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Drury will host a celebration to commemorate its 137th birthday

For Immediate Release: September 24

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

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 24, 2010 — Drury University President Todd Parnell will cut the first slice of cake to help the campus celebrate the 137th anniversary of its founding. A celebration in Burnham Circle will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.

Drury was established in 1873 and organized by Congregational home missionaries who felt the need for an academically strong liberal arts college in the Ozarks. Patterned after other Congregationalist liberal-arts colleges such as Oberlin, Carleton, Dartmouth, Yale and Harvard, Drury 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 first 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.

Drury’s early curriculum emphasized educational, religious and musical strengths. Students came to the new college from a wide area, including the Indian Territories of Oklahoma. The first graduating class in 1875 was made up entirely of five women.

When classes began in 1873, the campus occupied one building situated on less than 1½ acres. Twenty-five years later the 40-acre campus included Stone Chapel, the President’s House and three academic buildings. It now comprises nearly 90 acres.

The Monday afternoon ceremony will include a re-enactment of the first ringing of the bell by The Rev. Nathan Morrison, who rang a hand bell to announce the start of classes on Sept. 25, 1873.


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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