Published: May 4, 2022

As CU honors Leeds at graduation, he’s more proud of a business school that prizes ethics, diversity and responsibility.

Michael Leeds speaking at a podium in a museum.

Michael Leeds speaks at an event on the CU Boulder campus. When he and his family made the naming gift to the university’s business school, “we heard ‘business ethics’ was an oxymoron,” he said. “In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.”

As part of its commencement ceremonies this month, Michael Leeds (Bus’74) was recognized with the prestigious University Medal, recognizing his and his family’s tireless support of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

It was 20 years ago that Leeds and his family gave the business school at CU Boulder both a name and a challenge—to become a leader in ethics, diversity and social responsibility. 

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“People laughed when we told them we wanted a business school to be about integrity and ethics,” Leeds said. “We heard ‘business ethics’ was an oxymoron. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.” 

After graduation, Leeds went into publishing, eventually joining the business that was co-founded by his parents, Gerry and Lily Leeds—serial entrepreneurs who both held education in the highest regard. When Michael Leeds joined the company, in 1984, it was a 250-person shop. Fifteen years later, it was an empire that sold for nearly $1 billion; Leeds said the company’s values were a key ingredient in its success.

“I saw how the values at CMP helped us to be successful, whether it was diversity in our hiring practices or ensuring we conducted our business to the highest ethical standards,” Leeds said. “What better perspective to share with future generations of business students?”

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