In the Fall 2022, Graceland University enrolled its first students in a series of brand-new classes in leadership, digital citizenship, social responsibility, and health and wholeness. These courses are an important part of the newest major in Graceland’s academic arsenal: Transformational Leadership. The Transformational Leadership major is a bonus for all new Graceland students – a second major that all will receive in addition to their traditional major in a discipline of their choice.
Leadership is central to Graceland’s culture. Students can gain leadership experience as soon as they arrive on campus. In the Transformational Leadership program, the University provides students with these additional practical skills designed to give them the tools they need to be successful adults and leaders in their careers and their communities. Leadership is something that Graceland knows well; it has nurtured leaders for many years, and with the introduction of the Transformational Leadership major, the University is innovating its academic model once again.
Devan Ramsey, a freshman men’s volleyball player and psychology major from Las Vegas, Nev. took two courses during the fall 2022 semester. He said, “I believe adding this major can benefit a lot of students here. Graceland has a very diverse community with people from all over the world, and because of that diversity, having the students take these courses for Transformational Leadership can further enhance skills needed with modern technology and daily interactions with different students.”
In 2021, Graceland University launched a new strategic framework to adapt to the changing needs of today’s college students called Blue, Gold & Bold. One of the pillars of the framework was a challenge to redefine and revolutionize the classroom. Faculty worked hard in the spring and summer of 2022 to streamline their majors and the university’s general education requirements, while a cross-functional team of faculty and staff developed a series of courses on Life and Leadership. Another team designed three strategic skills courses – Health & Wholeness, Social Responsibility, and Digital Citizenship.
“Graceland built these new courses specifically with today’s students in mind,” said Joel Shrock, PhD, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty. “Employers regularly talk about how important it is for students to be able to think critically and to communicate effectively. We also think graduates should be ethical and empathetic. The Transformational Leadership major helps develop all of those skills.”
Grace Testerman is a freshman track and field athlete from Kansas City, Mo. studying psychology and pediatric physical therapy. Her favorite course last semester was the Health and Wholeness strategic skills section. “I look forward to that class because I love fitness and learning how to better my athletic performance as well as my personal physical and mental health. I will be incorporating these important lessons into my life,” she said.
Testerman continued, “I wasn’t sure about Transformational Leadership coming to Graceland, but as I’ve taken the courses and found meaning in them, I’m so grateful that I will have that major in addition to my areas of study because it will help me get a job in the future.”
Graceland has taken many actions to revolutionize and redefine its classrooms, from streamlining all its majors to integrating leadership and success skills into its nursing curriculum. All these changes are designed with students in mind, aiming to prepare them for a life of inquiry, analysis, discovery, problem-solving, effective communication, and innovation. Graceland’s faculty connect knowledge gained in the classroom with choices and actions students may be faced with in life, leading them through learning opportunities using real-world problems that prepare them to be more engaged in all areas of their life.
“The world needs more transformational leaders – dynamic, empathetic, and collaborative problem solvers. Through coursework, leadership opportunities, and strategic skills, Graceland students will be set on a path to success with a foundational education and experience that will propel them into future careers that have not yet been imagined.” – Patricia H. Draves, PhD, Graceland University President