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Commencement Photos

First graduations in OFEC

Drury conferred degrees to 635 graduates on Saturday, May 14, in the first commencement ceremonies in the O'Reilly Family Event Center. First, 55 graduate students joined 334 undergraduates in the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies graduation at noon. The traditional Day School graduation followed, where 246 undergraduates received degrees.

Drury Board of Trustees member Jack Stack addressed both graduating classes. "There is no such thing as a bad first job. There is always a lesson you take away," Stack told the graduates. "Seek excellence. Don't expect to start at the top. Rise to the top."

A trustee since 2004, Stack is the president and CEO of SRC Holdings, a remanufacturing corporation in Springfield. He has authored two books: The Great Game of Business and A Stake in the Outcome.

Former Drury student Betty Cole Dukert was honored with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Dukert attended Drury College in 1946-47 and went on to earn a journalism degree from the University of Missouri. She enjoyed a 41-year career with NBC's Meet the Press where she ultimately served as executive producer. She served on the Drury Board of Trustees from 1985-2008 and remains as an emeritus board member.

"During those years at Meet the Press, it became clear to me that every issue we dealt with required more and better education from our leaders and our citizens," Dukert said. "The classroom is only going to broaden as you leave campus, so keep learning."

A time capsule containing Drury memorabilia, which will be entombed in the cornerstone of the O'Reilly Family Event Center, was on display during both graduation ceremonies.

Tobacco-free campus

No ifs, ands or butts about it—Drury University is becoming a tobacco-free campus.

"Last May, the Board of Trustees added a strategic goal to Drury's mission that addressed wellness. Drury should be a healthy, safe and clean environment for our students, visitors and for the Drury community. This policy will help us achieve that goal," said President Todd Parnell.

The President's Council on Wellness oversees a task force charged with enforcement of the policy. This August, the task force began to build awareness and seek compliance from those found using tobacco products on campus. The council will also provide funds toward cessation programs for full-time students during the 2011-2012 school year. Drury's health benefits plan provides for smoking cessation at no cost to faculty and staff.

"This policy will be enforced, but our hope is that it will never get to the disciplinary phase. The Drury community has a respect for the health of others and for a clean environment and those values will be reflected in compliance with a tobacco-free campus," says Matt Miller, director of athletic advancement and event services. "We've designed this program after months of study within the Drury community to gauge campus attitudes. The extended timeframe to implement the policy gives Drury ample time to educate the community about the new rules, and it gives smokers the opportunity to take part in a cessation program if they choose to do so.

Dr. Monty Dobson uncovering history at the excavation site in Burnham Circle.
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Theme Day 2011 Video

Civil War discoveries in Burnham Circle

As part of Theme Day 2011 on April 14, Drury faculty, students and even the president began digging to reveal what's been believed to be a Civil War defensive trench.

Now, with the discovery of a piece of ammunition, there is physical evidence to go with Drury's narrative history.

"We found a piece of munitions called grape shot that was not commonly used after 1864," said Dr. Monty Dobson, assistant professor of history.

"I took it to the Center for Archaeological Research at Missouri State and to the archives at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. By comparing it to known artifacts, I was able to identify the shot and date it to the mid-19th century."

On the first day of excavation, students discovered artifacts believed to be from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries, including: iron stone pottery, a World War II era token and a 1954 penny. Later, Dobson found pieces of bottles made from a type of glass that was not used after World War I.

The two-month undertaking had value as a research project and as an educational opportunity for Dobson's students.

"This made the textbook more tangible," he said.

The excavation was completed in June, with the trench filled in and returned to its natural state by the start of the new school year.

For more on the trench dig project and Drury's Civil War connection, see Connected to History: Land and Literature in Conversation.

SIFE is first runner-up

Drury SIFE was named the first runner-up at the SIFE USA National Exposition in Minneapolis.

This is the 14th straight year that Drury's SIFE team has advanced to the national exposition. Drury has won the SIFE National Championship three times, (2001, 2003, 2005) and went on to win the SIFE World Cup in 2001 and 2003.

Architecture students build C-Street Co-Op booth

On Saturday, June 11, Commercial Club of Springfield dedicated its new C-Street Market Co-Op booth. Six years ago, Drury architecture students designed and built the pavilion that shelters the C-Street Market at Jefferson and Commercial. This summer, a new crop of Drury students, under the direction of Associate Professor of Architecture Traci Sooter, designed and constructed the co-op booth adjacent to the C-Street Market Pavilion.

"We are honored to be invited back to C-Street for another Design/Build project. Opportunities for students to put their design skills to the test and build full-scale projects for charities or communities in need are priceless educational experiences," said Sooter.

The students involved in the project were Echo Yinz Xiang, Kirsten Whitehead, Kirsten Sharp, Jacob Cordonnier and Cody Hearne. These students started working on the booth on May 16, and worked in "Extreme Makeover" fashion until the build was complete.

"These students are extremely talented and community-minded; their goal was to build a very flexible and environmentally-friendly structure for the community," said Paul Parker, president of Commercial Club.

Board of Trustees update

Drury University's Board of Trustees welcomed four new members during the annual May board meeting.

Jan Baumgartner, Springfield, Mo.
A 1974 graduate of Drury, Baumgartner is the executive vice president of Springfield First Community Bank. Baumgartner serves on the boards of the United Way of the Ozarks and Council of Churches of the Ozarks and is a member of Drury's Breech School of Business Advisory Board.


Dr. Norm Ridder, Springfield, Mo.
For the past six years, Ridder has been the Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. For 37 years, Ridder has worked as a professional educator and administrator at public and private schools in Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado.


Beth Pile, Arlington, Va.
A 1980 graduate of Drury, Pile is chief risk officer at Promontory Interfinancial Network in Arlington, Va. Previously, Pile worked for nearly two decades with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.


John Twitty, Springfield, Mo.
Twitty is wrapping up a 20-year career with Springfield City Utilities. He's held the top spot of general manager and chief executive officer since 2002. Twitty is active in the Springfield community serving on several boards of directors, including St. John's Health System and Empire Bank.

Three Drury trustees are rotating off the board.

Students experience zero gravity with NASA

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Weightless Wonder Video

This summer, five Drury students had the opportunity to experience zero gravity and conduct an experiment in NASA's Weightless Wonder.

The plane simulates 25-second windows of weightlessness while plummeting over the Gulf of Mexico between 25,000 and 35,000 feet, giving the aircraft its nickname "The Vomit Comet."

"You never feel like you're in a normal gravitational environment for close to two hours," said Andy Chase, a May 2011 graduate and one of the Weightless Wonder passengers. "You feel hyper-gravity and then all of a sudden you feel weightless and you float."

The Drury team was selected as one of only two teams in the Great Midwest Region and was composed of six students, five of whom actually flew in the aircraft. The students involved in the project were: Andy Chase, Dalton Sivils, Preston Julian, Kieran Ojakangas, Celka Ojakangas and Kiefer Barrett.

The team spent a week at the Johnson Space Center in Houston before making their flights on July 14 and 15. "We learned how to work really hard, really fast. We had to work our butts off the entire time we were there; it wasn't just for fun. We learned how to produce quality work in a time-sensitive environment. You really felt like a professional," Chase said.

"The students in the program get to see first-hand that ordinary people get to work at NASA in extraordinary jobs, doing these kinds of things," said Dr. Greg Ojakangas, professor of physics and advisor of the Weightless Wonder team.

O'Reilly Family Event Center: Soak up the Fun

Nine-time Grammy winner and Missouri native Sheryl Crow performed an evening of her hits on July 15—the artist's first appearance in Springfield. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils will celebrate their 40th anniversary, along with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Big Smith, in a sold out Veterans Day concert on Nov. 11, presented by People's Bank of the Ozarks. Stay up-to-date on O'Reilly event information: www.drury.edu/oreilly.

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Photo Gallery - An Evening with Sheryl Crow