Each year, Grace University faculty select the graduating man and woman who exemplify well-balanced Christian character, outstanding scholarship, and spiritual leadership consistent with the high ideals of Grace University.
As the winners of this important award, Hunter McNeel, Christian Ministry, and Elisa Castillo, Music Education, were presented with a symbol of the Servant Leadership pyramid of Grace University for showing strong evidence of the following seven characteristics:
- A biblically literate student.
- A critical thinker.
- An obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.
- An engaging citizen.
- A compassionate leader.
- A global Christian.
- An equipped professional.
As part of the award process, recipients shared how Grace University helped transform them and identified some of these distinctives that have come true in their lives.
Hunter shared, “There is nothing that our God cannot do. I have met people from around this world; and with all these people I hear the LORD’s love for them and His plan for them. God is moving around the world in ways beyond us, and I thank God for giving me such globally minded people at Grace to show me this awesome God that I am getting to know.”
Elisa followed with, “If I could summarize the greatest thing I learned during my time at Grace I would say: I learned that only someone who is an obedient disciple of Jesus, who has a surrendered heart, can experience abundant life, the kind of life God intends for us to have. And it is only when we have that kind of heart that other good goals, such as being biblically literate or an equipped professional, make total sense and can be fully met.”
This special award was established to honor Donald J. Tschetter who embodied the University’s mission and faithfully served the Lord at Grace University for 49 years from 1958 through 2007. In honor of their father, the children of Donald J. Tschetter presented the recipients with a financial award.
The summer months are normally quiet months for academic institutions—but not so at Grace University. The Trustee Board has taken decisive action to reemphasize Grace’s historic mission and to “right the ship” of Grace financially. To that end, the Board has appointed Dr. John Holmes as Interim President. John has been a professor at Grace, served as Academic Vice President and is a gifted teacher and communicator. John is a breath of fresh air in terms of leadership. The Board has also asked Bill Bauhard, a retired Omaha businessman, to serve in the role as Chief Executive Officer, overseeing personnel, finance and operational issues at Grace. Bill has served on the Board of Trustees and also as Grace’s Executive Vice President. Bill brings a sharp mind and proven skills, so necessary in dealing with the financial challenges facing Grace. It is exciting to see two such gifted men assuming these crucial roles at Grace. Please be in prayer for both of them.
One further note: The Board has also begun re-organizing and retooling itself as the governing board of Grace. Carlon Tschetter, Grace graduate and senior pastor of Covenant Community Church near Oklahoma City, is the new chairman of the board. Carlon brings a passion for Grace, for its mission and for its future. Please also be in prayer for Carlon and the rest of the Board.
Finally, you, our partners in the mission of Grace University, also play a strategic role in “righting the ship” of Grace. As I mentioned, please pray for these leaders and for our faculty and staff in this time of transition. We all need God’s grace and enablement. Would you also pray for our students, both returning and those newly enrolled at Grace? The faculty is as committed as ever to pursuing “academic excellence and life change” with our students. Your financial support is an essential component in all of this. Please be as generous as you can with your financial support. On behalf of our leadership team, our faculty and staff, and our students, thank you for your eternally significant investment!
In His mighty grasp,
James P. Eckman, Ph.D.
President Emeritus, Grace University
Dear fellow classmates, former students and friends:
I am excited to let you know that during the recent Board of Trustees meeting the Trustees voted unanimously to appoint me as the interim president of Grace University. I accepted the position with eager anticipation. You may be aware that we are undergoing a period of transformation at Grace. But you are not aware of the many things that God is doing behind the scenes to launch us into a stable future. More on that later (but it is really exciting). We are not just looking to survive in the difficult landscape of Christian higher education, but our goal is to thrive.
Many of you have sat in class next to me, been taught by me, or served with me. Some of you have been backpacking and/or rock climbing with me. You know my commitment to Christ, His amazing grace, this school and my passion for its mission. The past few months have been challenging at Grace University and we have been blessed to see God move in what I would call specific and unusual ways. Chuck Swindoll once said, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” We truly have a great opportunity before us as we analyze and restructure the University so that we can continue to train and develop the next generation of servant leaders.
Over the next few months, you will be receiving updates from Dr. Jim Eckman, president emeritus, and me asking for your support in tangible and intangible ways. I ask that you serve, pray and give as the Lord moves. When Paul spoke to the Church in Corinth, he reminded them “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Paul’s words are relevant to us today. As you hear news from Grace, can I count on you to stand firm with us in our mission and continue with us in the kingdom work that we have been faithfully engaged in for the last 73 years?
I am optimistic about our future. Our leadership team has responsive hearts, the technical skills, and history with the school to serve our historic mission well. The students I have had in my classes recently have been great examples of the servant leaders we seek to produce. I am humbled and excited about the task set before us and thank you in advance for your support and prayers. This ministry has been going strong for almost 75 years, and I cannot wait to see how God moves in the next 75 years (even if I’m not around to witness it).
For His kingdom,
John D. Holmes, Th.M., Ph.D.