Decoration Graphic
Decoration Graphic

This award recognizes, includes and honors individuals –  living or deceased – who have not been enrolled as students at Graceland but whose affiliation would be beneficial to Graceland. These individuals have related to the goals and purposes of the University and to other alumni as though they had been a member of the student body.

Decoration Graphic

2022 Recipient – Rachelle Johnson

Rachelle JohnsonRachelle Johnson was raised by a social worker-counselor-community activist mother who constantly sought to assist, support and comfort those in need. She was taught a standard of always protecting and supporting your “circle of responsibility” (family or tribe) with your best work and sacrifice. She is the biological mother of one and the surrogate mother of many – siblings, godchildren, extended family and friends. Rachelle is the unconditional and loving tie that binds her circle and that is one of her great passions.

She came to work with Ken McClain over 25 years ago, both to manage legal projects and to support his efforts in the larger community. Ken is a Graceland Alum and former Chairman of the Graceland University Board of Trustees. Rachelle has been Ken’s right hand in the development and management of The Chairman’s Scholarship Program, which was designed to assist great students from primarily the Independence, Mo. area to attend Graceland. The Scholarship Program has been a tremendous resource for students and their families for over 10 years. The Program encourages, challenges and supports students to believe in the genuine opportunities at Graceland, confidently invest in themselves, successfully complete their education at Graceland and find their passions in life and the world. Rachelle maintains that what we are growing with this endeavor is great Alums!


  • 2021 - Katie Bash

    Katie BashKatie Bash is attributed to leading Graceland to a successful recommendation from the Higher Learning Commission. For eight years Katie and her husband, Lee, have worked with Graceland committees to develop a model that is integrated, timing things to alleviate repetition and to align budgeting with strategic planning. Bash cultivated the work of the faculty and a task force into an equitable program-prioritization process that provides a numeric measure of effectiveness with direction of improvements.

    Thanks to all of her hard work and dedication to Graceland, Katie Bash is now an official alumna of Graceland University!

  • 2019 - Nita Harder

    Nita Harder was made an honorary alumna. Born in Tulsa and raised in El Reno, Oklahoma, Nita Harder now resides in St. Charles, Missouri, with her husband of 60 years, David Harder ’57. Nita and David met at a senior high camp when they were teenagers but didn’t start dating until they were both attending Oklahoma State University.

    A lifelong educator, Harder has worked for 33 years at both the high school and elementary school levels to become a beloved and respected physical education teacher. Her calling to work with young people came while attending a Community of Christ camp when she was 27. Harder answered that call and never looked back.

    This past summer marked 41 consecutive years working with the Oklahoma delegation at SPECTACULAR (SPEC), a Community of Christ high school camp held on Graceland’s Lamoni campus. She is excited about the dozens of young people who have attended SPEC due to her encouragement and have had the experience of the Graceland and Lamoni communities.

    Nita and David’s love for Graceland has spread to their sons, Travis ’82 and Keith ’86, and five of their grandchildren who are, or who plan to become, Graceland graduates. Her passion and support for Graceland continues to grow.

    Harder feels like she still has so much more to give to the world, and we think so too. When informed she would receive this year’s Honorary Alumni Award, she said, “Just make sure the plaque says honorary and not ornery.” You will know exactly what she means when you get the honor of meeting her.

2018 Kathy Robinson
2017 Beth Whittemore
2017 Rob Keuhl
2016 Bob Fitzgerald
2016 Steve Veazey
2015 Katie McClaran
2015 Ray McClaran
2014 Carol Hough
2014 Kathy Ross
2013 Harold Lambert
2012 Peggy Hausheer
2011 Lucienna Jones
2011 Colleen Brooner
2010 Lewis Muir
2010 Bill Juhnke
2010 Carita Juhnke
2010 Fancheon Muir
2007 Susan Terry Knapp
2007 John Sellars
2006 Bill Brett
2006 Anne Smith
2006 Nora Ackerley
2006 Carmen Ackerley
2006 Lee Ackerley
2006 Bob Ackerley
2006 Florence Ourth
2005 Beverly Constance
2005 Louise Whittington
2005 Jack Davison
2005 Phillis Davison
2005 Byron Constance
2002 Geoff Spencer
2001 Josef Radionov
2000 Ann Everett
1999 Bette Fowler
1999 Charlene Oxley
1993 Clara E. Morrell
1992 Donna Edgerton
1990 Audrey Stubbart
1986 Howard Miller
1981 Patty Parker
1979 Carol Shaw
1978 Ava Carmichael
1978 Rollin Bridge
1978 Alice Sessions