May 12, 2014
Community engagement is a lynchpin of education at Drury University, and a recent event spotlighted students’ efforts to reach out beyond the campus’s borders.
Drury’s first Engaged Learning Summit was a chance for local leaders to hear first-hand from students who are translating their course work into community action in a variety of ways. The efforts are also summarized in a new Annual Community Engagement Report available online.
“We are committed to measuring our worth in part by our capacity to leave the Ozarks better than the way we found it,” Charles Taylor, vice president for academic affairs, told those gathered.
When measured in time and dollar value, that worth is large indeed. Drury students provide more than 148,000 hours of local service annually, and the estimated value of those hours is more than $2.8 million.
Students discussed projects such as multi-year study of invertibrates and water quality in Jordan Creek. The data collected and analyzed by environmental science students could help guide the City of Springfield’s efforts to further update the waterway with a more natural streambed. Another highlight was the “Art of Space” projects undertaken by architecture students who create interactive spatial art installations during events such as First Friday Art Walks.
Others included Drury Scholars, which gives local African-American middle and high school students a taste of the college experience, and the Intergenerational Rock Band, which pairs music therapy students with older community members to perform live concerts together.
“What is good for Drury is good for the community, and vice versa,” said Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Anderson. “This event is the embodiment of what’s good for Drury and the community.”
Brian Fogle, president of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, appreciated hearing from the students themselves.
“It’s a rewarding experience to see students so engaged in the community, and excited to talk about their work and impact,” Fogle said. “Not only will that benefit them throughout their lives, it should benefit Springfield as they feel more connected to our community.”
Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.