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Cityscape: Jack Stack brings unique style to Drury leadership

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A nod to the scholarly brio of Brian Fogle

During my time at Springfield Business Journal, I’ve covered two studies commissioned by Community Foundation of the Ozarks Inc. under the direction of Brian Fogle, now president emeritus of the nonprofit. The studies were conducted by Habitat Communication and Culture LLC.

In 2022, CFO released “The Realities of Leading a Nonprofit,” which probed some of the pressures faced by charity executives at a period when many of them were jumping ship and moving to the private sector.

This month, CFO unveiled the results of a study on the habits and values of younger donors in the region. That study, “Shaping Tomorrow,” is the launchpad for workshops that will help leaders to use its insights to leverage more support.

Fogle is a voracious reader, and he is locally known for the articles he forwards to nonprofit leaders and others with ideas and insights. It’s a curiosity that seems to have led to real breakthroughs in understanding – the former study suggesting changes in approach for board members and the new one offering improved paradigms for reaching the next generation of donors.

I think Fogle deserves a tip of the hat for his distinctive brand of erudite enthusiasm and this latest contribution to support the success of the region’s charitable
organizations.

Jack Stack brings unique style to Drury leadership

POISED FOR SUCCESS: Jack Stack, lower right, says he is enjoying Drury University faculty and students, like Breech Student Chamber of Commerce Members Mark Drozdetskii, top left; Henry Anger, top right; and Salena Petluri. | SBJ photo by Tawnie Wilson

In January, I spent an hour with a firecracker: Jack Stack, CEO and president of SRC Holdings Corp. and interim dean of Drury University’s Breech School of Business Administration.

I interviewed Stack about his temporary role in academia, but I brought to the conversation more than my identity as a reporter. For more than two decades, I taught writing in universities, including a three-year stint with international students in Drury’s English for Academic Purposes classrooms.

Look, there’s a way we talk to one another in academia – but Stack didn’t get the memo. In an environment where we take great pains to consider the potential merits of any idea on the table, Stack remains a business leader – highly conscious of the value of time.

It’s making for some fascinating interactions.

An assistant professor in the business college, Darren Page, described Stack to me as very direct and said he readily brushed off suggestions that seemed to miss the point. “He asks a question and thinks we should get right to the root of the answer rather than giving a long, meandering story,” he said.

Stack told me he’s having a great time in his temporary role, even though he sometimes picks up on an attitude of gloom.

“They need to feel more optimism,” Stack said. “Maybe they’re just too brain focused. I’m just driving them crazy because I make myself happy all the time.”

Stack called business a continuous learning experience where leaders are always thinking about what comes next.

“I’m always trying to figure out where the shoe’s going to fall, but I’m out there to catch the shoe,” he said. “I’m not going to watch the shoe hit the ground; I’m staying up at night saying, ‘Where’s it going to fall, where’s it going to go wrong, what can I learn to catch it?’”

Stack said Drury has an important asset in its closeness to students, and he wants faculty to understand that this difference can propel the institution’s success.

“We’ve got to raise their line of sight,” he said.

University Heights lawsuit will set land-use precedent

Any day now, Judge Derek Ankrom will issue his ruling on the case involving a proposed commercial development in University Heights, and here’s me, refreshing the online Missouri Courts web page as I wait to see what he’ll decide at the time of this writing.

This is the case involving a proposed commercial development – the current proposal is for a food hall and pickleball establishment – at the northwest corner of the Sunshine Street and National Avenue intersection. In Dixie Sleight et al. vs. BK&M LLC et al., a group of University Heights residents – a dozen plaintiffs and two interveners – is suing developer BK&M to halt the project on the basis of deed restrictions limiting the neighborhood to residential development.

What makes this case so compelling is that Ankrom’s decision is likely to set an important precedent that will surely be cited in similar disputes around the country.

University Heights is an interesting case study as an intact neighborhood that has resisted commercial development in its century of existence. When the neighborhood was platted, it was at the rural southern reach of the city, and Springfield has since grown around it; today, traffic reports from the city find Sunshine and National is Springfield’s second-busiest junction, with nearly 70,000 vehicles passing through daily, according to the most recent figures from the city’s Department of Public Works.

BK&M is counting on the judge recognizing the changes time has brought, as well as the city’s new place-based approach to urban planning that advocates development in an area described as a city corridor place type. Forward SGF, the city’s comprehensive plan, advocates five primary uses for the city corridor place type: multifamily, recreation, office and retail, arts and innovation, and institutional. Single-family development – the current but changing face of the corridor, which can be credited in part to house demolitions by BK&M – is not recommended for the place type. Despite this, University Heights is pictured in the Forward SGF plan as an example of a healthy and desirable neighborhood.

Does progress demand this kind of change? And do the terms of deeds – the original written contracts for land use – stop counting when developers or city government proffers different ideas for how an area should function?

However Ankrom decides these questions, I think we can expect the losing party to appeal.

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