Jeff Frederick starts as the 20th president of Drury University on June 1. (Photo from Drury University)

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Correction: John Beuerlein, interim Drury president, has been living on the Drury campus in the President's House. A prior version of this story erroneously said he was renting a place near campus.

Do you recognize the name “David Manuel”?

Or how about “Timothy Cloyd”?

Have you heard of “Jeff Frederick”?

Let's start with Frederick. On June 1, he will start his new job as 19th president of Drury University. As a reminder, Drury is that small liberal arts school north of the Chestnut Expressway.

Frederick is 60 years old and for the last four years has been provost and executive vice president at Wingate University.

I know what you're thinking: Where is Wingate University?

It's in Wingate, N.C., 30 miles southeast of Charlotte.

Prior to that, Frederick spent 17 years as a faculty member, chair and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of North Carolina at Pembroke.

As far as I know, Frederick has little or not ties to Missouri, other than his new job.

Can't tell you much about 2 prior presidents

As for Manuel and Cloyd, those are Drury's two prior full-time presidents. Numbers 17 and 18.

Manuel was here 2013 to May 31, 2016. I had the higher education beat at the Springfield News-Leader when he was hired. What I remember most is that all three finalists were Daves.

Dave 1, Dave 2 and Dave 3.

I can't tell you if Manuel or Cloyd had successful tenures at Drury. I don't have enough knowledge and I'm not privy to the financial realities of Drury, which is a private school and does not have to publicly reveal key financial numbers.

But it's my opinion — and I do think it's an informed one — that both Manuel and Cloyd were mostly invisible in the Springfield community while here.

You didn't see them often at community events or on community boards or volunteering at community events.

They were not like Clif Smart, president of Missouri State University, or Hal Higdon, chancellor of Ozarks Technical Community College, or the late Robert Spence, president of Evangel University for 40 years.

Or even like John Beuerlein, who has been Drury's interim president since May 2023, and has made an obvious effort to be visible in the community, even though he was serving in the role only until a more permanent president was chosen.

Drury has a new president! Does it matter?

When you become president of a university, you have the opportunity to serve the community in many different ways, in addition to doing your job.

In fact, I would imagine, presidents must be selective in picking how to get involved in their community without over-committing their time.

Drury is not a big school. But it's been my impression in my 12 years here that it is highly regarded locally, as well as nationally.

Yet, when my colleague Joe Hadsall wrote in March about the hiring of Frederick, I was surprised at how few people read the story.

In fact, I'm convinced I could write a column about a hole in the ground and get just as many page views.

In fact, I often have.

With such little apparent interest, it makes me wonder:

Is Drury still on the north side of Springfield? Or have I simply missed the news that it's become a Be Kind & Merciful planned unit development? With a Trader Joe's?

Also, aren't there hundreds if not thousands of Drury graduates in Springfield? Aren't they the least bit interested in the hiring of President No. 19?

On a personal side, I'm worried that putting “Drury” in the headline of this column will mean only about seven of you will read it.

Beuerlein has actually got out in the community

But there's always hope. Drury replaced Cloyd with interim President Beuerlein, Drury class of 1975. He is a retired executive of Edward Jones, a financial services firm, and a longtime Drury trustee and financial donor.

Drury University President John Beuerlin
Like his predecessor 150 years ago, Drury University President John Beuerlein rings a handbell to mark the university's 150th anniversary. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

Beuerlein and his wife live in St. Louis, but he has been living on campus in the President's House while interim president.

In his time in Springfield, I've met Beuerlein. He's personable. That always helps.

My boss has met Beuerlein. My boss's boss has met Beuerlein — and even interviewed him for the Hauxeda podcast, In Our Town.

Beuerlein has made a point of being out in the community. I hope someone, in turn, has made that point to Frederick.

In my many years in journalism, I've worked for top editors and publishers who were part of the community and I've worked for those who decided they were above things like joining Rotary or Kiwanis or serving on nonprofit boards or speaking out on important issues that affect the community.

After all, what affects Springfield also affects the higher education institutions located here in Springfield.

I've always wanted my bosses to be involved, to be connected, to have name recognition and respect in the community. If they are involved, recognized and respected, I benefit through their good graces.

The same is true for universities. Don't hire people afraid of becoming community leaders.

3 suggestions if new Drury prez is resistant to leaving leafy campus

As I said, Drury is a beautiful campus. But maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe there have been Drury presidents who simply did not want to leave Drury Lane's leafy confines and its comforts of academia.

I would be disappointed if Frederick is disinclined to leave those comforts and hesitant to venture into the Springfield community.

But should that happen, I have three suggestions for the 29-member Drury Board of Trustees to motivate Frederick to do so.

  1. Assign a custodial worker to do nothing but move furniture 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily one floor above the president's office.
  2. Have the president's assistant/secretary install one of these ringtones:

3. Buy a walnut armoire for the president's office. Put a dead fish in it. Lose the key.

This is Pokin Around column No. 173.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Hauxeda. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin