From the President - Connections: More than a Word


Todd Parnell and Drury recognized in Community Impact Issue of Springfield Business Journal


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This is a letter about connections. To some, "connections" is a loaded word, one that implies privilege or insider dealing. To others,"connections" represent networks, the consummate context for teamwork. I believe the latter.

I submit that connections are right, noble and empowering. Connections I nourished over decades with the Drury community have allowed me to succeed in circumstances where I would have likely failed or fallen short standing alone.

As most know by now, I tend to personalize things, so I submit as evidence: THE BANK. What does this have to do with Drury University? Everything. (It could have been named The Drury Bank, for that matter.)

In 2006, a St. Louis bank investor approached me to start an affiliated bank in Springfield because of the dynamic growth of the market, my banking experience and my native roots. This investor would provide a large capital investment if I could raise a like amount locally and gather a group of local shareholders and employees. As a fifth generation Ozarkian banker wanting to return to the cradle, this was an exceptional opportunity.

I drove down from St. Louis and began the challenging work of assembling fiscal and human resources for a start-up bank in Springfield. Where did I begin? Where else – Drury University. I spoke first with a retired, legendary local banking leader and Drury graduate from days gone by. Not only did he have an interest, but he would serve as chairman of the board for a new bank for zero compensation.

Second, I went back to my place of educational origin, the Breech School of Business, to seek the advice of director Dr. Curt Strube. His response: "it's a great day to start a bank," still brings a lump to my throat, and his commitment to serve on the bank board went well beyond my expectations. Next was a good friend from days past at Drury. He would serve on the bank's board and provide a significant capital investment as well. Before all was said and done, I had THE BANK's first shareholders meeting in the very classroom in Breech where I had labored 30 years earlier, with Dr. Strube as moderator, and nearly half of the attendees with Drury roots. Our subsequent customer base read like a Drury yearbook.

The point of this simple but true narrative is to evidence the strength and staying power of Drury connections on campus, in the community and around the world. My Drury liberal arts education helped prepare me for life. My Drury "connections" helped me execute what I learned. Drury connections represent a foundation of trust, energy and hope that allowed me to pursue a dream.

A Drury education is about learning, growing and connecting. Treasure and nourish your Drury connections as you share with the next generation of graduates. It's simply a re-investment of the goodwill accorded you by those who have gone before.

Todd Parnell '69