12/3/20 Longtime Drury University leader surprised by naming honor

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Longtime Drury University leader surprised by naming honor

Judy Thompson, who has led fundraising and alumni relations for more than 45 years, will be the namesake of new executive conference center

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., December 3, 2020 — Two steadfast benefactors of Drury University surprised a longtime employee of the institution on Thursday by naming a new building in her honor. 

Judy Thompson is a prodigious fundraiser and master relationship-builder who has dedicated most of her life to Drury’s mission and students. She will be the namesake of a new 12,000-square foot executive conference center set to open in fall 2022. The space is adjacent to the C.H. “Chub” O’Reilly Enterprise Center and Breech School of Business Administration, which broke ground last month.

Thompson is a 1961 Drury graduate who worked as a high school educator in Springfield before coming to Drury in 1974 as director of alumni relations. In 1976, she was also put in charge of development and in 1979 she became the first woman to hold the title of vice president at Drury. She retired in 2002 but returned to the role full-time in 2016 under then President Dr. David Manuel and continued under President Dr. Tim Cloyd.

“I’m at a loss for words,” said Thompson, fighting back tears. “That doesn’t happen very often.”

“It is hard to overstate the role Judy has played in shaping Drury University – both its physical campus and our ability to carry out our mission of transforming students’ lives,” Cloyd says. “Judy has been the driving force behind the scenes of every major building project of the last half-century and guided our endowment from about $5 million in the 1970s to nearly $100 million today. Thousands of graduates have benefited from countless scholarships and financial aid awards over the years thanks to her work. And generations of alumni have an affinity for Drury because of the relationships Judy has nurtured with them.”

The surprise announcement came at the behest of donors John and Crystal Beuerlein, two of the university’s most ardent supporters. The couple graduated from Drury College in 1975. After graduation, Crystal began work for a St. Louis mortgage company and John joined Edward Jones. He became the youngest person ever to be made a general partner at the firm at 26; he retired recently. John served as a member of the Drury Board of Trustees for 20 years, from 1991 to 2011, and was board chair from 2006 to 2010. 

At Thursday’s unveiling, John Beuerlein called Thompson “the wind beneath the wings for change, a person with the skills to communicate a compelling vision of Drury’s future.” Beuerlein said it was Thompson’s strong sense of mission that helped her connect with donors and alumni over the years. Every ask and every action was for “the good of the students, the good of the school, and the good of the city of Springfield,” he said. “To her it was a moral imperative.”

True to her nature, Thompson recalled the many donors she’s worked with over the years and gave them full credit for furthering Drury’s mission during her time at the school.

“I’m the one who’s been blessed by working with all you; all of our donors whom I’ve loved,” she said. “There’s a whole line of people, many of whom couldn’t be here today because they’ve gone on to be with the Lord, who have made this school what it is today.

Thompson has worked with nine presidents, hundreds of trustees, thousands of students and countless alumni during her time with Drury. She’s given generously herself, too – more than $100,000 over her lifetime – including donations to help establish the Pool Art Center and gifts in honor of Willard Graves and former dean, Frank Clippinger. She got involved with the university as an alumni volunteer helping plan the school’s 100th anniversary celebration in the 1970s; today she’s thinking ahead to the details of Drury’s 150th anniversary in 2023.

Some of the major building projects Thompson’s work has help make a reality include the Olin Library, the Hammons School of Architecture building, Shewmaker Hall, Trustee Science Center, the O’Reilly Family Event Center, Freeman Hall, four new fraternity houses, the renovation of Bay Hall and the forthcoming Enterprise Center.


Media Contact: Mike Brothers, Executive Director of University Relations – (417) 873-7390 or

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