Dr. Jana Neiss named as College of Continuing Professional Studies dean

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 7, 2016 — Drury University has appointed Dr. Jana Neiss as its next Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Continuing Professional Studies (CCPS). Neiss succeeds Aaron Jones, the continuing studies dean since 2012, who will transition to a new position: Chief of Staff to Drury President Dr. Tim Cloyd.

Neiss will begin her duties in January 2017. She earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Ozark Bible College in Joplin.

Neiss has deep roots at Drury, having begun her academic career as an adjunct CCPS faculty member in 1993. She then helped start Drury’s branch campus in Rolla in 1995. In 2008 she became the Director of CCPS’s Mid-Missouri Region. She and her husband, David, have two sons, Charles and Garrett, who both graduated from Drury – one from the traditional day school and the other from CCPS.

For the past six years, Neiss has worked as the Director of the Teacher Education Program at Missouri University of Science & Technology. In that role, she oversaw the university’s teacher certification curriculum, led accreditation efforts, and facilitated key external partnerships with public schools.

Jana Neiss

“Jana brings a deep knowledge of Drury, an understanding of adult education, established relationships in our CCPS communities, and a proven track record that make her uniquely qualified for this position,” said President Cloyd.

While at S&T, Neiss was recognized for innovative programming and curriculum work, including initiation of a STEM-focused elementary teacher certification, and co-directing more than $1 million in state grants for science education and quantitative literacy. She also was recruited to serve on several state and national boards and committees, including representing Missouri at the National Summit on Teacher Education and the Common Core, and chairing the Missouri Council of Education Deans and Directors. She was tapped by Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to serve on Missouri’s Network for Transforming Educator Preparation.

“I am excited to come back to Drury and reconnect with former colleagues and create new relationships with other members of the Drury community,” Neiss said. There’s a great level of enthusiasm about Drury’s recent successes and potential for future growth, and I look forward to being part of it.”

Jones will assume chief of staff duties full time in January, where he will work with President Cloyd, Trustees, faculty and staff to enhance communication, coordination, and transparency across the university. He will be responsible for accelerating the development of long-range institutional strategy and planning for the day school, CCPS, graduate studies and athletics.

“While this is a new position for Drury, it is a crucial role at many universities,” said President Cloyd. “Aaron will be an honest broker in synthesizing, compiling and articulating the opinions of Drury’s various constituencies.”

About CCPS

Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies offers bachelor and associate degree programs primarily in the evening at the main Springfield campus and at nine branch locations across the region. Academic programs are designed to meet the needs of adult students with hectic lifestyles that make traditional degree completion impractical. Additionally, CCPS offers online courses for undergraduate and graduate programs to enhance flexibility and quality of the education experience of Drury students.

For more information, go to


Media Contact: Mike Brothers, Director of Media Relations – (417) 873-7390 or

College of Continuing Professional Studies Extends January Office Hours

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 9, 2013 — Drury University’s College of Continuing Professional Studies will open its offices for extended Saturday hours at most satellite locations in January.

Although spring semester classes do not begin until Jan. 21, the extra office hours will give prospective and current students an extended opportunity to meet with Drury staff following inclement weather during the last week. Appointments are strongly encouraged, especially for current students. Media questions should be directed to the site directors of each location.


Thayer/West Plains – 8 a.m. to noon, Jan. 11

Phone: 417-264-2731   |    Site Director: Tammy Hathcock


Fort Leonard Wood/St. Robert – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 573-451-2400   |    Site Director: Kricket Webster


Rolla/Owensville  – 10 am. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 573-368-4959   |   Site Director: Mary Iarussi


Lebanon – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-532-9828   |   Site Director: Mary Iarussi


Springfield (Bay Hall offices) – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-873-7502   |   Site Director: Sara Thornton


Ava – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-873-7502   |   Site Director: Sarah Thornton


Monett/Bentonville – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-235-2007   |   Site Director: Ann Saunders


Cabool/Houston/Licking – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18; and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

Phone: 417-962-5314   |   Site Director: Nichole Honeycutt


Drury is named a Military Friendly School for 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 10, 2013 — Drury University has been named a Military Friendly School by Victory Media. The 2014 Military Friendly Schools® list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and their spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

“Inclusion on the 2014 list of Military Friendly Schools® shows Drury University’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” said Sean Collins, vice president at Victory Media and a nine-year Navy veteran. “The need for education is growing and our mission is to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools.”

The Military Friendly Schools® media and website, found at, feature the list, interactive tools and search functionality to help military students find the best school to suit their unique needs and preferences.  The 1,868 colleges, universities and trade schools on this year’s list exhibit leading practices in the recruitment and retention of students with military experience.  These schools have world-class programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility and other services to those who served.

For example, Drury recognizes the skills and education that members of the military receive through various training programs. Students may submit their military transcripts to Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies where an individual can earn up to 31 hours of transfer credit based on military training and classes.

“Drury has exceeded all of my expectations in everything from helping me with my GI Bill, to providing flexibility so that I can continue to satisfy my military obligations as a reservist,” said Bradley Ray, an Air Force veteran, reservist and fifth year accounting student. “Drills, annual tours, deployments; Drury is more than willing to work with veterans to ensure both their education and service needs are met.”

A full story and detailed list of 2014 Military Friendly Schools® will be highlighted in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools ®, distributed in print and digital format to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel in early October.

Media Contact: Kristy Nelson, M.A., Director of Marketing for Drury CCPS, Office: (417) 873-7868, Mobile: (417) 380-9803, Email:


Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies unveils new degree offerings for the fall of 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 26, 2013 — Beginning in the fall of 2013, Drury students in the College of Continuing Professional Studies (CCPS) will have the opportunity to pursue degrees in emergency management and public administration.

Aaron Jones, Dean of Drury's CCPS

“These two areas of study are applicable to many different professions. Whether a person desires a position in local government, with a non-profit, or furthering his or her career with their current employer, these degree offerings can give them tools necessary to reach their goals,” said Aaron Jones, dean of the College of Continuing Professional Studies.

The U.S. Department of Labor classifies emergency management as a “bright outlook occupation.” Emergency management experts teach the classes, and the curriculum was designed by working professionals with years of experience in the field. Students can choose from either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree. The first two courses in the degree program, “Introduction to Emergency Management Principles” and “Practice and Hazard Identification,” will be offered online in the fall of 2013.

For students interested in a career in government or with a non-profit or non-governmental organization, Drury will begin bachelor’s and associate degree programs in public administration this fall. Coursework in this degree program addresses everything from grant writing and Constitutional law to economics and writing.

For more information about these new degree offerings, go to or call 417-873-7373.


Mom with special needs child perseveres to get her Drury degree

“One night, I pulled over off of I-70 at a Barnes & Noble in Kansas City, and I used their Wi-Fi in my car to take a forensic psychology test. Another time, camping with my daughter, I wrote my final essay from a tent in the rain in Knob Noster State Park, a laundry basket was my desk,” said Dana Vansell, a May 2013 Drury graduate from the College of Continuing Professional Studies.

Dana with her daughter Grace at graduation

Dana Vansell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in May at the age of 37. Besides being a non-traditional student, Vansell faced other challenges: she’s a single mom and her ten-year-old daughter, Grace, has a rare congenital birth defect called laryngeal cleft that causes her to aspirate anything she eats or drinks.

Living north of Sedalia in the countryside, and with a high needs child; Vansell needed flexibility in her education schedule. That’s why, when she decided to go back to college to earn her bachelor’s in December 2011, she enrolled in Drury’s online psychology program. Her daughter’s medical treatments and surgeries forced Vansell to travel to Kansas City and St. Louis often during her Drury college career. That’s why her car, and anywhere else she could find, became Vansell’s classroom.

The experience not only served to educate Vansell, but her daughter, as well, “When I learned astronomy, my daughter learned astronomy,” Vansell said. “She’d make note cards and quiz me.”

Grace had been so involved in her mother’s education that she asked to be released early from the hospital so she could pin her mother at her Alpha Sigma Lambda honors society ceremony for CCPS students.

Vansell isn’t done with education. She recently said goodbye to friends and family and moved to Republic with her daughter, which will be home base as she pursues Drury’s one-year accelerated Master of Arts in Communication. She begins taking classes in the fall. “Grace and I are both excited about this opportunity for a fresh start,” Vansell said.

Eventually, when she’s done with school, Vansell would like to combine her education and life experience to become a child life specialist and a marriage and family therapist, “I want to work with families who are going to have procedures, who have lost children and work with families who are experiencing grief,” Vansell said. “Moving to Springfield and starting a master’s program is closure and a new start for me. I’ve been through a rough marriage and I have a high needs child, I want to make sure I help others so that the things I’ve gone through haven’t been in vain.”


Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications.

Aaron Jones is named Dean of Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 21, 2013 — Aaron Jones has been named the Dean of Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies (CCPS). Jones has been the interim dean since the spring of 2012.

“Aaron’s recent interim leadership in this position has been very valuable to Drury University and to the variety of regions we serve,” said Drury President David Manuel. “Aaron’s continued leadership will be instrumental in the future growth of CCPS.”

Aaron Jones, Dean of Drury's CCPS

Jones, a 1995 Drury graduate, received his Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1998. He also received a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in dispute resolution in 2009 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Jones began practicing law in Springfield with Hulston, Jones & Marsh, in 1998.  He has also served as a municipal prosecutor and municipal judge. From 2006 to 2008, he served on the Board of Governors for the Missouri Bar as the Young Lawyers liaison.  Jones is a member of King’s Way United Methodist Church and the Rotary Club of Springfield (Downtown). He was elected to the Drury Board of Trustees in 2009, but he took a leave from the board when he was appointed to serve as interim dean.

Drury’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies serves more than 3,000 students throughout southwest Missouri. Besides Springfield, Drury offers classes in: Monett, Cabool, Licking, Ava, Thayer, St. Robert, Rolla, Fort Leonard Wood, Lebanon and Owensville. Additionally, Drury has a robust online program with 18 degrees that can be completed entirely online with online offices in West Plains, Mo. and Bentonville, Ark.


Long journey puts Drury student in “a better place”

Anjanette LaBellarte did not take the normal path into college. After graduating from high school in the 1980s, she went to work and began to raise a family. She worked as a waitress, and, after a divorce, she worked in a variety of careers, but college was never in her plans.

“I always thought, I don’t really need to go to school. I’m too busy. I’ve got the kids. I’m a single mom. I’m just trying to keep my head above water,” LaBellarte said.

Anjanette LaBellarte

She was shut out of jobs that required more than a high school diploma and she bounced between careers, finally landing in sales at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. But, with a desire to make a better life for her family, in her late thirties, she quit her job, started a housekeeping business to give her a flexible schedule, and she enrolled in college.

“The number one reason was my daughters. I didn’t want them to be like me and how I had waited to get an education,” LaBellarte said. “So, I said I needed to take life by the reins and go to school.”

LaBellarte worked hard at school and in her business, often getting help from her daughters. After five years, LaBellarte earned a bachelor’s in communication with honors from Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies in May 2012, becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college. Then, she tapped into her network and worked with Drury’s Office of Career Planning and Development, and the University Plaza hired her back as a sales manager.

“What I saw in her the most was growth personally,” said Chris Huffington, LaBellarte’s manager. “She had a lot of self-confidence, she had great knowledge of what’s out in the community. She just needed that self-assurance.”

Now, it’s the next generation’s turn. LaBellarte has a stepdaughter at Drury and another about to enter college, and she has a message for anyone thinking about going to college, “If they want a better life for themselves and feel better about who they are, they should get an education. It doesn’t matter how old they are, if you want it, you can do it.”

To view a video about Anjanette’s journey, click here.


Drury University to offer courses in Owensville, Mo.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 29, 2013 — Drury University will begin offering classes this fall at the Owensville High School for dual enrolled high school students and adults. The first classes offered will be English 150: Composition and Political Science 101: Government and Politics in the United States.  Drury representatives will be at the Owensville High School on Tuesday, May 7 from 3-7 p.m. to provide information and register students.

“The school district is happy to be partnering with Drury University to bring college courses to Owensville” said Dr. Russ Brock, superintendent of the Gasconade R-II School District. “This will be a tremendous benefit to our current high school students as well as other adults in and around Owensville. We hope this will develop into a strong Drury presence in the community with opportunities that will meet the needs of our citizens.”

For more information, please contact Drury University of Rolla at 573-368-4959.


Piercing a difficult subject: Human Sexuality instructor Ty Pierce

Ty Pierce admits it. Sometimes, a lecture on psychology can be boring. One night teaching his social psychology class at Drury he noticed his students fading, so he asked them if they wanted to see a magic trick. Pierce, an amateur magician since before he could read, performed a trick and it’s become a trademark of his classes.

“During the break, I’ll do a magic trick and it wakes ‘em up a little bit and it seems to make them smile and that’s my drug,” Pierce said.

Ty Pierce

Pierce knows all about the power of emotion. Besides his usual psychology courses, Pierce teaches human sexuality. Around the nation, human sexuality is consistently one of the most popular classes on college campuses, which comes as no surprise to Pierce.
“It’s easy, it’s the only reason we’re alive,” Pierce said. “It’s what I tell the class, sex is the only reason we’re here. We were all conceived as the result of sex.”

Pierce has taught at Drury for more than two decades and he’s taught human sexuality during most of that time, primarily in the evenings in the College of Continuing Professional Studies. His frank, energetic style has made him popular among the students.

“I had heard about Ty and his teaching style from other students and researched his ratings on line. And heard that he was phenomenal,” said Jennifer Pierson, a Drury junior. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I came into it with an open mind and I was kind of excited to take a class that was one of the highest ranked classes I’ve seen yet at Drury.”

The father of two is passionate about much more than just teaching. As an undergraduate, he knew a young woman who had been date raped, which started him on a crusade against sex crimes. Now, he’ll tell anyone who will listen everything from how to avoid becoming the victim of a sex crime to how to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

“If I can prevent one child from being molested, one person in my class from being pregnant when they’re not wanting to, or prevent a student from getting a disease or keep a young lady or a child from being raped, my job is done,” Pierce said.

To view a video about Pierce’s teaching style and his efforts against sex crimes, click here.


Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications.

Drury’s Online Paralegal Program ranked as one of the best in the nation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 11, 2013 — The Open Education Database (OEDB) listed Drury University’s Paralegal Program third in its listing of the top online paralegal programs in the nation. View a complete listing of the top online paralegal programs in the country at

“Drury is pleased that its robust online educational offerings are being recognized by an independent third party,” said Steve Hynds, Drury’s director of online education. “Paralegal is one of the 18 Drury degrees that can be completed entirely online, and Drury works to ensure that our online offerings match the rigor and value expected of a Drury education.”

The Open Education Database (OEDb) recognizes the top U.S. colleges that offer online learning for undergraduate degree programs in a variety of fields, including paralegal.

The Open Education Database says that it, “Is dedicated to helping students navigate their open and online education options. OEDb features an open courseware directory, degree program directories, school profiles, distance learning advice, and rankings of the top online schools in the country.”

For more information on OEDB, contact Amy Tran at

Media Contact: Steve Hynds, Drury’s Director of Online Education, Office: (417) 873-7406, E-mail: