Rooftop photo of CU Denver Spring Commencement 2022 attendees

Spring Graduates Ushered in by Keynote Speaker Michael B. Hancock, Denver Mayor and Lynx Alumnus, as CU Denver Celebrates 50th Anniversary

May 2, 2023

The University of Colorado Denver welcomes graduates and their families to the Tivoli Quad on the Auraria Campus on Saturday, May 13, to celebrate their academic achievements. Michael B. Hancock, Mayor of Denver and CU Denver alum, is the invited guest speaker. 

Mayor Hancock, MPA ’95, is finishing his third and final term as Denver’s 45th mayor. He was raised in Denver and is passionate about serving the city and the people he loves—with equity as the foundation of his public service. He received his Master of Public Administration from CU Denver and is honored to usher in the next class of fellow graduates. 

More than 2,250 students are expected to graduate from CU Denver with more than 1,400 earning bachelor’s degrees, more than 800 earning master’s degrees, and 51 graduating with a PhD/EdD. These students come from throughout Colorado as well as 44 states across the country and more than 25 nations around the world. Roughly 52% of undergraduate graduates are first-generation students. 

“For 50 years, CU Denver has been a catalyst for education, innovation, and social mobility that has powered families, industries, and communities,” Chancellor Michelle Marks said. “The 120,000 alumni we have graduated continue to demonstrate that there truly is no limit to how far you can go with a CU Denver education.”

This spring’s CU Denver commencement is the culmination of a yearlong university 50th anniversary celebration. To punctuate the moment, the university will debut its first-ever alma mater—a school anthem that is played at academic ceremonies, commencements, and other shared moments. In all, more than 80 students helped bring the song to life through writing, composing, performing, recording, and video production, including 40 CU Denver students and two College of Arts & Media (CAM) faculty members collaborating on lyrics and compositions.

Four musicians, a group consisting of two current music students, Verena Fuentes, Finn O’Sullivan, spring graduate Genevieve Glimp, and Katharine Yeager ’22, an alum and CAM staff member, are leading the charge in teaching the song to the CU Denver community. They will also perform on the spring commencement stage leading graduates, students, faculty, staff, and families in singing the alma mater.

In addition to singing, Glimp is graduating from CU Denver with a Bachelor of Science in Music with an emphasis on singer/songwriter, which brings extra meaning to the day.

”I’m excited to perform the alma mater because it highlights the talent at our school and also acknowledges the [Displaced Aurarian] land we’re on,” she said, “but it’s a bit surreal because I came into this program a very insecure individual and to be invited to sing at graduation is just so, so affirming to me and my career.” 

Inspired by the unveiling of the lynx statue on the CU Denver campus’ Benson Terrace, Mark Rabideau, the CAM Associate Dean for Faculty and Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Music & Entertainment Studies (DMA), is the brainchild and organizer of the new CU Denver alma mater. He assembled a team that includes Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Becca Stevens and Music & Entertainment Studies faculty member Andrew Pettit (PhD), along with a host of students, to bring this project to life.

Music in Culture students contributed lyrics to the song, which reflect the university’s connection to Denver, the people CU Denver serves, and Colorado’s natural beauty. The alma mater challenges students to achieve their dreams while reminding them “to hold each other up and journey inward side by side.” It encourages them to “revel in identities that move and intertwine” with lines sung in both English and Spanish.