Inaugural Alumni Convocation and 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 6, 2015 — Drury University will honor five outstanding alumni and a longtime staff member at its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Recognition Dinner on Friday evening. The event is part of the 2015 Alumni Reunion Weekend, which is expected to bring more than 350 members of the national and international Drury family back to campus.

The weekend kicks off with an Alumni Convocation at 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 8 in Stone Chapel. Noted children’s author and Drury alumnus, David L. Harrison, will deliver an address titled “How Time Passes.” This inaugural Convocation highlights the over 30 years of Drury Distinguished Alumni Award winners and their contributions to the world. Harrison is a previous Distinguished Alumni Award winner for Career Achievement. The public and current students are invited to attend.

The 2015 Distinguished Alumni honorees are chosen for their career achievements, service to their communities and contributions to the University.

“These impressive individuals represent the very best of what it means to be a graduate of Drury University,” says Dianne Johnson, Vice President of Development & Alumni Relations. “They demonstrate how critical thinking developed in the liberal arts tradition combined with leadership, dedication and selflessness create a successful life and career. Each honoree is a wonderful example for our current and future students.”

The honorees are:

Lifetime Achievement – Ralph K. Manley ’49


Ralph Manley earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration from Drury University following his service in World War II. During the war, he received 19 decorations, including 3 Purple Hearts. In his long career as a real estate developer, he built more than 1,500 homes in the area. Manley was elected to Springfield City Council in 1999. His community involvement also includes service with Masonic organizations, the American Legion, the 101st Airborne Division Association, and the Home Builders Association of Springfield. Manley received the Outstanding Alumni Award in 1973 and was named Springfieldian of the Year by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

Distinguished Career Achievement – Heidi Prather ’87


Prather attended the University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, graduating summa cum laude in 1991. She is certified in three areas: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. Prather is now a Professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she also holds various leadership roles. She has received numerous awards for her teaching in medicine, and she was the first woman to become President of the North American Spine Society.

Distinguished Community Service – Mary Faith Buresh Holzer ’68


Holzer started a home improvement program in partnership with six churches. She has written to Washington D.C. and played a role in getting two laws enacted. The first provided an option for insurance coverage for people hurt while volunteering, and the second guaranteed Social Security benefits to servers in the food service industry. Mary has also sponsored five children from Africa, is a published author, and has received the “Patriot of the Year” award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Distinguished University Engagement – John William (Bill) Ricketts, MBA ’71


Ricketts has been honored many times for his ambitious mentality in a business career that spanned more than four decades. He has dedicated much of his time to Drury University by offering constant encouragement, advice and support to the students and faculty within the Breech School of Business. Truly an example of “The Drury Difference,” Ricketts has donated funds to various key projects within the University, helped students connect with alumni, and has supported overall student activities. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees, a position he has held since 1995.

Distinguished Young Alumnus – Cliff Johnson ’03


Johnson is the co-founder of vacation rental company Vacasa, LLC. The company was voted “Fastest growing company in the Portland (Ore.) Region in 2014,” and was recognized as one of the top 10 fastest growing private companies in the nation by the Portland Business Journal. Besides his success in business, Cliff runs marathons and also serves on the board of MAPLE Microdevelopment, which helps people in impoverished areas of the world achieve financial independence.

Faculty/Staff Appreciation – Dan Cashel


Cashel has been involved with Drury for more than 40 years and has taken on many roles. He began working in the Admissions Office in 1974 and later moved to Student Affairs. He eventually transitioned into Athletics beginning in 1979 where he oversaw NCAA compliance and was Sports Information Director. Cashel was also a tennis coach and intramural director, and director of the Barber Fitness Center. Today he is Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement.


Pool Art Center Gallery 2015-16 exhibits schedule 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sep. 30, 2015 —  The Pool Art Center Gallery will display a wide variety of galleries throughout the remainder of the 2015-16 year. Exhibits will feature works by faculty, students and alumni, as well as a variety of artists from outside the Drury community.

The Gallery is located at 940 N. Clay Ave. and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Opening Receptions occur from 6 to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month (except January).

Oct. 2 through 30 – A photographic exhibit by art professor Gregory L. Booker, titled “Quiet Places,” will feature scenes from rural America. The show explores the quiet localities that are often unnoticed and unknown by the rest of America.

Nov. 6 through 24  Artist Rebekah Polly will display her exhibit “Color: A Collective Experience,” a display of narratives from people of color living in the Ozarks.

Painting by Rebekah Polly

Painting by Rebekah Polly

Dec. 4 through Jan. 29 – Patricia Watts, an independent curator and founder of Ecoartspace, will display her curated exhibit titled “Outsiders.” The featured outsiders are artists who are self-taught and have had little or no formal training.

Feb. 5 through 15 – The featured exhibit will be Robert Gerhardt’s “Muslim/American, American/Muslim,” an exhibit of portraits of Musilm Americans. Gerhardt seeks to expose a serious cultural misunderstanding that has led to discrimination and even acts of violence towards Muslim Americans.

March 4 through 25 – Meganne Rosen O’Neal’s collection “Cartogrpahy of Color” will be displayed. O’Neal is guided by the process of painting and creating toward her final piece. “Cartogrpahy of Color” examines the meditative aspects of creation through artistic tools such as shape, color, line and texture.

April 1 through 29 – “Feeding the World: Songs of Growing and Melting Snow,” an exhibit by Amanda Hanson with Nicholas Ward, will be featured. The exhibit is a contemplation on contemporary farming practices and how propaganda, media, culture and tradition influence different systems of growing food.

May 6 through 14 – The Senior Apex Exhibition closes the year. Throughout the spring semester, senior art majors will complete their captstone projects. The projects, which summarize the students’ experiences at Drury, will be presented together as part of the Apex Exhibition.


C-Street Gallery opens Undergraduate Juried Exhibit on Oct. 2

SPRINGFIELD, MO., Sept. 28, 2015 – The Drury on C-Street Gallery will open its October showing, the Drury Undergraduate Juried Exhibit, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2. An undergraduate show will be the featured exhibition for the first time ever at the gallery.

The reception is free with food and refreshments provided. The Drury Jazz Ensemble will provide entertainment for the evening. The gallery is located at 233 E. Commercial St.

The exhibition features the works of undergraduates chosen by Drury art faculty and juried by associate art professor Jacqueline Warren. Each featured artist – McKenzie Johnson, Ryan Quigg, Trevor Wellman and Olivia Willoughby – focuses on a different medium and will have a diverse set of artwork in the show.

The Drury Undergraduate Juried Exhibit should not be confused with the annual senior undergraduate show in May at the Pool Art Center on campus. This is a different opportunity for undergraduate art students to present their work to the community.

This exhibition runs from Oct. 2 through 30. Gallery viewing hours after the opening reception will be 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on two Saturdays, Oct. 10 and 24.

For more information, call (816) 308-8404 or visit Drury on C-Street’s Facebook page at

About Drury on C-Street

The Drury on C-Street Project is an initiative by Drury University, in partnership with other local organizations, to establish a Drury Center on Commercial Street. This center includes an art gallery, a business resource center, space for weaving looms, architecture classroom and a multi-use area for additional classes and seminars. The Drury on C-Street Gallery is a professional, student-run gallery featuring emerging and established artists. Drury University’s Drury on C-Street Gallery provides arts administration majors the experience of promoting the work of local artists. The gallery connects the community to new and relevant art in an accessible and welcoming environment.


Drury community marks Banned Books Week with readings 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 28, 2015 — Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society will host a banned book reading from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, at Olin Library on the Drury campus in recognition of national Banned Books Week.

This year’s Banned Books Week theme is young adult fiction, which includes popular titles such as the “Harry Potter” series, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Giver,” and “Go Ask Alice.”

“Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read books that have been banned from schools and libraries for various reasons such as supposedly inappropriate content,” says Drury senior Sarah Lee, vice president of Sigma Tau Delta. “It’s a way to express ourselves when censorship tries to deter us from doing so. Everyone deserves the ability to speak freely.”

“The reading is intended to celebrate the liberating qualities of these books,” said Dr. Kevin Henderson, Assistant Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and advisor to Sigma Tau Delta, “and to make listeners wonder why works like ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ are still being banned, even today.”

Sigma Tau Delta will also accept book donations during the event for the Little Free Library project in order to help make literature more available to everyone.


Taylor tapped to lead Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., September 23, 2015 — The Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship is under new leadership this fall as Dr. John Taylor takes over as the Center’s director. He succeeds Dr. Kelley Still, who has been director for the past five years.

Taylor is an associate professor with the Breech School of Business and a longtime advisor to Drury’s award-winning Enactus Team. He also teaches German and is a 1997 Drury alumnus. He began teaching at Drury in 2001. Still returns full time to the Breech faculty, where she teaches accounting and continues to advise the Edward Jones Scholars. She has been a Drury faculty member since 1995.

Dr. John Taylor

Dr. John Taylor

In addition to new leadership, the Center has moved to a new location on campus – the second floor of Springfield Hall. An open house and reception marking the changes will be held at the new location on Oct. 28 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Launched in 2007, the Edward Jones Center provides budding entrepreneurs – including Drury students and area business people – with the acumen to create new, innovative ventures and the tools to continually refresh their organizations as business environments change. Under Still’s leadership, the Edward Jones Center has held annual events such as the Womens’ Entrepreneurship Symposium and the Self-Employment in the Arts Conference. Taylor says he would like to see more scholarly research and data analysis become a regular part of the Center’s offerings. The change also puts Drury’s Enactus (formerly SIFE) Team under the Edward Jones Center umbrella.

“I’m excited to use the Center to further drive the conversation about entrepreneurship in Springfield by adding new ideas and perspectives to the mix,” Taylor says. “I would also like to thank Kelley Still for the amazing network of supporters and partners she’s built over the last five years. You cannot have a conversation if you don’t have a network of people to speak to in the community.”

“I am delighted that John is taking over,” Still says. “I am confident he will succeed in providing wonderful ideas that will push the Center’s momentum to new heights.”

For more information about the Edward Jones Center, go to:


Humanities Center hosts lecture on steampunk, labor and digital culture

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 22, 2015 — Drury University’s Humanities & Ethics Center will host a talk by Dr. Roger Whitson of Washington State University at 5:30 p.m., Thursday at Reed Auditorium in the Trustee Science Center. The event is free and open to the public, and is made possible through a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council.

Whitson is a 2000 Drury University alumnus. He is currently a professor of English at Washington State, where he also teaches in the Digital Technology and Culture program. Whitson will give a lecture titled: “Steampunk, Labor and the Humanities.”

Dr. Roger Whitson

Dr. Roger Whitson

Steampunk, a contemporary genre of science fiction set in Victorian England, provides fresh answers to the important question: What attention should be paid to the working conditions of people who create our technological devices? Whitson argues that alternate histories of Victorian London invite us to think about how labor movements intersect with the production and distribution of our own technology. He contends we should think carefully about not only how technology shapes our lives today, but also about the lives of those who create that technology.

The Humanities & Ethics Center’s theme for the 2015-16 year is #humgoespow or “Humanities And Power.” The series will focus on key questions such as, “What is power?”, “How does it operate?”, and “How does it make itself known and visible throughout the records of human experience?”

Now in its third year, the Humanities & Ethics Center seeks to engage students and local residents by promoting open discussions about various humanistic ideas and values. The Center’s main events center on initiatives in the public humanities, including a Moxie Film Series, the “Human, All Too Human” blog and podcast, and initiatives for the Drury community, including a Thinking Aloud Series, a Reading Discussion Series, a Humanities House for student resident-scholars and a student Humanities Society.


Media Contact: Katie Gilbert – Director, Humanities & Ethics Center. Office: (417) 873-6941; email:

Drury team awarded 3rd place in 2015 ACSA Design Competition

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., September 22, 2015 — A team comprised of two Drury students, an alumnus and a professor earned 3rd place out of more than 500 entries in an international design contest sponsored by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

The 2014-2015 Steel Design Student Competition challenged architecture students to design a library guided by the principles of innovation, creativity, identity, sustainability and functionality. Additionally, design proposals were to take a strong conceptual position about the changing nature of the library as a building type and as a mirror of contemporary culture.

Library exterior view

Library exterior view

Current 5th-year students Junye Zhou and Tony Tai-An Yue and 2014 Drury graduate Nicholas Fish, worked with Visiting Assistant Professor Yong Huang on their library design as an extra-curricular project in addition to their academic and professional obligations. The work, titled “Beacon – Heterotopia of Lagos’ Public Space,” is posted on the ACSA website and will be published in an upcoming book. It will also be exhibited at the ACSA National Convention in Seattle in March and at the American Institute of Architects Annual Convention in Philadelphia in May.

This is the first time Drury has placed in this national contest juried by well-known and award-winning practitioners and educators.

A reading room within the library.

A reading room within the library.

“This is a fantastic accomplishment for this talented team and the committed professor who worked closely with them in a less formal setting than the typical studio or classroom setting,” said Dr. Robert Weddle, dean of the Hammons School of Architecture. “This is the kind of experience fostered by the unique environment of Drury and the HSA where students and faculty know each other well and collaborate on projects they’re passionate about.”

All accredited architecture programs in the United States and Canada are ACSA members, and other affiliated programs bring the number of member schools to more than 250. The ACSA’s student competitions are the largest and most important annual competitions for architecture students.


Solar Decathlon house nears completion; open house Sept. 22

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 17, 2015 — A diverse team of students from Drury University and Crowder College is entering the final stretch of an 18-month-long effort to design, build and operate a cutting-edge home for the national Solar Decathlon competition.

The media and public are invited to the Crowder College campus to tour the house and help send off the team from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Student team members, faculty advisors and representatives from some of the project’s many sponsors will be present and available for interviews. Team members are also available in the days before and after the open house, both in Springfield and Neosho.

Outside rendering

The house will be disassembled and loaded onto trucks on Sept. 23 for the trip to the Decathlon, which takes place during the month of October in the desert outside Irvine, California.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, this international contest pits future architects, engineers, marketers and business people from the nation’s top colleges against one another, challenging them to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

The Crowder-Drury entry accomplishes all this – and more. Dubbed ShelteR3, or “Shelter Cubed,” the house has a three-prong design philosophy of Respond, Recover and Resist. Inspired by the devastating and deadly 2011 Joplin tornado, the house is transportable so that it can be trucked to disaster areas during emergency response and recovery efforts. It can then be converted in a permanent and stylish living structure that is designed to resist the extreme winds and debris clouds of potential tornadoes.

“Students from 22 different majors here at Drury and from Crowder have poured countless hours of time and talent into this project over the last year and a half,” said Traci Sooter, project manager and a faculty advisor to the team. “It’s incredibly exciting to see the ShelteR3 house become a reality, and we cannot wait to finally stack our ideas up against the other teams.”

For much more information, including renderings, videos and more about the team’s inspiration, visit For more information about the Decathlon, including a list of other schools in the competition, visit

Media Contacts:

  • Traci Sooter, Professor of Architecture, (417) 234-6405
  • Evan Melgren, Student Communication Chair, (417) 827-1793
  • Cindy Brown, Director of Public Information, Crowder College, (417) 455-5540


Drury earns high marks in U.S. News & World Report rankings

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 9, 2015 — U.S. News & World Report has once again ranked Drury among the Midwest’s top schools for both quality and value in its “Best Colleges 2016” publication, released today.

Drury is ranked No. 11 in the Midwest on the U.S. News “Best Regional Universities” list. Drury earned outstanding marks for its ability to deliver personalized attention to students, thanks to a high percentage of classes with 20 or fewer students (69 percent) and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10 to 1. Drury’s graduation rate and alumni giving rate were also highlights.

Drury is the top-ranked school in Missouri on the U.S. News “Best Value Schools” Midwest region list – a crucial measure given today’s concerns about student debt. Drury is No. 3 on that list, which includes both public and private schools. Additionally, Drury ranked No. 11 on the 2016 “Best Universities for Veterans” list.

(Please note: U.S. News creates separate lists for regional universities and regional colleges in some categories.)

The listings continue a trend of excellence for Drury, which has been in the Top 15 of the U.S. News “Best Regional Universities” list every year for the past two decades. Drury has consistently ranked high as a “Best Value” school for more than 15 years.

The rankings can be viewed online at

“To be highly ranked by your peers and confirmed by independent data is gratifying and affirming,” said Drury President Dr. David Manuel. “It’s especially gratifying to be recognized for the incredible value Drury provides. Students today are looking closely at the return on investment when choosing where to earn their degree. The accomplishments of our faculty and the career outcomes of our graduates demonstrate that value every day.”

The U.S. News ranking comes on the heels of Drury’s selection in August as a “Best in the Midwest” college by The Princeton Review.

About the Rankings

U.S News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings include nearly 1,400 schools nationwide, and are designed to give a quick comparison of the relative quality of institutions based on such widely accepted indicators of excellence as freshman retention and graduation rates and the strength of the faculty. The ranking system uses quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, as well as the publication’s own researched view of what matters in education.


Author to speak about “Place in Fiction” at Pop-Up Writer’s Talk

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 2, 2015 — Author Andrew Bynom will give a Pop Up Writer’s Talk at Drury on Friday. Bynom, currently a teacher at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, will explore the topic “Place in Fiction” as it relates to his new novel, “The Executioner’s Race.”

The talk takes place at 11 a.m., Friday, Sept. 4, in the Harwood Reading Room of Drury’s Olin Library. The event is free and open to the pubic.

This Pop Up Writer’s Talk is sponsored by Ginkgo Tree Review and the Missouri Arts Council. Ginkgo Tree Review is a literary magazine produced and published by the English Department at Drury University. It was one of a select few literary magazines in the state to receive a Missouri Arts Council grant in support of community events in the literary arts this year.

Bynom lived and worked in Istanbul for many years. “The Executioner’s Race” is the story of a female calligrapher in 19th century Ottoman Istanbul who is condemned to death and imprisoned for turning holy prayers into faces and animals – for “reassembling the word of God.” Her only chance at life – a privilege rarely granted to a woman – is to win a race against a bostanci, one of the Sultan’s guards and executioners.