I want to join in congratulating our graduating seniors. You have reached a milestone. We take great pride and joy in your success.

You have undoubtedly had the support of family, friends, peers, faculty and staff who helped prepare you for the next chapter in your life, a life of career and contribution.

But you have earned this on your own and you should take great pride.

I'd like to thank Vice Chancellor Bob Boswell, Assistant Vice Chancellor Alphonse Keasley, and the entire staff in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement for organizing this great event.

I would like to acknowledge everyone who participated in the award nominations and selection process.

I also want to thank all of you here today for your many contributions to foster equity and excellence at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The exchange of ideas and knowledge among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives is a hallmark of higher education and one we are committed to at CU.

We have had success in attracting under-represented students through our pre-collegiate programs.

And we have found success in graduating diverse students with the support of our academic neighborhoods such as the Ethnic Living and Learning Community and the Chancellor's Leadership Studies residential academic programs, as well as the multiple programs in CU LEAD Alliance.

This evening we honor the victories and the quiet heroism of those who work to build community on campus.

  • Faculty who take time to work with a student who's facing a challenge.
  • Students who stand up—both personally and collectively—for the cause of equity.
  • Counselors who make themselves available at a moment's notice when a student calls.
  • Students who cross racial and cultural lines to reach out to a classmate.
  • Faculty who make sure their courses include diverse perspectives.
  • Administrators who place a high priority on investing in diversity.
  • Alumni who contribute their time and financial resources for the success of those who come after them.
  • And students who overcome personal hardship and cultural barriers to graduate from the university.

You all have my admiration.

I always liked the way business leader and best-selling author Max De Pree, framed the importance of a diverse community.

De Pree, the author of "Leadership is an Art," and the retired CEO of Fortune 500 company Herman Miller Office Furniture, said this:

"We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion."

That is my wish for our community—on the campus and far beyond the campus. I believe that together we can make it happen.

Now, I would like to leave you with a quote from Nelson Mandela, who as you know, the world lost in December.

Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

Thank you all for your hard work in promoting equity and excellence at the University of Colorado Boulder.