Patricia H. Draves, PhD, was inaugurated as Graceland University’s 18th president Friday morning, Oct. 13. The event was the culmination of a week of inaugural celebrations and opened the annual homecoming festivities for members and friends of the Graceland community.
In attendance were members of the Graceland Board of Trustees; the Alumni Board; Graceland faculty, staff and students; the Lamoni community; homecoming visitors; representatives of the Community of Christ, Graceland’s sponsoring church; as well as delegates from 12 Iowa colleges and universities, the Iowa College Foundation and SkillPath, a continuing education division of Graceland University. The Shaw Family Auditorium in Shaw Center on Graceland’s Lamoni campus was standing room only.
Honored by many, President Draves’ sister MaryBeth Holland O’Hearn, Esq, delivered a humorous yet impressed story of Draves’ journey to become Graceland’s 18th president, offering the ways her sister has created her own success. O’Hearn highlighted Draves’ life rules to work hard, have fun, show up early and enjoy curiosity and adventure.
“Pat’s values are eternal values: hardworking, preparation, balance, service, sharing, kindness, family, generosity and love,” said O’Hearn. “My sister – your president – does not just have these values, she lives them. She does them. She performs them. She practices them… every single day.”
Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Brian White, spoke of Graceland’s history to create an environment in which people come to be educated as a means to change the world, and offered President Draves an emotional welcome home.
“A wise person once mentioned to me that in the midst of all of this really important work we do, we might as well have some fun, and that person was you,” shared White as he turned to President Draves. He then welcomed her to “The Power of Together” with two breakdowns of the word together: the old English origin of the word, gather, with fellowship and community, and then a simpler version in his final statement, “the word together is just made up of three basic words – to, get, her – and we got you, and you got us, and we are incredibly fortunate.”
The celebration included musical performances by the Graceland Jazz Combo, Associate Professor of Music Jack Ergo, the Graceland Choirs, and the attending guests joined the Graceland Concert Choir in two song fetes.
The service was emotional at times and often filled with laughter, a sentiment to the personability President Draves has brought with her to her presidency, and this sentiment is echoed by other Graceland leaders.
“Dr. Draves brings the experience, energy and spirit needed to lead the university on our continued path of growth and success.” –Harry J. Ashenhurst, PhD, Chair, Board of Trustees
“The search committee did an excellent job of selecting Dr. Draves as Graceland’s next president. Pat brings a unique set of skills that will move Graceland forward.” –John D. Sellars, PhD, President Emeritus
President Patricia H. Draves - BIO
Inaugural Address transcript - LINK