Isaac Pressnell

Commitment to Community
Graceland Faculty
Isaac Pressnell

"For most of my career, I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. I write pretty accessible, straight-forward narrative poems.”

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Enactus - Corn Flakes


Enactus is an international nonprofit organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

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Greg Sutherland

Graceland Forever
Greg Sutherland

Sitting in certain places on “the Hill” over the past 40 years, you have probably heard the steady sound of solid footsteps; a distinct walk amplified by the cowboy boots worn every day by a man who is just as steady and solid.

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John Sellars - Horizons Summer 2016"Always leave a place better than you found it."

At the Board of Trustees meeting this spring, I announced that I will be retiring as Graceland president the summer of 2017. In my career, I have been blessed to work as a chief financial officer, a Bishop for the Community of Christ, and a development officer at several different universities. Each of these experiences has been important in my life, but serving as the president of Graceland has been special. It has been a joy to come to work each day with colleagues who see their work as service, a ministry, a life calling, not just a job. I have witnessed so many Graceland colleagues who love the students and go the extra mile to nurture and empower them.

As I climb the stairs in the Higdon Administration Building every day, I look at the photographs of past Graceland presidents and hope that I have not disappointed them. My father was a scout master for over 20 years, and I can hear his words streaming through my mind, “Always leave a place better than you found it.” My hope is that I am leaving Graceland better than I found it. Your support has made it possible to rejuvenate the Graceland campus to the pride of our faculty, staff and students. All of us together have made it possible to strengthen Graceland’s academic programs and to become a first-tier academic institution. Graceland graduates’ starting salaries are the second highest among the three public and twenty-eight private institutions in Iowa. This attests to the quality of our academic programs.

You will be pleased with the quality of our faculty as you read this issue. This is just a representative group, but they are an indication of the committed and competent faculty at Graceland. While more needs to be done on growing Graceland’s endowment to ensure a stable financial future, we have made progress here also. In my reflections of the last nine years, I can conjure up budget meetings, the chilly winter nights when the steam pipes broke, cold and rainy homecoming football games, and complaints from alumni about inappropriate words in the school play. Yet, much stronger memories are of the confident faces of well-prepared students as they walk across the platform to receive their degree. My prayers go with each one of them.

I have been deeply blessed by the opportunity for 19 years to be a part of Graceland as a faculty member, a member of the Executive Council and as president. My three children are Graceland alumni. My wife was a professor of art at Graceland. We are a Graceland family.

Thank you for this opportunity.  May God’s gracious Spirit be with you.

John Sellars, PhD, CPA

Harry J. Ashenhurst, PhD - Horizons Summer 2016Preparing Global Citizens

It was my privilege – and I do mean privilege – to address the graduates at Graceland’s first midyear commencement in December. I chose to focus on a theme that has captured my attention as an important consideration for the university: How can Graceland prepare students to be citizens in a global world?

Many of Graceland’s graduates already demonstrate a global awareness. Organizations and programs like Outreach International and HealthEd Connect link classroom instruction with families in some of the world’s poorest and remote villages in Africa, Central America, India, Nepal and the Philippines. For those who participate, the experiences are indeed life changing. How can an institution think strategically to make similar opportunities available to more or even all of its students?

We must be good citizens in our local communities and in our nation, but, as the world gets smaller and smaller, we need to think seriously about the requirements of global citizenship as well. First, citizens of the world value culture, our own and the culture of others. Graceland has, from its beginning, stressed the worth of all persons, religious freedom, the rule of law and equality before the law. We cannot stop with our own values system, however. We must stretch to understand the values of others who do not share our priorities or the ways we express them.

Second, being citizens of the world requires that we value human diversity. All people have hopes and fears. We may learn, love deeply and dream in different ways, but that need not be an impediment. In fact, when we can be open to diversity, we can expand our own understanding and perspectives through sharing with those who seem different.

Third, citizens of the world must value learning, not just in school but throughout our lifetime. Learning is one of Graceland’s core values. Learning must not be confined to the classroom only and end at commencement, but exist in every dimension of our lives: intellectual, social, physical and spiritual. In a world of constant change, we must be open to new ways of seeing.

We have every right to be proud of our graduates. Our prayers and blessing go with you, graduates all, and may you do your part to remake the world in the image of community that has loved and nurtured you this far.

Harry J. Ashenhurst, PhD
Chair, Board of Trustees

Graceland mailboxesGraceland Memories!
Remember the Graceland mailboxes?

Now you can have your own GU mailbox.

All proceeds will go to the Alumni Endowed Scholarship fund.
Artist Tim Sundell ’09, who benefited from the Alumni Endowed Scholarship while he attended Graceland, was happy to hand craft the boxes for his alma mater.

Each handmade hardwood mailbox is branded with the Graceland University logo and features those little glass doors with combination locks that we all loved. Mailboxes will be available for purchase on a first-come basis at homecoming and supplies are limited. Own a piece of Graceland history. 
“Retrace your memories” at homecoming. Purchase a GU mailbox as a souvenir and support the Alumni Endowed Scholarship fund.

For more information email Paula Anderson at