Park alumni are going to be shaping the future.”
To Texas and back
His own education began in a modest one-room grade school before graduating with his 26-member class at Stanley (Kan.) Rural High School. From there, Droge attended the University of Kansas where he received his bachelor’s degree in biology and German. As a Fulbright Scholar, Droge began graduate studies in Germany at the University of Bonn. With an interest in zoology, he transferred to Texas Tech University where he earned his master’s degree. Little did he know, his stay in Texas was to span several decades, where he realized his dream to guide students to success. It was also in Texas that he met his spouse, Molly. Together they moved to Galveston where Droge earned his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics and embarked on a 20-year career at Texas Woman’s University. “I’ve enjoyed every stage of my career,” Droge said “but I think the best job is being in the classroom.” While working with students in the laboratory at TWU, Droge received federal funding. “I liked finding the money that enabled more students to be directly involved in research.” Recognizing his talents in grant research and program administration, Droge was promoted to dean of graduate studies and research at TWU in 2000. But a Fall 2009 - 2
— Michael H. Droge, Ph.D.
call from Park University beckoned Droge back home. Former Park President Beverley ByersPevitts, Ph.D., who worked with Droge at TWU, was searching for a provost. In September 2002, Droge was named provost and senior vice president at Park. When Byers-Pevitts announced her retirement last spring, Park’s Board of Trustees selected Droge to serve in the president’s role.
Moving to campus
For Alumni Weekend, Droge moved into the president’s residence on campus with Molly in time to greet Park alumni and friends. “Molly has already immersed herself in helping with events and activities to support alumni, donors and friends of the University,” Droge said. He added that Molly is often spotted strolling with their dog, Teddy, in the park. “We love living on campus and being a part of the Parkville community.”
respond, we need to center our priorities on enrollment and retention while continually assessing our effectiveness.” Droge has been working with faculty and staff to create a new two-year action plan for Park. Droge will also lead the preparation of a report for the Higher Learning Commission, Park’s accrediting organization. The Commission will visit Park next October. Droge is confident about plans for a secure future. “Last year was tough. Like all private universities, Park is largely dependent on tuition,” he said. “The good news is that fall enrollment is up.” Droge is also actively pursuing fundraising initiatives and partnership opportunities for Park despite the challenging economy to bolster revenue streams.
Advice for the future
Focus on students
Droge particularly values alumni relationships. “Park alumni are the most amazing group of people,” he said. “I’m inspired every day by their success stories.”
“Our focus has to be centered on student success,” said Droge. “To do this, we must get the fundamentals right.” For Droge, the fundamentals are providing relevant programs with top-quality teaching. “The world has changed so much recently,” said Droge. “To effectively
True to his roots as a teacher and mentor, Droge offers advice to Park students. To prepare for career success, Droge encourages students to think beyond the classroom. “Students should practice being a professional now,” he said. “Don’t just study biology, for example. Start being a biologist and thinking like a biologist with a global perspective now.”
In his new role, Droge is focused on his top priority: students.
Park University alumni magazine, published Fall 2009