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 his or her full potential. Will representatives of the faculty please rise and be recognized?

We especially are proud today to recognize the first graduates from the Mechanical Engineering Partnership Program between Colorado Mesa University and the University of Colorado Boulder. This partnership was started in 2008, and it offers the first opportunity for students to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering, with all courses taught on the Western Slope of Colorado. Now, four years later, the first nine students are graduating from this program today with a bachelor's of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in partnership with Colorado Mesa University. Congratulations to you all!

We are honored today to have with us the graduating Class of 50 years ago, the Class of 1962! As I thought about my message to you today, it occurred to me that the Class of 1962 has much to offer the Class of 2012.

Fifty years ago, the Class of '62 sat where you sit, prepared to enter the world at the dawn of the Space Age, in the infancy of the civil rights movement, and as the United States was entering a war that would fracture our country. As they left this stadium that day they carried with them courage, determination and a vision for the future.

Today, the Class of 2012 has its own challenges. They must be met with your own spirit of courage, perseverance and vision. Your challenges include the most formidable economic recovery of our generation, just as you are entering the workforce and embarking on careers.  

So you may be wondering, what is the value of my college degree? Two weeks ago the President of the United States told our campus community that the unemployment rate for college graduates is half the national average. And the President noted that as college graduates you stand to earn twice as much over your lifetime as a non-degree holder.

But specifically what is the value of your CU degree?

One way to measure value is economically. In its latest rankings rates a CU-Boulder bachelor's degree among the top 25 degrees in the nation among public universities for starting and mid-level salaries. That's certainly one way to measure value.

 USA Today and the Princeton Review have rated CU-Boulder a top-five best value in American higher education based on cost, quality of education and financial aid. That's value and it's important to all of us.

But value in a degree is also learning to work collaboratively. It's learning to work across disciplines. It's the teamwork and real-world experience students learn in our undergraduate research programs when they control satellites in space, work on biomedical advancements, make films and produce works of art that inspire us.

Value in a degree is learning critical thinking, problem solving and civil discourse, admired by employers and needed by our society.

Value is the innovation and entrepreneurship inherent in a CU-Boulder education. Many of our graduates—recent, past and present—embody that spirit of entrepreneurship. One is a member of the Class of 1962 that we lost this week. Jerry McMorris was a 19-year-old sophomore in the business school when he started a trucking company that would become an industry giant. Thirty years later he saved the Colorado Rockies baseball franchise from extinction before it got started when the original ownership group fell apart.  

Values are student-led sustainability initiatives, which earned CU-Boulder the moniker of the "Greenest University in America" during your time here! Institutions nationwide have modeled our zero-waste football games, and many other initiatives begun during your tenure. The Class of 2012 can be proud for leading the way.

During your time here, CU-Boulder was honored by the White House for student involvement in community service. 13,000 students participate in community service every year.  Service-oriented students become service-oriented citizens. It's no surprise then, that this year, for the second consecutive year, CU-Boulder alumni lead the nation for numbers serving in the Peace Corps.

These are values. Today's digital information age cries out for values. Today's technology enables people to say and do anything—and broadcast it worldwide instantaneously.

Your personal transformation—from high school senior to college graduate—prepared you for a life of career and contribution. It should not come as quickly as downloading a YouTube video. You cannot download the transformation of a young person. Your parents know that any important transformation takes time and care, and you are testimony to this fact.

So while I take pride in the objective ratings that CU-Boulder is a great value, I take even greater pride that students at CU are challenged to develop strong values that will remain with them for life – values that will transform them, their communities, and indeed, the world.

Introduction of Commencement Speaker Tim Wolf

Now, I would like to introduce a man who knows something about values – financial values, educational values, ethical values and personal values. He also knows something about collaboration.

Tim Wolf is president of Wolf Interests Incorporated, an investment entity that he established after he retired as Chief Integration Officer of MillerCoors Brewing Company, a $10 billion merger that he helped direct.

He also served as Global Chief Financial Officer of Molson Coors Brewing Company, another merger that he helped negotiate. Mr. Wolf has held top leadership positions with PepsiCo, the Walt Disney Company and Euro Disney.

Like many of our graduates today, service is part of his personal ethic. He was a voluntary advisor to   Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and serves on several boards.

Mr. Wolf is chairman of E-Town, the Boulder-based non-profit organization committed to advancing environmental and social justice through its weekly national radio show; and he serves on the CU Leeds School of Business Advisory Board.

He founded and runs the Wolf Family Foundation, committed to furthering early childhood learning.

He was selected as our commencement speaker by the Senior Class Council. Please welcome Tim Wolf!