Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten awarded Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

The O’Reilly Family Event Center was a fitting location when Drury University presented an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters to Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten at its spring commencement this month.

That’s because Wooten was one of the key drivers behind the conception, construction and completion of the center, which opened in 2010 and is home to Drury men’s and women’s basketball games, volleyball games, concerts, lectures and commencements. Wooten has been a member of the Drury Board of Trustees for the past decade, and her foresight and leadership helped make the O’Reilly Center a reality. The space is one of the best in NCAA Division II sports and is a gathering place for key moments at Drury. It’s also a LEED-Gold certified building.

It’s just one of the many ways in Wooten ’64 has positively impacted life at Drury and the lives of countless others in the Springfield region. The Springfield native was awarded the honorary degree for an outstanding career and a lifetime of service.

“Rosalie is being recognized today as a model businesswoman, philanthropist, and friend,” said Lyle Reed, chair of the Drury Board of Trustees, at the commencement.

After graduating from Drury University, Wooten taught high school English for thirteen years. She spent most of her career as an Executive Vice President at her family business, O’Reilly Automotive Inc., from 1993 to 2002. She managed telecommunications, risk management and human resources. During her time there she was a creative and innovative thinker with effective human resources management and goal setting abilities combined with superior leadership, team building, communication, interpersonal, and presentation skills.

When Wooten began working at O’Reilly, very near to the company’s IPO, the stock price was $17.50 per share. When she left the company in 2002, the stock price was at $36.47 per share and the number of stores had grown from just over 100 stores to just over 1,000. Her kindness and values made her highly regarded and respected companywide. She currently serves on the company’s Board of Directors.

“Rosalie is a wonderful ambassador for Drury. … She has lived the kind of life that our students and alumni can hold up as an example, and seek to emulate.” – Drury President Dr. Tim Cloyd

Wooten has been dedicated to a number of philanthropic endeavors. She serves on many boards, including Ozarks Greenways, CASA Advisory Board, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks Advisory Board, and Missouri Council for the Arts Board, and she supports several charities. Her passion and caring spirit take her involvement far beyond expectations.

The list of her charitable causes includes, but is not limited to, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, CASA, Catholic Charities, Child Advocacy Center, Boys & Girls Club, Boys & Girls Town, Isabel’s House, Good Samaritan Boys Ranch, Harmony House, MSU Foundation (including Juanita K. Hammons Hall), Springfield Little Theater, Ozarks Food Harvest, Ozark Greenways, Springfield Regional Arts (Opera, Ballet, Orchestra, Symphony), The Moxie Theater, Kauffman Performing Arts Center in Kansas City, Lutheran Family Services, and the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri.

Wooten has most recently authored a children’s book about her nomadic canine friend, Tippy. She has two children, six grandchildren and continues to reside in Springfield.

Of course, one of her main focuses is education by giving back to her Alma Mater, Drury University.

“Rosalie is a wonderful ambassador for Drury,” says President Dr. Tim Cloyd. “With her calling as a teacher, her success as a business executive, her generosity as a philanthropist and her support for the arts, she has lived the kind of life that our students and alumni can hold up as an example, and seek to emulate.”


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