'Room To Read' Founder to Speak at CU-Boulder Commencement May 7

April 28, 2010 •

John Wood, founder of the international nonprofit organization "Room to Read," will give the commencement address during the University of Colorado at Boulder's spring graduation ceremony on Friday, May 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Folsom Field.

A 1986 graduate of CU-Boulder's Leeds School of Business, Wood left his promising career at Microsoft Corp. in 2000 to form the nonprofit group "Room to Read." Over the past 10 years, the organization has established about 10,000 libraries across the developing world. "Room to Read" currently operates in nine countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia.

Numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Business Week, Time and Newsweek have reported on "Room to Read." Wood also has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," CNN and National Geographic Television to tell his story.

Stadium gates will open at 7 a.m. and guests are urged to be in their seats by 8:15 a.m. University officials recommend that people arrive as early as possible to avoid traffic delays. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Guests are asked not to bring large purses or bags to the ceremony. People entering the stadium may be subject to search. The ceremony will be held outdoors in the stadium regardless of the weather. However, in the event of heavy rain or snow an abbreviated ceremony will be held.

Each spring the commencement ceremony begins with a procession of faculty and all graduates starting at the Norlin Quadrangle at 8 a.m. and ending at Folsom Field.

During the ceremony, 5,825 degrees will be conferred. Degrees to be awarded include 4,530 bachelor's degrees, 850 master's degrees, 175 law degrees and 270 doctoral degrees.

Zuhair Fayez, founder of the Zuhair Fayez Partnership in Saudi Arabia, is among four people who will be awarded special honors by CU-Boulder during the commencement ceremony. Fayez, S. John Archuleta, Michael Francis and Josette Sheeran will receive honorary degrees from CU-Boulder.

Fayez's firm is the largest of its kind in Saudi Arabia, and one of the largest in the Middle East. It provides services in architecture, engineering, management, information systems and industrial engineering. His work is said to fuse "modern ideas of space and construction with traditional Islamic culture and architecture." He also helped found and is currently chairman of the board of Dar Al-Hekma College for women. He earned bachelor's degrees in engineering and architecture from CU-Boulder in 1970 and a master's degree in architecture from CU-Boulder in 1971. Fayez will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

Archuleta, who was born in Pagosa Springs, Colo., entered CU-Boulder with an athletic scholarship in wrestling and earned his bachelor's degree in architectural engineering in 1961. He spent 20 years with JVA Inc., one of the premier structural engineering and design firms in the Rocky Mountain region. He was a founding partner of the National Bank of the Rockies. He also has worked to improve outreach efforts between CU and Western Slope communities including helping to create a partnership that allows students to earn bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering from CU by taking classes delivered at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. He has served twice on the CU-Boulder Engineering Advisory Council. Archuleta will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Science.

Francis, a CU-Boulder alumnus who received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering sciences from CU-Boulder, is widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost experts in aerospace science. His career highlights include his work at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. While with the agency, Francis played an integral role in the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The unmanned aircraft are used for a variety of reconnaissance and battlefield activities as well as in climate and environmental research. Francis will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Science.

Sheeran, a 1976 graduate of CU-Boulder, has been executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme since 2007, where she oversees the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. She previously served as undersecretary for economic, energy and agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She also has served in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where she was responsible for trade negotiations in Asia and Africa. Sheeran will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

Many departments within CU-Boulder's schools and colleges will hold events to personally recognize their graduates. Students should check with their individual departments for more information. For a schedule of individual recognition ceremonies visit www.colorado.edu/commencement/spring/other.html.

For more information about the commencement ceremony visit www.colorado.edu/commencement/. The ceremony will be broadcast on the Web and can be accessed by visiting the commencement website and clicking on the webcast link anytime during the ceremony.

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