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Honoring Barbara Higdon


Administration and Staff, Faculty, Press Release

May 10, 2012

Honoring Barbara Higdon

Two very special events to honor the life and legacy of former Graceland University President Barbara J. Higdon will be held on May 18, the Friday before Graceland’s Commencement Convocation on Sunday May 20. Barbara passed away December 30, 2011 at age 81.

The Peace Studies Committee at Graceland is sponsoring a banquet Friday evening, the 18th, featuring internationally-known, investigative journalist Amy Goodman. Ms. Goodman hosts the hard-hitting radio, TV and Web-based news program called Democracy Now. She has won a variety of prestigious awards for pursuing peace and justice with her penetrating interviews of government officials and newsmakers around the world.

You won’t want to miss this evening of celebration of the life and Legacy of Peace of one of the most prominent and influential Gracelanders in the university’s long history. Advance reservations are required for the 6:30 p.m. banquet on the 18th. Reservations must be secured by May 8 and can be made online at: Please make your reservations early. This event will take place in the Memorial Student Center Main Room on Graceland’s Lamoni, IA campus.

Ms. Goodman, whose work also establishes a legacy of peace, will speak immediately following the banquet. Proceeds from the event will support ongoing efforts by Graceland’s Peace Studies Committee. For more information on Amy Goodman, please go to

A Separate Memorial Service Set for 3 p.m.

Earlier that same day, Friday, May 18 at 3 p.m., Barbara’s family will host a special service in memory of Barbara’s life and legacy. That service, separate from the banquet and special guest speaker that evening at Graceland, will take place at Community of Christ Church, 531 W. Main St. in Lamoni. The Higdon family welcomes everyone to attend this service. Many people from our region knew and loved Barbara, and she was known by many peace seekers from around the world. This service will be a celebration of a life that positively touched thousands of lives.

Barbara was Graceland’s 13th president, our first full-time woman president, serving from April 16, 1984 to December 31, 1991. She was known as an innovative leader and as a president who was not afraid to make tough decisions. She also taught English at Graceland and earned the high respect of her students. She achieved another first in 1986 when she and Graceland educator Velma Ruch became the first women to be ordained to the RLDS priesthood, now Community of Christ priesthood, on campus.

Dr. Higdon worked for peace by focusing on root causes of disharmony and inequality. She believed that education was an initial step toward addressing problems of mistrust, discrimination and poverty. In her capacity as Graceland, Barbara was instrumental in creating the Peace Studies program, began student exchanges with Hungary and Bulgaria, helped launch the Chance Program that offers educational support for students at academic risk, helped initiate the now internationally-known Graceland Outreach Nursing Program and developed Graceland University’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Higdon was also instrumental in the founding of several significant peace-building organizations including Outreach International, an organization working to end poverty by creating self-sufficiency through sustainable development; the RLDS Temple Peace Center, now the Peace and Justice ministries of Community of Christ; and Community of Christ Seminary, which is committed to the preparation of Christian leaders for mission through ministries of proclamation, justice, peace and reconciliation in religious, educational, political and public settings.

Make plans now to attend both of these important and joyful events. Let us all celebrate the pursuit of peace, in honor of Barbara Higdon.


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