Article by Alyse Phillips
Keep your eyes peeled this weekend for ambassador-ran golf carts wheeling through the sidewalks of Drury. Running from Oct. 12-15, Drury’s annual alumni reunion will be featuring events for its graduates all weekend long.
According to Andrea Battaglia, director of alumni relations, the weekend is sure to be a hit.
“Alumni Reunion Weekend is an annual event where we welcome alumni back to Drury for an extended weekend of laughter, friendship and nostalgia as we celebrate Drury alumni together,” says Battaglia. “Some alumni have visited campus quite regularly since they graduated, and for some, it will be the first time they’ve visited in decades.”
The weekend will offer various events for the alumni to partake in, including a luncheon and happy hour, campus memory tour, KDRU radio open-house, auction and concert. Greek alumni will also have several opportunities to reconnect with their sorority and fraternity families.
Battaglia added that the reunion is important because it allows alumni to reconnect with classmates, make new connections, rekindle memories and see Drury in its updated-glory. However, these events don’t magically happen overnight.
“Our team works year after year to plan the alumni reunion. We announced the dates for this year’s event at last year’s reunion and have been working with our dedicated volunteers, class-planning committees, vendors and departments since last year to make this year a successful event.”
Drury’s Alumni Center also plays other important roles on campus, even if they aren’t quite as well known as the reunion. According to Battaglia, everything the center does supports students and the collegiate Drury experience.
“Our office is tasked with many important functions with alumni — engagement, fundraising, volunteer opportunities, events, grants and sponsorships,” says Battaglia. “We also want to keep alumni connected and involved with Drury, in whatever capacity they are able. So many alumni had life-changing experiences during their time here; they want to provide those opportunities to students, as well.”
One alumni wanting to share his story is Mark Stillwell, who graduated Drury in 1967. To Stillwell, the university has changed a great deal since he graduated.
“I’ve always lived in Springfield so the changes don’t always feel big, but when I look around and see new buildings – south of Central street, northwest of the main campus and east of campus on Summit and Clay, plus what’s happened on the main campus. Drury really has seen significant changes.”
But according to Stillwell, even though the campus structures have changed, Drury has maintained a friendly atmosphere throughout the years.
“Everyone knew everyone else. And, I grew up a block and a half from the campus so I could literally walk to school from my house,” said Stillwell.
Now, 50 years later, he is looking forward to alumni weekend.
“I always look forward to opportunities to be on campus and for the chance to see folks I haven’t seen for 50 years. It gives me that much more to look forward to.”
Another alumni planning to attend this weekend’s festivities is Glen Cotta.
Cotta is a former Sigma Phi Epsilon member who graduated in 1956. The fraternity has been removed from campus for quite some time, but that doesn’t keep the alumni from joining in on reunion fun.
He jokes that his favorite part of the reunion is meeting up with “old folks” and discussing everyone’s medical issues. However, he notes other pluses of the event being free food, large-print name tags and handicap accessibility to all events.
When asked about his favorite part of attending Drury, he got a little more serious and heartfelt.
“I was not a social person in high school, but I found a perfect fit when I joined Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. I began dating, engaged in intramural sports and was elected to various leadership positions in the fraternity. My Drury and fraternity experience enabled me to mature into a more well-rounded individual.”
His Drury difference didn’t stop there.
“I had my Sig Ep brother, Dick Dunn, fix me up on a blind date with a Kappa Delta. The rest is history. We have been married 57 years. Many of us are still married to our Drury sweethearts,” said Cotta.
Also, Cotta agrees that Drury has indeed changed since he graduated. In fact, Cotta submitted several photos of Drury in the 1950s to be used in this article.
“Drury has changed very much. Not only the facilities and size of the campus, but also the courses and intensity of study. The student body seems to be more intellectual and studious. I doubt if I could have qualified for admittance in today’s environment,” said Cotta, who is quite the joker.
Drury’s Alumni Reunion Weekend is an important event to many people, and there is a lot of work put into making it happen. Keep an eye out for alumni on campus this weekend and make sure to say hi – they have some amazing stories to tell.