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Joint graduation ceremony for Evangel University and AGTS to be held on May 2

Published on Apr 29, 2024 by Erin Hedlun

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri – Evangel University and its embedded seminary, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, will host a joint graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

The 66th annual commencement ceremony for Evangel will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Great Southern Bank Arena (formerly JQH Arena) on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield.

The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary of Evangel University will celebrate its 51st annual commencement as part of the same ceremony. The schools were consolidated in 2013 and combined their graduations in 2018.

The university will celebrate 537 graduates earning 32 doctoral, 125 master, 329 bachelor, and 51 associate degrees. Of the graduate degrees, 68 master degrees and 16 doctoral degrees are conferred by AGTS. The majority of the associate degrees are from Evangel’s James River College campus.

The top five bachelor-level majors graduating from Evangel in 2024 are Elementary Education, Business Management, Allied Health, Healthcare, and Psychology.

The commencement ceremony will be live-streamed at

Admiral Vernon E. Clark, retired chief of naval operations for the United States Navy

Commencement speaker

Admiral Vernon E. Clark, retired chief of naval operations (CNO) for the United States Navy, will serve as the keynote commencement speaker.

Admiral Vernon E. Clark

Admiral Clark completed a distinguished 37-year Navy career in 2005. His Navy experience spans his early days in destroyers, early command in a patrol gunboat as a lieutenant, and concluded in the halls of the Pentagon as the chief of naval operations and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In between, over 50 percent of his career was in command positions, including three ships, two destroyer squadrons, the Atlantic Fleet’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center, a carrier battle group, the Second Fleet, NATO’s Striking Fleet, and the Atlantic Fleet. His career is also marked by an unusual amount of joint service. In the decade of the 1990s, he served seven of the 10 years in the joint and combined area, culminating in his assignment as the Director of the Joint Staff in Washington D.C.

Admiral Clark’s tenure as CNO was a period of significant change and renewed vision. He was the first CNO to be extended in office under the Goldwater-Nichols framework and is the second longest serving CNO in history. In 2002, he charted a course for the future by publishing “Sea Power 21,” a vision for the first part of the 21st century to exploit the advantages of operating from the world’s oceans. His number one priority was to “win the battle for people,” which led to the development of a 21st century human capital strategy and revolution of the training, development, and assignment processes within the Navy. The result was the best recruiting and retention in history. He forged an effort to build the Navy as an enterprise which would be able to compete in the 21st century marketplace, leading to billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayers of the nation and the highest operational readiness the Navy had witnessed in decades.

Admiral Clark has received numerous military decorations for his service, including four awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, three Navy Distinguished Medals, and three awards of the Legion of Merit. Along with his Navy and Joint awards, he was honored by Distinguished Service Medals received from the United States Army, United States Air Force, the United States Coast Guard, and international awards received from Germany, Italy, France, South Korea, Japan, Portugal, Singapore, and the Netherlands. Since his retirement, he has been honored with the Eisenhower Award from the Business Executives of North America, the Distinguished Sea Service Award from the Naval Order of the United States, and the Distinguished Service Medal of the Military Order of the World Wars.

Admiral Clark earned his undergraduate degree from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, and an MBA from the University of Arkansas. He has since received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Toledo, Old Dominion University, Northwest University, and Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Evangel University’s Veteran’s Center was named in his honor in 2015.



About Evangel University

Evangel University, with its embedded Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Spirit-led Christian university located in Springfield, Missouri. It is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Under the leadership of Dr. Mike Rakes, EU is committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally and becoming compassionate innovators in their chosen vocations. EU offers more than 70 degree programs, including cutting-edge majors, pre-professional programs, and affordable and flexible online degree options.

EU is highly regarded and has been ranked:

  • #1 Best College in Springfield & #2 Best Christian College in Missouri by Niche
  • US News & World Report Best Colleges Top Performer in Social Mobility
  • Colleges of Distinction Best Christian University
  • Top 10 Best Universities by
  • Third Most Beautiful Campus in the Midwest by Christian Colleges & Universities
  • Top 10 Best Colleges in Missouri by

With additional accreditations in business, counseling, music, social work, and theology and certification as an Excellence in Giving university, EU is focused on providing students with hands-on experience and real-world training for today’s professional careers. Learn more about the university at