I do not typically get a lot of questions about my time outside of the Graceland community. I think part of the reason is that immediately upon my arrival, Graceland’s students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends embraced me as one of their own. There is something extremely special about how tightly knit the fabric of the Graceland community is woven. In my time at other universities, I have not experienced anything quite like it.
As I have spoken to alumni and friends over my years on “the Hill,” one thing is clear: that feeling of community is one that virtually every Gracelander can testify about, and I have heard so many stories of that power of together in action through the university’s 125-year history.
Even though those stories through the years unite us in common purpose and mission, one thing is sure: 2020 has been a year like no other. Sure, Graceland has experienced similar circumstances before, enduring the 1918 flu pandemic. We have faced difficult financial struggles over the years too. But time and time again, the generosity of our alumni and friends has shown its true colors, as all the members of our community have stepped up to help us face the myriad challenges of the era.
As we face new and unprecedented challenges this year, I am confident in our resiliency as a community. I have that confidence because Graceland is not like the other places I have been. Graceland is special, and everyone who has been a part of our community knows it.
That specialness is evident through the pages of this special issue of Horizons, where you will see facts and figures from Graceland’s rich 125-year history covering everything from the number of faculty who voted to approve dancing on campus to the number of layers of paint on the victory bell. There are so many interesting pieces of history, and I hope you will discover something about Graceland you didn’t know before.
We’d love to hear about your memories from the last 125 years. As you enjoy these facts from our history, we encourage you to share your own by posting on social media with the hashtag #Graceland125.
Thank you to each one of you for being a part of our history.
Patricia H. Draves, PhD