On Sunday, May 2, Graceland awarded an honorary doctorate degree to Dr. Vincent E. Lewis, who also participated in the university’s commencement exercises as a guest speaker.
Dr. Vincent E. Lewis was destined to help others. Since middle school he’s been dedicated to community enrichment. The celebration and appreciation of diversity are essential in his life.
Lewis earned many awards and accolades, including the 2014 President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama and a place in Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame.
In high school he thrived in football and wrestling. Instead of a scholarship he received a draft notice, enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Vietnam. Lewis said the experience increased his focus and motivation, but he was still determined to get a college education.
Lewis returned home and earned bachelor’s degrees in elementary and special education from Drake University. While teaching, in the area of his hometown, Des Moines, he completed masters and specialist degrees in education and a doctorate in administration and counseling.
Lewis spent 39 years serving Des Moines public schools, 22 of them in administration. He taught graduate classes at Graceland University, Drake University, and Des Moines Area 11 Educational Agency. He offers workshops on parenting, classroom discipline, diversity and human relations in a non-confrontational atmosphere where participants have a safe space to discuss preconceptions or misperceptions about those who are different from themselves.
“I always found it extremely rewarding and gratifying. That is why I did it then and continue to serve,” he says. Service has also led him to community boards, committees, and ministry.
Since his baptism in 1977, church has played a major role in Vince’s life. He has served many roles within Community of Christ. In 2015 he began a five-year service as Mission Center President and CFO for the Lamoni Heartland Mission Center, overseeing 21 congregations throughout Missouri and Iowa.
Lewis previously directed youth programs for Children and Families Urban Ministries, an inner-city community-based youth and family program, but since retiring, still mentors several boys.
Lewis’ other passion is woodworking, expressing the beauty he finds in diversity. He uses two or more tones of wood in his projects and doesn’t stain, preferring the natural beauty of the wood, which is within every human being.
“Dr. Lewis has long been a supporter of Graceland University and an incredible educator throughout Iowa,” said Graceland President Patricia H. Draves, PhD. “Our school is proud to honor him in this way and to have him as one of our guest speakers for our commencement ceremony.”
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