Brief History of Graceland University

Graceland University was established as Graceland College in 1895 by the RLDS Church (now Community of Christ) at Lamoni, Iowa. Land for the college was donated by church members, with the first 20 acres given by Marietta Walker, after whom Walker Hall is named.

Until the administration building was completed, classes were conducted in a building in downtown Lamoni. The first day of classes was September 17, 1895. There were 18 men and women students, four faculty and a dean.

The name "Graceland" was given by Col. George Barrett, who surveyed the land for the college. He selected the name because of the graceful slope of the hill upon which the college was built.

The first building - now the administration building - housed the complete college. It was dedicated on January 1, 1897. The church president, Joseph Smith III, said on the day of dedication that the college "should be free to all irrespective of faith or creed."

Following an extensive renovation in the mid-1990s, the administration building was named the Higdon Administration Building in 1997 in recognition of three presidents: Earl T. Higdon; his son and daughter-in-law, William "Bill" Higdon and Barbara McFarlane Higdon.

In 1917, Graceland received accreditation of 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 in a cooperative program with the Independence Sanitarium and Hospital, Independence, Missouri. The Graceland campus was extended to Independence with the establishment of the college's bachelor's degree program in 1968-69.

The physical Independence campus was located in three different sites before construction of the present building on W. Truman Road in 1999.

The Graceland Partnership Program was established in 1989. Currently Graceland University offers degree-completion programs on the campuses of Indian Hills Community College, Centerville, Iowa, and North Central Missouri College, Trenton, Missouri.

Graceland College became Graceland University on June 1, 2000.

For additional information, contact the Graceland University Department of Communications: 641-784-5110 Graceland University, 1 University Place, Lamoni, Iowa 50140 kdbjorla@graceland.edu