Drury University’s “Smart Mob!” heads to Joplin Nov. 8

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 6, 2013 – Drury University’s “Smart Mob!” will head to Joplin, Mo. for the second time on Friday, Nov. 8 to help build the Butterfly Garden and Overlook in Cunningham Park. The project elements were designed by third-year architecture students at Drury.

“Smart Mob!” is an on-campus student-run service organization that focuses on emergency rescue and community service. Michael Ligibel, president of Drury’s Smart Mob said, “It’s an awesome experience. We do a flash mob to help people. Being able to go out into the community and make a significant impact in only a few hours is one of the best experiences you could ever go through.”

A team of students, led by Drury professors Traci Sooter, Design/Build Program Director and Nancy Chikaraishi, will also be in Joplin from Nov. 4 through Nov. 9 to orchestrate a “blitz build” of the site to include water features, a pavilion and benches. Sooter and her group refer to this type of energetic work as Extreme Design/Build: Drury Style.

This project was made possible through many partners, including Cornell University, U.S. Forest Service, Drury University, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, Great River Associates, Till Design, Missouri Department of Conservation Joplin and Joplin Parks and Recreation, as well as the TKF Foundation’s Open Spaces Sacred Places initiative, which creates natural settings for the public to help people cope with stress andburdens resulting from disasters.

For more details about this event, please contact Traci Sooter at (417) 873-7416 o remail tsooter@drury.edu.

Professional wheelchair bodybuilder will speak at Drury on November 7

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 5, 2013 — Nick Scott, a decorated wheelchair bodybuilder, will speak at Drury on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 11 a.m. in Clara Thompson Hall.  After facing a debilitating tragedy at the age of 16, Nick has worked tirelessly to inspire others to overcome their disabilities and achieve their fitness and personal goals.

Scott is one of the only fitness trainers in the world that has designed workouts specifically for disabled athletes.  He is also the CEO, President and Founder of the non-profit 501(c)(3)  Wheelchair Athletics Foundation.  Its purpose is to provide and support the wheelchair athletics’ experience though activities open to any child, adult, or veteran with a disability, with the hope of providing both physical and psychological therapeutic value.

Scott is currently working on opening non-profit gymnasiums throughout the country with proceeds going to fund and support disabled athletes in the U.S.

Scott will present on behalf of Drury University’s 2013-2014 Theme Year series, The Morality of Wellness: Why good health is everyone’s responsibility, which explores the moral obligation to be a well citizen and the economic impact of lifestyle choices.

Drury’s Breech Pool gets a makeover

Springfield, Mo., Nov. 4, 2013 — Breech Pool, the home pool for the defending national champion men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at Drury, is undergoing its first renovation in 27 years.

The Breech pool renovations started a little over a year ago, and include everything from updating the visual appeal of the pool to improving behind-the-scenes equipment. Workers took down the old acoustical tile, painted the ceiling black, installed a new timing system, and changed out the lighting, which now uses one-third of the power of the previous system. The ultraviolet lighting system also allows the pool to run lower levels of chlorine in the water, which helps to improve the air quality for both athletes and spectators.

Drury's Breech Pool

After draining the pool, workers water-blasted all the plaster off of the surface and replaced it with tile, which will last longer and require less maintenance.  Additionally, the pool deck has been updated with a more slip-resistant surface.

“These renovations have been long overdue, but they have definitely prepared us for the coming years,” said Brian Reynolds, Drury’s head swim coach.

The biggest improvements include the installation of a new HVAC system and new air handling equipment, which cuts down on the heat and humidity in the pool area.

The new renovations have greatly improved the air and water quality.  There was recently a youth club swim meet in the Breech pool and Reynolds said that parents were especially impressed with the updates, “Aesthetically, this has always been a beautiful pool from the amount of natural light available. The sliding glass doors allow us to open it up, which draws in passersby. With the renovations, we have ultimately improved the overall experience for athletes and spectators and made it a more enjoyable place to be in.”

The renovations aren’t entirely complete, new windows will be installed around the perimeter of the building. This will decrease condensation on the windows.

The Drury swimming and diving program truly deserves the improvements as it has won the last nine consecutive men’s national swimming and diving championships and four out of the last five on the women’s side. Reynolds said, “the athletes are noticing the difference everyday—the water is cleaner and clearer and the better air quality makes it perfect for training.”

Drury swimming and diving will show off its newly refurbished facility on their first official home meet on Nov. 9, 2013 at 1 p.m. against Delta State.

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, a junior English and writing major at Drury University

Five stories of the strange and creepy at Drury University

5. The discovery of the mummified cat:

One of Drury’s least known creatures rests in a Trustee Science Center display case: a mummified cat. When the chapel underwent renovations in 1962, workers discovered the cat’s body between the plaster of the basement ceiling and the floor of the main auditorium. It is assumed that the cat had been stuck in the space since 1881 when the chapel was built. According to the display, the cat was “a victim of compulsory chapel attendance.”

The mummified cat and Toby

4. Toby the skeleton:

A skeleton named “Toby” also resides in the TSC as one of “Drury’s Most Famous Specimens.” The skeleton was purchased as a teaching tool in 1873, but students often used him to pull pranks. One prank involved suspending Toby from the ceiling of Stone Chapel before President George gave his baccalaureate sermon in 1911. According to University Archivist William Garvin, a student named Fred K. Rowe most likely pulled the prank, but another student admitted to it instead.

“A junior named Percy Lodge came forward and said, ‘I did it,’ and on June 8, he was expelled and kicked out of the institution,” Garvin explains. “He had to finish his studies up at Washington University. Twenty years to the day later in 1931, Drury granted him a degree.”

3. The unexplainable shadow of Lay Hall:

Only recently, some staff and faculty members of Lay Hall have repeatedly said to have seen a “shadowy figure” or heard strange, loud noises in the basement that they were unable to explain.

Kristie Vincent, an administrative assistant, says she had several experiences one summer when she was pulling files from the basement storage room.

“There were several times that I could see that there were shadows, like somebody standing there, the feet of shadows. I could see them under the door and I knew no one was out there,” she said. “It was almost like they were curious.”

While Garvin recalls no certain legends in Lay, he says that a traumatic event occurred close to the area on Halloween night in 1908—61 years before Lay was built. A student named Calvin Finkel, son of professor B.F. Finkel, was shot and mortally wounded by a special policeman. Finkel died a few days later from the wound.

2. The Internet tale that gained credence:

Some students believe that a Victorian house once stood where Smith Hall is today. The story goes that the house caught fire, a little girl who lived there escaped, but ran back to retrieve a teddy bear and flames consumed the girl.

Glenn Cuttrell, a maintenance worker who works in the residence halls during the summer, explains that he found a desk a few years ago in one of Smith’s rooms with writing on it warning future residents of the girl’s ghost.

“[The desk] had a little story that was being passed on from one year’s residents to the future residents to let them know that if there were any odd activities in the room, don’t worry about it. There was a ghost in the room,” he recalls. “They said it was a girl ghost, a girl’s presence in the area who liked to play tricks.”

However, according to Garvin, a Central High School student manufactured the story of the little girl.

“For a class project, [students had] been studying urban legends and how urban legends get started and circulated [the student] made up a story and posted it on the Internet,” he says. “I went over to Greene County archives finally and looked up pieces of lands to see if anything was built on there. There was never a Victorian House there to burn down.”

1. The ghost of Clara Thompson Hall

For decades, music students and faculty have claimed the existence of a ghost in Clara Thompson Hall. They say they’ve heard banging or rustling coming from the hall late at night, seen a figure of a woman on the balcony, or felt a presence on stage.

Dr. Sidney Vice, former music department head, appeared in a series of articles about the ghost in a special edition of The Drury Mirror in 1987. He suggests that it is a “musical ghost”—not one to be afraid of.

“I have little doubt, however, that it is a benevolent ghost,” Dr. Vice said. “I don’t believe it is threatening at all; rather I think it is watching over our program.”

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Story by Kaitlyn Schwers, a senior multimedia production and journalism major at Drury University.

Internationally renowned spiritual teacher will speak at Drury on October 31

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 29, 2013 —Suzanne Stabile, a spiritual teacher and cofounder of Life in the Trinity Ministry, will speak at Drury on Thursday, Oct. 31 at 11 a.m. in Clara Thompson Hall.  Stabile will discuss the nine different Enneagram personality types and the way in which knowing ourselves can help us appreciate and accept others.

Suzanne Stabile

Stabile leads retreats and offers a unique approach to the practice of Spiritual Formation, drawing from her experiences as a mother, social worker, and minster’s spouse.  She currently resides in Dallas, Texas.

Stabile will present on behalf of Drury University’s 2013-2014 Theme Year series, The Morality of Wellness: Why good health is everyone’s responsibility, which explores the moral obligation to be a well citizen and the economic impact of lifestyle choices.

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more details about speakers visit http://www.drury.edu/moralityofwellness/.

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Drury to host a prescription drug take back event on Oct. 25

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 22, 2013 — Drury University, in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will host a prescription drug take back event on Friday, October 25 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Findlay Student Center Circle. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked, and it is open to anyone. The event is sponsored by Panthers for Prevention, a coalition of staff, faculty, and students that promote healthy and safe choices among the Drury Community.

Last April, Americans turned in 371 tons (over 742,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 5,800 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

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Drury graduate student investigates the paranormal

Springfield, Mo., October 21, 2013 — Millie Sharp is a Drury University staff member and a graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Communication. She has another title besides staff member and graduate student she’s also a paranormal investigator.

In 2010, Sharp participated in her first investigation with a research group and eventually joined that team. After a short time with the team, Sharp made the decision to leave in order to pursue graduate school.

“I really missed investigating,” said Sharp. “As I continued my graduate studies, I began to see that my passion for the paranormal could have connections with my academic life.”

Sharp in front of the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Ark. where she and her team conducted an investigation.

After incorporating her interest of the paranormal into an assignment for a graduate course, Sharp was introduced to a different research team.

“We all worked very well together, and long story short, I was invited to join their organization,” said Sharp.

As an investigator in a paranormal research organization, Sharp visits public locations and private residences with claims of paranormal activity. Once on location, Sharp and her team usually get a tour or walk-through with the location contact or homeowner.

Using an Electromagnetic Field Detector, the team checks the baseline levels of the location to determine if electronics, wiring or other natural explanations could be the cause of the potential paranormal activity.

According to Sharp, it is part of the scientific process of paranormal investigating to determine any natural causes of activity, rather than immediately coming to the conclusion that the activity is paranormal.

“Sometimes there are interesting responses on our recording equipment when we do evidence review that we didn’t hear with our ears at the time of the investigation,” said Sharp.

Mysterious sounds are not the only thing that Sharp and her team have encountered on their paranormal adventures.

“My most interesting experience was seeing a tall, dark figure that blocked out the light coming in from a street light outside the secluded building we were investigating,” said Sharp. “We were able to rule out several [possibilities], and still don’t have an explanation.”

A Civil War-era historic home, an abandoned hospital, a former tuberculosis hospital and some private residences are some of the locations where Sharp and her team have completed full investigations.

“My favorite investigation location, so far, is probably the tuberculosis hospital,” said Sharp. “We were able to get some audio and video evidence that was interesting to share with the location owners.”

According to Sharp, her and her team usually complete one full-night investigation per month, although certain times of the year prove to be busier than others.

“Paranormal investigation is definitely my passion,” said Sharp. “My biggest hope is that my work will in some way help expand our collective knowledge of the paranormal.”

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Story by Sheila Haskins, a senior advertising and public relations major at Drury.


Drury names new Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 17, 2013 — Drury has named Dianne Johnson as the vice president for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. Johnson will begin her new role on Monday, Nov. 11.

Johnson brings nearly twenty years of experience in fundraising, development activities and strategic planning specifically aimed at assisting and improving development operations.  In addition, she is an attorney who has specialized in estate and gift tax planning. Since 2003, Johnson has been the president and CEO of Endowment Builders, a company she founded that assists organizations with strategic planning and fundraising. She has helped her clients earn more than $20 million in donations.

“I am very pleased that Dianne wishes to join the Drury University community and I am confident that she will make important positive impacts on our development path and our relations with Drury University alumni,” said Dr. David Manuel, Drury University president.

Johnson earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and she holds a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

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Kiplinger’s ranks Drury in its list of the top 100 private colleges

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 17, 2013 —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. Drury was ranked 70th among private universities. The full list is available online now at www.kiplinger.com/links/college.

Drury University and the other schools included in the 2014 lists represent the colleges that provide high-quality academics at a reasonable cost during these continued tough economic times. The colleges exemplify the attributes parents and students look for in higher education, including small class sizes, a good freshman retention rate and a high four-year graduation rate.

Although private schools generally carry higher sticker prices than in-state prices at public schools, private schools can actually be less expensive than public schools because of their generous financial aid. For example, Drury’s average student debt upon graduation is nearly $3,000 lower than the Missouri average for student debt.

“With President Obama’s recent emphasis on rating colleges and universities based on their value, our rankings serve as a valuable resource to help students and families make more informed choices,” says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Combining a high-quality education with an affordable price tag is a challenge, but the colleges on this year’s list offer the best of both worlds.”

Kiplinger’s rankings measure academic quality and affordability. Academic criteria include the student admission rate (the number of students accepted out of those who apply), the test scores of incoming freshmen, the ratio of students to faculty members, and the four- and five-year graduation rates. On the cost side, Kiplinger’s measures the sticker price, the availability and average amount of need-based and merit-based financial aid, and the average student debt at graduation. Many of the schools on the top 200 list have appeared in Kiplinger’s rankings in previous years, demonstrating that these schools consistently deliver good value.

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Creating something meaningful, one thread at a time

Springfield, Mo., Oct. 14, 2013 They sound like terms from science fiction or pet-care “warp, weft and shedding,” but those words are associated with an art form that is also an academic pursuit: weaving.  The art of interlacing two sets of threads at right angles to each other has been around for tens of thousands of years, but few universities in the Midwest have courses to help students learn the art, but Drury offers students the opportunity to take classes in beginning and advanced weaving.

A Drury weaving student using a loom

Students enrolled in the classes practice traditional weaving using floor looms at The Harriet Mears Weaving Studio at Drury on C-street.  Paula Rosen, adjunct instructor of weaving and fiber arts at Drury University, said, “Weaving connects us to our past as well as our future and requires a lot more creativity than most folks think. It’s important to the human experience.”  Although some may consider weaving “old-fashioned,” Rosen sees it in a different light.  She says weaving is like painting or drawing with yarn. It is just another form of artwork and expression.

Rosen’s students create a variety of artwork using simple and intricate designs—everything from scarves to tapestries.  They use all natural fibers of wool and cotton, and sometimes, even recycled materials like the yarn from old sweaters.  In the advanced classes, Rosen teaches students how to dye their wools and make their own colors.

The looms are not cheap. A new loom costs around $3,000.  Drury has had some donated over the years and some are 50-60 years old. Rosen keeps the looms in working order even if she has to sacrifice some skin, “The other day my hands looked like hamburger after trying to repair a loom,” Rosen said

Rosen, who previously taught within the Springfield Public Schools, took over the weaving program and continues the legacy of her longtime friend and mentor, Harriet Mears. Mears started the weaving program at Drury in Wallace Hall over 40 years ago and retired in 1992. After the dorm’s renovation in 2010, however, there was not enough space to continue the program in its original location. During the 2011-2012 school year, the weaving studio at Drury on C-street was established in Mears’ honor and contains many of the original looms and yarn cabinets from Wallace Hall.

Stepping inside a weaving class is a very different experience than what most people would expect.  It is not a quiet and solitary experience, but rather a loud and social one. Students talk with each other while the looms noisily clank together. Weaving requires patience, planning, and perseverance—qualities often overlooked in a technological society that is seemingly obsessed with speed and efficiency.

After all this time, people continue to turn back to weaving because “humans have an instinctual need to do something tactile,” Rosen says. “As people become more and more removed from society, I think there is more of an urge to step back for a moment and really take the time to create something meaningful, one thread at a time.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, a junior English and Writing major at Drury University.