"I can hear my father's words: 'Always leave a place better than you found it.'
My hope is that I am leaving Graceland better than I found it."
"As I climb the stairs in the Higdon Administration Building
every day, I look at the photographs of past Graceland presidents
and hope I have not disappointed them."
I have learned that Graceland’s alumni and friends do not shy away from a challenge. Together we can be successful.
As I see the next 10 years, Graceland needs to finish updating the campus and technology. While we have done a lot of work the last 10 years, more needs to be done. With new technology, social media and electronic learning management systems, there will be expanded, rich opportunities for learning and personal growth. There will be opportunities in e-learning and blended classrooms that will provide high-impact learning experiences.
New opportunities will surface in service learning, internships, learning communities and study abroad. Service learning and internships will teach through experience to deepen students’ knowledge of their world as they apply their scholarship in real-world settings. Students will give back to the broader community as mature citizens. Learning communities will engage students through liberal arts experiences that ask “big questions,” ethically and professionally. An expanded study abroad program will help students to experience different cultures and stimulate reflection on race, equity, freedom, liberty and civility.
Professional development opportunities will help all employees to promote continuous student learning, in and out of the classroom.
In the future, the Community of Christ Seminary can support the church throughout the world by providing opportunities for professional and lay ministers and members to grow spiritually and to develop mature and thoughtful ethical commitments and theological understanding.
The future offers exciting educational opportunities for student success that Graceland must capture. This will take investment. The challenge is to continue to increase Graceland’s endowment and revenue streams to surround our students with the best facilities, technology and programs. None of this will come easily, but I have learned that Graceland’s alumni and friends do not shy away from a challenge. We can be successful with “The Power of Together.”
It is because of these experiences that I am certain that Graceland’s best days are ahead of us.
Thank you for giving me the privilege of serving as the president of Graceland University.
"I have been deeply blessed by the opportunity to be a part of Graceland for 19 years - as a faculty member, a member of the Executive Council and as Predsident. My three children are Graceland alumni. My wife was a professor of art here. We are a Graceland family. Being the President of Graceland University is an incredible privilege."
"John has always cared deeply for students. When they succeed, his eyes light up and he can not contain his smile. When they suffer, his sorrow is apparent. In his heart of hearts, John is a person who loves people."
-- Dave Schaal, MA '80
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students
“John has been one of the most thoughtful, kind and caring people I have ever worked for in my career. He understood the challenges of being a working mom and always let me be a mom first, which meant the world to me and my family.”
-- Jodi Seymour, Executive Assistant to the President and
Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trustees
“The lesson from John that will stay with me forever: ‘Don’t give up’ and ‘Try, try again.’ If something doesn’t work, try something else. Think differently. He taught me not to give up on people, even our worst critics. I absorbed that message by watching him never give up.”
-- Kathleen Clauson Bash, PhD Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness
“In John’s 10 years at Graceland,
he has been tasked with finding ways to reduce the annual budget (or increase revenue) by almost $8 million. It is amazing to me that over the same period of time, he traveled extensively to meet with donors and helped raise $90 million!”
-- Kelly Everett, BA ’77, Vice President for Institutional Advancement
“John reads everything. Years from now, I’m still going to be finding issues of The Economist on my desk, highlighted at the passages he wants me to read.”
-- R. Paul Davis, MA ’81, Vice President of Business Services
"We shall never forget the joy we have shared, and will continue to cherish the time we’ve spent as part of the inspiring Graceland family."
-- John Sellars, President