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 their full potential. Will representatives of the faculty please rise and be recognized?
Let me take a moment to talk about what you gave us in your time here, and in turn, what I hope we gave you.
During your time at the University of Colorado Boulder we were honored by the White House for our students' community service. More than 13,000 students contribute 360,000 hours of community service every year.
During your time at the university our student-led sustainability initiatives made CU the top green university in the nation, establishing a model for the world to follow.
Our students' and graduates' commitment to service made CU the top university in the nation for Peace Corps participation this year, on this, the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.
Take all this together and the Class of 2011 has defined CU as service oriented, sustainable, down-to-earth, collaborative and inspired. You have redefined learning and discovery in a global context.
That is what you have given us. Now, what have we given you?
As you graduate today, into a life of career and contribution, you do so in an era of harsh and acrimonious national debate that often sidesteps the issues at the sacrifice of the common good.
This spring we mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. We can learn from the tribulations of those two nationally defining events as we suffer the tenor of today's polarizing national tone in finding solutions to our common challenges.
Fifty years ago this week 13 young black and white civil rights activists boarded interstate buses in Washington, D.C., to embark on the Freedom Rides to test a supreme court decision outlawing racial segregation. They were met with mob violence, beaten and imprisoned.
It was clear from the Freedom Rides that it would take our nation more than a century after the Civil War to begin to heal the social strife, ill will and acrimony that divided our nation. Hopefully it won't take another hundred years to mend the divisions enveloping our nation today.
Today, we are living in a world fueled by personal attacks, digital sound bites, unsubstantiated declarations and unproductive showmanship.
At the university we aspire to give you the tools to engage in healthy discussions and civil discourse as part of your problem solving skills as citizens in a global society.
How? In and out of the classroom you experience the diversity of humanity – the diversity of thought, background, race, class, religion, geographic origin, and in dozens of ways that echo the diversity of the world.
And you also learned to value the similarities that tie all of us together in a common humanity. You will take that talent for understanding and dealing with differences into a workplace and a world, that needs it desperately.
As the Civil War drew to a close, President Lincoln, in his second inaugural address said, "Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds … to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves…"
Those words are relevant again today. Civil debate results in solutions. And that's a value I hope you take with you.
Godspeed to you, the Class of 2011.
Introduction of commencement speaker Steve Ells, chosen by the Senior Class Council
It is my pleasure to introduce our commencement speaker as chosen by the Senior Class Council, Steve Ells.
Steve graduated from CU-Boulder in 1988 with an arts and sciences degree, following his graduation from Boulder High School. Today he is the founder, chairman and the co-chief executive officer of Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Steve opened the first Chipotle in Denver in 1993. Today, with 1,100 restaurants, he is changing the way people think about, and eat, fast food through his commitment to sustainable agriculture and locally grown produce.
Steve has received considerable praise for this vision and his leadership. Newsweek called him an "environmental champion" for his commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture.
Time, Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal and ABC News have profiled him.
Since its 2006 initial public offering, Chipotle's stock has posted the highest return of any U.S. initial public offering since 2005, up more than tenfold in that time. Sustainable business.com has named Chipotle one of the world's top-20 sustainable stocks.
Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" says Chipotle has "the best management team in the industry." That's probably because there are so many CU graduates on the team, including Steve's co-ceo, Monty Moran; and Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle's chief marketing officer.
Most recently, Steve starred in the NBC reality show, "America's Next Great Restaurant," in which he served as both a judge and an investor -- helping to bring someone else's restaurant concept to life.
Ladies and gentlemen, our own,Steve Ells.