2003-2004 Convocation: Creativity

Digital archives of convocation speakers are available through the Olin Library.

Learn about the origin of this year's Convocation theme.

Creating a legend.
From May 14, 1804 to September 23, 1806, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their 60-member Corps of Discovery traveled up the Missouri River, over the Rockies, to the Pacific Ocean and back to St. Louis: 8,000 miles by canoe, horseback and foot. Their paths opened the way for new settlements. Within a few decades, the Oregon and Santa Fe trails carried thousands of people west into the newly opened territories.

Exploring a nation.
Lewis and Clark were sent on their journey by President Thomas Jefferson, who wanted to learn more about the new Louisiana Purchase, which had doubled the size of the United States. The Corps of Discovery was about probing where the young nation's economic, geographic and scientific future lay.

Discovering the new.
Grizzly bear, prairie dog, plains cottonwood, narrow-leafed purple coneflower, coyote, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, ponderosa pine, Eastern wood rat: all were unknown to white Americans until Lewis and Clark's expedition. Scientific and cultural discoveries often intertwined, such as when Lewis not only wrote about a plant called camass, but documented how it was harvested, prepared and eaten by the Nez Perce Indians.

Lewis and Clark's expedition created myths of exploration, ambition, teamwork and individuality that define America. It also solidified a personal, cultural, sociological and scientific curiosity that propelled the U.S. into superpower status.

The 2003-04 Drury Convocation series is built around the ideas that drove Lewis and Clark's expedition 200 years ago. The 2003-04 theme, Creativity, Exploration and Discovery will permeate classes and campus events throughout the year. Each talk in the Convocation series reflects the legacy of Lewis and Clark by exploring uniquely American approaches to life and learning, and how those approaches affect and mesh with the rest of the world.

Gary Moulton

Gary Moulton

September 4, 2003

Gary Moulton, professor of history at the University of Nebraska, has spent the last 20 years editing the journals of Lewis and Clark. As one of the most knowledgeable scholars of the expedition, he understands how it set the tone for expansion, colonization and transformation as America grew west.

A winner of Nebraska's Research and Creativity Award for 2002, Moulton looked at the history of the journals kept by Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and four enlisted men of the expedition as they crossed the continent from 1804 to 1806.

According to Moulton, the million-plus words written during Lewis and Clark's years on the trail are filled with accounts of high drama and elaborate notes on scientific inquiry. "But the story of the journals is almost as interesting as the history of the expedition which the books chronicle." Moulton's presentation will consider individual journalists and their notebooks, and will speak to the importance of the expedition in American history.

Moulton earned his Ph.D. and his M.A. at Oklahoma State University. He got his start as a historian as editor of The Papers of Chief John Ross, a four-year project by the National Archives. After that, the advertisement for editor of the Lewis and Clark Journals for University of Nebraska Press caught his eye.

Thus began two decades of meticulous toil, the result of which is a 13-volume work that is considered one of the major scholarly achievements of the late 20th century. Another result is Moulton's prominence as a leading expert on the Lewis and Clark expedition; he has been frequently requested for speeches and papers, and consultation on projects, like documentaries and movies. He even served on committees for designing the Sacagawea coin.

Most recently, Moulton finished an abridged, single-volume edition of the journals entitled The Lewis and Clark Journals: An American Epic of Discovery.

Gerard Baker

Gerard Baker

September 11, 2003

Gerard Baker is the superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. He also directs the Corps of Discovery II, a touring exhibition commemorating the Lewis and Clark bicentennial. Baker, who was born and raised on the Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, frequently lectures on Indian issues and was a consultant to Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan for their Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery film, which had a special preview at the White House. He will speak to us about the National Park Service's efforts to retrace the route of Lewis and Clark.

Tom Parker

Founders Day

September 18, 2003

The annual Founders Day Convocation celebrates those whose support of Drury helps it flourish. This year's speaker was Tom Parker, professor of art and a Drury faculty member since 1982. His topic was "The Politics of Creativity."

After studying architecture at the University of Oklahoma, Tom Parker earned his B.A. at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. where he majored in art. He then received an M.F.A. with distinction from the State University of Iowa, majoring in painting. Before joining the Drury faculty in 1982, Parker taught at Southwest Missouri State University, Wisconsin State Universities at Stout and Whitewater, New York University and Norfolk State University. He also spent two summers in Paris teaching the history of the 19th century French painting and sculpture at the Ecole de Louvre, and recently, while on leave from Drury, taught at the Lacoste School of Art in France, a Bard College program.

Parker has exhibited his artworks widely and been the recipient of many prizes and awards, and is included in numerous public collections.

At Drury, Parker has served as chairman of the art and art history department, professor of art and director of the Cox Gallery. He was the first director of the Hammons School of Architecture at its inception.

Currently, Parker teaches studio classes in drawing and lectures on modern art history, paleolithic culture and Native American architecture. His areas of expertise include art, censorship and area folk culture.

Bruce Feiler

Bruce Feiler

September 25, 2003

Adventure and archaeology combine in the work of Bruce Feiler, whose book Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses was a New York Times bestseller. His trek from Mount Ararat to Sodom and Gomorrah connected biblical stories to the places where they happened. Feiler is known as an eloquent, moving speaker; his talk at Drury was illustrated by some of Feiler's photographs of his journeys.

A Yale graduate, Feiler is considered one of the leading writers of his generation. In 1991 he published Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan, a book about his year spent teaching in a small Japanese town. The book won numerous awards, and is often a text taught in Drury's Global Awareness course.

Feiler's newest book is Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, the first-ever interfaith portrait of the man at the heart of the world's three monotheistic religions - and today's deadliest conflicts. Abraham is a national bestseller and was featured in the Sept. 30, 2002 cover story of Time magazine.

In his lifetime, Feiler has traveled to over 60 countries on five continents, immersing himself in different cultures. He has spent a year at Oxford and Cambridge, a year as a circus clown and two years on a country music tour bus with Garth Brooks. And each of those adventures resulted in a critically acclaimed book: Looking for Class, Under the Big Top and Dreaming Out Loud, respectively.

Ursula Goodenough

Ursula Goodenough

October 2, 2003

In an era when science and religion are widely viewed as separate, Ursula Goodenough combines both interests. A professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, she is also an amateur theologian.

Modern science is sometimes seen as intimidating, incomprehensible, irrelevant, and even heretical. Goodenough has found new ways to fuse science and spirituality into a "religious naturalism" that sees a spiritual presence throughout the natural world. In her visit to Drury, this distinguished scientist will talk about the personal explorations and discoveries that brought forth her unique insights into worlds tangible and intangible.

Goodenough is the author of the bestselling textbook Genetics and also wrote the popular discourse on religion and science The Sacred Depths of Nature, which was named Oustanding Academic Book of 1999 by Choice. She has served as president of the Society of Cell Biologists, and has also served as president of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science.

Robert Sylwester

Robert Sylwester

October 16, 2003

Each day - each moment - our brains sift through what would be a bewildering flood of information. But the brain manages to filter, prioritize and process, creating a coherent representation of reality. Robert Sylwester, professor emeritus of education at the University of Oregon, uses research into how our brains do their work to understand how to improve teaching methods. Sylwester is a featured speaker at the Developing Success for Youth conference, part of Drury's school development partnership with Yale University.

Rick Moody

Rick Moody

October 23, 2003

Rick Moody is widely considered one of the most gifted and insightful fiction writers in America. The author of The Ice Storm, Purple America, and many other works of fiction and non-fiction, Moody has received the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as a Guggenheim fellowship.

Moody's short work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Harper's, Esquire, and the Paris Review. He is also a contributing editor to the Gingko Tree Review, a literary journal based at Drury.



October 30, 2003

Hailing from the Bronx, actor and poet muMs has made both his face and name known nationwide as the spoken word artist "Poet" on the critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated HBO prison drama Oz. He has also appeared on Lollapalooza tours and in films like Spike Lee's Bamboozled and Martin Scorcese's Bringing Out the Dead.

Born Craig Grant, muMs is a writer, actor and poet. His poetry can be just as powerful as his dramatic roles, both in its content and its delivery. He fuses hip-hop and slang into poetry that uses African-American language to talk about African-American issues. muMs has performed throughout New York's underground rap and poetry scenes in venues such as Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, CBGB's, the Bowery Poetry Club and the Nuyorican Poets Café.

His poetry has been published in various magazines, including One World, The Source, Vibe, and Rap Pages. His work has also been published in Soul of the Game, a photo and poetry coffee table book.

muMs has shared the stage with artists like Erykah Badu and Ntzoke Shange, has been featured on music tracks with performers like Alicia Keys and Def Jam’s Method Man, and has written and performed commercial radio spots for Coca-Cola, among others.

Aside from his movie roles, muMs has also been behind the camera as a writer and executive producer of short films. His short film Morning Breath has won awards at the Arizona Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and others.

His spoken-word album Strange Fruit was released this summer.

Roger Young

Roger Young

November 6, 2003

In breaks from teaching at Drury, Associate Professor of Biology Roger Young, Ph.D. has worked in laboratories as part of the Human Genome Project, a massive multinational program that has mapped every human gene. Detailed understanding of human DNA opens the way to an understanding of human physiology and disease that was unimaginable when DNA's structure was described in 1953. Dr. Young discussed how the project's discoveries have changed, and will change, health and medicine.

Roger Young joined the biology department at Drury University in 1996, and now teaches genetics, molecular biology and Science & Inquiry. His interest in human genetics arose following an internship at Dartmouth College Hospital, and has since co-taught classes discussing the ethics of the human genome project. He has served in various capacities while at Drury, the latest being director of the Origins theme year in 2001.

Originally from the United Kingdom, he lived in Montana before moving to Texas and then Missouri. He can often be seen traveling too fast on two wheels during his commute from Republic, where he shares his house with a large dog.

Robin Wright

Robin Wright

January 29, 2003

Award-winning journalist and author Robin Wright has reported from more than 130 countries on six continents in her work for the Los Angeles Times, The Sunday Times of London, CBS News and The Christian Science Monitor and nearly every other noteworthy national periodical. Nominated for five Pulitzer prizes, Wright is particularly known for her reports from and writing about the 1979 Iranian Revolution and its consequences. She was one of the first journalists to note the emergence of Middle East terrorism and Islamic extremism. Her most recent book, The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran, was published in 2000.

Wright was a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Poynter Fellow at Yale University, a fellow at Duke University, a Media Fellow at Stanford University and a Regents' Fellow at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She lectures extensively around the United States, in Europe and Asia, and her status as an expert on Iran and the Middle East has led to her frequent appearances on The Newshour and NPR to discuss the war on terrorism, Islam and extremism, and the larger global conditions that have helped spawn both.

Wright's foreign service tours include five years in the Middle East, two years in Europe, seven years in Africa, and several years as a roving foreign correspondent in those areas as well as Latin America and Asia. She has covered nine wars and several revolutions. She is involved with Phi Alpha Delta, pre-law club and the Middle East Studies Program. Aside from her Pulitzer nominations, her awards include the 1989 National Magazine Award for her reportage from Iran in The New Yorker and the Overeas Press Club Award for "best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initiative" for the Angolan war. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant.

In addition to The Last Great Revolution, Wright is the author of Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam. She is also co-author with Doyle McManus of Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World and In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade.

Walt Harrington

Walt Harrington

February 5, 2004

Walt Harrington was a staff writer for The Washington Post Magazine for nearly 15 years. His new book, The Everlasting Stream: A True Story of Rabbits, Guns, Friendship, and Family, was recently published by Atlantic Monthly Press. It is the story of what Mr. Harrington, as a classic upwardly mobile city slicker, learned during his fifteen years of rabbit hunting with his father-in-law and his Kentucky country friends.

Harrington's book Crossings: A White Man's Journey Into Black America was awarded the Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in the United States.

Mr. Harrington is also the author of American Profiles and At the Heart of It. His work is included in the prestigious anthologies Literary Journalism and Literary Nonfiction. Mr. Harrington's book Intimate Journalism: The Art and Craft of Reporting Everyday Life, is a guide for those wishing to write narrative nonfiction about ordinary people.

Over the years, Mr. Harrington has written benchmark profiles of George Bush, Jesse Jackson, Jerry Falwell, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Carl Bernstein and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, as well as many in-depth articles on ordinary men and women. He is the winner of twenty local, state and national journalism awards, including the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for an article that resulted in the return of a kidnapped infant, two National Association of Black Journalists writing awards, Northwestern University's John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Journalism, three national Sunday magazine writing awards and the Lowell Mellett Award for improving journalism through critical evaluation.

Mr. Harrington holds masters degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He now teaches literary journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Darryl Van Leer

Darryl Van Leer

February 12, 2004

A versatile performer, Darryl Van Leer began his television-acting career by working regularly on Black Entertainment Network's Bobby Jones Gospel Show as a background vocalist, writer and staff photographer. Today, he enjoys a successful and varied career in film and television as a featured performer.

Van Leer's one-man show, Power on Earth, has earned high praise from critics and audiences alike. Termed "emotionally riveting," by Daily Variety, the show features vivid portrayals of some of history's most important and influential African-American figures. Written, directed and performed by Van Leer, the show includes a startlingly accurate portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the dramatic courtroom eloquence of Thurgood Marshall and the fiery conviction of Malcolm X. Also included are Nat Turner, leader of the largest slave revolt in history; separatist Marcus Garvey; slave turned abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass; and blues greats Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. His performance, then entitled The Gallows to the Gavel, earned him a nomination for the 1996 NAACP Theatre Award.

Van Leer says of the show: "There are certain things in the production that help me become each one of these men. It's already laid out in my mind, and I become the men instantaneously. The characterizations have been developed over the years as I have traveled the college circuit, trying to bring my message of social upliftment to campuses across the country."

To date, he has performed Power on Earth for audiences totaling well over 100,000 people. The National Association of Campus Activities recognized his work in 1994 as "Best Performance" and Campus Activities Today has recognized him as "Performer of the Year." He maintains an annual performance schedule of more than 60 colleges and universities.

Most recently, Van Leer appeared in First Time, a Nickelodeon Movie of the Week co-starring John Amos. His other recent film work includes roles in Steel Chariots, an acclaimed Fox Movie of the Week, and in an HBO original movie, The Second Civil War, co-starring James Earl Jones and Beau Bridges.

His other television and motion picture appearances include the NBC-TV movie Witness to an Execution and the HBO film Up Against the Wall. He also appeared in the major motion picture A League of Their Own, co-starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks, and in nationally aired TV commercials. Van Leer has performed extensively in local stage productions, and his theatrical repertoire also includes stand-up comedy. He has traveled the comedy circuit, appearing in such hot spots as The Comic Strip and Catch a Rising Star in New York.

Born and raised in Madisonville, Kentucky, Van Leer received his B.S. degree in industrial technology from Western Kentucky University.

Roald Hoffman

Roald Hoffman

February 19, 2004

There was a time when science and poetry shared the same language. But through the Industrial Revolution and Romanticism, the two drifted apart. Roald Hoffman, a 1981 Nobel laureate in chemistry, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell University, and published poet, argues that scientific articles need a more human voice and that poetry can be found everywhere, including the most arcane scientific detail.

Roald Hoffmann was born in 1937 in Zloczow, Poland. Having survived the war, he came to the U. S. in 1949, and studied chemistry at Columbia and Harvard Universities (Ph.D. 1962). Since 1965 he is at Cornell University, now as the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters.

"Applied theoretical chemistry" is the way Roald Hoffmann likes to characterize the particular blend of computations stimulated by experiment and the construction of generalized models that is his contribution to chemistry.

Hoffmann is also a writer of essays, non-fiction, poems and plays. His poetry collections include The Metamict State, Gaps and Verges, and Memory Effects. His most recent collections are Soliton and a volume of selected poems translated into Spanish entitled Catalísta.

Hoffman’s work also includes Chemistry Imagined, a unique art/science/literature collaboration with artist Vivian Torrence, which reveals the creative and humanistic sparks of the molecular science. The award-winning The Same and Not the Same, translated into multiple languages, is a thoughtful account of the dualities that lie under the surface of chemistry. Old Wine, New Flasks: Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition, by Hoffman and Shira Leibowitz Schmidt, is a book of the intertwined voices of science and religion. Hoffmann is also the presenter of the television course The World of Chemistry, which airs on many PBS stations and abroad.

The play Oxygen, by Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann, premiered in the U.S. at the San Diego Repertory Theatre in 2001, and has had productions in London, East Lansing, MI, Madison, WI, Columbus, OH, Germany, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, and Toronto. Oxygen has been translated into many languages.

Gregory Ojakangas

Gregory Ojakangas

February 26, 2004

Almost from the beginning, the United States of America has dominated the realm of space exploration. Drury's own space expert, Dr. Greg Ojakangas, explores the past and future of America's space programs.

Since the start of the space program in the late 1950s, American spacecraft have visited all of the planets in our solar system except Pluto, and have transformed our images of these planets and their moons from indistinct points of light into fascinating worlds of breathtaking beauty and intriguing geology. From probes plunged into the gaseous inferno of Jupiter's atmosphere to spacecraft landed on the surface of an asteroid, America's achievements have re-written the textbooks. But will our record continue? Ojakangas, a NASA astronaut finalist and space researcher, surveys the discoveries from half a century of space exploration and tries to answer this question.

Dr. Greg Ojakangas has a Ph.D. in planetary science and a master of science in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to coming to Drury, Dr. Ojakangas was an assistant professor of physics and geology at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He was a visiting scientist at the Lunar and Planetry Institute in Houston, consultant for Lockheed Engineering at the NASA Johnson Space Center, post-doctoral research scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona and is a finalist in NASA's astronaut selection program, maintaining a current application with NASA.

Ward Churchill

Ward Churchill

March 4, 2004

As Lewis and Clark blazed their trails across the West, they also unwittingly began a process that would lead to the decimation of America's indigenous peoples. Ward Churchill, professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Keetoowah Band Cherokee, says that by 1890 97 to 98 percent of the Native American population was gone. The cultural losses, and lasting impact on Indian life, are still felt today. Churchill, as one of the nation's most outspoken Native American activists, explored themes of genocide and conquest as he interpreted Lewis and Clark's impact on American Indians.

Churchill is an acclaimed public speaker and award-winning writer. A member of the Governing Council of the American Indian Movement of the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement, he also serves as Professor of Ethnic Studies and Coordinator of American Indian Studies for the University of Colorado. He is a past national spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, has served as a delegate to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations (as a Justice/Rapporteur for the for the 1993 International People's Tribunal on the Rights of Indigenous Hawaiians), and is an advocate/prosecutor of the First Nations International Tribunal for the Chiefs of Ontario.

Chruchill's numerous books include Agents of Repression, The COINTELPRO Papers, Critical Issues in Native North America, Fantasies of the Master Race, Struggle for the Land, Since Predator Came, From a Native Son and A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas.

Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago

March 11, 2004

Renowned artist, writer, feminist and intellectual, Judy Chicago's influence has been far-reaching both within and outside the art community. She has made the female point of view a part of mainstream art.

For over three decades, Chicago has remained steadfast in her commitment to the power of art as a vehicle for intellectual transformation and social change. She single-handedly created Feminist Art in the 1970s, and remains its best-known proponent. In her work, Chicago often uses traditionally "womanly" crafts like needlework and painted china to create images of lasting strength and pride in women's accomplishments. Equally important to her is the creation of objects that will last generations, so that future women will understand what came before.

Chicago is the author of eight books, including Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist and The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage. The most recent is a collaboration with art historian and critic Edward Lucie-Smith entitled Women and Art: Contested Territory.

Chicago's major pieces include The Dinner Party, The Birth Project, Powerplay, The Holocaust Project and Song of Songs. There are four films about her work: Womanhouse; Right Out of History: The Making of Judy Chicago's Dinner Party by Johanna Demetrakas; The Birth Project by Vivian Kleiman; and a recent museum video about The Holocaust Project, edited by Kate Amend.

The recipient of many grants and awards, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Russell Sage College in Troy, NY. She was awarded a B.A. and a M.A. from UCLA and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Ron Spronk

Ron Spronk

April 1, 2004

Artist Piet Mondrian's paintings are instantly recognizable icons of 20th-century abstract painting. Their simplicity is deceptive. When Mondrian fled Europe for New York City just before World War II, he brought 17 paintings, most completed. Once in the U.S., Mondrian reworked those paintings. The full, dramatic extent of those revisions was recently revealed when Ron Spronk, a conservator and art historian at Harvard University, and his colleague Harry Cooper turned high-tech optical instruments on the canvases. Using methods such as X-radiology, infrared reflectography, examination under ultraviolet light, and cutting edge digital imaging, they were able to shed a new, intimate light on Mondrian's creative process. Spronk discussed how his use of technology revealed the secrets of artistic creation.

Christine Schilling

May 14, 2004

To celebrate the Creativity, Exploration and Discovery Theme Year, Springfield artist Christine Schilling will create an outdoor sculpture near the new Pool Art Center. Schilling specializes in community-based art. This concluding event will also include an art exhibit, poetry readings and student music.

This will be an opportunity to renew and reflect on the Convocation experience. Students, faculty and staff will play an integral part by creating their own small items of art from a variety of objects, which will be hung from a sculptural arbor along the path from central campus to the Pool Art Center.

People will be able to start creating objects beginning on Theme Day, when several sections of the arbor will be set up in the CTH lobby.