Regents announce 2013 slate of awards honoring commitment, service

Contributions recognized with honorary degrees, awards, medals
By Staff

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has announced the 2013 honorary degree, distinguished service and university medal award recipients.


Peter Balsells, an innovator and entrepreneur, in the 1950s invented the spring-energized PTFE (Teflon) seal, a high-performance connector now known as the Bal Seal. The successful utilization of that seal for the liquid oxygen system in the Atlas Missile led Balsells to a successful business and spawned an industry. Balsell’s company, Bal Seal Engineering Inc., employs more than 500 people at two manufacturing sites. The company has a global presence and creates custom sealing, connecting and shielding solutions for a variety of industrial, medical and aerospace applications. Balsell is a distinguished alumnus of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU-Boulder. He has provided top-notch graduate engineering education to more than130 Catalan students through the Balsells Fellowship programs he founded and funded in partnership with the Catalan government and three U.S. institutions (UC-Irvine, CU-Boulder and UCCS). Balsells has been awarded approximately 200 patents. He’ll be recognized at the CU-Boulder commencement, May 9, 2014.

Gerald One Feather, a former graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, was elected Oglala Lakota tribal president in 1970, the youngest president in the tribe’s history. He is the founder of the Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, S.D.; a leader in the International Treaty Council at the United Nations; and the founder of Lakota Language and Cultural Education. One Feather forged the way for the creation of the Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation to provide job training for police officers, probation officers, health care workers and teachers. He enlisted the support of the University of Colorado to establish a model for American Indian education that became a model to create 26 such colleges on reservations around the country. One Feather serves as a member of the Oglala Lakota College Board and on the graduate advisory committee. His support is integral in CU’s continued research on critical health needs and other issues on the Pine Ridge Reservation. One Feather has been involved in the United Nations' work on indigenous rights worldwide. Will be recognized at the CU-Boulder commencement, May 10.

Darrell G. Kirch, a Denver native, received his bachelor of arts and doctor of medicine degrees from the University of Colorado. He is a clinician and researcher and has held medical faculty positions at Penn State, the Medical College of Georgia, and George Washington University. Kirch has been the president of the American Association of Medical Colleges since 2006. He was CEO at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at Penn State, where he created a unified medical school/hospital collaborative health system that has been a model for many academic schools of medicine. A prolific writer and public speaker, Kirch has published more than 125 articles and book chapters and made numerous presentations to medical, educational, scientific and advocacy organizations. He was an adviser to both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Will be recognized at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus commencement, May 24.


Tucker Hart Adams is a UCCS alumna who has contributed greatly to the state of Colorado, especially to southern Colorado. Her reputation is unparalleled in the Colorado business community because of her long-term service and foresight into creating a better business climate. In creating business strategies, Adams uses judgmental adjustments and explores whether a trend makes sense; not relying on modeling with a computer. She incorporates expert econometric research, statistical work and models, and applies what she has learned throughout the years to make adjustments for the outcomes. Tucker recently authored a report, Innovations in Aging, that provides critical data regarding the influx of senior citizens projected in the Pikes Peak region in the coming years. Adams served as president and CEO of the Adams Group for 21 years, president of the American Russian Collaborative Enterprises LLC for 16 years, director and principal of American Russian Collaborative Enterprises LLC  in Moscow for 5 years, vice president and chief economist of the United Banks of Colorado for 10 years and adjunct professor for 21 years at the University of Colorado and Moscow State University. Will be recognized at the UCCS commencement, May 24.

Todd Munson is committed to making a difference in the community. Munson gives generously of his time as well as financial support to many nonprofit organizations, including the University of Colorado Denver. Munson is president and Colorado market manager for J.P. Morgan Chase bank, where he oversees public affairs and market-based business. He serves as executive board member and treasurer of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, board member and co-chair of the Denver Economic Development Corp., board member and past chair (2010-11) of Goodwill Industries of Denver, board member and past member of the Mile High United Way, and served as chairman of the 2008 United Way Giving Campaign. Munson serves on the CU Denver Business School Board of Advisors. In 2011, Munson brought Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan Chairman and CEO, to Denver to speak at the Business School’s “Celebration of Success.” Dimon spoke pro-bono, helping the Business School raise more than $260,000 for student scholarships. Munson supports and contributes yearly to the Dean's Opportunity Fund at the school. He displays a passion for philanthropy and community giving and his record of involvement is a testimony to this. Will be recognized at the CU Denver commencement, May 18.


George Sissel, who earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering CU-Boulder in 1958, is former Chairman and CEO of Ball Corp. Sissel was instrumental in moving his company's headquarters to Colorado and promoting partnerships between Ball and CU that have greatly benefitted University of Colorado students, faculty, alumni and research. Sissel is a stalwart supporter of the university through his active role as an adviser and volunteer, and his major financial contributions across the CU system. His contributions include extensive and increased financial support and involvement by Ball Corp.; advisory board service and leadership at the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science and the CU Denver Business School; and the board of trustees/directors of the CU Foundation. Will be recognized at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus commencement, May 24.

Mary R. Sissel has been involved in key projects at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, primarily with the Center for Women’s Health Research where she served as a chair of the Community Advisory Board. As chair, she led the board’s fundraising effort to support the work of the director of the center while the endowed chair was being sought. The lead donor to this effort, Sissel had 100 percent participation from the board, raising more than $500,000. Sissel has been increasingly involved in the CU Anschutz Medical Campus through her work on the Creating Futures Campaign Committee. She has provided expert leadership to numerous boards of directors including The Denver Foundation, the Craig Hospital Foundation, the Women's Foundation of Colorado and, most recently, as a trustee of the University of Colorado Foundation. Will be recognized at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus commencement, May 24.

Michael K. Wirth graduated in 1982 from the University of Colorado Boulder with a bachelor's degree in chemical Engineering. Wirth is a lifelong Buffs and a staunch CU supporter. He has used his influence as executive vice president of Downstream and Chemical for Chevron Corp. to increase his company's annual contributions in support of CU scholarships, departments, programs, student groups and diversity efforts. He helped bring to fruition Chevron's gift of $500,000 for the Chevron Chemical Engineering Teaching Lab in the new Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building on the CU-Boulder campus. Wirth has been an adviser to the College of Engineering and Applied Science through his service on the Engineering Advisory Council and Resource Development Committee. He is described as a humble person with a passion for interacting with and supporting students and diversity. An alumnus and parent, Wirth gives generously of his time and money to support his alma mater. Will be recognized at a future commencement.


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