Published: Feb. 14, 2024

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has announced its selection of recipients of honorary degrees, distinguished service awards and university medals for 2024, including four CU Boulder affiliates. 

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.

The 2024 CU Boulder awardees are Marvin Caruthers (honorary degree), Ann Smead (honorary degree), Jane Butcher (university medal) and Richard Rokos (university medal). They will be honored in a private campus ceremony.

Marvin Caruthers

Honorary degree

Through remarkable professional achievements and philanthropic contributions, Marvin Caruthers has created tremendous impact at CU Boulder, in the local community and throughout society. A distinguished professor of biochemistry, he joined the faculty in 1973, first in the Department of Chemistry and continuing later when Biochemistry became a division and ultimately an independent department.

Caruthers played a critical role in this academic evolution, with his scientific credentials and collaborative spirit proving pivotal in recruiting other DNA and RNA scientists to CU Boulder. Caruthers helped ignite the genomic revolution in biology and medicine by making critical advances in DNA synthesis. Without these advances, entire fields of research and classes of medicine would not exist today.

A generous, forward-thinking donor to CU Boulder, Caruthers’ contributions include a transformative gift to support the construction of the world-class Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, named in memory of Caruthers’ late wife, a former adjunct professor in CU Boulder’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and researcher in the Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology department.

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest national honor bestowed on American scientists and engineers.

Ann Smead

Honorary degree

Ann Smead built a distinguished career as an engineer, executive, educator, community leader and philanthropist. She enjoyed a pioneering professional chapter in systems engineering before going on to excel in real estate ventures, earning two professional designations, becoming a partner and leader in property management, and managing property for industry. She shared her knowledge by teaching financial analysis of real estate courses in the U.S. and in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In recognition of Smead and her family’s steadfast and generous support of aerospace engineering at CU Boulder, the campus named the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences in honor of Ann and H.J. “Joe” Smead, a CU Boulder engineering alumnus, industry executive and Ann’s husband prior to his passing in 2003.

Ann Smead is a member of the CU Boulder Engineering Advisory Council and an enthusiastic supporter of CU Buffs athletics and student athletes. A resident of the Vail Valley since 1999, Ann Smead was honored in 2013 as Vail Valley’s Citizen of the Year. She is especially passionate about education, supporting outdoor educational programs and scholarships for students from preschool to PhD.

Jane Butcher

University medal

Jane Butcher has dedicated over 50 years of her time, talent and support to CU. A CU Boulder alumna, she went on to become one of the original members of the BioFrontiers Scientific Advisory Board, where she continues to serve today.

Because she and her late husband, Charlie Butcher, shared a passion for the potential of bioscience and biotechnology to improve human lives, they established the Butcher Seed Grant and Butcher Award programs, which leverage CU’s research strengths to break down barriers between academic disciplines to find solutions to humanity’s most pressing health challenges.

Butcher was a leader and champion for CU Boulder’s Conference on World Affairs, serving as co-chair. For four decades, she helped drive the conference’s success, drawing speakers, participants and devotees from across the country and around the globe. A current member of the CU Foundation Board of Trustees, Butcher also served on the Dean’s Advisory Board for CU Boulder’s College of Arts and Sciences, which she chaired for several years.

Her broader civic engagement includes serving on the boards for Local Theater Company, the Boulder Community Health Foundation, the 10.10.10 Board of Denver, and the Foundation for National Progress, which publishes Mother Jones magazine.

Richard Rokos

University medal

Richard Rokos is one of CU’s most accomplished head coaches of all time. After 31 years as head skiing coach, Rokos retired after the 2021 season as the third-longest tenured head coach in CU Boulder history.

He coached the Buffaloes to eight national championships, the most by any head coach at Colorado, and 14 Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association titles. His teams qualified for the NCAA championships in all 31 of his seasons as head coach.

In 2013, he was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as CU Boulder’s head coach. Rokos received numerous Coach of the Year honors, both nationally and regionally, and was inducted into CU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021. During his tenure, the men’s and women’s teams regularly achieved GPAs upward of 3.5, both for individual semesters and cumulatively; his 250 student athletes attained a graduation rate of over 95%.

Before putting down roots in Colorado in 1982, Rokos and his family had escaped communist Czechoslovakia just two years prior.