Community Engagement

Drury professor named Springfield Regional Opera music director

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 25, 2015 — Dr. Christopher Koch has been appointed Music Director of the Springfield Regional Opera.

Koch is an associate professor of music and director of the Orchestra and Wind Symphony at Drury. As music director of the Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra, Koch is a longtime champion of orchestral music and the arts throughout southwest Missouri. The nationally recognized SDCO has been the area’s regional community orchestra for more than a decade.

Koch mug

“We’re delighted Dr. Koch is joining our organization, and this is just the first step in an exciting restructure and revitalization of the SRO,” says Cindy Curtis, president of the organization’s board of directors.

Koch will continue his work at Drury and with the SDCO as he assumes new duties with the Opera.

The Springfield Regional Opera will collaborate with Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra in a gala Evening at the Opera to be held at Drury’s Clara Thompson Hall at on Saturday, October 3. The event will celebrate the SRO’s 35th season and will feature many of the company’s past and present stars, both local and international.

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Media Contact: Dr. Christopher Koch, Associate Professor of Music: (417) 873-7298 or ckoch@drury.edu.

Breech Business Week helps prepare students for the professional world

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 16, 2015 — The Breech School of Business Administration at Drury University will dedicate next week 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 second year, serves as another way of ensuring Breech students are “job ready” by connecting them with the professional world outside of campus.

The schedule includes networking opportunities, resume and social networking workshops, and guest lectures by more than 20 business professionals. 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.

“Last year’s Breech Business Week gave me a wonderful sense not only of the caliber of business students at Drury, but also their passion and drive,” says Bob Hammerschmidt, regional president of Commerce Bank, and a returning guest lecturer this year. “With the ‘real world’ just a month away for many, these young men and women seem to have a genuine interest in what it takes to have long-term success with their careers.”

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

Monday, April 20 at noon – Drury alumnus Curtis Dinan, of Tulsa-based Fortune 500 energy company ONE Gas, will deliver a keynote about leadership in Lay Hall Auditorium.

Tuesday, April 21 at 4:30 p.m. – Golf Fundraiser. Not your average game of golf – students, faculty and friends of Breech will play a modified game across the campus using tennis balls. Proceeds from entry fees will benefit children in Aigina, Greece, where Drury has a satellite campus location.

Wednesday, April 22 at 10 a.m. – Drury alumna Karen Shannon, Human Resources Consulting Director at Ollis & Company, will discuss what students should know about benefits when they search for and land a new job. The talk is in Breech Hall Room 202.

Thursday, April 23 at 11 a.m. – LinkedIn workshop in Breech 102; professional photos will be shot for students from noon to 3 p.m.

Friday, April 24 at noon – The Breech Award Luncheon honoring the top students in Drury’s business school will be held at the O’Reilly Family Event Center. 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.

“The presentations by professionals in the field, along with other events of the week, will provide critical applications to business theory, and serve to inspire our students as they prepare for future leadership opportunities,” says Michael Shirley, director of the Breech School of Business Administration.

A full schedule of the week’s events is attached. Breech Business Week is presented by the Breech Advisory Board, and made possible by corporate partner CoxHealth and corporate sponsors Commerce Bank and OakStar Bank.

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Media Contact: Dr. Robin Sronce, Associate Professor of Management. Office: (417) 873-7438, emailrsronce@drury.edu.

Housing options at Drury build community in more ways than one

Drury University offers a variety of specialty housing where students can develop interests and serve the community. Many of these housing options are selective and require students to engage in additional activities that engage them through service or academics.

One such option is the Summit Park Leadership Community, an apartment-style environment aimed primarily at sophomores. It’s more than just a nice place to live. Summit Park engages students in a living-learning environment that focuses on the principles of leadership while incorporating the value of community service.

Student teams selected to live in Summit Park form year-long partnerships with local community nonprofits and commit to 15 hours of community service a semester – though many far exceed that requirement. Students lend their skills and passions to these projects. Past partner agencies have included Harmony House, the Boys & Girls Clubs and One Sole Purpose. Students serve in any way possible and update a blog about their project.

Paige Wilson, a member of the team working with One Sole Purpose this year, says her most rewarding experience was “when I went to the elementary schools to handout the shoes the children had received.”

“The children were so grateful and it was a heartwarming experience,” said roommate and fellow team member Olivia Wheat.

Summit Park students are working directly with One Sole Purpose, which provides shoes to students in high poverty Springfield schools.

Summit Park students are working directly with One Sole Purpose, which provides shoes to students in high poverty Springfield schools.

Living in an on-campus apartment is a draw, but the chance to develop leadership and teamwork skills is just as appealing to students wishing to join the program.

“We loved the idea of helping our community while growing as leaders,” Wheat said.

Wheat said working with One Sole Purpose taught their group “how to effectively communicate.” Her team has not only been immersed in a professional setting, but they’ve also been exposed to people from walks of life they may have never encountered previously.

“We always think that shoes are a simple thing to have, but that is not always the case,” Wilson said. “We can never take anything for granted.”

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Story by Trevor Cobb, writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Drury Enactus team helps launch high-end resale boutique

Drury Enactus continues its partnership with Art Inspired for a new business enterprise: Inspired Boutique is a resale store offering a variety of upscale retail items including name-brand clothing, shoes, purses, accessories and high-quality furniture. All proceeds are used to meet the needs of individuals served by Abilities First.

Inspired Boutique offers a variety of upscale retail items including name brand clothing, shoes, purses, accessories and high-quality furniture. The store also provides employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities.

In collaboration with Abilities First, Drury Enactus (formerly known as SIFE) helped develop Art Inspired four years ago to provide meaningful employment to individuals with disabilities. Art Inspired sells paper artwork, stationary and furniture, and acts as an internship site for students in the special education department at Central High School.

“The boutique is a direct growth of Art Inspired,” says Katie Pearson, a junior Drury Enactus member. “It started as just an idea one of our team members had and now it’s grown to provide employment opportunities and acts as a source of empowerment for people living with disabilities in Springfield.”

Katie Pearson at Inspired Boutique

Katie Pearson at Inspired Boutique

For Inspired Boutique, Drury Enactus team members have been involved with the selection, sorting and collection of donations, marketing, event planning and volunteer coordination. All volunteer opportunities at the boutique are also Panther Passport events, which are Drury sponsored activities that help initiate greater involvement on campus and in the community.

“This store has such a great cause behind it and we’re excited to get students and the community involved with it,” says Pearson. “Everything is washed, dried, and steamed before going out to the floor and there’s anything from casual college wear, to professional attire, to clothes for a night out.”

One of the strengths of the Drury Enactus is the diversity of its members. Pearson, a psychology and behavioral neuroscience major, was able to combine her passion for the cause and her previous working experience at a resale store to benefit Inspired Boutique and the Enactus team.

“I’ve learned so much about event planning, marketing and business relations, but also have been able to draw from my own work background,” Pearson said. “I’ve definitely gained a lot of leadership skills from working on this project and it’s pushed me outside of my comfort zone.”

For more information about Inspired Boutique, visit its website  or the store location at 331 S. Campbell Ave.

The Drury team will present their work and compete at the 2015 Enactus National Exposition in April.

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

Signature projects land Drury on the 2014 Community Service Honor Roll

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 11, 2014 — Drury University has been selected for inclusion on the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering and service, administers the award as a way of highlighting the vital role colleges and universities play in addressing community needs.

Three Drury projects were submitted as outstanding examples of community engagement, including:

  • The Butterfly Garden and Overlook in Joplin’s Cunningham Park, a memorial and place of healing following the devastating 2011 tornado. The project involved students and faculty from the Design/Build program at the Hammons School of Architecture as well as the music therapy, psychology and English programs plus many other external partners.
  • The Drury Scholars Program, which has provided academic and cultural enrichment for local African-American middle school and high school students, with the goal of placing them on a path toward college admission. Numerous Drury faculty members and staff from across the university participate.
  • Art Inspired, a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities who might not otherwise be able to work. Art Inspired was co-developed by Drury’s Enactus team in collaboration with Abilities First.

“Drury students, faculty and staff are highly engaged in the community, and choosing just three projects to submit to for consideration was a difficult task,” said Courtney Swan, director of community outreach and leadership development at Drury. “A common thread in each of these projects is that they will all help bring about lasting change in one way or another by affecting people’s lives in personal and meaningful ways.”

In 2013, Drury students provided more than 139,000 service hours to people and organizations in Springfield and the Ozarks. In 2014, the university began publishing an annual Community Engagement Report to highlight many of those efforts.

Nationwide, college students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country — a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.

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Drury students will lend a hand for Make A Difference Day

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 24, 2014 — Approximately 50 Drury University students will work on three community projects this Saturday, Oct. 25 during Make A Difference Day, the country’s largest nationally recognized day of service. DU students will join millions of others around America in lending a helping hand to improve the lives of others.

Additionally, as part of Make A Difference Day, Drury students have collected more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to contribute to Stomp Out Hunger. Drury joins Missouri State University, Evangel, OTC and SBU in this annual shoe drive. On the final day of the drive today, Drury won the Golden Boot Award for collecting the most shoes per capita amongst the five local colleges.

At Drury, Make a Difference Day is called the President’s Day of Service, and President David Manuel and First Lady Betty Coe Manuel will be working alongside Drury students at two project sites.

Dr. Manuel and about 15 students will be painting red Christmas kettles for the Salvation Army from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Harbor House, 636 N. Boonville Ave. The Harbor House is a shelter and rehabilitation facility for homeless men. Some of the Harbor House residents will also be painting kettles. The media contact for this event is Emily Journagan, public relations and events coordinator for the Salvation Army, (417) 763-1357.

The other two projects are:

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K – Betty Coe Manuel and DU students will assist organizers along the route and support runners and walkers during the race. The event takes places from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Jordan Valley Park. Mrs. Manuel will join the Harbor House team after the race.

Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park Fall Fest – Students will assist with children’s activities from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm park is located at 3825 W Farm Road 146.

“Being a part of the largest national day of service is exciting and the students truly enjoy opportunities to engage in the Springfield community,” says Courtney Swan, director of community outreach and leadership development. “The chance to serve alongside President and Mrs. Manuel makes the experience all the more meaningful.”

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Freshman CORE class builds a “Little Free Library”

One Drury freshman class is plunging into the grassroots, community sharing network that has inspired Springfield and cities across the world to start their own Little Free Library.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that started in 2010 and has since grown to become an international movement. It embraces the “take a book, leave a book,” motto in hopes of promoting literacy and the joy of reading.

Simply put, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where local residents may stop by and pick up a book or share one with their community. Most look something like a large birdhouse that can hold anywhere between 25-100 books at a time. They are hand-made and are often feature colorful paint jobs or other playful visual flair.

In January 2014, there were an estimated 15,000 registered Little Free Libraries in the world, with thousands more being built. Springfield already has eight locations. Maps and photos can be found online at Littlefreelibrary.org.

Professor Jo Van Arkel, chair of the Drury English department, was inspired to create a Little Free Library with her freshman CORE class. CORE classes are required courses that give students an introduction to the college experience through a variety of topics. Van Arkel hopes people in the community will develop a sense of ownership and contribute to the library after its installation in late October.

“Libraries are in transition,” said Van Arkel, “but they still serve an essential role in building communities, promoting literacy and preserving the free exchange of ideas that we expect in a democratic society.”

Little Free Library build

Students in Van Arkel’s class broke up into three groups and share a responsibility in the installation of the library. Students built the library from a kit, conducted a demographic study of the neighborhood where it would be placed, and brainstormed different ideas of what types of books the library should hold.

The library will be located on Scott Streetwithin walking distance of Pipkin Middle School, Central High School, and St. Joseph Catholic Academy. It will hold between 25 and 30 books, and the classhopes to put young adult and youth novels in the library, as well as classic literature and non-fiction. Anyone wishing to donate can contact Van Arkel at jvanarke@drury.edu.

Like most other Little Libraries, it was built to be weather resistant and will be at an easily accessible location to attract a wide variety of people.

The class’s next step is to collect book donations. Collection bins will be placed in three locations: outside Dr.Van Arkel’s office on the 3rd floor of Pearsons, outside of Kathy Jester’s office on the 2nd floor of Pearsons, and inside the Olin Library, which will also display the recently constructed Library.

Little Free Library group

Van Arkel hopes that her students will continue checking in with the Library throughout their four years at Drury and that the English honors society can get involved with the project in the future.

“Some of my earliest and happiest memories as a child were of going to the library and bringing home a pile of books. Books were magical to me then and they still are now,” said Van Arkel. “The Little Free Library is a simple concept that captures some of that spirit — it invites curiosity and at the same time encourages the kind of generosity that comes with sharing.”

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

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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Engaged Learning Summit highlights community action

Community engagement is a lynchpin of education at Drury University, and a recent event spotlighted students’ efforts  to reach out beyond the campus’s borders.

Drury’s first Engaged Learning Summit was a chance for local leaders to hear first-hand from students who are translating their course work into community action in a variety of ways. The efforts are also summarized in a new Annual Community Engagement Report available online.

“We are committed to measuring our worth in part by our capacity to leave the Ozarks better than the way we found it,” Charles Taylor, vice president for academic affairs, told those gathered.

When measured in time and dollar value, that worth is large indeed. Drury students provide more than 148,000 hours of local service annually, and the estimated value of those hours is more than $2.8 million.

Students discussed projects such as multi-year study of invertibrates and water quality in Jordan Creek. The data collected and analyzed by environmental science students could help guide the City of Springfield’s efforts to further update the waterway with a more natural streambed. Another highlight was the “Art of Space” projects undertaken by architecture students who create interactive spatial art installations during events such as First Friday Art Walks.

Former Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson listens to Drury architecture students describe "Art of Space."

Former Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson listens to Drury architecture students describe “Art of Space.”

Others included Drury Scholars, which gives local African-American middle and high school students a taste of the college experience, and the Intergenerational Rock Band, which pairs music therapy students with older community members to perform live concerts together.

“What is good for Drury is good for the community, and vice versa,” said Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Anderson. “This event is the embodiment of what’s good for Drury and the community.”

Brian Fogle, president of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, appreciated hearing from the students themselves.

“It’s a rewarding experience to see students so engaged in the community, and excited to talk about their work and impact,” Fogle said. “Not only will that benefit them throughout their lives, it should benefit Springfield as they feel more connected to our community.”

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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. 

Summit will highlight Drury’s present and future engaged learning efforts

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 30, 2014 — Drury University will host its inaugural Engaged Learning Summit on Friday, May 2 to discuss the many ways in which students, faculty and staff are reaching out beyond the campus to enrich our community. The summit also marks the beginning of an enhanced collaboration with community leaders to strengthen these efforts.

The event is by invitation only but media are invited to cover the summit. The summit will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Reed Auditorium in the Trustee Science Center, located on the southwest corner of Drury Lane and Bob Barker Boulevard.

Drury leaders and students will report on the already robust state of community engagement at the University, as well as look ahead to the “Drury Connect” concept, which aims to strengthen those efforts. The heart of Drury Connect is the establishment of nine advisory councils in areas that include the environment, business and economic development, healthcare, the performing arts and architecture. Members of these councils include some of the region’s most influential leaders who will help shape Drury’s academic and community agenda in each area. Several of those who have committed to serve on a Drury Connect advisory council will be in attendance Friday.

“Springfield’s history of collaboration between town and gown is one we cherish and are committed to strengthening,” says Charles Taylor, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “We want to demonstrate the added value we can provide to the community we serve, and show the community that this is the lens through which we view the work of educating our students.”

In addition to an overview of Drury Connect, several students will be on hand to make poster presentations about their recent engaged learning efforts. These efforts include work with local schools, performing arts projects, architecture and design projects, and more.

For more information about the Engaged Learning Summit and Drury Connect, contact: Dr. Charles Taylor, Vice President for Academic Affairs, (417) 873-7391 or ctaylor@drury.edu

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