October 6, 2015
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.