Drury began in 1873. It was organized by Congregational home missionaries who felt the need for an academically strong liberal arts college in the area. Patterned after the Congregationalist liberal-arts colleges of the North, such as Oberlin, Carleton, Dartmouth, Yale and Harvard, the college would offer an environment of strong academic discourse and intellectual achievement. After much debate, Springfield was chosen over Neosho, Mo., as the college's location. Four men then joined to organize and endow what they named Springfield College: James Harwood and Charles Harwood of Springfield, The Rev. Nathan Morrison of Olivet, Mich., and Samuel Drury of Otsego, Mich. Drury's gift of $25,000 was the largest, and the college was renamed for his recently deceased son. Morrison was chosen as the first president; he rang the bell to begin classes on Sept. 25, 1873.
The early curriculum emphasized educational, religious and musical strengths. Students came to the new college from a wide area, including the Indian Territories of Oklahoma. In 1875, Drury celebrated its first graduating class which was comprised of five students, all of whom were women.
Drury started small, in a single building. When classes began in 1873, the campus occupied less than 1½ acres. Twenty-five years later the 40-acre campus included Stone Chapel, the President's House and three academic buildings. Today, there is an 90-acre campus, including the original site, but with facilities not envisioned by the founders.
Drury College became Drury University on Jan. 1, 2000, reflecting its growing role in higher education. In addition to the academic programs of the early years, Drury students today study in the Breech School of Business Administration, the Hammons School of Architecture, School of Education and Child Development and the departments of mathematics and sciences, social sciences, exercise and sport science, to name a few. The list of majors and minors Drury offers has grown too and now includes high tech ones such as computer science, computer information systems and e-commerce.
Drury was one of the first universities in the state to offer continuing education and evening classes to meet the needs of non-traditional students. Today the College of Continuing Professional Studies serves nearly three thousand students, in Springfield and at locations throughout Missouri.
Unchanged is the commitment to providing a quality academic experience; preparing students for working and living in today's world; learning the value of service to their communities, and experiencing diversity.