Honorary Degree

Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten awarded Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

The O’Reilly Family Event Center was a fitting location when Drury University presented an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters to Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten at its spring commencement this month.

That’s because Wooten was one of the key drivers behind the conception, construction and completion of the center, which opened in 2010 and is home to Drury men’s and women’s basketball games, volleyball games, concerts, lectures and commencements. Wooten has been a member of the Drury Board of Trustees for the past decade, and her foresight and leadership helped make the O’Reilly Center a reality. The space is one of the best in NCAA Division II sports and is a gathering place for key moments at Drury. It’s also a LEED-Gold certified building.


It’s just one of the many ways in Wooten ’64 has positively impacted life at Drury and the lives of countless others in the Springfield region. The Springfield native was awarded the honorary degree for an outstanding career and a lifetime of service.

“Rosalie is being recognized today as a model businesswoman, philanthropist, and friend,” said Lyle Reed, chair of the Drury Board of Trustees, at the commencement.

After graduating from Drury University, Wooten taught high school English for thirteen years. She spent most of her career as an Executive Vice President at her family business, O’Reilly Automotive Inc., from 1993 to 2002. She managed telecommunications, risk management and human resources. During her time there she was a creative and innovative thinker with effective human resources management and goal setting abilities combined with superior leadership, team building, communication, interpersonal, and presentation skills.

When Wooten began working at O’Reilly, very near to the company’s IPO, the stock price was $17.50 per share. When she left the company in 2002, the stock price was at $36.47 per share and the number of stores had grown from just over 100 stores to just over 1,000. Her kindness and values made her highly regarded and respected companywide. She currently serves on the company’s Board of Directors.

“Rosalie is a wonderful ambassador for Drury. … She has lived the kind of life that our students and alumni can hold up as an example, and seek to emulate.” – Drury President Dr. Tim Cloyd

Wooten has been dedicated to a number of philanthropic endeavors. She serves on many boards, including Ozarks Greenways, CASA Advisory Board, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks Advisory Board, and Missouri Council for the Arts Board, and she supports several charities. Her passion and caring spirit take her involvement far beyond expectations.

The list of her charitable causes includes, but is not limited to, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, CASA, Catholic Charities, Child Advocacy Center, Boys & Girls Club, Boys & Girls Town, Isabel’s House, Good Samaritan Boys Ranch, Harmony House, MSU Foundation (including Juanita K. Hammons Hall), Springfield Little Theater, Ozarks Food Harvest, Ozark Greenways, Springfield Regional Arts (Opera, Ballet, Orchestra, Symphony), The Moxie Theater, Kauffman Performing Arts Center in Kansas City, Lutheran Family Services, and the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri.

Wooten has most recently authored a children’s book about her nomadic canine friend, Tippy. She has two children, six grandchildren and continues to reside in Springfield.

Of course, one of her main focuses is education by giving back to her Alma Mater, Drury University.

“Rosalie is a wonderful ambassador for Drury,” says President Dr. Tim Cloyd. “With her calling as a teacher, her success as a business executive, her generosity as a philanthropist and her support for the arts, she has lived the kind of life that our students and alumni can hold up as an example, and seek to emulate.”


Drury awards nearly 600 degrees during spring commencements

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 17, 2014 — Drury University awarded degrees to 587 graduates at its spring commencement ceremonies today. There were 290 undergraduate degrees and 58 graduate degrees conferred at the traditional Day School ceremony, and 312 degrees conferred during a ceremony for the College of Continuing Professional Studies. Some students earned multiple degrees.

In addition, the university conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to longtime nonprofit educator and 1967 Drury alumna Marcia Mitchell, who was the keynote speaker at both ceremonies.


In 1972 Mitchell co-founded The Little Light House, a faith-based center in Tulsa dedicated to providing therapeutic intervention and early education to children with disabilities on a tuition-free basis. The school has served as a model nationwide since then, and has earned accolades that include being named as the nation’s 536th “Point of Light” by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and recipient of the ONE Award for Oklahoma’s top nonprofit by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. Mitchell herself has won the Whitney Young Jr. Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America and has been inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.

Mitchell shared with the graduates the role that faith has played in guiding her through challenging times. This included her time at Drury, where she said she spent many hours in a small prayer room in Stone Chapel.

“It was in that little room on this campus that I learned to depend on God and lean on his strength and not my own,” she said.

Now is the time to dream about the road ahead, Mitchell said. But, citing her own experience with the “sharp turns” that can happen along the way, she urged today’s graduates to embrace the unexpected.

“Dare to delight in the detours of your own life,” she said. “As they just might lead you to destinations beyond your wildest dreams.”

Drury has awarded honorary degrees since 1906. Mitchell joins a list of notables who have received this honor over the past century, including: composers Rodgers and Hammerstein (1949), comedian Bob Hope (1973), Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling (1973), Bob Barker (2007), and former presidential candidate Sen. George McGovern (2008).

Saturday’s commencement ceremonies were the first under President David Manuel, who also addressed the graduates.

“You have made great sacrifices to earn a university degree, and we are proud that you did not waiver in your commitment,” Manuel told the graduates.


Drury honors Registrar Gale Boutwell with an honorary degree at Winter Commencement

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 15, 2012 — Gale Boutwell has worked at Drury University for more than four decades. Today, Drury honored her with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at commencement in the O’Reilly Family Event Center. The degree was a surprise to Boutwell who has worked at Drury for 41 years; she has been the registrar since 1978.

Drury also conferred degrees to 410 students during its Winter Commencement. 356 students received undergraduate degrees and 54 earned master’s degrees.

Gale Boutwell (left) smiles as Dr. Charles Taylor reads the proclamation for Boutwell's honorary degree.

Boutwell has overseen 86 commencement ceremonies, including today’s, during that time nearly 25,000 men and women have transitioned from student to Drury alumnus. Drury President Todd Parnell said of Boutwell, “She makes things happen that can’t, all with a smile and in the personal interests of students, whatever their ages, backgrounds or dreams. Gale believes most fundamentally in student dreams.” Parnell and Boutwell both graduated from Drury in 1969.

“Today is so special to me. I am so gratified. I know what goes into the conferring of these honorary degrees. Faculty, trustees, thank you,” Boutwell said.

Jim Anderson, the president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce was the graduation speaker. Anderson received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Drury in 2002, and his daughter Rebecca was one of today’s graduates.

Jim Anderson, Drury graduation speaker

“You have two choices in life, you can dissolve into the mainstream or you can be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must be and strive to be what no one else but you can be,” Anderson told the graduates. “Graduation may be the end of time for you at Drury University, but you’re about to begin a new chapter. Graduation is a new beginning. The more you work to improve the lives of others, the more you will enjoy life.”

Drury’s president-elect Dr. David Manuel and his wife Betty Coe attended the commencement ceremony. Manuel will take office as Drury’s 17th president on June 1, 2013.