Drury University in Springfield is holding a monthlong "Great Game of Hello" event to encourage greater student engagement with others on campus, starting with simply saying "hello." (Screenshot from video)

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It sounds simple enough: just say “hello” and you may win a prize, including gift cards and even tickets to a Kansas City Chiefs game.

Students, staff and faculty at Drury University are engaged in a monthlong contest called the “Great Game of Hello.”

If that has a certain ring to it, perhaps it’s because the author of “The Great Game of Business,” Springfield entrepreneur Jack Stack, is one of the people behind the effort.

In addition to his duties as president and chief executive officer of SRC Holdings, Stack is currently serving as interim dean of the Breech School of Business at Drury University.

And one big surprise he has encountered is the lack of personal interaction with and among students.

In a March 2024 interview with Tom Carlson for the “In Our Town” podcast, Stack was asked about his experience on campus, and in particular his interactions with students.

He said bluntly: “They don’t talk.”

Jack Stack in the studio for “In Our Town” podcast. (Photo by Marty Walker)

Stack continued: “Technology has taken them out of the game. They’re more reserved. They’re more quiet.”

He said he asked a longtime professor what’s different about today’s students, even compared to 15 years ago. The answer was simple: “mental health,” Stack said.

“Anxiety, depression, isolation, suicide rates: it’s insane.”

So, with support from his staff at SRC, and the involvement of Drury staff and students, Drury has launched a “hello campaign.”

Said Stack: “I’m just trying to get people to say hello.”

John Beuerlein, president of Drury University. (Photo by Marty Walker)

Interim Drury President John Beuerlein describes it this way in a humorous video put together for students, that features one student who repeatedly runs into poles and doors because he is staring down at his cell phone screen.

“I’m going to be challenging each and every one of you to ‘step outside the box.’ This box,” Beuerlein says, holding up a cell phone.

YouTube video

The video is narrated by Lydia Chapman, a senior psychology major with a community health minor and holistic health certificate.

Lydia Chapman, a senior psychology major at Drury University, introduces the “Great Game of Hello” in a humorous video aimed at getting students to look up from their screens and engage with other students, staff and faculty. (Screenshot from video)

Lydia scurries through a group of students occupied with their phones and explains: “In a world where technology keeps us glued to our screens, it’s easy to forget the power of a simple ‘hello.’ At Drury University, every ‘hello’ counts, that’s why for the entire month of April, we’re playing the ‘Great Game of Hello.’”

Through April 26, anonymous faculty and staff greeters are walking around campus, and each of the 10 greeters is tracking contact with at least 15 students.

The greeters are not allowed to speak first. Students must speak first — and all of the ‘hello’ greetings will be tracked.

Students entering the Findlay Student Center on the campus of Drury University are greeted and encouraged to pick up their coin to show their interest in playing the “Great Game of Hello.” (Photo by David Stoeffler)

From all of the students participating, by picking up a special coin created for the event, weekly prizes are being awarded, including gift cards and even a shopping spree, as well as tickets to the Springfield Cardinals and St. Louis Cardinals.

But if 30% of participants say “hello” to the anonymous greeters during the April 2-26 time period, a grand prize will be awarded on April 26 — four sets of 4 tickets to a Kansas City Chiefs game, along with a hotel voucher with each set of tickets.

To achieve the goal, roughly 450 to 500 people will need to be recorded saying “hello.”

Said Beuerlein: “It’s easy to win the ‘Great Game of Hello,’ because all you have to do is say ‘hello.’”

David Stoeffler

David Stoeffler is the chief executive officer of the Hauxeda. He has more than 40 years experience in the news business, having been a reporter, editor and news executive in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Missouri. You may email him at dstoeffler@hauxeda.com or call 417-837-3664. More by David Stoeffler