Seeking global insights in Morocco, a cultural crossroads

A recent study abroad trip brought 10 Drury students to a place where two continents, myriad cultures and hundreds of years of history intersect: Morocco.

The group included students majoring in history, political science, business and more, including two minoring in Middle East studies. All sought to gain a better understanding of the Islamic world through their travels and coursework.

It was a “hands-on experience in a country that is the meeting point of Europe and the Islamic world,” said professor of political science Dr. Jeffery VanDenBerg, who led the trip along with Dr. Shelley Wolbrink, professor of history.

Among the cultural sites Drury's group visited in Morocco was the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest mosque in Africa.

Among the cultural sites the group visited in Morocco was the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest mosque in Africa.

Located in North Africa, Morocco is just nine miles from Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. In the Middle Ages, Muslim rule and influence spread from Morocco across the Mediterranean Sea into what is now Spain. European colonization and influence in North Africa would later flow the other direction into Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Senior international political studies major Mai Baldwin[cq] says studying a culture through literature, textbooks or film is worthwhile but no substitute for actually being there.

“I understood not just the macro-level things I read about such as economic structures and how the government worked, but also the day-to-day way of life for many Moroccans,” she says. “I loved experiencing their renowned hospitality, seeing the vibrant food markets, and witnessing the joy with which so many people lived.”

The Drury study abroad group with Berber guides in the Sahara Desert while exploring Morocco.

The Drury study abroad group with Berber guides in the Sahara Desert while exploring Morocco.

More than half of Drury undergraduates study abroad during their college careers. But this trip took on an added impact when the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris occurred just as the group prepared to return to Springfield.

That act clashed with the way students saw religion in everyday life during the prior two weeks in Morocco, a majority Muslim country that cultivates a strong national identity.

“The trip allowed us to form our own opinion,” said John Cantrell, a sophomore accounting and finance major. “We got to go over there and see for ourselves.”

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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.

SIVA announces 2015 Visiting Artist Fellows, calls for applications

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 3, 2015 — The Summer Institute for Visual Arts at Drury University has confirmed its 2015 Visiting Artists and is now accepting applications for new students. An information session on the program will be held Thursday, Feb. 19 and can be attended in-person or online.

2015 Visiting Artist Fellows

Established in 2008, the Summer Institute for Visual Arts (SIVA) at Drury University is dedicated to advanced research and practice in the field of contemporary visual arts. Each summer, SIVA offers four Visiting Artist Fellowships to internationally recognized artists and a Master of Arts in Studio Art and Theory (MART) program for emerging and aspiring artists.

“We are very excited for this year’s Visiting Artist Fellows who were chosen from a pool of over 80 international applications.” says SIVA director Sarrita Hunn. “These artists all have extensive international professional experience and include faculty from some of the best art programs in the country including San Francisco Art Institute, Carnegie Mellon, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Parsons The New School for Design, among others.”

Below are capsule bios for the 2015 visiting artist fellows. More detailed information about each can be found at the SIVA website.

Matt Borruso is a visual artist who lives and works in San Francisco. His current work examines processes of replication in various forms such as paintings, wax castings, found sculptural objects, airbrushed photographs, digital files, book making, writing, and graphite drawings. Borruso received his MFA from Yale University in 2004 and his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002. He is a recent Lecturer at Stanford University, current Visiting Faculty at San Francisco Art Institute and a Senior Lecturer at California College of the Arts.

Ben Kinsley’s projects have ranged from choreographing a neighborhood intervention into Google Street View, directing surprise theatrical performances inside the homes of strangers, and collecting put-down jokes from around the world to planting a buried treasure in the streets of Mexico City (yet to be found). He has taught at American University, Carnegie Mellon and Cleveland Institute of Art among others. In spring 2015 he will teach a workshop with Virginia Commonwealth University in Doha, Qatar. Kinsley currently lives in Ridgewood, Queens, New York City.

Chelsea Knight is an artist and educator specializing in video and video installation, with an emphasis on experimental narrative and documentary forms. Recently she has worked with a survivalist militia in upstate New York, a United Nations diplomat, interrogators from the Iraq War, second and third wave feminists and Tea Party members. Knight teaches at Parsons the New School for Design, SUNY Purchase and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently a Research and Development Artist in Residence at the New Museum (NYC).

Christine Laquet uses different forms of expression (including installation, painting, performance and film) to challenge the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, Nature and Culture and our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. Her work has been widely exhibited internationally and is included in many public collections. She has taught workshops at ESBAN Nantes School of Art (France), Gyeonggi Creation Center (Korea), and Norköpping University (Sweden) among others. She is based in Nantes, France.

Spring Info Night

SIVA will host an information session for prospective students at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19 at Pool Art Center, Drury University. The session can be attended in person or online. RSVP for both options via email to: shunn@drury.edu.

This session will cover all aspects of the Master of Arts in Studio Art and Theory (MART) program including curriculum, visiting artists, resources and facilities, application process, fees and housing, and financial aid. Faculty, staff and current students will be available to answer questions and help you learn what it takes to be a successful graduate student at Drury University.

Call for Applications

Enrollment is limited. The priority deadline for admission is March 31.

The MART curriculum includes an intensive 10-week period each summer that allows students to focus on artistic development in a critically driven environment, while earning graduate-level course credit toward a Master of Arts in Studio Art and Theory degree. By combining artist residency with graduate program studies, SIVA bridges the gap between an academic undergraduate education and a professional art career. Participants develop a capacity for independent practice and scholarship under the guidance of visiting artist fellows, faculty and staff, who, as experienced and engaged practitioners, provide first-hand understanding of contemporary art issues.

WHO SHOULD APPLY?

  • Emerging and aspiring artists who hold an undergraduate degree (from any field) who wish to develop their art practice.
  • Artists further in their career looking to participate in a critical dialogue and reinvigorate their art practice.
  • Artists working in any medium including video and other electronic media, installation, performance, socially-engaged and hybrid practices.
  • Artists who wish to develop a portfolio for application to an MFA program.
  • Post-graduate (or non-degree seeking) students interested in the opportunity to work with our visiting artist fellows.
  • Art educators who want to pursue their Masters degree during the summer months.

The tuition costs for the entire three-summer, 30-hour Master of Arts degree program is currently less than $10,000.

For more complete information about the program, visiting artist fellows, eligibility and cost, visit the SIVA website at www.drury.edu/siva. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact the program at mart-siva@drury.edu.

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Guest lecture will highlight the intersection of architecture & ecology

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 2, 2015 — The Hammons School of Architecture will host a lecture by Joyce Hwang, the director of the firm Ants of the Prairie, at 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6.

Hwang founded the Buffalo, New York-based firm in 2004 as an office of architectural practice and research that focuses on confronting contemporary ecological conditions through creative means. She has developed a series of projects that incorporate wildlife habitats into constructed environments.

The lecture is part of the HSA 2014-2015 Lecture Series “Locating Design,” which explores the practice of critically engaging physical sites through the act of design.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information about the Hammons School of Architecture, visit drury.edu/architecture.

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Grant will send professor back to his native Kenya to teach

Academic life brought Dr. Albert Korir from Kenya to the United States. Now, academics are taking him back home.

Korir, an associate professor of chemistry at Drury, is one of 60 scholars in the United States and Canada from a variety of fields to be selected for the latest round of Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowships. The program facilitates engagement between U.S. and Canadian scholars born in Africa with their African counterparts.

Albert Korir

Albert Korir

Korir will teach at Moi University this summer. His project will involve co-developing a curriculum that uses innovative technological strategies for teaching chemistry using the “flipped-class” model. While there, he’ll have the opportunity to teach using a set of web-based tools he and a group of colleagues have been developing for several years called the Analytical Sciences Digital Library (ASDL).

“We’ve developed web-based material that is peer-reviewed and freely available to both instructors and students,” he says.

There’s no shortage of online tools for learning, Korir says, but few are peer-reviewed in this way.

Korir became involved with ASDL after coming to a typical crossroads for chemistry graduates: research industry or academia? A faculty mentor during his graduate school years at the University of Kansas saw Korir’s potential as a teacher and encouraged him to remain in academia while at the same time conducting research.

A handful of students have worked directly with Korir on research projects every year since he joined the Drury faculty in 2008, giving him a chance to pass on the mentorship and guidance that helped him find his own career footing.

Korir will bring this personalized style of teaching with him to Kenya. The “flipped” classroom model sees students take in the lectures at home via the web and come to class for discussions and apply their knowledge and collaborate with others on projects.

“My colleagues in Africa tell me the students have become very receptive to this style of learning – they’re getting to interact with the professors more closely now,” Korir says.

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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.

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.”

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Professor’s photos capture small town “relics” & celebrations

Greg Booker has a keen eye for out-of-the-way places.

The assistant professor of art and communication at Drury has for several years now been photographing and documenting everyday scenes in small – sometimes very small – towns in Missouri, Oklahoma and some southern states.

A barbershop scene in Clinton, Missouri.

A barbershop scene in Clinton, Missouri.

An exhibit of Booker’s work, titled “Small Town & Quiet Spaces” is now open at the Lightwell Gallery at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Art and Art History. The exhibit will come to Drury’s Pool Art Center this fall.

It’s a passion project that began when Booker returned to Springfield to join Drury’s faculty in 2009. Born in Chicago and raised in St. Louis, Booker earned an art degree from Drury in 1987 before moving to Oklahoma, where he earned a graduate degree in art at OU. He later landed on the photo staff of the Kansas City Star.

An abandoned storefront in Niangua, Missouri.

An abandoned storefront in Niangua, Missouri.

When he and his wife returned to the area, they bought a home outside of Marshfield. That was the first time Booker had lived in the country.

“I’m used to city life,” he says, and the change of scenery brought small and sometimes even forgotten places into focus for him. With camera in hand, he began seeking out the kind of tiny towns that are today little more than places on a map because highways passed them by or because they were simply too small to survive.

“They’re almost like relics,” Booker says. “It just seems like that was a bit of history that needed to be documented, so it was a chance for me to explore the small towns and document them.”

A four-way stop in the heart of Houston, Missouri.

A four-way stop in the heart of Houston, Missouri.

Booker later began shooting the larger but still small towns where people live, work and play. He’s captured celebrations like parades and fall festivals and everyday moments in local shops and sidewalks – the “places where the community can come together and celebrate their heritage, their small towns and their neighbors,” he says.

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

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

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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.”

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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

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Memphis trip brings classroom lessons to life for freshmen

Nearly 30 Drury University freshmen had the chance to travel to Memphis to spend a weekend visiting the National Civil Rights Museum and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum as part of their first-year experience

The trip was tied to Drury’s general education curriculum, called Drury CORE. CORE classes are designed for incoming students and emphasize the interconnectedness of all areas of study.

Experiences like the Memphis trip help form bonds that carry students through the transition into college life. Those bonds are also formed though “Living Learning Communities” – students with common interests and areas of study who are grouped together in residence halls.

Drury freshmen at the Lorriane Motel, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Drury freshmen at the Lorraine Motel, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

“It’s a really comfortable environment – it’s really easy to open up,” says Jacob Wyatt, one the students who was on the Memphis trip. “No one is afraid to say how they feel and we have a lot of good classroom discussions.”

Two CORE classes joined together for the Memphis trip: Dr. Charles Taylor’s class, themed “The Politics of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and Dr. Rick Maxon’s class, themed “On Propaganda and Protest.” The museum trips helped bring to life some of the topics explored in the classroom throughout the semester.

At the Civil Rights Museum, students in the “Propaganda and Protest” class analyzed the variety of methods of protest seen during the Civil Rights movement in America. The “Politics of Rock n’ Roll” students gained a greater understanding of African-American influence on rock music and, in turn, society at large. In the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum[cq], students learned more about rock music as a powerful medium for social change.

Through these activities, the students not only learned about their chosen topics, but were exposed to a much broader perspective on just how powerful these cultural change agents have been over the years.

While learning is the primary purpose, the trips certainly build connections and lasting memories for the students. Taylor says trips such as this “provide another forum in which students can get connected to each other and the university.”

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