There was something special in the crisp autumn air October 15, 2021 — the BUZZ OF EXCITEMENT as alumni returned to campus for the first time in years could be felt across Lamoni. The familiar scene of friends reuniting had an extra sense of sanctity. So many things kept people apart these past two years. This homecoming was the first time that alumni got to see and experience how the campus has changed. Needless to say, this year’s homecoming celebration was one to remember because, for the first time in a long time, we were “Together Again.”
There was much excitement as alumni got to explore the latest improvements on campus — the reimagined Newcom Student Union and The Swarm, and the incredible progress made on the Morden Center. Newcom Student Union officially opened in May 2020, but entering the
Great Room to check-in was the first time that many Graceland alumni got to lay eyes on the new building. Alumni reminisced over their mailboxes that were preserved in the construction and toured the refurbished structure in awe. The joy and celebration did not stop when the sun went down. On Friday, food trucks lined the circle drive and hundreds of students gathered alongside alumni to eat food, listen to music, and be in community.
Graceland celebrated double the honor classes this year because Homecoming 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic and those honor classes were unable to gather. With twice as many people to celebrate, Graceland was overjoyed to have them back.
On Saturday, Gracelanders gathered to celebrate the Morden Center dedication and tour the building to see the progress already made in phase one of this extensive renovation. At Sunday’s homecoming worship service, Director of Communications at Community of Christ International Headquarters and co-director of Spectacular Jennifer Glandon ’96 Killpack spoke to a crowded room in the Shaw Family Auditorium. A beautiful end to the weekend, Killpack shared about “Infinite Mystery” and concluded another amazing Graceland homecoming.
Distinguished Service Award
Brent Ruoff, MD, ’77 first started thinking about the world of medicine and critical care after a serious bout with appendicitis while a camper at church reunion. He went on to major in chemistry at Graceland and completed his coursework in just three years, graduating summa cum laude. Ruoff spent 42 years as a hospital administrator and emergency room doctor with Washington University School of Medicine, and he knows exactly what he’s most proud of — mentoring young doctors and other career medical professionals with a holistic approach to taking care of sick people.
Graceland Award of Recognition
Ron Gillian, MD, was a bright student who couldn’t afford college until a local farmer volunteered to pay for his education on one condition: he had to promise to return the favor for someone else down the road. Ron and his wife, Carol, lived up to that commitment by hosting several Graceland students and connecting them with summer internships. Dr. Gillilan worked in the medical field for 50 years and recently finished 12 years of service on Graceland’s Board of Trustees. He says he will always cherish the opportunity to help guide Graceland.
Honorary Alumni Award
Katie Bash, PhD, is attributed to leading Graceland to a successful accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. For 20 years, Katie worked at Graceland (most recently as the VP for Institutional Effectiveness) developing an integrated model to alleviate repetition and 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. With deep appreciation for her hard work and dedication to Graceland, Katie Bash is now an official alumna.
Yellowjackets Hall & Wall of Fame
Julia Travis ’26 Closson, known best as “Judy,” was inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously for her commitment to Graceland as a faculty member for 12 years and her help in expanding Graceland programs for women and for the college in general. She sponsored the Graceland Women’s Recreational Association and also developed a program that invited local high school girls to visit campus and participate with her classes in recreational activities, which turned out to be an effective recruiting tool for the college. Closson was always a supporter of Graceland, the college’s ideals, and the college community.
Matt Lynch ’05 was inducted into the Hall of Fame to honor his incredible basketball career as a guard at Graceland. He was a 1,000-point scorer and set the school record for steals in a single game, season, and career. He helped with sports camps and traveled with the coaching staff on recruiting trips to help bring in athletes who could help take the program to the next level.
The 1960 Men’s Cross Country Team was inducted into the Wall of Fame for winning the Missouri College Athletic Union Conference Championship and earning a second-place finish in the NAIA national meet. Led by Coach L.D. Weldon ’29, athletes Earl Detrick ’63 , Chuck Madden ’65, Dick Harrington ’64, Bruce Beck ’62 and Elbert Harrington ’64 carried Graceland to national fame in 1960, having previously posted a 9-1 season.
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