranteed admission to Drury.
  • A Barstow/Drury Scholarship will be established for international students from the Barstow School who meet admission criteria. Scholarships will range from $1,000 to $3,000 annually and can be added to other earned academic awards.
  • Drury faculty will travel to Barstow’s Shanghai and Ningbo campuses in China to offer advanced instruction in subjects not often taught in China, such as creative writing. Drury faculty will act as professors in residence on each campus during January intersessions, and will be selected for participation and travel to China on a competitive basis.
  • The schools will develop summer immersion experiences for international Barstow students on Drury’s campus in Springfield. These residential experiences will include an introduction to the American system of higher education and the American experience. The programs will be led by Drury faculty and could include a wide range of cultural and social activities.

“Drury and Barstow have a common heritage through our founding in the liberal arts tradition, and a shared vision for global education in the 21st century,” said Dr. David Manuel, Drury’s president. “This partnership will give Barstow’s international students an avenue to continue their American education in a familiar setting, and it gives Drury access to an outstanding pool of bright and highly dedicated young minds.”

Media contacts: Mike Brothers, Drury’s Director of Media Relations, (417) 873-7390 or mikebrothers@drury.edu; or Kellye Crocket, Director of Admission & Marketing at the Barstow School, (816)  277-0413 or kellye.crockett@barstowschool.org.

Signature projects land Drury on the 2014 Community Service Honor Roll

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 11, 2014 — Drury University has been selected for inclusion on the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering and service, administers the award as a way of highlighting the vital role colleges and universities play in addressing community needs.

Three Drury projects were submitted as outstanding examples of community engagement, including:

  • The Butterfly Garden and Overlook in Joplin’s Cunningham Park, a memorial and place of healing following the devastating 2011 tornado. The project involved students and faculty from the Design/Build program at the Hammons School of Architecture as well as the music therapy, psychology and English programs plus many other external partners.
  • The Drury Scholars Program, which has provided academic and cultural enrichment for local African-American middle school and high school students, with the goal of placing them on a path toward college admission. Numerous Drury faculty members and staff from across the university participate.
  • Art Inspired, a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities who might not otherwise be able to work. Art Inspired was co-developed by Drury’s Enactus team in collaboration with Abilities First.

“Drury students, faculty and staff are highly engaged in the community, and choosing just three projects to submit to for consideration was a difficult task,” said Courtney Swan, director of community outreach and leadership development at Drury. “A common thread in each of these projects is that they will all help bring about lasting change in one way or another by affecting people’s lives in personal and meaningful ways.”

In 2013, Drury students provided more than 139,000 service hours to people and organizations in Springfield and the Ozarks. In 2014, the university began publishing an annual Community Engagement Report to highlight many of those efforts.

Nationwide, college students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country — a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.

###