Online university invites hundreds of its students from throughout the country to come together for traditional graduation ceremony

Kansas City, Mo. - August 5, 2014 - This is not your average college graduation. Sure, friends and families will travel long distances to show support for a college graduate, but at Grantham University's Commencement, many of the graduates are coming together for the first time... and it's August, not May. This online university takes pride in providing a traditional graduation for its non-traditional students who attended classes online.

An accredited online university serving working adults around the world many of whom have military service, Grantham University will recognize its Class of 2014 associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates at its annual commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, in the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom.

Speakers include war hero, naval officer, attorney, and former government executive, Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. (United States Navy, Ret.), and Dr. Leah Matthews, executive director of the Distance Education Training Center (DETC), a non-profit educational association located in Washington, D.C.

A decorated war hero, Alvarez was flying a retaliatory air strike against naval targets in North Vietnam on Aug. 5, 1964, when anti-aircraft fire crippled his A-4 fighter-bomber, forcing him to eject over water at low altitude. Following his capture, Alvarez endured brutal physical and mental torture by the North Vietnamese as a prisoner of war (POW) for 8½ years, until the general release of the American prisoners in February 1973. He’s best known to the public as the first American aviator shot down and one of the longest held POWs in North Vietnam. His inspirational tale of survival is detailed in two books he co-authored: Chained Eagle: The Heroic Story of the First American Shot Down over North Vietnam, and Code of Conduct. Alvarez holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Santa Clara, a master’s degree in systems operations and research from U.S. Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., and a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C. He has had executive leadership positions with the Peace Corps and the Veterans Administration, nominated for both by President Ronald Regan. He founded Alvarez & Associates, an information technology consulting firm, in Washington, D.C., in 2005.

Dr. Matthews’ experience in higher education and accreditation includes three years as vice president for Recognition Services at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and 12 years as director of accreditation and compliance at the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, overseeing accreditation processes for approximately 750 post-secondary career and technical institutions. She earned a bachelor's in music from Westminster College, an MPA from the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D. from George Mason University. As executive director, Dr. Matthews oversees the DETC’s Accrediting Commission, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). DETC was founded in 1926 to promote sound educational standards and ethical business practices in distance learning. With its 88 years of history service to distance learning students, the DETC Accrediting Commission accredits 110 distance education institutions offering associate through professional doctoral degrees to more than 2.5 million students.

Grantham University’s dedication to serving military students and veterans is reflected in its 2014 graduating class. Over half of the expected 265 participants are currently serving or have served in the United States Armed Forces. Graduates in this year’s class reside as far away as Germany and Hawaii.

“Graduates and attendees at this year’s commencement ceremony will certainly be motivated by Commander Alvarez’s history of heroism and survival during his service in Vietnam,” said Joseph McGrath, Grantham University’s president. “He garnered the respect of fellow POWs then, and overcame obstacles to conduct an impressive career in government and business. We’re thrilled that he’ll be part of our graduation ceremonies this year.”

Grantham University has called the Kansas City area home since 2005 when it relocated its campus from just outside of New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The University, which currently employs more than 350 staff, offers 100 percent online undergraduate and graduate degree programs to students worldwide. Spurred by growth, the University relocated its campus from the north Kansas City area to Lenexa, Kan., in March.

For more information about Grantham University’s 100 percent online certificate and degree programs, visit: call 1-800-955-2527.

About Grantham University:

Established in 1951, Grantham University specializes in accredited online associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as certificate programs. Grantham’s program offerings include: Accounting, Business, Human Resources, Criminal Justice, Computer Science, Cybersecurity Concepts, Engineering Technology, Allied Health, Information Technology, Performance Improvement and Nursing. Accredited since 1961 by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council, Grantham University has a distinguished record as a respected and accredited distance learning university spanning six decades of service to education. The Mark Skousen School of Business at Grantham University has been awarded the status of Candidate for Accreditation by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).