Published: April 10, 2023 By

Chancellor Philip DiStefano celebrated the contributions of Ambassador David Bolen with a Chancellor's Impact Award at the 2023 commencement ceremony. In addition, the University of Colorado Board of Regents announced the latest slate of recipients of honorary degrees, distinguished service medals and university medals, including four CU Boulder affiliates. 

Read more in CU Connections

Given since 1882, the regent awards include:

  • Honorary degrees, which recognize outstanding achievement in one or more of the following areas: intellectual contributions, university service, philanthropy and/or public service.
  • Distinguished service awards, which recognize those persons whose achievements and contributions are particularly associated with the state and/or nation.
  • University medals, which recognize those persons whose achievements and contributions are particularly associated with the university.

In addition to the Chancellor's Impact awardee David Bolen, the other 2023 CU Boulder awardees are Henry and Leslie Eaton, Barbara Grogan, Allan McMurray and Ginger Ramsey. They will be honored in a private campus ceremony on May 10.

Ambassador David Bolen

Chancellor’s Impact Award (presented posthumously)

Ambassador David Bolen introduced CU Boulder to the world, paving the way for Buffs to represent the United States as Olympians and ambassadors. 

After a historic year on the track team, Bolen became the first Buff to qualify for the Olympics. While pursuing his master’s degree, he competed in the 1948 London Olympics, placing fourth in the 400-meter run. In his honor, the university declared Nov. 20, 1948, “David Bolen Day.” 

Upon the completion of his MBA in 1950, Bolen began his diplomatic career by serving in Monrovia, Pakistan, Ghana and Yugoslavia. In 1974, President Richard Nixon appointed him ambassador to Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, where Bolen helped initiate what led to the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed him ambassador to East Germany, where he helped lay the foundation for the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

After retiring in 1989, Bolen captured his journey from childhood to the Olympics to his ambassadorships in his memoir, Running Down The Dream. For his devotion to bettering society, CU Boulder recognized Bolen with the George Norlin Award and named him to the university’s Hall of Honor. He later became a member of the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame and a distinguished alumnus of the Leeds School of Business. 

Today, select students continue his legacy as recipients of the Ambassador David Bolen Scholarship, an award given with priority to Buffs pursuing the Olympics. 

The chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder is pleased to present the Chancellor’s Impact Award posthumously to David Bolen for a lifetime of contributions to world peace and prosperity.

Henry and Leslie Eaton

Honorary degrees

Since graduating from CU Boulder in 1962 and ’63, Henry and Leslie Eaton have worked tirelessly to help as many students as possible experience the transformative power of higher education.

In 1993, they created the Henry and Leslie Eaton Scholarship, awarded to an incoming first-year student from Boulder High School who shows leadership and academic promise. Strong proponents of the humanities, the Eatons made a $5 million donation in 2000 to support construction of a College of Arts and Sciences building, which the university consequently named the Eaton Humanities Building in their honor. In 2020, Leslie and Woody founded the Eaton Family Scholarships, whose recipients comprise a growing cohort of highly-deserving students from Colorado whose lives will be forever changed by a CU education.

They helped found the Buffalo Bicycle Classic, a community tradition that has raised more than $3.4 million in scholarships for Colorado high school graduates since 2003 and has become the largest scholarship fundraising event in the state. In 2007, they reaffirmed their commitment to the humanities by helping establish an endowed chair within the widely known Center of the American West.

Over the years, the Eatons remained active members of the CU community and staunch supporters of its mission, with Henry Eaton serving on the Alumni Association board of directors and the advisory board for the Center of the American West, and Leslie Eaton serving on the Student Affairs Advisory Board and the board for the University of Colorado Foundation.

In recognition of their enthusiastic advocacy for CU Boulder’s students, campus and broader community, the Board of Regents is pleased to award Henry and Leslie Eaton the honorary degrees Doctors of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Barbara Grogan

Distinguished Service Award

Barbara Grogan has spent more than four decades championing Colorado as an entrepreneur and community leader.

After graduating from CU Boulder in 1969, Grogan quickly established a reputation as one of Colorado’s top entrepreneurs. She started Western Industrial Contractors in 1982 with a $500 pickup truck and a team of three employees, growing it into one of the largest industrial construction companies in the country.

She was also the first woman to chair the boards of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Denver branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Because of her entrepreneurial legacy and impact in Colorado, she has earned spots in the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and the University of Colorado Alumni Hall of Fame.

In addition to her notable business career, Grogan is a widely recognized volunteer and philanthropist who has devoted much of her time and resources to childhood development and education in Colorado. She has served on the boards of organizations such as the Denver Scholarship Foundation, the University of Colorado Foundation, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission for Colorado, College Track Colorado and the Metropolitan State University of Denver Foundation. In honor of her deep involvement in local nonprofits across the state, the Colorado Nonprofit Association named her its Philanthropist of the Year in 2012.

The Board of Regents is pleased to present the Distinguished Service Award to Barbara Grogan for her continuous work to transform Colorado and advocate for its up-and-coming leaders.

Allan McMurray

University Medal

During his 35-year tenure at CU Boulder, Allan McMurray elevated the College of Music to one of the top destinations for studying instrumental conducting.

As the college’s director of bands from 1978 to 2013, McMurray developed the master’s and doctoral programs in instrumental conducting and held the first College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Summer Conducting Symposium. In recognition of the international impact of his teaching, the University of Colorado and Board of Regents honored McMurray in 2004 with a lifetime appointment as a Distinguished Professor, making him the first in the College of Music to hold the title.

International accolades for McMurray, one of the world's leading wind ensemble and conducting teachers, include guest-conducting engagements in 15 countries and visiting professor appointments at more than 200 universities and conservatories. Under his leadership, the University of Colorado Wind Symphony performed by invitation in England and Japan, and twice at conventions of the CBDNA.

Since his retirement, he has remained active as a guest conductor, keynote speaker and teacher at conferences across the country. In 2019, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the CBDNA in honor of his decades of instructional excellence.

For his dedication to bettering the University of Colorado and the lives of music students around the world, the Board of Regents is pleased to award the University Medal to Allan McMurray.

Ginger Ramsey

Distinguished Service Award

Ginger Ramsey has been a cornerstone of the Boulder Valley School District for more than 40 years.

Beginning in 1981, she served the district as a math instructor and assistant principal at two local schools: Boulder High School and Centaurus High School. A graduate of Arizona State University, Ramsey began pursuing her doctorate at CU Boulder in 1986 while working full time for the district, earning an all-but-dissertation degree status.

In 2000, she became the principal of Broomfield High School, where she has led with poise and compassion ever since. In recognition of her “extreme passion and dedication” to the school, the Broomfield Community Foundation presented her with the Heart of Broomfield Angel Award in 2009. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she guided the school through the transition to online learning and received a second Heart of Broomfield award for her leadership and communication.

An advocate for equity and inclusion, Ramsey is a member of the Principals’ Advisory Committee, ensuring all members of the district have a say in its decisions and processes. She also serves as the principal representative on the superintendent’s cabinet, helping develop and execute the district’s goals, vision and mission.  

The Board of Regents is pleased to present the Distinguished Service Award to Ginger Ramsey for her steadfast commitment to shaping tomorrow’s leaders and her ongoing impact on the greater Boulder community.