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Graceland College

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Graceland College

Graceland University
Motto Prudens futuri (Wisdom for the Future)
Established 1895
Endowment $37.2 million[1]
President John Sellars
Academic staff 146
Students 2,351
Location Lamoni, Iowa and
Independence, Missouri
School Song Graceland Forever

Blue & Gold

Nickname Yellowjackets
Mascot Sting
Affiliations Community of Christ

Graceland University is a private liberal arts university of about 2300 students and 150 faculty. Graceland has campuses in Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri, in the United States. Graceland offers degree completion and master’s programs at satellite campuses in Centerville and Cedar Rapids (Iowa) and Trenton (Missouri). Graceland also offers undergraduate and graduate programs online. Graceland was founded in 1895. Though non-sectarian, Graceland was established by, and is affiliated with, the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church).

Graceland's main campus is in Lamoni, Iowa. This residential campus offers over 50 academic programs, including 9-preprofessional programs and 35 undergraduate majors. The Lamoni campus also offers 19 varsity sports, campus-wide activities and intramural sports.

The Independence campus offers graduate and undergraduate programs in the School of Nursing and the Edmund J. Gleazer School of Education. The campus is also home to programs in the Community of Christ Seminary.

Dr. John D. Sellars is Graceland's president. He assumed his role July 15, 2007.

Graceland is known for its Enactus team, which has advanced to compete at Nationals for 12 consecutive years. In 2006, Graceland Enactus won first-place in the four-year division of the Enactus USA National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri. The team then went on to be the 1st runner up at the World Cup competition in Paris, France. In 2012, Graceland Enactus team was 1st runner-upin the semi-finals of Enactus USA National Exposition.


Graceland University was established as Graceland College in 1895 by the RLDS Church in Lamoni, Iowa. Land for the college was donated by church members, with the first 20 acres given by Marietta Walker. The name "Graceland" was selected by Col. George Barrett, land surveyor for the college, for the graceful slope of the hill upon which the college was built. Until the administration building was completed, classes were conducted in a building in downtown Lamoni. The first day of classes was September 17, 1895.

In 1917, Graceland received accreditation from the states of Iowa and Missouri and from the North Central Association of Colleges, making it the first fully accredited junior college in Iowa. Graceland became a four-year college in 1960. Graceland's nursing program began in 1910 as a cooperative program with the Independence Sanitarium and Hospital, Independence, MO. The Graceland campus was extended to Independence with the establishment of the college's bachelor's degree program in 1968-69.

The Graceland Partnership Program, offering degree-completion programs on community college campuses, was established in 1989. In 1995, Graceland acquired SkillPath, a business training company that offers seminars and classes. Graceland College became Graceland University on June 1, 2000.

Vision, mission, values

Graceland University will become a recognized educational leader, inspiring and empowering persons for transformational service and leadership.

Graceland creates learning communities where students develop their potential for meaningful and productive lives.


Graceland values learning, wholeness and community. Graceland encourages the development of these values for the enrichment of lives and the betterment of the world.

We believe in the lifelong process of the open and free pursuit of truth.

We believe that the development of the intellectual, physical, social and spiritual dimensions of all persons is necessary for healthy and fulfilling lives.

We appreciate and welcome diversity and, as an institution sponsored by Community of Christ, believe in the inherent worth of all persons expressed through relationships built on the foundation of unconditional love and acceptance.



Graceland has been ranked ‘first tier’ in the U.S. News & World Report’s America’s “Best Colleges” in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Graceland falls in the “Private University” category, “Midwest Region.” In 2012, Graceland was ranked 91 and in the 2013 report Graceland has been ranked 88. The report standings cite Graceland’s small class sizes, with 72 percent of classes containing 20 or fewer students, financial aid services, and the university’s “selective” admissions process in its rankings.[2][3] Graceland has also been recognized by the Princeton Review as a top school in the Midwest.[4]


Graceland is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The teacher education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and have full approval status with the Iowa Board of Nursing and the Missouri State Board of Nursing.[5]


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Graceland’s College of Liberal Arts and Science holds classes only on the Lamoni campus. The college holds five divisions: Division of Visual and Performing Arts, Division of Health and Movement Science, Division of Humanities, Division of Science and Math and the Division of Social Science. Among these divisions are over 30 majors, including pre-professional programs.

"Why Liberal Arts Is So Important at Graceland." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .

School of Nursing

The School of Nursing is one of Graceland’s most popular programs. The School of Nursing offers classes on the Independence Campus and online. In the undergraduate Nursing program (Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Registered Nurse,) students complete four semesters of general education classes on the Lamoni campus, then transfer to the Independence campus to complete their final four semesters. An accelerated Nursing program is available that allows students to graduate is seven semesters.

The School of Nursing’s online programs include both graduate and undergraduate degrees: BA in Health Care Management, RN to BSN, RN to MSN, Master of Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner Post Master MSN certificate, Nurse Educator Post Master MSN certificate and a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

"Opportunities in Nursing." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .

The Graceland School of Nursing has been ranked by as one of the Top 25 Schools for Online Nursing Degrees.

"Top 25 Schools for Online Nursing Degrees." The Best Schools. N.p., 2012. Web. 2012. .

Edmund J. Gleazer School of Education

The School of Education is one of Graceland’s largest programs, offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. Classes are offered on the Lamoni campus, Independence campus, the regional campuses and online.

Undergraduate degrees include Elementary Education and Secondary Education. The Lamoni campus is the only location that offers a secondary teaching certificate. The School of Education has a partnership with Kansas City, MO, schools, called Professional Development Schools (PDS). The PDS partnership assigns Education students to an in-the-field classroom for an entire semester of student teaching (as opposed to the traditional one semester.)

The School of Education offers international programs, where students can student-teach in New Zealand, or take winter term classes in Jamaica and Zambia.

Graduate programs include a Master’s of Education with six different specializations: Literacy Instruction, Management in the Inclusive Classroom, Collaborative Teaching and Learning, Differentiated Instruction, Technology Integration and Mild/Moderate Special Education.

"Our Programs Center Around You." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. . ranked Graceland 8th in its Top 25 Online Teacher Education Programs calling the school a “pioneer in distance learning” and tuition prices “very affordable.”

"Top 25 Online Teacher Education Programs." The Best Schools. N.p., 2012. Web. 2012. .

The Edmund J. Gleazer School of Education is named for Edmund John Gleazer Jr., a past president of the university.

C.H. Sandage School of Business

The C.H. Sandage School of Business offers undergraduate programs. Classes are held on the Lamoni campus and degree completion programs are held online and at regional campuses. Programs include Accounting, Agricultural Business, Business Administration, Economics, Organizational Leadership and Sport Management.

The School of Business maintains a close partnership with the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. Graceland students who plan to attend a graduate school are encouraged to consider Seton Hall as an option. The School of Business is named after Dr. Charles H. Sandage, a past professor for the university.

"C.H. Sandage School of Business." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .


The School of Business is tied to Graceland’s Enactus team. Founded in 1989, the team works internationally and locally. In recent years, Graceland Enactus program has taken winter term trips to Zambia, the Philippines and Belize. In 1996 Graceland Enactus was named U.S. National Champion, and advanced to compete at the Enactus World Cup in Paris, France. The team finished second to China at the competition. In April 2012, Graceland Enactus was named Regional Champion for the 12 consecutive year and placed in the top eight teams at the Enactus National Exposition.

Meline, Randy. "Graceland SIFE Falls Short in Semi-Finals." Graceland University. N.p., 2012. Web. 2012. .

Community of Christ Seminary

The Community of Christ Seminary is offered online or at the Community of Christ Temple. The program offers a Master’s of Arts in Religion.

"Master of Arts in Religion." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .

Student life

Residence life

Instead of having fraternities and sororities like many universities, Graceland has residential social organizations called "Houses." These Houses are present on Graceland’s main campus; however, the Independence campus does have its own House, McKevit Manor. Students are assigned to a House regardless whether they live on or off campus. Graceland has six men’s Houses: Agape, Cheville, Closson, Faunce, Orion, and Stewart Manor. Graceland has nine female Houses: Amici, Aponivi, Dimora, Hanthorne, Khiyah, Paloma, Sariah, Shalom, and Solah.

Each House has officers who serve on Graceland’s Student Government. The officers form a “House Council,” including a House President (who leads the House Council), a Campus Organization of Social Activities (COSA) representative, an Academic Student Council (ASC) representative, a senator, an intramural sports representative and a chaplain. Members of the House Council are elected to their positions by members of their House. In addition to their Student Government duties, House Council members plan social activities called “functions.” These functions vary by House and range from formal dinners to campouts.

"Leadership & Service." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .

Houses hold meetings every Tuesday at 10 p.m. Meetings are led by the House President and House Council and vary widely from House to House.

Activities and Organizations

Graceland has over 50 clubs and organizations for students. Between Graceland Student Government and the campus clubs and organizations, over 250 official leadership positions are available.

Graceland Student Government is a popular student activity, particularly for sophomore and junior students on campus.

Intramurals is perhaps the campus’ most popular activity, with over 98 percent student participation. Intramural teams are divided by House and level of competition.

Other popular student clubs include the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), International Club, Outreach International club, Enactus, Art Student Society and Sustainability Club.

"Get Involved." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .

Performing Arts

With the completion of the Shaw Center expansion in fall 2012, Graceland has placed a renewed emphasis on the performing arts. Graceland performance groups include Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Oratorio Chorus, Jazz Band, Pep Band, Symphonic Band, Orchestra and Theatre. For the 2012-2013 academic year, Graceland doubled its number of annual theatre productions. Over 1/3 of Graceland student participate in the arts (both visual and performing).

"Come express yourself at Graceland University." Graceland University. N.p., n.d. Web. 2012. .

Graceland brings a variety of talent acts to campus. In 2012, Graceland has brought in Canadian trumpeter Jens Lindemann, trombone player Wycliffe Gordon, the Fountain City Brass Band, vocalist Shannon Gaye, and actor Arliss Howard who directed Graceland’s Homecoming play.

Meline, Randy. "Homecoming 2012 & Gala Shaw Center Dedication." Horizons Sept. 2012: 7+. Web. 2012. .

In fall 2012 also brought in the Vienna Boys Choir and Owen/Cox Dance group.

Meline, Randy. "Vienna Boys’ Choir to Perform November 12 at Graceland University." Graceland University. N.p., Oct. 2012. Web. 2012. . Meline, Randy. "“Nutcracker and the Mouse King” Comes to Graceland University." Graceland University. N.p., Nov. 2012. Web. 2012. .

School traditions

House Meeting

Every Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. student gather with their fellow House members in a weekly meeting. Meetings are led by the House President and involve House Council members. Meetings vary from House to House, but generally include recreational activities and announcements from House Council members. Meetings are generally held in House lounges.

Goehner, David. The Graceland College Book of Knowledge. Independence: Herald Publishing House, 1997. 168-69. Print.


Every year at Graceland’s annual Homecoming weekend, COSA puts on an annual Airband competition. Male Houses are paired with female Houses (brother/sister Houses) and the teams compete against each other in a choreographed dance competition. Houses spend weeks preparing props, themes, and storylines for the competition; then perform their routine before a panel of judges. The winner of Airband is awarded points, and the team with the most Homecoming points wins money for their House.

Goehner, David. The Graceland College Book of Knowledge. Independence: Herald Publishing House, 1997. 7. Print.

New Years in November

Every year in mid-November, COSA sponsors a campuswide dance and celebration, called New Year’s in November. The event is essentially a celebration of the coming new year, because students are not on campus for New Year’s Eve. The event has a specific theme every year and includes dancing and other activities. The event traditionally ends with a pancake breakfast in the Commons.

Goehner, David. The Graceland College Book of Knowledge. Independence: Herald Publishing House, 1997. 222. Print.

Final Fling

The final weekend of the semester, COSA sponsors a campuswide celebration for students. Events vary year to year, but often include inflatables, sports tournaments, and various entertainment acts. Students collect wristbands for each event they attend, and at the weekend’s conclusion enter their wristbands in a drawing for prizes.

Goehner, David. The Graceland College Book of Knowledge. Independence: Herald Publishing House, 1997. 98. Print.

Thursday Night Movie

Once a week, COSA plays a free movie in the local theatre, The Coliseum. Before 2012, the movie played on Wednesdays; however the day was changed in fall 2012 to accommodate Graceland Student Government meetings.

Goehner, David. The Graceland College Book of Knowledge. Independence: Herald Publishing House, 1997. 327. Print.


Graceland University athletic teams as the Yellowjackets. Graceland competes in the student athletes.


In 2005, the Yellowjackets went 9-3, won their first conference title since 1975 and qualified for the NAIA national championships for the first time ever. This was just four years removed from an 0-10 season. Coach Cris Welch is 45-37 in eight years. Welch resigned from his duties on April 19, 2010. Graceland Alum and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Douglas was named the new Head Football Coach in May. Douglas immediately cleaned house by instituting new team policies regarding GPA and class attendance. He and his staff brought in over 90 new students over the next summer. Starting 19 freshman, the Jackets went 1-10 in 2010.

Herbert Goodman and Jeff Criswell went on to play in the NFL. Jerome Messam went on to play in both the NFL and CFL.

Women's soccer

In 2006, GU won its third straight Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship. Despite a 17-1-1 record, the Jackets were not selected for the NAIA national tournament. They have not been defeated in conference play since October 2003 (29-0-3). GU is 67-6-11 over the lst four years.

2008 and 2009 made it to the final eight in the NAIA National Tournament.

Women's volleyball

Stew McDole has been at the helm of the Graceland women's volleyball program for the last 30 seasons amassing an 820-430 win/loss record and 21 consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins. During 19 of those years, he has led the squad to a Heart of America Athletic Conference regular, pre or post season title and has been named the HAAC Coach of the Year 12 times. McDole earned his 800th win of his coaching career this season with a victory over Clark University on October 2. A post season qualifier in all 29 seasons, his Yellowjacket program has produced 22 All-America selections and 36 All-America scholar-athletes. His 2010 squad was awarded the American Volleyball Coaches' Association Team Academic award for a team grade point average exceeding 3.30. Stew was inducted into the Graceland Athletics Hall of Fame in October of 2007.

Men's volleyball

The Jackets capture three NAIA Championships (1973, 76, 79). They were one of only two teams to qualify for nationals all 11 years it was run. The NAIA stopped the championships following the 1978-79 season.

Men's soccer

In 2006, Graceland went 18-4-2. Despite losing in the Region V Championship, the Jackets were selected to the NAIA National Tournament and seeded second. They beat Milligan 1-0, Grand View 3-0, Webber International 1-0 and Azusa Pacific 0-0 (7-6 in a shoot out) to win the NAIA National Championships.

They beat Grand View 3-0 after losing 3-0 to them in the opening game of the season. In the semifinals against Webber International they played without one of the top two defensive players, Ruben Ruelas, who suffered a broken ankle against GV, Edson Edward (the #3 scorer, out with injury) and veteran Brett Porter, who was sitting out due to yellow cards.

In the final against Azusa Pacific, they were without Ruelas, Edward, Facundo Rinaldi (a top reserve, out with a red card) and Kevin Souter (a top player, out on fouls).

In the shootout, both teams made all five of their penalty kicks, which is highly unusual. Then in the second round, both teams missed their first three shots each. After each made the fourth shot, goalkeeper Isaac Unruh came up with a huge save and Nick Gay put his shot past the keeper for the win.

In 2007, the Yellowjackets won the HAAC conference for the third time (1997, 2005 and 2006) finishing with a 17 wins, 2 ties and 2 losses record. Graceland advanced to National Tournament for the third year in a row. Kevin Souter of Portsoy, Scotland has been signed by the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer.

In the Fall of 2008, Angel Monroy, longtime assistant and associate head coach during the 2007 season, took over the reins of the men's soccer program after Ivan Joseph moved to Ryerson University to become athletic director. Under the tutelage of the new coaching staff the Yellowjackets finished the season ranked nationally in the NAIA at #22 with a record 13-5-2 and 6-1-2 in the conference.



External links

  • Graceland University
  • Graceland University Athletics
  • Graceland University Bands website
  • The Center for the Study of the Korean War

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