Board of Regents announces 2011 awardees

Honorary degrees, awards, medals to be presented beginning this week
By Staff

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has announced its list of award recipients for 2011. Those honored will receive their degrees, awards or medals at commencement ceremonies beginning Friday, May 6, at the University of Colorado Boulder.


Honorary Degree

  • Paul Frank Baum has made a number of fundamental contributions to mathematics. The Baum-Connes conjecture unified several distinct areas of mathematics and served as the impetus of research for at least a generation of mathematicians. Baum prepared eight Ph.D. students, a number of whom went on to have distinguished careers in academia and industry. Baum was appointed an Evan Pugh Professor at the Pennsylvania State University, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the university on the faculty member. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)
  • Don Birkeland has worked as a consultant and adviser to top leaders from all over the world, including the king of Saudi Arabia, former television news anchor Tom Brokaw and "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortensen. He worked as a professor for the University of Colorado Colorado Springs for more than nine years, starting in early 1971. He taught various courses in psychology, including organizational psychology. Birkeland held positions of chairman of the department of psychology and assistant dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He is widely respected and valued for his contributions to his profession. He regularly visits UCCS and is in the process of assisting the campus in developing educational partnerships in the Middle East. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Colorado Colorado Springs Commencement – May 20)
  • Eleanor "Ellie" Newman Caulkins has greatly affected various organizations including The Children's Hospital in Denver, Graland County Day School, Opera Colorado, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the National Patron Program. Her hard work and enthusiasm for the arts, particularly opera, were recognized by naming the opera house in downtown Denver after her. She is an avid and relentless advocate for a number of causes including education, youth sports, culture and health care. Her gifts and fundraising efforts have been vital to a number of community causes. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Colorado Denver Commencement – May 14)
  • Theodora (Theo) Emily Decker Colborn, has become a world leader in the environmental movement to educate people about the danger of trace chemicals in everyday products, food and water. Colborn's outstanding intellect and her devotion to public service have been recognized nationally and internationally. She has published more than 70 scientific papers and the book "Our Stolen Future." From Paonia, Colborn is a strong voice for Coloradans in preserving the quality of life the state has historically represented.(Honorary Degree Doctor of Science, University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)
  • Gerald Emil Grilly is a leader in journalism and publishing and the current president and CEO of The Denver Post. Since Grilly returned from retirement to take the helm, The Post has expanded its product portfolio to include digital and social media and niche publications along with its core newspaper product. Beginning in 1998, Grilly served as president and publisher of The Post. In 2001 and until he retired in 2006, Grilly was executive vice president and CEO of MediaNews Group, responsible for more than 50 daily and more than 100 weekly and alternative publications. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Colorado Denver Commencement – May 14) 
  • R.C. "Merc" Mercure is an icon in the Colorado business community. He was co-founder of Ball Aerospace and co-founder of Colorado Venture Management. He oversaw the startup of over two dozen Colorado companies. Mercure served in several high-level faculty and administrative positions in the engineering school at CU-Boulder. He also served as the director of Technology Transfer for CU. Mercure has been on the board of the Boulder Innovation Center for more than a decade. He has served as the chair of University Equity Holdings and serves on the CU-Boulder Engineering Advisory Council and the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Advisory Board. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Science, University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Dec. 16)
  • Bernard W. Nelson, M.D. was a dedicated and visionary chancellor of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center from 1986-1992. His leadership in the reorganization of the University of Colorado Hospital created an organization that became fiscally stable, which made possible the subsequent development of the Anschutz Medical Campus. He formalized the affiliation between the university and The Children's Hospital. He served in multiple board of director and trustee positions, was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the Board of Regents University Medal in 1992. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Science, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Commencement – May 27)
  • Juan A. Rodriguez has made outstanding contributions to the field of data storage. He holds nine crucial patents that were key in developing data storage technology for IBM, Storage Technology Corp. and Exabyte. Rodriguez founded or co-founded four major companies in Boulder: Storage Technology, Exabyte, Datasonix and Ecris. Through these efforts, he has generated thousands of jobs and millions of dollars for the state of Colorado. Rodriguez has contributed generously to CU as a member of the Tech Transfer Office, E-ship Advisory Council, Deming Center Executive Board, College of Engineering Development Council and Artist Series Advisory Board. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Science, University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)
  • David H. Shepard is an internationally acclaimed film preservationist working with archivists worldwide to introduce new audiences to the value of silent cinema. Shepard continues to restore and preserve early films for future generations with well over 1,000 films distributed and shown internationally from his film library. He has a distinguished academic career including 34 years at the University of Southern California and also was director of the Louis B. Mayer Film and Television Study Center. Shepard produced documentaries for commercial and public television including the CBS/Post-Newsweek series "American Documents" and the PBS series "Lowell Thomas Remembers." He managed the theater and archive departments of the American Film Institute. Since 1983, he has been a voting member of the Academy Awards. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Colorado Denver Commencement – May 14)
  • Ted Turner is best known as the founder of CNN. Turner also brought his vision and creativity to conservation philanthropy, land stewardship and business enterprise. He has used his financial success and entrepreneurial determination to make the world a better place. In 1998, Turner founded the United Nations Foundation, with a donation of $1 billion. Currently, as a public citizen and conservationist, he personally lobbies members of Congress on the issues and travels the globe to persuade national leaders. Turner received the Wallace Stegner Award from the University of Colorado Boulder's Center of the American West. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Colorado Boulder – date to be determined)
  • Peter J. Wallison is a distinguished scholar in financial policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and co-director of the AEI program on financial market deregulation. Wallison is a distinguished attorney and authority on banking, securities and financial services law. He served as counsel to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller during the Ford administration, held the office of general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department and served as White House counsel to President Ronald Reagan. He has lectured frequently at the Aspen Institute and recently as the guest speaker at the Federalist Society of Denver. He is an appointed member of the Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)
  • Richard G. Weingardt is recognized internationally as a structural engineer with a wide range of impressive projects to his credit. He is chairman and CEO of the successful Denver-based consulting engineering firm he founded over four decades ago that bears his name. Weingardt's reputation is global, and he frequently lectures internationally. He is a third-generation Coloradan who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is a member of the College of Engineering advisory committees for the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Colorado Denver. He is engaged in community activities and is committed to promoting community service. Weingardt received the CU Board of Regents Distinguished Service Award in 1998. (Honorary Degree Doctor of Science, University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)

Distinguished Service Award

  • David C. Baker is CEO and president of FirstBank. Under his leadership, FirstBank has contributed more than $30 million to charitable organizations in Colorado. Baker also serves on numerous community and philanthropic organization boards, including Mile High United Way and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. An alumnus of CU Denver, Baker is an active member of the CU Denver Business School's board of advisers and is spearheading a fundraising campaign for the new CU Denver Business School building.(University of Colorado Denver School of Business – date to be determined)
  • James C.T. Linfield is a leading advocate for Colorado's entrepreneurs in high technology sectors. A graduate of the Harvard Law School, he is a partner-in-charge of the Colorado office of Cooley LLP and represents biotech, medical device, information technology and clean technology companies. He is a leader in promoting the state's research institutions, especially the University of Colorado, as engines of economic growth. He established the popular Biotechnology Opportunities Seminar Series at CU-Boulder and serves on the boards of CU's Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology and the CU Foundation. (University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)
  • Richard B. Williams is a champion for American Indian students in their pursuit of education. He is president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund in Denver. Under his leadership, the fund has grown into the largest national Native American nonprofit organization. With an endowment of more than $30 million, the fund supports scholarships for American Indian students attending tribally run and controlled community colleges. Prior to his current position, Williams was director of the Student Academic Service Center at CU-Boulder. (University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Dec. 16)


  • Gary Anderson is an alumnus of the CU-Boulder College of Engineering. His distinguished career in the engineering industry has spanned more than 30 years, and includes management positions at Storage Technology Corp., Honeywell and Optotech. Since retiring in 2001, Anderson has been an active supporter of CU, serving on CU-Boulder's Engineering Advisory Council as well as its chief fundraising advisory group, the Resource Development Committee. He also has served on the Engineering for Developing Communities Advisory Board and on the CU Foundation Board of Trustees (University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – May 11, 2012)
  • J. William Freytag is a successful entrepreneur and executive leader in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. He is former chairman and CEO of Myogen, a CU-based startup company. Freytag received his Ph.D. from Duke University Medical Center, has garnered five patents and authored more than 60 original scientific publications. As a passionate advocate for CU, he was instrumental in the success of the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, which partners bioscience entrepreneurs with the University of Colorado. University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)
  • Norris Hermsmeyer is a successful Boulder Realtor, Rotarian, veteran and renowned naval historian. He is responsible for several memorial recognitions of the USS Colorado throughout the state. A CU-Boulder alumnus, Hermsmeyer has served in a leadership capacity on many CU-Boulder committees, including the CU Alumni Board, CU Directors Club, and CU Friends of the Library Board. In 2002, he was recognized by the (Boulder) Daily Camera with a Pacesetter Award in the category of lifetime achievement. (University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)
  • Brian E. Lebowitz is a prominent Washington, D.C., attorney specializing in international and domestic tax matters. He recently presented CU-Boulder with the Brian E. Lebowitz Collection containing 19,000 volumes of first-edition, 20th century Jewish American literature. The gift is one of the largest of source materials made to CU-Boulder and will serve as the underpinnings of a teaching and research cluster in American Jewish literature and culture. (University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Dec. 16, 2011)
  • Mauritz A. "Mort" Mortenson, Jr. is a CU civil engineering graduate, former U.S. Navy officer and a leader in the construction industry. He is chairman of M. A. Mortenson Co., a construction corporation ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the 200 largest privately owned companies in the nation. Mortenson is well-known for his philanthropic activities. His commitment to CU includes the establishment of the Mortenson Chair in Global Engineering, and endowing the renamed Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities, which is designed to support students in CU-Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science. (University of Colorado Boulder Commencement – Friday, May 6)