Constitution Day

American Bar Association past president and 1969 Drury alumnus to speak

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 11, 2014 —One of the country’s top lawyers will return to his alma mater next week to help celebrate the American government’s foundational document.

James Silkenat, a 1969 Drury graduate and immediate past president of the American Bar Association, will help the campus observe Constitution Day. He will speak at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16, at Lay Hall Auditorium. The event is sponsored by Drury, the Springfield Bar Association and Drury’s pre-law society, Phi Alpha Delta.

Constitution Day is Sept. 17, marking the day the landmark document forming the basis of American government was ratified in 1787. Federal law requires educational institutions receiving federal funds to hold an observation of Constitution Day each year.

“Mr. Silkenat’s impressive and diverse background exemplifies the best of a liberal arts education such as that offered by Drury,” says Dr. Dan Ponder, professor of political science at Drury.


Silkenat is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute, has served as a Fellow in the U.S. State Department Scholar/Diplomat Program and was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. His career has focused primarily on rule of law, civil rights and international law. During his tenure as president of the ABA, Silkenat focused on access to justice, immigration, jobs for lawyers, court funding, voting rights and gun violence issues.

The following day, Ponder will give a talk comparing the two main ways the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the Constitution: original intent versus the concept of a living, evolving document. The talk will be held at noon on Sept. 17 at Findlay Student Center.


Drury to commemorate Constitution Day with a discussion of voting rights

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 6, 2013 — On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Drury will commemorate Constitution Day with a brown bag lunch event where a panel of Drury faculty and community members will discuss “Voting Rights and Constitutional Protections.” The event is from noon-12:50 p.m. in the Hoblit Suite of Freeman Hall. Cake will be served.

“The right to vote and hold office is one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed to Americans,” said Dr. Ted Vaggals, Drury political science professor. “The Constitution was written to protect this right and to ensure that the voice of all Americans is heard through the election process. This protection guarantees us the same set of rights and maintains the equal value of these rights. On Constitution Day, we should take a moment to reflect on how we can broaden participation in the election process, ensuring the strength of our democratic institutions.”

Besides Vaggalis, who will moderate the discussion, the panel will include:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Paddock, political science professor
  • Dr. Dan Ponder, political science professor
  • Dr. Richard Schur, English professor
  • Matthew Patterson, Drury alumnus and executive director of the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition

Freeman Hall is located on the east side of the Drury campus at the corner of Summit and Webster Streets behind the Findlay Student Center.

Media Contact: Ted Vaggalis, Ph.D., Political Science Professor, Office: (417) 873-7379, Email:


MEDIA ADVISORY: Drury to host Constitution Day discussion

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 14, 2012 — On Monday, Sept. 17, Drury will celebrate Constitution Day with a brown bag panel of Drury faculty. The event is from noon-1 p.m. in room 204 of the Findlay Student Center.

The cross-discipline panel will discuss the role of the Constitution in their work and their teaching.

A few faculty members will be available before the panel discussion to offer their thoughts on the Constitution and its relevance more than 200 years after ratification.