Regents highlight nine honorees

Nine alumni, friends of CU receiving board’s 2016 honorary degrees, University Medals, Distinguished Service Award
By Staff

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has announced its selection of this year’s recipients of honorary degrees, Distinguished Service Award and University Medals. Nine honorees are being recognized.

Upon the recommendation of the Regents’ Awards Committee, the board last month approved the 2016 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 2016 recipients are:

Honorary Degree

Charles W. Hull received a bachelor of science in engineering physics from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1961. He went on to invent the solid imaging process known as stereolithography -- the first commercial 3-D printing technology -- spawning a new, dynamic industry in the United States. With the founding of 3-D Systems Corp. in 1986, Hull initiated the 3-D printing industry and continues to lead it today with leading-edge innovations ranging from state-of-the art production of 3-D printers to the first home-certified 3-D printer, the award-winning Cube. He is named the inventor on more than 90 U.S. patents in the field of ion optics and 3-D printing. He also is a strong advocate for education and training of youth in all aspects of this rapidly growing technology.

Antonio J. Mendez attended CU-Boulder in 1959 as a visual arts student in the College of Arts and Sciences. He left CU short of a degree for personal financial reasons. In 1965, he was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency as an espionage artist for the Technical Services Division. For 25 years, Mendez worked undercover in some of the most important theaters of the Cold War. In 1980, he was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor for engineering and conducting the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the hostage crisis. Mendez won many other awards before his retirement in 1990. He authored three books: “The Master of Disguise,” “Spy Dust” and “Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History.” The last book was released before the film “Argo,” which is based on Mendez’s life and won the 2012 Oscar for Best Picture. Battling Parkinson’s disease, Mendez is an active spokesman and advocate working to raise funds for new treatments.

Polly Schaafsma received a master of arts in anthropology from CU-Boulder in 1962.  She is one of the world’s foremost authorities on aboriginal rock art (pictographs and petroglyphs). Over the past 50 years, she has almost single-handedly professionalized the field of rock art studies in the greater Southwest and has had a major impact on rock art studies worldwide. She has authored and co-authored 10 books and 50 articles and book chapters in leading academic presses. She has presented 38 papers at various universities, academies and museums in the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Bolivia, Spain, France, Mexico and Scotland. She reads Spanish and French and has published papers in Spanish, French and Italian. Recently, nine of Schaafsma’s colleagues published a 264-page tribute to her in the spring issue of the New Mexico Historical Review titled “Polly Schaafsma’s Indelible Mark.”

George Wiegers is one of CU’s most valued philanthropic partners, volunteers and advocates. His early support of the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus made the world-class center a reality, and a vital part of the 22-member National Network of Depression Centers he seed-funded to change the face of mental health in the United States. Wiegers has continued to invest in the Johnson Depression Center, contributing more than $8 million to fund its mission of improving the lives of people with depression and mood disorders through clinical excellence, innovative research, community programs and education. In addition, he served for six years on the University of Colorado Foundation Board of Trustees and is founding chairman emeritus of the Johnson Depression Center Board of Directors. He is co-founder and partner of Wiegers Capital Partners in Denver.

Distinguished Service Award

Chris Wiant received a Ph.D. in public administration from CU Denver in 1995. He is the founding president and CEO of the Caring for Colorado Foundation, a $175 million health foundation with the mission to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. As the first employee, he led the start-up of this health care conversion foundation including staffing, planning, board development and implementation of a grant-making process that has resulted in the award of nearly $100 million in grants since 2001. Wiant played a pivotal role in the creation of the Colorado School of Public Health by building a consensus among health-oriented foundations in Colorado to provide significant start-up funding for the school. He currently serves on the school’s advisory board.

University Medal

Mike Fryt is both a UCCS Mountain Lion and CU-Boulder Buffalo, earning a bachelor of science in accounting from UCCS in 1977 and a juris doctorate from the Colorado Law School at CU-Boulder in 1980. He has served the university as a member of the CU Foundation Board of Trustees, UCCS Chancellor’s Community Ambassadors Board, UCCS Alumni Board and the UCCS College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board. Additionally, he is a donor and advocate to many university initiatives including the Colorado Law Dean’s Fund, UCCS College 50th Anniversary Scholarship Endowment, UCCS College of Business Scholarship Fund, UCCS College of Business Kirk Wilcox Endowment and the UCCS Dwire Hall Renovation. He has been an active donor since 1984. As a retired senior vice president at Federal Express Headquarters in Memphis, Fryt has been a longtime leader at UCCS in the College of Business, where he is currently serving as an executive in residence.

Donald L. Johnson received a bachelor of fine arts in interior architecture from CU-Boulder in 1962. He has provided transformational support to CU and the College of Architecture and Planning, including gifting one of the largest personal bequests to CU, worth $16.5 million at current value, of which $14.75 million will be split between the College of Music at CU-Boulder and the College of Architecture and Planning at CU Denver. In addition, Johnson has donated significant annual gifts for scholarships and in support of CU’s most prominent academic programs. In 2011, he fundamentally reshaped the College of Architecture and Planning and the delivery of architectural education in Colorado. Drawing on his business insight and leadership, he helped solve one of CU’s most intractable problems regarding the management of its architecture program split between Boulder and Denver. He helped steer CU to consolidating the college to one site, clarifying the difference between Boulder and Denver programs that could provide distinct choices for Colorado students. This resulted in a new B.S. in Architecture in Denver, bringing together, for the first time in Colorado history, undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture on one site. He currently serves on the CU Foundation Board of Trustees and on the CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning Advisory Board.

Kevin Kratt is a successful commercial real estate developer who transformed the west side of North Nevada into a vibrant Colorado Springs shopping area. Kratt worked closely with the university to align his development to be supportive and consistent with the university. The shopping complex is called University Village and includes UCCS banners. The retail businesses at University Village provide many convenient services to UCCS students, faculty and staff while employing more than 500 UCCS students. He funded a scholarship program to support the commission and installation of student art along the North Nevada corridor, made a substantial donation to the new UCCS performing arts complex and serves on many major UCCS committees and boards including the Chancellor’s University Ambassadors Program, the Regional Connect Board, the CU Foundation Board of Directors and the leadership team to raise money for the new UCCS performing arts complex.

Ron Weaver earned a bachelor of arts in geology, humanities and mathematics in 1970 and a master of science in geology in 1976 from CU-Boulder. He built a distinguished career with CU-Boulder starting as an undergraduate student in the 1960s until his retirement in 2015. He is an expert in data acquisition, validation, storage and distribution. In 1980, Weaver was hired into the role of lead data manager for the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and went on to become the principal investigator and manager for the Snow and Ice Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC). With Weaver as P.I., the NSIDC DAAC has received more than $140 million since 1990. Throughout the years, he expanded the breadth and scope of the NSIDC Mission. He was a prime resource in transforming NSIDC into the internationally recognized organization it is today. He is an outstanding member of the university research and academic community and has brought in more funding than most faculty during the course of his career. He has mentored countless individuals at NSIDC and is very highly regarded by colleagues in the scientific community.