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125th Commencement

A New Beginning

Horizons Fall 2022 Home

Features - Fall 2022

December 22, 2022 | Georgia Seagraves

With COVID protocols and renovations preventing indoor celebration for the past two years, the Lamoni commencement was held for the first time in Morden Center this spring.

Commencement weekend began on Saturday, April 30, 2022, with the baccalaureate service held in the Shaw Family Auditorium. Vice President for Student Life Dave Schaal ’80 announced the Student Life Award recipients — Rachel Hawley ’22 and Casey Main ’22 — recognizing their superior leadership and selfless service to the Graceland community.

On Sunday, May 1, at 10 a.m., family, friends, and students filed into a bright gymnasium as the commotion of community filled the room. On this cold and blustery day, President Patricia H. Draves greeted graduates and their families and was then joined by several international students who welcomed those present in their native languages. Faculty awards were presented to Tanya Coffelt, EdD, Beth Gregory, EdD, and Donovan Nelson, EdD (more about the recipients in the sidebar).

The commencement address was given by Dr. Matthew Naylor, President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. With passion and fervor, he spoke directly to the room of graduates:

 “Because of your time here at Graceland, because of your experience, of being shaped by the pandemic, taking all of that, what you learned, and what you are becoming, you are remarkably equipped to take on these challenges, these opportunities, to confront and do what needs to be done. You are prepared like no other generation. Now go do it.”

The Numbers

154 The total number of degrees awarded at the Spring 2022 ceremony.

154 Graduates

18 States

10 Countries

Faculty Awards

Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching

Tanya Coffelt, EdD, is a Professor of Education at the Gleazer School of Education and holds a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, a Master of Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a Doctor of Education from Drake University. She has been a member of the Graceland University faculty since 2006. When asked about Dr. Coffelt, students shared: “Dr. Coffelt has challenged my classmates and I to think ruminatively and critically about our coursework and teaching experiences.” “Innovative and creative in her assignments and is always evolving with the changing world of education.” “Has always shown a great interest in our success and making us the best versions of ourselves possible.”

Excellence in Scholarly Achievement

Beth Gregory, EdD, Assistant Professor in the Gleazer School of Education on the Lamoni campus, has focused her scholarly pursuits on teacher education and educational leadership, specifically in the areas of reading and math education in early childhood and elementary education. During the past year, she presented four different times at regional, national, and international conferences and has authored or co-authored several journal articles, all while completing 17 hours towards a postdoctoral master’s degree at the University of St. Francis.


Exceptional Service Award

Donovan Nelson, EdD, Assistant Professor of Sport Management at the Sandage School of Business, served as the Sport Management Program Coordinator and had 47 advisees, including 13 students in the Spring 2022 graduating class. He also served on a multitude of committees, including the chair of the Faculty Compensation Committee, the chair of the Faculty Oversight Task Force, and the chair of Graceland’s annual Scholars’ Showcase event. Dr. Nelson provided his expertise and wisdom as one of the faculty voices on the Next Version of Graceland Task Force and is respected throughout Graceland for his collegiality and deep love of this institution.


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