Published: April 28, 2016

The University of Colorado Boulder will hold its spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Folsom Field. No tickets are required for the ceremony, which is free and open to the public. 

Highlights include a commencement address by Facebook executive and CU-Boulder alumna Kelly Graziadei; an honorary degree awarded to Tony Mendez, the CIA operative and artist featured in the award-winning film Argo; and eight students celebrated for getting through college with 4.0 grade point averages.

The ceremony will honor 5,754 candidates for degrees including 4,620 bachelor’s degrees, 886 master’s degrees, 179 law degrees and 298 doctoral degrees.

The stadium gates will open at 7 a.m. Guests should be in their seats by 8:15 a.m. to watch the student processional into the stadium. Early arrival guarantees the best seating. The ceremony will be held outdoors in the stadium regardless of the weather. In the event of heavy rain or snow, an abbreviated ceremony will be held.

For the safety of all guests, only soft-sided bags or containers no larger than a purse or small backpack are permitted at Folsom Field. Clear plastic grocery-type bags are strongly recommended to facilitate security screening at the gates. All people and packages are subject to screening prior to entry into the stadium. CU-Boulder Police encourage all attendees to report unattended or suspicious bags immediately.

Commencement speaker

Graziadei, who graduated from CU-Boulder with a bachelor's degree in advertising in 1997, will give this year’s commencement address.

Graziadei currently serves as the director of global marketing solutions at Facebook. Prior to her time at Facebook, she worked for a variety of companies including Yahoo, 90octane, Alta Vista and SBC/AT&T. She grew up in Parker, Colorado. At CU-Boulder, she was a Boettcher Scholar and a member of the Presidents Leadership Class in addition to an advertising major.

Honorary degrees

A total of three honorary degrees will be awarded during the ceremony.

Mendez will receive an honorary doctoral degree in humane letters from CU-Boulder afterattending CU-Boulder in 1959, when he studied visual arts. Unable to continue his education due to financial constraints, Mendez left CU-Boulder to work as an illustrator and tool designer for the Martin Marietta Corporation where he designed components for Titan missiles. His work with the CIA became well known with the publication of his third book Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in Historyand the movie featuring Ben Affleck that was based on it.

In 1965, Mendez was hired by the CIA as an espionage artist to create forged documents, disguises and other props. He is credited with masterminding the strategy for the successful rescue of six American diplomats from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis, a mission dubbed the “Canadian Caper.” By the time he retired in 1990, Mendez had been promoted to SIS-2, the equivalent of a two-star general. Battling Parkinson’s, Mendez today is an active spokesman who uses his fame to raise funds for new treatments for the disease.

Chuck Hull, co-founder and chief technology officer of 3D Systems, invented the solid imaging process known as stereolithography, the first commercial 3-D printing technology. He will receive an honorary doctorate in science. Hull received a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from CU-Boulder in 1961.

Polly Schaafsma, one of the world’s foremost authorities on aboriginal rock art, will also receive an honorary doctorate in science from CU-Boulder. Over the past five decades, Schaafsma has almost single-handedly professionalized the field of rock art studies in the Southwest and has had a major impact on rock art studies worldwide. She has been instrumental in changing the view that rock art is idiosyncratic and difficult, if not impossible, to date and interpret. She has authored and co-authored 10 books and many more articles in leading academic presses.

Graduates with 4.0 GPAs

The following students maintained 4.0 grade point averages throughout their CU-Boulder careers and will be honored as Chancellor’s Recognition Awardees: Alyssa Gallotte, theatre; Rachel Roller, integrative physiology; Ruth Sanchez, integrative physiology; Kristen Smith, environmental studies; Christian Balan, architecture; Riccardo Balin, aerospace engineering sciences; David Thomas, aerospace engineering sciences; and Matthew Muszynski, astronomy.      

More commencement information

City and campus roads may be congested for approximately one and a half hours before the ceremony and about an hour afterward. Parking lots and gray meters near Folsom Field and the Coors Events Center are free for commencement parking. The Folsom Garage will also be open to visitors with disabilities. Traffic officers and parking supervisors and attendants will be available to assist campus visitors.

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. Find information on individual ceremonies.

For more information about the commencement ceremony visit this commencement webpage.

To join the conversation and celebrate the accomplishments of CU-Boulder’s newest alumni in social media, people can use #ForeverBuffs on commencement photos and stories, and follow @CUBoulder and @CUBoulderAlumni on Twitter and Instagram. Follow the campuswide celebration of the class of 2016 on Storify.

Sarah Adderholt, 303-735-0533
Julie Poppen, CU-Boulder media relations, (O) 303-492-4007, (M) 720-503-4922