Alumnus Faulkner to speak, lead discussion on race & diversity

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 21, 2016 — Drury University will hold a campus- and community-wide discussion about race and cultural diversity on Jan. 28. The public is invited to attend.

The event will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Diversity Center (the former Washington Avenue Baptist Church) on Drury Lane. It will be led by Rev. Darren Faulkner of Kansas City, a Drury graduate with more than 20 years experience in counseling, prison ministry, and nonprofit management.

“Drury University is a very welcoming and inclusive community,” says President Dr. David Manuel. “Nevertheless, our perspectives of diversity and inclusion can always broaden and become more thoughtful. Those perspectives are interrelated with the issues Rev. Faulkner will raise, and I am confident that his insights will help us deepen Drury’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Faulkner will speak about the connections between the issues of race relations, economic dignity and cultural diversity. He will then lead a discussion session with Drury students, faculty, staff and members of the public. The President’s Council on Inclusion organized the event.

Rev. Darren Faulkner

Rev. Darren Faulkner

“We have come a long way since Jim Crow and the 1960s, however there are several things that occur today that would make the average person question just how far we have come,” Faulkner says. “I will be addressing these issues and making the argument that there is a correlation that cannot be denied.”

Faulkner received degrees in criminal justice and political science while at Drury and has been an ordained minister since 1993. He serves on the advisory board of the PBS affiliate KCPT, and is a member of the Heartland Community Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City NAACP.


Media Contact: Greg Booker, Assistant Professor of Art & Inclusion Council Chair. Office: (417) 873-7203; email: gbooker@drury.edu.

First Person: Drury prepared student for intense fellowship in Texas

This past June, I was a Fellow in the African American Literature and Cultures Institute at the University of Texas-San Antonio where I covered black studies materials, participated in graduate school preparation workshops, and interacted with scholars and students from across the country. The program also afforded me a scholarly excursion to visit New York City. The program encourages students to become professors.

Mykesha Jackson at UTSA

The selection process was intense and entailed writing two short essays about my commitment to diversity and my interest in working with African American literature, providing two reference letters, and selecting and working with a dedicated mentor through the graduate school application process and the completion of a mentor-directed research project. Out of over 50 applications, I was fortunate to be one of six fellowship recipients, three of us came from PWIs or Predominately White Institutions, the other three hailing from HBCUs, Historically Black Colleges or Universities.

Initially, I found class discussions to be overwhelming. Not because I’m unaccustomed to challenging course work and material, but because I was unsure of how to present my creative domain of Communication Studies to the group. I would constantly think back to my time in classes such as, “Foundation of Communication Theory,” “Rhetorical Criticism,” or “Intercultural Communication” at Drury and reflect on how to critically analyze artifacts and convey the results of that analysis. After a while, class discussions became more interesting and fluidly interactive. UTSA professors were impressed by my oral presentation skills, knack for persuasion, and knowledge of twentieth century philosopher Kenneth Burke, especially at the undergraduate level. My Drury education had prepared me to engage with some of the best African-American students in the country.

While I am a communication studies major, Drury has nourished my love for learning “for the sake of learning” and has encouraged me to explore many facets of psychology, religion, and history in depths that only a liberal arts institution can offer. While my fellowship has given me a “scholarly toolbox,” I feel it is my liberal arts education that has given me the true diverse education that will allow me to thrive in an ever-changing environment in the 21st century. Confidence and intellectualism in the academic and professional essence sum up my fellowship experience. After Drury, I plan to attend graduate school to, eventually, earn a Ph.D. in Communication, which I will use to teach at the college level. Just like my Drury professors who have given me so much.


Story by Mykesha Jackson, a senior communication studies major at Drury.

Drury’s Scholars program has come a long way in five years

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 23, 2012 — The fifth class of Drury’s Scholars, an enrichment program for Springfield African-American youth, will return to campus on Monday, July 30. Founded in 2008 by Drury professors, Summer Scholars brought 15 middle school, African-American males to campus for a week of activities. Since that time, the program has expanded to include females, offer year-round programming and dropped the “Summer” in the name to reflect the ongoing nature of educational opportunities the Scholars program provides.

This year, the Scholars program has received a great deal of good news, including:

  • In July, Drury hired Francine Pratt, the former President of the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP, to lead the Scholars as program coordinator.
  • In June, Springfield-based accounting firm BKD awarded the Scholars program with a $9,000 grant from the BKD Foundation to buy Netbook computers for the Scholars to use throughout the year.
  • In April, the Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded the Scholars program with a College Access Challenge Grant for $84,511. The grant will pay for food, Pratt’s salary, salaries for Drury student workers who serve as mentors to the Scholars, stipends for guest speakers, fees for cultural trips, and educational supplies including books.

In August, Drury will enroll its first Scholars’ alumnae. LaShonda Johnson and Bailey McCormick each attended Scholars for one summer and will begin their college careers at Drury in the fall.

Five of the young men from that first class of 15 males in 2008 are returning for the fifth year. Several have either graduated from high school or moved away. Many are enrolled in college for fall 2012 or plan to attend college once they graduate, which was one of the goals when the Scholars program was founded. “When we started the Scholars, our inspiration was the achievement gap in Springfield Public Schools between African-American and Caucasian students, especially among male students,” said Dr. Peter Meidlinger, English professor and one of the Scholars founders. “We wanted the students to realize that college was a possibility for them, and, now, we have several heading to college, including Drury. We couldn’t be happier with that outcome.”

The only cost to the Scholars is a $25 fee, which is waived for students who complete meaningful work projects designated by the director of the program.

Increasing diversity on-campus and in the community.

John Beuerlein

Over the last several years, Drury University has made a concerted effort to increase the diversity of its student population. Those efforts have been successful in large part due to the Edward Jones Minority Scholarships. Drury graduate, and the former chairman of Drury’s Board of Trustees, John Beuerlein and his wife Crystal established the scholarships in 2007 for the entering class in the fall of 2008. The Edward Jones Minority Scholarships are competitive scholarships for ten self-identified minorities in each freshman class.

In 2011-2012, 18.5 percent of Drury’s freshman class was made up of international students and domestic minorities. That’s the most diversity in a freshman class at Drury ever. The percentage of diverse students was even higher than the first day of classes at Drury on September 25, 1873, when seven of Drury’s first 39 students (or 18 percent) were Native Americans.

“I was concerned when I learned that Springfield was the second least diverse city in the United States,” said Drury President Todd Parnell. “We suffer as a community from that distinction when it comes to attracting businesses and talent to our region. Drury’s increasing diversity can serve as a mini-oasis in the community profile. The more we learn about that role, the more effective we can be as an institution in providing leadership on campus and in the community. The Scholars program and its continued growth is one of the ways in which Drury is offering that leadership.”

Media Contact: Francine Pratt, Drury Scholars Program Coordinator, Mobile: (916) 541-1675, E-mail: fpratt@drury.edu


First class of Edward Jones Scholars graduates

Springfield, Mo., May 14, 2012 — Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” and there are none who represent this in a better way than the 2012 Edward Jones Scholars who recently took the final walk to receive their diploma from Drury President Todd Parnell.

Left to right: Reginald Talley, Lori Finch, Ashley Davis, Erica Juchems, Bichlien Pham, Rachel Smith. Not pictured: Alexis Lurten, Megan Garcia-Hynds, Sean Powell and the late Alex Parker.

Six of the first class of ten Edward Jones Scholars received their diplomas at Drury’s graduation on Saturday. Two others will graduate later this summer and one in December. Graduation is a major milestone for the program that has given opportunity to minority students and increased diversity at Drury.

Drury graduate and board of trustees member John Beuerlein and his wife Crystal funded the scholarships for the first four classes of ten Edward Jones Scholars. Recipients apply during their senior year of high school and go through a rigorous screening process designed to admit the best of the best according to Dr. Kelley Still, executive director of the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship.

All of the Edward Jones Scholars minor in entrepreneurship and take part in personal and professional development programs through the Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at Drury, which is funded by financial services company Edward Jones. Plus, the Scholars give back to Drury, this spring the Edward Jones Scholars conducted anti-racism training for nearly all of Drury’s freshman core classes.

The Edward Jones Scholars have improved diversity on campus. More than 18.5 percent of Drury’s freshman class in 2011 was made up of minorities and international students, the highest percentage ever. “I think it’s very important that this program exists. Minority students represent historically excluded groups and they have been just that, historically excluded. We can’t go back and change history, but we can do something to try to level the playing field,” said Sara Cochran, advisor to the Edward Jones Scholars.

“My experience at Drury has been invaluable,” said Bichlien Pham, a senior Edward Jones Scholar. “The Edward Jones Scholars group has been very supportive and being part of such a group has provided many networking opportunities. I am so fortunate to be involved with the Edward Jones Scholars.”


This story was written by Juan Franco, a sophomore majoring in International Political Studies.

Drury’s Summer Scholars program begins its fourth year

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 19, 2011 In the summer of 2008, three Drury University professors welcomed a group of 15 African-American high school students to campus for the first session of Summer Scholars. Four years later, Drury University’s Summer Scholars program for African-American teenagers has more than tripled, includes female students and several of the original scholars are just a year away from entering college.

Beginning Sunday, July 24, Drury will welcome around two-dozen students heading into the ninth and tenth grades at Central High School. Those students will remain until Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, July 27, another group of students heading into their junior and senior years at Central will come to campus and remain until Saturday, July 30. The students will attend classes in language arts, photography, science and critical thinking; listen to guest speakers; and attend local cultural events.

“Our goal has always been to recruit these students to college. Whatever college that might be,” says Dr. Bruce Callen, associate dean of the college and one of the founding members of the Summer Scholars. “We want to provide them with an introduction to a lot of the experiences college can provide. We’ve had a strong concentration in reading, mathematics and writing, but we’ve also introduced them to philosophy, architecture, theatre and art.”

Drs. Callen, Peter Meidlinger and Mark Wood founded the Summer Scholars program. They were joined by Drury English instructor Charlyn Ingwerson in 2009 when female students were added to the program.

According to a report produced by Springfield Public Schools, African-American students made up about 7.5 percent of high school students in the Springfield district in 2009-2010, and accounted for just 4 percent of the students in the district that took the ACT that school year. By contrast, Caucasian students made up 83 percent of the SPS students who took the ACT, and represent 86 percent of students in Springfield Public Schools. Additionally, Caucasian students in Springfield scored five points higher on the ACT in 2009-2010 than their African-American counterparts.

“We were concerned about the loss of potential reflected in statistics that show capable African-American students in Springfield not attending college or even applying. The reasons for starting and sustaining the Summer Scholars program is to nurture these students’ potential, help them vision a future where their educations go beyond high school, and to close that achievement gap.” says Ingwerson.

Summer Scholars has expanded beyond the summertime immersion. During the school year, several Drury faculty members and students engage with African-American students at Pipkin Middle School in a book club. Beginning in the spring of 2011, Drury faculty and students began a mentoring program for African-American students at Central High School. “I’ve learned a lot about how families work,” says Meidlinger, a Drury English professor. “Many of the students in mentoring come from single parent families where the parent has a night job. They aren’t able to know what homework their child has or what’s going on in the classroom. With mentoring, we check on grades and keep them on track. Having an extra adult in the mix, it makes a difference.”

Students interested in the program are asked to fill out an application and write two short essays. All students that applied this year were accepted. The only cost to the student is a $25 fee.

A majority of the funding for the program comes internally from Drury University. Springfield Public Schools pays for the resident advisers’ salaries, and a grant from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will help feed the teens during their stay at Drury. Drury receives additional financial support from several private donations.