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Graceland Mourns President Emeritus Joe Hanna


Press Release

February 11, 2021

Higdon Administration Building with photo of Joe Hanna

Joe E. Hanna, EdD, who served as Graceland President from 1980-84, has passed away. Hanna was born Aug. 3, 1934, in York, Nebraska. He died Feb. 10.

Hanna graduated with an associate degree from Graceland in 1954. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1956 and a Master of Science in Secondary Education in 1961 – both from the University of Omaha-Nebraska. He then completed a Doctor of Education from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1965.

Hanna applied his science and math background in the petroleum engineering field before switching to education. He taught junior high math for four years before joining the Omaha Public Schools system in 1963 as director of K-12 curriculum and assistant superintendent. In 1969, he began an 11-year tenure as associate superintendent for Omaha Public Schools.

Hanna returned to Graceland as its 12th president in August 1980. During his four years in that position, he led Graceland through the construction of Shaw Center and the initiation of the college’s first major fundraising campaign.

Hanna left Graceland in April 1984. He returned to Nebraska and became an appointed officer of the Omaha Board of Education, acting as the board’s secretary and chief financial officer. He retired from that position in 1991 and became a clinical professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Hanna was granted president emeritus status by Graceland University Feb. 17, 2007. The Graceland University flag is flying at half-staff to honor him and his contributions to the university.


Read the obituary for Graceland President Emeritus Joe E. Hanna here.

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