Alumni Spotlight

Tom Whitlock '76


(pictured right)

Academy Award winner, Tom Whitlock ’76, did not have a typical college experience. Student by day, rock n roll artist by night, Whitlock spread out his college career over several decades, allowing him to build a solo career as a songwriter. Whitlock’s music has been featured in movies such as Beverly Hills Cop, Ten Things I Hate About You, and most notably, Top Gun. His love song, “Take My Breath Away,” won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1986.

Whitlock grew up in Springfield, Missouri, spending his high school days attending class during the day and playing with his rock bands on the weekends throughout the Midwest. He continued this lifestyle throughout college. Between several contracts with Columbia Pictures and other movie production companies, Whitlock managed to complete most of his credits at Drury University to complete a degree in music from 1971 – ’81. But his successful music career prevented him from graduating. Though lacking a bachelor’s degree, Whitlock found great value in the knowledge gained from his classes at Drury. He credits Dr. Richard Mears and Dr. James Livingston with exposing him to literature that positively influenced his music. In 1999, Drury finally awarded Whitlock a degree- an honorary doctorate in music.

When asked which musical accomplishment was most important to him, Whitlock did not have an answer. “The reason for it is always the next song. My mind is always on the next project, the job of the day.” Whitlock currently works with artists across the globe, creating music for movies in America to rock bands in Australia. Among his many accomplishments, including several gold and platinum records, Drury honored Whitlock with a Distinguished Alumni award in 1998. Tom Whitlock will receive his bachelor’s degree in music this December.

Article written by Megan Waterman, current student.