Drury student project paves the way for difficult advance care conversations

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 25, 2017 — A project organized by Drury University senior Heather Harman is challenging students to consider end-of-life care and advance healthcare directives with their friends and family, all in a comfortable dinner setting.

The “Death Over Dinner” initiative is part of Harman’s senior capstone project as a communication studies major, and is funded by a grant from the Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks. HFO plans to use lessons learned from the project to improve the way it approaches young adults about advance care planning in the future. According to a research report in the July 2017 issue of Health Affairs, two out of three U.S. adults have not completed an advance directive.

“This isn’t something we talk about a lot at this age demographic,” says Harman, who modeled her project after a successful case study. “We’re young and healthy and we don’t plan for the end of our life because we think it is years and years away, but that isn’t always the case.”

The project hopes to change this attitude by starting conversations among students about their wishes regarding the end of their life. Participants are urged to complete their own advanced healthcare directives, and are provided with resources to guide them through the next steps in such a process. The first dinner occurred Monday evening. The project will continue with two more meals on Wednesday (11 a.m. lunch in the Shewmaker Communication Center and 6:30 p.m. dinner in Drury’s Martin Alumni Center), and a final dinner with student-athletes at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Martin Alumni Center. Trained facilitators will lead the conversations.

“Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks is excited to provide funding that supports the ‘Death Over Dinner’ Project at Drury,” says HFO Executive Director Kim Morelock. “This project encourages meaningful conversations regarding end-of-life decisions in a casual environment. That is what is important – just having the conversation.”


Media Contact: Regina Waters, Ph.D. – Project Advisor and professor of communication: (417) 873-7251 or (417)-849-3641. Email:

Mr. Melgren goes to Washington: Grad takes part in Congressional briefing

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 15, 2016 — Recent Drury graduate Evan Melgren will take part in a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 19, as part of panel hosted by the New American Colleges & Universities (NAC&U). Melgren will describe how his experience on Drury’s Solar Decathlon team contributed to his education and career success.

The panel is part of a series of events hosted next week by the NAC&U, which is a national consortium of selective, independent colleges and universities dedicated to the integration of liberal arts education, professional studies, and civic engagement. Drury is one of 25 member schools.

Evan Melgren

The briefing will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the Rayburn Office Building. Melgren and two other students will share their experiences of how their integrative education, including undergraduate research, business consulting, and multidisciplinary team projects improved the quality of their college experiences and prepared them with real-world skills.

“Not only was the multidisciplinary aspect of the Decathlon a perfect challenge for a liberal arts student like myself, it was also a perfect model of an advanced professional endeavor,” Melgren says. “It necessitated teamwork and the inclusion of multiple perspectives to create a home that worked in all regards.”

Melgren is a 2014 Drury graduate with a degree in advertising and public relations. He was the communication chair for the Crowder-Drury Solar Decathlon team, which spent 18 months designing, building and marketing a solar-powered and storm-resistant home for the national contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. About 140 teams from around the world applied and only 20 were accepted, of which only 14 successfully made it to the competition site. The Crowder-Drury team placed 8th overall. The experience led directly to a job with Killian Construction Company, where Melgren is a market research analyst.

“I feel honored to have been selected by our professors to take this important message to such a powerful forum,” he says. “A liberal arts education is an excellent route to a deeper appreciation for life, but it’s also more than that. It’s an excellent option for anyone looking to obtain an education that will prepare them for whatever life throws at them, and I can’t wait to take that message to our nation’s capitol.”

More information about the slate of events, including a similar briefing at the National Press Club on Wednesday, can be found in the NAC&U’s full news release.

Media Contact: Mike Brothers, Director of Media Relations: (417) 873-7390 or For information about NAC&U, contact Michelle Apuzzio at


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.

Prater to lead strategic workshop for Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 9, 2015 — Drury University faculty member Dan Prater has been selected to lead a strategic communication workshop for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) board of directors in Kansas City.

Prater, an instructor in the Drury Communication Department and the director of the university’s Center for Nonprofit Communication, will lead the training for STFM’s 18-member board on July 29. Board members are doctors and educators representing health care systems and universities throughout the country, including Dartmouth Medical School, Georgetown University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas.

Dan Prater

Dan Prater

The training will include sessions on message development and effective communication techniques. “Communication is the key,” says Prater. “Regardless of the size or scope of the organization, if you can’t articulate your mission and vision in a clear, compelling manner, you are unlikely to succeed.”

STFM has nearly 5,000 members and offers educational resources for volunteer preceptors who teach medical students and residents in family medicine. Family medicine is a specialty that provides continuing, comprehensive health care for individuals and families. It is a specialty that integrates the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences.

Drury’s Center for Nonprofit Communication is a regional nonprofit resource center, providing workshops and private consultations for more than 125 nonprofit/civic groups each year in Missouri and surrounding states. Organizations range from large institutions such as hospitals and universities to small, volunteer-only community organizations. Sessions are designed to educate and empower organizational leaders (including board members), helping them accomplish their missions.


Communication students put theories into action with research

When students in her Interpersonal Communication Theory class choose a research topic, Dr. Cristina Gilstrap issues one over-arching challenge.

“Here’s the big question: who cares about your results?” she tells them. “In other words, how could the findings of the study be used to help organizations or individuals in a practical way?”

Two groups of students recently wrapped up projects in the class.

The first group examined the face management strategies used by police officers when conflict arises during traffic stops. Face management is a theory that focuses on how one’s self image, or “face,” is threatened, saved or restored during interactions.

The second group examined how parents manage uncertainties after receiving their child’s Down syndrome diagnosis. Uncertainty management theory explores how we attempt to manage uncertainties in situations that are complex or unpredictable.

One of the first group’s key findings was that local police officers typically find ways to express empathy with difficult subjects in order to save face and make the interaction as positive as they can, given the circumstances. These interactions come naturally, but the student researchers suggested integrating the theory and their findings into officer training in order to help improve traffic stop interactions for both officers and the public.

Given what’s happened in Ferguson and Baltimore in the last year, Samantha Williams, a senior communication studies major, said research such as this could be valuable for officers in a time when seemingly routine encounters can have massive repercussions if handled poorly.

“The way officers manage their face may mean the difference between additional riots or it may result in a traffic stop ending with the driver in violation saying ‘thank you’ and having an appreciation for the officers and what they do,” Williams says.

The second group found that parents often seek out information to help them effectively cope with their uncertainties after their child’s Down syndrome diagnosis. The most valuable information is not necessarily factual, they found, but personal: conversations with other parents, blog posts, support groups and simply meeting and knowing people who have been diagnosed.

Communication Theory research students

Communication Theory research students

Jeremy Petrich, a junior biology and exercise sports science major, said that even though researching uncertainty is by its very nature focused on something negative, the in-depth conversations with parents made it clear their outlook was anything but.

“They so often said, ‘We love our children, we wouldn’t have it any other way, they’re a part of our lives,’” he says. “It was just awesome to hear everything they had to say.”


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

Drury student honored as one of the most promising minority advertising students in the U.S.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 7, 2012 — The American Advertising Federation (AAF) has selected Drury senior Amber Perdue as one of its Most Promising Minority Students for 2012. Perdue is one of just 41 students chosen by the AAF from more than 100 applicants.

Amber Perdue

“I’m thrilled that the American Advertising Federation has recognized Amber’s talent and leadership abilities,” said Dr. Regina Waters, chair of the Department of Communication. “The Most Promising Minority Students program provides students with an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the advertising profession while meeting the industry’s leading executives. It’s quite impressive that a Drury student has been invited to participate in this prestigious recruiting program.”

The American Advertising Federation will fly Perdue to New York City in early February where she, along with her fellow honorees, will have the opportunity to meet with recruiters from some of the top companies in the world, including: Google, ESPN and Pepsi. In addition, the 41 Most Promising Minority Students will be honored at a luncheon and receive tickets to a Broadway show. The AAF has banned cell phones for the students at all events.

“I am very thankful to Dr. Waters for nominating me for this opportunity. My time at Drury has been an invaluable learning experience and adventure,” Perdue said. “This award is an example of where a lot of effort and a great education can get you.”

Students for the Most Promising Minority Student awards were chosen from a wide range of colleges and universities, including: the University of Michigan, The George Washington University and the University of Texas.

Perdue is a 2009 graduate of Kickapoo High School, and she is on track to graduate from Drury in May of 2013.

Media Contact: Dr. Regina Waters, Chair, Drury Department of Communication, Office: (417) 873-7251, E-mail:


Six faculty members earn award for community engagement

Springfield, Mo., Aug. 16, 2012 — Six Drury faculty members earned the inaugural President’s Award of Excellence for Community Engagement.

Architecture Professors Nancy Chikaraishi, Keith Hedges, and Traci Sooter, Adjunct Architecture Instructor Rufus Louderback, Psychology Professor Dr. Jennifer Silva Brown, and Communication Professor Dr. Regina Waters were recognized for dedicating countless hours of service to help Joplin rebuild in the aftermath of the May 22, 2011 tornado and for engaging the larger Drury community in meaningful service.

(L to R) Keith Hedges, Jennifer Silva Brown, Traci Sooter, Nancy Chikaraishi, Regina Waters, Rufus Louderback.

In the fall of 2011, Drury students, led by the architecture faculty, designed and built a volunteer tribute at Cunningham Park in Joplin in just one week. The park had been destroyed by the May 22, 2011 tornado. As part of that project, Waters’ communication class organized a “Smart Mob” of more than 100 members of the Drury community who converged on Joplin in one day to help meet the construction deadline.

Dr. Silva Brown and several behavioral science undergraduates conducted research on tornado victims in the fall of 2011 that focused on the victims’ mental health post-disaster and effective coping skills. In 2012, Silva Brown partnered with the architecture department to complete a longitudinal study of those same victims.

Drury faculty, staff, alumni and students recorded a combined 13,463 hours of service to Joplin projects.

The award reads, in part, “…this greatly deserved recognition is for much more than an impressive quantity of service hours; for in their response to the disaster in Joplin, these individuals truly embodied the Drury mission and vision.  Through their commitment to community engagement and service-learning, they provided our students with educational opportunities that ‘foster the integration of theoretical and practical knowledge, that liberates persons to participate responsibly in and contribute to life in a global community, and that educates students to become engaged, ethical, and compassionate citizens for servant leadership in communities characterized by change, complexity and global interdependence.’”


Two long-time Drury professors head into retirement

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 11, 2012 — The end of the 2011-2012 academic year is the end of an era as two long-time Drury professors, Tom Parker and Ron Schie, head into retirement.

Professor Parker has taught art and art history at Drury since 1980. Parker regularly exhibits his art, both in solo shows and group shows. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. His work has been seen in major museums around the country, including the Whitney Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, the Nelson Atkins Museum, the St. Louis City Museum and the Springfield Art Museum.

Prof. Tom Parker

“Over his 30 years here there is no question that Tom has helped Drury become the institution it is today,” said Dr. Thomas Russo, professor of Art History. “Though he is stepping into a well-deserved, and I’m sure, much anticipated retirement, his absence will be keenly felt, but so too will his contributions for years to come. Tom has made a significant impact on the lives of students and faculty alike at Drury.”

Tom is also an accomplished banjo player who regularly performs with his Cattywampus Band.

Like Parker, Professor Schie is an accomplished practitioner as well as an educator. Schie spent twenty years in advertising and marketing before taking his first teaching position at the University of Oregon in 1990. Prior to joining the faculty at Drury in 1998, Schie spent seven years at West Virginia University where he was honored as “The P.I. Reed School of Journalism Teacher of the Year” in 1998.

Schie is a long-time member of the Academic Committee of the American Advertising Federation. He was instrumental in bringing the concept of “Ad Team” to Drury. Drury students annually travel to the American Advertising Federation district competition where they present an entire campaign for a major client. The work they produce has been instrumental in helping many Drury alumni gain employment.

“As a result of Professor Schie’s commitment to advertising education, more than 100

Prof. Ron Schie

Drury alumni have benefitted from the Ad Team experience over the past 14 years,” said Dr. Regina Waters, chair of the Department of Communication. “Ron has earned the respect and admiration of students, campus colleagues, and advertising professionals. We wish him all the best in his post-Drury adventures.”

Drury University would like to thank Professors Parker and Schie for their service to Drury and higher education and wishes them the best of luck in retirement.


Drury’s television studio will get a makeover thanks to an alumna’s donation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 2, 2012 — When video students walk into the Drury television studio in the fall of 2012, they’ll be greeted with a fully functioning, high definition facility capable of giving students a real-time television experience. The re-tooling of the studio in the Shewmaker Communication Center is made possible by a $150,000 donation from 1973 Drury graduate and former news anchor Carole Lambert.

“We can’t thank Carole enough for her generous donation. With more than three decades in the television news business, she knows how important it is for students to walk out of college with live broadcast experience in front of and behind the cameras,” said Brian Shipman, Drury video instructor. “These improvements will give our students the experience and skills they need to be the journalists and broadcasters of the future.”

Carole Lambert

Lambert began her broadcast career in 1979, and, by 1982, she had earned the main anchor position at KTUL, the ABC affiliate in Tulsa, Okla. During her career, Lambert reported on everything from natural disasters to domestic violence. She also produced and hosted a weekly segment called “Waiting Child” that featured special needs children awaiting adoption. Lambert has received several accolades over her journalism career, including induction into the Oklahoma Association of Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame, the Silver Circle Society of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the Tulsa Press Club Media Icon Award. Lambert retired from KTUL in July 2011 and returned to her native Springfield, Mo.

“Now, just as I did, Drury students, will have the opportunity to get the liberal arts education Drury is known for, combined with the technical expertise that is key to success in so many careers in the 21st century,” Lambert said. “Blessings are to share, and I am grateful for the opportunity to provide this gift to the students of Drury University.”

Besides Lambert’s gift, Drury’s Student Government Association will contribute at least $80,000 to the renovation. Work on the studio will begin over the summer to be ready for students for the fall semester of 2012.

In addition to its use as an educational tool, the new studio will also be used for communicating Drury news and features on Drury University Television (DUTV) on Mediacom 15.4. Shipman says that these are the first new cameras DUTV has had since PBS affiliate KOZK moved off-campus more than a decade ago.

Drury’s Department of Communication will host a reception honoring Lambert on Wednesday, May 9 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Shewmaker Communication Center lobby. Shewmaker Communication is located on the southwest corner of Central Street and Drury Lane.

Media only: Media are welcome to videotape or photograph the reception. Lambert, Shipman and Drury Communication Chair Dr. Regina Waters will be available during the reception for interviews. Please contact Mark Miller at (417) 839-2886 to set up an interview. Carole Lambert may be contacted at (417) 719-4755.

Media Contact: Brian Shipman, Video Instructor and DUTV Advisor, Office: (417) 873-7850, E-mail:


Drury communication students to present research at regional conference

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 8, 2012 — Nine Drury communication majors have been selected to present their research at the 2012 Central States Communication Association (CSCA) President’s Undergraduate Honors Research Conference. The conference will be held in Cleveland, Ohio on March 30-31.

Students will be presenting their research in panels and poster sessions before an audience of both their peers and graduate faculty from other institutions. Additionally, by participating in the research conference, students will be allotted time to find out more about the available opportunities in graduate study, while also networking with some of the leading communication scholars in the central states region.

Research submitted to the conference was conducted in Ethics of Communication, Interpersonal Communication Theory, Mass Media and Society and Foundations of Communication Theory courses. This is the first time at Drury that this many different communication courses have produced student CSCA research.

“I applaud these students for their accomplishments,” said Dr. Regina Waters, chair of the

Dr. Regina Waters

communication department. “They produced this level of scholarly work as sophomores and juniors.”

Research Panel Presentations

Jackie Cantrell and Allyson Strickland
Sex, Babies and Housework: Attributions of Sexist Joking in Cross-Sex Friendships

Alyssa Baker, Elizabeth Barmeier, and Christa Scott
The Maverick, the Old Man, the Changer and the Obnoxious One: The Framing of the 2008 Party Candidates on “Saturday Night Live

Jackie Cantrell
Perceptions and Crisis: Media Framing in the 2011 Revolt in Egypt

Poster Session Presentations

Michelle Everett, Holly Plunkett, Molly Riddle, and Cecily Robertson
It’s Not Like I’m Drunk: The Use of Pathos in Anti-Drunk Driving Campaigns

Allyson Strickland
“Outsmart Mother Nature”: An Examination of Tampax Advertising Using Passing Theory

Christa Scott
Ageism in Television Programming: An Examination of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland”

According to its website, the mission of the Central States Communication Association is to unite and educate people with both an affinity to the central region of the United States and a scholarly interest in all areas of communication for promotion of their mutual goals and advancement of their field.

Media Contact: Dr. Regina Waters, Chair & Associate Professor, Communication, Office: (417) 873-7251, E-mail: