Two architecture alumni recognized as emerging leaders by the AIA

SPRINGFIELD, MO., July 2, 2014 — The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the industry’s leading professional membership organization, has recognized two Drury University Hammons School of Architecture alumni as young leaders in the field.

Evelyn Lee and Jason Dale Pierce were among the 18 recipients of the 2014 Young Architects Award for outstanding leadership and contributions to the architecture profession. They formally received the award in front of their peers at the AIA National Convention in Chicago last week. Lee and Pierce were the only awardees from the same undergraduate university. There are more than 120 accredited architecture programs nationwide.

Shani Barel Photography

Lee, a 2002 graduate, was involved in the AIA student group while she was at Drury and feels she was well-prepared when she entered the architecture profession.

“Drury gave me a well-rounded experience for my career, which was great because I help a lot of different clients,” Lee said. “My involvement with the Drury AIAS chapter definitely contributed to my involvement later on with AIA, too.”

Lee currently works for MKThink, an architecture firm in San Francisco. Lee has also been consistently involved in volunteer leadership service throughout her career and has held elected leadership positions at the AIA on local, regional and national boards. She is the youngest person to serve on AIA National’s Executive Committee. Lee’s work has been published in multiple media outlets, and “has driven the profession in a more environmentally, economically, and socially responsible direction,” according to the AIA.

Jason Pierce

Pierce graduated from Drury in 2000 and currently works in the St. Louis office of architecture firm HOK. Pierce started a Young Architect Forum (YAF) chapter at AIA St. Louis, eventually becoming the YAF liaison for the Central States. He currently serves on the board of AIA St. Louis and is a member of the advisory group of the AIA National Practice Management Knowledge Community.

“This important national recognition for Evelyn and Jason is evidence of something we’ve known for some time: Hammons School of Architecture graduates have a talent for leadership — which often gives them advantages as they progress through their professional lives,” says Dr. Robert Weddle, interim director of the Hammons School.

Established in 1984, the Hammons School of Architecture is an accredited five-year professional degree program offering a Master of Architecture degree. The required architecture courses are integrated with the liberal arts curriculum of the university, which prepares students for a professional architectural practice within the broadest possible educational context.

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Drury Scholars prepares African-American students for college

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 23, 2014 — This weekend Drury Scholars began its seventh summer of providing academic and cultural enrichment for local African-American middle school and high school students.

The Scholars program began in 2008 with 15 African American males in an attempt to close the racial achievement gap. It has since to expanded to include young females and grown considerably. This year, about 45 students are in the weeklong program.

It began over the weekend with a trip to Little Rock, Arkansas where students explored African-American historical sites such as Little Rock Central High School, a key location in the fight to desegregate public schools in the United States. Throughout this week, the Scholars will focus on college readiness by writing essays for admission and scholarship applications, and studying for the ACT. They’ll meet with local black leaders such as entrepreneur Lyle Foster and former City Council member Denny Whayne. Classes with Drury faculty are also part of the curriculum.

Local students, global impact

This year Drury Scholars is partnering with a Springfield nonprofit project called For Burkina, which is raising funds to build a school in the impoverished West African nation of Burkina Faso. For Burkina is composed of local young professionals, including several recent alumni of Drury’s Hammons School of Architecture, led by Brittany Layton and Benjamin Hall. Its goal is to fund, design and build a three-classroom primary school for a rural village that will educate more 120 children a year.

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On Sunday evening, the For Burkina team and the Drury Scholars made clay bricks and mosaic tiles. On Wednesday they will paint the bricks and tiles with patterns and artwork depicting African folk tales starting at 4 p.m. at Pool Art Center. Media are invited to cover the event, as well as the entire Drury Scholars week. The bricks and mosaics will later be made available for purchase online, at First Friday Artwalk and at local retailers. All of the proceeds will go towards the $32,000 cost of building the school in Burkina Faso. Materials and supplies have been donated by local businesses including L&R Specialties, MosaicaRose, National Art Shop and Sapp Design Associates Architects.

“We love the partnership with For Burkina,” said Peter Meidlinger, co-founder of Drury Scholars. “Our students will contribute to funding much-needed schools in Burkina Faso. We will all learn about the desperate need for schools in Burkina and the value of education to young people. We’re excited to be a part of the important work that Brittany Layton and Benjamin Hall are committed to.”

“The For Burkina team is thrilled to be working with local kids in order to fund a school for kids in Burkina Faso,” said Benjamin Hall, co-founder of For Burkina. “To be able to work with my alma mater and to be able to see the enthusiasm and dedication toward not only the For Burkina mission but also toward the Summer Scholars students is encouraging.”

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Drury Scholars will continue throughout the week. For more information about Drury Scholars, contact Dr. Peter Meidlinger, (417) 873-7469, pmeidlin@drury.edu; Francine Pratt, (417) 873-6827, fpratt@drury.edu, or Mike Brothers.

For more information about For Burkina, contact: Benjamin Hall, (417) 227-0045, aschoolforburkinafaso@gmail.com, or go to Facebook.com/ForBurkina.

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Summer camps for gifted students underway

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 18, 2014 — Gifted young students from across the area are keeping their minds in shape over the summer break during camps organized by Drury University’s Center for Gifted Education, in partnership with Springfield Public Schools.

Drury provides a summer experience for gifted students of all ages, from pre-K through the 11th grade. The younger age groups are in camps right now, and the older students’ camps will take place in July. Each summer, more than 700 total students attend these camps.

The current camps (called Summer Pals for ages pre-K through grade 1, and Summer Quest for grades 2 through 5) are taking place from each weekday 8:15 to 11:15 a.m. at Weller Elementary School, 1630 N. Weller Ave. The hands-on, activity-oriented courses feature an array of interesting experiences geared specifically toward gifted students. Summer Quest and Summer Pals give students a chance to interact with peers of similar academic abilities and interests, while encouraging them to use their intellectual and creative sides.

“It gives them a sense of self and a sense of community,” says Mary Potthoff, Director of the Center for Gifted Education at Drury. “And it builds on what they’ve learned in the classroom during the school year, keeping their minds engaged during the summer break.”

Drury has been a national leader in providing education and enrichment programs for academically gifted students more than 30 years. The Drury Center for Gifted Education is the most complete center for gifted education in the state of Missouri, and is one of less than 20 complete gifted education centers in the United States. Visit Drury Gifted Education for more information.

Media are invited to cover the Summer Quest and Summer Pals camps. Some of the more interesting and visually appealing courses include:

Thursday, June 19; I Want To Be A Veterinarian! – A guest speaker will introduce students to therapy dogs and tell students how they can volunteer their time with animals to help others.

Tuesday, June 24 & Friday, June 27; Calling Future Astronauts – Students explore the moon, solar system, black holes and more, as well as the future of NASA’s space exploration programs.

Wednesday, June 25; Magical Science Show – Students use science to perform magic tricks at an open house performance for their parents.

Wednesday, June 25; Polar Bears, Penguins & Seals, Oh My! – Students discover how penguins, seals, walruses, whales and many more Antarctic animals live.

Wednesday, June 25; Dinosaurs Alive! – Students study paleontology. On this day they’ll take a field trip to Riverbluff Cave, which contains findings dated to the Pleistocene in age, the time period that spanned from 1.8 million to 11,000 years ago.

Friday, June 27; Around the World in Eight Days – Students will present all the countries they have “traveled” to and many exciting facts about each.

Opportunities for coverage are available each day of the camps. For more information on these and other opportunities this week and next week, contact Mary Potthoff at (417) 885-8089 or (417) 873-7386.

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Students help Missouri Hotel residents unlock expressive potential

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 11, 2014 — For fourteen years, a unique class at Drury University has helped residents of the Missouri Hotel unlock their expressive potential and encouraged them to think about their lives in new ways.

The class is called Building Community Through the Arts and its goal is to provide the Hotel residents an artistic outlet over the course of two weeks, with a final public exhibition from 1:30 to 3 p.m., Friday, June 13 at the Missouri Hotel, 420 W. Commercial St. The Missouri Hotel provides shelter to homeless men, women and children. It is a program of The Kitchen, Inc.

The course offers the students an experiential approach to everyday living and learning, while giving them a chance to make a difference in the Drury neighborhood at the same time. It is open to graduate and undergraduate students of all majors and the 2014 class includes those studying biology, theater, religion, education, architecture and more. The seven students have been using their varied skill sets to connect with the residents of the Missouri Hotel.

“The idea is to inspire them, motivate them and give them something that’s their own and that they can feel proud of,” says Madison Miles, a fourth-year architecture major.

This year’s theme is “Don’t Stop Believing” and some of the artistic endeavors have included dancing, singing, drawing, paper weaving, designing T-shirts and more. Some of the subject matter has been heartfelt – such as the reactions to the 2012 fire that briefly displaced residents and damaged several rooms at the facility.

“Through art, we are getting to know them and they’re getting to know us,” says Yufei Zhao, a senior religion and philosophy major.

Students gain valuable insights and context about poverty through the book A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne. The text has been in the spotlight in the Springfield community during the last year, including a high-profile visit by the author in February.

“It’s apparent very quickly that it’s a false stigma that these are people who are untalented or uneducated,” says Evan Stelzer, a senior psychology major.

The Drury students are learning about the power of connecting with others from different backgrounds — and about the power of art.

“So much can be said through art,” says senior biology major Ali Barnes. “Before I took this class, I did not know you could do such a thing.”

Media are invited to cover the class as they work with Missouri Hotel residents from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. today and Thursday, and the reception on Friday. The reception is free and open to the public.

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Successful “531 Challenge” raises more than $623,000 for academics

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 9, 2014 — Drury University’s “531 Challenge” fundraising campaign exceeded its participation goal and raised more than $623,000.

The 531 Challenge kicked off April 15th with the goal of 531 donors giving at any level before the last day of May – 5/31 on the calendar. Drury alumnus and longtime supporter Larry O’Reilly committed to a challenge gift of $25,000 if the participation goal was met. Drury exceeded the goal, with a total of 546 donors.

The contributions will go to the Drury Fund for general academic needs and scholarships, as well as designated department needs.

“The 531 Campaign is different in that it seeks a total number of donors, rather than a specific dollar amount,” said Dianne Johnson, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations. “This is all about participation. We wanted alums and donors to know that every contribution – no matter the size – can make a difference for current and future Drury students.”

A breakdown of donor categories bears this out. The largest donor group was alumni, which accounted for more than half of the contributions. Others who participated included current and former parents, as well as 41 students. Corporate donors, faculty, staff and friends of the university were among the others who contributed.

“The commitment of established Drury alumni, such as Mr. Larry O’Reilly, is a special signal to all who are part of the Drury University community,” said Drury President Dr. David Manuel. “His commitment also serves as an example to many others and we are pleased that Drury donors responded to the challenge.”

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Drury MBA students explore global connections in China

A group of Drury University MBA students recently returned from a study abroad experience they won’t soon forget.

Drury’s MBA program requires a trip abroad to China. Unlike many other study abroad opportunities, the China trip is built into the MBA curriculum, and it serves as a cultural and academic capstone for the program.

This year’s trip was more interesting than usual because it occurred in the days leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Chinese government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

But the Drury contingent wasn’t even aware of the upcoming date until the group of 24 students visited the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. No Chinese spoke of it.

“What I found out is we’re more similar than we are dissimilar – except in the area of the personal freedom,” says Sherry Coker, Director of Workforce Development at Ozarks Technical Community College. It was Coker’s first international trip.

Drury MBA China group

“For example, the ‘one child policy – I looked at it from a woman’s perspective,” Coker says. “To have a child in China means you go to your employer and say you want to have a child, and they tell you when you can have a child.”

For Andrea Gill, the trip brought the differences in language and culture into stark relief.

“To do business with (the Chinese) you really need to focus on understanding the importance of family, their overall culture and the complexity of the language,” Gill says.

The trip gives students a first-hand view of a market that is both essential and enigmatic, says Associate Professor of Management Dr. Janis Prewitt Auner, who went on this year’s trip. The tour included visits to companies such as online media company Sina[cq], tech giant iSoftStone and Beijing Hyundai.

“We visit various businesses and they tell us what the challenges are to doing business in China, and they are pretty honest about the difficulties,” Auner says. “I think this is part of what distinguishes our program from others in the state and the region.”

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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. 

Recent Drury grad completes White House internship

From Drury to Washington, D.C., Austin Seaborn is proving that with perseverance, the right attitude, and hard work, anything is possible. Seaborn, a 2013 graduate with a bachelor’s in German and International Political studies, has spent the last year pursuing a Master’s degree at Georgetown University while also interning at the White House, continuing the legacy of leadership that he left at Drury.

Georgetown has top-ranked programs in international affairs, and only about 20 people were accepted into Seaborn’s program at the BMW Center for German and European Studies.

“I knew it was competitive so I beefed up other areas of my resume — I had great internships, a lot of leadership positions and experiences, and studied abroad while I was at Drury,” Seaborn said. “One of my professors, Dr. John Taylor, got his Master’s and Ph.D. (at Georgetown), too, and he gave me a lot of encouragement.”

Seaborn

During his first semester in grad school, Seaborn applied to be an intern at the White House and found out this past December that he would be working in the Office of Legislative Affairs — the President’s liaison to Congress.

From January to May, he worked 50 hours a week and was a full-time student. He met and escorted members of Congress to events and meetings at the White House, monitored the Senate floor and counted votes, and helped manage and track correspondence from members of Congress to the President and other senior officials.

During his internship, Seaborn spoke with the President, First Lady, Vice President, and Chief of Staff. He even got the chance to play with the President’s two dogs, Sunny and Bo.

“I most enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside some of America’s best and brightest. Both the staff and my fellow interns are brilliant, hardworking people who wake up every morning and come to work hoping to make a positive impact on people’s lives,” Seaborn said. “It was great getting to meet so many members of Congress, and see what goes in to making a meeting or event happen at the White House was unforgettable.”

Seaborn’s internship and experiences reaffirmed his commitment to public service. He is excited at the possibility of starting a career that raises discussion about important issues and helps positively affect the people around him.

“I hope to use the skills I have learned and the experiences I have been so fortunate to have to help others who are going through a tough time and to inspire people to set lofty goals, work efficiently, be flexible to different opportunities, and to give back to people in need,” Seaborn said.

This summer, Seaborn will be working at the Georgetown Law Center and will start his last year of graduate school in the fall.

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, and English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Studying abroad helps architecture grad gain global perspective

Not many 23-year-olds can say they’ve travelled the world, have a master’s degree and had multiple internships during their college career. Wil Toedtmann can. He graduated Drury this month with a degree in architecture and a minor in Design Arts and Global Studies.

The Hermann, Missouri, native became interested in architecture in high school when he would sketch buildings on his notes during class. He came to Drury for the five-year Master of Architecture program.

During those years, Toedtmann counts his travel abroad opportunities as some of his biggest learning experiences. In total, he visited seven countries, including China, Italy, Spain, Greece and the United Kingdom.

Toedtmann1

“Studying abroad was such a life changing experience and I not only learned about other cultures, but I also learned a lot about myself and what my values were,” Toedtmann says. “It really changed my whole perspective on life. I think traveling is one of the best ways to learn and it really gives you a global perspective.”

This past spring break, Toedtmann and two other Drury students traveled to China to present their fifth year urban design projects to the Suzhou Industrial Park Design & Research Institute. The projects focused on the anticipated future growth of an area west of Shanghai, and looked at redevelopment strategies addressing issues of sustainability, culture and population density.

“One of professors was actually born in Beijing, which made the trip even better because it was like having a personal tour guide,” Toedtmann says. “I was really glad he came with us because he showed us authentic Chinese cuisine, which was great!”

Aside from his study abroad travels, Toedtmann also appreciates the networking opportunities Drury has provided him. Because of a Drury connection, Toedtmann was able to spend a week in New York City working with Daniel Libeskind, one of the world’s most well-known architects. Another Drury connection helped him secure a part-time job at Casey Architecture, where he works today. He hopes to move to a large city in the future.

“I honestly feel like Drury couldn’t have done any more to better prepare me for the field of architecture,” Toedtmann says. “I am not only grateful for the degree and education I received, but more importantly, I am grateful for all the relationships that were created through my experiences and the opportunities that molded me into the person I am today.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, an English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Academically gifted students from across Missouri to be honored Friday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 21, 2014 — The Drury Center for Gifted Education, in partnership with the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP), will honor more than 350 of Missouri’s most promising young scholars at a recognition ceremony at 11 a.m., Friday, May 23 in the O’Reilly Family Event Center. Dr. Kris Wiley, assistant professor of education at Drury, will be the keynote speaker.

To qualify for recognition, seventh-grade honorees must take the ACT or SAT and score at a level equal to or better than 50 percent of the high school juniors and seniors who took the test.

Duke TIP, a nonprofit organization, has conducted an annual search for academically talented youth in the state of Missouri as well as 15 other states since its founding in 1980. Drury University has hosted the annual statewide recognition event since 1981. Representatives from Drury, Duke TIP and Springfield Public Schools’ gifted education program will be available for comment to the media before or after the ceremony. Members of the media can contact Media Relations Director Mike Brothers at (417) 873-7390 to make arrangements.

Drury has been a national leader in providing education and enrichment programs for academically gifted students more than 30 years. The Drury Center for Gifted Education is the most complete center for gifted education in the state of Missouri, and is one of less than 20 complete gifted education centers in the United States. Each summer, more than 700 children from pre-K through high school attend Drury’s residential and non-residential pre-college programs. Visit Drury Gifted Education for more information.

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Joplin Butterfly Garden & Overlook dedication to be held Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 21, 2014 — Drury University and the Hammons School of Architecture (HSA) will take part in the dedication ceremonies for the Landscapes of Resilience Butterfly Garden and Overlook in Joplin’s Cunningham Park at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 22 – the third anniversary of the devastating 2011 tornado.

The Butterfly Garden and Overlook serves as a peaceful place of healing and remembrance, marking the Joplin community’s commitment to moving forward. The project is more than a beautiful space – it’s also steeped with symbolism. Some of the symbolic touches include a water wall with 38 segments representing each of the 38 minutes the tornado was on the ground, two stainless steel sculptures representing a “torn” and “whole” community, and a unique wooden bench and pavilion with forms that evoke transformation and resilience. Rising above it all are steel frames representing homes lost to the tornado.

The Butterfly Garden and Overlook site was designed by HSA students, led by faculty members Traci Sooter and Nancy Chikaraishi. Drury humanities students assisted in collecting and curating personal memories of survivors for a series of story boards at the site.

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“The community has been through so much since May 2011, yet they have been a vital part of this project,” says Sooter, Director of the HSA Design/Build program at Drury. “This is our opportunity to give back to all who have been affected and who have helped through this past year. We want everyone to visit and experience the healing elements incorporated into the overlook and garden.”

Drury students and faculty worked closely with the City of Joplin Parks and Recreation and Springfield firm Great River Associates, which provided landscape architectural design. The Landscapes of Resilience project is funded by a $585,000 grant from the TKF Foundation and a $250,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, $100,000 of which helped fund the Butterfly Garden and Overlook site. Additional Landscape of Resilience partners include Cornell University, the U.S. Forest Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri and TILL Design. A multi-disciplinary research and design team proposed the Landscapes of Resilience project that will study the role of open spaces in recovery from both the Joplin 2011 tornado and Superstorm Sandy that hit New York City and surrounding area in 2012.

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