Regents announce slate of honorees for 2023

Board recognizes exceptional individuals with degrees, awards, medals
By Staff

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has announced the list of individuals receiving Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Service Awards and University Medals for 2023.

Upon the recommendation of the board’s Awards Committee, the regents in November approved the nominees. Each recipient has been invited to attend a campus commencement ceremony to accept an award; the dates and locations are to be announced.

Honorary Degrees recognize outstanding achievement in one or more of the following areas: intellectual contributions, university service, philanthropy and/or public service. Distinguished Service Awards recognize those persons whose achievements and contributions are particularly associated with the state and/or nation. University Medals recognize those persons whose achievements and contributions are particularly associated with the university.

The 2023 recipients are:

Honorary Degrees

Henry “Woody” and Leslie Eaton (CU Boulder)

CU Boulder alumni Leslie and Woody Eaton have brought vitality and insight to the campus through their service as enthusiastic advocates, tireless volunteers, community-minded connectors and inspired philanthropists. Their most recent initiative, the Eaton Family Scholarships, will create opportunities for deserving Colorado students for generations to come. Woody has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and been a member of the advisory board for the Center of the American West. Leslie has served as a board member of the CU Foundation, a member of the CU Student Affairs Advisory Board and a volunteer fundraiser for the CU Foundation. Thirty years ago, the Eatons created the Henry and Leslie Eaton Scholarship, and over the past 20 years they helped found the Buffalo Bicycle Classic, a community tradition that raises money for scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences, and were honored for their campus support with the renaming of the Humanities Building to the Eaton Humanities Building.

Anna Jo Garcia Haynes (CU Denver)

For over half a century, Anna Jo Garcia Haynes has been a driving force for early childhood care and education in Denver. She is a founder and President Emeritus of Mile High Early Learning Centers, the oldest and largest provider of subsidized quality early care and education in Denver. As a lifelong advocate for children, Garcia Haynes worked with others to bring Head Start to Colorado. She also served as the founding chair of the City/Denver Public Schools Ready to Succeed Early Childhood Council appointed by the superintendent and the mayor. She was a founding chairperson of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a founder and third President of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and one of the founding co-chairs of the Early Childhood Leadership Commission appointed by the governor. She was instrumental in the political campaigns of numerous officials, including Rachel Noel, who became the first African American member of the Denver School Board and later the first African American and woman to be elected to the CU Board of Regents.

George Lopez (CU Anschutz)

George “Doc” Lopez, M.D., is a highly distinguished CU School of Medicine alumnus, graduating in 1973 and subsequently working as an Internist at USC and UCLA. His ongoing contributions to medicine are measured not only by the hundreds of lives saved as an ICU physician and Board-Certified Internist, but also by the tens of thousands of health care workers who no longer contract life-threatening diseases such as HIV and hepatitis due to his innovations in infusion therapy. At the core of his business success and vision is his passion for big ideas that change the world. Lopez founded ICU Medical after losing a patient when an IV line accidentally disconnected during a critical illness. Devastated by the preventable death of his patient, and determined to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again, Lopez designed, developed and patented an IV hub-locking device later known as the ClickLock. Noteworthy philanthropy includes the Doc Lopez Scholarship Fund, which has supported the education of 14 CU School of Medicine students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine.

Distinguished Service Awards

Dana Crawford (CU Denver)

Preservationist Dana Crawford initiated a concept of urban renewal that was one of the first of its kind in the United States, pioneering the redevelopment of Denver’s historic Larimer Square in the mid-1960s. Since then, Crawford has redeveloped more than 1 million square feet of historic property in Denver. Crawford also has been a consultant to many cities and towns wishing to rejuvenate and reactivate their downtown areas, including Longmont and Glenwood. Crawford has served on the board of the Downtown Denver Partnership for more than 30 years and has been active with the Platte River Greenway Foundation, Denver Art Museum, Historic Denver Inc., Colorado Historical Society and Foundation, and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She was awarded a Doctorate of Humanities by the University of Colorado, and is a member of the CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning’s Advisory Board. Crawford’s passion for place has inspired countless young preservationists, including students in CU Denver’s Dana Crawford Preservation Program, named in 2022.

Ruth Glenn (CU Denver)

Ruth Glenn is the president and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She previously was employed by the Colorado Department of Human Services for 28 years and served as the director of the Domestic Violence Program for the last nine of those years. Glenn has worked and volunteered in the domestic violence field for over 20 years. She is skilled in nonprofit management, including budgeting, coaching, grassroots organizing and crisis intervention. She has served on many domestic violence program and funding boards, provided hundreds of presentations on domestic violence victimization and survival, testified before the Colorado legislature and U.S. Congress, and provided consultation, training and technical assistance at the local and national levels on victim/survivor issues. She earned a master’s in public administration from CU Denver and still finds time to engage with students at the School of Public Affairs Gender-Based Violence Program; she recently spent time with them discussing her work and inspiring the students to move forward.

Barbara Grogan (CU Boulder)

Barbara Grogan’s many outstanding achievements and commitment to Colorado extend back over four decades. She never encountered a glass ceiling she didn’t break, starting when she donned a hard hat and became founder and CEO of one of the largest industrial contracting businesses in the region. She looked beyond her own business and stepped up to serve as the first woman chair of the board of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. She pushed boundaries to lead in the region and was the first woman to chair the board of the Kansas City Branch of the Federal Reserve Board. She is a longtime supporter of education (including early education), housing, mental health and substance abuse services for unhoused community members. A past member of the CU Foundation Board of Directors, Grogan has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships and programs at CU and other institutions of higher education. Hundreds of young leaders have benefited not only from Grogan’s generous heart but also her mentoring and guidance.

Karen Middleton (CU Denver)

A CU Denver alumna, Karen Middleton exemplifies the qualities CU seeks in its admits and cultivates in its students: focus on serving her local community, mentoring and developing the next generation of leaders, and taking courageous steps to improve all lives. Centered in supporting access to educational opportunities, she has worked in higher education, nonprofit, private and public sectors. As an elected official who served for nearly three years in the Colorado House of Representatives, Middleton was a fierce and vocal advocate for students in K-12 and in higher education. While in the legislature, she supported a bill that helped transferability between community colleges and four-year universities; sponsored legislation that helped create My Colorado Journey, which helps students navigate their path into college; and was co-chair of a committee on school finance. As policy director for the Colorado General Assembly majority, she helped ensure legislative focus remained on education. Middleton is known for forging creative and bipartisan policy solutions for complex policy problems. She exemplifies what is best in public service.

Ginger Ramsey (CU Boulder)

During her 40-year tenure as educator for Boulder High School, Centaurus High School and currently as principal of Broomfield High School, Ginger Ramsey has demonstrated her devotion toward and wisdom about the students in her charge. She is entering her 50th year of education, serving an incredible 34 years as an administrator. She also spent 14 years as a math teacher, seven of those years in Arizona, positively impacting the lives and futures of students. Ramsey began working on her doctoral degree in 1986 at CU Boulder. Suddenly, becoming a single mother, and raising two kids on her own, she was not able to complete the program. However, as difficult as that time was for her, she successfully completed the required comprehensive exams, thus granting her the status of all but dissertation (ABD). As a Marshall Fire survivor, she lost her home of 31 years. Her only message to her community, when so many people reached out to help her was, “Thank you, but I will be fine. If you truly want to help me, please support those families who also desperately need the support.”

Julissa Soto (CU Anschutz)

Julissa Soto is a powerful force for the health of Latino communities across Colorado. For more than 20 years, Soto has dedicated her career to being a leading advocate for Latino immigrant equality, inclusion and health equity in Colorado and throughout the nation. She has single-handedly made an incredible impact in the increase of COVID vaccination rates in her community, having worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that Latino immigrants have information about and access to vaccines for COVID-19. She has helped host vaccination clinics at churches, schools, community centers and essentially any location accessible to Latin immigrants who will allow her to set up shop. Soto has more than two decades of nonprofit experience and innovative insight, leading and managing evidence-based prevention programs serving new immigrants. She immigrated to the United States nearly 21 years ago from the state of Michoacán in central Mexico, so she understands the health needs of Colorado Latinos/x and the importance of reaching out to them.

University Medals

Robert Damrauer (CU Denver)

Robert “Bob” Damrauer first joined CU Denver in 1968 as an assistant professor of chemistry and has been a tireless champion for the institution ever since. At the time, the institution was part of CU Boulder extension; Damrauer was a strong advocate for the transformation of the institution into what CU Denver is today. He rose in the ranks as a professor, chair, dean, special assistant to the provost and associate vice chancellor of research. An internationally known scholar, Damrauer was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and published more than 80 articles, of which more than 25 were with student co-authors. Damrauer and his late wife, Lennie, changed the lives of dozens of students, faculty and staff through mentoring and by example. Through their philanthropy, they established scholarships for students as well as a speaker’s fund in the Chemistry Department. They also endowed the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture Series to bring renowned scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to CU Denver each year to give community talks, visit classrooms and engage students. He officially retired in December 2021.

Allan McMurray (CU Boulder)

Allan McMurray, emeritus professor of band conducting and director of bands, had an outstanding career at CU Boulder from 1978 until his retirement in 2013. In 2005, he was named a CU Distinguished Professor, the first faculty member in the College of Music to be honored with this distinction; in 2008, he was named the recipient of the Robert and Judy Charles Endowed Chair, the first endowed chair in the College of Music. He reshaped the CU band program into one of distinction and national reputation while also creating new conducting pedagogy at the undergraduate and graduate level. McMurray dedicated himself to bettering the lives of music students of all ages, along with college band directors across Colorado and the United States. He single-handedly influenced numerous people to enter the profession and to study artistic conducting while also placing many of his own students in university and college band director positions both nationally and internationally. McMurray’s contributions to the instrumental conducting and college teaching professions are more than extraordinary.

Sam Walker (CU Denver)

Sam Walker has made numerous contributions as a citizen, community builder, faculty member and philanthropist. For 36 years, he has taught and inspired students as a professor of philosophy at CU Denver, all while providing countless students access to a college education through his extremely generous and thoughtful personal support of scholarships on the campus. Walker is a philosopher who quietly takes his perspective and wisdom into the swirling world around him, into his classrooms and beyond to build communities for mutual support and development. About 25 years ago, having always understood the importance of building and nurturing a community of instructional faculty, he joined in creating and guiding what became the University of Colorado Denver Association of Lecturers and Instructors (UCDALI). He has continued as a campus leader there and on the Faculty Assembly through the years, always caring about our students and faculty. In addition to scholarships, investments in his department and college, and support for his fellow faculty members, he has given generously to causes that advance equity for all students.

Don White (CU Denver)

Don White is known for a distinguished career, outstanding leadership, and service to CU and the College of Engineering, Design and Computing at CU Denver. White is an exemplar of a CU Denver engineering student. A Denver native, he served in the U.S. Navy and then returned home to begin working as a truck driver for an electrical contractor. He took night classes at what was then the Denver Extension Center of CU; in 1965, he became one of the first electrical engineering graduates at CU Denver. White went on to found Riviera Electric, one of the largest electrical contractors in Colorado. In his current role as chairman of the board at E Light Electric, he continues to be an industry leader through the company’s emphasis on renewable energy sources. He and his wife, Karen, have been longtime and highly impactful supporters of CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Among their philanthropy, the Whites in 2014 established the Don and Karen White Professorship in Electrical Engineering, the first-ever named professorship for the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

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