Caitlyn Jenner speaks about gender and identity.

Town Hall Meeting: Privilege

University campuses are vital venues for initiating and discussing societal change. Graceland is no exception and held a second Town Hall Meeting, based on the California State University, Chico Town Hall Meeting format, in December 2015 focused on privilege.

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GU40 student mentors

GU4U Mentoring Program Evolves

One of Graceland’s distinctions is the family of alumni who genuinely want to help their fellow Gracelander. Connecting current students to alumni isn’t a new idea, but coordinating the pairing through GU4U is a renewed effort. 

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A strong men's soccer program

Graceland Soccer Program Stays Strong

Graceland University freshman Gerardo Salgado came to Graceland specifically because of the soccer program. “I had heard about Graceland’s strong program and knew of their national championship; it helped to give Graceland the advantage when I was considering where I wanted to go to college.”

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John sellars

Graceland Forever! "We'll carry on til victory is won."

In 1925, Warren McElwain wrote “Graceland Forever.” Never mind that the 30-year-old college was struggling financially at the time with an uncertain future. The rousing words and rhythms of “Graceland Forever” let loyal fans shout to the world their love for all things Graceland. We still sing that song today, 90 years later, with the same enthusiasm: “Graceland Forever!” 

We commit ourselves to support those causes that connect us with our deepest values. For many, Graceland University embodies those values. We recently celebrated the over-the-top closing of the “Graceland Forever” capital campaign seven years in the making — $77,147,709 on a $75 million goal — the most successful campaign in Graceland’s history! As impressive as the total itself, a second campaign triumph is that, among the alumni we can still contact, over 60 percent made contributions to it. A participation rate of over 60 percent is one of the highest alumni percentages in higher education anywhere! Is there greater proof that something happens to students here on campus that continues to resonate within them “for years and decades long to come?” Graceland forever indeed!

Here are the major areas that benefited from the successful campaign: 

  • $24 million for major facility renovations across campus, including (listed chronologically) Resch Science and Technology Hall, Shaw Center, Thomas and Small Apartments, and the Fitzgerald Fitness Center
  • $12 million in student scholarship support and student programs that have made it possible for students to successfully complete their degrees
  • $5 million for professional development and endowed chairs.
  • Additional funding to special programs, operating budget and other needs
  • $20 million-plus was committed through estate gifts with a large percentage of those funds someday going into the endowment 

Graceland’s biggest need today is a larger endowment, and we are planning to address that with an endowment campaign in the future. The success of our recent campaign projects us into that future
with confidence.

We celebrate not only the dollars the campaign raised, but what those dollars represent: an affirmation of loyal support from those whose lives have been deeply enriched by the “Graceland Experience.” Like the song says, “We’ll carry on till victory is won; O Graceland, we’re all for you.” 


John Sellars, PhD, CPA

Pictured above: Bob Radford, Jodi Seymour and
President Sellars at the campaign closing celebration.
The Independence Campus hosted the campaign
celebration and the following board meeting on
February 5-7, 2016. 


"Graceland Forever"

Harry AshenhurstWhen I think of “Graceland Forever,” one of the people who comes to mind is President George Briggs who led the University an amazing twenty-nine years, from 1915 to 1944. His picture hangs in (you guessed it) Briggs Hall. Think of the challenges that Graceland faced during those years – two world wars and the Great Depression and the social, economic and political changes they brought with them. With young men being called into service, it was a challenge to keep up enrollment. The depression made it hard for families to come up with tuition dollars and for the sponsoring church to provide financial support. The college had a desperate time paying the bills and, in some months, it simply couldn’t.

In spite of the challenges, Graceland under President Briggs’ leadership remarkably not only survived but made some remarkable progress. In 1917, two years after Briggs assumed his office, Graceland became the first junior college in Iowa to earn academic accreditation. The campus itself was transformed with the construction of three major buildings: Walker Hall,  Zimmermann Hall and Briggs Hall. Through it all, he kept new students coming through the doors. And that’s just the short list of Briggs’ achievements.

Thanks to the commitment, the loyalty and the focus on the long term of President George Briggs, we can continue to sing “Graceland Forever” today. There is a special Graceland DNA imbedded in and transmitted through a community of people who contribute to that “Forever” success. Student tuition pays only a small fraction of the cost on providing the unique educational experience here. Graceland exists because of the support of alumni and friends who make up the rest of that financial base. They believe in our mission. They believe in our values. And they believe in the learning community that transforms the lives of our students.

We have so many people to thank for keeping “Graceland Forever” alive and fresh. We will always face challenges and change, but we believe in the Graceland DNA that can transform those challenges into opportunities to build and grow our special community. For alumni and friends, Graceland will always be a place where we can “come home.” It will also be a crucible for the development of the leaders of our future.

Thank you, President Briggs. Thank you to all of you who continue to support this enduring institution. “Graceland Forever” indeed. 


Harry J. Ashenhurst, PhD, Chair
Board of Trustees