JOEL SHROCK, PhD, joined Graceland in July, bringing more than 27 years of experience in higher education.
Shrock hit the ground running as soon as he arrived, helping ensure the smooth launch of Transformational Leadership in the fall of 2022, and working with a restructured academic cabinet that is designed to help drive decision-making closer to those most impacted by the decisions as well as facilitating broader communication and collaboration between academic areas.
Shrock received both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in history from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, going on to complete his PhD in U.S. History from Miami University (Ohio). Over nearly three decades, he has held leadership and academic roles at a variety of prestigious institutions, including Ball State, Miami (Ohio), and Anderson University. In 2009, Shrock won a Malone Fellowship and went on a 12-day trip to Oman and the United Arab Emirates to learn about their history and culture. “It’s the most exciting thing I’ve done in my career so far,” he recalls.
Shrock’s area of expertise is United States history during The Gilded Age, the tumultuous time between the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century. “The Gilded Age is, for me, the most fascinating era in U.S. history because it is the crucible from which modern America emerged,” Shrock said. “Industrialization, immigration, urbanization, modern government, modern educational systems, mass marketing magazines and newspapers, national brand products, and corporatization of the economy. It was both an amazing and an appalling time.”
Away from his work, Dr. Shrock stays active. He likes spending time with his wife, Kelly, and their friends. He enjoys hiking, watching movies, and is an avid reader, consuming about 100 books every year. He and Kelly met at a study abroad program in England for their university and have been married for 31 years. They have three sons — Owen and fraternal twins, JD and Brenton.
“The process of education is challenging, but it provides students with new ways of thinking and with completely new sets of skills.”
Shrock is a passionate academic. “I really love the entire industry [of higher education],” he said. “It is dedicated to uncovering knowledge and then teaching that knowledge to students in a transformational way. I appreciate how there has been a long tradition of academic innovation that is a part of this university. Graceland is future oriented and clearly taking steps to be successful in the changing twenty-first century higher education marketplace by presenting professional programs, online programs, and graduate programs within its traditional liberal arts framework. Liberal arts schools that fail to innovate will be the ones that close their doors over the next five years. Graceland University is positioning itself for ongoing growth and success.”