Breech Business Week helps prepare students for the professional world

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 13, 2017 — The Breech School of Business Administration at Drury University will again dedicate a full week this spring to showcasing the strength of its student body and its ties with the business community in Springfield and beyond.

Breech Business Week, now in its fourth year, serves as another way of ensuring Breech students are “job ready” by connecting them with the professional world beyond campus. In addition to networking opportunities and workshops on topics such as finding the best internship and polishing their online presence, students will interact with a number of highly successful business professionals. The guest lecturers include Dianna Devore ’02, president of Design Fabrication structural steel fabricators, and Ardyth Neill ’82, president of the Heifer Foundation.

Drury students will receive valuable insights and feedback from these professional connections, while business leaders learn what makes Drury graduates such highly valued colleagues in the workforce.

“A Drury business education has always been designed to take learning beyond the classroom,” says Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the Breech School. “Breech Business Week embodies that idea. Seeing the interactions between students, alumni, professionals and guest lecturers has become a highlight of the academic year at Breech.”

Selected events from each day, which are open to the media, include:

Monday, April 17, 6 p.m. – Guest speaker Dianna Devore ’02, president of Design Fabrication structural steel fabricators. Location: Breech room 102

Wednesday, April 19, 11 a.m. to noon – Entrepreneur panel discussion moderated by Drury president emeritus Todd Parnell and featuring Elle Feldman, Elle’s Patisserie; Luke Westerman, Computer Recycling Center, and Dr. Kerri Miller, Make People Better. Location: Breech room 202

Thursday, April 20, 11 a.m. to noon – Guest speaker Ardyth Neill ’82 president of the Heifer Foundation. Location: Breech room 202

Friday, April 21, Noon – The Breech Award Luncheon honoring the top students in Drury’s business school will be held at the Findlay Student Center Ballroom. Note to editors: This is an excellent opportunity to interview seniors who are about to enter the workforce, including those who already have jobs lined up and those who are currently seeking jobs.

A full schedule of the week’s events can be found online. Breech Business Week is presented by the Breech Advisory Board, and made possible by corporate partner CoxHealth and corporate sponsors O’Reilly Auto Parts, Commerce Bank, OakStar Bank and the Springfield Business Journal.


Media Contact: Dr. Robin Sronce, Dean of the Breech School of Business: (417) 873-7438 or

Drury grad turns passion for design, business and travel into career

By Jessie Roller

A master’s degree in business, another master’s degree in architecture, plus a passion for travel led 2013 Drury graduate Danny Collins to become a successful entrepreneur, launching his new company, Project Latitude, at age 28.

While at Drury, the Springfield native earned his undergraduate degree and both master’s degrees all in six years – no easy task given the rigorous nature of the programs. He recently returned to Drury to speak to business and architecture students about his ever-changing career path.

After graduation, Collins landed a job at an architecture firm in New York City. After working there three years, he realized the corporate world of architecture just wasn’t for him and he began forming the idea of combining the two passions in his life, architecture and travel, into what became Project Latitude.

Collins in Guatemala with the Waxpi duffle bag.

Collins in Guatemala with the Waxpi duffle bag.

“I’ve always been a person that desired to be a larger part of something small rather than a small part of something large,” Collins says. “I am a firm believer in passion in the workplace and the concept of living to work not simply working to live.”

Collins founded Project Latitude with his partner and friend, Javier Roig. Its products fund needed improvements in small towns and communities within Latin America, and potentially around the world. Each unique product is solely created in these communities, with earnings going back into the communities funding needs such as infrastructure improvements. Volunteers who travel to the community do much of the physical work.

Project Latitude has seen initial success with its first project and product: the Chaski backpack made in Ecuador. It began as a crowd-funded project on Kickstarter. A second product, the Waxpi duffle bag, is also made in Ecuador.

Collins describes the brand identity as “the urban adventurer.”

Danny Collins

“These will be items for the person who has an office job from 9-to-5, but also likes to get out and do some exploring,” he says. The products will continue to be made and produce revenue for its community even after the Project Latitude team of volunteers complete their improvements.

Collins attributes much of his success to Drury. “The liberal arts program was very fitting for someone like me,” he says, “where I could learn what it was that I wanted to do, but I didn’t have to go straight in having no other choices than the degree I had chosen.”

In addition to tackling two master’s degrees while in school, Collins was also a member of the men’s soccer team and was involved in the vibrant everyday life Drury offers. He says that intense blend of opportunities led to his desire to combine many different concepts into one career — which was really the underlying idea of the company.

During his recent talk with Drury students, Collins encouraged them not to settle for just any job, but instead to go out and find what they truly love and then make it into a career.

He also advocated for all students, and people, to study business in some way.

“The world is a business and everything we do is a business, in some fashion or another,” he says.

The Chaski backpack

The Chaski backpack

Collins says his MBA has helped him immensely with his business, and in his personal life. His business knowledge has been helpful to him with issues such as mortgage agreements, for example, which is why he believes business education can benefit everyone, no matter their career.

Collins and Roig have big dreams for their company. They hope to one day have their own Project Latitude storefront, but for now they are working on placing products into existing retail stores, such as 5 Pound Apparel in Springfield (a boutique business started by another Drury graduate, Bryan Simpson). The goal is to sell about 50 percent of their products at retail and the other 50 percent on their own online platform.

But the true endgame is about more than sales.

“The goal for Project Latitude would never be to just sell products,” Collins says. “We want it to be a lifestyle brand and a lifestyle in a community of people who just want to do cool things and do some good while they’re doing it.”


Breech School of Business maintains prestigious AACSB Accreditation


SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 31, 2016 — Drury University has maintained its business accreditation by AACSB International — The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools for Business. An honor that only 5% of the world’s business programs hold, AACSB accreditation is the hallmark of excellence and it signifies that Drury has made a long-term commitment to providing the best in business education.

After obtaining accreditation, all member schools are reviewed on a five-year cycle. The process is rigorous and focuses on quality and relevance of the academic programs. “We are obviously pleased that AACSB has once again evaluated our program and found it to be worthy of accreditation. Most important is what this says about the ability of the Breech School of Business to provide our students with a quality business education that will prepare them for leadership positions in a global business community.” said Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the Breech School of Business.

For over 50 years Drury’s Breech School of Business has been preparing students to be ethical leaders in the global business economy. Breech offers specialized undergraduate majors in accounting, economics, finance, management and marketing, as well as a minor in business administration. Students may also pursue a general business administration degree online.


Guest lecturer brings music & marketing expertise to Drury Feb. 19

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 16, 2016 — The Self-Employment in the Arts Lecture Series, sponsored by the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, will host a lecture and performance by musician and marketer Christopher Burnett this Friday.

Currently the marketing director at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Burnett is also an award-winning composer and jazz saxophonist himself, and has decades of experience in all facets of the music business.

Burnett will host a lecture about his history of success as a self-employed performer at 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19 in Clara Thompson Hall. Burnett will then lead a performance at 8 p.m. that night at Q Enoteca Wine Bar, 308 W. Commercial St. Both events are open to the public.


A native of the Kansas City area, Burnett rose to prominence while leading, touring and recording with U.S. military bands from 1974 to 1996. He was an early explorer of the digital music landscape. Through skillful and innovative promotion and marketing, Burnett garnered more than a half million music downloads and sold CDs to fans in 38 countries via the original website in the early 2000s. Burnett founded a retail music store business immediately after his military career and served as Acting CEO of the American Jazz Museum for a short time.

About the Series and the Edward Jones Center

The Self-Employment in the Arts Series features successful, entrepreneurial artists from across the country for small-group sessions, lectures and the occasional performance on Drury’s campus. The series will bring Drury alumnus and professional opera singer Michael Spyres to campus on Thursday, March 31.

The Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship was made possible by the generous contribution of John and Crystal Beuerlein and Edward Jones, Inc. All parties feel passionately about entrepreneurship and believe in the idea of helping people create new businesses. They are also eager to provide employees of existing corporations with tools to continually refresh and reinvent their organizations as markets and business environments change.


Media Contact: Dr. John Taylor, Director of the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship: (417) 873-6356 or

Solar Decathlon leads to hands-on experience, job offers for students

After 18 months of work, the Solar Decathlon competition has come and gone for the 100-plus students on the Drury University and Crowder College team. Their house, dubbed ShelteR3 or “Shelter Cubed,” won 8th place in the contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy in Irvine, California last month.

Reflecting on the experience reveals many tangible takeaways: pride in a job well done, experience on a build site, professional connections – even job offers.

Avery Smith, a Drury business major and member of the ShelteR3 communication team, said finally being at the big competition opened his eyes to how far the team had truly come.

“Each team had such an original idea and original story about how they were able to make it,” Smith said. “140 teams applied, 20 were accepted and only 14 made it to Irvine. Even then, four teams were unable to finish on time.”

Solar Decathletes

Perhaps that was a light way of putting it, as the Crowder-Drury team was one of the few undergraduate teams that made it all the way.

“I was the most surprised to learn how many graduate students and doctoral candidates we were up against,” said Evan Melgren, a 2014 Drury advertising/PR graduate who was the team’s communication lead. “That we as undergrads were competitive with such established designers and engineers became a great source of pride.”

Being undergrads also led to increased pressure for the students who spent days and weeks in Irvine, said mentor and Hammons School of Architecture Professor Nancy Chikaraishi.

“Our students had homework, they had papers, they had tests they had to take and we were running them back to and from the hotel about five times a day and making sure they had time to get their work done,” she said.

The effort was worth it. Not only did the competition help students expand their horizons, but it also got them thinking about the finer points of project management and on-the-spot problem solving.

Project Manager Jarren Welch, a Crowder student, said that while he felt prepared for the competition thanks to the mentorship of his advisors, there were still unexpected bumps in the road.

“When we did get out there, we ran into a couple of problems, so I learned ways to improvise and work around that,” he said. “I learned that there isn’t just one answer to a problem and it’s all about picking the best idea.”

ShelteR3 house

Though they couldn’t have known it going in, experiences with solving problems on the fly ultimately led to job offers. Project co-lead Alaa Al Radwan credits the Decathlon for helping her land a job at M.I.T.’s prestigious Senseable City Lab. Melgren cites his readiness to adapt as the reason he landed his current job at Killian Construction Co.

“They saw a video walk-through of our home and concept, which had required me to learn an architectural software program in about a week,” he says.

Welch’s new job with Missouri Sun Solar also came as a result of stretching beyond his comfort zone. His offer came not from the building phase, but during a fundraiser.

“I handed them my card and they called me a few weeks later and offered me an interview and I got hired,” he said.


Story by Chaniqua Crook, student writer with Drury’s Marketing & Communication Department.

Event gives business women a welcoming space to learn, network

Research shows that women start businesses in greater numbers than men, yet they typically don’t grow their businesses to the same extent as men do over time.

There are many reasons for this, says Dr. Kelley Still, director of the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at Drury. But one important factor, according to research, is that the business world remains a primarily male-oriented arena.

While the Ozarks is rich with business networking opportunities, few focus on women. Connecting and empowering female business owners is the sole purpose of the Edward Jones Center’s annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, now in its seventh year. The 2015 event will be held from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 21 at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.

“There are a lot of really great opportunities in town to get technical training about business plans or how to keep your books,” Still says. “We really focus on hearing from other women entrepreneurs who can share how they’ve solved problems and moved their business forward.”

In such an environment, women are more apt to speak up, ask questions, and discuss both good and bad experiences.

“There’s a feeling of camaraderie,” says Claire Faucett, owner of social media marketing company engage5w, and a panelist for this year’s event. “If you’re a woman in business you subconsciously put up a wall at times, and I think you allow yourself sort of take the wall down when you’re around other women.”

The keynote speaker is Catherine Johns, a Chicago radio personality who’s climbed ladder in the broadcasting industry and now speaks to women about reaching for new heights in their careers. Panels will examine topics such as owning a business with your spouse, mixing business and friendship, social media and more. Participants can even schedule one-on-one time with subject matter experts like CPAs and attorneys. And despite the focus, men are welcome, too.

The day caps off with awards honors the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year and Woman-Owned Start-Up of the Year.

Cost is $25 for the general public, which includes breakfast and lunch. Registration remains open until the day of the event. For more information call 873-6357 or visit


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Drury business students raise money to help fellow students study overseas

Drury’s Breech School of Business’s Mission Statement is, “Preparing ethical leaders for the global business community.”

The “global” part of that mission statement is much more than just words for Breech faculty and students. All of Drury’s business majors must participate in a study abroad experience, the purpose of which is to increase students’ intercultural competence. “Ultimately, we want our students to thrive in a variety of environments. A big part of this is learning to recognize cultural variations and to respond appropriately,” said Dr. Robin Sronce, associate professor of management at Drury.

However, the cost to study abroad can be considerable when tuition, program costs and travel expenses are all added together.

In the spring of 2012, Dr. Sronce’s project management class set out to help their peers pay for this enriching requirement. The class conceived and designed study abroad scholarships, and presented the idea to the Breech Advisory Board and Drury’s Office of Alumni and Development. Once the class had the go-ahead, it raised $2,000 from faculty, students and Advisory Board members. Then, over the next year, enough was raised to award three $2,500 scholarships.

In the spring of 2013, Dr. Sronce’s Project Management class built on what the 2012 class had started to help their peers afford a study abroad experience. The class conceived and organized a golf tournament at Millwood Golf and Racquet Club. Between golf fees, sponsorships and donations, the class quadrupled their fundraising goal, coming up with $10,000.

Brooke Hickman at the Roman Forum

Senior-to-be Brooke Hickman was one of the project leaders for the golf tournament. On the day of the tournament, while Hickman was working, the scholarship committee voted to award Hickman one of the $2500 scholarships to study in Rome earlier this summer.

“It was a huge surprise. I had planned to take a study abroad trip for a little more than a year, I had saved most of the money, but it was a struggle,” Hickman said. “I applied for the scholarship and hoped for the best. It was nice that my work paid off and helped me a little bit, too.”

And the experience overseas put Hickman well on her way to intercultural competence, “It gave me a better understanding of how other cultures operate. I’m prepared to work with people who have different beliefs and come from different cultures. You can’t learn in the classroom what I learned by being surrounded by the culture,” Hickman said.

While the focus continues to be on current students’ need, there is a study abroad scholarship fund raising committee that hopes to raise enough money to endow these scholarships for the future.


Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communication at Drury.