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Drury president Todd Parnell and NAACP president Francis Pratt

Drury University and the NAACP Announce Partnership

For Immediate Release: February 27

Mark Miller
Director of Media Relations
University Communications
Office: (417) 873-7390
Mobile: (417) 839-2886

SPRINGFIELD , Mo., Feb. 27, 2009 — Drury University's Diversity Center is the new home for the offices of the Springfield Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“One of Drury's goals is to nurture an environment of inclusion for all persons and to build a more diverse campus,” says Todd Parnell, Drury's president. “Having the NAACP at Drury helps in the achievement of this goal and builds an atmosphere of inclusive excellence that will enhance the Drury community.”

This collaboration is the first of what Drury and the NAACP hope will be many partnerships that will serve the missions of both organizations and contribute to the global community. Both believe the partnership will further the cause of social justice for everyone.

"The NAACP met at the Washington Avenue Baptist Church over 40 years ago. We are humbled and honored to have the opportunity to call the Drury Diversity Center the new home of the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP,” says Francine Pratt, president of the NAACP. “It is my hope that the partnership with Drury University will inspire people in the community to visit our office, take part in activities on the campus and look at the opportunities for local students to attend Drury University and other institutions of higher learning in the Springfield area."

Pratt's husband, Wes, a 1973 Drury graduate, was baptized at the church, sang in the youth choir and served as the president of the NAACP Youth Chapter while in high school when the organization met at the Historic Washington Avenue Baptist Church in the 1960s.

The Diversity Center was formerly known as the Washington Avenue Baptist Church, and it was the second home of the oldest African-American congregation in Springfield. To make room for campus expansion, Drury purchased the church and in 2000 disassembled and moved it 200 feet to the north of its original location. The formal name is: the Drury University Diversity Center at Historic Washington Avenue Baptist Church.

The NAACP is using an office in another building on campus until the Diversity Center becomes available and is outfitted to suit the organization's needs. The NAACP plans to move into the Diversity Center on July 1. Besides locating its offices at Drury, the NAACP and Drury are collaborating in other ways as well:

  • The NAACP plans to establish a college chapter at Drury and other area institutions;
  • The NAACP will provide a civil rights support system for all students at Drury and at other area institutions;
  • Drury will support the Youth Empowerment Conference that takes place at Missouri State University in October, which will provide minority students workshops for career and academic development; and
  • Drury is sponsoring a local high school student to attend the National Forum for Black Public Administrators Conference in Oakland, Ca. in April.

Pratt was elected to the presidency of the NAACP Springfield Chapter in November 2008 and took office on Jan. 1, 2009. Monthly chapter meetings will still be the third Saturday of every month from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Midtown Carnegie Library.

For more information on the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP, go to its new website: or call their new telephone number (417) 873-6386.

The national organization of the NAACP celebrated its 100 th anniversary on Feb. 12, 2009.


Drury is an independent University, church related, grounded in the liberal arts tradition and committed to personalized education in a community of scholars who value the arts of teaching and learning. Education at Drury seeks to cultivate spiritual sensibilities and imaginative faculties as well as ethical insight and critical thought; to foster the integration of theoretical and practical knowledge; and to liberate persons to participate responsibly in and contribute to a global community. For more information, visit

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