reception for President Sellars was held in the Shaw Lobby Friday afternoon to honor his 19 years of commitment to the Graceland community, including the decade he served as president (2007-17).

Celebrations for the graduating class began with the baccalaureate service Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m., followed by a graduation reception with President John and Bette Sellars at 8 p.m. and the 17th annual candlelighting ceremony at 9 p.m.

The newest graduates of Graceland University crossed the stage of Closson Center to receive their diplomas during the 120th Commencement Convocation on Sunday, April 30, in Lamoni.

It was a bittersweet day for the university and retiring President John Sellars, PhD, CPA, as he presided over his last commencement for Graceland. The graduation ceremony opened with a welcome from five graduate candidates in their native language, reflecting the international influence of the university. The invocation was offered by Michael Zabel, MD ‘84. President Sellars; Board of Trustees Chair Harry J. Ashenhurst, PhD ’70; and President Emeritus Ambassador John Menzies ’70 conferred honorary degrees upon Zana Rudi ’06, Kosovo’s Ambassador to Panama, and Dhurata Hoxha ’04, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kosovo. Hoxha gave the commencement address, charging each graduate with the task of creating their own stories to share with generations to come — to be heroes and doers of their own lives.

Alumni Board President Cal Closson ’82 presented the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, and President Sellars recognized two faculty members for Excellence in Scholarly Achievement and Exceptional Service. Professor Emeritus was bestowed upon Ronald K. Smith, PhD ’74 by Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Brian J. White, PhD ’92.

Presentation of diplomas concluded, and the ceremony closed with the benediction given by Alex Craven, Graceland Student Government President. 


Sellars and Shaw
Male graduate
Stephen Mercer grad



Grad girls
Grad guy and girl
Zana and Dhuarta



Lashaund Yates
#Graceland Grad
Female grad



Grad group
Claudia with grads