Regents celebrate leaders with degrees, awards, medals

Slate of honorees includes former first lady Benson, Regent Emeritus Bishop
By Staff

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has announced its selection of this year’s recipients of honorary degrees, Distinguished Service Awards and University Medals.

Upon the recommendation of the Regents’ Awards Committee, the board in November approved the 2020 nominees. Each award recipient has been invited to attend a campus commencement ceremony to accept his or her award; the dates and locations are to be announced.

The 2020 recipients are:

Honorary Degree

Marcy Benson (Doctor of Humane Letters)

  • Marcy Benson has applied her time and talents in a variety of capacities, from serving U.S. presidents to volunteering at leadership levels in education, health care, the arts and civic activities.
  • She has demonstrated unparalleled leadership and commitment to CU, volunteering in many capacities, including co-chairing two fundraising campaigns – Creating Futures (2006-13) and Total Learning Environment-Beyond Boundaries (1996-2003) – raising more than $1 billion. She has served as a member and chair of the CU Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, and the Development Committee for the University of Colorado Denver.
  • She helped to better the state of Colorado serving as an active community volunteer, including her involvement with the Denver Zoological Foundation, the Denver Public Schools Foundation, Children’s Hospital Colorado Board of Directors, The Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Denver Public Library Commission and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.
  • Marcy Benson served as the first lady of CU for more than 11 years and, through her role, was instrumental in elevating CU’s engagement, philanthropic success and reputation. She has created a legacy of philanthropic impact.

Tilman “Tillie” Bishop (posthumous) (Doctor of Humane Letters)

  • Tilman “Tillie” Bishop served 28 years in the Colorado General Assembly and 38 years overall as an elected official, becoming the fourth-longest serving elected official in the history of the Colorado legislature, and the longest serving senator from Western Colorado.
  • He was president pro tem of the Senate for six years, served 10 years as chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, served on the Legislative Audit Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Business Affairs and Labor Committee. Tillie Bishop was a Mesa County commissioner, a University of Colorado regent, a Colorado Mesa University trustee, and chairman of the Colorado Tourism Board.
  • Sixty-two percent of the 736 bills Tillie Bishop introduced during his time at the Capitol passed, including a 1979 bill that released ski areas of legal responsibility for skier injuries while also placing certain safety requirements on the ski industry. The bill became a model across the country.
  • He was named Legislator of the Year by 11 entities, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado, and has a college campus and wildlife area named for him in Mesa County.
  • Tilman “Tillie” Bishop, died June 16, 2019, in Grand Junction. He was 86.

Richard Monfort (Doctor of Humane Letters)

  • Richard Monfort has demonstrated philanthropic leadership and dedication to the state of Colorado – both personally and through Monfort Family Foundation – at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University. His gifts included $20 million-plus to cancer research at the CU Cancer Center and Children’s Hospital Colorado.
  • He has served on numerous boards in higher education and hospital administration, including UCHealth, University of Colorado Hospital and University of Northern Colorado. Richard Monfort served as chairman of the Colorado Economic Development Commission, which resulted in improved health and quality of life for individuals and families in urban and rural communities.
    • Including his investments such as in Coors Field, he has demonstrated the vision, drive and commitment to community required to create flourishing sports enterprises in Colorado and accelerate the economic development in LoDo and the Denver Ballpark District.
    • He has been recognized with accolades including the United Way of Weld County Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2008, and honorary degrees from Colorado State University and Johnson & Wales University.

Joanne Posner-Mayer (Doctor of Humane Letters)

  • Joanne Posner-Mayer graduated from CU’s Physical Therapy Program in 1973 and became an entrepreneur in the fitness market starting Ball Dynamic International and Fitball.
  • Now a dedicated philanthropist, her leadership and generosity have had an impact throughout Colorado with the establishment of the Posner Center for International Development. She has served as a trustee for the Colorado Ballet and supported the Be Beautiful, Be Yourself program of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the Denver Art Museum.
  • Her dedication to the University of Colorado is evident, having served on the CU School of Medicine Physical Therapy Program's Scholarship Endowment Advisory Board, CU Denver’s Advisory Council for the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, and the CU Foundation Board of Trustees. 
  • She was integral in establishing an endowed diversity scholarship at the CU School of Medicine, and made a $2 million commitment to help create the first physical therapy endowed chair at CU Anschutz, which allowed the School of Medicine to recruit a highly successful leader in physical therapy.

Paul and Katy Rady (Doctor of Humane Letters)

  • Paul and Katy Rady are generous philanthropic leaders whose investments in the higher education in Colorado will pay dividends for decades to come.
  • Their impact has been significant and multifaceted across the CU system and higher education in Colorado. Examples include:
    • CU Boulder, more than $1 million for the Interactive Geology Project (2004-23, K-12 education and public outreach), as well as the previous EMARC research consortium (2008-12)​
    • CU Boulder, $5 million endowed chair in Geological Sciences, 2018
    • CU Boulder, $5 million gift for Engineering, 2018 for capital support, 2018
    • CU Anschutz Medical Campus, two $1.5 million endowed chairs, 2017
    • Western Colorado University, endowed chair in geology, 2001
    • Western Colorado University, $80 million to establish the Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science
    • Their leadership and the philanthropy helped establish a new engineering partnership program in collaboration with Western Colorado University, Paul Rady’s alma mater, creating a productive and vibrant partnership between Western State and CU.

    Distinguished Service Award

    Rio de la Vista

    • For nearly four decades, Rio de la Vista has been active in spearheading initiatives devoted to the conservation and preservation of Colorado’s biodiverse wetlands, landscapes and cultural resources.
    • Her 40-plus year career in conservation includes positions as the director of the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University, commissioner for Rio Grande Natural Area Commission, associate director for Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, coordinator of the Rock Creek Heritage Project, and more.
    • Rio de la Vista’s approach to working with local communities in Colorado and the Mountain West is grounded in the tenets of approaching problems comprehensively. When she
      • engages with people, communities and organizations, she balances and integrates
      • ecological principles and ideals with economic realities, enabling her to work effectively with politicians, ranchers, scientists, funders and others.

    Barbara Weiske

    • Barbara Weiske is a leader with vision, mastering collaborative skills and a sense of humility in leading the Auraria Higher Education Center 2009-19, managing growth among three different institutions of higher education.
    • She demonstrated an ability to bring competing factions together; to be tireless in her quest to overcome obstacles; and to be tenacious in moving local, state and federal bureaucracies to respond positively to crucial campus issues such as public safety, traffic and pedestrian conflicts.
    • Her leadership resulted in multiple – often unknown and untold – benefits to CU, including her introduction of the Campus Neighborhood Concept, which transferred significant authority and responsibilities regarding campus design, construction and management from the Auraria Board of Directors to the University of Colorado.
    • She is highly regarded for her thoughtfulness, her gracious contributions to the unique and diverse legacy of the campus community, and her humble and enthusiastic service that strengthened CU Denver, the Auraria Campus, the city of Denver and the state of Colorado.

    University Medal

    Donna Boucher

    • Donna Boucher’s lifetime of dedicated service to the state, the University of Colorado and the Colorado School of Public Health has had a significant impact.
    • Her extensive contributions include serving on the Colorado School of Public Health Advisory Board, 2011-current, and as board chair 2013-17; the National Institutes of Health Council of Councils Advisory Council, 2017-19; the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved 2003-05; the CITAP Denver Police Force-Strategic Planning Committee, Administrative Committee Chair January 2004 through September 2005; the Colorado State Mental Health Planning and Resource Council, Chair Resource Committee, member July 1994-1997; the University of Colorado Foundation Board of Directors 1989-96, executive committee, investment, nominations, and capital campaign; and the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, Boulder campus, chair 1987-89, Advisory Board member 1987-93.
    • She played a critical role as a member of the School of Public Health Initiative, Fitzsimons campus, in the CU, CSU and UNC collaborative startup committee 2005-07. She rallied key decision-makers for the creation of the School of Public Health, the first school of public health in the Mountain West, in 2008.
    • More recently, her support of the MPH program in Population Mental Health and Wellbeing and her ongoing work to raise public awareness of the challenges facing our society and our health care systems reflect the work and character that have provided Donna Boucher an enduring legacy.

    Patricia Crown

    • Patricia Crown served for more than a decade on the Crown Family Philanthropies' Health and Human Services and Global Health Committees, and has been a longtime advocate and supporter of Project PAVE, a nonprofit that provides violence prevention education through school-based therapy and family advocacy.
    • In February 2019, she made a significant commitment to CU Boulder to endow the Renee Crown Wellness Institute. The institute will conduct research on the social and emotional wellness of children and youth, and will serve as a hub for research-practice partnerships to promote the wellness of young people and the systems and adults.
    • Her vision of supporting wellness in students, educators, schools and communities has led to invaluable partnerships that benefit Colorado and add to research and resources in the field of youth, family and school wellness.

    Mary Krugman

    • Mary Krugman’s accomplishments include a distinguished career in nursing as a scholar and leader in clinical settings, and significantly furthering the excellence of nursing practice at the University of Colorado Hospital and CU Nursing.
    • She was a key leader in developing the University Health System Consortium, American Association of Colleges of Nursing Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program, now in 64 sites nationwide. Mary Krugman served on the Collegiate Commission on Nursing Education, writing national residency program accreditation standards that resulted in the UCH program becoming one of the first in the nation to receive national accreditation.
    • She epitomized outstanding leadership in both the practice and academic environments as she continually strived to blend partnerships between nursing service and the University of Colorado College of Nursing. Her contributions have a positive impact on professional nurse entry into practice and nurse retention at UCH and across the country.

    Jeannie and Jack Thompson

    • Jeannie and Jack Thompson have contributed significant philanthropic gifts to all four CU campuses to name endowed programs, provide named capital spaces, support students and faculty, and more.
    • Jeannie Thompson is a tireless advocate for CU having served on the advisory board of the BioFrontiers Institute and its predecessor, the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology (CIMB). She has served on the CU Foundation Board of Directors, the CU Boulder Alumni Association Board of Advisors, the Center of the American West Board of Directors, and as an active member of CU Advocates.
    • Jack Thompson has been active as a board member for CU Boulder’s College of Arts and Sciences and its Center of the American West. He served as a professor of history at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University, and later as a professor and dean at both Northwestern and Oakton Community College in the Chicago suburbs.
    • Together, Jeannie and Jack Thompson are proud University of Colorado graduates and loyal CU supporters who have drummed up excitement for the ENT Center for Performing Arts at CU Colorado Springs; exposed others to the promise of medical research at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus; and supported the students at CU Denver in their fundraising efforts for the health and wellness building. They followed CU Boulder’s athletic teams, generated interest in the CU Boulder’s music programs and supported the BioFrontiers building and program.