Published: April 26, 2011

Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, will give the commencement address during the University of Colorado Boulder's spring graduation ceremony on Friday, May 6, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Folsom Field.

A 1988 graduate of CU-Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Ells opened the first Chipotle in 1993 in Denver. Under Ells' direction, the company -- often recognized for its commitment to using ingredients from producers of naturally raised meats and organic and locally grown produce -- has grown substantially since its founding to nearly 1,100 restaurants today.

Ells has been profiled in numerous publications including Time, Forbes, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal. He also is a judge on the NBC series "America's Next Great Restaurant." He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1990. Born in Indianapolis, his family later moved to Colorado, and he graduated from Boulder High School.

During the ceremony, 5,897 degrees will be conferred. Degrees to be awarded include 4,593 bachelor's degrees, 884 master's degrees, 164 law degrees and 256 doctoral degrees.

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.

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 ceremonies visit

For more information about the commencement ceremony visit 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.

Photograph of Chipotle Co-CEO Steve Ells courtesy of Gina LeVay