Kosovo’s Minister of Justice Dhurata Hoxha will bring the address at Graceland University’s 120th commencement. Graceland graduates, Dhurata Hoxha and Ambassador Zana Zeqiri Rudi will receive honorary doctorates. Additional Kosovo dignitaries on the platform will include Consul General Xhavit Gashi. US Ambassador and former Graceland president John Menzies will return to campus for the ceremonies.
The commencement ceremony will be held Sunday, April 30, at 10 a.m. in the Closson Physical Education Center. Graceland’s President John Sellars, Board of Trustees Chair Harry Ashenhurst and Ambassador John Menzies will confer the two honorary doctorate degrees after a processional and welcome. The address to the graduate candidates will be followed by faculty recognitions and the presentation of diplomas.
Among his posts, Ambassador and Graceland’s former President John Menzies ’70 was the Chief of Mission for the United States Office in Pristina, Kosovo, 2001-02, and was largely responsible for Graceland’s connections to Kosovo. Menzies helped many international students call Lamoni, Iowa, home.
The Iowa National Guard and the Kosovo Security Force joined the State Partnership Program, a program developed in 2011 to establish diplomatic ties between National Guard units and foreign militaries. In 2013, Kosovo became Iowa’s ninth sister state, and in January 2016, The Consulate of the Republic of Kosovo – the first diplomatic office located in Iowa – opened in Des Moines.
Dhurata Hoxha was appointed Kosovo’s Minister of Justice in July 2016. Prior to present appointment, she served as a political advisor to the Speaker of Assembly of Republic of Kosovo Mr. Kadri Veseli, with responsibilities covering security policies and rule of law. Dhurata is from Mitrovica and lives in Prishtina with her husband, Visar, and their two children, Mal and Hana.
Zana Zeqiri Rudi was appointed as Kosovo’s Ambassador to Panama in January 2017. Previously, she served as Chief of Mission in Kosovo’s Embassy in Panama. She established and runs the Embassy in Panama, which is the first and only mission of the Republic of Kosovo in Latin America. Before heading Kosovo’s Embassy in Panama, from 2011-13 she served as political adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo. Zana is married to Korab Rudi and has a daughter, Lisa Rudi. Zana gave volunteer service to Graceland University from abroad by serving on the Alumni Board of Directors from 2011-14.
Zana Rudi is a Graceland graduate from the class of 2006 and Dhurata Hoxha is a Graceland graduate from the class of 2004.
The purpose of conferring an honorary degree is threefold:
- It honors a deserving person who has made a distinguished contribution to society.
- It honors Graceland in that such a person became associated with Graceland.
- It demonstrates to Graceland students and friends the admirable qualities of life, which Graceland tries to cultivate in students.
Zana and Dhurata’s commitment to, and investment in, rebuilding the war-torn Republic of Kosovo is evidence of all three purposes for conferring an honorary doctorate degree from Graceland University.