Our Promise. Our Progress
Possibility. Achievement. Transformation. The defining elements that launched distinctlyDrake in 2010 continue to mark our progress. More importantly, your passion is growing extraordinary opportunities that are transforming faculty potential, student lives, and the future of Drake University—one experience at a time. For more information, contact John Smith, AS’92, GR’00, Vice President for Alumni and Development, 515-271-2969, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listening to the Wind
Regional tours and recording production are made possible by distinctlyDrake support of Friends of Drake Arts.
Mosaic, the Wind Symphony’s seventh CD, will be released this fall and available online through iTunes and Naxos Music Library and by contacting the Drake University Bands at email@example.com or Robert Meunier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the time students set up music stands and fine-tuned their instruments inside the Harmon Fine Arts Center’s Performing Arts Hall in April 2013, it had already been an eventful year for Drake’s Wind Symphony. The fall 2012 auditions that brought together four dozen of the University’s best wind and percussion players were followed by home concerts, state and regional conference performances, and a three-day, five-concert tour. With a recording engineer, producer, and two associate producers in the audience, last spring’s performance—spanning 20 hours over three days—was different.
The recording session that takes place every other year is an intense experience for the musicians, says Professor of Percussion and Director of Bands Robert Meunier, describing the endurance, focus, and critical listening skills involved. “Students are asked to perform at their highest level, each and every take. That may be 10 takes through the same passage until we get what we want,” explains Meunier. “[The session] gives them a good idea of what it’s like in the professional world.” Indeed, Drake band members have gone on to careers as performers, as teachers, and in the music business.
Principal alto saxophonist Katelyn Stessman says the physically and emotionally demanding weekend recording session culminated weeks of vigorous preparation, with each musician learning and perfecting how his or her part would fit in the ensemble. “I recently had the opportunity to hear parts of the final product, and it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life,” she says. “To be part of such an incredible ensemble that is able to work together and produce something so real and beautiful
is not an experience many get. With each note I am overwhelmed with memories of the music my talented colleagues and I made. It is what music is all about!”
With two solo tracks recorded the year before, the Wind Symphony filled the rest of an eight-track CD (63 minutes distilled down from 40 hours of raw material) with a mosaic of musical shapes and colors. The compilation, aptly entitled Mosaic, includes performances by both the 2011–2012 and the 2012–2013 bands.
A cramped science lab filled with timeworn black tables may function just fine to titrate a solution of chemicals. But today’s science students need—and expect—much more. Thanks to a $500,000 gift from Cathy, GR’86, and Steve Lacy, a newly renovated organic chemistry lab in Harvey Ingham is the latest in a list of science-supporting capital projects that are making an enormous difference in the Drake student experience.
“I really think Drake has a great science curriculum,” says Cathy Lacy, a board of trustees member with an undergraduate science background. “It’s stellar, but some of the labs were not. I didn’t want to see us losing students to other universities just due to the state of our labs.”
Contractors reconfigured two smaller spaces into one larger area designed to maximize natural light. Added storage allows for more instruments to be available to students, and teaching stations and a glass writing board make instruction and collaboration much easier. Additionally, the space includes energy-efficient biosafety hoods, an ADA biosafety hood, and enhanced safety showers and eyewashes.
The space was completed just in time for students’ arrival in August, and Maria Bohorquez, professor of chemistry and department chair, says the benefits extend far beyond aesthetics.
“We have the chance to include additional experiments and allow students to interact much better and more closely than before,” she says. “All of these little things add up to something big—engagement. And with engagement comes learning.”
Katelyn Marr’s entire family came from Illinois to watch the junior pharmacy student slip into a crisp white coat, recite the pledge of professionalism, and officially and ceremoniously transition into the Pharm.D. program. She joined other P1 students on the Sheslow stage that day, each reaching into the coat’s left breast pocket to pull out an important new connection.
The thank-you note Mary Walbridge, PH’74, soon received in her St. Louis mailbox was not the culmination of her white coat sponsorship but the beginning of a relationship that continues today.
“Mary has transformed my idea of what a pharmacist is,” says Marr, who had found Walbridge’s name inside her pocket. “I’ve realized that I can do anything with this degree.”
Through emails and Facebook and—when Walbridge comes to Des Moines for Alumni Board meetings—across the table over lunch, student and alumna have shared experiences, ideas, and aspirations. Marr learned about Walbridge’s career path, which took her from graduation into the manufacturing side of pharmacy, then the research side, and eventually the community side. Her work with outreach programs providing health care and medicine to indigent patients revealed her life’s calling, she explained. And back to school she went, combining her pharmacy degrees with a new nursing degree. Today Walbridge teaches her graduate nursing students at St. Louis University about the critical role pharmacy will play in their future caregiving, and she pours her knowledge, experience, and passion into her vision of a new clinic bringing health care to a Ghanaian community in need.
“Learn something more. Do something more. That’s what Mary is about,” says Marr of her mentor and friend. “I thought about her when I came to my decision to double major.”
Combining a Pharm.D. with an M.B.A., Marr says she can see herself managing or even owning a pharmacy, especially a compounding pharmacy, which she feels is the wave of a future defined by evermore personalized medicine.
That vision, says Walbridge, speaks to Marr’s keen perception. “It’s gratifying to know that the generation coming up is going to handle the future well,” says Walbridge. “To know that there are kids—bright, honest, motivated kids—that will take care of the world and the people in it.”
Marr continues to explore career options during this her final year. When she gets a job offer, she knows with whom she’ll share the news first. “After my parents, the first person I’d contact is Mary. She’s rooting for me.”
Giving Voice Through Video
The Comparison Project—supported by multiple sponsors, including distinctlyDrake donors giving to the Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship—also hosts a series of lectures and dialogues on Drake’s campus, with a commitment to build understanding between people of diverse faiths. Digital stories, research, and other resources are available at comparisonproject.wordpress.drake.edu.
A Sikh teenager is dining in a restaurant with his father and mother when a group of older teenagers accosts them with offensive religious stereotypes. The young boy sits in a combination of fear and wonder as his father silences the teenagers with only a courageous and effective stare. “I wish I was fearless like him,” says the son, narrating the scene from his childhood in a short online video. “But I’m not there yet.”
In another video, a Quaker man describes the feeling of spiritual connectedness that envelops him when he is exploring nature—hiking through deep forests and climbing mountains—and recalls how, as a college student, he discovered that a gathering of worshippers in silent prayer gives him that same feeling of spiritual fulfillment.
These are two of many personal stories told by members of the Des Moines religious community this year as part of The Comparison Project at Drake University. They provide a collection of brief, two- to four-minute snapshots of life as experienced by members of various faiths, especially those that tend to be less familiar to others or commonly misunderstood.
“These personal narratives teach us something about the basic beliefs and practices of religion but through a very personal lens,” says Tim Knepper, associate professor of philosophy. “Through them, we learn how people are actually practicing religion and ‘living’ their religion here in Des Moines.”
Drake students have become teachers in Knepper’s Religions of Des Moines class, helping community members learn the technical skills they need to write, compile, and produce their stories. “In the process, their own learning experience goes well beyond reading about a religion in a book or a Wikipedia article,” says Knepper. “They connect in a personal way with religions that can otherwise seem foreign and strange.”
The Ethics of Health
While many scholars of international relations focus on security issues, military affairs, and war, Debra DeLaet has always been drawn to more everyday political issues, over time becoming more deeply engaged in global health and human rights challenges. “There’s an obvious intersection with ethics there.”
As DeLaet, professor of politics and international relations, begins her appointment as the new Herb and Karen Baum Chair of Ethics and the Professions, she’s driven by an overarching inquiry: In everyday life, how can we promote and achieve change to improve the well-being of populations, affect the longevity and quality of human life, and protect human rights?
Health professionals, she says, are pivotal.
“In my field there’s a tendency to focus on and presume that organizations created exclusively for the purpose of human rights advocacy are the best vehicles for promoting change,” says DeLaet of groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. While DeLaet stresses that such organizations are doing important work, she points to the power of organ-izations created for other purposes. “In some cases where there’s been a successful change of culture, it happens not because you have a human rights advocacy organization condemning a practice but because you have an association of health professionals working with other community leaders to nudge toward change,” she explains, describing successful community efforts to reduce the incidence of harmful traditional practices such as nontherapeutic genital cutting and shifts in medical training programs that incorporate the public dimensions of health.
Such are the more subtle and less romanticized channels through which conversations, guidelines, practice, and recommendations can promote change, says DeLaet, the second Drake professor to hold the endowed position made possible by a $2 million gift to distinctlyDrake by Herb Baum, BN’59, and his wife, Karen, in 2010.
As chair, she plans to bring together students, staff, faculty, and community partners—through brown bag seminars and reading groups—to expand a conversation about ways to meet the fundamental health needs in the immediate community. Practitioners from health clinics, hospital physicians, Red Cross representatives, and groups working locally with refugees may all bring insight to the discussion, which must, stresses DeLaet, move beyond biological and behavioral factors.
“If we really want better population health outcomes, you have to address the socioeconomic determinants of health— which means poverty,” says DeLaet of what she predicts will be challenging discussions. “I hope to move us out of our silos—where those training, say, pre-med students are only covering the basic biological principles they need to master to be ready for med school. We need to broaden the education of undergraduate students, who may go on to work in any sort of health profession, to pay close attention to the social, political, and economic factors that shape health.”
Wider exposure is already happening at Drake. DeLaet points to the University’s Global and Comparative Public Health Concentration, through which students from multiple disciplines—including international relations, pharmacy and health sciences, and pre-med—are exposed to a wider mix of science and humanities than they might encounter in their core coursework.
During the second year of her appointment, DeLaet will organize a symposium on Ethics, the Professions, and the Promotion of Global Health. Instead of highlighting academic experts, DeLaet says she wants to gather health care practitioners that are modeling innovative approaches. “That might encourage faculty to consider other elements that they’re not currently bringing to their programs, and students to think differently about what their professional goals are.”
Recognizing possibilities for meaningful impact in everyday work, says DeLaet, can reveal more professional paths for students, who sometimes enter her classroom with narrow notions about changing the world. “So many of them want to work in humanitarian organizations or human rights NGOs. And the number of jobs there is so small. There are simply not enough professional spaces in those organizations for every student who wants to make that their career,” she says. “But every one of our students is going to work in a profession—business, health, law, education—and I want to use this position to educate students about how the work that many of them are more likely to do has deeply important ethical implications.”
Your Loyalty Is Our Strength
What do Amazon, Samsung, Apple, and Ford have in common? According to recent customer loyalty research, these companies annually rank near the top. Their customers are among the most committed.
What fuels such allegiance? Longtime Drake Associate Professor of Practice in Marketing Mary Edrington says there are several factors that contribute to consumer loyalty. “Consumers want to feel valued and trust the company or organization to deliver on its promise,” explains Edrington. “The brand must stand for something different than its competitors but relevant to the consumer.” Consumers are driven by information and emotion to take action.
The Alumni and Development staff partner with our colleagues in Marketing and Communications to deliver information through websites, email newsletters, and print media (such as the biannual Drake Blue magazine you hold in your hands). We know, according to a recent Drake alumni attitude survey, that 91 percent of our alumni had a great student experience. It’s clear that pride is a powerful emotion for our graduates. When it comes to action, however, only 38 percent of respondents indicated that they promote Drake all the time or regularly to friends, family, and colleagues. Only 12 percent make an annual gift in support of Drake and its students.
Our job in the Office of Alumni Relations is to help our graduates stay informed, to remind our alumni of that sense of pride, and to uphold the trust that translates not only to loyalty but action. Our challenge has been moving our graduates from satisfied and proud alumni to loyal and active participants in the life of the University.
Our alumni can demonstrate their loyalty in numerous ways: connecting with a former roommate or professor, recommending a student to Admission, advertising an internship or job opportunity at your company to Drake students and alumni, and visiting campus with family for a lecture, athletic event, or fine arts performance. And, of course, making a gift to your favorite Drake interest.
Every day, the National Alumni Association Board of Directors, in collaboration with the Office of Alumni Relations, works hard to find ways for Drake alumni to strengthen their pride for and loyalty to Drake University. I welcome your ongoing input into how we can increase your “consumer” loyalty and create an alumni experience worth bragging about. Please share your ideas with me at email@example.com.
Thank you for all you do to make Drake University a priority in your personal and professional lives. Our alma mater will achieve its mission with the dedicated—and loyal—support of our valued alumni.
—Blake Campbell, GR’05, Director for Alumni Relations