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Winter Commencement 2013

Graduates, members of the Board of Regents, President Benson, members of the faculty and staff, parents, distinguished guests, family and friends; it is my pleasure and honor to have the opportunity to address you today as the chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder.

I know today's graduates join me in extending a special welcome to their family and friends, whose love and support have helped to make this day possible. Please join me in showing our appreciation.

With us today, are many members of the faculty who have guided and mentored these graduates. They have shared their time, knowledge and expertise to help each student reach this important milestone and his or her full potential. Will representatives of the faculty please rise and be recognized?

Graduates, congratulations! Your hard work has brought you to this day. The University Seal you will soon see embossed on your diploma depicts a torch in the hands of youth with a Greek inscription that reads: "Let Your Light Shine."

This fall, you really let your light shine and it glowed brightly.

If last September’s flood taught us one thing, it was this: If we come together and help each other, even in a disaster we can make a community a stronger place.

The nation watched as you helped your fellow students and neighbors, even when you may have been victimized by the flood waters yourself.  We saw students go out into the community to aid Boulder County residents devastated by the flood. We saw students raising money for each other to replace textbooks and help them to acquire lodging and meals. Student athletes served meals to campus evacuees and emergency responders. Your sense of community was inspiring and I want to thank you.

And through it all, you persevered and earned your degree! You can take pride that you embody that torch of light on your diploma.

Your work in supporting your fellow students and your Boulder County and Colorado neighbors is emblematic of what your CU degree represents.

Examples abound of our students' individual impact on the world. Nearly 14,000 CU-Boulder students are active in community service or service learning every year. CU-Boulder graduates have been among the top four in the nation for Peace Corps service for the last 10 years. We are the fifth highest volunteer-producing university of all time since Peace Corps inception 52 years ago.

Meanwhile, 1,000 CU-Boulder students are engaged in undergraduate research at any given time, advancing society by working on biomedical discoveries that save our lives, developing new energy to power us and producing works of music and art that inspire us.

You have mastered the value of balancing individual pursuit with group effort to reach important goals.

In your academic career at CU-Boulder you have learned valuable lessons in critical thinking, civil discourse, collaborative decision-making, creative solutions and creating community, all skills admired by employers and essential in a complex global society.

Go out and use your degree to show your neighbors, your communities, your state, your nation and the world how to innovate, improvise, and compromise for the common good. 

First, celebrate for a job well done. Then get to work. The world needs you.

Thank you.

Introduction of Hazel Barnes Prize winner Kristi Anseth

Our commencement speaker today embodies these very attributes. It is our tradition to ask the Hazel Barnes Award winner to deliver the winter commencement speech, and you are in for a real treat today.

The Hazel Barnes Prize, named for the late CU-Boulder professor of philosophy, is the highest faculty recognition for teaching and research awarded by the university. It was created in 1991 to recognize outstanding faculty members who exemplify the enriching relationship between teaching and research.

Dr. Kristi Anseth is a Distinguished Professor of chemical and biological engineering. She is also a faculty member in our BioFrontiers Institute, which is advancing patient care, health, and well being in unprecedented ways.

An academic all-America college basketball player, today Dr. Anseth is an internationally known pioneer in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. She leads a team of faculty and students who are developing biodegradable scaffolds to stimulate the growth of new human tissues to replace those lost by injury or disease.

Technology developed by her team is expected to help regenerate human cartilage and defective heart valves, mend shattered bones, produce insulin for diabetics, and grow healthy neurons to replace diseased brain tissue.

Dr. Anseth, who also is an associate professor of surgery at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, has won numerous awards, including her election to the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. She is the first engineer to be named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

She was named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10,” honoring her as one of the nation’s top young scientists, and she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame last year.

She has won a number of national and campus teaching awards. To date, 34 students who worked under her have received doctorates and she currently is advising 14 doctoral students. She also has mentored more than 100 undergraduates in laboratory research.

Please welcome Distinguished Professor and Hazel Barnes Award winner Dr. Kristi Anseth!