Drury University announces lead gift for new C.H. “Chub" O’Reilly Enterprise Center

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 8:19 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (News Release/KY3) - Drury University’s first new academic building in 20 years will be named the C.H. “Chub” O’Reilly Enterprise Center.

A significant lead gift from O’Reilly family members Charlie and Mary Beth O’Reilly, David O’Reilly, Larry O’Reilly and Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten will honor the late Chub O’Reilly. The name was unveiled at a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.

“It is fitting and inspiring for this family to place their patriarch’s name on this new space, given their history of leadership, business acumen and spirit of giving back to others,” said Rita Baron, chair of the Drury Board of Trustees, during today’s announcement.

Baron noted the O’Reilly family’s deep roots at Drury – Chub, Larry, David, Mary Beth and Rosalie are alumni, as are many of their children and other family members – and their history of philanthropy in the area.

“Their generous philanthropic gifts have made a huge impact on education, health care and children and families over the years,” she said. “They have touched many lives in our community.”

At the event, family members recounted the love Chub O’Reilly had for Drury, where he earned an associate degree in business relatively late in his life. He valued education, Rosalie O’Reilly said, and passed that value on to his children.

“We hope the spirit of Chub O’Reilly will live through the students who get educated here, and that what he did with his life will be an example for them,” she said.

“We are just really honored to be able to put his name there and I think he is a shining example and a mentor from what he did in his own personal life and I hope that that permeates, that his spirit permeates this building," Rosalie said.

The lead donars said they hope the building and its namesake will inspire students to take their education seriously.

“We didn’t think that much about him going to college when he was in his 50s and also starting his own business and raising his family but now in our perspective in looking at that we see that that is a true legacy,” Rosalie said.

Larry O’Reilly said his father also taught the family to give back to the community and to the causes that will improve people’s lives. He likened Drury to a beacon in the region, calling it “this rock-solid school that is progressing” during a turbulent time.

“Drury is in our hearts every day,” Larry said. “So, for us to give back – especially now – seems most important, not just for our family, but for our community.”

David O’Reilly said he was sure his father would be proud of this moment.

“This building is definitely going to be a continuation of what Drury represents, all of its best qualities,” he said. “We’re tickled to be a part of it and we know dad would be very proud to have his name on that new building.”

About the C.H. “Chub” O’Reilly Enterprise Center

The three-story, 56,700-square-foot facility is the first major project of Drury’s campus master plan. The $27 million project is funded entirely through private donations. The space will:

  • Promote interdisciplinary learning by providing a new home for the Breech School of Business Administration and the Department of Political Science and International Affairs.
  • Reflect an emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation that keenly balances learning-by-studying with learning-by-doing: the ethos of the Your Drury Fusion curriculum.
  • House the Robert and Mary Cox Compass Center, which brings together academic advising, career planning and development, and academic life coaching in a one-stop-shop for students.
  • Feature an 10,500-square-foot Center for Executive Education attached by a colonnade to the main building. This conference center and flexible event space will be used extensively by the entire Drury campus and will be available for community use as well.
  • Include a cafe that will be open to the public.
  • Tie in with upcoming enhancements to the Central Street corridor as part of the City of Springfield’s voter-approved ¼-cent Capital Improvements Program.

“In the Breech School, we teach our students to look ahead to what’s next,” said Dr. Clif Petty, dean of the Breech School, at the ceremony. “We teach them that as business leaders, it will be their job to bring together the people, resources and ideas necessary to make a venture successful. This building is a great expression of that ethos.”

Petty said the new building could change the way business students think.

“It sets our students up to look at the world of business that way as a mix of science and creative arts and all of those things that they have interest in and have a passion for,” he said.

The sound of dirt moving Thursday was the first of many construction related noises to be heard on Drury’s campus this year.

“Every time we hear a truck digging or a jack hammer pounding, that to me that sounds like excitement and progress, not noise and interruption," said Jeff VanDenBerg, chairmen of Drury’s department of political science and international affairs.

He said students from many minors and majors take his courses.

“So to have a place in what is going to be the new heart of the campus is going to be really wonderful for this kind of mixture of interdisciplinary departments and studies,” VanDenBerg said.

The university hopes to hold its first classes in the new building in the fall of 2022.

"This is a great day, the ribbon cutting day is going to be an amazing day, back flips down central avenue, " Petty said.

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